Even though I had my doubts when the Rangers drew the Rays in the first round, they still came through. For some reason I like the Rangers chances even more against the all mighty Yankees than I did against the Rays. Back in September when the Rangers swept the Yankees, I started to believe in them, and wrote a little about why. In that series they were without Josh Hamilton, and the Yankees were without A-Rod, so I figure those two injuries evened each other out lineup wise. What they got from that series more than anything was some extra confidence that they belong with the best. The Rangers have a swagger to them, there’s no way around it, and they’ve been that way all year. I know I brought this up in an older post, but I remember one game back in June when Ian Kinsler was yelling at the Angels players after the game in Arlington to get off their field. I thought it was kind of stupid since they played each other the next day, but it speaks volumes about this team’s mentality, and how together they are. I mean, how many teams would do a separate ginger ale celebration because one of their players is an addict? How many teams survive a manager’s dirty drug test? How many teams would have survived a bankruptcy during a season seeing guys that played in Texas eight years ago, still not being paid what was owed to them? Not many can go through that much turmoil in the workplace, but I think all those outside distractions just made them closer. They don’t roll over like the Twins did when things went wrong, they just move on to the next pitch. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Cliff Lee
Game 5 Rangers vs. Rays
This must’ve been the most even match up, because it’s the only game 5 we’ll get. These are two very similar teams. I’d argue that Texas has a little more pop in their lineup, but they also manufacture runs as well as the Rays. We get Lee vs. Price part II. I’m expecting Price to be a little sharper than he was the first time out. I don’t expect a shootout, and if I had to put my money on someone, I guess I’d pick the Rangers simply because of how Lee has dominated in playoffs past. I hear one of the knocks on the Rangers is that the only guys with much playoff experience are Lee, Vlad, and Molina. The Rays whole team went to the World Series a couple years ago, so they have the supposed edge there. People are also saying that the Rays have all the momentum after winning two in a row. I think momentum in baseball isn’t real. Maybe within a game, but even that theory fails on games like the Braves and Giants in game 3. What the Yankees did to the Twins wasn’t about momentum it was about owning them. For baseball, experience doesn’t matter, just look at those Marlins teams that took out the mighty Yankees. How much playoff experience did those teams have? Probably less than the Rangers! Prediction: Rangers win 4-2. My picks this year don’t seem to be working out, so confidently put your money on Tampa to win.
Brett vs. the NFL
Who cares about Brett Favre’s pending investigation? I sure don’t. I didn’t really like him before all this came out, so does this make me like him less? Thinking, thinking… Nope, same amount of hatred towards the guy. Do I give two craps about the Vikings? No thinking. I could care less about them and what they are doing aside from a couple fantasy players. Throughout MNF game I tried to decide if I felt bad for him on any level while he was getting pounded into the ground by the Jets defense? Not at all. The theme of this story is that I don’t really care what is happening in Brett’s life. So what if he texted Jen Sterger pictures of his penis. Is she accusing him of harassment or something? That’s the only reason this story should stay relevant this long. I’m no superstar player with a huge bank account or the ego to match, so I don’t really know if this is the norm. Maybe it is. It seems like guys in the NBA text pictures of their junk, so why not the NFL! Whatever the reason was that Favre picked out Stergen for the sexts doesn’t really matter. Why couldn’t he have bought her off? There’s no way this story needed to see the light of day, and she started the rumor back in February. Those are some damn slow charges to bring up. Anyways, I don’t really find any of Brett’s actions all that bad, he’s just being the horny redneck he always was. If it takes some crazy Mel Gibson type twist, I might get more interested, but until then, I’m over this story…
The Rangers have gotten a ton of play on the MLB network over the past month or so. I can’t remember seeing more of their games on TV at any point in my life. They’ve earned those televised games, as they are the clearly the class of the AL West, and playing as good as any team in the league right now. They usually fade during July and August when their home field turns into a launching pad, but not this year. I was hoping for an implosion from them, so maybe the A’s would be able to sneak into the playoffs, but that’s like hoping for the Raiders to show up in back to back games. Once again, I’m starting to wonder if the A’s are cursed. Not because of the numerous injuries they suffered for a third straight year, but because we let Ron Washington go. I’d much rather have Washington as the manger over Geren, but Beane was very pro Geren, so we’re stuck with the schlep. Until A’s fortunes change, I think we are still under The Curse of the Wash. Normally I’d root against the AL West winner if it wasn’t the A’s, but I found myself pulling for the Rangers to succeed this postseason.
The Rangers sweep over the Yankees showed us exactly what they’ve been doing well all year long. Come from behind to win. They came back to win two of the three games, and even made one of those comebacks while Rivera was on the mound. That kind of win can’t be understated when it comes playoff time, and just knowing that they have already beaten up the most dominant closer of all time is a feather in the cap. They also had their ace (Cliff Lee) back on the hill to close out the sweep. It was his first start in two weeks. He showed how healthy he was shutting the Yankees down for 8 innings giving up only one run. It’s only the second time all season the Yankees got swept! What made this even more impressive was that they didn’t need their MVP candidate Josh Hamilton, who is still out with a bruised up ribcage. There’s no rush to get Hamilton back, since they do have a commanding lead in the West (8 ½ games). Now that the Yankees and Rays starting to come back to earth a little, does this give the Twins and Rangers an edge? I’d probably put both of them above the TB and NY on power rankings if I made them right this moment. I’m already envisioning an ALCS matchup between Minnesota and Texas. Maybe that’s a little presumptuous, but if Morneau and Hamilton come back healthy, who’s to say that these two teams are the favorites to make it to the ALCS?
Another thing I’ve noticed about this Rangers team is their swagger factor. It’s crazy how together these guys are. Early in the season after they took out the Angels in the opener of a series in June, right after the final out of the game was recorded Ian Kinsler was out there yelling for them to “get off our field”, as the Angels were heading to the showers. At the time I thought Kinsler was just being the dickhead he is, but now months later I think it was a statement of things to come. It was like they finally believed in themselves before anyone else did, and knew they weren’t going to have a collapse when the weather got hot. They were no longer going to be a pushover and would play every game hard, just the way Wash would’ve played. They were paying attention to more details than they used to, even doing the small ball stuff that wins games utilizing their speed in Bobon and Andrus. We will see if they can continue their good play through the last 19 games. I don’t see any reason for them to slow down since they don’t have the division locked up yet, but they are in as good of a position possible for a solid postseason run, and can let guys like Josh Hamilton and Cliff Lee take some extra rest if it’s needed. I’m glad my prediction of who would win the AL West is working out thus far!
Well, I just posted about David Lee’s jump to the Warriors, so I may as well dedicate today as Lee day, and talk about the Rangers acquisition of Cliff Lee. The Rangers are already 5 1/2 games up on the competition in the standings, and the Angels continue to slide, losing four in a row, and seven of their last ten without their main man Kendry. The power in the west shifted even more today, as Texas acquired Cliff Lee from Seattle for Justin Smoak (2008 first round pick), and four other minor leaguers. The Cliff Lee sweepstakes took a surprising turn when pretty much everyone had him going to the Yankees earlier today. He instead will be heading to Texas in a deal that had to make Nolan Ryan crack a smile. It’s a good move to do it now, so they can get an extra three or four starts out of him instead of waiting all the way to the trade deadline. As a rabid A’s fan, I’m not completely against making our current division leader better, because if there was a team I wanted to win outside of the A’s, it would be the Rangers. Maybe that’s why I picked them in our predictions at the beginning of the year. Their biggest weakness was pitching, and now they have a true ace of their staff that they’ve been missing for so many years. If they get back Rich Harden from the DL after the all-star break, and he is what he used to be with Oakland, they’d have a very solid top of the rotation with Lee, Harden, and Colby Lewis. They might get rocked here and there in the home run friendly confides of Arlington during the dog days of August, but all of these guys know how to pitch when healthy. Does this make the Rangers a contender to win it all? Most would say no, and I’d agree with that, but the way their offense is set up they can beat good pitching, and now acquired one of the best pitchers in the game that will surely give them a win every fifth night. As long as Ron Washington is there, I’ll be rooting for that club to do well, and with some pitching to back up that great offense this deal couldn’t have worked out better for them. Side note, it also feels good to be a Vlad supporter again after he spent so many years on the Angels.
The Red Sox picked up John Lackey Monday, which was a solid move. I really like waving goodbye to Lackey from the AL West that is, he seemed to dominate the A’s every time he took the mound. Boston also made one other surprising signing as well. No, not Jason Bay. Matt Holliday?!? Nope, it looks like they are picking up Mike Cameron. Really!?! Interesting move Theo… I guess it’s a defensive upgrade getting a 3-time Gold Glover. Cameron has some power, and he is cheaper than the two mentioned guys. We’ll see how it pans out. I guess he could be a Johnny Damon type guy for them who has been known to be a good mentor and clubhouse guy. I just don’t see how it helps them compete with the Yankees, but oh well, I don’t really like them anyways. Another move that I saw, was the Red Sox offered Chapman a contract for $15.5 million! Ladies and gentlemen strap in for the next relevant Chapman!
The other shocking moves made Monday was the trade that sends Roy Halladay to the Phillies, and Cliff Lee is going to Seattle. I don’t really understand why they wanted to give up prospects, when they could just turn around and sign Lee keeping the prized youth, but if they sign Halladay to a long extension it might be worth it. I could really care less about Halladay landing in Philly, the main reason stems from me not really caring about the NL all that much. I’m just worried the A’s will now have to face Lee now five times a year. In the end, I’m really curious to see how Phillies top prospects pan out, they’ve had a good run of home grown talent over the last few years, so I’m sure whatever they gave up to make Toronto happy, must have been worth it!
In A’s news, we let go of JacKKK Cust, and inconsistent, wrongfully named, Santiago Casilla. I see this as an addition by subtraction. Our defense just improved by not having to ever put Cust in the field again. He makes a little leaguer trying to catch a ball during the home run derby look like a all-star out there. He also clogs up the bases with his slow station to station movements, and kept speedy guys from moving around the bases at times. This team is moving into a speed era it appears, and Cust doesn’t suit that. All in all, it’s been a crazy day for the MLB off-season!
With the trade deadline approaching, it looks as though teams need to make some moves to ensure that a playoff run is going to happen. There are powerhouses (Dodgers, Phillies, Yankees, and Red Sox), that may not need to make a move to make the playoffs, but there’s a good chance they may need to make a move to win a championship. I’ve been waiting to see what prospects the A’s can pull out of it, and they do have a few bargaining chips so this may be the last time I’m excited about news from them for awhile. Aside from the Halladay sweepstakes, many say there aren’t many difference makers in the market this year. I agree to some extent that Halladay could make an impact like CC Sabathia did last year taking Milwakee to the playoffs. Then again there are the subtle differences like Boston adding Orlando Cabrera and upgrading their defense to help them push their way to breaking the curse. I will run through some other players not named Halladay, that could be a big difference maker when it’s all said and done.
Matt Holliday. I guess I have to start with a player from my team. I’m just hoping we get something to the tune of a few major league ready minor league players, instead of two compensation draft picks when he leaves this off-season. San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, and even Boston could use some power at the moment, and are all within three games of the wild card spot at the moment. Holliday hasn’t lit the world on fire since coming to Oakland, but is showing teams he’s still a good player as it gets closer to the deadline with 3 HR’s, 13 Runs, 14 RBI, and a .311 BA over the last month.
Justin Duchscherer. Another A’s player, and Buster Only was all over him as a poor man’s Halladay. I’m not sure I’m sold on him returning to his dominant form of last season, but the numbers don’t lie, as he’s set to make his re-hab stint and hopefully a return to the majors soon. Pitching as a reliever or a starter his ERA has never been higher than 3.27, which makes me a believer that teams would pick up his modest salary in hopes he returns to form by playoff time. It also opens the door for him to return to the bullpen when he makes it back up, which would make the likes of Wuertz and Ziegler available. I would rather have either of them that the Orioles George Sherill.
Victor Martinez. He’s having a solid comeback season with 14 HR’s, 59 RBI’s and a .286 BA. Vic is a player that would be a good fit for Red Sox or the Mets with Delgado and Lowell constantly battling injuries. He would also be a solid fit behind the plate in Boston with the deteriorating Varitek.
Cliff Lee. I think the chances of Lee making as much of an impact as Halladay are fairly likely. It’s been reported that since the Sox placed Wakefield on the DL they sent their top scout to Toronto to watch Lee dominate the Jays in his second consecutive complete game. It seems like Cleveland should have plenty of phone calls for last years Cy Young award winner and Martinez.
Marco Scutaro. He’s an interesting player on the block. I think he is the ultimate team player, kind of like Mark DeRosa was to the Cubs last season. He can play multiple positions, and can come through with clutch hits (Many fond memories of him in an A’s uniform). He’s a glue guy that every contender needs, and if a team deals for him they won’t be disappointed with what he brings to the table.
Freddy Sanchez. The Pirates failed to reach agreements with Sanchez and Jack Wilson, so it looks like once again they will be trying to trade their soon to be free agents for some more prospects. Sanchez is the most interesting of the two as he plays phenomenal defense, and gets on base with regularity hitting .311 on the season. He’d be a good fit with the Giants or the Cubs.
Only time will tell, and after July 31st we will see which teams make their upgrades, and which teams think they already have what they need. Even though I doubted there would be any fireworks this year. I think there are some good names on the market besides Halladay!