Tag:Rangers
Posted on: November 28, 2011 5:00 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 5:03 pm
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Josh Hamilton loses his 'handler'

By Matt Snyder

The Milwaukee Brewers lost their hitting coach when Dale Sveum was hired as the Cubs new manager. Monday, the Brewers filled the hole by hiring Johnny Narron. It unites him with his older brother Jerry, who is the Brewers bench coach. Still, that's not really the story here.

Johnny Narron has been with Rangers star Josh Hamilton for a long time. Hamilton has known Narron since he was nine years old and playing on a youth basketball team with Narron's son. Once becoming a professional baseball player, Hamilton had the well-documented struggles with addiction and has since cleaned himself up. And Narron's been right with him every step of the way.

When Hamilton finally emerged on the 2007 Reds, Narron was considered Hamilton's "handler" by many and never left his side. His technical title was video and administrative coach. When Hamilton was shipped to the Rangers via trade the following offseason, Narron went to Texas as well, getting the title of assistant hitting coach. But he was basically Hamilton's shadow. When Hamilton was answering questions at All-Star Game media day about Rangers fan Shannon Stone's death, for example, Narron was sitting right next to him.

"I'm with him and I'm for him 24 hours a day," Narron said (MLB.com). "I've been very blessed to be a part of this whole trip. I'm able to be there and support a young man who has turned his life over to God. I love Josh. I know that Josh loves me. We respect each other. It's a relationship that we both believe was meant to be."

Hamilton obviously has a strong support system, but losing Narron might test his mettle a bit. Obviously they won't stop communicating, but that's not the same as being with someone all day every day during the grueling 162-game baseball season.

"We've been in touch with Josh -- before and after the hiring -- and will sit down to discuss the best way to move forward," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We're confident we will continue to support Josh and all of our players as needed. In anticipation of losing Johnny, we had some discussion about this, but will be in better position to address that specifically once we've all put our heads together."

Hopefully everything works out.

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Posted on: November 27, 2011 4:39 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 4:51 pm
 

Report: C.J. Wilson next to get Marlins tour

By Matt Snyder

The newly-minted Miami Marlins are looking to make a big splash in free agency as they head into a new stadium -- and new era, says management -- having already given the grand tour of the new facilities to high-profile free agents Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle. Next on the list: Left-handed starting pitcher C.J. Wilson.

According to Sun-Sentinel.com, Wilson will get his tour Monday.

Free Agency
Wilson, 31, has only been a starter at the big-league level for two seasons, but it's been as an integral member of back-to-back American League championship rotations. This past season, Wilson made the All-Star team for the first time in his career, going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 206 strikeouts in 223 1/3 innings. He did falter in the playoffs, though, allowing 29 hits, 19 walks and 18 earned runs in 29 innings. It remains to be seen if that will affect his haul in free agency, but it's possible that -- along with his brief body of work for a 31 year old -- holds down those offers a bit. On the flip-side, Wilson had the best season of any of the free agent starting pitchers.

Also contained in the Sun Sentinel piece was that it doesn't appear the Marlins have any interest in Prince Fielder. Seeing as how they have reported offered Pujols a deal, that's a bit of a surprise.

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Posted on: November 21, 2011 8:11 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 11:02 pm
 

Rangers sign Nathan, move Feliz to rotation

By Matt Snyder

The Texas Rangers have signed former Twins closer Joe Nathan, the team announced Monday night. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the deal is for two years and $14.5 million with a club option for 2014.

The plan all along was to move Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation, and this signing only reinforces those plans -- with Mike Adams and Joe Nathan now forming the back-end of the Texas bullpen. Feliz has been told he's moving to the rotation.

“Jon Daniels and Ron Washington called me a couple of days ago and told me about the team’s decision for me to be a starting pitcher next season," Feliz said in a statement. "I was a starter for my whole career before I came to the major leagues. I am happy to know the team’s decision this early, and I have plenty of time to get ready. I have already started running."

Nathan was one of baseball's premier closers from 2004-09. He was a four-time All-Star who twice finished in the top five of Cy Young voting. His average season in that stretch was 41 saves with a 1.87 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 86 strikeouts in 70 innings. That would be a career year for many, many pitchers, but that was the average season for Nathan.

Closing Time
But then he tore the ulnar-collateral ligament in his right (throwing) elbow prior to the 2010 season and needed to have Tommy John surgery. It caused him to miss all of 2010. In 2011, Nathan wasn't himself in the early going, as he probably just wasn't fully recovered. From his June 25 return to the end of the season, Nathan had 11 saves and six holds against just one blown save with a 3.38 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and nearly a strikeout per inning. Given a full offseason, it's possible Nathan gets closer back to previous form, though at age 37 (it's actually his birthday Tuesday), the odds of him getting all the way back to pre-surgery form aren't great.

If your favorite team is still in need of a closer, don't fret. Heath Bell, Ryan Madson, Francisco Cordero and Francisco Rodriguez are still free agents along with cheaper options like Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps and Brad Lidge. Plus, Huston Street and Andrew Bailey appear to be available via trade.

Finally, with Feliz's official move to the rotation, the odds of the Rangers letting free agent starter C.J. Wilson walk increase. Feliz will likely join the foursome of Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and either Alexi Ogando or Scott Feldman. If the Rangers do choose to re-up with Wilson, both Ogando and Feldman could pitch out of the bullpen.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 19, 2011 6:32 pm
 

Arizona Fall League wraps up season

Nolan ArenadoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Salt River Rafters wrapped up the Arizona Fall League season with an 9-3 victory over the Surprise Saguaros on Saturday, and with it came a flurry of awards.

Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (pictured) won the league's Most Valuable Player Award. The 20-year old, playing for the Rafters, hit safely in 27 of his 30 games, including a 2-for-4 performance with a solo homer in Saturday's championship game. Arrando led the minor leagues with 122 RBI at High-A Modesto in 2011.

Miami outfielder Kevin Mattison won the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award. Mattison tied for the league lead in triples (five) and second in runs scored (29). Mattison was added to the Marlins' 40-man roster on Friday.

Arenado and Mattison were also members of the league's Top Prospects Team.

The entire team:

Outfield

Bryce Harper (Nationals): .333/.400/.636, 6 HR, 26 RBI

Michael Choice (Athletics): .318/.423/.667, 6 HR, 18 RBI

Robbie Grossman (Pirates): .375/.472/625, 7 HR, 22 RBI

Kevin Mattison (Marlins): .349/.433/.624, 6 HR, 23 RBI

Adam Eaton (Diamondbacks): .344/.410/.475, 2 HR, 16 RBI

Wil Myers (Royals): .360/.481/.674, 4 HR, 18 RBI

Third base

Nolan Arenado (Rockies): .388/.423/.636, 6 HR, 33 RBI

Mike Olt (Rangers): .349/.433/.764, 13 HR 43 RBI

Shortstop

Junior Lake (Cubs): .296/.352/.548, 5 HR, 21 RBI

Brandon Crawford (Giants): .276/.315/.414, 2 HR, 12 RBI

Second base

Joe Panik (Giants): .323/.394/.473, 2 HR, 13 RBI

Brian Dozier (Twins): .296/..358/.454, 3 HR, 22 RBI

First base

Joe Terdoslavich (Braves): .321/.424/.548, 3 HR, 14 RBI

Matt Adams (Cardinals): .250/.258/.475, 4 HR, 19 RBI

Catcher

Christian Bethancourt (Braves): .306/.324/.556, 5 HR, 13 RBI

Derek Norris (Nationals): .276/.367/.382, 2 HR, 11 RBI

Designated hitter

Jedd Gyorko (Padres): .437/.500/.704, 5 HR, 22 RBI

Josh Vitters (Cubs): .360/.383/.540, 4 HR, 17 RBI

Starting pitchers

Danny Hultzen (Mariners): 1-0, 1.40 ERA, 19.1 IP, 18 SO, 5 BB

Terry Doyle (White Sox): 4-0, 1.98 ERA, 27.1 IP, 22 SO, 5 BB

Relievers

Brad Boxberger (Reds): 3 saves, 5.40 ERA, 13.1 IP, 22 SO, 6 BB

Jacob Diekman (Phillies): 2 saves, 0.79 ERA, 11.1 IP, 14 SO, 6 BB

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 18, 2011 8:11 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 9:53 pm
 

Report: Sizemore 'close' to deal with Indians

Grady Sizemore

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Indians turned down their $9 million option on outfielder Grady Sizemore, the two sides are reportedly "close" to a new, one-year deal, FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reports.

Rosenthal said the talks were "serious" with one source saying it was "70-30" and another source said it was "very likely." Rosenthal reports the deal will be for less guaranteed money than his previous deal, but incentives could make it close to the $9 million he could have made in 2012.

"The Indians have come at us with an aggressive offer," Sizemore's agent, Joe Urbon, told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. Urbon added the two sides have "exchanged proposals." 

Sizemore has been limited to just 104 games over the last two seasons with serious knee injuries, undergoing surgery on his right knee on Monday. It was his fourth operation in the past two years, including micro fracture surgery on his left knee in 2010.

Sizemore, 29, hit .224/.285/.422 with 10 home runs and 32 RBI in 71 games in 2011. He won two Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger while appearing in three All-Star Games from 2006-08. 

In addition to the Indians, the Cubs, Rangers, Giants, Yankees, Phillies, Rockies and Red Sox had reportedly had interest in signing Sizemore.

Keep up with the latest free agent signings with the CBSSports.com free agent tracker. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Would expanded playoffs change past results?



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Commissioner Bud Selig wants one more team in the playoffs as soon as the 2012 season, with the two wild card teams facing off in one game to decide which team moves on to the next round. The idea is to expand the playoffs and at the same time giving division winners an advantage over a team that doesn't win its division.

Not only does the extra team mean there's more playoffs, but the wild card teams will have to juggle their rotation to try to get their best pitcher pitch in the one-game playoff.

2011

American League: No baseball fan will forget watching Game 162 for the Rays and Red Sox -- a once-in-a-lifetime finish to the regular season that wouldn't happen under the new format. Of course, it was there only because of the wild card -- something that many people were against when Selig first introduced it. There will still be fantastic finishes -- just not one exactly like there was this year. Not that I was expecting to see anything like that ever again. If the new format eliminates the rule barring teams from the same division playing in the first round, the first-round match ups would have been different, with the Tigers and Rangers meeting in the divisional series instead of the ALCS.

National League: The Cardinals and Braves would have faced off in the one-game playoff, with the winner going on the face the Phillies. Chris Carpenter wouldn't have had to pitch the final game of the regular season and could have been held back for the wild card game.

What would have changed? Maybe Terry Francona would still have a job, but other than that, who knows? The Cardinals wouldn't have had Carpenter for the wild card game, but if they were indeed a team of destiny, who's to say they don't go on and win the whole thing? The American League is a tossup, really, it's tough to say exactly what would have happened.

2010

American League: The Red Sox beat out the White Sox for the second playoff spot and set up yet another Yankees-Red Sox showdown in the one-game wild card.

National League: Atlanta and San Diego would face off for the right to face the seemingly unbeatable Phillies, while the Giants and Reds would have met in the other division series.

What would have changed? Instead of facing the Yankees, the Twins would get the Rangers, but the result probably wouldn't have changed. As for the National League, San Diego was reeling at the end of the season and probably wouldn't have challenged the Braves. However, the Phillies wouldn't have played the Reds in the first round and we wouldn't have gotten Roy Halladay's no-hitter. Or maybe we would have, the Reds had the National League's best offense, so maybe the opponent didn't matter that day.

2009

American League: Instead of just one one-game playoff in the AL, in 2009 there would have been two. Boston and Texas would have been the two wild card teams, but both teams had better records than the Twins and Tigers, who met in a one-game playoff to determine the American League Central champ.

National League: The AL East isn't the only division that can squeeze three teams into the playoffs -- the Rockies and Giants would face each other for the right to play the Dodgers in the NLDS.

What would have changed? Probably little, the Yankees and Phillies would likely face off in the World Series no matter what other teams were in the mix.

2008

American League: The Twins would have been the extra wild card team, facing the 95-win Red Sox for the right to face the Angels

National League: The Brewers and Mets would have had to face off in the wild card game, with the winner getting the 97-win Cubs, while Philadelphia would face Los Angeles in the NLDS instead of the Cubs.

What would have changed? The Red Sox beat the Angels 3-1 in the ALDS, so it's not a stretch to see Boston burning a pitcher and still beating the Angels in that series. The Phillies likely would have gone on to the World Series, but the Cubs may have had a better shot to advance to the NLCS and break some more hearts by failing to reach the World Series.

2007

American League: One one-game playoff not good enough for you? How about a playoff for the playoff? The 94-win Yankees would have to wait a day to see who they'd play in the wild card game, as Seattle and Detroit both finished 88-74.

National League: This time we have a pretty good idea what it would look like -- the Rockies and Padres would face off in a one-game playoff, just as they did anyway. A 13-inning thriller, the Rockies beat the Padres to advance to the NLDS. But instead of playing the Phillies in the first round, the Rockies would have faced the Diamondbacks, who had the best record in the National League with 90 wins.

What would have changed? Probably not too much -- every series was a sweep, meaning the best teams were more or less identified.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:54 pm
 

Including playoffs, La Russa top manager



By C. Trent Rosecrans

At last year's Winter Meetings in Orlando there was a motion during the Baseball Writers Association of America's meeting to change the voting for the Manager of the Year Award until after the playoffs. The resolution was overwhelmingly voted down, but it did get me to thinking how Wednesday's choices would have been different had the voting taken place at the end of October rather than the end of September.

For the record, I voted against the measure. I believe the true test of a manager is over 162 games, while the playoffs can sometimes be a crapshoot with moves sometimes magnified more on whether they worked or not, rather than how things often even out over the course of a full season. Heck, the past postseason has turned managers from genius to idiot back to genius in the course of a single series.

Award Season
Kirk GibsonKirk Gibson overwhelmingly won the National League Manager of the Year award, getting 28 of 32 first-place votes. Joe Maddon won the AL award, getting 26 of 28 first-place votes.
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Related links

In the American League, Maddon probably still would have won the award, regardless of when the vote was taken (as long as it was after the regular season, he was kind of an afterthought at the beginning of September). In the playoffs, the Rays fell to the Rangers in four games, but it was through no fault of Maddon's. Nobody expected the Rays to go on to the World Series, and they didn't.

None of the three other managers in the American League playoffs -- Texas' Ron Washington, New York's Joe Girardi or Detroit's Jim Leyland -- were seen as having great postseasons, or even good ones. Washington is always criticized for playing his hunches -- including starting Matt Harrison in Game 7 -- while Leyland didn't just Justin Verlander on short rest and engaged in a bunt-fest with Girardi that nearly broke Twitter, meaning Maddon wouldn't have to worry about giving up his crown if the voting were moved.

Had the voting been done after the playoffs, the National League winner would have certainly been different. After leading his underdog Diamondbacks to the playoffs, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was the overwhelming winner in the National League Manager of the Year award, but just a less than two weeks after 28 of 32 ballots (mine included, for the record) had Gibson on top of their ballots, it might not have been such an easy choice.

While Maddon won the American League award based in part because of the Rays' late run to the playoffs, La Russa did the same in the National League and still finished third in the voting. Maddon's Rays were 9 1/2 games out of the wild card on Sept. 2, while La Russa's Cardinals were the 8 1/2 behind the Braves on that same date and went 17-7 over the rest of the season, winning the wild card on the final day.

La Russa added to that resume in the postseason when the Cardinals made an underdog run to the franchise's 11th World Series title. Along the way he was praised for the handling of his team's pitching staff up until a communication breakdown with his bullpen in Game 5 of the World Series in Texas. At that point, the so-called smartest man in baseball looked clueless and was called worse. Two more wins salvaged that reputation before La Russa retired on top.

Meanwhile, Gibson was roundly criticized for his perceived overaggressiveness early in the series, including a decision to pitch to Prince Fielder in a Game 1 loss. Gibson was then praised after pulling starter Joe Saunders in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks in a win. Overall, the Diamondbacks didn't lose the series because of Gibson's managing, but he did come out with his reputation taking a bit of a hit following the first five postseason games of his managerial career.

Despite the bullpen phone mixup in Texas, there's zero doubt La Russa would have added his fifth Manager of the Year award to his collection had the voting taken place after the playoffs. While Gibson shouldn't be making apologies for winning the Manager of the Year on Wednesday, it's unlikely he'd have it if the voting were done later -- but I'm pretty sure La Russa wouldn't trade his 2011 trophy for the one Gibson' received.

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 8:29 pm
 

Manager interviews finishing for Cubs, Cards, Sox

Sandy Alomar Jr.By C. Trent Rosecrans

The interviews, it seems, are done for the three managerial openings. The Cubs, Cardinals and Red Sox are all done with their first round of interviews and it appears the hirings could come relatively soon.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Cardinals' next manager will come from one of the six candidates the team interviewed. The Cardinals interviewed former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, Ryne Sandberg, third base coach Jose Oquendo, former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny, Triple-A manager Chris Maloney and White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing.

"I'm fairly confident that it will," Mozeliak told Goold when asked if the team's next manager would come from that list.

That does not mean there will not be further questions asked of any of those six, but it doesn't appear that a surprise candidate will emerge.

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer wasn't quite as definitive about his team's next manager coming from the list of four interviews that they have already conducted.

"I wouldn't guarantee that it is (the entire list), but we feel really good about the four guys we brought in," Hoyer told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "We had four very good interviews. I wouldn't rule out an additional candidate, but it's not a certainty."

The team interviewed Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. on Friday. It has also interviewed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum and Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.

The "additional candidate" could be Francona. Hoyer said Theo Epstein has already talked to Francona, and with the history between the two, a formal interview wouldn't be a necessity. There's also Rays manager Joe Maddon, who was the other finalist when Epstein hired Francona in Boston. Maddon's resume would certainly make an interview unnecessary, although the Cubs would have to work out a deal with the Rays for compensation -- something they've still been unable to accomplish with the Red Sox.

As far as Francona's successor in Boston, Alomar, Sveum and Mackanin have already interviewed with the Red Sox. Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo interviewed on Friday and Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont will interview on Saturday. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told reporters after Louvullo's post-interview news conference that the team had no plans on bringing in additional candidates after interviewing Lamont on Saturday. He also added that the team had not been formally turned down by another other organization when seeking permission to interview candidates.

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