Texas Rangers Trade Ian Kinsler to Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder

It’s not quite breaking anymore, but tonight the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers agreed to trade Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder. It is a one for one trade, and according to multiple reports Detroit is also sending some cash Texas’ way. The trade was first reported by CBS’ Jon Heyman.

Fielder’s contract has $168 million remaining on it, and goes through 2020, while Kinsler’s has $67 million remaining on it and goes through 2017, with a $5 million buyout on a player option for 2018. Also, according to reports, Fielder had the option to block the trade and did not.

Fielder is exactly the type of power bat the Rangers needed in this lineup, and has the potential for some huge numbers at the Ballpark in Arlington. However, it’s undetermined what affect Texas BBQ will have on his weight.

Meanwhile, Kinsler’s departure allows Jurickson Profar to play full time in the bigs, which is something the Rangers (and fans) have wanted for a few years now.

Seeing how Detroit is also sending $30 million to Texas, this trade works out very well for both teams. Texas still needs to address left field and catcher, but they’ve added a power bat in Fielder that they sorely needed in 2013.

 

Taking on a huge contract like this sounds like it could handcuff Texas financially moving forward, but seeing how Detroit is sending $30 million to the Rangers, it doesn’t necessarily rule out Bryan McCann or Shin Soo Choo, two free agents that have been linked to the Rangers recently. It also doesn’t rule out Texas going after Nelson Cruz, who they are still in talks with.

It does, however, rule out Mike Napoli, who many Rangers fans (including myself) would have loved to see back in the Metroplex. Napoli will probably go back to Boston now, with Colorado also having an outside shot to sign the 1B/C.

Ranger fans will miss seeing Kinsler in the lineup, but this is a great addition to the offense.

Nolan Ryan, Texas Rangers’ CEO, Announces Retirement

Texas Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan has just announced his retirement, effective October 31.

Wow.

There have long been rumors of a dispute between Texas Rangers’ President and General Manager Jon Daniels, and CEO/legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan.

Whether or not that has anything to do with Ryan’s retirement, we don’t know. What we do know is that the Rangers are effectively losing the face of their organization with Ryan’s departure.

Here’s the official press release.

Arlington, Texas—Texas Rangers Chief Executive Officer Nolan Ryan today announced his retirement, effective October 31.

“This is the right time for me to step down from my role of overseeing the Rangers organization,” said Ryan. “I am extremely proud of what this organization has accomplished. On the field, we have enjoyed great success at the major league level. The fans have supported us in record numbers the last two years and we have been able to upgrade the ballpark and enhance the in-game experience to reward that loyalty.

“We have a group of talented and passionate employees who have helped make this success possible. This organization is in good hands. I am leaving with a lot of great memories from my tenure here and I know the organization will continue to thrive in the years to come.”

“Under Nolan’s leadership and guidance over the last six years, the Rangers organization has made enormous strides both on and off the field,” said Rangers Co-Chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson. “Nolan has meant so much to this franchise and to our fans. We thank him for his many contributions, including his role in helping to develop one of the finest baseball operations staff in the game.

“Today we turn the page on what we believe is a very bright future for this organization. We wish Nolan all the best.”

Should the Texas Rangers Bring Back Mike Napoli?

(Photo Credit: Associated Press)

Mike Napoli is one of the most popular Texas Rangers in recent history. Acquired from Toronto before the 2011 season, the catcher/first baseman hit .320 with 30 home runs and 75 RBI in his first season with Texas. He also had the highest WAR (wins above replacement) of his career at 5.3.

Had Texas managed to hold on and win the 2011 World Series, Napoli most likely would have been the MVP. However, a bad 2012 (.227, 24 HR, 56 RBI, 1.4 WAR) led to Texas moving on. Unfortunately for Napoli, injuries and a failed physical led to a three year contract with the Boston Red Sox being voided, and a new, one year/$5 million deal ended up being agreed upon.

This season with Boston, Napoli is hitting .259, with 23 home runs and 92 RBI. Not to mention, his on base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS are all up from 2012, and he’s racked up his second highest WAR (4.1) of his career. He’ll hit the free agent market this offseason at the age of 32, and should have a few more decent seasons left in the tank.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Jamie, A.J. Pierzynski was a solid catcher for the Rangers this season. In fact, Pierzynski (.272, 17 Hr, 77 RBI, 1.6 WAR), was one of the most consistent contributors in the Rangers lineup in 2012. I would love to see him back (if the Rangers are unable to land Brian McCann in free agency). So how then, would Napoli and Pierzynski co-exist? That’s simple.

Bump Mitch Moreland and stick Napoli at first base.

Moreland is the latest in a long line of Ranger first basemen to under perform. He hit .232 this season and had a WAR of 0.6. He hit a miserable .186 after the All-Star break, and he hit only .227 against right handed pitching. If the Rangers can upgrade even slightly at that position, they need to do so.

Of course, there are other players the Rangers could go after to replace Moreland at first, including Justin Morneau and James Loney, and when it comes down to it, any of the three would be great gets for Texas. The simple issue is, Texas needs a new first baseman.

If that guy is Mike Napoli, then by all means go get him.

What do you think? Should they bring him back? Vote below and tell us why or why not.

[poll id=”13″]

Bad Luck Derek Can’t Catch a Break

With Wednesday’s 5-4 win over Houston, the Rangers swept the three game series against the Astros and finally capitalized on a quality start from Derek Holland.

This season we have seen  Holland reach a level of consistency any team would love to have from their number two pitcher.

Holland has a 2.65 ERA in his last 10 starts. In six of those games, he allowed two runs or fewer and even pitched a shutout against Oakland. The sad stat hidden in Hollands beautiful outings is that he is 3-2 and the team is only 6-4 during that stretch.

For whatever reason, this season, the Rangers don’t seem to be able to come through for Holland like they do for some of the other guys in the rotation. From the bullpen to the lineup, Holland seems to be on his own most nights.

When Texas lost to Seattle last Friday, it was the club’s eighth blown save of the year. It was also the fourth failed save on a night Holland was the starter.

Entering last Friday’s game, Texas had the fewest blown save in the majors with seven. Over the course of the season, Hollands has provided Texas with eight opportunities to earn a save and the Rangers have blown it four times. That’s half of the teams blown save total.

Holland didn’t give up an earned run in Texas 3-1 loss against Seattle last Friday. Against the Yankees on July 25, Holland allowed two runs and the Rangers lost 2-0. Holland gave up three runs against Baltimore on July 19, and Texas lost 3-1. Finally, he allowed two runs against the Mariners back on July 3, and the Rangers managed to lost 2-4.

Texas has surged to the top of the American League West in the recent weeks and its offense is providing runs support consistently.   Hopefully that means Texas can find ways to support Holland, much like they did Wednesday night.

 

Nelson Cruz to Accept 50 Game Suspension

(Photo Credit: Brandon Wade/AP)

It is being reported that Nelson Cruz will soon receive a 50 game suspension from the MLB for being linked to Biogenesis, a steroid shop out of Miami, Florida.

 


Unlike some other players that will also receive suspensions, Cruz will accept his punishment and begin serving his suspension immediately. This would put Nelson back in the Rangers’ lineup for their first playoff game (Texas has exactly 50 games left this season), should they make the playoffs.

While Cruz is out, expect to see a lot of Jeff Baker in right field. It’s also likely that Texas will recall outfielder Engel Beltre from Triple-A Round Rock, especially since Craig Gentry was sent to the Disabled List with a fractured hand on Sunday.

Obviously the big loss is on the offensive side of things, as Cruz was leading the team this season with 27 home runs and 76 RBI, but Baker has shown signs of being a good hitter in his limited role this season.

Baker is hitting .310 with 9 home runs and 16 RBI in 100 at bats so far this year.

We’ll keep you up to date on the situation as things unfold further, but for now, that’s the gist of things.

Texas Rangers Streak Into Oakland: Keys to the Series

My how a week can change the division landscape.

Just last Sunday it looked like it was almost the end for the Texas Rangers. Six games back of the Oakland Athletics in the division, on a four game losing streak, and having not gained any ground on the A’s in over a month, it seemed like there was no climbing out of this hole for Texas.

Then came a sweep of the Angels in the most glorious of fashions, and a beating of the Diamondbacks in a makeup game. Meanwhile, Oakland dropped two of three to Toronto and voila. Texas is only 3.5 games back of Oakland heading to California for the weekend.

A sweep would bring Texas to within a half game of the division lead, and would put the Rangers in prime position to make a surge through the last two months of the season.

Besides Oakland, the Rangers only play two other teams with records above .500 the rest of the way (Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay). That’s a total of 13 of their 54 remaining games against teams with winning records. So, a series sweep, or even just a win, could provide even more momentum to an already great week.

So, with the importance of this series in mind, let’s look at a few keys to winning this series:

1. Solid starts

The starters this weekend are Alexi Ogando, Matt Garza and Derek Holland. We know what we can expect from Garza and Holland, as they have been extremely solid as of late (minus Hollands shaky outing against the Angels).

Ogando, however, has been a little shaky since coming off the DL in late July, only making it through 4.2 innings against the Indians, and before that barely making it through 5 against the Yankees. Hopefully he can keep this Oakland offense under control.

2. Get to Oakland’s pitchers early

The Ranger bats have woken up in a big way this week, and that trend will need to continue in Oakland. Tommy Milone is pitching for the A’s on Friday night, and the last time he faced the Rangers he allowed six runs in 5.1 innings.

Jarrod Parker has been good against Texas this year, and A.J. Griffin recorded a loss vs. the Rangers despite having a good outing.

The strategy needs to be different than the “mash home runs” mentality in Arlington, as Oakland boasts a huge field. Look for Rangers hitters to try and hit balls to the gaps for extra bases.

3. Close Out Strong

The bullpen is arguably this team’s biggest strength, and they’ll need the best they can get from Neal Cotts, Robbie Ross and Joakim Soria in this series. Those guys, along with Jason Frasor, need to be prepared to get to the 9th so Joe Nathan can shut things down.

Sounds pretty simple, right? So what do you think? How will the Rangers fare in Oakland this weekend?

[poll id=”10″]

The Texas Rangers at the Trade Deadline

(Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

Like everyone predicted the Rangers made a trade at the deadline but in the process, gained a player that simply will not put this team over the top.

Because of the recent success of the Rangers Franchise, the fan base and even the media view each season as either a title or bust. Ranger fans have become spoiled with the idea that their team is a title contender when realistically the 2013 Rangers are running the risk of missing the playoffs entirely.

Like I said up top, the Rangers traded for Matt Garza who is an aggressive power pitcher that throws hard and throws a lot of strikes. However in the grand scheme of things, Garza is no ace. On most teams hey may not even be a number two guy in the rotation. It is however a step up from who was previously in his spot in the rotation. Looking at the lineup, something needs to be done to bring in a player that can bring fear into the eyes of opposing pitchers.

Look at all the top teams in the American League. All of them have one or even two players that pitchers hate to go up against because with one swing of the bat those players cam change the entire course of the game.

The Detroit Tigers have Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the Boston Red Sox have David Ortiz, the Tampa Bay Rays have Evan Longoria, the Baltimore Orioles play home to Chris Davis, and the Oakland Athletics have this year’s Home Run Derby Champ, Yeonis Cespedes.

An argument can be made that the Rangers have Adrian Beltre but when compared to the players I listed he doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to sheer power. Other than Beltre, the Rangers have Cruz but right now his eligibility for this season is compromised and along with his inconsistency at the plate and his inability in the field makes him a liability on defense. Cruz plays the way Cruz can play when the Rangers are playing the Houston Astros, but something tells me that they won’t be seeing the ‘Stros in the playoffs this season or any season anytime in the near future.

When Beltre and Cruz combine for anything less than a three hit night the team simply struggles to get anything going offensively.

What this team needs is a Giancarlo Stanton or dare I say a Josh Hamilton.

Hate all you want and argue about his production this season, but with Hamilton in this Rangers lineup the entire team appeared to be more efficient and effective at the plate because teams have to be cautious with Hamilton leaving chances for the batters around him to make a greater impact.

The Rangers are indeed in need of that extra bat, especially if they lose Cruz for the rest of the season.

Where the Rangers of 2010 and 2011 had a certain swag and confidence about themselves, this team appears skittish and timid hoping that something happens for them instead of hitting the field every night looking to make something happen.

Those teams were go getters and quickly became the favorites to take the title. So what if they lost. For two years fans witnessed a form of baseball that has never been seen in North Texas and now all the energy and anticipation of the possibility of the Rangers first title appears to have disappeared as if 2010 and 2011 never happened.

Give the team a bat and you give that can change the outcome of any game; you give the team a pulse. Baseball is underrated as a team sport. On offense everyone feeds of each other. A leadoff double can lead to a multi-run inning, a home run can ignite the crowd and spark a rally. All of this can be started with that one bat that makes an offense whole and that one piece is what this Rangers team is missing. Too bad time is running out.

Perhaps this year is not the year that all Ranger fans have been waiting for since the teams move from Washington DC but knowing that this team is close to getting back to where it was a couple years ago is rather comforting.

It just so happens that this one missing piece is one of the hardest to find in today’s MLB and for a team with a real shot to win its first title in franchise history, it can’t let chances fall by the waste side any longer.

Rangers have been given the chances of a life time to prove itself as an elite team  in the league  but has failed to take advantage and like previous opportunities to do so.

The Rangers need to become more aggressive. They are a top team in the league, maybe it is about time to act like one.

Rangers open second half on wrong side of a sweep

(Photo Source: Jason Miller/Getty Images North America)

The All-Star break should have provided the Texas Rangers with an opportunity to recharge and reset before making a push for a pennant. Instead, the Rangers stumbled around the Ballpark on their way to being swept by the Orioles.

Here is a quick look at the three-game debacle:

Just Bring ’em Home Already! 

The Rangers continued to struggle with men in scoring position- stranding 10 in Friday’s 3-1 loss to Baltimore. The Rangers’ inability to bring runners home has been the epicenter of their slide in the AL West. In its last six games Texas is 4-for-37 with runners in scoring position.

The only upside was Texas pitcher Derek Holland worked into the eighth inning. Despite giving up three runs on six hits, Hollands performance was solid and provided the weary bullpen with even more rest.

 

Wolf, What Are You Doing? Wolf, Stahp!

Game two was over almost as soon as it started. It was a good thing Holland kept the bullpen rested because on Saturday Rangers’ starter Ross Wolf failed to make it out of the third inning in a 7-4 loss to the Orioles.

In the first inning, Wolf gave up two runs. No reason to panic right?

In the second, he gave up another. Three runs isn’t too bad.

Third inning: cue total Ross Wolf meltdown. After four more runs come home, Wolf sat down and the Rangers were done.

When he sat down in the third, Wolf had faced 16 batters. He allowed 11 of them to reach base. By the end of his third MLB start, Wolf’s ERA jumped from a solid 2.14 to 3.79.

When your club is struggling to score runs, spotting the opponent seven is never a winning formula. Wolf’s lackluster performance perfectly demonstrates Texas’ need for another arm in the rotation.

Completing the Sweep

A couple of errors kept the Rangers from coming back Sunday, as the club fell to the Orioles 4-2; completing Baltimore’s sweep of Texas.

 

The Rangers have lost seven of their last eight and trail Oakland in the AL West by three. It gets worse; Texas has also dropped five straight games against Baltimore. After the sweep, Texas stands 1 1/2 games behind the Orioles for the final AL wildcard spot.

Texas’ record in July this season is 6-10. With nine games left this month, the Rangers must try to make up some ground on the A’s this month. It will be a tall order, as the Rangers face the Yankees, then the Indians, and finally the Angels to close out July.  The goal for those next nine games, should be to finish 6-3.

Josh Hamilton is the Angels’ Lamar Odom

(Photo Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images)

I know what you’re thinking: Jamie, why the heck are you writing about two guys we absolutely hate around here?

Because something just dawned on me. Sports redemption is happening right in front of our faces. We’re getting our good karma for suffering through a terrible season of give-up from one of the worst players to ever don a Mavericks jersey.

Josh Hamilton’s 2013 season with the L.A. Angels of Anaheim is a reincarnation of Lamar Odom’s 2012 season with the Dallas Mavericks. Both seasons are (or were) record breaking in a negative way for each player.

In 2012 (50 games played), Odom set career lows for the following:

  • Minutes per game (20.5)
  • Field goal percentage (35.2%)
  • Free throw percentage (59.2%)
  • Rebounds per game (4.2)
  • Assists per game (1.7)
  • Points per game (6.6)

Odom has since re-set career lows in points/game (4), free throw shooting percentage (47.6) and minutes per game (19.7) this past season.

In 2013 (70 games played), Josh Hamilton is on pace to set career lows in:

  • batting average (currently: .210/on pace for: .210/career average .296)
  • on base percentage (.266/.266/.355)
  • slugging percentage (.384/.384/.535)
  • OPS (.650/.650/.890)
  • strikeouts* (75/169/99.3)

*strikeouts would, obviously, be a new career-high, which is a low, obviously.

There are also a few categories where he’s on pace to set career lows in seasons where he has played at least 120 games (which excludes 2007 and 2009, during which he played 90 and 89 games, respectively):

  • hits (currently: 57/on pace for: 128)
  • home runs (10/23)
  • RBI (24/54)
  • doubles (13/29)

Josh Hamilton, by his own account, is trying. He’s just not getting anywhere. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he swings on the same plane regardless of where the ball is going. He’s been pretty snippy with the media as of late, which means that he’s sincerely frustrated with the way he’s playing.

SIDENOTE: For those of you that think he’s faking it and really doesn’t care, I disagree. He’s not the kind of guy to fake emotion. He never has been. In fact, I don’t think he has the mental fortitude to keep up a ruse like that for very long.

In the case of Lamar Odom, he was so full of give up that Mark Cuban publicly ripped him in the middle of a game in Memphis (a game which I happened to attend, oddly enough). He was benched for the second half of that game against the Grizzlies, and never saw the court again. In fact, he was so pathetic that Cuban basically cut ties with him all-together, but kept him on the payroll so he couldn’t bolt elsewhere (specifically, back to the Lakers).

In every post-game interview, even in his press conference right after his signing, he seemed morose. Like he didn’t want to be here. Odom, like Hamilton, also lacked mental fortitude, but for a different reason. He couldn’t even bring himself to try for the guy that was writing his checks. I even wrote about it midway through that season, imploring people to stop booing Odom because he couldn’t handle it mentally.

However, one thing I know is true. I enjoy watching Hamilton struggle as much as I despised Odom’s lack of effort. It makes me feel vindicated, in some weird, twisted way. Like my suffering through Odom wasn’t for naught. My reward is Josh Hamilton helping sink the Angels.

[poll id=”6″]

 

Nelson Cruz Could Face Suspension for PEDs

(Photo Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Well, the day has come. In a report from ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Major League Baseball now has the key evidence it needs to begin pursuing suspensions for 20 players, including Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and, yes, Nelson Cruz.

Back in January a report came out linking Cruz, Rodriguez and Braun, along with a handful of other MLB players, and athletes in other sports, to a Miami clinic called Biogenesis, owned by Tony Bosch.

At that time, Bosch was remaining silent on whether or not Biogenesis had, in fact, provided performance enhancing drugs to professional athletes. During a search of Biogenesis’ offices, a ledger was uncovered that had code names for all of the athletes they were working with. Once it was clear Bosch was not going to cooperate, the MLB filed a lawsuit against him, claiming tortious interference.

However, it seems like Bosh has changed his tune, and is now cooperating with the MLB. From the Outside the Lines report:

Sources said Bosch will meet with MLB officials in New York on Friday to begin sharing information and materials. He is expected to meet with lawyers and investigators for several days. The announcement of suspensions could follow within two weeks.

Sources said discussions between Bosch and MLB were delayed while Bosch’s lawyers spoke to the U.S. Attorney’s office to get a sense of what sort of legal jeopardy Bosch might face. Before he would agree to a deal, sources said, he wanted an assurance that MLB could help mitigate any criminal exposure. MLB officials promised to do what they could, but do not have the power to stop a federal criminal investigation.

It’s not 100% certain that Cruz will be suspended, but it;s almost 100% certain that he will be one of the guys the MLB goes after. If Crus does end up getting suspended, it will probably be for 50 games. However, don’t suspect any suspension to come down soon. Think about it, if the MLB is going to interview Bosch and all of the suspected users, we could see suspensions handed out as late as August.

Cruz will likely fight any suspension brought down on him, and will try to bring Bosch’s credibility into question. Bosch has claimed in the past that he doesn’t know anything about PEDs, and that statement could be used against him. However, it’s unlikely that any petition or protest would result in an overruling.

So, with this in mind, the Rangers need to start thinking about what their outfield and lineup look like if Cruz gets suspended and is out for the majority of the second half of the season.

The first thing that comes to mind would be to move Leonys Martin to right field full time, and insert Craig Gentry into center.

That still leaves a big power bat hole in the middle of the lineup, which leads me to think that the Rangers could give rookie Jurickson Profar a shot in the outfield.

Another scenario would be to shift Kinsler to the outfield (likely left field) and have Profar play second base. Profar has shown signs of good power in his time up with the Rangers, and could be the answer to filling that void.

Of course, that’s all speculation at this point. We’ll need to keep an eye on the MLB’s proceedings for now.