Friday, April 05 1:05: LHP Jason Vargas vs. LHP Derek Holland
Saturday, April 06 3:05: RHP Tommy Hanson vs. LHP Matt Harrison
Sunday, April 07 7:05: RHP Jered Weaver vs. RHP Yu Darvish
You want gauche? How's this for gauche?
Now that is beautiful. You know what else is beautiful? Baseball at The Ballpark.
See, Josh? That's what we care about. Sure, Hamilton seemed nearly manic during the last few months trying his damnedest to ensure that this weekend would be all about him and how mean everyone in Texas is going to be to him. And, to that extent, it will certainly be about him some. To the FOXs and ESPNs, who put these games on their schedule, they've already got the narrative of Josh Hamilton's return to Texas written. But me? I'm more interested in hearing Chuck Morgan's voice again.
I'm interested in seeing how Derek Holland does in The Year of Derek Holland. I'm interested in seeing Matt Harrison bounce back. I'm interested in seeing how Yu Darvish follows up the greatest performance I've ever seen in person. I'm interested in trying to convince myself that Mike Trout will regress tremendously this season (but knowing that this is just the folly of a fan of the team that only sometimes wears red). I'm interested in Angels vs Rangers because these two teams have spent a decade taking turns setting their sights on each other.
Josh Hamilton isn't the bad guy now because he is or was a bad guy. Josh Hamilton is the bad guy now because he's an Angel and they're the bad guys. I think it is incredibly difficult for Josh Hamilton to think anyone has fallen out of love with Josh Hamilton. I think it bothers him to be disliked because he's gotten used to being beloved.
Ever since that mid-December day, when the Dodgers had finished making Arte Moreno feel inadequate and the Angels gave Hamilton his big payday, Josh has been caring a whole lot about making sure everyone knows how much he doesn't care. He doesn't care, he says, about what happened in the stands in Arlington last October and what will happen today. He doesn't care what people think, as he's talked to seemingly anyone with a pen and a piece of paper, about how, and the exact method in which, he thinks others will show their personal level of interest in him.
Except, the thing with Hamilton is, he does care. He cares a whole lot about people's perception of him. And the entire build-up to this series that has been perpetuated by Camp Hamilton has been all about Hamilton needing to insulate himself from the one thing ever really wounded him when he played here. Guys, it really hurt Josh Hamilton when you booed him.
Hamilton's spent a winter preparing himself for being disliked, by making himself unlikable, so that it might take the serrated edge off the blade. By making himself into a man to be derided, I think he feels like it'll hurt less when it actually happens. Hamilton's become a walking, talking perpetual self-fulfilling prophecy machine. Now he won't be surprised when Rangers fans don't honor his time with the Rangers because he's made himself dishonorable. However, all this really means is that Rangers fans are completely in Josh Hamilton's head and there's maybe no stranger place to be.
The unfortunate thing about the sideshow that is Josh Hamilton's fragile psyche is, simply, I will miss Josh Hamilton the talented baseball player. In addition, I always thought Hamilton had an underappreciated sense of humor that was often buried by his story that required a straight face. It's just sad to see that Josh seems to think that the punchline should be on Rangers fans now because he feels like we all missed the joke.
So boo or sit quietly because a t-shirt and a "movement" told you to. Or even cheer a guy who was as gifted a baseball player to wear a Rangers' uniform as perhaps there ever has been. It doesn't matter how you choose to address Josh Hamilton as an Angel because he's an Angel. It's not about Josh Hamilton or how we pay our respect or show our disdain anymore.
It's about the Rangers vs the Angels.
Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the currently last place in the American League Anaheim Angels:
- Derek Holland: (Last season) 12-7, 7.44 K/9, 2.67 BB/9, .261 BABIP, 67.9% LOB, 4.75 FIP, 4.14 xFIP, 1.7 WAR
- Jason Vargas: (Last season) 14-11, 5.84 K/9, 2.28 BB/9, .254 BABIP, 78.6% LOB, 4.69 FIP, 4.45 xFIP, 0.8 WAR
Advantage: Derek Holland did say that this was going to be his year. So, who am I to not believe a guy with a face like that? Also, have you seen Jason Vargas? Now that's a face I wouldn't trust with optimism or games pitched at The Ballpark. Plus, immaturity warts and bouts of inconsistency blemishes and all, Derek Holland is a better pitcher than Jason Vargas.
- Matt Harrison: 0-1, 14.29 K/9, 4.76 BB/9, .462 BABIP, 33.3% LOB, 1.27 FIP, 2.55 xFIP, 0.2 WAR
- Tommy Hanson: (Last season) 13-10, 8.30 K/9, 3.66 BB/9, .314 BABIP, 74.1% LOB, 4.57 FIP, 4.24 xFIP, 0.8 WAR
Advantage: This is an interesting match-up if only because when Mark Teixeira was on the trading block in the middle of the 2007 season, and the Braves were rumored to be potential suitors, it was Hanson that many felt the Rangers had to ask for in a trade with Atlanta. Well, the Rangers ended up with Matt Harrison. In the long run, that's worked out very well for Texas.
Tommy Hanson had a fantastic start to his big league career, compiling 6.7 of his career 9.2 fWAR in his first two seasons. Since then, Hanson has battled injuries and declining fastball velocity (from an average of 92.3 in 2009 to 89.7 last season) to see his production drastically slip. It's been the complete opposite story for Harrison who compiled only 1.0 of his career 9.3 fWAR in his first three seasons before establishing himself as a quality starter. Harrison has also seen his fastball velocity increase from 90.3 in 2008 to 91.9 last season.
With all that said, you can't blame the Angels for acquiring a starter who has put together a 4 win season as recently as two years ago for relief pitcher with his own mechanical peculiarities. I'm just glad the Rangers ended up with Harrison in the trade that just keeps on giving.
- Yu Darvish: 1-0, 14.54 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, .077 BABIP, 100.0% LOB, -0.37 FIP, -0.04 xFIP, 0.7 WAR
- Jered Weaver: 0-0, 6.00 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, .125 BABIP, 80.0% LOB, 3.03 FIP, 4.72 xFIP, 0.1 WAR
Anaheim Angels (1-2, 5th Place in AL West)
Rangers' 2012 Record vs. Anaheim: 9-10 (5-5 at The Ballpark)
Anaheim's Recent Results: 1-2 interleague series loss at Cincinnati
Anaheim's 2012 Road Record: 43-38
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Park Factors (in 2012) (LHB/RHB): HR: 117/116 - Runs: 120/119
SB Nation Angels Blog: Halos Heaven (Nothing to see here, folks)
|Match-up: (as of 04/04)||Rangers||Angels||Advantage|
|Batting (RAR)||3.4 (12th)||2.2 (16th)||LOL, Pujols|
|Base Running (RAR)||-0.4 (t-23rd)||-0.4 (t-23rd)||We don't have Mike Trout|
|Starters (RAR)||5.4||0.9||They don't have Yu Darvish|
|Bullpen (RAR)||0.6 (9th)||1.7 (3rd)||Thanks for nothing, Mark Lowe|
|Defense (UZR)||No Data||No Data||Both of these teams can field well|
|Overall (UZR + RAR)||First place||Last place||Obviously, Rangers|
Questions to Answer:
- Of Vargas, Hanson, and No. 3 starter Joe Blanton, which new Angel rotation member ends the season with the highest fWAR?
- Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (I'm betting on Elvis Andrus making it rain this weekend.)
- Over/Under: 25.5 strikeouts recorded by Ranger pitching in this three game series?
- What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Derek Holland this afternoon in the home opener to begin The Year of Derek Holland?
- So, what wins out in Hamilton's first at-bat in his return to that football town in Arlington: Boos, Cheers, or Silence?