Everyone is probably off watching the Mavs and getting ready for the conference championships, but for those looking for a little bit of Rangers news, there is a drib and a drab here and there today...
Scott Lucas has a neat piece up, looking at how opponents hit off of Rangers pitchers last year, and finding the most comparable major league hitter to those lines. So, for example, we learn that Wes Littleton turned his opponents into a lineup of Jerry Hairstons and Paul Bakos, while Edison Volquez turned them into a lineup of Joe Mauers and Miguel Cabreras.
T.R. Sullivan says the Sammy Sosa deal is all but done, and also offers his thoughts on the New Orleans Saints.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette contains some comments from Pirate pitcher Solomon Torres on the Sammy Sosa resurgence:
That's all well and good, but Joaquin Arias and Ichiro Suzuki supposedly put on incredible power shows in batting practice, as well, and neither of them have been able to translate that into game-performance power. And that also doesn't answer the questions about whether Sosa can catch up with major league fastballs.
Jim Reeves' Postcards from the Ledge column includes some thoughts about Sammy Sosa, and has this on the Rangers' ROY candidates:
Ian Kinsler had a reasonably good year but couldn't win it last year and he had a full-time job, something Jason Botts or Joaquin Arias aren't assured of heading into spring training. Nelson Cruz? He lost his rookie eligibility when he went to the plate 130 times last year.
One of the young relievers? Wes Littleton, maybe, but it's difficult to win the award as a pitcher unless you're starting or closing. If Josh Rupe wins the No. 5 starting job and reels off 15 wins, obviously he'll have a shot, but that's dreaming.
Unfortunately, this lack of a strong rookie candidate isn't a new development for the Rangers. If, as expected, Delmon Young wins the award for Tampa Bay this season, it will mean that every current team in the American League and one former one (Milwaukee) will have had a Rookie of the Year winner since Mike Hargrove claimed it for the Rangers in 1974.
Some teams, of course, act like they own the award. The A's have had six winners since Hargrove hit .323 in '74.
The Rangers did draft and develop one other rookie award winner. Naturally, Dave Righetti won that one for the Yankees.
Ruben Sierra? Juan Gonzalez? Pudge Rodriguez?
No, no and no.
You could certainly make an argument that the Baseball Writers missed the boat when Mark Teixeira finished a distant fifth in 2003, behind Kansas City shortstop Angel Berroa, the Yankees' Hideki Matsui, Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli and Cleveland's Jody Gerut.
Teixeira led all rookies with 26 home runs and was second to Matsui with 84 RBI but was apparently punished for his .259 batting average.
What does all this tell us? Mostly what we already knew: The Rangers have generally done a poor job of drafting young players over the years.
I'm glad Reeves is willing to go out on a limb and say that Joaquin Arias isn't assured of a full-time major league job.
But Reeves' underlying point -- that the lack of ROY winners means the Rangers have done a poor job drafting players -- is just wrong.
Many very good young players end up being ineligible for the award because they collect too much service time in September callups, or else they are brought up mid-season and thus can't accumulate the counting stats necessarily for consideration.
ROY voters also tend to reward older, more polished players in lieu of younger, developing players. Although Carlos Beltran, Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra have won A.L. ROY awards in the past 15 years, so have Bob Hamelin, Kaz Sasaki, Ichiro Suzuki, Eric Hinske, and Marty Cordova.
Judging how well a team drafts based on how many ROY awards it wins is pointless.
Long-time pitcher and pitching coach Vern Ruhle died last night of cancer, at age 55.
Buster Olney offers a list of 10 "intriguing" young positional players to watch, with two of them -- Howie Kendrick and Bobby Crosby -- being key parts of Ranger divisional opponents.
Olney also says he got a ton of emails from folks who are angry about MLB's decision to give DirecTV the exclusive rights to the Extra Innings package. Not surprising, and a little short-sighted, it seems to me. The deal gives each team around $3.5 million per year for the next seven years. Even if that's twice what MLB could get if it were offering Extra Innings through all satellite and cable providers, it seems like the extra exposure and fan goodwill might be worth the trade-off.
But then, MLB isn't exactly known for building goodwill with its fanbase...
I have DirecTV, because the satellite providers (unlike cable) show both the primary and alternate Fox Sports Southwest feeds. Living in Houston, if both the Astros and Rangers are on Fox Sports Southwest, on cable, you only get the Astro game, whereas with satellite, you get both.
Anyway, if any of you are considering switching, DirecTV has a refer-a-friend special going. So if you are interested, email me, and I can give you the signup info so you can get $50 off when you sign up.