We are starting another series with the Rangers....I thought I'd move these questions back to the top, since it is only ten days since Adam answered these for us. This time it is a 3 game set, in the heart of Texas. The Rangers are in second in the AL West, 1.5 back of the Mariners.
I sent off some questions to Adam J. Morris, manager of Lone Star Ball, SB's popular Texas Rangers site. Here are his answers.
I guess the obvious question is "will Jose Bautista get drilled?". Second part....if he was up to you, would he?
I hope not. I'm of the belief that you don't throw at guys for beating you. Now, Jeff Banister is a big believer in pitching inside, so I wouldn't be surprised if there were a pitch that came in close that resulted in some jawing, but I don't think that he'll actually be thrown at.
Elvis Andrus is having a great start to the season with the bat? What's he doing different at the plate? Can he keep this up all season?
Elvis's hot start is something of a carryover from the second half of last season, when he added a leg kick and started driving the ball more. The leg kick doesn't appear to still be there, but Elvis is being more assertive in looking to drive the ball the other way, almost Michael Young-style, and the result has been a lot more solid contact and more offensive productivity. I don't think he'll have an 800+ OPS all season, but I suspect the Rangers would be happy with a 700-725 OPS and solid defense from him.
At the other end of the scale, Prince Fielder isn't hitting at all, is he at the end of his time as a useful player? What do you see happening over the last 5 years of his contract?
Like Elvis, Prince's slow start is a carryover from the second half of last season, when he put up a 742 OPS after the break. Prince has looked better at the plate the last few games, but my fear is that he's simply not a power hitter anymore...and if he can't hit for power, you're left with a guy who puts up a good OBP, but doesn't have a position and is an awful baserunner. Texas owes him $72M after this season over four years, and with the guys they have coming up, if Prince doesn't improve significantly over the rest of the year, they're going to have a tough decision to make on whether to try to see if he bounces back in 2017, or eat a bunch of his contract and try to move on.
You have a bunch of players on the DL, can I ask for updates on some: Yu Darvish (will he ever be back, and, if so, will he ever be the pitcher we remember?), Robinson Chirinos, Shin-Soo Choo, Josh Hamilton and Tanner Scheppers?
- Yu Darvish had a rehab start at AA Frisco yesterday, and reportedly looked great in two innings. Darvish will probably return to the Rangers rotation either May 21 or May 26, and while you never know how folks are going to be after TJS, all indications thus far is that he's as good as you could hope for.
- Chirinos is dealing with a broken arm, and I believe is expected to be out until the end of May.
- Choo has a strained calf, with an MRI over the weekend showing it was 80% healed. It sounds like he'll be going on a rehab assignment in a week to ten days, which would put him on schedule to return around the same time as Darvish.
- Hamilton started a rehab assignment Saturday, played four innings, and then was pulled off the assignment yesterday due to his knee being sore. Hamilton got a cortisone shot Sunday, but at this point, I don't know when he'll be back, and if he does return, if he'll be able to stay on the active roster for more than a couple of weeks.
- Scheppers is recovering from knee surgery and is out until after the ASB.
Can we have a quick scouting report on the pitchers the Jays are likely to face?
Monday's starter is A.J. Griffin. The righthander had a couple of nice seasons with the A's before missing all of 2014-15 with TJS. He throws in the upper-80s, is a flyball pitcher, and relies on command. Won't blow anyone away, and will probably allow a home run or two, but he's done a solid job this year of throwing strikes and limiting damage.
Tuesday's start is Martin Perez. I thought coming into the year that Perez was ready for a breakout campaign, but it hasn't happened thusfar this year. He has a 94 mph two-seamer that he gets a ton of GIDPs with, as well as a devastating changeup, but his command comes and goes, and he has a tendency to get rattled and lose focus when things go wrong, allowing bad innings to snowball. That said, when his command is on, he's a legit #2 caliber starter.
Wednesday's starter is Colby Lewis. Like Griffin, he throws in the upper-80s and relies on command. He's going to give up at least one home run per game, but usually its with no one on, so its okay. His slider is his out pitch. He's an efficient, innings-eating workhorse who is going to go out there and challenge hitters, and if he allows 4 home runs, that's fine, because he'll come right after you and dare you to get a fifth home run.
Thursday's starter is Derek Holland. Holland's stuff has dropped a tick after knee surgery and shoulder surgery, meaning he has to rely more on command, but the stuff is still good. Like Perez, his variable command results in him being more unpredictable than a lot of pitchers...he can look great one inning, awful the next, then shut down the next 12 guys he faces.
The Rangers are in first in the AL West, what do you think the odds are that they make the playoffs again this year? Who do you see as their biggest threat in the West?
I'd say its 50/50 at this point of the Rangers either winning the division or making the Wild Card, though I realize the projection systems think that's high. I think the pitching is better than folks give it credit for, and there's enough depth on the farm to allow the Rangers to go get an impact player at the deadline if need be. Houston seems like it should be the biggest threat in the West, but they are already six games out...I don't know, at this point, if there is one particular team that I'd identify as the biggest threat. You could make a case for any of the four other teams, really.
Who is your favourite Ranger to watch?
Its favorite Rangers, and it is Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus. And if you don't know why, Google "Beltre Andrus gif".
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