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Texas Rangers Get Double Sweep as Ron Washington Moves Players Around

The Texas Rangers are jumping out of the gate quickly in this early 2011 MLB season. But the question is, will they be in the running down the stretch?

With a double sweep under their belt early in the season against the Red Sox and now the Seattle Mariners, manager Ron Washington continues to change the batting order at the bottom of the lineup. He has also been making changes to find time for players to get rest, even this early in the season.

In the offseason, the questions circled around why Mike Napoli was brought on board for this team. Napoli plays catcher and first base. Washington seems to like to have the variety of players who can play multiple positions.

The Rangers have a couple of young guns in Mitch Moreland at first and Yorvit Torrealba at catcher. Napoli can easily fill in to give one of the two guns a rest.

Washington has moved the defensive positioning around as well. Michael Young, who was playing third base, was, for the first time at first base. Washington also moved Nelson Cruz from RF to DH for a couple of games.

Washington has placed Elvis Andrus into the No. 2 hole. Andrus, who recently ended a drought of 705 at-bats over 179 regular season games without a homer, was set to be lower in the batting order, but has benefited from being in between Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton early in the season.

Julio Boron has been on the bench the past few games with Hamilton moving back into center field and David Murphy in left field.

Will Hamilton and Borbon make moves in the outfield during the season or has Washington seen enough of Borbon in center to know he may just not be ready to the major leagues?

With Murphy batting .600 in three games this season, Borbon’s at-best mediocre play may have made to harder for him to get back into the lineup.

Some have also question Adrian Beltre and Cruz switching spots in the lineup. Cruz, who has been on a tear so far this season, one has to wonder if Beltre will move to the No. 5 hole with Cruz taking over cleanup duties.

Washington—with 156 games to go—has a lot of time to tweak the lineup to work for the Rangers as well as get rest for vital players. The top of the lineup through the No. 5 hole has played all six games.

It will be interesting to see what Washington does during those days when players at the top of the order do need that rest.

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MLB: Texas Rangers: Nelson Cruz on Cruise Control as Rangers Win Fouth Straight

Monday night at the Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers handed the Mariners a 6-4 loss to remain undefeated in this young 2011 MLB season.

A decent outing for Derek Holland, as he pitched six innings en route to his first win of the season. He allowed three runs and seven hits with five strikeouts and one walk.

Neftali Feliz who has been getting used, but in his first save opportunity, pitched a three up-three down, to retire the side, and receive his first of what could be many saves this season.

Ex-Ranger Justin Smoak ripped an RBI double to bring the score to 3-2.

But before the Mariners could celebrate, Nelson Cruz remained hot at the plate hitting his fourth home run in as many games to make the score 4-2.

Nelson Cruz joins an elite group, with Willie Mays and Mark McGwire as being the only two other players to start the first four games off with a homer. Who hit five you may ask? No one. So tonight, Cruz has a chance to own a record.

Next up—Alexi Ogando is scheduled to make his major league starting debut tonight against the Mariners. Ogando went 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA, in mostly stretch relief work, for the Rangers in 2010 setting up Neftali Feliz in the closing role.


Some Meat To Marinate On

There are now only four teams in the MLB that are undefeated.

The Rangers and the Orioles are 4-0 while the Red and Phillies are 3-0.

There hasn’t been a start like this for the Rangers sense 1996 when they went 7-0 to start the season.

Obviously, Arlington has been a place where the Rangers are enjoying the success this season. The road will be vital for this team, as home has been their safe haven to this point.

The Rangers will be on the road for the next three series (nine games) after this series with Seattle.

The Rangers start off with a three game series with the Orioles who are also undefeated, as stated earlier. Then it’s off to Detroit for a three game warm-up series, before moving on to the Bronx, and the N.Y. Yankees.

In those nine road games, it will be interesting to see if the Rangers will be able to remain as hot as they have been in the first four games.

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Texas Rangers: Julio Borbon Costs Tommy Hunter Chance at Win Against S.F. Giants

A beautiful day for baseball in Surprise, Ariz., on Sunday, but a loss on the field 11-8 makes the day for Rangers fans feel cold.

The closest the Rangers ever came to the defending World Series Champions was 2-1 in the third inning. In the top of the fourth, the Giants wiped the spring summer grass with the Rangers.

Tommy Hunter gave up a five-run fourth, and the Giants never looked back.

Hunter’s frustration clearly showed in his post-game interview when said “Today was…shoot, I don’t know what it was, I’ve got to get better. That’s the bottom line.”

He does.

In the top of the fourth inning, Julio Borbon didn’t help Tommy Hunter’s cause much, by dropping a fairly easy fly ball.

The sun was the main cause for the error, but he still needs to make that catch, although Hunter was lit up by giving up four earned runs in 3 1/3 innings at that point.

In his interview, you can tell his effort and the dropped fly ball of Borbon’s in the top of the fourth, clearly had Hunter rattled emotionally.

After all, giving up seven runs in 3 2/3 innings isn’t going to impress anyone, regardless if only four of the seven runs were earned.

They could have won the game, or at least had a chance without the costly error. Rangers want wins. Stats will come and go, but as long as they get wins. They will be OK.

The AL West isn’t the strongest division in baseball, so getting wins will be important.

Hunter is trying to earn a spot in the rotation for the Rangers. He is really isn’t showing he can handle the work.

With a 8.31 ERA in three spring training games, his quote is correct: “I didn’t give us a chance to win. That is a starter’s main objective. I didn’t get it done today.”

Ron Washington said of Hunter, “As long as he’s pitching and getting his work in, that’s all that matters. This is Arizona: there are a lot of things that happen down here that don’t happen during the regular season. He needs to work on things and we’re certainly going to give him that opportunity. No decision has been made.”

Hardly a ringing endorsement of his talent, or for that fact, making the team.

“I know I can win in the big leagues. I need to get back to where I was last year,” Hunter said.

As for the outfield, going into this season, the powers that be in Texas want Borbon to have his spot in center field, but his play early into spring hasn’t been all that stellar. Sunday’s mishap didn’t help him much, either.

The Rangers want Hamilton to be in left field because, “Hamilton has a less of a chance of getting hurt in left,” according to former CEO Chuck Greenberg on “The Ben and Skin Show” of 103.3 ESPN Dallas/Ft.Worth last week.

The Rangers like Hunter. They also like the fact he was somewhat successful last season with a 13-4 record. Will that help him “earn” a spot for this season? Seems likely.

Borbon, on the other hand, is costing this team runs this season…something the Rangers can’t afford.

This season, the pitchers have to do what they did last season when Cliff Lee wasn’t on the team. They need to get a fast lead in the AL West.

Errors in the outfield will not help Borbon’s cause, nor help this team’s chances of winning games.

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Texas Rangers: Neftali Feliz a Starter or Closer? Questions Still Need Answers

The Texas Rangers are gearing up to defend their American League championship.

With the Rangers having questions in their starting rotation,  Neftali Feliz reportedly prefers the closer role.

One has to ask, why not?

Even manager Ron Washington said, “Your heart’s got to be in what you’re going to do. If your heart isn’t in it, we’ll have to make that decision down the line.”

Last season, you had a guy in Feliz who took over the closer role and didn’t look back after two blown saves by then-closer Frank Francisco. Feliz notched 40 saves for the season and broke the rookie record for saves, bypassing Kazuhiro Sasaki of the Seattle Mariners, who in 2000 set the record with 37saves. 

In turn, he won the AL Rookie of the Year award.

Sometimes, major league managers like to tweak things in order to make things work better for the roster. But for Feliz, will one of those tweaks complement his talents or hinder them?

This season, the powers that be want to put him in a starting role. The question is, do you take a chance at the closer role by bringing someone in? Or do you take the chance and find a fourth or fifth starter in the rotation?

There needs to be a reliable closer in the bullpen. In his last outing on Wednesday he pitched three innings, allowing only one hit and two walks, but the big number was four strikeouts.

Is the stretch the Rangers are putting Feliz in working to have him start? The numbers look great for that to happen, but as Washington said about his heart, will it be there?

Feliz isn’t Cliff Lee—not too many pitchers are. The Rangers need to try to replace a body in the starting rotation.

Is Feliz that answer?

When trying to answer that question, one has to ask, will he struggle as a starter on purpose—but not struggle enough to lose the hold on the closer role?

Also, as a starter Feliz may give up too many home runs. Feliz has given up seven home runs in the majors in 100 innings after he only gave up seven home runs in 276 innings in the minors.

Granted, the players in MLB are much better than the players in the minors. However, pitching the equivalent to 11 games in the majors and only giving up seven in a closing role, one has to imagine what his home run ratio would be as a starter.

When looking at the closer role, you have to say, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It may be easier to find a reliable starter than a reliable closer.


Sonny Clark is also a writer for Check out his Dallas and local stuff HERE. He also does an online sports show called “The Couch Potato Sports Show” heard on BlogTalkRadio Monday and Thursdays at 7PM CST, as well as Saturday morning at 10AM CST. Click Here to go to the web page.

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Texas Rangers: Is Michael Young’s Salary Making It Hard To Feel Sorry for Him?

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington has been quoted as telling to Adrian Beltre not to try to rush back or play with his injury.

Heck, why should he rush? The Rangers only have a $16 million utility guy. I’ll repeat that: $16 million reasons for the Texas Rangers not to worry.

However, Michael Young still wants to be traded.

Michael Young is a good talent, but what team is going to take on the mammoth salary he has? A $48 million price tag for the next three seasons is hard to swallow for any team to pay for a 34-year-old player.

Let’s face it, Young isn’t Albert Pujols.

Also, looking at potential teams that would trade for Young, they would want the Rangers to eat most of his contract. So why let him go? We all know what goals the Rangers have this season. Why waste the money and the talent?

The Texas Rangers, as defending American League champions, need to be a nucleus.

Young is part of that nucleus. He, in fact, is the main part of the nucleus.

Michael Young is “a membrane-enclosed organelle found in eukaryotic cells.” In other words, Young holds the nucleus all together.

Michael Young holds most the Rangers’ ability as a multi-talented player that can play more than just one position on a baseball field.

That is key when he plays on a team that is known for its fragile players. Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz, as well as the possible injuries that could happen to Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre, already proves his value and worth.

While trying to keep that nucleus together, Young is the key.

Young also has to keep things in perspective.

Did a young arrogant owner, Jon Daniels, say something he shouldn’t have? Maybe. But who cares? You have to side with the guy who writes the checks here. If what was said and done was so horrible, we still have to remember he is receiving $16 million to play a game.

A game.

Young needs to sit down and really think about the “suffering” he may be going through and keep it in perspective.

If you asked any other player making the league minimum, they would say, “For $48 million for the next three seasons, I would put on a skirt and serve beer in the stands.”

The Michael Young “situation” really has to be put in perspective in his mind. He played hard for the “blockbuster deal/career contract.” He got it. Now he has to deal with it.

What Young is being asked to do by the Rangers, is the same thing any other player would do, if asked. He is just getting paid more for doing what he is asked at his JOB.

The definition of “job”:

A regular activity performed in exchange for payment, especially as one’s trade, occupation, or profession.

Let’s not forget, Young isn’t the boss at his job. He is an employee. He still gets paid for putting on a “baseball” uniform, not a “mechanic’s” uniform.

A mechanic does a job that is hard work. You know any mechanic making $16 million a year?

Fans of Young love what he has done over the years for the Rangers. However, the fans are beginning to lose respect for him.

It is not about jealousy, it’s about reality. It is hard to feel sorry for Michael Young when he gets paid $16 million a season to play baseball.

If it’s so bad for him, he could just retire.

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Adam Wainwright: Dave Duncan Struggles with Tommy John Surgeries in 2011

With news of Adam Wainwright’s elbow injury and his impending Tommy John surgery, Dave Duncan has his work cut out for him to get a starting rotation ready for the 2011 season.

Duncan has been the pitching coach for manager Tony La Russa since 1983, when he took over as the pitching coach for the Chicago White Sox. Duncan has been with La Russa ever sense, with stints in Chicago as well as in Oakland and St. Louis.

In St. Louis, Duncan replaced Bob Gibson. Gibson was a Hall of Fame pitcher turned coach, as well as a local hero in St. Louis, where he led the Cardinals to World Series championships in 1964 and 1967.

So when La Russa took over as manager in St. Louis, Duncan knew he had big shoes to fill. He knew about pressure. In fact, Duncan is one of only a few pitching coaches that weren’t pitchers themselves. Talk about pressure and criticism.

Duncan has been very successful. It’s no big secret that Duncan has been able to work his magic on MLB pitchers for years. He has even had a few Cy Young winners he has waved his magic wand on.

He will have to start waving that wand yet again in this 2011 season.

With Chris Carpenter and Wainwright, as well as Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook, on the roster last season for the Cardinals, they carded the major leagues’ lowest ERA at 3.50

In light of Wainwright’s injury, Cardinals fans have to be concerned. After all, it wasn’t more than three seasons ago Carpenter was out with the same Tommy John surgery. Garcia and Westbrook also had the same surgery in August 2008.

Lohse underwent surgery on his forearm last year because of a compressed nerve, and in 2009 he was out with two forearm flexor problems, as well as leg and back maladies and a pulled groin.

So injuries have to be on the mind of Duncan as he scrambles to find a replacement for Wainwright with that all-important fifth starter.

The good thing for Duncan and the Cardinals is after having Tommy John surgery, players usually come back strong for years to come.

The question is, with three pitchers on the Cardinals staff having had Tommy John surgery, will they be able to put up numbers like last season now that Wainwright is headed for that same surgery?

Will they be strong enough? Results of the surgery say yes. They should be able to handle the pitching chores in St. Louis; however, they will be very careful with Carpenter and Westbrook, Lohse and Garcia for the rest of this spring training.

Dave Duncan is going to be responsible to work that magic wand he has on the rest of that rotation without the services of Wainwright. Will he find that special magic yet again? We will see in the season to come.

Then you have to ask, with Wainwright on the shelf for the rest of the season, will the Cardinals entertain trade offers for Albert Pujols?


Sonny Clark is also a writer for Check out his Dallas and local stuff at . He also does an online sports show called “The Couch Potato Sports Show” heard on BlogTalkRadio Monday and Thursdays at 7PM CST, as well as Saturday morning at 10AM CST. Click Here to go to the show page.

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Texas Rangers: 5 Burning Questions Going into 2011 Spring Training

It is now time for spring training to get started. In Surprise, Arizona, the Texas Rangers are getting set to defend their American League championship.

As the players start making their way to Arizona this week, there are five burning questions surrounding the Rangers. They will be vital to the team’s success in this 2011 season.

No. 1: Will the Rangers recover from the losses they sustained on the field?

No. 2: Can the Rangers pitching staff be successful?

No. 3: What about the Michael Young situation?

No. 4: Will the injury bug affect the team’s ability to win?

No. 5: Are the Rangers ready to defend their championship?

Let’s look at each one of these questions and see what answers we can find.

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