Monday, July 29, 2013

Rangers Pepper 7/29: Wash and Johnny, Fun with Math

by Dustin Copening

Green Grass And Expectations - The year was 2001. I was a freshman in college, and the Texas Rangers has just finished a horribly disappointing 71-91 campaign as a follow up to winning the AL West for the third time in four years the previous season.

It began to sleet as I made the drive up 35 in my O’Reilly Auto Parts delivery vehicle while listening to “The Hardline” talk about another subpar Cowboys season gone by, or so I remember. Suddenly the freeze of a dreadful DFW sports winter thawed away as news broke that Alex Rodriguez was signing a 10 year contract with the Rangers, making him the richest player in MLB history.

ARod was one of several power bats signed by Texas that winter, and though they for the large part ignored upgrading a pitching staff coming off of an impressively inept 5.52 ERA and 1.640 WHIP year, expectations were high for a turnaround.

Johnny Oates began the season as the second winningest manager in club history, but the promise of an offense that was sure to bash their opponents into submission and the bitter pill of finishing 20 games under .500 the prior season fed into an ever growing popular theory that Coach Oates was the wrong man to oversee this next phase of Texas baseball.

I was 19 at the time, and this was long before the statistical revolution brought about by the burgeoning internet explosion ( had launched just a year earlier), so it’s hard to recall any particular criticisms about flaws in Oates’ game strategy. Though, I do remember the numerous complaints about his demeanor on the bench.

“He’s too passive.”

“The players show emotion. Why can’t he?”

“It’s time to get some passion from the manager. Time for a change.”

After an 11-17 start to the 2001 season, those seeking a change of the guard got their wish, and a franchise that had known no greater success than the years spent under the guidance of Oates would trudge on for 9 more season before making the playoffs again.

Now, the manager who took the Rangers back to the playoffs, who delivered them their first ever playoff series victory, who was one strike away on two occasions of bringing the organization it’s first ever championship, and who is now second in franchise wins is hearing cries for his head from an angry mob who won’t be content without Ron Washington falling on the sword if Texas fails to make the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year.

“He can’t manage a bullpen.”

“He will never abandon the old school ways that are holding this team back.”

“The veterans in the clubhouse are too comfortable with the status quo.”

Those demanding for Wash’s job now sound as absurd to me as those demanding for Oates to be canned over a decade ago. How was Johnny Oates ever expected to succeed with a starting rotation that featured Doug Davis, Rick Helling, and Kenny Rogers as its three best pitchers?

In the same respect, how can we be surprised that Washington’s team is falling in the standings when Justin Grimm, Nick Tepesch, Martin Perez, Ross Wolf, and Josh Lindblom have made just 5 fewer starts than Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison? Or how about the loss of 75 HR and 251 RBI with the departures of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young that have been replaced with 21 HR and 87 RBI from A.J. Pierzynski, Lance Berkman and Leonys Martin?
In a debate with my good friend and seamhead Jeff Feltman, he argued that Wash’s weaknesses will always prove fatal with ace managers like Joe Maddon and Jim Leyland occupying opposing dugouts.

“But isn’t Wash 3-0 in series against Maddon and Leyland?”

“His teams were simply better.”

“But the Rays scored more runs and had a better team ERA and WHIP in 2010.”

“Well the Rangers had Cliff Lee.”

“So what about 2011 when the Rangers didn’t have a bona fide ace to pitch against David Price and Justin Verlander?”

“Well their offense was just too good.”

“But the 2010 Yankees that the Rangers beat with their ace in 2010 scored more runs than the 2011 Rangers offense did that bested two aces, right?”

“It’s just time for a change.”

That of course was the overwhelming sentiment after Terry Francona’s 2011 Red Sox crashed out of the playoff race in September. Bobby Valentine was the tough love personality needed to shake up a complacent Boston roster.

Bobby V did such a great job of making his players uncomfortable that the Red Sox finished 5th in the AL East for the first time since the 3 division format was introduced in 1994, and the teams 69 wins was the lowest total in a full season since 1965.

I’m not suggesting that Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan would pick a replacement for Wash as historically horrid as the Valentine hiring in Boston, but sometimes that greener grass is laden with poison.

Wash Geometry 101 - The Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball, introduced by Bill James, is designed to deduce if a team’s performance in the win/loss column matches up with their expected results based on the number of runs scored and given up by that team. The theorem is designed so that the actual W/L total should be within 3 games or so of the expected W/L total for each team at the end of the year.

Any variance in the number is viewed by many sabermetricians as an outcome of luck, but I’ve been pondering lately if it could also be seen as an indication of a good or poor job of managing. After all, the moves that managers make in the course of a game and season are intended to maximize the precious resource of runs, so that their club is in the best position to rack up as many wins as possible.

For instance, legendary manager Joe Torre ended his 12 year run on the Yankees bench with 1173 wins, though his expected win total based on the Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball was 1132. The 41 game difference averages out to about +3.4 wins per year in Torre’s favor, which is just above the 3 win difference attributed to luck. However, that’s a big overall number in the positive direction when you consider that there should be a handful of years where luck went against Torre and the Yanks.

In fact, there were only two of the twelve years where Torre ended up winning fewer games as a manager than he should have based on the theorem (1997 and 2007), for a total of 6 fewer wins. So, was Torre the beneficiary of great luck, or was he a damn fine manager for an extremely talented bunch?

Give me the latter.

As this relates to the Rangers, a constant criticism of Ron Washington is that he costs his team several wins a year because of his poor game management.

Washington enters tonight (7/29) with 576 wins as Texas’ manager. His Pythagorean total is 573. While three more wins over the expected total is not close to Torre’s outrageous total of 41, it does not fit the description of a manager who bungles a handful of games away with a multitude of bunts and questionable pitching decisions.

As for Joe Maddon and Jim Leyland? Maddon has a 647 win total compared to 652 expected wins, and Leyland has 666 compared to 665.

Though it could all just be luck.

Apologies and Arguments

Here's what to expect on this week's show:

The Mick's Dominate Golf!

More Gibberish From Jerry Jones

Rangers make a Trade but still need more

We talk to an Aggie!

How speaking English might save your life?

Can the Colts keep their Luck going?

All this and more every Wed  8-10PM CDT

Tell a friend!

Click HERE to Listen!

Friday, July 26, 2013

2013 NFL Previews: AFC South

by Darren Boyd

AFC South

The AFC South has a wide range of talent with two potential playoff caliber teams, one sub .500 team and one who could get the 1st overall pick next year.
Houston Texans went 12-4 last year and seemed poised for a championship run until another December collapse and early playoff exit. The window for this incarnation of the Texans appears to be closing, so their time is now.
Indianapolis Colts went 11-5 last year, an historic turn around from the Peyton Manning-less 2-14 of 2011. Gone are OC and fill-in head coach Bruce Arians to Arizona as is long-time Colt Dwight Freeney. Very active in free agency, the Colts would look to keep their Luck going.
Tennessee Titans were a disastrous 6-10 last season. Jake Locker was awful last year and this year could be make or break for the young QB. Also very active in free agency the Titans added G Andy Levitre and TE Delaine Walker to bolster the offense.
Jacksonville Jaguars were a lowly 2-14 and cleaned house again, bringing in new HC Gus Bradley from Seattle. New team owner Shahid Khan will be trying to pull out all the stops, on and off the field, to get this team relevant again.
 Indianapolis Colts 
The Colts had a whirlwind 2012 season. They went 11-5 coming off a 2-14 campaign the year before.  Andrew Luck lived up to his billing as the 1st overall pick and has the Colts fan base excited for years to come. The Colts had an emotional year with Coach Chuck Pagano's battle with Leukemia and his triumphant return at the end of the season. Andrew Luck was phenomenal throwing for over 4300 yards, a rookie record, and leading the Colts to 7 game winning drives. He has the "IT" factor that all franchises want their QB to have and so very few do. The Colts look just like the team from Peyton Manning's days, can't run the ball and have an awful defense but still manage to win. Their WR Corp is led by Reggie Wayne and the rookie sensation T.Y Hilton. They also have the tight end dynamic duo of Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. The Colts spent almost $50 million bucks on Donald Thomas and Gosder Cherilus to help out the O-Line
    On the Defensive side of the ball the Colts were awful. they allowed 137.5 yards on the ground which was 29th in the NFL. They only had 12 ints and 32 sacks last season.  They allowed Dwight Freeney to walk and spent their 1st round pick on Bjoern Werner to replace him. The Colts spent a head scratching $16 million dollar deal on Erik Walden at line backer  To help out the secondary they signed former Jet LaRon Landry at safety. The Colts defense will have to step up this year if they are to be considered for a long playoff run.
    I did not like their draft as they reached at a lot of positions and took Khaled Holmes, center, USC who some scouts questioned his desire to even play football. Vegas thinks the Colts will come down to earth this year with 8.5 over/under on total wins and 30-1 Super Bowl Odds. My Fantasy football pick to click  T.Y Hilton who had 7 TD'S last year has a rookie. He would be a mid round selection for me.
Projection: 8-8
Houston Texans
Houston started off 11-1 and look like the team to beat in the AFC. Unfortunately the month of December arrived and the Texans collapsed!! Gary Kubiak's seat is warm after 2 early playoff exits. This team has developed a reputation of being soft and not been able to win the big game.  Matt Shaub threw for 4000 yards and 22 TDs but had only 1 td pass in the month of December. He needs to have a consistent 16 game season or the Texans will need to find their next QB. Of course they have RB Arian Foster who ran for 1424 yards and 17 total TDs last year. Andre Johnson started slow but finished with 112 catches 1598 yards but only 4 TDs last year. Owen Daniels had an excellent year with 62 catches 716 yards and 6 TDs. They left side of their O-line features 3 pro bowlers in Brown, Wade Smith, former Dolphin, and Chris Myers. Its the right side that needs some work.
  The Texans defense is lead by Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. He had 20.5 sacks and an amazing 16 batted down passes. Houston had the 7th best defense in the NFL. Their Line backing core will get a huge lift with the return of Brian Cushing back from a knee injury.  The Texans tweaked their secondary by adding future Hall of Famer Ed Reed, if he is healthy enough to play. They have 2 very good corner backs in Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson.
     I thought they got a steal in WR DeAndre "Nuke" Hopkins at 27th pick and the rest of their draft looked pretty good across the board. Vegas has a 10 for wins on the over under but a luke warm 12-1 odds of making it to the Super Bowl after the playoff failures the last 2 years.
Projection: 11-5
Tennessee Titans
The Titans were very disappointing 6-10 last year. So, they spent a ton of money in the offseason to try and right the ship. Coach Mike Munchak knows its his last year if they do not get to the playoffs. The 90 year old unpredictable owner Bud Adams has him on a short leash.  Unfortunately for the Coach, he has hitched his coaching career wagon to QB Jake Locker. If Jake Locker is not hurt, he is just a bad QB. He is not an accurate passer but he can run, so watch out for the latest NFL fad to come to Nashville this year in the Sprint Option. The Titans went all in on their o-line, spending $46 million on Guard Andy Levitre and using the #10 overall pick on one of my favorite players in the draft Chance Warmack. For all of the talk that Chris Johnson got soft after his huge payday, he still ran for 1243 yards. They also added former Jet Shonn Greene in the back field.  The Titans cant trust knucklehead Kenny Britt, so they drafted the speedster Justin Hunter in the 2nd round. Kendall Wright should have a good year.
    The Titans were even worse on defense last year then offense. They ranked 27th overall in the NFL.  They allowed an NFL worst 29 points a game.  In a desperate attempt to turn it around they brought in Saints bounty gate DC Gregg Williams.  Shockingly the Titan's were top 10 in the NFL in sacks at 39, yet not a single player had more then 7 sacks.  This team must upgrade the talent on the defensive side of the ball.  They added aging S Bernard Pollard to the secondary to team with Michael Griffin.
    As much as I pick on the Titans I did like their draft. I think they landed 5 starters or future starters. My Fantasy football advice stay away from Jake Locker and their Wide Receiver's.  Vegas has the Titans at a 5.5 over under for wins and no chance at a Super Bowl Appearance at 100-1 odds.
Prediction: 7-9
Jacksonville Jaguars 
After suffering through another awful season, 2-14, the Jags cleaned house again. They brought in Dave Caldwell as the new GM and former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley as the coach.  The Jags had the number 2 overall pick and passed on a QB. They are sticking with Blaine Gabbert, why....cause they are the Jags.  Gabbert and Chad Henne form the worst QB duo in the NFL.  Justin Blackmon will sit out the first 4 games due to a suspension but at least they have Cecil Shorts.  The biggest question on offense for the Jags is Maurice Jones-Drew. Can MJD return to his 2011 form or at age 28 is he done?
    On defense they ranked 30th in total def. They cant get to the QB ranking 32 with only 20 sacks. First Round bust Tyson Alualu had a whopping 3.5 sacks last year and he was their leading sack master. The Jags are as good as an expansion team on defense. At least they did add my favorite defensive player of the draft in Johnathan Cyprien at strong safety with a 2nd round pick. I feel sorry for Jags fans as this will be another long year.
    On the bright side I loved their draft, When your at the bottom there is only one way to go. They had 8 picks and need at least 5 of them to become starters and impact players. Vegas has no hope for the Jags with a 5.5 over under on wins and 200-1 odds to get to the Super Bowl. Fantasy football tip, take a late round flier on MJD and hope he comes back his old form but don't hold your breath.
Projection: 3-13

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rangers Pepper 7/24: Strike Zone Thoughts, Garza for Olt Breakdown, Garza vs RBiA

by Dustin Copening

#RangersThoughts” on Twitter can be seen by following me @dfwfanconnect, but those thoughts evolve every few days from 140 characters into what I have dubbed as  “Rangers Pepper”.

Last night sucked, but today is a new day and new Rangers pitcher Matt Garza takes the mound. To add to the sunshine, last night sucked for the Athletics also. Enjoy the Pepper!:

Squeezed And Peeved - Joe Nathan and the Rangers were robbed! Well, that’s what Twitter told me as the Rangers squandered a nice comeback effort last night against the Yankees, along with a chance to move within 2 games of the A’s in the West and a half game of the Orioles for a Wild Card spot.

The point of contention for the Rangers Twitter Army was what looked to be a narrow strike zone for Joe Nathan, followed by a wide strike zone for Mariano Rivera. Before fully committing to the Kerwin Danley lynch mob, I wanted to wait and see what the PITCHf/x data showed. Specifically I wanted to see if Danley did call the zone differently in the 9th inning, as opposed to the other 8.

This is the breakdown from of the called strikes for Alexi Ogando, Ross Wolf, and Joe Nathan (top, left to right); and Phil Hughes, Preston Claiborne, and Mariano Rivera (bottom, left to right):

I chose these six pitchers because they threw called pitches in areas of the strike zone that were hotly contested by the fans (at the knees and outside left).

The ball called on Nathan circled on the left of his chart was clearly a missed call, but the ball called on the right that occurred in the Eduardo Nunez AB is iffy. There is no doubt that the pitch caught the inside of the plate. Claiborne, Wolf and Nathan received strike calls on pitches in the same vicinity (in Claiborne’s case the pitch was even farther inside). That being said, the Nathan pitch in the Nunez AB may have been just a tick too low.

You will note that there is a called strike thrown by Nathan sitting nearly on top of the pitch in question, but it’s a hair higher in the zone. Called strikes thrown by Ogando, Wolf and Claiborne also appear to have been a notch higher in the zone than the pitch in question. There is one called strike thrown by Hughes that clearly missed the zone that Danley established last night, but two misses is hardly a sign that the zone called was an unfair one.

But without this data to look at, screenshots from the MLB At Bat app pitch tracker of Nunez’s AB compared Leonys Martin’s AB spread like wildfire. Even Martin himself retweeted 7 variations of people sharing the screenshots with him of the supposed missed calls.

As for the Martin AB, not one of the called strikes against him were far enough out of the established strike zone for there to be a justified argument that they should have been called balls.

Nathan himself took the high road, while still letting it be known that he would have liked a few more called pitches to go his way.

Maybe next time they will.

Why Olt For Garza Makes Sense For Chicago - The buzz around the Matt Garza talks leading up to the deal was then wasn’t then finally completes, was that the Cubs were asking for a top 50 prospect and a handful of other young, promising players to round out any deal. This matched up well with the persistent rumors that Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein wanted a haul much like the Milwaukee Brewers received from the Los Angeles Angels for Zack Greinke last year (Jean Segura was ranked in the 40-50 range of overall prospects in 2012).

In an updated list of the top 50 prospects in baseball from Baseball America, Olt sits at number 44.

Naturally, one might question why the Cubs front office accepted Olt as part of a Garza trade when they just selected power hitting third baseman Kris Bryant with the second overall pick in this year’s draft. However, the inclusion of Olt makes plenty of sense if Bryant follows a conservative timetable on his way to Wrigley.

Olt is about to turn 25 (which might shock some of you) in August, and presumably has a short wait until a call up to the bigs once he’s settled into the Cubs organization. Any concerns about the vision issues he suffered from a few months ago appear to be squashed with this deal, and with good reason as he has heated up of late (.290/.410/.710 split in his last 10 games played).

Placing a power hitting Olt in the big league lineup gives the Cubs more of a reason to avoid rushing Bryant up the minor league ladder so that the 21 year old develops at a pace that his skill dictates, and not at a rate sped along by the lofty expectations from the press and his agent.

Since Olt is under team control until 2019, in the next few years Chicago might find themselves in possession of a masher entering his prime and still under team control as Bryant starts forcing his way .  Such an asset would be highly attractive in a move for prospects or a pennant run piece, while a 23 or 24 year old Bryant slips as seamlessly as possible into Olt’s roster spot.

UPDATE: On MLB Power Alley this morning, Jed Hoyer said that Olt will begin his Cubs tenure in Iowa, their AAA affiliate, in hopes that he returns to the 2012 form that made him one of the most coveted bats in baseball.

Jon Daniels will be perfectly fine with that as long as Matt Garza pitches at least once in the Fall Classic.

Garza And The Temple - Several months ago I wrote an article in which I looked at potential pitching trade targets from every team in Major League Baseball. One of my focuses during my research was how each pitcher performed at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (RBiA).

Only a handful of the guys that I looked at performed well when pitching in Arlington. Matt Garza, with a 6.04 ERA and 1.306 WHIP in 28.1 IP, was not one of them. To be fair; Mark Buehrle, Cliff Lee, and CJ Wilson were the only three guys I studied that had solid numbers at RBiA, and two of them previously pitched for Texas (increasing their performance sample size).

Several Rangers fans have theorized that maybe the reason why a good pitcher like Garza struggle when pitching in Texas is that the Rangers traditionally rank near the top of every offensive category in home games. To put this theory to the test I looked at the variations in Garza’s ERA and WHIP in his regular season home and road starts against the Rangers versus those numbers against everyone else he faced during his time pitching in the AL (2007-2010).

Here’s what I found:

One interesting coincidence is that Garza has pitched the exact same number of innings against the Rangers in home games as he has in road games; however, he has made 4 home starts versus 5 road starts, or an average of 7.1 innings per start at home against Texas compared to 5.2 IP per game in Arlington. Not surprising, as you would expect fewer deep starts for him or anyone pitching at RBiA as a visitor.

In Garza’s home starts there is a massive difference in his ERA and WHIP when pitching against Texas as opposed to other teams, but not in the direction I expected to find. Garza actually pitched better against the Rangers at home by 1.66 earned runs and 0.376 in WHIP. Those numbers directly counter the theory of Texas’s offense being a notch above the other teams that Garza has faced, although it feeds into the narrative that the Rangers struggle to create runs away from the friendly confines of RBiA (especially in a pitchers park like Tropicana Field).

The breakdown of Garza’s road starts in Arlington against his road starts elsewhere falls more in line with what I expected to see. He has an ERA 1.4 points higher in his starts at RBiA, although his WHIP comes in .045 lower. Why would Garza allow nearly 1.5 more earned runs while allowing a lower WHIP when pitching in Texas?

The infamous jet stream might have something to do with it. In his five starts, 11 of the 18 earned runs scored against him came via the XBH, including two credited to him via a David Murphy double off of Jeff Bennett on 9/26/2009.

Of course 28.1 IP is an awful small sample size for a pitcher who’s thrown nearly 1100 innings in his career (roughly 3%), and he has thrown a two hit, complete game shutout at RBiA before (8/15/2008).  Also, another start not factored into these numbers was his solid start in Game 3 of the 2010 ALDS. A 6 inning, 5 hit, 2 run (1 earned) effort that breathed life back into a Rays team facing an 0-2 series deficit.

Speaking of sample size, Cliff Lee posted a 3.08 ERA and 0.835 WHIP over his 7 starts as a Ranger in Arlington, after giving up a 7.44 ERA and 1.512 WHIP in 7 previous starts at RBiA as a visitor.  Matt Garza should not be mistaken as the same caliber of pitcher that Lee is, but I wouldn’t be overly concerned that he’s in for a tattooing every time he takes to the mound in Rangers home colors.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Biogenesis Fallout and Why Ryan Braun Should Retire

by Jeff Feltman

Ryan Braun is a terrible person. He is a disgrace to humanity, baseball, his parents, and to rotting garbage. I don’t advocate systematically removing a persons existence atom by atom often, but I do here. Chris Davis should go punch him from Milwaukee to Siberia.  

Ryan Braun repeatedly used PEDs. I don’t care. He could have used ground up babies to get where he is and I would not have been as mad. The fact that he repeatedly lied and abused the system makes me mad.  But that he has thrown into question every player, forever, who says they didn’t do it, that gets you punched in the face by Chris Davis. And the only way this man shouldn’t get de-atomized:

  1. Pay for a climate controlled storage facility. In this storage facility we will store a DAILY supply of his urine from the time his suspension is over until he stops getting paid for playing baseball.

  2. The employees of this facility will be guys who never made it to the majors. The ones who just couldn’t get the call up. You know, the ones who don’t have pensions.   

  3. There will be no less than 4 guys watching him pee in the vile vial completely nude.  I think it should be whoever spent the most time in the minors at Braun’s position and never got called up. And I think they should have access to tasers. And for Braun's personal privacy, there should be no cameras in the room where he is naked peeing in a cup with these guys all holding tasers.

  4. I think baseball should banish the numbers 90-99 and any players who have violated the Baseball’s Joint Drug Program should have to where those numbers for the rest of their career.  99 being the most vile and putrid players who abuse the system, I don’t know, LIKE RYAN BRAUN. Guys that get popped and confess without appeal get number 90.

I am sorry for this article.  It’s not as harsh as I would like it to be.  But there may be kids out there reading it and I don’t want them to see the dark side of the world.  We need them to see the good side.  You know, the one where a guy can cheat and still make millions.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rangers at the Trade Deadline: Position Players

by Jeff Feltman
The Trade Deadline Looms Part II:  Every other position….

This may be the most ill received article I ever write (until I decide to tackle football), but I feel it needs to be written.

What Do The Rangers Need, Non-pitcher edition.

This would probably be a much shorter article if I asked the question what don’t the rangers need, third baseman.  But alas, my dark side takes over and I will show you why JD needs to make several moves in the next 10 days for position players.

Like with my starting pitchers article, this comes down to your expectations.  If, like my good friend and imaginary boss Jeff Bowers says, it’s time to empty the farm and go for it all, there is a different approach than the other two options.  And those are: make moves without sacrificing the future and, screw the now JD’s children are our future, pay them well and let them stay in single and double A.  I can hear 80’s music playing when I write that line!

Without staying up way past my bedtime (we are two hours past it all ready with midnight only 45 minutes away) I will give you why the Rangers need help and who they have as options.  There will be GFIA (go for it all) and DRTB (don’t rock the boat but get us an oar).  There may also be a TSILBWNTFOTR (this season is lost but we need to fill out the roster) for positions of really bad play.

First Base:  I will be the first to admit I am a HUGE Mitch Moreland fan.  I invested heavily in his rookie cards.  I have a vested interest in him having every opportunity to make me money.  I believe that opportunity is past if you are in a GFIA mode.  He is playing ok.  But ok WILL NOT win the World Series, am I right Michael Young??

So what does the GFIA fan need?  Adam Dunn.  Sure he’s batting .210 and he’s owed a good chunk of change, but we are going for it.  And he has 24 home runs which would lead the Rangers.  I don’t know if anyone has watched the games lately, but the Rangers are NOT ripping the cover off the ball.

The DRTB fan may like to grab Mike Morse from the Mariners.  He averaged almost .300 the previous three seasons.  The kid hits lefties, a career .303 hitter against them.  And that’s worth something.  Yes he is playing right field right now, but he was a first baseman.

Second Base:  Very unlike Mitch Moreland, I am not a fan of Ian Kinsler.  I get a pain in my stomach just saying his name.  I think he is over paid and over rated.  If it wasn’t for the fact that he wears his pants and socks the right way, I would picket every game until he was traded.  That being said, here is my compliment to him: At least he doesn’t suck as bad as last year.  

GFIA fan, what’s the answer?  Hell if I know.  You’re stuck with Kinsler and his contract until the cows come home.  Short of Profar maturing three years tomorrow, you’re stuck like chuck.  Part of me thinks the only reason people think Kinsler is worth his contract is they go to and compare his stats to others on this team.  They do make him look good!

Third Base:  Nothing.  You have one of the greatest active third basemen available.  TSILBWNTFOTR fans may want to move him for more players for JD to sit on, but that’s all.

Shortstop:  Before Elvis Andrus signed his long deal, I said they should have traded him.  You now have a shortstop batting .244 with NO home runs.  This is on a team that needs offense.  But at least he is signed until 2022.

GFIA fan:  He’s sitting on your bench.  Luckily, last year he didn’t get any real Major League exposure because Ron Washington thought it more important for his regular players to lose down the stretch and get older.  You know, instead of letting the future of you team get experience in case your current short stop starts hitting .244 with NO FRICKING HOME RUNS!!

DRTB fan:  See above.

Left Field: The bad news is: David Murphy is your left fielder.  The good news is:  there are MANY options to replace him.  Would you like to know how bad Murphy has played?  I am not going to rant about him; I don’t kick people when they are that far down.

GFIA fan:  Alfonso Soriano.  He is batting .292 against lefties.  He has 16 home runs.  And the Cubs will pay you to take him!  Option B: Norichika Aoki.  Great defense, .290 average, limited power.

DRTB fan:  Chris Carter.  He is only batting .229 (don’t pick on his average, it’s better than Murphy’s!!) But he has 18 home runs.  He is an all or nothing guy.  

Center Field: Martin has played well.  So, this is one of the few positions I can’t rail on.  But, this team needs offense and if you can improve, then you got to go for it!

GFIA fan:  Alejandro De Aza:  .271 and 12 dingers.  Defense is average…..Did I mention he had 12 home runs?

DRTB fan:  See above!  And Marlon Byrd.  He is having a huge year, and presumable, PED free which is more than we can guarantee for…..

Right Field:  Without Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre, this team very well could be in last place.  Cruz continues to be himself in the face of a pending suspension and free agency.  But, if by some weird happenstance he is suspended and serves it this year before free agency, there will be a huge hole to fill!

GFIA fan:  Michael Cuddyer.  How would a .330 average with 16 home runs feel here?  It would cost A LOT to get him, but that’s what this fan is all about.  Cuddyer spent many years in Minnesota where the quality of his work didn’t really get out.  The guy can hit.

DRTB fan:  Alex Rios.  IF you pony up more cash, you don’t need to give up the farm.  This would be a very solid addition.

DH:  Anyone I mentioned would be an upgrade over Lance Berkman.  I love the player and the spirit, but it’s hard to play a game that requires running and standing when you don’t got no knees.

It’s my opinion that some minor moves will be made.  This team will miss the playoffs and Ron Washington will be fired.  But at least you’re not a Cubs fan!