Tagged: AL West

Oswalt is Now a Texas Ranger

By now you’ve undoubtedly heard the news. The latest transaction to hit Major League Baseball is that Roy Oswalt has signed a contract with the Texas Rangers.

The only specifics released by the Rangers so far is that it is a one year deal pending his physical.

The deal will allow the Rangers to move some pieces around and his experience could become very useful but at what cost?

The Rangers have been one of the forefront teams all season to sign Oswalt. With the recent injury to starter Neftali Feliz this move makes a lot of sense right now. What about in a month when Feliz is scheduled to be back?

This deal could present a problem for the Rangers rotation. Or could this be a blessing in disguise?

When Feliz comes back there could be another rotation spot that he can slide into. The Rangers have a lot of young arms that don’t have necessarily a lot of miles on them. The problem with them though is the increased work load they were subjected to last season.

Players like Derek Holland and Matt Harrison, in the rotation, saw their innings drastically increase over previous seasons. So at some point this season they both may need some time off and having a team that features 6 starters (7 if you include Scott Feldman) really becomes quite useful.

Alexi Ogando was moved into the bullpen in the postseason last season and he remains there now. He was moved out of the starting role because he grew tired towards the end of the season. As a starter though he was dominant enough to make the AL All-Star team. A similar fate may be in store for Feliz.

Feliz being moved back into the bullpen would be a scary thought for the rest of the American League. If they had that many quality arms in the bullpen the Rangers starters would only need to go about 5 or 6 innings and just keep the game close. With a bullpen that features Mike Adams, Alexi Ogando, lightly used Koji Uehara, and Joe Nathan closing things out. Add Feliz in there and that is a daunting task for any offense that has to face them.

Oswalt could however anchor this rotation if they make the postseason. Colby Lewis has been a beast in the last two seasons when the calendar turns to October. Behind him however the starts have been spotty to say the least by the rest of the rotation. With a veteran like Oswalt who has postseason experience from when he was with the Astros and the Phillies this could be a formidable rotation.

He could also become a mentor for some of the younger pitchers as they do not have an established long tenured pitcher necessarily.

The longest tenured starter is Colby Lewis and he is only in his third year since coming back from Japan. This new and improved Lewis is suspect during the season and lights out in the postseason. He can not however guide some of the younger players through the season as he himself has to be watched with an extremely close eye for much of the season.

Oswalt will begin his time with the Rangers this weekend as he will make a AAA start and see if he is ready to be moved up.

Coming off the heels of the latest defeat I don’t know if Ranger fans can take too many more starts from Scott Feldman.

– Brian Boynton

Is Hamilton the Best in the Game?

It’s May 9th and already this season we have seen a perfect game, 4K’s in one inning (twice), two triple plays, a teenager steal home, a 49-year old win a game, two 40-year olds hit walk-off home runs, a position player win a game, a cycle, a no-hitter and now FOUR home runs in one game.

After that outing Josh Hamilton can not be seen as a mere mortal anymore. He is in fact a government built cyborg who’s sole purpose is to crush opposing pitchers.

What Josh Hamilton did to the Orioles pitching staff Tuesday is the stuff legends are made of. Not only does he now hold the franchise record, four home runs in a game becoming only the sixteenth player to accomplish this. He is the first since Carlos Delgado did it in 2003. Hamilton also set the American League record for total bases in a game with 18 adding a double as well. This was the best offensive output by one player so far this season followed by Ryan Braun’s 4-5. A game in which Braun hit 3 home runs and a triple.

Every home run Hamilton hit was a 2-run shot as Elvis Andrus was standing on first for every one of them.

As awesome as this ride has been with Hamilton so far this season, a revelation came over me as I was watching his fourth home run exit the field by way of center field. Is Josh Hamilton just a great contract year player?

He was last seeking a new contract after the 2010 season one in which he had won the AL MVP award. Hitting a career best .359/.411/.633 with 32 home runs. This season he is on pace to crush all of his personal best records as well as maybe a few Ranger records as well.

I know he is arguably the best player in the game when he is healthy every other year but he seems to be focusing a little more this year than he was last year. Or is my pessimism taking hold of me? Could it be that he is just more determined to win this season after losing his second World Series in a row last year.

Sorry for going off on a rant but that had to be said.

Now back to the man of the hour. Hamilton in his last six at bats is 6-6 with 5 home runs again all with a man on. Giving him a round 10 RBIs over that stretch.

He is the best hitter in baseball right now at this particular point in the season. What makes him even more dangerous are the players that play behind him. With the way he’s hitting right now the obvious question is: why even pitch to him?

When he is followed by Adrian Beltre (who had a home run tonight of his own) and Michael Young, the simple answer is you have to pitch to him.

I see this season, with Hamilton all predictions are based on presumed health, being his most prolific and maybe the best “natural” offensive season we have seen in a long time. Remember he was once deemed “The Natural”.

Does a record night like that have you forgetting what happened to him during the offseason and his impending contract? No, but it should help his case that he should be paid as one of the best in the game.

Matt Kemp the pressure is now off of you to hit home runs as Hamilton now leads the league in home runs. You may now start working on your stolen bases.

I also learned tonight that Josh Hamilton is latin for MVP. Who would have thought?

-Brian Boynton

The All-AL West Team

The AL West consisting of the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland Athletics, and the Seattle Mariners. Time to see if I can put the perfect team out there picking only from these four teams and see if I would match them up versus any other division in MLB. This team is set to win now and not necessarily looking toward the future.

Leading off and playing CF: Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners) I know he’s old but he is still one of the best contact hitters in baseball and plays solid defense in the outfield. He also sets the table for the rest of the lineup. He is a smart baserunner and can still steal bases when needed.

Batting second the DH: Michael Young (Rangers) He is one of the best hitters in baseball even at the age of 35. He and Ichiro are both capable of putting up 200 hits. He is also a super-utility player and is able to play three infield positions. Being the anchor for one of the best offenses for the better part of a decade speaks for itself.

Batting third and playing 1B: Albert Pujols (Angels) “The Machine” is still one of the best players in baseball. Did you guys see game 3 of the World Series? 3 Home Runs…. He is a man among boys at first base in this division. He’s been off to a slow start this season but he started off slow last year to and we saw how that ended up.

Hitting clean up and playing LF: Josh Hamilton (Rangers) When healthy the Batguy can rake and is one of the best outfielders in baseball. He is off to a hot start this season both offensively and in the outfield. Yes he is hurt a lot but he is the best outfielder in this division.

Batting fifth and playing 3B: Adrian Beltre (Rangers) Beltre is the best third baseman in baseball not named Evan Longoria. Hitting behind Hamilton last season was one of his best and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. If a ball is hit in the hot corner chances are its an out.

Batting sixth in RF: Torii Hunter (Angels) I want to see him steal a home-run on my team so he gets the nod over Nelson Cruz. Last season was a down year for him he will bounce back and have a season like he’s used to having. With that many Gold Gloves its hard to over look him.

Hitting seventh and Catching: Mike Napoli (Rangers) His skills behind the plate are underrated and he proved that last year by handled a relatively inexperienced staff. He is also a 30 HR player when given the playing time. He had a career year last season but he is a good player so he should have similar numbers this year.

Batting eight and playing 2B: Ian Kinsler (Rangers) He is a legitimate 30-30 guy and with a UZR of 15.0 he is the best second baseman in the division. His average is low but he still manages to get on base and wreak havoc. Being an aggressive baserunner is useless if your not smart about it and Kinsler is excellent on the bases.

Playing SS and batting ninth: Erick Aybar (Angels) The 2011 winner of the Gold Glove, Aybar proved last year is among the elite at his position. Plus if he keeps trending the way he has been he will only get better this season. He is good for at least 20 stolen bases a season.

Rotation:

Felix Hernandez (Mariners) Remember he’s only 26 and is one of the best in baseball. If I could choose any pitcher to take the mound for me in one  game he is near the top of a VERY short list.

Jered Weaver (Angels) Recently recorded his 1,000 career strikeout. He is the anchor for maybe the best rotation in the AL.

Derek Holland (Rangers) His ERA was high last season because of a few starts where he didn’t make it out of the first inning. He seemed to have figured it out in the postseason last year. Look for him to dominate this season.

CJ Wilson (Angels) He struggles in the postseason but he is dominant in the regular season and you to make the playoffs. He has pitched in a very hitter friendly park the last two seasons and was great. Look for him to build on his 2011 season.

Dan Haren (Angels) Having the best rotation in the AL affords you lots of options to make this team and Haren falls in line. He’s off to a slow start this season but he will turn this season around and have another solid/productive season.

Bullpen:

Long Relief: Scott Feldman (Rangers) He is essentially a sixth starter for the Rangers. He was very successful last season in this role and look for him to have another solid season.

Lefty: Scott Downs (Angels) He has been a very consistent player in the bullpen for many years. He can get right-handed batters out as well as lefties.

Other relievers: Brian Fuentes (Athletics) LaTroy Hawkins (Angels)

Seventh Inning: Alexi Ogando (Rangers) He was an All-Star starter last season and he is a better reliever. Scary, huh? He was almost untouchable last season in the playoffs and has started this season much the same way.

Set-up Man: Mike Adams (Rangers) Has been dominant so far this season and was arguably the best relief pitcher in baseball last season.

Closer: Brandon League (Mariners) Playing for Seattle he is given a lot of chances in tight games and he was the best in the AL West last season. With Neftali Feliz making the conversion to starter he was the only trustable option left.

There you have it. Who would you put on your All AL-West team?

-Brian Boynton