Before delving into dissecting the 2012 season for the Texas Rangers and looking ahead to potential off-season moves by Jon Daniels and Company, it’s time to cast my votes for the Baseball Bloggers Association post-season honors. Seeing as this blog concerns itself for the most part with the American League, my votes will be cast strictly for the American League honorees.
CONNIE MACK AWARD (Best Manager)
Four weeks ago, I was totally prepared to waste my vote. I had a litany of reasons why Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers should finally get his due. After the last four weeks and even more specifically the last four games, there’s no way my rationale applied anymore. There are three other candidates: Buck Showalter of the Orioles, Bob Melvin of the A’s and Robin Ventura of the White Sox. At season’s start, I had all three of those teams pegged to finish at or near the bottom of their divisions. The White Sox faded at the end, which is about the only reason I eliminated Ventura from the discussion. From a Rangers perspective, I have reasons to vote for both Melvin and Showalter. What swung my vote in the end was how one pitching staff kept going, no matter the obstacles thrown in their way. Starter suspended? Plug someone else in. Ace gets cracked in the skull by a line drive? Here’s another guy. The guy coming back from the DL goes back to the list after five starts? No problem! My vote goes to Bob Melvin.
WILLIE MAYS AWARD (Ouststanding Rookie)
You know, if I really wanted to drive up traffic on my site, this would be the easiest way to do it: Come up with a heartfelt, at least sane-sounding argument why Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels WASN’T worthy of this award because of the accomplishments of (Insert A Rookie Player’s Name Here). Then watch the sparks fly as reader after reader blasts that choice, then tweets all his or her friends to send their vitriol my way as well. Yep, sure-fire way to increase traffic to the site.
Not gonna do it. No doubt. Mike Trout. But feel free to tweet all your friends and tell them to visit my site anyway.
GOOSE GOSSAGE AWARD (Outstanding Reliever)
You know what? My man Joe Nathan had himself a pretty darn good year in 2012. He only blew three saves all year. It sure didn’t help that the last one he blew turned out to be at the worst possible time, in the last week of the season. So I have to go with Fernando Rodney of the Tampa Bay Rays. Yet another guy that comes out of the blue in Tampa and regains his past glory. Outstanding season.
WALTER JOHNSON AWARD (Top Pitcher)
Lots of choices here. Justin Verlander of the Tigers. Jered Weaver of the Angels. David Price of the Rays. Earlier this season, I sang the praises of Matt Harrison and bemoaned the fact he wouldn’t get much serious consideration for the award because he’s not a strikeout pitcher and argued those type of pitchers should get MORE consideration because it makes it even harder to make that upper echelon. Well, you know what? Weaver doesn’t have that blistering fastball either and his K rate isn’t where Verlander’s and Price’s are and he did just fine too. My friends Kristen and ICE will be happy with my second vote towards an Angel this year. Jered Weaver is my vote here.
STAN MUSIAL AWARD (Top Player)
There are constant arguments here on an annual basis and 2012 is no exception. The main question is this: How do you define this award? I always ask this because I do find a distinction between calling someone the Player of the Year and the Most Valuable Player. The year he won 27 games, Steve Carlton was easily a Player of the Year. Some would say since his team finished in dead last place that didn’t qualify him to considered the Most Valuable Player (let alone because he was a pitcher). So it is with this award. There are tribes in two camps. There’s the Mike Trout camp and the Miguel Cabrera camp.
Trout had a rookie season for the ages in 2012 and accomplished things in combination that no rookie had ever done before. Cabrera was Cabrera, which means the best player in baseball over the past five years. Trout has a higher WAR. Cabrera plays for a team in the post-season. Trout accomplished what he did despite starting the season in the minor leagues. Cabrera was hotter in September when the playoff push came. Trout was a better defensive player. Cabrera had more power. I could go back and forth all day. In the end, putting your team over the hump for the playoffs when they were all but dead just three weeks from the finish line won out. Miguel Cabrera gets my vote. If Anaheim had made the post-season, my vote would have been different.
Never thought I’d make an Andrea True Connection connection in a Rangers blog, but stranger things have happened. In fact, they seem to happen with regularity these days in a Rangers game.
This time it was the game-tying pickoff play and Mitch Moreland was right in the middle of it.
Moreland, who for the second time in three games tagged two home runs to keep the Rangers in it, this time was on base thanks to an 9th inning walk with the Rangers down 4-3. Bengie Molina, who has been hitting the ball well lately, sent Moreland to third on a single. Esteban German immediately was sent in to pinch run for Molina to help prevent the double play. Following a Julio Borbon out the Rangers were down to their last out.
With Elvis Andrus at the plate, Angels reliever Fernando Rodney had German picked off, which should have ended the ball game. Except German is a smart baserunner. He knows if Mitch Moreland can score from third before the tag is placed on him, the game is tied. So he bluffs one way and then the other. Rodney is trying to decide which base to go to, while also trying to keep an eye on Moreland. Finally he decides to go to first. Moreland breaks to the plate. The throw goes from first to catcher. Moreland does a little jump, Tag missed. Rangers score and force extra innings. Moreland has a steal of home to go with two home runs. Another new wrinkle in the Rangers offensive arsenal.
Alas, it was for naught as the Angels eventually took the game in 11 on Juan Rivera’s second dinger of the night, but it did make for an exciting game.
Josh Hamilton was 0-3 in his return and was forced to A) make a dive in the first inning for a ball and B) run full out to try to beat out an infield tapper. He seemed to show no ill effects from his rib injury in either instance, which is a good thing.
Tommy Hunter, who will now be the Game 4 starter in the ALDS instead of Cliff Lee on 3 days rest, pitched five strong innings, allowing only a Rivera homer. Lots of consternation in Rangers Nation about this decision. The stats freaks are insistent that Lee on 3 days rest would be better than Hunter. I think it should be Hunter if the Rangers are up 2-1, but I can see using Lee on short rest if we’re down 2-1 and facing elimination. If we’re up 2-1 and Hunter loses, we have a fully rested Lee in Game 5, which I think bodes better for the Rangers. I understand both sides of the argument. There probably isn’t one “best” solution.
No chance of reaching the “Ryan Goal” of 92 wins now, so these last two regular season games will probably start to resemble late spring training games. We’ll see a lot more of Andres Blanco and Esteban German than we will Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. Hamilton will most likely play all game both games (Saturday at DH, Sunday in the field), but the other regulars will most likely play a few innings, then chill out the second half of the game. I’d still like us to reach 90, just because it would make this year’s Rangers only the 4th in team history to do it, but there’s a bigger picture to look at now.
Time to make sure everyone’s ready for the ALDS on Wednesday.
I was dreaming of a Rangers win. Literally.
Hate to say it, but a 40-year Ranger fan can’t handle these West Coast games as well as he used to. After making it through the first two games and still getting to work on time the next morning, the Z’s caught up to me on what was probably the best game of the bunch, sitting on the edge of your seat wise.
But it was not to be. At dozing off time, it was 1-0 Angels. At waking up time, it was postgame show already.
Reading some of my favorite fan sites, we apparantly blew a chance to tie it up in the 8th with the bases loaded when a Fernando Rodney pitch went to the backstop. Michael Young didn’t try to score from third because the ball caromed so hard off the backstop, then Nelson Cruz popped out to end the threat. Did Young hesitate a split second too long, thus robbing him of the chance to tie it up? Would he have been thrown out regardless? Who knows?
What I do know is Jared Weaver must get his due for the Angels. He is the first pitcher to shut out the Rangers since Ricky Romero’s complete game effort for the Blue Jays on May 15th. If we had done better against Weaver, that 8th inning situation might have been a non-factor. I’m actually more concerned with Nelson Cruz at this point than whether Michael Young could have broken for the plate sooner. While he hasn’t exactly been slumping since his return from the DL, Cruz certainly has not been thumping the ball with authority. The Rangers need to see Cruz get some of that power back.
I do not like losing any series to the Angels, home or away. I do take comfort in knowing the Rangers were not blown out in any game. There is no shame in losing two of three to a good team on the road. Just don’t make it a habit.
Now it’s three at home against the White Sox, who were winning 11 in a row at the same time the Rangers were. The Chisox came out of interleague play and dropped two in a row to the Royals. I hope we get that White Sox team this weekend!