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Thread: Rangers: Showalter out, Uncertainty in

  1. #1
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Rangers: Showalter out, Uncertainty in

    In a move that came as a complete surprise to absolutely nobody, Tom Hicks gave Rangers manager Buck Showalter his walking papers after a season that saw the team make its usual post-All Star nosedive. I think when Hicks started blasting the team's work ethic in public, the writing was on the wall that changes were in store, and the manager is typically the one who ends up tied to a post on top of a big pile of kindling.

    Links of interest:

    Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Showalter fired after refusing to resign, source says

    Dallas Morning News: Rangers Fire Showalter

    Major League Baseball: Showalter dismissed by Rangers

    But the best analysis will likely come from long-time Rangers fan Jamey Newberg, whose email newsletter broke the news to me this morning.

    For reference, there have already been three other managers fired by MLB teams since the end of the season. And get this: 50% of the teams in the Majors finished in the bottom half of the standings. Scandalous!
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

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    You ain't Herd? texastrill's Avatar
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    Three words...Rudy!Rudy!Rudy!

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    Go Rangers! RadicalBender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertB
    For reference, there have already been three other managers fired by MLB teams since the end of the season.
    Well, four actually: Joe Girardi, Dusty Baker, Felipe Alou and Frank Robinson.

    And I for one hope that the Rangers find a way to keep Rudy as hitting coach (since he's a good one), but they need to be fair to him since he's good and he does deserve a shot at it.
    --Ben
    http://www.radicalbender.com/ (BACK ONLINE!)

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    Incoherent Rambler grantboston's Avatar
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    Note to self: Never have dinner at Tom Hicks' house.

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    In the O.R. Geaux Tigers's Avatar
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    Note to Tom Hicks: Don't replace Buck with another pricey manager!! Hire a manager that'll work for nothing and spend the extra bucks on PITCHING!!!!!!!!!!!
    By the power of greyskull!

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    Evil Suburbanite
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    I don't think the lack of pitching has anything to do with money. Few self-respecting pitchers want to be shelled on a weekly basis in Coors Field II.

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    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    or in that heat. Some long, hot summers in Arlington.

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    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    They hired Ron Washington of The A's as the new manager yesterday. It sounds like he's more of a "hands-off" style manager. Maybe that's what the Rangers need?

    Whatever...it's still all about bad pitching.
    Consumers are not [the same as] citizens, and when a system pretends that they are, peculiar and even perverse things happen to decision making and democracy... - Benjamin Barber

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    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Oops, I should have been updating this thread. Jamey Newberg really likes this new guy, and that's a good sign. Here's the newsletter he sent today:
    THE NEWBERG REPORT

    I still remember my immediate reaction in 1995 when I heard that the Cowboys had signed Deion Sanders. It wasn't that Prime Time's arrival would result in a shutdown of the opponent's go-to receiver or would give Dallas a weapon on punt returns. Though those things would sink in a minute later, the first thing that came to mind was less about what the Cowboys were adding than what we were taking away from the nemesis Forty-Niners.

    That's a big part of what I was feeling before yesterday's press conference introducing Ron Washington as the Rangers' new manager. What I knew about Washington's reputation made me think that maybe the thing that distinguished his candidacy to replace Buck Showalter from Don Wakamatsu's or Trey Hillman's was that hiring Washington would effectively weaken a division rival.

    I still like that aspect of the Washington hire a lot. But it's no longer the key factor for me.

    I'd heard from a number of people that my appreciation of Ron Washington would grow exponentially once I had the chance to be around him.

    They were right.

    Tom Hicks said before an unusually large crowd of reporters yesterday afternoon that on Sunday, a few hours into Washington's second interview with the Rangers (and the first in which Hicks was involved), he pulled Jon Daniels aside and asked, "What am I missing? Why isn't this our guy?" It was then that Daniels told Hicks for the first time that Washington was his number one recommendation. Hicks and Daniels spontaneously scrapped plans to meet the next day to make a decision, and instead walked back up to Washington right then and made him an offer.

    What was supposed to be a 5:00 meeting on Monday between Hicks, Daniels, and Thad Levine instead turned out to be a much larger meeting, with reporters from every local outlet, representatives from every department of the Rangers organization, plus Mark Teixeira and Kevin Millwood and Rudy Jaramillo in attendance.

    And as advertised, Washington blew everyone's socks off.

    Daniels said that his checklist when the process of finding the club's next manager began a month ago started with five traits: winner, teacher, optimist, communicator, and hard worker. He went into the search very familiar with Wakamatsu and Hillman. He knew Washington only by reputation, but after his first interview on October 17, Daniels realized he had a candidate who embodied all five qualities.

    When Daniels dispatched new Rangers senior director of baseball operations Don Welke to meet with Washington in New Orleans on October 26, Welke asked the question that had been on my mind: Would you prefer managing in Oakland or in Texas? "Offer me a job and you'll see," Washington replied.

    Eleven days later, the Rangers did, and Washington accepted. It's reportedly a two-year contract (which Daniels pointed out is how much longer his own deal lasts), with two additional option years.

    In many ways, Washington couldn't be more different from Showalter. One is a high-profile baseball manager who got his first team at age 35, the other a baseball grinder who gets his first head gig at age 54. One addressed the media with as much polish and finesse as you'll ever see; the other is as refreshingly blunt and unvarnished as you could ever imagine. One batted and threw left, the other batted and threw right.

    One had a number of catchphrases that made their way into most interviews, among the most common of which was a player's "sincerity." The other is simply as sincere as it gets. Washington's reputation is that he will say whatever is on his mind, good or bad, with no artifice and no veneer. Was he supposed to say at yesterday's press conference that he'd like to bring Art Howe in to be his bench coach, especially when Wakamatsu's future with Texas remains unresolved? If you were there, you would agree that Howe's name probably wasn't supposed to be mentioned. But it was, and that's just Ron Washington being Ron Washington.

    Daniels called Washington authentic, a class act, one of the most contagious personalities he'd ever been around. I saw Washington interact with people for two hours yesterday, and came to the same inescapable conclusion. His character and enthusiasm are infectious.

    Washington was almost apologetic in classifying himself as a "player's manager," a cliché label that nonetheless can't be avoided when describing his coaching style. "We've all got to have each other's backs, through thick and thin," Washington said, and it was impossible not to believe he meant it, and lives it.

    I came away from the gathering believing we will win with this man in charge. On the one hand, what do I know? But on the other, isn't that sort of the point?

    I wrote this on October 5:

    "It just looked like the players weren’t enjoying playing for Showalter. There was a palpable disconnect.

    "So what? Shouldn’t millionaire ballplayers be expected to suck it up? Of course.

    "But at the same time, if the idea is to give the players the best possible environment to win, it seems that having a manager that they want to play for (whether they 'like' him or not is not really the question) should be important. Right?

    "I have no doubt that every man wearing a Rangers uniform gave it everything he had every night, but I believe in the 'extra gear' that some coaches and managers and bosses can get out of their people. I began questioning this season whether Showalter was bringing that out in the team."

    Whether I believe Texas will win under Washington doesn't matter. Whether the players believe they will is vitally important. It's been an unmistakable hallmark of the A's teams of the last 11 years, during which there have been ace pitchers and closers and run producers and managers who have come and gone, but two constants: (1) a relentless, confident looseness among the players, and (2) Ron Washington. The two aren't unrelated. A baseball team on which Washington has a say is a family, says the Rangers' new skipper, from the top to the bottom. A group of men who not only have a common goal, but who work toward it as one.

    Washington said his approach is simple: come in with a good attitude and a commitment, take care of the fundamentals, be prepared, and let the talent do the rest. He believes in players, and he instills in players a belief in themselves. "I'm good at communicating with players because I was one," Washington said. "I'll always be a player at heart."

    As refreshingly authentic and unpretentious as Washington is, don't mistake it for a lack of self-confidence. He noted that the last thing he said during his first interview with Texas -- which he said got off to a great start because of the class Daniels showed by personally picking him up from the airport -- was this: "You've really impressed me. And I damn sure know I've impressed you."

    Daniels said that he made countless calls around the league during the interview process to try and find someone who would give him pause about hiring Washington, someone who might point out a negative, even a small one, that Daniels ought to factor into the decision process. He never found that person, never heard a negative.

    Does Washington's arrival mean Texas now has a shot at Barry Zito? "Don't know," Washington said, adding with more honesty than you'd expect, "I haven't really thought about that." How about you, Mr. Daniels? "Free agents and trades aren't something we've discussed yet. Until a couple hours ago, Ron was still in the green and gold."

    More Washington honesty, when asked how he plans to handle the Rangers' pitching staff: "I don't know much about handling pitchers, but I know I sure could hit them." He admitted that he will lean heavily on Mark Connor, who is staying aboard as pitching coach (and on Jaramillo, who remains as hitting coach).

    And he wants to lean heavily on Howe, who was hired by Philadelphia just three weeks ago as a third base coach and infield instructor. Clearly, Howe's name wasn't going to be part of yesterday's press conference before Washington mentioned it, but Daniels confirmed that he's received permission from the Phillies to talk to Howe and that the former A's manager will be in town today for that purpose. Daniels intends to make a decision on Howe quickly.

    It seems like an inevitability at this point. Howe, whose first coaching gig was on Bobby Valentine's Rangers staff in 1985, managed Washington in his last big league season (1989 in Houston) and managed six Oakland clubs with Washington on his staff. He seems perfect for this job: a steady, veteran big league manager with no ego, and a history and trust level with Washington.

    As for the rest of the staff, there's less predictability. Connor and Jaramillo stay, and bullpen coach Dom Chiti evidently stays, but while Daniels said he'd like Wakamatsu to stay (if he doesn't get the Oakland managerial post), the fact is that if Howe is hired as bench coach then Wakamatsu would be asked not only to work for a man who beat him out for the job he wanted, but apparently to do so in a role of less stature than the one he's had here for four years.

    With Washington's background as an infield instructor (for that matter, Howe's as well), third base coach Steve Smith could be one of the incumbents who's susceptible to being replaced by a Washington import. First base coach Bobby Jones's 2007 role is also hard to predict.

    Will the profile of player that Daniels targets this winter shift because of Washington's arrival? Will the team add more speed than it would have otherwise? Not necessarily. Washington said he'll adapt his managing style to the type of personnel he has. But one thing is certain: Don't expect him to start taking the bat out of his players' hands . . . unless a guy is struggling, in which case he'll absolutely look to "create" offense in order to help get the player out of his rut.

    The two keys to winning, in Washington's estimation, are pitching well and catching the ball, and those are two areas he's committed to improving (though he's very comfortable with the bullpen and with Millwood as the anchor of the rotation). He did note that the club "may start infusing young talent and let them grow," which sounds like a bit of a campaign for DH Jason Botts, and possibly center fielder Freddy Guzman, who Mike Hindman points out is leading the Dominican Winter League in stolen bases (and hitting .289/.360/.356).

    But Botts's name and Guzman's name aren't the ones you'll see discussed the most this off-season in terms of which current Rangers stand to benefit most from Washington's arrival. That player will be Hank Blalock, and it won't be close. A number of factors are in play, not the least of which is the sense that Eric Chavez, the sweet-swinging, left-handed-hitting third baseman drafted out of a Southern California high school, is the Athletic most closely identified with Washington's ability to make young players better, not to mention Washington's most vocal proponent among the A's. An effort to get Blalock to the next level -- to unlock him, some will say --will be a common bullet point in the papers and on the talk shows this winter.

    Until now, Blalock's name has been the one pinpointed in most articles discussing what veterans the Rangers might have to trade in order to get the pitching they need, fed in part by the fact that he was on the verge of being dealt a year ago to Florida in a package for Josh Beckett. But I bet you a theme begins to develop in the papers that, even if Blalock is a player whose name pops up in trade discussions more frequently than anyone else's, the truth is that he might have more value to Texas as a Ron Washington mission than he does as a trade chip.

    Should it be a concern that Washington wasn't hired by Oakland once Ken Macha was fired (as some players were lobbying for when Macha was temporarily let go a year ago)? Maybe the real story there is that Washington has too much personality -- or too much popularity with the players -- for a Billy Beane club.

    Other bits and pieces:

    Washington played at Manatee Junior College, just like Rangers outfield farmhand Larry Grayson, who was drafted by Oakland in 2000 before enrolling at Manatee.

    Smith managed Washington in 1990, his final year as a player, with AAA Oklahoma City. That club boasted a roster that not only included Juan Gonzalez and Dean Palmer but, fascinatingly, featured Rangers managerial candidate John Russell and future big league pitching coaches Brad Arnsberg, Randy St. Claire, and Wayne Rosenthal.

    Washington was a teammate of Johnny Oates with the 1977 Dodgers.

    Washington and Beane both played for the 1986 Twins.

    On the 1988 Cleveland squad were Washington, Julio Franco, and Brook Jacoby.

    On May 28, 1988, Washington busted up the no-hit bid of Brewers righthander (and former Ranger) Odell Jones with a one-out, pinch-hit single in the ninth.

    After retiring as a player following the 1990 season with the 89ers, Washington coached in the New York Mets organization for five years (managing Low A Columbia to a 64-77 record in 1993 and a 59-76 mark in 1994). He then joined Oakland's staff in 1996, serving as first base coach for one year and then infield and third base coach for the next 10. He's been credited for the dramatic defensive improvement made by several A's infielders, including six-time Gold Glove winner Chavez, who gave Washington his 2004 trophy, with the inscription: "Wash, not without you."

    That trophy and most of Washington's baseball memorabilia are gone, as his home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

    Washington will appear at Hooters in the West End tomorrow night and at Academy Sports at Forest and Central on Thursday night. You have to go. You've got to be around this guy.

    Eric Nadel's pregame manager's show, always a can't-miss, will be pure gold with Washington around.

    And you know what? The three hours every night that follow the pregame show could be pretty cool, too. Washington said more than once yesterday that he's only going to be considered a success if his players get the job done. The important point underlying that statement is that he was brought aboard because the Rangers think he's best equipped to enhance the players' chances of doing just that. He's old-school, he's genuine, he's energetic.

    But maybe most importantly, he's unabashedly confident, and if his style of management helps his players take on some of that same confidence, then ultimately it may be more than just a throwaway expression to suggest that Oakland's loss will have been, most assuredly, the Rangers' gain.


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    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  10. #10
    You ain't Herd? texastrill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by warlock55
    They hired Ron Washington of The A's as the new manager yesterday. It sounds like he's more of a "hands-off" style manager. Maybe that's what the Rangers need?

    Whatever...it's still all about bad pitching.
    I hope Zito follows this guy to Texas.That would put a good arm in the rotation. :guns:

  11. #11
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by texastrill
    I hope Zito follows this guy to Texas.That would put a good arm in the rotation. :guns:
    Your wish may come true:

    11/08/2006 3:41 PM ET
    Zito contacts new Rangers skipper
    Washington says the lefty is considering Texas this offseason

    ARLINGTON -- New Rangers manager Ron Washington has been hearing from many old friends since being hired on Sunday.

    Among those who called was free-agent pitcher Barry Zito.

    Washington and Zito were together with the Oakland Athletics. Zito told Washington on Tuesday that the Rangers would be among the teams he would consider signing with this offseason.

    Mucho mas at el link-o: http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/a...tnered=rss_tex
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  12. #12
    You ain't Herd? texastrill's Avatar
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    Signing Zito should be priority compared to singing Bonds.The only "plus" to signing Bonds would be that some lucky fan,late in the season and health issues permitting,would catch a record breaking HR ball.Selling it for what ever someone would pay for it.Possibly help putting a child through college.

  13. #13
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    2007 should be a "colorful" season for the Rangers, in the language department. Here are some choice quotes from a DMN article on Washington last Sunday:
    During an interview in his plush new Ameriquest Field office, Washington never alludes to his predecessor, Buck Showalter. But he makes it clear that he represents a 180-degree turnabout in approach, if not philosophy.

    He is animated. Candid. Leathery around the edges. Humble and introspective at times, borderline cocky at others.

    He sprinkles the occasional four-letter word, and he ain't apologizin' for his grammar. He's a baseball man, pure, simple and unfiltered.

    ...
    "I was still talking [expletive]," Washington says. "Dusty Baker would get Tommy Lasorda to put me in games to see if I was as good as the [expletive] I was talking.

    "And guess what? I would deliver."

    ...
    Days before the 1987 Twins began a march culminating in the franchise's first world championship, manager Tom Kelly called Washington into his office.

    Kelly stammered for a few minutes, trying to figure out a soft way to break tough news. GM Andy MacPhail, seated near Kelly's desk, blurted: "We're going to release you."

    Now seated behind his new Rangers desk, Washington stands up, reaches into his pocket and reenacts what happened next. He places a penny on his desk.

    "Like that old [expletive] penny there, I'll show up one day," he told MacPhail. "Thank you."
    There's a reason certain language is described as "locker-room talk". It looks like this guy speaks the players' language. People who know what they're talking about are excited, and I (who don't) am just 'bout goin' nuts. How many days until Spring Training?
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  14. #14
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    He seems like the anti-Showalter, which might be what they need. I'll be more excited if they sign Zito though.
    Consumers are not [the same as] citizens, and when a system pretends that they are, peculiar and even perverse things happen to decision making and democracy... - Benjamin Barber

  15. #15
    You ain't Herd? texastrill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertB
    2007 should be a "colorful" season for the Rangers, in the language department. Here are some choice quotes from a DMN article on Washington last Sunday:
    During an interview in his plush new Ameriquest Field office, Washington never alludes to his predecessor, Buck Showalter. But he makes it clear that he represents a 180-degree turnabout in approach, if not philosophy.

    He is animated. Candid. Leathery around the edges. Humble and introspective at times, borderline cocky at others.

    He sprinkles the occasional four-letter word, and he ain't apologizin' for his grammar. He's a baseball man, pure, simple and unfiltered.

    ...
    "I was still talking [expletive]," Washington says. "Dusty Baker would get Tommy Lasorda to put me in games to see if I was as good as the [expletive] I was talking.

    "And guess what? I would deliver."

    ...
    Days before the 1987 Twins began a march culminating in the franchise's first world championship, manager Tom Kelly called Washington into his office.

    Kelly stammered for a few minutes, trying to figure out a soft way to break tough news. GM Andy MacPhail, seated near Kelly's desk, blurted: "We're going to release you."

    Now seated behind his new Rangers desk, Washington stands up, reaches into his pocket and reenacts what happened next. He places a penny on his desk.

    "Like that old [expletive] penny there, I'll show up one day," he told MacPhail. "Thank you."
    There's a reason certain language is described as "locker-room talk". It looks like this guy speaks the players' language. People who know what they're talking about are excited, and I (who don't) am just 'bout goin' nuts. How many days until Spring Training?
    I like him already!

  16. #16
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Good article at mlb.com about Washington and his plans for the season. Here's what he's saying to pitcher Barry Zito, who the Rangers are trying to grab from division rival (and former Washington hangout) Oakland. Why should Zito come to Texas, the reporter asked?
    "Because we're going to win here," Washington said. "I mean, if he wants to be on a team watching in October, he can go someplace else. I mean that with all my heart and soul. If I don't think I could win, I wouldn't be here."
    Full story with mucho quotable quotes here: Washington says Rangers will win
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  17. #17
    You ain't Herd? texastrill's Avatar
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    Losing G-Matt really hurt ,but JD can make it right by signing Zito.

  18. #18
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by texastrill
    Losing G-Matt really hurt ,but JD can make it right by signing Zito.
    Hicks' luck with throwing ridiculous amounts of money at players is bound to change at some point.
    Consumers are not [the same as] citizens, and when a system pretends that they are, peculiar and even perverse things happen to decision making and democracy... - Benjamin Barber

  19. #19
    LH Copycat Columbus Civil's Avatar
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    I think they'd be better off not going after Zito.
    Dallas uber alles

  20. #20
    You ain't Herd? texastrill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Columbus Civil
    I think they'd be better off not going after Zito.
    Because of money issues?

  21. #21
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by warlock55
    Hicks' luck with throwing ridiculous amounts of money at players is bound to change at some point.
    One of the recent Newberg Report emails quoted Hicks saying something to the effect that Zito's salary wouldn't be considered as part of the regular budget. At the same time, though, even Hicks is considered unlikely to get close to the $100-million multi-year contract that Zito's agent, the infamous Scott Boras, is rumored to be asking for.

    I love the Newberg Report. It makes it possible for me to write like I have a clue.

    By the way, Jamey Newberg is throwing a book release party for his 2007 Newberg Report Bound Edition in Uptown, at the Tin Star (2626 Howell Street). Rangers players Ian Kinsler, C.J. Wilson, Kameron Loe, John Danks, and Taylor Teagarden will be in attendance, and will sign Newberg's book. Which means you've got to buy the book, but if you're into it enough, you won't even miss the $25 -- especially since it comes with a (virtually) unlimited buy-one-get-one-free Rangers ticket offer.
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

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  23. #23
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Jamey Newberg, of course, has been following the Sosa situation closely. It's long, but worth it.
    THE NEWBERG REPORT

    I'm conflicted about this Sammy Sosa thing. Maybe he can be the 2007 version of 2006 Frank Thomas or 1996 Eric Davis, and there's no question that the lineup has the appearance of being a dependable right-handed bat short. But maybe I have too much faith that Nelson Cruz is capable of having an Ian Kinsler year, and that Jason Botts can be the 2006 Gerald Laird, so to speak.

    Objectively, this move makes a fair amount of sense. Texas brought D'Angelo Jimenez in 13 months ago on a non-guaranteed deal to give Kinsler competition in camp for a job that he was expected to win. Jimenez didn't cost anyone a spot on the 40-man roster, and while he got 49 spring training at-bats, Kinsler got 58, second most on the team. Nobody plays every day in March, and there will be reps to go around. So from that standpoint, giving playing time to Sosa might cost Victor Diaz and Marlon Byrd some at-bats, but there have historically been two or three outfielders on the Rangers' non-roster invite list each spring, and there were none on the list announced by the organization last week: no Adrian Brown's or Adam Hyzdu's or Chad Allen's or Jason Conti's or Andres Torres's or other non-roster 4-A's this year.

    And again, like Jimenez, if Sosa agrees to whatever the Rangers have offered him, he would certainly be here on a make-good deal. If he proves not to be ready to make an April impact, thanks for the time.

    For that matter, if he doesn't appear to be ready to make a March run at an April impact, Texas can always cut the experiment short. This would be a non-guaranteed deal, in every sense. The upside isn't nearly what Thomas or Mike Piazza would have brought this winter, but neither is the club commitment. So where's the downside, the risk?

    That's where my objectivity wanes. One of the things I'm most excited about a month from now is the kickoff of Camp Ron Washington. I think his attitude and his confidence and the fresh air he brings is possibly the biggest story of the spring. I want to see how this team responds to his upbeat, "let the players play" approach.

    I'm not concerned that Sosa will be a negative influence. Jon Daniels and Rudy Jaramillo (who goes back 20 years with Sosa) commented on how humble and how hungry Sosa is, after sitting out the 2006 season rather than take a $500,000 offer to play for Washington. This isn't T.O., it's not Dennis Rodman. It's not even Rafael Palmeiro. Sosa isn't going to be a cancer, even in a worst-case scenario.

    But he will be a distraction, regardless of his best intentions. There were a lot more cameras and a lot more dictaphones in the 1989 clubhouse when Nolan Ryan arrived than there had been in 1988. Did it bother Ruben Sierra and Pete Incaviglia, the young stars of the club, that Ryan was getting the attention from much of the local press and all of the national media in camp? My recollection is that it did, but then again Sierra was 23 and Inky was 24, which is a lot different from the 30 and 26 that Michael Young and Mark Teixeira are.

    The other difference, however, is that Ryan was a story for all the right reasons. And Sosa won't be. Regardless of what his attitude is and no matter how well he fits into the clubhouse culture, the national press will vulture in and make the issue of whether he used steroids in his prime a focus. How long will it take before Young and Teixeira are asked to comment on it themselves? Probably the minute the doors are opened to reporters. And that sucks.

    Again, I don't have a problem with bringing Sosa into the clubhouse. It's what will follow him into the room that concerns me. Any damper on the much-needed vibe overhaul that Washington will bring disturbs me.

    As for the baseball impact, I had no issue with the Jimenez addition last winter and I have no issue giving Cruz and Botts more competition. I don't know Cruz, but I know Botts, and I'm not worried one bit about how this might affect his attitude or his confidence. And frankly, it's a good test. There's going to be adversity for any young player trying to establish himself in the big leagues, and Cruz and Botts aren't immune to that. Might as well throw challenges at each of them every chance you get.

    And let's make this point: Sosa is far less of an impediment to Botts's future here than Thomas or Piazza would have been. Texas would obviously have been committed to those two, probably for two years, had either signed here. There's no such risk, in terms of dollars or guaranteed term, with Sosa.

    Diaz and Byrd? They'll get their chances. But I certainly wouldn't refuse to sign a veteran because of their presence here.

    Different story with Cruz and Botts. Very different.

    Cruz has had a strong run in the Dominican Winter League. Botts was terrific in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Each has one option left, so it's not irreversible decision time on either of them, but there's no more they can prove in AAA. Their showing in Texas last year (130 at-bats for Cruz, 50 for Botts) was uneven, but so were Travis Hafner's 62 at-bats with the Rangers in 2002.

    I'm not saying Cruz or Botts will be Hafner. They won't be. But I want to see them given more of an opportunity here to prove what they are or aren't than Hafner was. What happens if one or both of them have great camps and outproduce Sosa, but the 38-year-old holds his own and shows better bat speed then he did in his miserable 2005 season, which was the fifth straight year that his OPS and home run and walk rates declined? Does Sosa make the team, sentencing Cruz and Botts to irregular playing time, or tickets to Oklahoma City?

    What matters to me, as I hope has become clear to anyone who reads this newsletter, is that the Rangers get better. Better now and better later. If Don Welke saw Sosa in the Dominican Republic a couple weeks ago and thought he saw a guy who could help the club, then I'm prepared to be on board. If Jaramillo (who managed a Sarasota club in 1986 that featured Sosa and Juan Gonzalez and Dean Palmer and Rey Sanchez and Kevin Brown, all making their pro debuts) saw what he needed to see and Daniels heard what he needed to hear this week, I'm not about to pretend I know better than they do.

    And if the organization isn't as convinced as I am that Cruz and Botts can contribute meaningfully in Texas -- now -- then obviously I'll defer.

    But a lot of us were really lucky, I guess, when our own instincts told us that Hafner and Aaron Myette for Einar Diaz and Ryan Drese was a terrible idea.

    I'll be thrilled if Sosa comes in here and gives the Rangers more than Richard Hidalgo or Phil Nevin did. I'm glad he feels like he has something to prove.

    Just as long as it doesn't come at the expense of opportunities for Cruz and Botts to prove something of their own.


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    My memory of Sammy Sosa doesn't have anything to do with home runs or steroids. It's from Nolan Ryan's 5000th strikeout game, one of the few highlights of yet another crappy Rangers season. We managed to get seats on the front row of the old Arlington Stadium bleacher seats, right close to the center field tarp. The opposing batter hit a long line drive to straight-out center field, where Sosa was positioned. He ambled out to the wall, seemed to lean against it, and stuck up his glove. The ball hit a foot above the glove and bounced back into the field for a double (at least). All the home runs he hit later in his career haven't erased the memory of that lazy play, seen up close and personal in the friendly old stadium bleachers.
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  24. #24
    Smile... :) mikedsjr's Avatar
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    I have to tip my hat to all the real ranger fans. I won't be a fan until there is a bandwagon to jump on. But I wouldn't jump on any ranger bandwagon, unless there was a bandwagon to jump on in late september. Ranger fans are so passionate and so hopeful. And yet the rangers have only given them only 1 post season win.
    Listen to the Dividing Line, Pirate Christian Radio, CARM, White Horse Inn and RTS University the most nowadays.....

  25. #25
    You ain't Herd? texastrill's Avatar
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    Trill Ranger fan here.As far as Sosa goes,I'll have to wait and see.Hopefully a true comeback year........Although I'm loyal to the Rangers(a distant second to the COWBOYS)I'll see more FW Cats games this year.

  26. #26
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Thanks to the Newberg Report email for this scoop:

    Rangers, Sosa complete deal
    01/29/2007 6:12 PM ET
    By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
    http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/news/ar...=.jsp&c_id=tex

    ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have finalized a one-year Minor League contract with outfielder Sammy Sosa, with an invitation to Spring Training.

    The two sides agreed to a deal in principle two weeks ago but finally completed the contract on Monday. The Rangers have called a press conference for 1 p.m. CT on Tuesday to make a formal announcement.

    Sosa, who is fifth all-time with 588 home runs, did not play in 2006. He was with the Baltimore Orioles in 2005 and hit .221 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs. His best years were with the Chicago Cubs, and he was the 1998 National League's Most Valuable Player when he hit .308 with 66 home runs and 158 RBIs.

    A seven-time All-Star, Sosa hit 243 home runs between 1998-2001. He turned 38 in November and impressed the Rangers enough in a workout at Ameriquest Field in Arlington to warrant a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.

    "I'd love to have him hit fifth behind Mark Teixeira if he shows he can hit Major League pitching," manager Ron Washington said. "As we get into Spring Training, his performance will show what we can do with him.

    "He's looking for an opportunity to get back in the game. There are no promises -- he has to perform. If he does do that, we'll be happy to have him here. If he doesn't, then we'll have to make a decision."

    Sosa, who agreed to a $500,000 base salary with substantial incentives, is expected to compete for a job as the Rangers designated hitter with occasional duties in the outfield. He originally signed with the Rangers and made his Major League debut with them in 1989 before being traded to the Chicago White Sox.
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  27. #27
    In the O.R. Geaux Tigers's Avatar
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    Great job. Now if the Rangers can just sign Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds, and Ken Griffey Jr. they'll have a nice line up. Oh wait, maybe they could also sign a few pitchers and get a decent bullpen together. Nah, that would be a waste of money.
    By the power of greyskull!

  28. #28
    Go Rangers! RadicalBender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geaux Tigers
    Oh wait, maybe they could also sign a few pitchers and get a decent bullpen together. Nah, that would be a waste of money.
    Wow. I'm sick of that particular misconception. The Rangers have two solid starting pitchers (Millwood and Padilla) and two more now that could potentially be superb if not this year, then in the coming years (McCarthy and Tejeda). And the bullpen is actually exceptionally solid. Enough so that Jon Daniels has been entertaining offers for some of the bullpen pitchers all winter. (Watch: depending on how spring training goes, the Rangers will deal someone. Not many other teams have two bona fide potential closers -- in Gagne and Otsuka.) Not to mention the farm teams that are positively stacked with pitching prospects (although less so now because they've traded some away to get help elsewhere).

    So, let's stop this whole "The Rangers need more pitching" mantra. It's not true anymore. What the Rangers really need is an outfielder or two and a DH. Those were the weakest spots last season and they're killing us.
    --Ben
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  29. #29
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RadicalBender
    So, let's stop this whole "The Rangers need more pitching" mantra. It's not true anymore. What the Rangers really need is an outfielder or two and a DH. Those were the weakest spots last season and they're killing us.
    That sounds an awful lot like the description of where Sammy Sosa is supposed to fit -- "designated hitter with occasional duties in the outfield" from the mlb.com article. It sure would be nice if he was able to jump into that role, and $500k plus "incentives" doesn't seem like too big a price to pay to spin the wheel.
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  30. #30
    In the O.R. Geaux Tigers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RadicalBender
    Wow. I'm sick of that particular misconception. The Rangers have two solid starting pitchers (Millwood and Padilla) and two more now that could potentially be superb if not this year, then in the coming years (McCarthy and Tejeda). And the bullpen is actually exceptionally solid. Enough so that Jon Daniels has been entertaining offers for some of the bullpen pitchers all winter. (Watch: depending on how spring training goes, the Rangers will deal someone. Not many other teams have two bona fide potential closers -- in Gagne and Otsuka.) Not to mention the farm teams that are positively stacked with pitching prospects (although less so now because they've traded some away to get help elsewhere).

    So, let's stop this whole "The Rangers need more pitching" mantra. It's not true anymore. What the Rangers really need is an outfielder or two and a DH. Those were the weakest spots last season and they're killing us.
    Show me a Rangers rotation and bullpen taking the team into the postseason and I'll drop the misconception. Pitching wins baseball games, flat out. Pitching wins a World Series, flat out. This team can score runs all day long (at least until the All-Star break, then everything turns to crap), but the pitching rotation cannot keep the other team out of the game. Two solid starters do not make a solid rotation and our bullpen has blown leads year after year.

    I hope you're right about the coming years. I'd love to see the Rangers finally win the AL West and build a little postseason excitment in the area.
    By the power of greyskull!

  31. #31
    Go Rangers! RadicalBender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geaux Tigers
    Pitching wins baseball games, flat out. Pitching wins a World Series, flat out.
    Well, for starters, that's not exactly true. And to prove it, let's take a look at this year's World Series champions: the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Their team ERA was 4.54. You know what the Rangers team ERA was last season? 4.60.

    See, the irony here is that there wasn't much difference between the World Series champion Cardinals and the 3rd Place AL West Rangers last season. One purely power hitter who could get on base too, a couple of guys who could hit for average, a very weak outfield and some very average pitching. Records? Cards finished 83-78. Rangers finished 80-82.

    Quote Originally Posted by Geaux Tigers
    This team can score runs all day long (at least until the All-Star break, then everything turns to crap), but the pitching rotation cannot keep the other team out of the game. Two solid starters do not make a solid rotation and our bullpen has blown leads year after year.
    Still wrong on both points. This team unfortunately cannot score runs all day long. And that's exactly the problem. Mark Teixeira can hit well most of the time and Michael Young is great at getting on base. Hank Blalock had a lousy year last year and then...what? We got one great season from Gary Mathews Jr. before the Angels grossly overpaid for him in the off-season. Some flash from Ian Kinsler and then from Mark DeRosa (now gone) and occasionally from Gerald Laird (when Buck played him) and then, nothing: an ongoing parade of mediocre hitting.

    And actually, two solid starters may not make a solid rotation, per se, but that's all the St. Louis Cardinals had last season.

    Don't believe me?

    St. Louis Cardinals starters (top 7 from baseball-reference, resorted by ERA)
    Chris Carpenter (15-8, 3.09)
    Jeff Suppan (12-7, 4.12)
    Anthony Reyes (5-8, 5.06)
    Jeff Weaver (5-4, 5.18)
    Sidney Ponson (4-4, 5.24)
    Jason Marquis (14-16, 6.02)
    Mark Mulder (6-7, 7.14)

    That "rotation," good sir (two good pitchers and an ongoing cavalcade of scrubs and half-scrubs), won a World Series last year.

    How about the Rangers rotation?
    Robinson Tejeda (5-5, 4.28)
    Vicente Padilla (15-10, 4.50)
    Kevin Millwood (16-12, 4.52)
    Adam Eaton (7-4, 5.12)
    John Koronka (7-7, 5.69)
    John Rheinecker (4-6, 5.86)
    Kameron Loe (3-6, 5.86)

    Frankly, I look at those numbers and that blows the "we can't win if we don't get more pitching" argument out of the water.

    And it's not the bullpen. The Rangers saved 42 games last season and the bullpen had an ERA of 4.13. The Cards? 38 and 3.98. Yes, there were some high-profile blown saves, but the Rangers had enough solid arms that when Cordero imploded, Otsuka was there to pick up the slack.

    Look, all I'm saying is that the traditional Rangers calling card of lots of hitting and no pitching hasn't applied to the team in the past couple of seasons. They finally have a good rotation that with a little finessing (and a little luck on the injury front), can compete for the pennant. Easily. For the first time in years, I am looking at the Rangers rotation and thinking, not only could this work as a rotation, it could actually remain the team's rotation for a few seasons. Not that constant seasonal merry-go-round that we've had for season after season after season.
    --Ben
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  32. #32
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RadicalBender
    Look, all I'm saying is that the traditional Rangers calling card of lots of hitting and no pitching hasn't applied to the team in the past couple of seasons. They finally have a good rotation that with a little finessing (and a little luck on the injury front), can compete for the pennant. Easily. For the first time in years, I am looking at the Rangers rotation and thinking, not only could this work as a rotation, it could actually remain the team's rotation for a few seasons. Not that constant seasonal merry-go-round that we've had for season after season after season.
    Do you think that Washington, a "player's manager" (whatever that means), will be able to coax more hits out of his young (and not so young) arms? You mentioned Laird and, parenthetically, "when Buck played him". Have the Rangers' woes in the past couple of years been more a failure to use the available talent to its greatest potential?
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  33. #33
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Sosa, Sosa, Sosa

    We may as well get used to it. We're going to hear a lot about Sammy Sosa until the first day of the regular season. After that, we can only *hope* to continue to hear a lot about him -- and hope that what we hear involves the words "Homer", "Hit", and "Catch".

    The Morning News has a good article in which Sosa says all the right things. It closes with a chart of pros and cons (I forgot that Washington was involved in the amazing return of the Big Hurt):

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...de.25b5cd.html

    SAMMY SOSA: PROS AND CONS

    How does the signing of Sammy Sosa impact the Rangers? Staff writer Evan Grant looks at the pros and cons of the move:

    Pros

    1. The risk: There is none. It's not a major league contract. At most, if Sosa makes all his bonuses, the Rangers will pay him about $2.7 million.

    2. The staff: Rudy Jaramillo knows Sosa, and Sosa trusts Jaramillo. Jaramillo's track record on reclamation projects is pretty good. It includes Mickey Tettleton, Lee Stevens, Ruben Sierra, Gary Matthews Jr. and Mark DeRosa. Ron Washington had first-hand experience with a similar project last year in Frank Thomas.

    3. The hunger: Sosa is really playing for pride at this point, not money. Pride can be much more of a motivator than dollars.

    Cons

    1. The spectacle: The story of spring training will be Sosa's attempted comeback, which will take away from the new positive-energy angle the Rangers would prefer to discuss.

    2. The strikeouts: If Sosa, Hank Blalock and Brad Wilkerson play every day, that could be more than 400 strikeouts in lineup spots 5-8. That can shut down an offense.

    3. The hunger: Is it really there? Sosa says it is. It's easy to say, much more difficult to prove, especially when you can pick up your designer luggage and hop on your private jet if things don't go well from the start.
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  34. #34
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    I don't follow the Rangers or baseball that much, at all. But, my perception of the team is that it has always been a "pit stop" for stars on their way up or on their way down. . .with the exception of Pudge and Mr. Nolan Ryan.
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  35. #35
    Go Rangers! RadicalBender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertB
    Do you think that Washington, a "player's manager" (whatever that means), will be able to coax more hits out of his young (and not so young) arms? You mentioned Laird and, parenthetically, "when Buck played him". Have the Rangers' woes in the past couple of years been more a failure to use the available talent to its greatest potential?
    I think Washington will be able to draw some more potential out of some of the guys who need to produce more. A lot of fans are looking for Washington to get Blalock to increase his run production and be more solid defensively at third base. The reason for this is that when he was with the A's, Washington is rightly credited with developing Eric Chavez into the Gold Glove-winning third baseman he is today. Hell, Chavez game Washington one of his Gold Glove trophies saying that he couldn't have done it without him.

    One of the bigger problems from the "Buck era" especially last season, were the constant lineup changes. Everyone was being constantly shuffled around. He rarely used the same lineup twice. (I read somewhere -- can't find it now -- that Buck used over 100 different lineups last season.) Now, imagine if you're a hitter trying to find a groove in the lineup and maybe you're having a slump right now, so the manager shuttles you from fifth to second to sixth back to fifth and then sixth and seventh. You wouldn't know where you were going to be (and, consequently, what level of confidence your manager had in you today) until gametime.

    We know that some of the underperforming players have talent. Blalock averaged .300/.350/.522 in his 2003 All-Star season. That has decreased every year. Last season, he averaged .266/.325/.401. He has flashes of brilliance, but it hasn't been harnessed. That to me screams managerial problem.

    Brad Wilkerson is another example. He was never a dominating hitter, but when he was with Montreal in 2003 (his best season with the Expos/Nationals), he averaged .268/.380/.464. Last year with the Rangers? .222/.306/.422, down from .248/.351/.405 in his last season with the Nationals (only his slugging went up, and frankly, if your slugging percentage doesn't go up playing half of your games in Arlington, something else is wrong). Even with injury problems, that decrease can't be attributed all to just him.

    And the whole thing with Rod Barajas/Gerald Laird with Buck was just a disaster. He kept switching them under the guise of righty vs. lefty pitching. But Laird demolished lefty pitching and did fine against righties. Barajas did just average against righties (supposedly his forte) and was horrible against lefties. (Can't find exact season stats, but this old DMN article says that at about mid-season, Laird was batting .463 against lefties and .349 overall. By the end of the season, Laird was batting .296 overall to Barajas' .256.)

    So, basically, I wouldn't attribute everything bad last season to Buck (Jon Daniels made some moves that looked good but simply didn't work out, plus the Adam Eaton injury and other problems didn't help either), but he made a lot of boneheaded calls throughout his tenure and I think Washington will improve a lot of that.
    --Ben
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  36. #36
    Go Rangers! RadicalBender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mballar
    I don't follow the Rangers or baseball that much, at all. But, my perception of the team is that it has always been a "pit stop" for stars on their way up or on their way down. . .with the exception of Pudge and Mr. Nolan Ryan.
    That's not an unfair appraisal. The problem seems to be that the Rangers never really develop from within. We get some guys in the organization and then later trade them away for perceived help now. Sometimes we get lucky and get a guy developed in another system who turns out to be a star for us (Michael Young -- initially drafted by the Blue Jays), but a lot of times we draft well, but give away prospects in iffy trades (let's not forget that a prospect named Sammy Sosa was drafted by the Rangers and later traded for...*shudder*...Harold Baines).

    Basically, the farm has never been that big of a priority for the Rangers until recently. However, the past four seasons or so have been great draft years for the Rangers. The fruits of these drafts are just now starting to appear: Scott Feldman, Wes Littleton, Edinson Volquez, C.J. Wilson and Josh Rupe (who all had some limited action last season) all came from the Rangers farm system.

    The 2007 Draft will be good too. The Rangers hold six picks in the first two rounds. Numbers 17, 24, and 38 are guaranteed. We'll have one pick at 53 or 54, one at 60 or 61 and one between 80 and 82. That's a great way to pick up a lot of good stock for the future.
    --Ben
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  37. #37
    You ain't Herd? texastrill's Avatar
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    Do you think having a young GM is an advantage?I would think so,when the owner is nothing like M.Cuban.If JD made the call on Showalter,good call.
    I agree on the batting order mess.Hope fully Wash. can see a lineup and use it effectively.

  38. #38
    Go Rangers! RadicalBender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by texastrill
    Do you think having a young GM is an advantage?I would think so,when the owner is nothing like M.Cuban.If JD made the call on Showalter,good call.
    I agree on the batting order mess.Hope fully Wash. can see a lineup and use it effectively.
    I wouldn't say that having a young GM is inherently advantageous. However, compared with John Hart (who seemed content to fumble from one bad situation to another), JD's "youthful energy" and different perspective is very welcome.

    JD does seem to realize that the winds in baseball management are changing, thanks to Moneyball and the ongoing exorbitant salary inflation (including some ludicrously-overpaid players earning more than the GDP of some small nation-states), so he seems to bide his time, push bigger money to more solid bets and knows when to let people go.
    --Ben
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  39. #39
    In the O.R. Geaux Tigers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RadicalBender
    They finally have a good rotation that with a little finessing (and a little luck on the injury front), can compete for the pennant.
    Here's to hoping you're right.
    By the power of greyskull!

  40. #40
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RadicalBender
    They finally have a good rotation that with a little finessing (and a little luck on the injury front), can compete for the pennant.
    When we went to the Winter Carnival (or Fan Fest, whatever the marketing department is calling it now), my 10-year-old son read one of the displays at the gift shop and asked, "What's a 'pennant'?" I should have said, "Nobody knows, son... most folks 'round these parts have never actually seen one."
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  41. #41
    In the O.R. Geaux Tigers's Avatar
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    I think it's pronounced "pennay" with a French accent. I seem to remember the "t" is soft at the end.
    By the power of greyskull!

  42. #42
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geaux Tigers
    I think it's pronounced "pennay" with a French accent. I seem to remember the "t" is soft at the end.
    No, you're thinking of that wonderful little French boutique, J C Pen-nay's. "Pennant", if such a word existed in this town, would be prounounced pawn-aw. (there's a joke in there about what 'aw' you'd have to 'pawn' to buy a championship, but I'm too tired to come up with it)
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  43. #43
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Nice article in the D.O. this week: Washington Monument - New Rangers manager injects hope and, yep, even optimism in Arlington

    I love Washington's quotes.

    "Can we win the West? Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt. That's the goal," says the man now adamantly slamming fist on desk and conjuring images of Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, plus some years and minus some drawl. "Seems like every year the Rangers have it going until around the All-Star break, then they collapse. But nope, no more. I'm going to take them all the way to the finish line."

    "This is not the same old Rangers," continues the charismatic leader who is blowing my mind, much less distracting me from a runny nose and tingly toes. "I'm going to take the shackles off this team. I want the players to be who they are, not a bunch of guys looking over their shoulders and worrying about petty stuff. If you're a prankster, prank. If you're quiet, don't say a word. As long as they keep the firemen and the police out, the clubhouse belongs to them. I know these guys have it in them, and it's my job to get it out. When we start clicking, we'll take no prisoners."

    "I just want him to be Hank Blalock, hitting homers, driving in runs and playing third base like a Gold Glover," Washington says. "I'm taking the burden off him coming to the park wondering if he's going to play against some tough lefty pitcher. Instead, I want him focused on figuring out a way to beat that lefty's ass."

    "It's all going to work out," says Washington, concluding his wintry mix of sermon and salesmanship. "I've started getting rid of the tension that was everywhere, with the players and even their wives. We're cleansing ourselves. We're going to be a team that scratches and claws when we're behind and that goes for the knockout blow when we're ahead. We're going to win."
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  44. #44
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    I'm really starting to like Ron Washington.


    First spring training Rangers game on KRLD March 2nd!!
    Consumers are not [the same as] citizens, and when a system pretends that they are, peculiar and even perverse things happen to decision making and democracy... - Benjamin Barber

  45. #45
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Check out this snippet from the 2/20 Newberg Report:
    Washington has rearranged the Surprise clubhouse. Pitchers and position players are no longer grouped with each other, and players aren't sorted by native tongue, either.
    The lockers used to be segregated by position and language? Yeah, making it easy for everyone to form their little cliques like in high school is a *great* way to build team cohesion.

    No wonder the team couldn't come together in a pinch. A late-inning comeback just ain't going to happen when the position players blame the pitchers for blowing the lead, and the pitchers are muttering about bad swings and defensive blunders... which is just what you could expect if you put them on opposite sides of the locker room after a tough loss. Oh, and make sure to have the English-speakers wonder what the Latino players are saying about them, and vice versa. What were previous managers thinking?
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  46. #46
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  47. #47
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    The Rangers have sewed up Michael Young for the next few hundred years, and Jamey Newberg is absolutely ecstatic.
    If Tom Hicks or Jon Daniels or Ron Washington tell you they think the Texas Rangers are poised to win, part of that is because they're in charge of seeing that through. It doesn't mean you should disregard what they say, but then again no owner or GM or manager doesn't think his team can win.

    If I tell you the same thing, you have to understand that I'm a homer, which doesn't mean I blindly endorse every decision this organization makes or that I see a silver lining in games lost -- but filter what I say through the recognition that I tend to see the glass three-fifths full and will support this club, passionately, as long as I live.

    But this is different. Michael Young has just told you that he thinks the Texas Rangers will win. This contract, barring career-changing injury, is one he could have gotten from any team in baseball in a year and nine months. He gets an extension of five years and $80 million that will kick in after the 2008 season, meaning he will be under contract for the next seven years for $88.5 million. A significant chunk of the money is deferred, however, and the result is an AAV between $11.5 million and $12 million.
    His full report is available here
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  48. #48
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    I've fired up my Magic Numbers page for 2007, and added a new feature: an RSS/XML feed! If y'all with RSS readers could help me test it, I'd appreciate any feedback.

    http://www.magicnumbers.org/
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

  49. #49
    Super Moderator Tnekster's Avatar
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    From DMN

    The Rangers have severed their relationship with Ameriquest Mortgage. Effective immediately, the stadium is now Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Details to come.

  50. #50
    the-young-and-the-bright RobertB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tnekster
    The Rangers have severed their relationship with Ameriquest Mortgage. Effective immediately, the stadium is now Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Details to come.
    It could have something to do with this. If owning a home is the American Dream, then getting laid off because of your company's predatory lending strategies is the American Nightmare. Not something the Rangers wanted associated with the American Pasttime.
    Ameriquest parent closes call centers, loan center
    Fri Mar 16, 2007 4:36PM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - ACC Capital, the parent of subprime lender Ameriquest, has shuttered four of its call centers nationwide as part of job cuts in response to a "very challenging" market in loans to less creditworthy individuals, the company said.

    ACC, which last month struck a deal in which Citigroup Inc. (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research) agreed to extend it additional working capital and obtained an option to buy its origination and servicing units, also said it is closing one of three loan processing centers.

    ACC did not disclose how many people it was laying off. Its Argent wholesale mortgage lender, which is closing its White Plains, New York state-based processing center, employs more than 1,000, according to its web site.

    Ameriquest was the third-largest U.S. mortgage lender to people with weak credit in the third quarter of 2005 but had fallen to 12th-largest by the third quarter of 2006.

    An ACC spokesman said its Ameriquest consumer lending unit will close call centers in Schaumburg, Illinois; Shelton, Connecticut; Phoenix, Arizona and Sacramento, consolidating those activities in Orange, California, where ACC is based.

    ACC employed about 6,000 people across its three main units prior to the layoffs.

    "This is a very challenging non-prime market," the company said in a statement issued on Thursday. "Only companies with the ability to control costs and improve loan quality are going to be successful.

    Orange, California-based ACC last May said it was laying off 3,800 employees, or about a third of its work force, as it closed 229 branch offices in a bid to cut costs.

    ACC announced its relationship with Citigroup after what it said was a review of strategic alternatives available to it.
    I hope the Rangers got an option on that bell, which would ring after each homer. I was looking forward to hearing it a lot more this season.
    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09

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