We start a three game series with the Texas Rangers tonight. The Rangers are 28-18 and in first place in the AL West, with a good cushion, being the only team above .500 in the division. The Rangers lead the AL with 5.38 runs/game and they are also the best in the AL in pitching, allowing 3.62 run/game.
I sent some questions to Adam J.Morris of Lone Star Ball, SB Nation's very popular Ranger blog. As always, questions are in bold.
You've had a chance to watch Yu Darvish pitch a bit now, what are your impressions? Is he worth the money? Is there a Cy Young award in his future?
Yu Darvish is an amazing pitcher to watch, a truly unique pitcher. He reminds me in some ways of C.J. Wilson, who was also very cerebral and unconventional in his approach to pitching, but Darvish has even better stuff than Wilson does. His mound awareness, his composure, his demeanor...he just looks like an ace, carries himself like an ace. His stuff and repertorie are top notch, and when he's struggled this season, it has been because his command has been off. I absolutely think that, if he stays healthy (always a big if with pitchers), he'll be one of the five best pitchers in baseball over the life of his current deal with the Rangers, which makes him a Cy Young candidate and well worth the money.
Sticking with pitchers, how is Neftali Feliz taking to starting? Is he a starter for the rest of his career?
Neftali Feliz was up and down in his performances as a starter before going on the disabled list with an elbow problem which will likely keep him out the next 6-8 weeks. Feliz is viewed by the Rangers as having top of the rotation potential, but there has been some questions about how badly he wants to be a great starter, or whether he's content being a reliever. Pre-injury, he was having the type of inconsistent year you'd expect from a young pitcher starting in the majors for the first time, but there were clearly glimpses of what he is capable of. I suspect that, if he doesn't stick in the rotation, it will be because of health concerns, not performance.
Is there a way to pitch Josh Hamilton? How much do you think it will take to sign him after the season?
Josh Hamilton swings at everything, so much like with Vlad Guerrero, I wonder why anyone ever throws him a strike. Of course, like Guerrero, he can also drive balls that seem to be unhittable by mere mortals. I've had a hard time figuring out what the Hamilton price will be this offseason...he's made it clear he's looking for the most money and there won't be any "hometown discount" for Texas, and with the Dodgers having new ownership that wants to make a splash, I expect them to go hot and heavy after Hamilton. If I had to guess right now, I'd say 8 years, $200 million will be the price, and the team that signs him to that deal will be regretting it within three years.
How is Joe Nathan working out as a closer?
Joe Nathan has been great so far. He had a couple of rough outings on the back end of back-to-back appearances early in the year that had folks worried, but since then, he's been outstanding. I thought the Rangers should have gone with Mike Adams or Alexi Ogando as closer rather than signing Nathan, but he's been a great pickup thusfar.
Michael Young's numbers aren't up to his usual standards, is there a reason or age catching up to him?
I expected Young to slide in 2011, but he ended up having one of his most productive offensive seasons. Young is getting up there in years -- he turns 36 in October -- and it isn't uncommon for guys to fall off the cliff at this age. I expect he'll hit better the rest of the way than he has so far, but I also expect him to end up with an OPS in the 700s, rather than the upper-800 range we saw last year.
Is there anything else us Blue Jay fans should know about the Rangers?
Thanks for this Adam.