Posts Tagged ‘Rangers’


SP7: An unforgettable night


(Writer’s Note: I apologize to the reading public. Life has been busy for me lately, and it’s prevented me from writing or even having the motivation to do as such. I hope to get on a little bit of a kick from now on. Again, I apologize.)

Last night as a fan, I felt pretty strong when the game was over. Derek Holland had just completed a complete game, one of his best performances ever in a Rangers uniform. I had already exchanged the customary “HWC” text message with a good friend of mine. Then I got the message from another friend of mine, my soon to be roommate, who was covering the game that night.

“The fan who fell died.”

In five words on an electronic message, the night turned from one of celebration to one of somber. What was expected to be a night of being excited and energized by the performance on the field became a night where we as a community of fans mourned the loss of one of our own.

For those who are not already familiar with the story, if in fact there is anybody who isn’t: during the second inning of last night’s game Josh Hamilton tossed a foul ball into the stands. A man, Lt. Shannon Stone, reached to get the ball for his young son. In his efforts, the man fell over the rail and behind the out of town scoreboard. He was pronounced dead of blunt force trauma at 8:26 PM, and his passing was not announced until after the game was over.

I normally try to write from the perspective of an unbiased, educated observer on this site but forgive me because I feel the need to write like a fan here. As a young boy, I can remember watching and going to baseball games with my dad. Sports in general but baseball specifically helped bring my dad and I together. I know that if this was me as a six year old boy, and Josh had tossed the ball up to us in that position my dad would have done the same thing. I think any of our dads would have, because we as young kids have this fascination with getting a major league foul ball. It’s special, a memento that we can hold onto and cherish. That’s what Mr. Stone wanted to do for his son Cooper, provide him with a memory that he would cherish. Just like any dad would.

There is a time for talking about safety, and if the rail is too short or what have you(the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has published an article on their website that the rails exceed code). But right now, it’s more about the family and community of Brownwood. A family and community who lost a father, a son, an eighteen year fireman, a provider, and without a doubt multiple other labels. They need our support, our thoughts, our prayers, and any help we can give them to help them through this time. At the end of this post I will post two different links. One will be a fund set up by the city of Brownwood, the other by the Texas Rangers. Whichever one you choose to wish, if you do at all, it does not matter. Right now, this family needs our help. Let’s do what we can to help them through this time of need, because this family is just like us. We are all Rangers fan, a community of people with a common goal. One of our own has fallen, let’s do the best we can for him and his family.

City of Brownwood:

Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation:








SP5: The Feliz File: Starter, Closer, or Both?


It’s the question that has dominated Surprise since pitchers and catchers reported last month: will Neftali Feliz return to the bullpen where he saved 40 games, picked up American League Rookie of the Year and All-Star honors or is he destined to become one of the five starting pitchers for the 2011 campaign? It seems no matter who you talk too, they have an opinion on where the fireballer should go. To the rotation some say, because his potential and talent only comes around once in a blue moon. Back to the bullpen, others say, because his secondary pitches are not yet refined enough to handle major league hitters two and three times a night for six innings plus. Both make valid arguments, so before we dive into whose right or wrong let’s look at how the staff would look under each scenario.

Neftali Feliz becomes a starter: In this case, you’ve got a top three rotation of CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis, and Feliz with the last two spots to be fought over by the likes of Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Tommy Hunter, and others. You’ve also left a hole in your bullpen to fill in the ninth inning, which presumably would belong to Alexi Ogando who appears to be the in house closer candidate. Pitching coach Mike Maddux indicated earlier that Harrison and Hunter are the favorites to make it, so let’s assume those are the guys. Derek Holland and Michael Kirkman are the odd twosome out, with Holland most likely going into the pen and Kirkman taking a trip to Round Rock as one of their starters.

Neftali Feliz stays a closer: If Neftali returns to his role as the closer, you have a third starting spot open up for most likely Derek Holland to insert himself as the fourth or fifth starter. Ogando and Mark Lowe, who has been inconsistent this spring, become your right handed go to guys along with Darren O’ Day while Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver anchor the southpaw side of the bullpen. This would possibly open up for Kirkman to remain on the major league roster as the long man, and it more than likely means Eric Hurley goes back to Round Rock to further refine his stuff as he makes his comeback.

What does it mean? Well from this writer and fan’s perspective, it means that this year Feliz should go back to his spot at the back of the bullpen and work the magic he did during the 2010 campaign. No doubt Feliz has the talent, the potential, and the ceiling to become a front of the line starter someday. Note the word someday, however. His fastball is consistent, it’s not changing. But his slider or slurve(depending on whose looking at it) needs some polish, and his changeup is not reliable enough to be considered a third pitch. As a closer, he can get away with the big fastball and the occasional second pitch. Major league hitters can see it once and wonder what just flew by them. Give them two and three chances at it, and any hitter worth his salt will be able to key in on it and start hitting it. The simple fact is Feliz can start, but he isn’t ready for it yet.

But that word someday was included for a reason. Fast forward to Opening Day 2012. The crowd is large, the stadium is electric, and Chuck Morgan announces the starting pitcher as Neftali Feliz. Eight innings later, and the Rangers cling to a one run lead. The bullpen door open, and out runs…Heath Bell? Jonathan Papelbon? Next year’s free agent class is much heavier on relievers, as opposed to this year when Rafael Soriano was the big prize. Besides the two just listed other potential free agent signings include Matt Capps, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, and Jose Valverde. It’s very conceivable that should CJ Wilson leave in free agency(as this is a contract year for him as well) that the Rangers could spend the money they did not give to him on a closer with the intent to sure up the back end of the bullpen. There’s no doubt that you’d feel much better about those candidates, all of who have proven their mettle as a closer, than an Ogando or a Lowe who hasn’t been put in the cooker of the closer’s role over time. It softens the blow of Feliz leaving the bullpen, and it also allows him to gain the most valuable thing at his age: experience. Experience in the majors seeing the best hitters on the planet. Experience with throwing his second and third pitches, while learning how to throw them. Experience in how to handle his new found stardom that comes from being such a vital piece to a team on the rise. One more year in the bullpen is nothing but good for Feliz, the Rangers, and the fans who got used to saying “Hello Win Column” while Feliz celebrated after the last out. Feliz will start again tomorrow night, and if he does well it’s probable he could end up moving to the rotation. But until manager Ron Washington comes out and says one way or the other, fans and Feliz alike will continue to sing the same tune.



SP4: Was Chuck Greenberg Robin Ventura’d?


Well the story is about as official as it is going to get at this point. After about a half day’s news cycle on the subject, the press assembled at the Temple to hear what Twitter was abuzz about: that Chuck Greenberg was out as CEO of the Rangers and out of the ownership group Rangers Baseball Express(netting 20-25 million dollars according to Bob Nightengale). Nolan Ryan has taken over and is the new CEO of the team, adding that title along with President and Baseball Deity. Ryan, Bob Simpson, and Ray Davies spoke in generalities, declining to get into details of the Greenberg departure but making sure to emphasize all the quality attributes and positive things that Chuck did in his brief time as Rangers CEO. The media did their part by asking the questions the fans, like asking Ryan “Did you and Ryan butt heads, and if so what was the final straw on this issue?” They tossed fastballs not unlike what Ryan did during his illustrious career, and the trio did their best to just foul them off by not addressing them in detail. But you took away from the press conference knowing that the Chuck Greenberg Era, which was highly anticipated by Ranger Nation, was dead and buried.

So now we ask why. Why did the person who fought for over a year to buy this team along with the rest of Rangers Baseball Express, including a late night court battle with local billionaire Mark Cuban, get bought out and basically kicked down the road? A lot of people in the know say that it was because Greenberg rubbed the other three the wrong way. That he tried too hard(the extra visit to free agent Cliff Lee is cited), that he interfered too much in the baseball side of things(a report involving Michael Young’s contract and deferred money), or that his over-aggressive management style just did not mesh well when the  ownership group had to get to work day in and day out once the whimsical process of acquiring the team ended and the grind of the off-season set in. All valid, all makes sense, yet I just don’t buy it. You don’t cast off the guy who has been the best PR generator for this new ownership group because he is over-aggressive, because he is trying to do too much.

Which leads me to believe how I currently believe: Chuck Greenberg was a lame duck from the beginning. Chuck didn’t know, but Davies and Simpson did. It’s fairly common knowledge that Nolan Ryan, who at the start of this process was just the president of the team, wielded quite a bit of positive energy with both Rangers fans and Major League Baseball which would be instrumental in acquiring the club.  So you had money, you had the clout, but you didn’t have a man that could make the deal. Enter Chuck Greenberg, someone who desired to be in baseball and wanted to be apart of a team. He had executed a messy sale before with Mario Lemieux(the Nolan Ryan of hockey) and the Pittsburgh Penguins, so it was a logical lateral move to have him do the same with the Rangers. The rest of the story is history, with creditors causing problems, Mark Cuban teaming with Jim Crane, and the purchase process ending on the very early morning on August 5 when the winning bid for the RBE was submitted. The keys were handed over, and the team went on a magical World Series run concluding the best(and most tumultuous) Rangers season ever. Fan moral was at an all time high. They go into the off-season, and if the articles published are to be believed that’s when the friction really got kicked up. Management styles, personal beliefs on ways to handle the organization and all that implies did not match up, and the decision was made that Greenberg was done.  Nolan Ryan took his place as the new CEO and President, which gets us back to the present.

I’m fully of the belief that Chuck was used to get the deal done, and to keep him around they gave him the CEO title. Davies/Simpson/Ryan did not want to keep him, because you’ve got two clashing groups of personality. Greenberg is a very fan friendly, very active, very aggressive and proactive person. The trio he feuded with are more of the traditional stay out of site, we manage behind the scenes with no real presence outside our offices, good old boys type style. So it was natural that the southern, down home guys probably didn’t appreciate when the northern guy started encroaching on their territory, who was bucking the status quo and trying to remake the image of the Rangers ownership group from the decrepit, vilified reign of terror that was the Hicks group. They knew that in the end, they wanted Nolan Ryan as their lead dog. Not Chuck Greenberg, they wanted the guy that they knew and could connect with. They wanted familiar, plain and simple. Nolan Ryan is one of the most well respected people in the state of Texas, and the game of baseball. He should be. This situation, however, was extremely unprofessional and casts the remaining trio in a very bad light. You cast out the guy who the fans loved, who didn’t sit in his ivory tower but instead sat out in the bleachers. He wanted to know what the fans thought, so much so that he went out and talked with them. He connected with the fans, he was the face of the ownership group, and even though it was revealed he did not have much invested(2-3 million dollars according to John Heyman) within the team. He brought more than money, because Davies and Simpson represented more money than we needed. Greenberg represented a new generation of owner, and it was whole heartily embraced by Ranger Nation. He was the anti-Hicks, which is exactly what this team needed in every single facet of baseball ownership. Nolan will be a good CEO, but he’s not going to be out in the stands or on Twitter being able to communicate with the fans. What you gain in Ryan’s credibility you lose with Greenberg’s accessibility to the fans, and passion for being not just a suit but a support just like the people who occupy the stadium.

I know a lot of fans will follow Nolan Ryan blindly, we tend to do that with our heroes. I love Nolan Ryan, and someday I will write a story relating a personal experience I had with Ryan that rekindled my love of Rangers baseball which had gone dead for a period of time.  I’m sad to say that I can’t support my hero, or the people who he sided with, on this issue. The evidence points to it: the dismissal of a very popular fan figure, the idea of him having very little invested in the club so it is easier to buy him out(even with the profit), Davies and Simpson both being much more inclined to favor Ryan who they share much more in common with, the timing of three weeks before the season. If they were truly dissatisfied with Greenberg, why wait until three weeks before the season? Because you want to start clean, you want to get this over with in plenty of time before the season. Chuck Greenberg was basically a prostitute for the Davies/Simpson/Ryan group, they used him for their own purposes and then they cashed him out and sent him on his way. That’s a prostitute, and it’s a shame to see someone who was so enthusiastic and passionate about this club be exploited for his skill set and his good nature. This will never be admitted to by the three men who hold control of the Rangers, but there is considerable reason to believe it. Do I still support the Rangers? Yes. However, I absolutely do not support this move. I won’t tell you HOW to think, but I will ask you to at least think. Do not let your blind loyalty to Ryan allow you to not at least inquire and see what this story could be. Nolan Ryan is a respected official, but he is human and no human is without mistake. In this case Ryan, Ray Davies, and Bob Simpson all made a mistake. Time will only tell how that mistake will affect the season. As a Rangers fan, I only hope that they knew what they were doing.