Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Random Ranger Notes

Merry Wednesday. I apologize for my leave of absence, but the lull in activity presented a perfect opportunity for me to get certain affairs in order.
What I'll be doing today is running off numerous bullet points that pertain to recent Ranger events, and then offering analysis on them individually.
Botts and Cruz promoted from Oklahoma, Sosa and Wilk delegated to the bench. This flurry of announcements came directly subsequent to the Teixeira deal. The trade was more than an exchange of players; It was a move signifying a complete change of philosophy within the organization. It was the official declaration for what everyone knew 20 games in: The allotment of players currently running out there are not the allotment of a winning ballclub. It heralded an era of rebuilding, an era which every franchise hopes will be short and productive. But production in this case does not refer to the win column; Rather, It's more contingent on the clubs' gaining frequent mentions from guys like Jim Callis or John Sickels. Young, cheap, controllable talent.
Let's begin the assessment with players that will immediately impact the club. Cruz comes to mind immediately in this category. He's 27, immensely talented in every aspect of the game, and struggling as always. The man can hit a ball harder than anyone on the team, has a Howitzer, can run, and has even started taking some walks. But he's still striking out at a positively alarming rate, and beyond his short hot streak directly after being called up, he's been the same AAAA Nelson Cruz who's elicited drool from scouts and consternation for team officials.
Botts is more of a mystery. Jason hasn't been playing in the league for as long as Cruz, but is roughly the same age. He records his share of whiffs and hits for power, just like Nelly. Where do they differ? One of Botts' truly redeeming characteristics is his patience. The anomalous right fielder mentioned before him had long been known as a free swinger to match Vlad Guerrerro in quantity, while lamentably lacking his quality. Jason Botts, however, has long frustrated pitchers with lengthy plate appearances and a consistently stellar on-base percentage to accentuate his pop.
Neither has been terribly impressive in the big leagues. But if I had to select one over the other right now, I'd pass on the immensely talented dude and take big, dependable, Jason Botts. Frankly, he hasn't had the same opportunities in this league as his colleague. It's very possible that the man lacks for nothing but polish to become a Travis Hafner of Mini-Dunn.

CJ Wilson takes a stab at the closer role.
After Eric Gagne was traded, the question was posed to both Jon Daniels and Ron Washington. With the logical inheritant on the DL, which terrific young reliever would be assuming the role of closer?
Joquin Benoit and CJ Wilson have both put up breakout years this season. Benoit was another of the countless pitchers who bounce around in their respective organizations for years and years, always showing flashes of dominance but rarely manufacturing their stuff into production. He took his game to another level this year, however, and has been excellent in 63 innings of relief work. Wilson was a 5th round pick in 2001, a young lefty who had recorded a 3-12 season at Loyola Marimount. After suffering through numerous setbacks, the greatest of them being Tommy John surgery, Wilson has burst into the limelight. The straightedge Taoist intellectual has a 2.17 ERA, has pitched out of the pen in every role imaginable, and-get this-is schooling left handed hitters to the tune of .088.
The manager and his young counterpart in the front office both stated that they had yet to arrive at a decision; that the job was up for grabs. CJ Wilson got his chance on the first Save Opportunity following the departure of Excellent Eric, and he has maintained a grasp on that chance comparabl to that of an provoked Grizzly.
Any guesses as to how CJ Wilson has pitched in his last 10 appearances?
12 and a third innings.
0 Earned Runs given up, 0 total runs given up.
3 walks, 16 strikeouts.
1 win, 5 saves.
How many hits given up? It's between -1 and 1.
I've been called various bad names due to doting over CJ like I do. But that line is more than filthy. It's beyond ridiculous. It embodies dominance of a degree very, very rarely seen.
Needless to say, CJ Wilson can't keep pitching like Sandy Koufax on a good day. But if he can anywhere near this good...
'The position has been Filled!'

Beavan and Ramirez sign, Borbon, Gast, and Nash remain uninked.
I like Blake Beavan. I've liked him ever since Evan Grant started talking about him- around a year ago. It's hard not to... he's a big, projectable local kid with an incredibly confident demeanor who put up CJ Wilson numbers in high school. I did, however, agree completely with the Rangers in their contractual philosophy-don't overpay unless you're going to have to. In the end, things came down to this: The Rangers wanted Beavan. Beavan wanted the Rangers. Regardless of whatever crap he spewed about his stock potentially rising at Navarro junior college, everyone knew that it was almost preordained. Beavan stood very little to gain by neglecting to agree to terms, and the Rangers would suffer through a major embarrassment. So it made perfect sense for the two sides to come to terms on a deal for $1.5 million, a reasonable sum for a player of Beavan's talent. Don't expect to see much of the Irving righty this year, he'll likely do nothing more than get his scheduling in line with the Rangers' requests before the offseason rolls around. He should start at rookie ball next season, and expect him to progress through the system at a pace comparable to Eric Hurley's.
Ramirez is a different animal. He has similar fastball velocity to the local kid, but lacks refinement on his secondary pitches. He doesn't have the marketability or reputation of Beavan, and signed a deal worth around a half million less. He should progress through the minors at a greater pace than Beavan, though, as he shrugs off his lesser upside with refinement uncanny in a high schooler.
Julio Borbon, unfortunately, seems unlikely to sign with the Rangers before tonight's deadline. The Rangers took him 35th overall, and he was widely believed to be the top centerfielder available of this year's crop. The Tennessee product, however, hurt his product in the eyes of most teams by suffering an injury late in this past collegiate season. His advisor, the nefarious Borass, believes that Borbon can be a top 15-20 pick in next year's draft if he remains in school for his senior season. Obviously, then, getting him to agree to slot money is a pipe dream. If the Rangers offer comparable money to Beavan, which I sincerely hope is not the case (Borbon is a leadoff hitter who can't or doesn't walk, can't hit the longball, and has a puny arm in center field).

According to reports, Borbon has inked a major league deal with an $800,000 bonus, while fourth and fifth roudners John Gast and Garret Nash both went unsigned.

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