Monday, June 9, 2008

Texas Rangers Page

Off the top, here is the Ranger's official page and ESPN page, along with MLB's official page and ESPN page.

May 28, 2012

And now we're deeper into the 2012 season and we know the following: Yu is a good pitcher, the Rangers are a good team (although the torrid pace of April has slowed some) and the Angels are 6.5 games back. Lots of players are locked in for the near future and we're ready for another run at the playoffs. Anything can happen, but all the indicators are pointing towards another deep run.

April 12, 2012

So we're just dipping our toes into the 2012 season.  Good news, Yu has intestinal fortitude, Nefti made a great first impression (and has yet to give up a run as a starter in the Majors), the Rangers offense can manufacture runs and score in bunches.  Bad news, say it ain't so, Joe! Two losses for the Rangers and he has both.  All told, an overall good start to the season.

On the other hand, the team that claimed all off-season they were going to re-take the West, which led to this whole "huge rivalry" discussion in the national media?  The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?  Yeah, they're already in last place in the division and 2.5 games back of the Rangers. I know it is very very very early, but that ain't a good way to start off, boys.

2012 Off-Season

It was a bit hectic this past winter, with a few big moves, none bigger than the addition of pitching phenom Yu Darvish from Japan. A tall, athletic right-hander, the Hurling Darvish was scouted extensively by the Rangers throughout 2011 and the team made a move to acquire his rights then sign him for the 2012 season. When they closed the deal, Texas now had a pitcher who claims 7 separate pitches. Scary thing is, upon review, that is probably an accurate assessment.

The addition of Yu Darvish was thought to counterbalance the loss of CJ Wilson to - of all teams - the LA LA LAs. Oh, I mean, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I joke about their name, but their team isn't one. Adding Wilson to an already solid rotation, then adding Albert Pujols among a number of other front office moves, the Angels have stated very clearly that they aren't going to take the Rangers' improvement lying down.

It should be quite a wild ride in the west this season!

The Rangers also added Joe Nathan as a closer, moving Feliz into the 5-spot in the rotation. With Colby Lewis, Derrick Holland, Matt Harrison, Darvish and Feliz, Texas has a good, mostly young rotation, with Ogando and Feldman in the wings should any of those starts falter.

The lineup is basically the same, and that is a good thing.

The Angels have said they want the West back. They are going to have to Come And Take It, and it ain't gonna' be easy.


I didn't get around to writing about this season, but it basically was 2010 2.0 - won the West, beat Tampa Bay in the first round, but then beat Detroit rather than the Yankees to make the World Series again. It would be another year without a World Series victory, but the team played a brilliant series with St. Louis and it took an amazing comeback from the Cardinals to take the Series.

If nothing else, 2011 proved that 2010 was anything but a fluke, and that your Texas Rangers were here to stay - now as one of the best teams in all of baseball, and comfortable with the expectations that come with that.

October 18, 2010 - Pre-game

Now THAT was the Texas Rangers team we expected to see in these playoffs - aggressive, smart, hard-nosed baseball players. The fact that the Rangers knocked around another Yankees starter - and the Rangers starter was more than solid - should be a very good overall sign for the series.

But the bullpen, while redeeming themselves to a large degree, didn't completely erase the concerns, and now you have two of the best post-season pitchers in the game going head-to-head - anything is possible. Tonight has the potential to be a heck of a game - and is huge in terms of where this series is headed.

For the most part, the Rangers got out of the first two games what they wanted - proof that they not only deserved to be in the ALCS, but that they could very well win it. The Rangers slogan went from "It's Time" to "It's On!" But all that means is that the Yankees are now on notice that they can take the Rangers starting pitching for granted at their peril. Same for the offense.

Tonight is definitely a huge-swing game. Win this game, and either team is in the driver's seat. Lose, and it is panic-just-a-little time.

So get out there, Texas - show what you're made of!

October 16, 2010 Update

A complete loss for words. That was my original response to watching everything the Texas Rangers had hoped for in the first seven innings go up in smoke in the 8th last night. Now that I've had a little time to process, it comes down to this - the Rangers showed both that they have the ability to play with the Yankees, and at the same time they obviously don't have the same level of composure. And simply put, this is it. Cliff Lee doesn't mean a thing if the Rangers can't get a win on Saturday. Show us what you got, Rangers.

As for my thoughts going into the game, I don't think Cruz' out in the first falls into the "too aggressive" category - how often does a wild pitch bounce so hard off the wall?

Obviously, CJ showed he can shut down the Yankees for the most part. And the Rangers can get to anyone, even CC Sabathia. So those are good things going forward.

But between Oliver and Young, you sure would have expected more from these veterans than what we got from them in the 8th. Other than that (and a few other shaky pitching performances), the Rangers did everything they wanted to do.

So lots of huge positives thrown away. Now their backs are completely against the wall. Lose Game Two, and Lee won't really matter.

So let's see what you've got, Rangers.

October 15, 2010 Update

Wow. Just wow.

This is the Texas Rangers team I had always wanted to see. Pitching, defense, timely/situational hitting.

It is one thing to hope to see it, to know it is possible. It is something entirely different to see it put in practice - in the playoffs no less!

But now we have ourselves a thing. Called the American League Championship Series. Against the Yankees.

"Big Time" indeed.

So here are some thoughts and observations going into tonight's huge game and the rest of the series.

I think it is all about Game One. CJ v. CC. With Cliff Lee pitching Game Three and available for at least Game Seven (if necessary), a win in Game One puts the favored Yankees under immense pressure. Right now, it seems they have a sense that they are heavy favorites, and think it is a fair evaluation. Losing Game One to CJ would shatter that confidence and change the tone of the series. It would probably excise some playoff- and Yankee-demons from The Ballpark in Arlington and inflame an already passionate Rangers fan-base.

I worry about the Rangers aggressive base-running. Not that it shouldn't be done, but that they might try too often, at the wrong times, trying to be more than what they need to be. What do they need to be? One of the best teams in the AL in 2010 - and if they play within themselves, it will be a heck of a series between two amazing baseball teams. Yes, you can still be aggressive at the right times (Elvis, Vlad). Just don't be aggressive at the wrong times (Cruz) because unlike the Rays, the Yankees probably aren't going to make defensive errors.

I also worry about the Yankees seeing how the Rangers bats responded to junk in Games Three and Four of the ALDS.... How much of the series win over the Rays was simple matchups? Was it as simple as the Rangers beat the fastball pitchers and lost to the off-speed pitchers...? I don't think so, but we'll just have to see.

I think Cliff Lee has no choice but to continue to be his absolutely amazing self. Yes, technically he could be slightly off, lose (he is going up against this Andy Pettitte guy...) and not lose much luster. But he isn't that guy. He is the Michael Jordan/Lance Armstrong "I don't lose" guy. And he simply isn't going to have an off game. If the Rangers lose a game Lee pitches in, it is because the Ranger bats don't find a way to beat the Yankees pitching.

So with that in mind, back to tonight - CJ, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE continue your Cliff Lee impersonation. Throw strikes, throw strikes, throw strikes. Do that, and the Rangers have a chance to continue this amazing season.

Win Game One, with Cliff Lee on the horizon, the Rangers would be completely in the drivers seat in this series. Frankly, win either of the first two games and the Rangers are in good shape. Winning Game Two is possible, but harder and wouldn't have the momentum that winning Game One would have.

So Mr. Wilson, do us proud. Rangers, bring out the Claw and Antlers, play Wash-ball. Pitch by the Maddux book, hit by the Hurdle book, and let's see how far we can take this thing!

August 5, 2009 Update

And just like that, it seems the boys have slipped that step off the pace. No success in bringing in a new front line pitcher, although I'm okay with that. And the Rangers still have one of the top teams in baseball - just not at that top tier (right now). Interesting how much can change over a weekend, huh?

I'm okay with no big move for a pitcher because I'd rather bet on two of Holland, Feliz and a few others paying out over six years rather than knowing we'd have Halladay for a year and a half. After seeing what Feliz can bring, and what Holland did on Thursday, I think that is a good bet. (Thank you, Mark T and the Braves!)

I'll just admit that I'm a little sad to see the potential dream season come back to Earth a bit. Sure, things can change. A series sweep of the Angels and/or Boston and we're back in it. I'm just not sure that a team that is young and new to this whole playoff race business is going to have the endurance for it.

On the other hand - and this is my key for this season - it is good for this team to grow as a team and learn this process AS a team. The Bulls had to go through Detroit and I think they were better for it. Same for a number of teams who were significant champions. Hopefully this is the beginning of a run where the AL is dominated by the Angels, Rangers, Yankees and Boston. I'm okay with that.

But to be at THAT level, you can't just pull something together overnight. See the Marlins, Rays, etc. There has to be a core, a foundation.

And with players like Salty, Elvis, Ian, etc., I think we definitely have that. I'd rather be slower developing and miss the playoffs this year with the chance of long-term success on one hand than blow our wad this season on the other. We're one of the biggest sports markets in the country with a great ballpark, for crying out loud. And Texas (the state) is known for good baseball. There is absolutely no reason why the Texas Rangers can't be one of the premier teams in baseball.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

Late July 2009 Update

What in the Wide Wide World of Sports is a goin' on hea'? - Slim Pickens

I feel like Annie from Bull Durham during the Bulls' winning streak (you know the line I'm talking about) - although in more of a just-baseball kind of way. The Rangers defense and pitching is phenomenal, but their bats can't seem to hit enough. And will the Angels lose a game sometime? Seriously!

It looks as if the Rangers are just going to have to catch the Angels by beating them head-to-head because rare is the day when the Angels lose of late. Hey, props to them because they have lost Vlad and Torii for stretches, and haven't missed a beat.

Interestingly, it looks like the Wild Card might be in play, as well. What is MLB going to do if the Wild Card doesn't come out of the AL East for once?

I take confidence from a stat I heard yesterday - that the Rangers have the best record in baseball against winning teams. I like the sound of that not only for the playoff race, but also for the playoffs themselves. But yes, let's get there first.

And we're just about to start August, too. Fun, fun, fun!

July 2009 Update

Oy. Scary June, there, huh? It would appear that the Rangers have clawed their way out of that mini-slump and just recently swept the Tampa Bay Rays (still not 100% comfortable with the new name....) Now they go into the lion's den and play the Angels in California. One win is pretty much needed from a confidence stantpoint, but winning the series would be another significant shot across the Angel's bow.

June 2009 Update

Interesting how things change in a year.

Last June, 2008, I wrote the following:

Earlier, I had asked if I was going to have to put a Rangers page together. In typical Rangers fashion, they told me to tap them brakes just a touch. I'm not trashing the idea, but I am setting it on the back burner for now. Let's not have to drop a starting pitcher because he can't get along with the rest of the team first, huh?

This June, the Rangers seem to have something going that is more than just a hot set of bats. Efforts to improve the pitching - especially the starting pitching - and the defense have yielded a team that has held the best record in the American League more than once this season, and has been in first place in the AL West - by more than three games - for much of May and June. They even survived the issues that were eerily similar to the Sidney Ponson episode last year (quality starting pitcher with "team chemistry challenges") - this time they found a way to keep the pitcher (Padilla). At least for now.

My question is this - what happens later in the hot summer? Do the Rangers take their foot off the starting pitcher pedal and ease the workload so that they don't burn out? Is a fresh bullpen more able to handle that added work? Does the focus on defense continue?

There are other questions - how aggressive are the Rangers at trying to stay in first place/try to win in the playoffs? Do they make trades for an extra bat, etc.? (I'd prefer they let this group learn together - win or lose.) And what I consider to be the biggest question, especially if the pitching and defense continue to be successful - when/how do they transition from a free-swinging club to one that can manufacture runs. No significant playoff success can be had until that happens - at least, in my personal opinion.

But all of that aside, it is great to see this team playing well and making improvements. Tip of the cap mostly to Nolan Ryan for injecting confidence and professionalism into the ballclub. And "well done" to Washington, Daniels, Maddux and Rudy. This time it looks like we might have the foundation for the kind of team North Texas deserves.

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