Tag:Alexi Ogando
Posted on: February 6, 2012 2:09 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 4:00 pm
 

Spring position battles: American League West



By C. Trent Rosecrans

There's nothing like the Super Bowl to remind you that spring training is just around the corner. And with pitchers and catchers packing up their bags for Florida and Arizona, we here at Eye on Baseball will look at some of the key positional battles on tap for this spring, starting with the American League West.

Los Angeles Angels
Designated hitter: Mark Trumbo vs. Kendrys Morales vs. Bobby Abreu vs. Vernon Wells

At the end of the 2011 season, it seemed first base could be a battle for the Angels heading into 2012. That position was settled pretty easily with $240 million. The two previous candidates, Trumbo and Morales are now with BAbreu looking for playing time at DH. Add the wild card of Mike Trout possibly pushing either Torii Hunter or Wells into the DH competition and the team has a lot of players for one spot. Sure, the Angels are saying Trumbo can play third, but he's still not all the way back from an ankle injury and he hasn't proven he can handle the day-in, day-out rigors of third base (look at what it did to Kevin Youkilis last season). There's also the chance that Morales won't be healthy. There are so many variables to the Angles lineup that the only thing that seems certain at this point is that Albert Pujols will be at first base, batting third.

Oakland Athletics
Closer: Grant Balfour vs. Brian Fuentes vs.  Fautino De Los Santos vs. Joey Devine

One of the many players Billy Beane got rid of this offseason was closer Andrew Bailey, who went to the Red Sox for three players, leaving an opening at closer for 2012. Fuentes recorded 12 saves in Bailey's spot last season, while Balfour picked up two as well. Those two veterans should be seen as the favorites, but De Los Santos and Devine could surprise. De Los Santos struck out 43 batters in 33 1/3 innings last season, while Devine impressed in his first action since Tommy John surgery. Even if the two youngsters don't get the call after spring training, either are just one trade away from getting their shot -- and with the A's current situation, nobody in Oakland should be buying, just renting.

Seattle Mariners
No. 3-5 starters: Blake Beavan vs. Charlie Furbush vs. Hector Noesi vs. Kevin Millwood vs. Hisashi Iwakuma

Felix Hernandez, of course, is the Mariners' No. 1 starter and Jason Vargas figures to be the other Mariner to start in the team's two-game series in Japan. After that, it gets interesting. Seattle signed Iwakuma to a $1.5 million contract in the offseason, so he figures to be in the rotation somewhere. Noesi was acquired along with Jesus Montero in the Michael Pineada trade and should be somehwere in the mix, as well. That leaves the youngsters Furbush (25) and Beavan (23), to go against the veteran Millwood (37). Furbush and Beavan showed flashes during 2011, but are hardly proven products. After stints in the minors for the Red Sox and Yankees, Millwood went 4-3 with a 3.98 ERA in Colorado and should benefit from pitching at Safeco Field.

Texas Rangers
5th starter: Matt Harrison vs. Alexi Ogando vs. Scott Feldman

Unless the Rangers do sign Roy Oswalt, it appears the first four spots in the Texas rotation are set with Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz, leaving three pitchers battling for the final spot. Last season the Rangers moved Ogando from the bullpen to the rotation with some success. They're looking to do the same with Feliz this season and possibly sending Ogando back to the bullpen. Ogando was 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA, but seemed to tire down the stretch. Harrison was 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA last season, but still has to battle for his job. And then there's Feldman, who is a long-shot here, but is used to the yo-yoing from the bullpen to the rotation. If the team does sign Oswalt, the three could be stretched out in spring, but return to the bullpen once the season starts.

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:35 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 6:13 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Texas Rangers

Mark Teixeira

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

The Rangers are in an interesting position in the franchise's history -- no longer a middle-of-the-road team, the Rangers have turned themselves into one of the game's biggest players. The team has reached the last two World Series with a mixture of homegrown players (Ian Kinsler, C.J. Wilson, Alexi Ogando), savvy trades (sending Mark Teixeira to Atlanta for a haul that included Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz, plus the deal with the Reds getting Josh Hamilton) and big-ticket free-agents (Adrian Beltre). It's tough to argue with the results, as the Rangers have positioned themselves into becoming one of the top teams in baseball and don't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Lineup

1. Ian Kinsler, SS
2. Craig Gentry, CF
3. Mark Teixeira, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Travis Hafner, DH
6. Edwin Encarnacion, 2B
7. Laynce Nix, RF
8. John Mayberry, LF
9. Taylor Teagarden, C

Starting Rotation

1. C.J. Wilson
2. John Danks
3. Derek Holland
4. Colby Lewis
5. Ryan Dempster

Bullpen

Closer - Joaquin Benoit
Set up - Darren Oliver, Nick Masset, Scott Feldman, Jesse Chavez, Yoshinori Tateyama
Long - Tommy Hunter

Notable Bench Players

Ivan Rodriguez will be in discussion for the Hall of Fame when his career ends, but he's now a backup catcher and could be a good one. You have a pair of first baseen in Justin Smoak and Mitch Moreland who aren't going to strike fear into too many pitchers, as well as two outfielders probably better defensively or as pinch runners in Jason Bourgeois and Scott Podsednik.

What's Good?

The rotation is deep -- in addition to the five listed, you could also throw in R.A. Dickey, Aaron Harang and Edinson Volquez. And while there's no real shut-down closer, there are some very good bullpen arms, and the list above doesn't include Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Danny Herrera.

What's Not?

Besides Kinsler and Teixeira, the lineup is suspect. And the defense is worse. The outfield is kind of a hodgepodge, while the infield is a disaster with only Carlos Pena playing in his usual position. While Teixeira hasn't played third base since his rookie year in 2003, Kinsler has never played shortstop, nor has Encarnacion ever played second base -- but there just wasn't a whole lot of options. The outfield doesn't have the likes of Hamilton or Nelson Cruz to help out, either.

Comparison to real 2011

Would this team wind up in World Series? Not bloody likely. The pitching is fine and even maybe an slight upgrade to the team that won the American League pennant again in 2011, but that lineup is demonstratively worse. The Rangers were third in baseball in runs and second in OPS, and without Hamilton, Cruz, Mike Napoli, Michael Young and Beltre, this squad isn't going to do anything close to that. Teixeira is a good player -- and Pena could put up big homer numbers in that ballpark -- but those losses from the real squad are just too much to overcome. This team is maybe a .500 squad, at best, and that's only because of the depth in the pitching staff.

Next: St. Louis Cardinals

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Posted on: December 10, 2011 11:00 pm
 

Red Sox to experiment with Bard as a starter

Daniel Bard

By C. Trent Rosecrans

By most accounts -- or guesses, really at this point -- Daniel Bard appears to be the closer for the Red Sox in 2012. However, going into spring training, Bard will work as a starter, new manager Bobby Valentine said on Saturday.

Speaking to a live audience of fans at Christmas at Fenway, Valentine said he's already spoken to the 26-year-old Bard about working as a starter at the beginning of spring training.

"He's going to be penciled in to be one of those guys who works going from his bullpen to pitching two innings to pitching four innings to pitching six innings," Valentine said (via the Boston Globe). "Whenever we get to that plateau, with the pitching coach I'll hopefully have by my side soon, and all the members of the staff and front office. We'll have to make a determination after that 18-20 inning mark as to where he will be during the season. I told him to prepare to be a starter and if that, in fact, does not happen to be ready and willing to be our closer."

Bard went 2-9 with a 3.33 ERA with a save in 2011, with 74 strikeouts in 73 innings. In his three years in the majors, Bard is 5-13 with a 2.88 ERA and five saves, striking out 213 in 197 innings. He hasn't started a game in the big leagues.

A starter in college at North carolina, Bard started 22 games in 2007, his first year of professional baseball, but hasn't started since. He was 3-7 with a 7.08 ERA at Low-A and High-A in 2007, striking out 47 and walking 78 in 75 innings. He was switched to the bullpen the next season and shot through the minor leagues to the big leagues in 2009.

The move would be similar to what the Rangers have recently done with Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz. Ogando stuck in the rotation last season, while Feliz was moved back to the bullpen and used as the team's closer. He's expected to move to the rotation in 2012. Former Ranger and now-Angel, C.J. Wilson was also moved from the bullpen to the rotation in Texas to great success.

The Red Sox could still sign a closer, Ryan Madson and Francisco Cordero are still all the free-agent market. Boston could also turn to former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, already under contract with the Red Sox. The team could also put another reliever, Alfredo Aceves, into a starter's role in the spring.

Alternately, the team could sign a free-agent starter, such as Roy Oswalt or Hiroki Kuroda, and move Bard back into the closer's role.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 1:38 pm
 

How will Texas respond to Angels' challenge?



By C. Trent Rosecrans

A year ago the Rangers were crushed when Cliff Lee went to Philadelphia. This year they expected to lose C.J. Wilson, but the difference is the landing spot. Lee went to the National League, Wilson is staying in the American League West -- and joining Albert Pujols in Anaheim.

The Rangers will now step back and reassess where they stand in regards to their divisional rival.

"Our job just got more challenging," Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine told CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler. "We just saw him seven games and I can't say we figured him out."

The question now is whether the Rangers try to counter with big moves of their own. It's still possible, despite the denials of team president Nolan Ryan, that the team goes after Prince Fielder. Ryan says the team is comfortable with Mitch Moreland at first base, but he said the same last year about Michael Young and third base before signing Adrian Beltre.

MLB Winter Meetings

And then there's the rotation. As it stands now, the Rangers rotation is Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz. That's not bad, but it's not the Angels' rotation.

Feliz -- like Wilson and Ogando before him -- is being moved from the bullpen to the rotation. It's worked well enough before for the Rangers, so this could work. Feliz came up in the minors as a starter, starting 27 games in 2008 and 13 in 2009, the last time he started. The Rangers also signed Joe Nathan to make sure they had an experienced closer to fill his shoes.

Another possibility is moving Scott Feldman back to the rotation. The 28-year-old right-hander started two games in 2011 and has 80 career starts under his belt. Feldman won 17 games in 2009 and is 29-28 with a 4.69 ERA in his career as a starter, striking out 4.8 batters per nine innings, down from the 5.6 strikeouts per nine as a reliever.

Texas, though, could very well go outside of their organization to bolster their staff. General manager Jon Daniels scouted Yu Darvish in person this past season and the team has had success in Japan before with Lewis. Darvish, though, must go through the posting system, which is hardly a sure thing on a blind bid for the posting fee.

Another possibility is Matt Garza. The Cubs have let it be known they are open to trading anyone -- including the 28-year-old right-hander is arbitration-eligible and will be a free agent after the 2013 season. Garza went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA in his first year in Chicago. The Rangers are talking to the Cubs about a deal for Garza, who would help their rotation.

Roy Oswalt is also a free agent and could be a fallback option.

The Angels shocked the baseball world on Thursday, the Rangers were among them. But the Rangers are unlikely to sit still and will certainly be worth watching going forward.

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Posted on: October 29, 2011 1:58 am
Edited on: October 29, 2011 3:16 am
 

Part-timer Craig makes most of opportunities

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Allen Craig only played in 75 regular-season games, but Cardinals fans would tell you he made the most of his opportunities then, just as he did again throughout the seven games of the World Series. And Craig firmly believes in taking advantage of any chances he gets.

"It’s all about just making the most of your opportunities," he said on the field minutes after catching the final out of World Series Game 7. "You can’t let opportunities slip, especially in the World Series. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

Craig, 27, was most certainly a part of it. He was an integral part in all four Cardinals wins -- and in a loss they probably should have won.

In Game 1, Craig came up to pinch hit with a tie game and runners on first and third. He was facing Alexi Ogando, who was lights-out in the ALCS. Craig delivered a line-drive single to right, which ended up being the game-winning hit.

In Game 2, Craig came up in a nearly identical situation and again put the Cardinals ahead with a single to right off Ogando. The Rangers would rally and win in the ninth, but Craig got to Ogando twice in a row, and it's possible that ruined Ogando for the series -- he ended up allowing seven hits and seven walks in 2 2/3 innings in the World Series.

In Game 3, Craig got the scoring started with a solo home run in the first inning.

In Game 6, Craig woke everyone up in Busch Stadium with an upper-deck homer in the seventh. It felt like a ghost town before that shot, and the Cardinals would eventually come through with the epic comeback victory to avoid elimination.

World Series Coverage
And then, in Game 7, Craig not only homered again, but he also brought one back in the yard. Nelson Cruz hit a shot to deep left field and Craig went back and perfectly timed a jump to rob Cruz of the postseason home-run record. Center fielder Skip Schumaker had a perfect view of the ball's trajectory and knew Craig had a shot.

“Yeah, it was in the air long enough where I thought he had a chance to get to the wall in time," Schumaker said. "He timed it perfectly.”

Then Schumaker volunteered the essential information on Craig.

“Without him in this series we don’t win it.”

Well put. On a team with Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and Yadier Molina, two of the most important cogs in the World Series were MVP David Freese and part-timer Allen Craig.

Just like Craig said, you have to make the most of your opportunities. And he definitely did in 2011, especially in the World Series.

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Posted on: October 28, 2011 2:49 am
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Posted on: October 28, 2011 2:42 am
Edited on: October 28, 2011 1:16 pm
 

Grading Game 6 of the World Series



By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- Wow. What a game. I'm trying to guard against hyperbole, but I feel like we just witnessed one of the greatest baseball games in World Series history -- one that will go down in history and still be talked about 30 years from now. I could easily be wrong, but that's how it feels right now. Still, time to buckle down and hand out some grades.

Baseball. That's all we need to put here. It's a sport that many people like to call boring and for some reason it's become cool for fans of other sports -- mostly football -- to constantly bash the sport. It's probably because of the "America's Pastime" moniker, but still a bit unfair to be so reviled by the people who aren't die-hard fans. Thursday night was baseball's big night. Game 6 was one for the ages. It most certainly wasn't perfect (see the D and F grades below), but in the end, this was one of the most exciting baseball games in memory, and we saw the Cardinals get within one out of being eliminated twice and still survive with the win in front of a record-setting Busch Stadium crowd. If you watched this game and weren't exhilarated, you don't have a pulse. Period.

David Freese tripled to tie the game in the ninth and then homered to win it in the 11th. So he's the hero. But, man, it was a rough night before that. We'll knock him down to a B for the awkward moment running into the rail in foul territory and the dropped pop up at third base, not to mention going 0-for-3 and leaving a pair of men on base before his huge triple in the ninth. Obviously the two huge hits erase all of that, but in looking at the whole game, I'm not going to forget the bad. He'll deal just fine a B, considering his team won and he's now etched in history.

The Rangers offense pounded out 15 hits and scored nine runs. They had two doubles and three home runs. So how can I possibly be giving them a C? Well, let's see ... they left 12 men on base. Twelve! When you get 15 hits and the Cardinals hand out five walks and three errors, you need to score more than nine runs, as weird as that sounds. It's like through six innings the Cardinals were trying to let the Rangers win and the Rangers just refused to let them. Things changed after that, but we cannot simply ignore what happened in the first half of the game.

The Cardinals' pitching and defense were sloppy early in the game. Starting pitcher Jaime Garcia didn't have his good stuff and received a quick hook. Matt Holliday made a horrible play in left field when he tried to allow Rafael Furcal to come all the way out to left field and make a catch -- then the two collided. Relief pitcher Fernando Salas air-mailed a throw to second base into center field. Freese had the aforementioned defensive gaffes. Rangers pitcher Derek Holland advanced to second on a wild pitch and then scored. Again, what the Cardinals did in the late innings more than made up for this, but it has to be a concern before Game 7.

The Rangers made mistakes, too. Michael Young had two pretty bad errors. Elvis Andrus uncharacteristically played a sure third out into a single when he hesitated on a grounder off Daniel Descalso's bat. Alexi Ogando walked the only two hitters he faced. And we can't be sure that Nelson Cruz could have caught Freese's triple, but he really looked lost out there. For a team that prides itself on defense, we've seen an awful lot of defensive miscues this series.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:50 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:26 am
 

Grading Game 5 of the World Series



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers took a pivotal Game 5 of the series with a 4-2 victory Monday night. Let's hand out some grades yet again.

Mike Napoli was obviously an A, but we're already covered him ... twice. There's no need to go overboard with the love-fest, so I'm going off the board. True baseball fans have been winning all series, because it's been an amazing series; one of the best since the epic 2001 clash between the Yankees and Diamondbacks. So we'll give both teams an A for the entertainment so far. Speaking for myself only -- and I still consider myself a fan -- I'd like to thank both teams and tell them to keep it up. This is outstanding. We've had close games, huge hits, great defensive plays, a historic performance by Albert Pujols and a near-historic performance by Derek Holland. I just can't say enough about how great this series has been. And we may get two more games. We'll see, but it's hard to fathom this thing getting boring.

World Series Game 5
A huge reason the Rangers came into the series so hot was the bridge Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman were providing to the eighth inning. But then both had been bad so far in the World Series -- pretty awful, in fact -- leaving a big question mark on what was supposed to be one of the Rangers' strengths. Maybe the rest provided by Holland in Game 4 helped, because while neither were sparkling Monday night, the decent outings had to be encouraging. Ogando allowed two hits and three walks in his inning, but two of those walks were intentional and his stuff looked more crisp. Feldman gave up a hit upon entering the game, but then got two big outs to end a threat, including a big strikeout.

The Rangers' defense has seemed a bit fickle this entire series, even if you can tell how much ability they have. The bad and good pretty much cancelled each other out Monday. David Murphy couldn't pick up a ball in the second, allowing Lance Berkman to advance to third. Then Berkman scored because Mitch Moreland botched what probably should have been a double-play ball. Of course, Murphy then made a spectacular diving catch to get out of the inning. Next inning, Moreland and C.J. Wilson teamed up to look like the Bad News Bears on a Furcal single, but a beautiful double play ended the inning. Later in the game, Elvis Andrus should have robbed Yadier Molina of a hit with an incredible across-the-body jump and throw, but Moreland couldn't dig the throw at first. But then in the seventh and the ninth, Napoli hosed Allen Craig at second on stolen base attempts.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa claims he called for "Motte" and not "Lynn" in the eighth inning, but, in the noise of the ballpark, the bullpen coach inadvertently heard "Lynn" and got the wrong guy up to throw. So La Russa didn't have the guy he wanted ready to face Napoli in that huge spot in the bottom of the eighth. He wanted Jason Motte, but Lance Lynn was in the bullpen. So La Russa kept left-hander Marc Rzepcyznski out there, who gave up the game-losing double. Considering Washington said "yes, I've had that happen before," about the phone gaffe, we'll grant La Russa a pass and only give him a D for the mishap. Still, isn't there something the Cardinals could have done there instead of letting a left-handed specialist face one of the most dangerous hitters in the lineup?

The Cardinals ability to take advantage of baserunners was abysmal. They left 12 men on base, including eight in scoring position. They also had Craig thrown out twice on stolen base attempts. Seven hits, nine walks and a hit-by-pitch ... and two runs is all you come up with? That's awful. Easiest F I've ever given. Matt Holliday, if I can single someone out, needs to bring a lot more to the table, or Pujols isn't going to see a pitch worth swinging at the rest of the series.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com