Pitchers and catchers officially reported to Surprise, Arizona yesterday to begin Spring Training 2014. The main talk of spring training is the 5th starter role. A lot of signs point to Tommy Hanson, whom the Rangers signed to a Major League contract worth about $2 million dollars. But some other possible candidates are Nick Tepesch, who assumed the role of 5th starter for a per year before an injury, Colby Lewis, Robbie Ross, and Michael Kirkman. We’ll just have to see what the spring brings us.
Even though the Rangers didn’t make the play-offs this year, it was still an exciting and fun-filled season. From losing Opening Day to Houston to Josh Hamilton returning to The Ballpark (and striking out) to Yu’s near perfecto, the season never slowed down, even when we were throwing stuff at our televisions in the midst of one of the losing streaks that ultimately buried the team. But there were bright spots. The rotation did pretty well. The bullpen was pretty much shutdown. Adrian Beltre’s season. If losing this one game hurts this bad, I would hate to be an Astros fan. Next season will hold much more fun hopefully and we’ll return to the World Series and preferably win it all.
I will be able to tell my kids I witnessed a lot as a baseball fan in my first fourteen years on this Earth. The Rangers going to two straight World Series. I kind of remember the 2004 ALCS with the whole Yankees and Red Sox deal, and the Pirates miracle season. But now I can tell my children I witnessed the rare game 163. The season for the Rangers has been…well…a rollercoaster to say the least. And that’s and understatement. Bunch down, bunch up, and then back down in the standings. But it comes down to this (cue dramatic music). Martin Perez vs. David Price. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. To find out who plays Cleveland in the Wild Card game Wednesday (cue record skip). You’re now thinking “He’s writing a big hype story for a game that decides who plays in a wild card game?” The Cardinals fan says “Psh”, the Astros fan says “It would look like a Los Angeles Lakers championship party here if we got there.” But as a spoiled fan who saw a team go to two straight World Series and then get knocked out in a Wild Card game after the second trip, I. Want. To. Go. Back. So I will hope and pray and scream and jump and hopefully cry tears of joy after the game tonight because I’m a crybaby. Good-bye for right now.
Biggest Surprise (Hitting):
BA=.326 HR=9 OBP=.394 SLG=.685 OPS=1.079
Biggest Disappointment (Hitting):
BA=.254 HR=6 OBP=.355 SLG=.377 OPS=.732
Biggest Surprise (Pitching):
W=4 L=1 ERA=0.91 BAA=.167 WHIP=0.91
Biggest Disappointment (Pitching):
W=0 L=2 ERA=8.44 BAA=.326 WHIP=1.97
Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and CJ Edwards are gone. A PTBNL will be soon. So might as well update the prospect chart. Olt was the Rangers’ top prospect, but he is now the Cubs’ starting third basemen. Here are the new Top 10 charts.
1. Luis Sardinas- SS- Myrtle Beach (High-A)
2. Cody Buckel- RHP- DL
3. Jorge Alfaro- C- Rehab Assignment
4. Wilmer Font- RHP- Round Rock (AAA)
5. Jairo Beras- OF- AZL Rangers (Rookie)
6. Joey Gallo- 3B- 7-Day DL
7. Rougned Odor- 2B- Myrtle Beach (High-A)
8. Nomar Mazara- OF- Hickory (A Full)
9. Luke Jackson- RHP- Hickory
10. Roman Mendez- RHP- 7-Day DL
Round Rock-Triple-A- 20-18, 3 GB
Frisco- Double-A- 20-18, 2.5 GB
Myrtle Beach- High-A- 24-13, 0 GB
Hickory- Low-A- 19-17, 3 GB
Spokane- SS- 28-48, 9.0 GB
AZL Rangers- Rookie- 34-22, 0 GB
Not a bad season so far, eh?
Great day. I was dropped off at the Administrative Entrance at the corner of Hicks & Diamond Drive at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas. I walked in and told the sweet lady at the desk my name and she in return produced a media credential. I was told to sit in the lobby and wait for somebody to come get me. Ten or so minutes later, team photographer Grant Nelson was leading me towards the box. When we got up there, we were greeted by none other than the man who made this all possible: Alex Vispoli, the team’s radio broadcaster. He leads me into the main box and after introducing me to the guys, gives me a spot on an elevated platform that had a good view of the field.
Yes I did move over for the game. While I was waiting for the game to start, I took pictures of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals players and the Frisco players.
About twenty-five minutes before the game, the guys in the box went to get something to eat, leaving me and one other guy in the press box, Tepid Participation. (If you haven’t read his stuff, I highly recommend it. Here’s a link: http://tepidparticipation.com/) He invited to come watch Frisco starter Carlos Pimentel warm-up. I obliged and we took the elevator back to field level and walked to the Frisco bullpen. He told me Pimentel has great stuff, but has command issues.
His pitches were moving pretty well and he was hitting his spots very well. It was getting close to game time, so Tepid and I went back up to the box and talked for a few minutes while we waited. The team had the Masters on a TV in the box and we watched Andy Scott drive one onto the fairway. The national anthem was then upon us. Pimentel did well in the first inning allowing only 1 hit. J.C. Sulubran was starting for the Naturals and he allowed a walked, but no hits. Nothing happened until Roughriders’ outfielder Ryan Strausborger hit a 3-run home run in he bottom of the second. In the top of the third, Northwest Arkansas got a run back with a double by infielder Matt Fields. But Frisco struck again in the bottom half of the inning, with Alex Bucholz hitting a 3-run homer. In the bottom of the 4th Frisco infielder Brett Nichols hit a single to left field to drive in a run. In the bottom of the sixth, he hit a 2-run home run The bottom of the seventh inning was the first 1-2-3 inning of the game. Jake Brigham was in for Frisco for the final three innings and he was credited with the save after getting Northwest Arkansas outfielder Brett Eibner to fly-out to right field to end it. Frisco won by a score of 9-2. Pimentel got the win and Sulubran got the loss, with Brigham getting the save. Attendance for the game was9,259. Pimentel actually had his stuff working and was hitting his spots very well. After the game it was kids run the bases. Sadly I didn’t go do that. I had a fantastic time and would again like to thank Alex Vispoli, Scott Arnold, Grant Nelson and all the guys in the box. Hopefully I’ll be back soon.
UPDATE: Sorry if the pictures aren’t coming up. I’m working on it.
Toronto Blue Jays-Total team payroll: $115 million-Highest paid player: Jose Reyes, $17.7 million per year
St. Louis Cardinals-Total team payroll: $115 million-Highest paid player: Matt Holliday, $17 million per year
Chicago White Sox-Total team payroll: $117 million-Highest paid player: Jake Peavy, $17.3 million per year
Texas Rangers-Total team payroll: $120 million-Highest paid player: Adrian Beltre, $16 million per year
San Francisco Giants-Total team payroll: $137 million-Highest paid player: Matt Cain, $21.25 million per year
Detroit Tigers-Total team payroll: $150 million-Highest paid player: Prince Fielder: $23.8 million per year
Boston Red Sox-Total team payroll: $150 million-Highest paid player: John Lackey, $16.5 million per year
Los Angeles Angels-Total team payroll: $152 million-Highest paid player: Josh Hamilton, $25 million per year
Philadelphia Phillies-Total team payroll: $158 million-Highest paid player: Ryan Howard, $25 million per year
New York Yankees-Total team payroll: $210 million-Highest paid player: Alex Rodriguez, $27.5 million per year
Los Angeles Dodgers-Total team payroll: $213 million-Highest paid player: Zack Greinke, $24.5 million per year
1.What is ballhawking to you?
ZH:It’s a way to make baseball games much more fun and interactive. Also, it’s great exercise and beats going to the gym
2.How did you get into this?
ZH:I was about four years old when I first started watching baseball on TV, and I remember seeing balls fly into the crowd and how excited people would get when they caught ‘em. That’s what sparked my initial interest, although I didn’t snag my first ball until I was twelve.
3.Have you ever been injured as a result of ball hawking?
ZH:It hurts to even think about it. My worst injury occurred in 2011 at Citi Field when I sprained the absolute crap out of my ankle while running down some stairs during BP. I had to wear a boot and use crutches for three weeks after that. Three years earlier, I cracked a rib in Anaheim when I fell over a row of seats and landed on the corner of a metal armrest. Not fun. But hey, at least I got that ball.
4.Who is another ballhawk you respect the most?
ZH:There are a bunch, but I’m gonna go with a New Yorker named Artie Laurain, who’s now 70 years old. When I was first getting into it in the early 1990s, he was a regular at Yankee Stadium. He was kind and always encouraged me, and he was very talented as a ballhawk. He now has more than 4,000 baseballs including several dozen game home runs. He doesn’t have an email address, but we still keep in touch on the phone. I really miss seeing him at games. He still goes on weekends, but that’s my least favorite time to be at any stadium, so we don’t cross paths in person too often.
5.Are your stats world records?
ZH:I don’t have an *official* world record for “most baseballs snagged as a fan at major league games,” but yes, I’ve gotten more than anyone, which is hard to believe. I haven’t even been doing it that long — just a couple of decades, really.
6.When did you get your first ball?
ZH:During BP at Shea Stadium on June 20, 1990. It was thrown by a Mets player, and unfortunately I’ve forgotten who.
7.What is your favorite ballpark to snag at?
ZH:During games? Kauffman Stadium. For the whole package, I’ll take Camden Yards.
8.What is your least favorite ballpark to snag at?
ZH:Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. Given the fact that I live in New York City, isn’t that sad?
9.Who are the nicest players in the MLB?
ZH:Heath Bell is the best. Jeremy Guthrie is also amazing. They’ve both gotten to know me and have done me several favors over the years.
10.Where do you stand during BP and a game?
ZH:Pretty much in straight-away left or right field, sometimes shaded toward center. Then I pick whatever specific spot has (a) the most empty space and (b) a high probability of of a ball landing there. Without room to run, it’s really hard to catch baseballs.
11.When people ask you how they can catch a ball, what do you say to them?
ZH:Show up early for batting practice, bring a glove, and head toward the outfield. Beyond that, I tell people to read my blog and books, which provide tons of advice.
12.What is your streak up to?
ZH:I’ve snagged at least one ball at 872 consecutive games — a streak dating back to September 10, 1993. And yes, that does include BP, but c’mon, that’s still pretty solid.
13.Have you ever caught a significant ball?
ZH:The first really important ball that I caught was Barry Bonds’ 724th career home run in 2006. Two years later, I caught the last Mets home run at Shea Stadium. In 2011, I caught Mike Trout’s first major league homer — I gave it back to him without asking for anything in return — and in 2012, I caught Derek Jeter’s 3,262nd career hit. That was a homer in the bottom of the 9th inning at Yankee Stadium.
14.What would you say to all young kids out there wanting to snag a ball?
ZH:You’re the perfect age. Players would rather give baseballs to you than a big dummy like me, so get out there and take advantage.
15.How long do you plan on doing this?
ZH:Probably as long as I’m alive, although I’m sure there’ll be stretches when I won’t attend nearly as many games. I do have other interests, after all.
*All stats 2012
**Couldn’t find errors
***Just line-up-no bench or utility guys
SP-Yu Darvish,RHP,16-9,3.90 ERA
SP-Matt Harrison,LHP,18-11,3.29 ERA
SP-Derek Holland,LHP,12-7,4.67 ERA
SP-Alexi Ogando,RHP,2-0,3.27 ERA-Reliever
SP-Robbie Ross,LHP,6-0,2.22 ERA-Reliever
RP-Jason Frasor,RHP,1-1,4.12 ERA with Toronto-50 appearences
RP-Tanner Scheppers,RHP,1-1,4.45 ERA-39 appearences
RP-Yoshinori Tateyama,RHP,1-0,9.00 ERA-14 appearences
RP-Michael Kirkman,LHP,1-2,3.82 ERA-28 appearences
RP-Josh Lindblom,RHP,3-5,3.55 ERA with PHI-74 appearences
SU-Joakim Soria,RHP,Tommy John surgery,Missed season
CP-Joe Nathan,RHP,3-5,37 Saves,2.80 ERA Games-66 at P
C-A.J. Pierzynski,Bats:Left Throws:Right,BA:.278 HR:27 RBIs:77 Errors:6-Games-126 at C with CWS
C-Geovany Soto,Bats:Right Throws:Right,BA:.198 HR:11 RBIs:39 Errors:**-Games-99 at C with Cubs and Rangers
1B-Mitch Moreland,Bats:Left Throws:Left,BA:.275 HR:15 RBIs:50 Errors:3-Games-95 at 1B-6 in OF
2B-Ian Kinsler,Bats:Right Throws:Right,BA:.256 HR:19 RBIs:72 Errors:18-Games-144 at 2B-1 at 3B
SS-Elvis Andrus,Bats:Right Throws:Right,BA:.286 HR:3 RBIs:62 Errors:16-Games-153
3B-Adrian Beltre,Bats:Right Throws:Right,BA:.321 HR:36 RBIs:102 Errors:8-Games-129
CF-Craig Gentry,Bats:Right Throws:Right,BA:.304 HR:1 RBIs:26 Games-114 in CF-3 in RF-1 at P
LF-David Murphy,Bats:Left Throws:Left,BA:.304 HR:15 RBIs:61 Games-147 in OF
RF-Nelson Cruz,Bats:Right Throws:Right,BA:.260 HR:24 RBIs:90