Tagged: Michael Kirkman

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 10

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: 2-4

Overall: 37-25  (1st Place AL West) (+1/2)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Adrian Beltre  .333/.360/.708   3 HR   4 RBI

A.J. Pierzynski  .360/.385/.520   4 Doubles

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Leonys Martin   .067/.176/.067

Lance Berkman  .118/.286/.118

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Neal Cotts   0.00 ERA  2-0 in 3 appearances

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Justin Grimm   0-1  14.73 ERA in 2 starts

Michael Kirkman   0-1  27.00 ERA in 2 appearances

Plain and simple, this past week sucked. Texas got off to a miserable start to the week, dropping a 17-5 decision to the Boston Red Sox. The only inning the Red Sox DIDN’T score in that game was the 8th, pitched by non-pitcher David Murphy. Texas recovered to take Game 2, but dropped the series finale. In Toronto. one bad inning ruined Nick Tepesch‘s decent pitching performance but the offense went south. On Saturday, Yu Darvish had one bad inning, but the Rangers came back to tie the game in the 9th. After that, the offense went south again and Toronto finally eked out the win in the 18th inning. There was finally some offensive life shown on Sunday as Texas took the finale 6-4. Saturday, the Oakland A’s took over first place in the AL West, but Texas took it back on Sunday.

To add to the Rangers’ woes, the Rangers lost Mitch Moreland for at least two weeks with a hamstring issue, while two pitchers landed on the disabled list Sunday. Alexi Ogando, who had just returned from the DL and made a winning start against Boston, reported shoulder soreness and went right back on the list again. When he returns, it is now doubtful he will be a starting pitcher. Michael Kirkman, who everyone has been expecting to be released due to poor performance, turned up with skin cancer recurring on his non-throwing arm, so he alit on the DL as well. Rookie Chris McGuiness got the call-up from Round Rock to fill in for Moreland and had his first two career hits on Sunday. Replacing Ogando and Kirkman are Kyle McClellan, who pitched in relief on Sunday, and Josh Lindblom, who made a spot start a few weeks ago and will start tonight against the Indians.

Texas gets to enjoy home cooking for the next week and a half, with an 11-game home stand coming up. First up is Cleveland Monday through Wednesday, followed by four against the Blue Jays. Despite the injuries, home cooking should suit the Rangers, so I see them going at least 4-3 for the week. Hopefully, that will be enough to stave off the hot A’s, who also are at home all week against the Yankees and the Mariners.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 8

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: 3-3

Overall: 32-18  (1st Place AL West) (+4.5)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense):

Mitch Moreland  .300/.300/.450    3 Doubles

Raspa Frio (Offense):

Elvis Andrus .150/.250/.150   Not only did he hit poorly, the normally sure-handed Andrus also had three errors on the week.

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):

Neal Cotts  6 IP  3 Hits  0 Runs  6 K’s

Raspa Frio (Pitching):

Josh Lindblom/Cory Burns/Michael Kirkman/Joe Ortiz: A combined  10.2 IP   19 Hits  11 Earned Runs  9.28 ERA

The Rangers finally cooled off a little bit, dropping two of three at home to the Oakland A’s. They recovered enough to take two of three on the road at Seattle, but missed out on a sweep with a 13-inning loss on Sunday. As a result, the A’s gained two games on the Rangers for the week and now stand just 4 1/2 games back. For a brief time, the Rangers also had a double digit lead in the AL West over three of their four rivals. The Angels are on an 8-game winning streak, but it wasn’t until Sunday’s Rangers loss that they were finnal able to cut their deficit in the division to less than ten games.

Sunday’s loss could have big repercussions as the week begins. Only Joe Ortiz did not pitch in Sunday’s finale against the Mariners and the Rangers open the week with a doubleheader today against the Arizona Diamondbacks. You have to figure closer Joe Nathan is unavailable, having pitched in all three games against Seattle. It’s also possible Neal Cotts, recently recalled from AAA Round Rock, also would not pitch due to going 2 1/3 innings on Sunday. All other hands need to be available for both games and most of them will be tired. That makes it imperitive to get a lot of innings from today’s two starters, Martin Perez (making his first start of the season) and Yu Darvish. The Rangers could make another move today to bolster the bullpen for a day, maybe sending Nick Tepesch down for five days to bring up another arm for the twin bill.

Seven games on the schedule this week: 4 with the Diamondbacks in a home and home (the doubleheader today and two in Arlington beginning Wednesday), followed by three at home against the Royals. Oakland has a home and home with the Giants plus three at home vs. the White Sox while the suddenly invincible Halos do the home and home thing with the Dodgers followed by a 3-game home series with the lowly Astros. Of the three, the Angels appear to have the easiest week and could gain a little more ground. Oakland and Texas will probably remain steady on the week.

It’s Just One Loss, People!

There’s nothing more depressing than taking a Saturday afternoon to watch your favorite team and seeing them fall in a lackluster performance 7-2.

English: Mitch Moreland between innings at the...

Mitch Moreland: Scapegoat(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Rangers pretty much looked awful in Saturday’s loss to the Twinkies. Mitch Moreland committed a key error early in the game. Ian Kinsler made two bonehead decisions on one play late in the game and didn’t even get charged with one error. The Texas offense could muster nothing against a mediocre right-handed starter, who somehow managed five scoreless innings despite Texas getting their share of hits off him. At one point, Texas had zero runs on five hits while the Twins had one run on one hit, and that hit wasn’t a home run.

Still, it was a winnable game until Derek Holland did the really inexplicable. With a runner in scoring position and first base open and a 3-0 count on Josh Willingham, he chose to challenge him instead of just walking him. Willingham is a Rangers killer with 7 home runs and 16 RBI in just 29 games against Texas. After Holland got from a 3-0 count to 3-2, Willingham crushed a curve right in the middle of the plate over the fence in left center, making it 3-0 and effectively ending the Rangers day.

There’s more than enough blame to go around. Dutch had a great game going through five but faltered badly in the 6th and 7th. Moreland’s error led to the first run. Kinsler’s weirdness brought another run home. Willingham’s blast plated two. Plenty of blame to go around.

What it isn’t is the end of the world. It was one loss. It isn’t proof positive that the Rangers HAVE to trade for a better first base alternative. It wasn’t the game to finally nail home the notion that David Murphy and Moreland have no right to face lefthanded pitching late in a game. It doesn’t prove Ian Kinsler is a bad second baseman or Michael Kirkman, charged with 3 runs in the 8th, has no future with this ballclub. While it is frustrating at times, it’s also no reason to question why a player getting a day off isn’t even asked to pinch hit in a game.

Even in defeat, things can have a purpose over a long season. A day of rest here could pay big dividends towards the end of the season when other teams are hurting. They can also have an effect on the next game. Take the previously mentioned Moreland. Mitch slapped a run-scoring double in the 9th inning to save the Rangers from being shut out. One could say, “Too little too late, Mitch”. Not me. That hit very well could impact tomorrow’s series finale. It kept the inning going against Twins closer Glen Perkins. Perkins ended up throwing over 30 pitches to get through the 9th inning, making it more unlikely he will be available tomorrow in a tight game.

Texas just didn’t have it today. In the first 24 games, they’ve had it twice as many times as they haven’t and that’s good enough for a three and a half game lead in the AL West.

When losing skeins hit four or five games, that’s a time to start questioning and looking for solutions. Today? Get off the ledge. It’s just one loss.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 3

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: 4-1

Overall: 12-6 (1st Place AL West) (+1/2)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense): Jeff Baker  .444/.500/.889   1 HR   3 RBI

Leonys Martin  .400/.455/.900   1 3B   1 HR

Ian Kinsler   .333/.455/.556   1 HR   3 RBI   3 Walks

Raspa Frio (Offense):Elvis Andrus  .143/.143/.143

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching):Yu Darvish  1-0   0.00 ERA   10 K in 7 IP

Raspa Frio (Pitching): Alexi Ogando  0-1   5 ER in 2.1 IP

What a strange week. First a trip to Chicago where rain washed out Game 2 and threatened to cancel Game 3 as well. Instead, the final game was played in swampy conditions and Alexi Ogando couldn’t do anything right. Even in victory, the Twitterverse was up in arms over Ron Washington‘s decision to leave Jeff Baker in the game in left field, causing consternation when Baker couldn’t make a catch on a routine fly, creating suspense in what had been an easy 4-0 win as Michael Kirkman and Joe Nathan struggled to preserve a 4-2 victory. The team looked lifeless in their loss to the Cubs two days later.

Upon returning home, all was forgiven, as Texas got out the brooms and swept the Mariners and swept themselves back into first place in the AL West. Incredibly, every team in the West participated in a sweep over the weekend, Texas and Los Angeles on the 3-0 end, the A’s, Mariners and Astros on the 0-3 side of the ledger. A little space has now been created amongst the five teams.

While he isn’t on the above list, Derek Lowe deserves to be singled out as a Player of the Week. After rookie Nick Tepesch was hit in the pitching wrist by a line drive in the second inning of Saturday’s 5-0 win, Lowe came in and threw 4 innings of no-hit baseball to earn the win and keep the bullpen from being overused. Michael Kirkman did the same on Sunday, throwing the last three innings of the Rangers’ 11-2 win to pick up the save and ensure a rested bullpen heading into Monday night.

Upcoming: A full week on the road starts tonight with two teams on 3-game winning streaks. The Rangers and Angels match up for the second time this season. Texas took two of three in Arlington. The pitching staff is set up perfectly for this series, with the Rangers throwing their top three in the rotation at the Angelenos. LA starts out the series at a disadvantage, having to burn their bullpen for well over 100 pitches yesterday in their extra innings win over Detroit. Still, it’s the Rangers and the Angels, so anything can happen. After three in Anaheim, Texas flies off to Minneapolis for a 4-game set with the Twins. Hopefully, it won’t be a cold series. Texas went through 5 straight games of sub-50 degree weather from 4/10 to 4/16.

Texas Rangers Caliente y Frio: Week 2

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: 4-3

Overall: 8-5 (2nd Place AL West) (-1)

Jalapeno Caliente (Offense): Lance Berkman   .313/.450/.438   3 RBI   4 Walks

Raspa Frio (Offense): David Murphy .143/.143/.179

Jalapeno Caliente (Pitching): Joe Ortiz 2-0   0.00 ERA   5.2 IP   1 H   .056 BAA

Raspa Frio (Pitching): Michael Kirkman  5.40 ERA in 3.1 IP

Texas ended their homestand by taking two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays, then travelled to Seattle where they split a 4-game set with the Mariners. Ask most Rangers fans and they’ll probably say they were a little disappointed the Rangers didn’t go 5-2 or even 6-1, as all four games with the Mariners were winnable. Instead, the offense has gone decidedly cold. Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz really haven’t provided the power punch in the early going, which in turn magnifies David Murphy’s typical slow start even more, not to mention the overall low results of Mitch Moreland and the center field combo of Leonys Martin and Craig Gentry. The offense is scraping, which is too bad, considering the pitching has been excellent overall. Only Michael Kirkman had an ERA above 4.50 for the week. Yu Darvish gave up 3 first inning runs then nothing else the rest of the way, but Texas could only manage one run of their own in the game.

Upcoming: Another week of both road and home games- Monday off, followed by three games in Chicago against the Cubs and three at home against the Mariners. Don’t expect to see much of Lance Berkman in Chicago. Texas will have to go by NL rules, which means no DH. Berkman could start one game at first base. Otherwise, he’ll be strictly a pinch hitter, especially with cold conditions expected in the Windy City.

Two Official New Faces For The Texas Rangers Roster

While there are still two more slots in the bullpen to fill, the Rangers made it official that the roster beginning the regular season on March 31st will contain at least two rookies.

Leury Garcia has won the utility infield position which, outside of the long man in the bullpen, is the most thankless job on the Texas Rangers team. Garcia’s job will be to back up mostly Elvis Andrus. Jeff Baker probably will back up Ian Kinsler at second more than Garcia, since Baker is a proven vet with more pop in his bat. And, since Elvis is a 150 game per season player, Garcia’s biggest problem will be to keep himself fresh and ready for that once every other week appearance in the line-up. The odds are pretty good Garcia will see more action as a pinch-runner than he will in the field.

Meanwhile, rookie Nick Tepesch has officially been named the Rangers’ #5 starter. Tepesch, who has pitched no higher than the AA level, turned some heads this spring. Despite an underwhelming effort his last time out against the Rockies, he showed enough to get the nod over Michael Kirkman. It’s also likely Kirkman is viewed as a more valuable bullpen asset than a starter. Tepesch isn’t needed until an April 9 start against the Rays. The move is also only expected to last for the first two months of the season, unless he pitches at an All-Star caliber. Colby Lewis is expected to return by June, which would push Alexi Ogando into the 5 slot.

Two more rookies still have a shot at getting bullpen slots- lefty Joe Ortiz and righthander Cory Burns.

Having as many as 4 rookies earning spots on the team is a contradiction to the supposition that Ron Washington is biased against rookies. I’ve never believed it to be true. Almost any manager will shy away from rookies when the championship window is open, as it has been for the Rangers the past few years. In 2013, with expectations perhaps a little bit lower, Wash is more open to give inexperienced players like Garcia, Tepesch, Ortiz, Burns and Leonys Martin more of a shot. I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll respond to the opportunity.

Spring Training Worries About The Texas Rangers

There has been a lot more good than bad in looking at the potential of the 2013 Rangers to do some damage in the AL West. Last time out, I mentioned most of those good things. Of course, it turns out the only name I mentioned in passing could just possibly become the #5 starter , that being rookie Nick Tepesch. It’s not a surety, as it was also reported Michael Kirkman, who is on the team anyway, was stretched out to 4 innings in a minor league game. What reason for that if not to move from the pen into the #5 hole?

Enough, though, about the positives. Today is about the negatives. Most fans would agree, as much as we like our teams, we also tend to see our team’s flaws better than just about everyone and there are things this spring that have me a tad concerned (who is this Tad anyway and why is he always concerned?) going into the regular season.

English: Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers pitcher.

Alexi Ogando (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fortunately, one of those things became more of a moot point after the Rangers played the Reds on Sunday. Alexi Ogando had not been having a real good spring and he’s the #4 starter. While he was an All-Star as a starter two seasons ago, Ogando was in the pen and, following an injury, did not have a good second half. That combined with his poor spring had me thinking, who cares about the #5 starter? If our #4 isn’t doing well, nobody’s going to care about #5! Then Alexi goes out and tosses six goose-egg innings against Cincinnati and all seems right with the world again.

Look, Ogando still concerns me. We’ve heard he still needs to develop a third pitch to become a better starter. In 2012, he somehow managed an All-Star nod despite just a 2-pitch repertoire. Nothing I’ve heard out of training camp tells me Ogando’s third pitch, a change-up, is ready as a consistent weapon. If it is, I’ll breathe a lot easier. If not, the Rangers’ fortunes good go further south.

Of even more concern is the lack of right-handed depth in the bullpen. As glowing as my last post was about the southpaws Robbie Ross, Joe Ortiz, Michael Kirkman and Nate Robertson, the reverse has been true of the righties. The guys the Rangers really need to do well are Josh Lindblom (acquired from the Phillies in the Michael Young trade) and Tanner Scheppers. Lindblom struggled at first with his velocity. Now he’s struggling with his command. Scheppers was slowed by injury in training camp. Of the two, Scheppers seems to be the one turning it around somewhat, with scoreless outings in each of his last four appearances.

A year ago, the bullpen was a Rangers strength. This season, it’s definitely a work in progress. If all goes according to plan, Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz will help solidify the pen after the All-Star break. In the meantime, Texas needs at least four of the aforementioned individuals to step up their games, especially Lindblom and Scheppers.

The last concern seems minor but it’s still an important roster spot. Texas still doesn’t know what they’re doing for a utility infielder who can back up Elvis Andrus at short. Last time out, I mentioned Yangervis Solarte as a possibility, but that ended when Solarte was reassigned to the minors over the weekend. Of the players now in camp, only Leury Garcia and Jurickson Profar are left. The Rangers have already said Profar, their #1 prospect, won’t stay unless he can get 350 at bats for the season. Profar would need to play 4 games a week to get those AB’s. With Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus up the middle, that’s not likely to happen.

That leaves Garcia and I just don’t think Ron Washington is ready to hand the job to a rookie. In other words, less than a week from Opening Night and it’s highly doubtful the player chosen as the Rangers’ utility infielder is even in Rangers camp. Ideally, he would be acquired in a straight-up trade for Julio Borbon, who probably won’t make the club despite an outstanding spring. Surely there’s someone out there who needs a 4th or 5th outfielder who could spare an infielder in return. We’ll know in the next 6 days.

Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan (Photo credit: phoca2004)

On a totally unrelated subject: Remember just two weeks ago, when everyone was wondering whether Nolan Ryan was unhappy and ready to walk away from the Rangers? Not only has there been little reported on the situation in the past week plus, but I noticed a tweet today saying Ryan will throw out the first pitch at the second of the Rangers’ two exhibition games at the Alamodome in San Antonio this week. Does that sound like something someone whose departure is imminent would do? I said it when the story first cropped up and I’ll say it again. I think this has been a non-story all along. Does Nolan have less power in the Rangers organization? Yep. But I think this whole unhappiness thing has been more about Nolan just wanting to feel useful in Texas than it’s been about the amount of power he wields.

March 25th. Just a few more days before Texas and Houston in front of a nationwide audience Sunday night. It can’t get here soon enough.