The Rangers are solid at 3B with Blalock

Blogged under Bloglockers,Front Page,Positional Preview for Season by chinmusic on Monday 26 February 2007 at 6:59 pm

26 year old lefty swinging Hank Blalock had his worst season in the last 4 years and he still put up solid numbers overall.  Blalock hit .266 last season with 76 runs scored, 16 homers, 89 RBIs and a .726 OPS in 152 games.  Part of the reason for the low batting average is that Blalock often looks helpless against lefty pitchers who held him to a .216 batting average and a .596 OPS in 162 at bats against them.  The Rangers really don’t have a strong hitter to put at third base against lefties so Blalock is likely to still play every day.  Blalock made 12 errors in 122 games at third base last season and that’s too many.  He also doesn’t have much range on defense.  Look for Blalock’s power to return this season as he should hit 25-30 homers, but his average will stay down because he can’t hit lefties.

30 year old Ramon Vazquez looks like the front runner to back up Blalock, but he’s a left handed hitter too.  He played in 14 games at third base last season and only made 1 error while showing slightly below average range.  30 year old Jerry Hairston only played 1 game at third base last season but he could probably handle it defensively.  Desi Relaford and Matt Kata are long shots to make the Rangers, but either of them would be decent on defense at third base.

Michael Young is the Rangers best kept secret

Blogged under Bloglockers,Front Page,Positional Preview for Season by chinmusic on Monday 26 February 2007 at 6:47 pm

30 year old Michael Young is the best kept secret in the South as he’s just as good as Derek Jeter and Miguel Tejada.  Young played in all 162 games last season and he hit .314 with 93 runs scored, 52 doubles, 14 homers, 103 RBIs and a .814 OPS.  Young has been simply the best shortstop in the game the last 4 seasons.  For 4 years running, Michael Young has gotten over 200 hits per season.  During the last 4 seasons Young has averaged 106.8 runs scored, 18.5 homers, 91.3 RBIs and a .316 batting average!  Young also has outstanding range on defense and he only made 14 errors.  Look for Michael Young to continue to be the best shortstop in baseball again this season!

30 year old lefty swinging Ramon Vazquez is the best equipped back up for Michael Young.  Vazquez only hit .209 with a .550 OPS in 34 games last season for the Cleveland Indians.  Look for Vazquez to rebound with the stick in his hands as he has a career batting average of .255 over 386 major league games.  He showed good range at short for the Indians, but he made 3 errors in only 7 games there last season.  Look for Vazquez to improve on defense as that has been his strong suit over his career.

22 year old Joaquin Arias was the player to be named in the A-Rod-Soriano trade in 2004 and he’s come around nicely.  He played in 124 games in AAA last season and hit .268 with 4 homers, 49 RBIs, 26 steals and a .657 OPS.  Arias came up in September for a cup of coffee with the Rangers and played in 6 games for them.  He went 6 for 11 (.545 avg) for the Rangers.  He also showed off outstanding range last September in his limited time at shortstop.  He has a bright future in the majors.

27 year old switch hitter Jose Morban was signed on to compete for a reserve job on the Rangers.  Morban played in 34 games in the minors last season and he hit .255 with a .806 OPS.  Morban only played in one season in the majors (2003 Baltimore Orioles) and he didn’t play too well.  He was a Rule 5 Draft Pick that the Orioles kept all season and he played in 61 games that season and only hit .141 with a .412 OPS.  He is a very big long shot to make the team.

Second base about to be a strong point for the Rangers

Blogged under Bloglockers,Front Page,Positional Preview for Season by chinmusic on Monday 26 February 2007 at 6:23 pm

24 year old Ian Kinsler had a great rookie season that was only interrupted by injury.  He played in 120 games and hit .286 with 65 runs, 14 homers, 55 RBIs, 11 stolen bases and a .801 OPS last season.  Ian Kinsler showed off fantastic range but that range resulted in Kinsler making 18 errors, which is too many for a second baseman.  Look for Kinsler to put up big numbers for the Rangers this season as long as he stays healthy.  He looks like a future American League All-Star and he might be one this season.

30 year old Jerry Hairston will likely be the back up second baseman for the Rangers this season.  Hairston had a rough season last year as he only hit .206 in 101 games for the Cubs and Rangers.  He should bounce back for the Rangers as he has a career batting average of .257 over 745 games.  He played 25 games at 2B and only made 1 error last season.  He will also probably play some outfield for the Rangers.

25 year old lefty swinging Drew Meyer is a longshot to make the Rangers.  He played in 5 games for them last season and went 3 for 14 (.214 avg).  He also didn’t hit well in AAA ball as he played 95 games there and only hit .228 with a .583 OPS.  He will definately start the year out in the minors.

30 year old lefty swinging Ramon Vazquez will be competing for the utility infield job for the Rangers and he played 7 error-less games for the Cleveland Indians last season. 

29 year old Matt Kata played in 113 games in AAA last season and he hit .263 with 9 homers, 34 RBIs and a .747 OPS last season.  He last played in the majors in 2005 with the Phillies & Diamondbacks and hit only .189 in 40 games.  Kata has played in 160 career games and has a batting average of .248 with a .700 OPS in those games.

33 year old switch hitting Desi Relaford only hit .121 in 11 AAA games last season.  Relaford last played appeared in the majors in 2005 with the Colorado Rockies.  In 2005, Relaford hit .224 with a .627 OPS in 73 games.  For his career, Relaford is a .244 career hitter with a .670 OPS.

The Rangers sign Desi Relaford

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures,Bloglockers,Front Page by High Heat on Thursday 15 February 2007 at 9:20 pm

The Rangers signed 33 year old Desi Relaford to compete for a reserve infielder job.  Relaford last played in the majors in 2005 when he hit .224 in 73 games for the Colorado Rockies.  For his career, the switch hitter has a .244 average with a .670 OPS.  He has a legit chance to make the team as the other back up infielders that he’s competing with are not that great.

DH looks like a platoon position for the Rangers this season

Blogged under Bloglockers,Front Page,Positional Preview for Season by High Heat on Tuesday 13 February 2007 at 12:26 am

Lefty swinging 32 year old Frank Catalanotto will be the DH against all right handed starting pitchers this season.  He has a career .303 batting average against righties and he should do well against them again this season.  Last year he hit .300 with the Blue Jays with 7 homers, 56 RBIs and a .815 OPS.  He can also play a corner outfield position if the need arises for the Rangers this season.

26 year old switch hitting Jason Botts will battle 38 year old Sammy Sosa to be the DH vs. lefty starters.  Botts hit .294 last season in the minors with 13 homers and 42 RBIs in only 248 at bats.  Botts hit .220 with 1 homer and 6 RBIs in 50 at bats for the Rangers.  He does seem to have the upper hand on Sosa entering camp.

38 year old Sammy Sosa is coming to Spring Training with the Rangers after sitting out the 2006 season.  He had an awful year in 2005 with the Orioles as he only hit .221 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs in only 380 at bats with a poor .671 OPS.  It’s really hard to imagine Sosa making the team.  He has 588 homers and 1,575 RBIs in 2240 career major league games, so the Rangers are hoping he has a little magic left in his bat. 

The Rangers are super at First Base

Blogged under Bloglockers,Front Page,Positional Preview for Season by High Heat on Saturday 10 February 2007 at 9:56 am

Switch hitting 26 year old Mark Teixeira is an absolute beast for the Texas Rangers.  Not many players would be disappointed when they hit .282 with 33 homers, 110 RBIs and a OPS of .885…..but he was.  Look for him to have a monster season this year as he’s averaged .288 with 104 runs scored, 38 homers and 122 RBIs over the last three seasons.  He also is a great defensive first baseman as he only made 4 errors last season.  He’s a big target for the Rangers infielders to throw to and he’s really improved now that he finally has settled in at one position.  Look for Teixeira to have a big season with the bat now that Kenny Lofton and Frank Catalanotto are getting on base in front of him…oh, and don’t forget Michael Young.

Teixeira has played in 324 games the last two seasons.  If anything happened to him the Rangers would likely move Brad Wilkerson to first base from the outfield.  He has a lot of experience there with the Nationals/Expos.

Rangers Catchers

Blogged under Front Page,Positional Preview for Season by High Heat on Monday 5 February 2007 at 5:39 pm

The Rangers are giving 27 year old Gerald Laird his big chance.  He had a fine season last year as he hit a very solid .296 with an .805 OPS.  Laird has some power and the ability to hit for a decent average.  Laird has a fantastic arm as he threw out 42% of the base runners that tried to steal on him.  He does need to work hard on improving his receiving ability as he made 6 errors and had 5 passed balls.  He will likely be the starter all season as he doesn’t have much competition behind him.  In fact, he should have a heavy workload this season. 

32 year old Miguel Ojeda will be in a three-man competition for the backup job.  He probably is the favorite going into Spring Training.  He only batted 87 times in the majors last year, but he still knocked in 15 runs with 2 homers.  He hit .241 with an .673 OPS and played a little bit at the end of the season for the Rangers so he has a head start with the pitching staff.  Ojeda only threw out 1 of 17 (6%) base stealers that challenged him.  He only made 1 error and had one passed ball last year.

25 year old Guillermo Quiroz will have a good chance to beat out Ojeda for the backup job.  The once highly thought of prospect hit .267 with 6 homers and 37 RBIs in only 202 at bats in the minors.  Those project out to solid numbers over a complete season.  He also is a decent defensive catcher so the Rangers made a nice signing here.

25 year old Chris Stewart was acquired in the off-season from the White Sox.  He hit .265 with a .707 OPS in AAA last season and went 0 for 8 with the White Sox.  He projects as nothing more than a backup catcher for the Rangers in the future, but that’s what they’re looking for this season so he may have a chance to make the team out of Spring Training.

New Faces in 2007

Blogged under Arrivals & Departures,Front Page by High Heat on Friday 2 February 2007 at 12:48 am

The Texas Rangers have made some smart moves that will improve them on the field this year.  Frank Catalanotto was brought in to DH against right handed pitching for the Rangers.  Catalanotto has hit a combined .300 the last two seasons and he’s a career .303 hitter against right handed pitching.  Kenny Lofton was brought in to play center field against right handers and some lefties.  He is now 39 years old but you would never know it watching him play.  Lofton has hit a combined .316 over the last two seasons and has averaged 27 steals.  The Rangers signed Marlon Byrd who will probably platoon with Lofton.  Byrd has skills but he’s never maximized them in the majors.  The biggest name coming to camp with the Rangers is Sammy Sosa.  Sosa didn’t play last season and only hit .221 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs in 2005 with the Orioles.  He’s trying to latch on as Catalanotto’s platoon partner at DH.  The Rangers brought in Matt Kata and Ramon Vazquez to battle for jobs on the bench.  Catchers Guillermo Quiroz and Chris Stewart will get a chance to battle Miguel Ojeda for the back up catcher job.

The Rangers snatched prized youngster Brandon McCarthy from the White Sox and will immediately pencil him into the rotation.  The White Sox will feel sorry they ever let him go and I wouldn’t be surprised if he leads the Rangers in wins this season.  The Rangers also brought in veteran Jamey Wright to battle for the #5 spot in the rotation.  Eric Gagne was brought in to be the closer for the Rangers.  He’s only pitched 15.1 innings the last two seasons, but he saved 45 games in 2004 and the Rangers are thinking he can get back to that level if he’s healthy.  The Rangers also brought in Mike Wood, Francisco Cruceta and Franklin German to battle for bullpen spots.

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