Spectacular Opening as Rangers Smoke Indians, 9-1

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I woke up early Monday morning as anticipation filled the air. Opening day finally was here as I begin preparing for my 155 mile trip down to Arlington for my 37th season opener. My uncle and I left out of the brisk Oklahoma weather at 7:30. We stopped off in Denton for breakfast and arrived at the beautiful Rangers Ballpark in Arlington at 11:30.

There was a buzz in the air as fans piled into the stadium. We stopped on our way to the park to take a few pictures of the new Dallas Cowboy stadium going up next door. Once inside the stadium we walked around to check out some of the $4 million dollar upgrades added during the off season. The new video scoreboard on the left field wall, the ribbon boards in the infield, and the brick facing along the backstop. Everything looked spectacular! The sites and sounds of a new baseball season were minutes away.

B-2 bombers got things going with a flyover during the national anthem. Former U.S. and Rangers president George Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch to a thunderous ovation.

As for the game the Rangers hit the field in their new red uniforms which I have said before and will say again I do not like them. Can you say moving blood clots? Ranger starter Kevin Millwood was in command most of the afternoon. He faced the minimum through three innings. Cleveland’s only run came on a wild pitch as Millwood was running out of gas in the 7th. He ended up tossing 113 pitches allowing 5 hits, 1 walk, 1 ER, with 5 K’s in 7 innings of work. Relievers C.J. Wilson and Frankie Francisco finished up retiring the last six hitters of the game.

Offensively, the Rangers were all over Cliff Lee. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ian Kinsler tagged Lee with two, two out two run hits in the second. Hank Blalock added a three run blast in the fifth inning. Saltalamacchia hit a solo shot in the eighth which was followed by an RBI double from Michael Young plating Kinsler who had doubled before him.

In all the Rangers banged out 15 hits (10 against last year’s A.L. Cy Young). Chris Davis was the only player in the Rangers lineup not to collect at least one hit. Elvis Andrus hit a double in his first major league at bat in the 2nd inning.

Defensively, Andrus showed his speed and great range on a ball hit hard up the middle that looked like a sure hit. Elvis made the play look effortlessly and threw the runner out by half a step. Michael Young made a couple of nice plays at third base. He looked like he has played there his whole career.

For the Rangers to be successful this year they need to get their starting pitching deep into games to take the load off the bullpen. Play better defense and get off to a good start in the two two months of the season. So far so good.

My Three Stars:
1-Kevin Millwood
2-Jarrod Saltalamacchia
3-Elvis Andrus

Next Game:
April 8, 7:05 CT, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
CLE: Carmona (0-0, 0.00) vs.TEX: Padilla (0-0, 0.00)

Notes:
The Rangers are now 19-19 in home openers since moving to Texas in 1972.

It turned out to be a great afternoon at the ballpark. I left sunburned and wore out but had a big smile on my face. We arrived back home in the Sooner state at 8:45. I watched a little of the A’s-Angels game and called it a night.

Baseball season is BACK!

 

Oh Happy Day!

needtickets.jpgHappy days are here again. I went to the Rangers website this morning entered the special code and purchased my tickets for the Rangers opening day game against the Indians on April 6th. I got in pretty quick and snagged a couple of good seats in the Lexus Club. Lord willing this will be my 38th Rangers home opener to attend out of 39 the team has had since they arrived back 1972. I’m still chapped I had to miss the ’92 opener because of a business trip in California.

thumbdown.jpgAs anyone noticed that Andruw Jones is hitting .111 so far this spring? He’s 1 for 9 with EIGHT strikeouts! Unbelievable.

thumbup.jpgIf you missed the Josh Hamilton special on MLB Network last Friday night you missed a remarkable story. It will re-air again this Wednesday at noon on MLB Network. Set your DVR and watch it when you get a chance. You will not regret it. It totally amazes me how this guy has turned his life completely around. Baseball needs more Josh Hamilton’s.

How do you feel about the World Baseball Classic?

With the World Baseball Classic starting up in roughly two weeks I’m curious as to how everyone feels about the tournament. Do you see it as meaning baseball with a rooting interest and country pride on the line or is it just something to past the time until the “real” season starts?

Personally I’m not that fired up about it. Obviously not all the big stars play for their countries and you have some major league teams that do not want their players to play because of the injury risk or just want them in training camp. So on that account I do not put a lot of stock into the tournament.

On the other hand do I like the fact that there is baseball being played on a “higher level” than spring training games, I will watch to see how the Rangers players perform (especially Nelson Cruz) and it also eases my anticipated wait until opening day. I will watch most of the games and pull for USA but if they don’t win it I’m not going to lose any sleep over it either.

So I’m curious how you feel about the WBC. Are you approaching it like I am or am I missing the boat here?

Rangers sign pitcher Kris Benson to minor deal

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The Rangers signed 34 year old pitcher Kris Benson to a minor league deal on Saturday. He has a clause where he can become a free agent if he’s not on the major league roster by May 5th. Benson, coming off shoulder problems, is 68-73 in his big league career. Benson says he feels 100 percent healthy and is determined to be in the starting rotation.

I think Benson will really have to have a big time spring or someone will need to get hurt for Benson to crack the opening day roster. Even when healthy he’s never been more than a .500 pitcher. Either way it’s another low risk deal for the Rangers. Get more on the Benson signing here.

In other news:
wbc_logo.jpgThe Rangers will have three players participating in the World Baseball Classic next month. Outfielder Nelson Cruz will be playing for the
Dominican Republic, outfielder Frank Catalanotto for Italy and catcher
Max Ramirez playing with Venezeula.

Get more information on the upcoming WBC here.

Good and bad on the same day

This is a weird day for me. For myself and probably like most other guys we are whipped because of this thing they call Valentine’s Day. We have to go out and show our wives or girlfriends how much we care about them in one fashion or another. Although I love my wife dearly and wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world (except maybe for a number one starting pitcher) I would rather be taken out back and beaten into submission than deal with February 14th.

But on the other hand it’s a great day because Ranger pitchers and catchers report to spring training for their first official workout in Surprise, Arizona. Okay, I’m better now. So with that in mind I thought I would throw out my predictions on the Rangers opening day roster.

Barring injuries and trades here’s what I think it may look like.

Pitchers (12)
Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Matt Harrison, Scott Feldman, Brandon McCarthy, Frank Francisco, C.J. Wilson, Eddie Guardado, Derrick Turnbow, Brendan Donnelly, Dustin Nippert, Josh Rupe

Catchers (2)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden

Infielders (6)
Michael Young, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Hank Blalock, Omar Vizquel

Outfielders (5)
Josh Hamilton, David Murphy, Nelson Cruz, Marlon Byrd, Andruw Jones

We’ll check this list again in April to see how I did.

And seriously, Happy Valentines Day to all the ladies out there and to my wife don’t worry the dinner reservations have already been made.

I wasn’t going to talk about this but…

..since A-Rod played for the Rangers in 2003 I’ll chime in with my thoughts.

I must admit that when I heard the news Saturday about A-Rod taking steroids in 2003 I thought here we go again. Will this never end? I keep hoping that there are better days ahead for this great game of ours but the steroid issue keeps raising up it’s ugly head.

I heard Harold Reynolds say today on MLB Network that when Chad Curtis played for the Rangers in 2001 he told Donald Fehr (executive director of the MLBPA) that there was a steroid problem and something needed to be done. The “clean” players cannot compete and they would be forced to take steroids if they wanted to keep their jobs.

My major concern is what message are we telling our youth? If you work hard you can make it. If you want to be a star and make millions you need to work hard and take this pill or stick this needle in your rear.

Testing has been in place since 2004 but is the risk greater than the penalty? I would like to see stiffer fines and suspensions because players are still rolling the dice (see the Mitchell Report).

I am a huge baseball fan but these last few years it’s really making me think long and hard about my views not only on baseball but sports in general. ‘Roids are not only damaging the players but baseball in general, our youth and our country.
 
I can honestly say that no matter who’s name comes out in the future I will not be surprised. No one! 

Low Risk Deals Keep Coming

Andruw Jones did sign a minor league deal today for $500,000. If he can get over 600 at bats (which would acquire him to be an everyday player) he can gets bonuses up to $1 million.

I like the deal. It’s a no lose situation for the Rangers. If Jones does revert back to his old form I can see Josh Hamilton moving to right field. The Rangers maybe thinking more of Jones’ defense than anything. This would however force Nelson Cruz off the field. I would still like to see Cruz in the lineup some how. I think he’s prime to put up some good power numbers at the dish.

The Rangers also added Brendan Donnelly to the roster with a minor league deal worth $950,000. If he doesn’t make the club within the first month of the season then he can walk away. This is another low risk deal. Donnelly is about 1 1/2 years removed from Tommy John surgery. I doubt this move would have been made if reliever Joaquin Benoit had not gone down  with a torn rotator cuff back in January. 

Rangers Looking At Andruw Jones

jones.jpgI heard today the Rangers are “considering” signing Andruw Jones. My first thought was why?

The outfield appears to be set heading into camp next week with David Murphy penciled in at left, Josh Hamilton in center, and Nelson Cruz in right. The backups look to be Marlon Byrd, Brandon Boggs, and/or Frank Catalanotto.

So where would Jones fit in? I’m not sure at this point. Let’s see what he brings to the table.
Pros

  1. Good defensive outfielder.
  2. Veteran leadership.
  3. Power hitter in a hitter’s park.

Cons

  1. Declining production over past couple of years.
  2. Weight concerns.
  3. Bad knees.

A couple of reason why the Rangers might be looking at him could be that Rudy Jaramillo who is an excellent hitting coach can correct his hitting woes.

He could spell Josh Hamilton in center field or Cruz in right from time to time. Another possibility could be Jones rights the ship and the Rangers move him near the trading deadline.

Best case scenario I see is if he’s healthy and reverts back to his old
form he could play center and Hamilton could move to right field.
Nellie Cruz could DH.

Either way I don’t have a problem with it along as it’s a low risk deal. We’ll see over the next few days if the Rangers decide to bring him in.

Andruw Jones career stats 

Jennings signs minor deal

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The Rangers this afternoon signed Jason Jennings to a minor league deal with an invite to camp.

This seems to be the norm this off season with the Rangers and signing pitchers. Doug Mathis, Brian Gordon, Joseph Torres, Eddie Guardado, and now Jennings signed minor deals with invites to camp.

This is not a big deal other than the fact that Jennings is coming off surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon. Jennings was 0-5 with an 8.56 ERA last year with the Rangers before being shut down with the injury.

I don’t see him cracking the starting rotation but he could end up being a long reliever or spot starter possibly if he makes the club and has recovered from the arm injury.

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