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Tag:Rangers
Posted on: February 13, 2012 6:23 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 6:41 pm
 

AL West will be the new AL East



By Matt Snyder


The AL East has been pretty widely regarded as the best division in baseball for a while. And with good reason, as the numbers don't lie. In the past 15 years, the AL wild card has come from the AL East 11 times. The best record has also come from the AL East 11 times. The American League World Series representative has come from the AL East nine times, while the World Series champion was an AL East team six times. Also note the '96 Yankees won it all, 16 seasons ago. Simply, it's a dominant division.

But with the events of this offseason, we're liable to see a shift in power to the west coast. Monday's Yoenis Cespedes signing for the A's wasn't a seismic shift type deal, but it shows they're focusing on winning within the next four years. Also note that the extensions of general manager Billy Beane and club president Michael Crowley are a true sign the A's will eventually get their new stadium in San Jose. When that happens, they'll start to have some extra revenue. So things should be looking up for the A's in the next few years, right? Well, not so fast.

AL West offseason
In fact, the A's might be looking like the AL West's version of the Baltimore Orioles. Since 2000, the Orioles haven't finished better than third -- which happened only once -- and have come in last the past four seasons. They've also had a payroll of at least $72 million seven of the past 11 seasons. They aren't poor by any means. They just can't keep up in the monster of a division that is the AL East.

Let's see what's in store for the A's in the next decade or so, in terms of their divisional competition.

• The Angels have an owner who just shelled out over $300 million to land Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in free agency. It probably didn't seem like much of a big deal to Arte Moreno, considering he's looking at a local TV contract of 20 years for $3 billion. Plus, the Angels play in the mega-market that is Los Angeles. They aren't going away.

• The Rangers paid over $50 million just for the right to negotiate with Japanese phenom Yu Darvish and then paid him over $50 million more to sign. The have a front office and ownership group that can compete with anyone in terms of brains and most teams in terms of dollars. The Dallas area is a large market and the fan base is continuing to grow after two straight World Series appearances. They aren't going away, either.

• The Astros are moving to the American League West, and while it's gonna be a few years before they can compete, remember they have a new owner, Jim Crane, who likely didn't pay $680 million to own a doormat of a baseball team. Plus, Houston is one of the largest markets in America -- and the Astros had a nine-figure payroll in 2009. Don't discount how they'll play in this division come 2015 or 2016. They can spend, and will have to in order to keep up.

• The Mariners are in the 12th biggest market in MLB, which isn't bad at all. But they'd be at risk of falling far behind if not for a lucrative TV deal in their near future. Last week, a USA Today report noted the Mariners are among a handful of teams ready to cash in with a mega-TV deal like the Angels just did. Prior to the 2015 season, the Mariners can opt out of their current local TV deal with Root Sports and hit the open market. The Seattle Times also pointed out that the Mariners have trimmed their bottom line to the point that the only long-term investment is the reliable ace Felix Hernandez. So they could be positioning for a major strike within the next few years, after landing the aforementioned lucrative TV deal.

The process is going to be gradual, especially and obviously with the Mariners, Astros and A's.

Just don't be surprised if a decade from now the AL West is viewed as the best division in baseball. The resources are all falling into place for a westward move in the balance of league power.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 11, 2012 7:11 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 7:13 pm
 

Video: Derek Holland does the weather

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Derek Holland tried his hand at taking Will Ferrell's job during the World Series, and on Friday he took his shot at Willard Scott's gig.

Holland, the Rangers' left-hander, tried his hand at doing the weather on Dallas' WFAA. And, well, he did it in his own, usual goofy way.



Holland said he had long wanted to be a weatherman and studied journalism at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala. They obviously didn't cover the green screen in his courses.

Unfortunately he can't give up his Ferrell doing Harry Caray schtick -- but I do give him credit for thinking ahead and wearing a green shirt so he could go headless. I'll also give credit to WFAA's Pete Delkus (a former Twins farmhand) for calling him out on his Ed Bassmaster impression, which got annoying, and the fact that his Caray impression was more of Ferrell than the late Cubs and Cardinals announcer. The good news, for Holland and Dallas-area TV viewers, is that pitchers and catchers report next week.

Hat-tip: Big League Stew

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:50 am
Edited on: February 8, 2012 10:23 am
 

Rangers hire assistant for Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton

Posted by Eye on Baseball

First off, the Rangers don't want Shayne Kelley to be called Josh Hamilton's "accountability coach" -- Kelley is a "Major League staff assistant" with more or less one player to coach.

The Rangers hired the former Royals minor-league strength assistant on Tuesday, but general manager Jon Daniels made sure to dismiss the term previously applied to Johnny Narron and, briefly, Michael Dean Chadwick, Hamilton's father-in-law.

"I don't know where that [term] came from … Josh is accountable for himself," Daniels told MLB.com. "Our aim is to support him and put him in a position to succeed. If you hire an interpreter for somebody, the guy is still responsible for what he says. Josh is still accountable for himself."

Josh Hamilton
Narron, the brother of Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron, had been by Hamilton's side since 2007, when Hamilton joined the Reds' organization -- and stayed with him even after his brother, Jerry, was fired as the team's manager. When Hamilton was traded to Texas, Narron went too. However, Narron left his job with the Rangers in November to become the Brewers hitting coach. Chadwick was hired in January, but backed out of the position less than two weeks later.

While without an aide or whatever else it is they want to call it, Hamilton had a relapse with alcohol. Hamilton is an admitted drug and alcohol addict. After his relapse became public, Hamilton met with doctors from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Kelley was also along for the meeting, according to the newspaper. MLB hasn't decided if Hamilton will face disciplinary action from the relapse, which could be deemed a violation of his previous terms of reinstatement from previous suspensions. Daniels said he expected any such discipline "unlikely."

Kelley spent last season as a high school baseball coach, but has served as an assistant at Samford and Jacksonville State in Alabama. He was an assistant coach and team chaplain for the University of Alabama from 1996-99 and then served in Kansas City's minor-league system as a strength and conditioning coach for three years.

Hamilton had no previous relationship with Kelley, who came recommended by Hamilton's agent, Michael Moye, and Rangers vice-president Chuck Morgan, whose son was at Alabama with Kelley. Daniels said Kelley will have duties with the rest of the team in addition to Hamilton.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 7, 2012 9:41 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 11:12 am
 

Rangers, Andrus agree on 3-year, $14.4M extension



By Matt Snyder


The Rangers and shortstop Elvis Andrus have agreed on a three-year contract extension that is worth $14.4 million, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed. News of the extension was first reported by Fox Sports.

Probably not coincidentally, Andrus was under Rangers control for three more seasons, so he's still set to be a free agent after the 2014 season. This deal just means the two sides avoid arbitration until then. Also, it represents a sizable pay bump for Andrus, as he was only asking for $3.6 million in arbitration. Of course, he could have made more in 2013 and 2014, but a deal like this mitigates the players' risk in losing out on millions in the case he suffers a major injury.

Andrus, 23, hit .279/.347/.361 with 96 runs scored and 37 stolen bases last season. He's also an above average defensive player and teams with Adrian Beltre to form arguably the best left-side of the infield in baseball -- or you could say he teams with Ian Kinsler to form one of the best up-the-middle defensive combinations.

The deal is pending a physical.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: February 6, 2012 4:31 pm
 

Rangers sign Conor Jackson, Joe Beimel

By Matt Snyder

The Rangers have signed free agents Conor Jackson and Joe Beimel to minor-league contracts, the club announced Monday afternoon. Both players have also received spring training invites.

Jackson, 29, was primarily a first baseman for most of his career, but then last season he played every corner position in addition to serving as a designated hitter. He still played 53 games at first while getting 52 games of action in the outfield (31 in right, 23 in left). Jackson hit .244/.310/.341 with five homers and 43 RBI. He played 102 games for the A's and 12 for the Red Sox.

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Beimel, 34, is a left-handed reliever. He worked 25 1/3 innings for the Pirates last season, putting together a pretty dreadful line -- an ERA of 5.33 and a WHIP of 1.70. He was actually a productive reliever from 2006-10, though, so last year could have been an anomaly.

Both players have a decent chance to make the team.

The Rangers bullpen appears to be full right now, assuming no more moves. However, Koji Uehara is reportedly being shopped (he blocked a trade to the Blue Jays) and Beimel is left handed. Go down the line -- Joe Nathan, Mike Adams, Alexi Ogando, Scott Feldman, Mark Lowe, Uehara, Yoshinori Tateyama, Mark Hamburger -- and you'll find that the Rangers don't have a lefty in the bullpen, unless they wanna turn to Michael Kirkman. So that's where Beimel could find a job, as a specialist.

Jackson also has a shot to make the club. The starting nine is obvious, just as Craig Gentry, Yorvit Torrealba and Julio Borbon figure to get spots on the bench. That leaves one spot, with Jackson, Brad Hawpe, Alberto Gonzalez and several minor leaguers competing for the final spot. And that's barring injuries, which could open more up chances.

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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: February 5, 2012 6:17 pm
 

GM: Reds not actively courting Roy Oswalt

Roy OswaltBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Roy Oswalt is still a free agent, although at least one general manager seems to think the right-hander is headed to Texas.

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"We had discussions with them a while ago," Reds GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "The last we heard he was going to Texas. That was on Monday. I don't know if that deal is still in place."

Oswalt had reportedly wanted to sign with the Rangers or Cardinals, but a report on Saturday said neither team had enough money to sign the 33-year-old right-hander. The Reds, who have signed Ryan Madson and Ryan Ludwick this offseason, don't have much left in their budget, either, according to Jocketty. The former Cardinals GM said the Reds would need to move payroll in order to sign Oswalt.

"If he doesn't sign," Jocketty told Fay, "we'd take another look at it."

The Reds currently have Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake penciled in as their first four starters, with Homer Bailey the favorite for the fifth spot and Aroldis Chapman transitioning into a starting role during spring training. The Reds' moves of acquiring Latos, Madson and Sean Marshall show the team is being aggressive in trying to take over the Albert Pujols-less National League Central and adding Oswalt would be another step in that direction. It would also keep the team from having to face Oswalt, who is 23-3 with a 2.81 ERA in his career against Cincinnati.

The Red Sox and Phillies were also reportedly still interested in Oswalt, along with the Reds, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com.

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Posted on: February 3, 2012 6:36 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 4:42 pm
 

Public accountability part of Hamilton's recovery

Josh Hamilton

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The first time I met Josh Hamilton was the two days before pitchers and catchers reported in 2007. The Reds had acquired him from the Cubs after the Rule 5 draft and he was at the team's complex in Sarasota, Fla., working with manager Jerry Narron and Johnny Narron, who would go on to become what the Rangers would call his "accountability coach." I briefly saw Josh and was struck by the size of the guy -- if God were to build a baseball player, he'd look exactly like this -- minus the tattoos. That wasn't the first time I was shocked by Hamilton.

Josh Hamilton
Our first meeting was quick, we introduced ourselves and that was it. His full press conference and time to write the full Josh Hamilton story would come later. As the Reds beat writer for the Cincinnati Post, I'd be spending plenty of time with Hamilton in the next seven months or so, talking to him quite a bit and watching a budding superstar on the field.

Early in the first spring training, Hamilton held a press conference and said he'd take all questions. He went through his entire story, a story that has become widely known since then, but was incredible and fresh at the time. He was open, honest and above all, accountable for his own actions. At one point, he spoke about the guy who introduced him to drugs, who opened the door to his path of addiction. He made sure to note, the guy "wasn't a bad person, he was just into bad things." That always impressed me. Josh said he made the decision, he'd live the with the consequences and refused to blame anyone but himself for his addiction.

I only remember one question he wouldn't answer, it came after his press conference I went up to him and asked about specifics of which drugs he used and he said it didn't really matter, that wasn't the point -- but did note he never used a needle. I respected his wishes and left it alone.

Josh HamiltonAfter hours of writing, I wrote "the Josh Hamilton story" for my newspaper. It was long and didn't even come close to explaining the whole story, but I did my best and tried to do it justice. After that, all spring the story was about what he did on the field and it became evident that he'd not only make the team, but he'd be a big part of that year's team.

For a while, the Hamilton story went quiet, but once the regular season began, the "Josh Hamilton story" came up every time we went to a new city. The first game of every road series against a new team, Hamilton would hold another press conference, telling his story again and again. Throughout the season, he'd repeatedly tell the same stories, always smiling, always open, always honest. It was an incredible performance.

One day I asked him how he did it, if it ever got old? Was he sick of reliving his greatest mistakes and explaining himself in every new city? His answer shocked me -- he not only didn't mind doing it, he felt it was vital to his recovery.

"The media," I remember him telling me, "you, the other reporters, the fans -- everyone who hears my story holds me accountable. I want that, I need that."

I thought of that story two years ago when photos of him drinking at a bar in Arizona surfaced and I thought about it again last night when the reports surfaced that he'd relapsed and had a night of drinking. But it hit home when I saw it again today in his press conference. That was the same Josh Hamilton I heard many times, every time sincere, every time fighting his disease and blaming nobody but himself. And again, he said he needed help -- from the media, from the fans, from his family and from anyone who could help him. Addiction is a disease, one that is never cured, but managed. He's managed it well since 2007, but he's not cured and he never will be. But for now, as sad as I was to hear about his relapse, I'm happy to hear he's not only taking responsibility, but he's ready to continue his battle with addiction -- and if he doesn't win it, I hope he's always ahead in the count.

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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