Tagged: AJ Pierzynski

Looking Ahead To 2015: Catcher

Heading into 2010, the year the Texas Rangers first went to the World Series, if there was one position the front office wasn’t worried about for the present and the future, it was catcher. Texas enjoyed an embarrassment of riches in the catching department. At the major league level, Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be the every day catcher for the first time. Backing him up would be University of Texas phenom Taylor Teagarden, who would supply some needed power. Down on the farm, Max Ramirez was the emergency guy at AAA Round Rock and coming up in the system was well-regarded Jose Felix in AA Frisco.

Saltalamacchia lasted for all of two games and five at bats. He had the game winning hit in the season opener but suffered an injury and didn’t tell manager Ron Washington about it. When it came up after Game 2, Salty went on the DL, Wash publicly chastised him for not speaking up and added he had a lot of growing up to do. Saltalamacchia never returned to the Rangers. During rehab, he developed a case of the “yips”, causing his throws back to the pitcher to sail. He got sent off to the Red Sox in the trade that netted Texas Chris McGuiness and Roman Mendez.

 

Robinson Chirinos

Robinson Chirinos

Meanwhile, it didn’t take long before the Rangers determined Teagarden, for all his power potential, wasn’t able to hit consistently. His long swing led to 34 strikeouts in just 85 at bats. Five of his 11 hits went for extra bases but a .155 average was all he could muster. Before anyone knew what hit them, Teagarden got sent down, Ramirez came up and the Rangers’ starting catcher was someone they picked up at the end of training camp, Matt Treanor, who turned into a godsend. Treanor wasn’t any great shakes, but he gave Texas quality at bats and handled the pitching staff well for 82 games, until the Rangers picked up Bengie Molina from the San Francisco Giants to handle the heavy work down the stretch.

Since that 2010 season, the Rangers have gone through Yorvit Torrealba, Mike Napoli, Teagarden, Treanor, Geovany Soto, Luis Martinez, A.J. Pierzynski, J.P. Arencibia, Chris Giminez, Tomas Telis and Robinson Chirinos and there’s still no true starting catcher in sight for 2015.

Phenom Jorge Alfaro is still at least a year away. In the meantime, the Rangers enter 2015 with the aforementioned Telis and Giminez at AAA Round Rock, if something happens to Chirinos or new arrival Carlos Corporan.

Chirinos was as much a godsend for the Rangers in 2014 as Treanor was in 2010. With Rangers hitting the DL almost every other day, including Soto in pre-season and  Arencibia hitting a pitiful .133 on May 16th, Chirinos came up big time, posting a slash line of .239/.290/.415 with 13 HR and 40 RBI. Adding to his importance was his defense. Chirinos came out of nowhere to lead the American League in throwing out would-be base stealers at 40%. His 2.4 WAR ranked 5th among AL catchers. Chirinos’ performance earned Soto a trade to the A’s once he returned from the disabled list.

Carlos Corporan

Carlos Corporan

This year, Chirinos enters the season as the clear #1, although there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to match any of his 2014 numbers. Last year was his first full season in the majors and his performance could go in either direction. The plan is for Chirinos to catch about 100 games, just a few more than he caught a year ago. Injuries aside, his expected back-up for the other 62 games will be Carlos Corporan, who comes over from the Houston Astros.

Jon Daniels told the crowd at FanFest that they did due diligence on Corporan, talking to a number of Astros pitchers about him. One of them, former Ranger Scott Feldman, praised Corporan and credited him for elevating his game in 2014.

The Rangers aren’t looking for great offense from the catcher position. The top priority is catchers who work well with the pitching staff. Still, Corporan has a little pop in his bat and if the Rangers get a combined 3.0 WAR out of the two of them, they’ll be happy.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 25

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Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 0-6

Overall: 84-71  (2nd Place AL West) (-8.5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Craig Gentry  .571/.600/.786  1 Double, 1 Triple, 4 Stolen Bases

Ian Kinsler  .300/.364/.533  2 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 Home Run, 4 RBI

Raspa Frio (Offense):

A.J. Pierzynski  .125/.120/.167

Alex Rios  .167/.194/.267

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Alexi Ogando  1-0, 0.75 ERA  1 Run on 4 Hits in 12 IP with 9 Strikeouts over two starts

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Joakim Soria  3 Earned Runs on 4 Hits in 2.2 IP

If there were any hopes among Texas Rangers fans of reaching the playoffs for the 4th consecutive year, they were pretty much dashed with a walk-off grand slam home run in the bottom of the tenth inning at Kansas City on Sunday. The Rangers were already no longer controlling their own destiny, entering play a game behind Tampa Bay and a half game back of Cleveland for the two Wild Card slots. With the Rays and Indians already showing wins in the books Sunday, the Rangers needed a win to keep pace. Instead, they failed to score a run for the third time in September and watched the Royals climb back into the Wild Card Race, albeit by an even slimmer thread than Texas.

There are only seven games to go. The teams ahead of the Rangers both swept their weekend series: the Rays took three in a row from the Orioles, while the Indians swept the lowly Astros. Entering the last week of play, any combination of six Rays/Indians wins and Rangers defeats means Texas sitting out the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

The good news? Texas is at home for the entire last week, playing host to the lowly Houston Astros and the third place Los Angeles Angels. Texas is a combined 25-6 against the two teams. The bad news? First, Texas has sunk to a paltry 39-35 at home. Second, Texas lost two of three to the resurgent Angels in their last series and the folks from LA are extra motivated with slim hopes of at least finishing .500 on the season. Third, the Indians close their season with six games against the White Sox and Twins, the 4th and 5th place teams in the AL Central.

The biggest glimmer of hope for the Rangers is for the Rays to stumble in the last week. Tampa Bay is on the road the entire week against the Yankees and the Blue Jays. The Rays are 36-39 on the road for the year. BUT Tampa also has a winning record on the season against both the Yanks and the Jays AND they have a winning record on the season at both Yankees Stadium and the Rogers Centre. Trailing the Rays by two games, Texas needs the Yanks and Jays to do them a huge solid to get to the Wild Card.

Elvis Andrus put it best after Sunday’s loss: The Rangers have to win out this week. 7-0 is the mantra for the week, and there’s no guarantee that’ll be enough.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 24

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Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 0-6

Overall: 81-67  (2nd Place AL West) (-6.5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Jim Adduci   .444/.500/.444 1 Stolen Base

A.J. Pierzynski  .318/.360/.455  3 Doubles

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Mitch Moreland  .000/.133/.000  0 Hits in 13 AB’s

Leonys Martin  .105/.150/.105

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Yu Darvish  0-2, 14 Innings Pitched, 8 Hits, 2 Earned Runs, 2 Walks, 16 Strikeouts

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Derek Holland 0-1, 3 Innings Pitched, 6 Earned Runs, 18.00 ERA

Matt Garza 0-1, 4 Innings Pitched, 3 Earned Runs, 6.75 ERA

Martin Perez 0-2 11.1 Innings Pitched, 16 Hits, 7 Earned Runs, 5.56 ERA


Paul Simon said it best in 1977: Slip Slidin’ Away, Slip Slidin’ Away, You know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip slidin’ away. Two weeks ago, the Texas Rangers, at the very least, were Wild Card playoff bound. With luck they could even find themselves AL West Champions and not facing a one and done Wild Card playoff. Fast forward to today and the Rangers are in danger of missing the playoffs altogether. Sure, they’re tied for the Wild Card with Tampa Bay, but Cleveland, Baltimore and Kansas City are knocking at the door as well and the Rangers are playing two of those four teams this week. On the road. Following an 0-6 week that was all in front of the home crowd.

It was the first time in Rangers history that a home stand of six or more games resulted in zero wins.  Not only did they lose every game, the Rangers NEVER HAD A LEAD THE ENTIRE WEEK. 54 innings of losing baseball. In all three games of the Oakland series, the A’s scored in the first inning. That means the game was in essence over before the Rangers even had an at bat in the game. Texas had ZERO home runs for the week. Zero home runs. At Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, historically one of the most prolific home run parks in the majors. The Rangers haven’t hit a home run since Alex Rios on Sunday the 8th at Anaheim, and that was in the first inning. It has been nearly seven games since a Rangers player hit a home run. A total of 62 1/3 innings now.

Yu Darvish was 0-2 on the week despite giving up only two runs in 14 innings of work. The Rangers lost both games 1-0. Darvish has lost four games by a score of 1-0 this year. Over his last seven starts, the Rangers have scored a total of 13 runs.

The kicker was yesterday’s game against the A’s. Texas was slated to face Oakland’s ace Jarrod Parker but Parker was a last-minute scratch because of illness. The A’s also pulled slugger Yoenis Cespedes from the line-up at the last minute with shoulder soreness. If the AL West title was really on the line, do you think either of those two players would have sat on the bench? Nope, they would have gutted it out to give their team their best chance to win. Instead of Parker, the Rangers got Tommy Millone, who for his career was 0-4 against Texas with a  5.67 ERA, including 0-2 with a 12.00 ERA in 2013. In other words, the A’s 1) no longer fear the Rangers; and 2) were telling Texas they didn’t care if the Rangers won or not on Sunday. Being given a gift on a golden platter, what did the Rangers do? Nothing. They scored a run in the first and nothing the rest of the way. Against Tommy Millone.

Things are bad in Arlington right now. The Rangers are 6 1/2 out with 14 games to play. The AL West is pretty much out of the question now. The only hope that remains is to stay in the Wild Card hunt. To do that, they have to get the ship righted immediately. There are no more off days and it starts tonight with the first of four games against the team they’re tied with for the Wild Card lead, the Tampa Bay Rays. After Tampa, the Rangers go to Kansas City for three games with the Royals, who still have an outside shot at a Wild Card berth themselves.

Over the past four seasons, it has never been this discouraging being a Rangers fan. Someone throw them a life-preserver. Please.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 18

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Here’s a wrap-up of the past week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 6-1

Overall: 62-51  (2nd Place AL West) (-2.5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Adrian Beltre   .429/.467/.536   1 HR, 6 RBI

A.J. Pierzynski  .308/.308/.538  2 HR, 7 RBI

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Ian Kinsler .214/.258/.393  It’s a good cold, though. Ian had a triple a home run and 4 RBI with the meager six hits he managed for the week.

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Yu Darvish  1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 14 K’s in 7 IP

Martin Perez   1 ER in 7.1 IP

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Joakim Soria  3 Games, 4 Earned Runs in 2.2 IP,  .364 BAA

Well, we learned a lot about the Texas Rangers this week. We learned Matt Garza may be a bulldog on the mound, but he’s a bit of a loudmouth off it. Garza, who lost Saturday’s start against the Oakland A’s, took exception to a safety squeeze play that netted Oakland an insurance run, thinking it wasn’t the manly way to play baseball. Garza was wrong in that assessment and he made matters worse later when he got into a Twitter war with A’s second baseman Eric Sogard and his wife, one that he had to publicly apologize for the next day. Garza may have been the prime piece available at this year’s trade deadline but he just made it a little harder for Rangers fans to wholeheartedly embrace him.

We learned that, despite his puzzling strategic moves at times, Ron Washington is one helluva manager. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be #1 on the list of wins by a Texas Rangers manager. With Sunday’s 4-0 whitewashing of the A’s, Wash passed Bobby Valentine for most wins in franchise history. The Rangers have totally bought into Wash’s formula to win, they enjoy playing for him and the results show. Considering the injuries to the starting pitching staff and the lack of punch in the offensive line-up, the Rangers are still in contention for the playoffs in 2013. GM Jon Daniels mentioned it a couple of weeks ago and I agree: 2013 could be Ron Washington’s best as a manager. The honor of being a franchise best is fully deserved.

We learned the Rangers are incredibly streaky and you can never count them out. Just one week ago today, Texas was 2-8 coming out of the All-Star Break and were playing like they were on fumes, falling 6 games behind the A’s in the AL West. One week later, they’re coming off a 6-1 week that included three consecutive walk-off home run games and taking two of three from the A’s at Oakland, shaving 3 and a half games off the A’s lead in one week’s time to pull to within 2.5 of Oakland.

What will we learn this week? We’ll learn right off the bat if A) Nelson Cruz is suspended by MLB in the Biogenesis scandal and B) if Cruz plans to appeal that suspension. The odds are pretty good Cruz will be suspended, it’s the appeal that is the unknown. Cruz is between a rock and a hard place on this. If he appeals, he may get to play out the season. However, as a free agent, teams might be reluctant to give him a wad of cash when he’s apt to miss the first third of the 2014 regular season. Or he can appeal, lose the appeal before the end of the regular season and be unavailable for the playoffs. Take the suspension and not only will he miss the rest of the regular season, if the Rangers don’t make the playoffs, he may have played his last game in a Rangers uniform. The Texas front office has been reluctant to sign Nelly to a new deal, but Cruz has often expressed his desire to remain with the Rangers.

The next three plus weeks are favorable to Texas, as their next 24 games are all against teams with sub-.500 records on the year. Even so, Cruz is the Rangers’ main power hitter. The road becomes a lot tougher, even against losing ballclubs, without the Boomstick in the line-up. This week begins with three games in LA against the Angels. After an off day, a 4-game set begins Friday in Houston against the Astros. If Cruz is indeed gone from the Rangers line-up for the rest of the regular season, Ron Washington is going to really earn every additional win on his Rangers record from now through the end of the season.

Super Streak, Super Streak, They’re Super Streaky

It must be because the Texas Rangers front office is trying to appeal to the bi-polar community. How else to explain what goes on in the realm of Rangers baseball these days. There’s no telling what team will show up. First there’s the Rangers team that came out of the All-Star break and proceeded to get swept by the Orioles, split four with the Yankees, then got swept again by the Indians. Now you have a Rangers team who does the sweeping, taking three in a row from the Angels, each one in walk-off fashion. First there was Monday night, when Texas trailed 3-2 going into the 9th, promptly tied it on an A.J. Pierzynski home run and, two outs later, sealing the deal with this shot from Geovany Soto:

Tuesday night, it started with Adrian Beltre hitting a 2-out, 2-strike single to bring home the tying run in the 9th, sending it to extra innings when it was Leonys Martin‘s turn to set off the fireworks:

Finally, Texas celebrated my birthday by having Beltre lead off the 9th in a 1-1 game:

Three wins, all by walk-off home runs, the first time that feat has happened in MLB since 2004. Yes, it was a sweep over the Angels, who have now sunk into 4th place with the loss of Albert Pujols for the season, but consider this. With the exception of C.J. Wilson‘s pitiful performance on Tuesday, everything pointed to this being a good series for the Angels. 1) Jered Weaver and Jerome Williams provided two excellent starts- a combined 14.2 innings pitched with only 2 runs given up; 2) Mike Trout was even more Mike Trout than usual: 6 for 6 with 4 walks in the first 2 games alone; 3) Josh Hamilton actually resembled the Josh Hamilton the Angels thought they were getting when they signed him. Hamilton went a combined 5 for 11 with a double, a home run, 7 RBI and 3 walks; and 4) the dominant Rangers bullpen was extremely ordinary on Tuesday, getting torched for 5 runs. The Angels got all that and they were still swept.

By the way, I know Hamilton has been bad, but you can’t prove it by the Rangers. Against every other team in MLB, Hamilton is hitting .209. Against his old team, the Rangers? .389 with a .978 OPS.

Also of significance, Texas for the first time in a month gained ground on the front-running Oakland A’s, going from 6 games behind to 4, with a big weekend series coming up in Oakland. The August schedule favors the Rangers, so this race could be getting tighter again after what appeared to be a Rangers free-fall.

Oh, and the best part? Not only did I get to enjoy a Rangers sweep of LA this week, my beautiful wife surprised me at work with this piece of edible art for my birthday:

1375293910996

Sure, there are storm clouds on the horizon. All indications are Nelson Cruz faces a suspension soon in the Biogenesis scandal, though some reports indicate he will appeal; Lance Berkman is contemplating retirement as his knees continue to be a problem; Manny Ramirez is not considered major-league ready and may find himself released in the next couple of weeks; and Texas found no willing partners at the July 31st trade deadline and can only hope they can grab some players through waiver wire transactions in August. For a team as offensively challenged as Texas has been for long stretches, this is not a good sign, especially if Cruz is lost for the season. Still, this is MY team and I’ll cheer them on regardless. I’m just glad they’re back on an upswing again.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Weeks 16/17

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Here’s a wrap-up of the past two weeks that were in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous two weeks of play.

Rangers Record: 2-8

Overall: 56-49  (2nd Place AL West) (-6)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Elvis Andrus   .333/.415/.389   2 Doubles, 4 Walks, 3 Stolen Bases

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Mitch Moreland  .056/.128/.139   2 hits in 36 at bats with 11 strikeouts

Nelson Cruz  .171/.256/.343

Dishonorable Mentions: Adrian Beltre .225, A.J. Pierzynski .220, Leonys Martin .231 and Ian Kinsler .237

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Matt Garza  1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.68 WHIP

Neal Cotts  5 IP with 0 Hits Allowed

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Martin Perez  0-1, 10 Earned Runs in 9.1 Innings Pitched

Ross Wolf  0-1, 10 Earned Runs in 7 Innings Pitched

The wheels on the bus fall off and off. Just when the pitching staff returns to some semblance of order, the offense just totally falls off the map. While it was known the Texas offense would fall off with the departures of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young, I don’t think anyone could have foretold the current state of the Rangers offense. Texas opened up the second half with a 7-game home stand and only managed to win two games, getting swept by the Orioles and splitting four against the equally offensively challenged New York Yankees. Hitting the road, the Rangers were swept in Cleveland for the first time in 33 years. It was no sin to get shut out by Justin Masterson on Saturday, but the Rangers followed that up by getting blanked by Ubaldo Jimenez Sunday, causing a post-game closed-door meeting in which Rangers manager Ron Washington reportedly held the floor for 40 minutes. The tongue-lashing was probably necessary, but it doesn’t bode well for a team when there are two of these closed-door meetings in a span of just six weeks. Something has happened to this team and it’s anyone’s guess what it is. Too many youngsters? A lack of leadership among the players? Players not holding each other accountable?

Adding insult to injury, Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers was assaulted Thursday night (or early Friday morning depending on your definition) on the way back to the team hotel. Scheppers told police he was blindsided on the street for no reason. Witnesses say he lost a bar fight, one which he instigated himself. I don’t know the truth, but I DO know it’s NEVER a good thing when something happens to you at 2:30 in the morning. The odds are pretty good Scheppers (and reportedly Joe Nathan and A.J. Pierzynski) was at a bar and somebody didn’t take kindly to something.

Oh, yeah and now reports say the Rangers have shopped Joe Nathan around to see if it might bring something good in return. There’s no question the offense needs some help but would one bat be enough? It sure doesn’t look like it right now. The head honcho at one fan site went so far as to say maybe the Rangers should flip Garza after one start and start rebuilding for next year now. I can see a possible Nathan trade, since Joakim Soria could easily move into the closers role. Flipping Garza right after getting him would be equivalent to throwing in the towel on 2013 and I don’t think anyone in the Rangers organization is ready to do that yet.

If things are going to change for the Rangers, it has to start happening this week. The Rangers open with a three game home stand against the suddenly Albert Pujols-less Los Angeles Angels, followed by a single make-up game Thursday at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks, then three on the road at Oakland against the first place A’s. Texas not only needs to get back into pennant contention, they’re also at the rear of the Wild Card race. Starting tonight, we’ll see if Wash’s tirade in Cleveland makes any difference.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 13

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Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.

Rangers Record: 4-2

Overall: 48-34  (1st Place AL West) (+1/2)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Leonys Martin .389/.421/.778  1 2b, 2 HR and 4 Stolen Bases

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Ian Kinsler   .091/.192/.136

A.J. Pierzynski ..111/.158/.167

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Neal Cotts/Jason Frasor/Joe Nathan/Ross Wolf  A combined 0.00 ERA in 12.1 IP with 2 Saves

Derek Holland  1-0, 0.00  2 Hits in 9 IP

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Kyle McClellan/Tanner Scheppers  A combined 0-1, 12.27 ERA in 3.2 IP over 4 Appearances

Another pretty good week for the Rangers, taking two of three on the road against the Yankees and then two of three against the well-regarded Cincinnati Reds. After the miserable 1-6 stretch against Cleveland and Toronto, the Rangers managed to close out the month 10-3 to finish 14-14 for June. More importantly, they ended the month in first place in the AL West, something I didn’t think they’d be able to do when comparing the strength of schedule between Texas and the second place Oakland A’s. The fact Texas is still in first after what is easily their toughest month schedule-wise of the year cannot be discounted when looking towards post-season chances.

Texas gets to start July out with six games against the bottom two teams of the AL West, Seattle and Houston. Anything less than 4-2 would be a big disappointment, although the Rangers do draw both of Seattle’s toughest starters, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma this week. Oakland will keep the heat on as they have three at home against the Chicago Cubs and three on the road at Kansas City. Even 4-2 for Texas this week could demote them to second place as the A’s are fully capable of sweeping both clubs they’re facing.

Despite being nine games out, it’s time to start paying attention to the Angels again. LA is on a 6-game winning streak, three of which were against the Tigers and they’re now as close to first place as they are to last (9 games), something they haven’t been able to claim for quite some time. The Angels are at home all week, but certainly have the toughest schedule of the three, hosting the Cardinals and the Red Sox.

Note: The Rangers check in at #4 in this week’s ESPN Power Rankings. I have no qualms about the Pittsburgh Pirates being first this week, but note the Rangers are a combined 19-10 against all the other teams in the top 10 this week. Flawed as they are, the Rangers have a legitimate claim on #2.