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Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays @ Texas Rangers - Hindsight

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All of the talk of the 2005 draft in the morning thread had me thinking about the 2006 draft and how it relates to this series between the Rangers and Blue Jays. It's actually a pretty interesting draft altogether with the advantage of looking at it with hindsight. While the first two picks -- Luke Hochevar and Greg Reynolds -- haven't really panned out yet, those once unfamiliar names listed on the draft boards are now filled with familiar quality Major League players. Evan Longoria was the third pick in the draft and has become a perennial MVP quality player for the Tampa Bay Rays and was the 2008 American League Rookie of the Year. Tim Lincecum fell into the San Francisco Giants' lap with the tenth pick due to concerns over Lincecum's size and unusual mechanics, though he had otherworldly stats in his final year at the University of Washington (12–4 with a 1.94 ERA, 199 strikeouts in 125.1 innings). Of course, Lincecum has gone on to win the Cy Young Award twice and lead the Giants to a World Series title.

In the first round of the 2006 draft there were Major Leaguers selected the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Drew Stubbs, Max Scherzer, Travis Snider, Hank Conger, and Daniel Bard. The Milwaukee Brewers selected Jeremy Jeffress and ultimately used him as a piece to get Zack Greinke this winter. In the Supplemental round there's Chris Coghlan, Cody Rasmus, Joba Chamberlain, and Chris Perez. And for every successful pick in that first round there are guys like Steven Evarts, Maxwell Sapp, Colton Willems, and Bill Rowell whom either completely busted or have really fake sounding names. 

For the two teams playing tonight, the 2006 MLB draft ended up hitting both sides of the baseball development pendulum. The Rangers selected Kasey Kiker with the 12th pick in the draft (apparently missing out on top targets Lincecum and Scherzer in consecutive picks before their turn) despite practically all publications and pundits ranking Texas high schooler Kyle Drabek higher than Kiker with Baseball America ranking Drabek as the 12th best prospect. Drabek fell to the Philadelphia Phillies at the 18th pick. The story at the time was that the Rangers and other teams had passed on Drabek due to some reported "off-the-field issues."

As for the Blue Jays, they picked current starting leftfielder Travis Snider with the 14th pick in the draft, last winter they used a decent reliever in Brandon League to acquire Brandon Morrow, who was picked 5th in the 2006 draft by Seattle (over Washington beloved Lincecum to the dismay of Mariner fans), and have watched Morrow transform into a solid, albeit injury prone starter, and were able to acquire Drabek from the Phillies as the headlining return prospect in a trade that included Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Snider, Morrow, and Drabek all figure to play key roles in this series against the Rangers as well as for the future of the Toronto Blue Jays. And Kasey Kiker just walked another guy in Myrtle Beach.

If there's a good, workable science to the MLB draft, the person with the formula isn't saying anything. If Tim Lincecum is a once-in-a-generation pitcher, there really wasn't any reason for us to believe before the draft that Andrew Miller wouldn't be that guy considering he was the consensus best prospect heading into the draft and only fell to the Tigers with the 6th pick because of signability questions. And yet, Lincecum is a Top 5 pitcher in baseball and Andrew Miller is trying to hang onto a roster spot. Baseball drafts always tend to make teams look foolish or brilliant in hindsight and for the 2006 draft, the Rangers ultimately look foolish with a side of bad luck. If just one more scout working for the SF Giants had thought Lincecum was just too tiny, he'd probably be a Ranger right now. And it could be worse. Do you think the Orioles want a do-over on selecting Rowell one pick before Lincecum?

Monday, April 25 7:05: RHP Kyle Drabek vs. RHP Colby Lewis

Tuesday, April 26 7:05: RHP Jesse Litsch vs. LHP Matt Harrison

Wednesday, April 27 2:05: LHP Jo-Jo Reyes vs. LHP Derek Holland

Thursday, April 28 1:05: RHP Brandon Morrow vs. RHP Alexi Ogando 

The Rangers probably catch a break in that they will face four of five possible Blue Jay starters and not one of them is Ricky Romero. I don't know if you recall the last several times the Rangers have faced Romero but they haven't been pretty from a Texas Rangers perspective. In three starts in 2010, Romero allowed two runs to the Rangers in 23 innings pitched (And in the only other start against the Rangers in his career, in 2009, he allowed a single run in 6.1 innings). Luckily for the Rangers, and for our enjoyment of the game of baseball, Romero's only contributions in this series will be sitting on the bench eating sunflower seeds.

Dirty confession: In 1993 I was rooting for the dastardly Canadian Blue Jays against the Philadelphia Phillies because I was mad the Phillies were such bums and beat the TBS Superstation Atlanta Braves in the NLCS which rocked my baseball world where the Braves were seemingly invincible until they met their kryptonite in the World Series.

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Toronto Blue Jays (9-12, 4th Place AL East)

Rangers 2011 Record vs. Toronto: Spectacular

Toronto's Recent Results: 1-2 Series loss against the Tampa Bay Rays

Toronto's Road Record: 3-7

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 118/105 - wOBA: 103/106

SBN Blue Jays Blog: Bluebird Banter


Match-up: (as of 4/25)        Rangers  Blue Jays Advantage
Batting
(RAR)
              23
            (3rd)
0.7
(15th)
Rangers
Starters
(RAR)
7.3 9.8 Blue Jays
Bullpen
(RAR)
-1.5
(22nd)
-0.7
(21st)
Blue Jays?
Defense
UZR
1.9
(13th)
-0.6
(17th)
Rangers
Overall RAR + UZR 30.7 9.2  Rangers!

Questions to Answer:

  • How many runs does Kyle Drabek allow in his first ever start against the Rangers? More or less than the number of HBPs in Kasey Kiker's next outing?
  • Who is your pick to lead the Rangers in HRs this series and which reliever will throw the most innings? (I'll go Nelson Cruz/Darren O'Day)
  • Over/Under: 2.5 times the most excited John Rhadigan gets during a telecast during this series is over something Jose Bautista does?
  • How sad are you going to be seeing Frankie Francisco in a different uniform? Me? Infinite sadness.
  • Ile9oq_medium
    Best Canadian since John Candy?