On the same night Josh Hamilton smashed two home runs against the Angels he also dove headlong into first base just as many times. The game last Friday represented a good snapshot of why Hamilton is the most compelling player in baseball today: he takes your breath away, whether admiring his talent or fearing he can't hold up.
BALTIMORE -- The year 2012 has welcomed strange days that have nothing to do with any antiquated Mayan forecast and everything to with baseball at the extremes. The season has already seen a perfect game, a no-hitter and a cycle, three rare results that can't compete with what's happening with the Baltimore Orioles.
Red Sox-Yankees? That's so 2009.
"That's the way baseball go," Ron Washington likes to say. He'll say this with a kind of shrug. He'll be sitting in the manager's office after a game, an opened pack of Winstons on his desk, and someone with a tape recorder and notebook will ask him to explain why one of his pitchers can't find his fastball, or why his lineup has suddenly gone cold, or how a team one strike away from the World Series title can let it all slip away. "That's the way baseball go," he'll say. And what more is there to say? The Rangers manager had some bad breaks in his career -- he tore up his knee early in his playing days ("Was never the same after that," he says) and he was released from the Twins in 1987, just before they won the World Series -- so he knows just how strange and cruel this game can be.
This week, Cliff Corcoran will break down what to expect from each team's camp as part of SI.com's spring training preview. Teams are listed by their order of finish from 2011. Note: The Big Prospect is a player who will be in camp and has not yet debuted in the major leagues
The day after the Texas Rangers won the bidding for the negotiating rights to pitcher Yu Darvish, a shipment of major league baseballs was delivered to the righthander in Japan so that he could begin training with them immediately. Consider it the first official step in the baseball version of coming to America. Spring training -- with the emphasis on training -- brings the next and more difficult challenge of making the jump from pitching in Nippon Pro Baseball to Major League Baseball.
One afternoon a few years ago, Josh Hamilton was sitting in the video room at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, talking about his return to baseball after a four-year hiatus. "I'm surprised that [my] body has done as well as it has, the way I treated it all those years, the hell I put it through," he told me. "I'm surprised that I haven't been hurt more than I have been. Hopefully I can play 150 [games] or so every season."
Prince Fielder still doesn't have a team, but already he is almost assuredly about to set a record this year. No free agent ever has signed a nine-figure contract this late in the offseason.
The January or even February date that Prince Fielder finally signs a new contract will be a forgotten footnote long before the presumed multi-year deal expires.
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Texas Rangers President and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan was impressed by his first meeting with Japanese sensation Yu Darvish and is confident a contract will be completed by next week's deadline.
1. Cardinals win and Pujols leaves. To celebrate or to mourn? The Cardinals won a thrilling seven-game World Series -- baseball's first Fall Classic to go the distance since 2002 -- for the franchise's 11th title but just six weeks later saw future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols split for Anaheim with a 10-year, $254 million contract. Pujols provided one last thrilling moment for Cardinals fans when he tied a record by crushing three home runs as part of a five-hit effort in Game 3 of the World Series. Though his departure may have cost him a statue outside Busch Stadium, he left behind a new World Series banner as a parting gift.
A half-century ago the American public was fixated on a Rocky & Bullwinkle adventure that chronicled the search for the Kerwood Derby, a magical bowler hat that turned its wearer into an egghead. Today hot-stovers on two continents endlessly speculate about the Darvish Derby, the posting auction for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish that concluded at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The 25-year-old right-hander, the most dominating pitcher in the Japanese professional leagues, went 18-6 this season for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, led the Pacific League with 276 strikeouts and finished with a sub-1.90 ERA for the fifth straight year (a career-best 1.44). Will the winner of the Darvish Derby turn out to be Kerwood-clever or Bullwinkle-boneheaded?
The already-slim chance that Prince Fielder would find his way back to the only team he's ever known, the Milwaukee Brewers, almost certainly ended yesterday when the Brewers signed Aramis Ramirez to a three-year contract. With the money they're paying Ramirez, the decision by Francisco Rodriguez to accept arbitration, and a handful of in-house options for first base it seems certain now that Fielder will be moving to a new town.
The Rangers finished 10 games ahead of the Angels in the American League West in 2011. On Thursday morning, the Angels made up that deficit and then some by committing more than $330 million to first baseman Albert Pujols (10 years, $254 million) and left-hander C.J. Wilson (five years, $77.5 million), the top free agent hitter and pitcher available this offseason.
December shopping season is almost upon us, and judging by some early infield impulse buying, there could be plenty of big spending. Baseball's powers are headed back in a week to the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas for the winter meetings, the site of the wildest week of spending 11 years ago, highlighted by the $252 million, 10-year deal for Alex Rodriguez with the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers, just as they did after losing the 2010 World Series, held a clubhouse meeting after losing the 2011 World Series in Game 7 to talk about making a commitment to win the next one. Their persistence is admirable, if not standard stuff for also-rans. The ghost of Knute Rockne aside, what are the realistic chances that Texas can bounce back from not just losing a second straight World Series, but also one of the most historic collapses in postseason history, the 10-9 loss in Game 6?
This week, SI.com will analyze the offseason plans for each team in a division-by-division format. Teams are listed in order of finish in 2011.
The St. Louis Cardinals finished their improbable run Friday night with a convincing 6-2 win, beating the Texas Rangers and giving the franchise another World Series championship.
ST. LOUIS -- Now it can be told what St. Louis manager Tony La Russa did at the end of his worst managing night in the big leagues. He didn't stop managing after World Series Game 5 ended, a game that had been so embarrassing for him that he twice could not properly communicate which reliever he wanted throwing in the bullpen, a breakdown that once left him standing on a World Series mound and greeting one of his pitchers by saying, "Oh, what are you doing here?"
ST. LOUIS -- The protective plastic was in place at their lockers and the bottles of ginger ale, tailored for Josh Hamilton's team, were wheeled into the Texas Rangers clubhouse.
ST. LOUIS --- Nolan Ryan walked down a long hallway deep inside Busch Stadium moments after Game 6 of the World Series. His head was down. He was wearing a long black overcoat. He looked like he was going to a funeral.
If you missed Game 6 of the World Series Thursday night, and you didn't see the five errors, or the Cardinals score six runs from the eighth inning on, or the Rangers come within one strike of winning the Series in both the ninth and 10th innings, or Josh Hamilton hit an apparent game-winning homer in the 10th inning despite barely being able to walk, or St. Louis native David Freese hit the game-winning home run for St. Louis in the bottom of the 11th ... well, if you missed all that ... uh ... don't worry. Nothing interesting happened.
The comebacks just don't stop for the St. Louis Cardinals as they stunned the Texas Rangers late Thursday night, beating them in extra innings to push the World Series to a final Game 7.
ST. LOUIS -- The Texas Rangers spoke in funereal tones about not once, but twice standing one strike away from the first World Series championship in franchise history. As they spoke in the visiting clubhouse at Busch Stadium Thursday night, the literal backdrop to the autopsy they performed on themselves was a cruel reminder of what was lost: a curtain of clear plastic sheeting left rolled up atop their lockers, the anticipatory protection from the champagne celebration that never came. This is Texas, a dry state.
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Maybe the biggest games the Brewers won this season were the final two games against Pittsburgh. With those wins, Milwaukee secured homefield advantage in the Division Series -- a key factor, as the Brewers won Game 5 in a walkoff at Miller Park to advance to the NLCS.
To be a Texas Rangers baseball fan doesn't compare to the prestige of growing up in the shadows of Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. The pinstriped jerseys, classic uniforms and ball caps of those Major League Baseball teams are timeless and have become iconic touchstones in pop culture.
After a day of rain, the Rangers enter Game 6 in St. Louis on Thursday night one win away from the first world championship in franchise history. Created as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961 and moved to Texas in 1972, the Rangers are the oldest of the eight major league clubs to have never won a championship, and their 50 consecutive title-less seasons rank behind only those of the Cubs (103) and Indians (63) among active streaks. Three longer droughts have ended in the last seven years with the Red Sox (85 years), White Sox (87), and Giants (55) each winning their first World Series since before expansion came to the majors.
The Texas Rangers moved to within one win of the first World Series triumph in the franchise's 40-year history on Monday, after beating the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 in game five of Major League Baseball's (MLB) Championship series.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was fitting that the final out of Game 5 was recorded after a dropped third strike.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- At the conclusion of the first inning on Sunday night, in which Rangers starter Derek Holland retired the Cardinals' side in order, including a strikeout of scorching hot Allen Craig and a groundout from history-making Albert Pujols, Texas reliever Mike Adams turned toward bullpen-mate Scott Feldman and offered a prediction.
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- It was quarter past six o'clock in the Metroplex, and the opening act was nearly over. The exodus from "Jerryworld" was beginning, with the Cowboys-Rams game in its waning minutes, and a crowd streaming out of the east end of the football palace walked across a parking lot and over a bridge and toward the redbrick ballpark. Fans in Cowboys jerseys and fans in red and blue Rangers t-shirts converged on Nolan Ryan Expressway. A "Let's Go Ran-gers" chat broke out.
Pitcher Derek Holland restricted St. Louis Cardinals to just two hits in eight and a third innings to help Texas Rangers record a 4-0 win Sunday night to level the World Series at 2-2.
The only pitcher this postseason to turn in a better performance than the 8 1/3 scoreless innings thrown by the Rangers' Derek Holland in Game 4 will take the mound in tonight's Game 5 for St. Louis. Chris Carpenter gives the Cardinals the advantage over the Rangers' C.J. Wilson, who has struggled mightily this postseason, but tonight's game isn't as pivotal as one might expect.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Great Albert Pujols added to his incredible legacy with his five-hit, three-homer performance for the ages in Game 3. But is there any chance this is the final Cardinals chapter of the iconic star's amazing St. Louis story?
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The wispy mustache that Derek Holland has grown does not make him look urbane, nor mature, but even more callow than he already does. It makes him looks like a boy who has accompanied his father to the barbershop on a Saturday afternoon, and who has gathered some floor clippings and pressed them to his sweaty lip, aping the style of the men who surround him.
Short of an injury, everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for the Rangers in Saturday night's Game 3. Their pitchers were awful, their defense committed three errors, they were victimized by an awful blown call by first base umpire Ron Kulpa -- and they lost 16-7 putting them on the wrong side of the recent history in which the winner of a tiebreaking Game 3 went on to win 16 of the last 18 World Series that were tied after two games. Still, the Rangers could have shrugged that off as one bad loss if not for one thing: Albert Pujols. He turned in the greatest single game performance by a hitter in World Series history in Game 3, going 5-for-6 with three home runs, six RBIs, four runs scored, and 14 total bases, tying the World Series records for hits, homers, RBIs, and runs, and breaking the Series record for total bases.
After two tense games in St. Louis, the World Series resumes in Arlington on Saturday night with the Cardinals and Rangers tied at one game a piece. Of the last 18 World Series to open with a two-game split dating to 1969, the winner of Game 3 went on to win 16 of them, the two exceptions being the Orioles in 1979 and the Yankees in 2003. No other game in those 18 Series had nearly as strong a correlation with the eventual Series outcome. So, Saturday night's Game 3 is a big game for both teams, arguably the most important non-elimination game of the Series. The Rangers, who stole Game 2 with two runs in the top of the ninth, are looking to build on that sudden swing in momentum, while the Cardinals are hoping that Friday's day off and the change of scenery can help them shake off that dispiriting defeat. Of course, momentum in baseball is only as good as the next game's starting pitcher.
ST. LOUIS -- Albert Pujols launched a 94-mile-per-hour fastball to deep right field, tracking the ball closely as he left the batter's box, his eyes not even blinking as he ran toward first base.
ST. LOUIS -- The surprise courting of hot young general manager Andrew Friedman by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim has begun even before Theo Epstein is officially signed, sealed and delivered to the Chicago Cubs. Though Friedman's name hadn't been tied to the Angels until someone tipped @DRaysBay that Friedman had been spotted dining in Tampa with Angels honchos Arte Moreno and John Carpino, it makes perfect sense as baseball owners are increasingly understanding how much more crucial the GM is to a team's success than a manager. Besides, as one AL exec put it, "Teams are copycats.'' Once one got Epstein (or is about to), it's no surprise another wanted the other hot available name.
Two ninth inning sacrifice flies were enough to earn Texas Rangers a 2-1 win over St. Louis Cardinals in game two of the World Series Thursday night.
ST. LOUIS -- Late in World Series Game 2, as the Cardinals were trying to win a 1-0 game for the first time in their 107-game World Series history, and every pitch and managerial move carried the consequence of legendary disaster or fame, St. Louis first base coach Dave McKay turned to Texas first baseman Michael Young and said, "Competition at its finest."
ST. LOUIS -- Finally, at the very last moment, when they were three outs away from falling behind two games to none in their second straight World Series, the Rangers started to play their brand of baseball. That rediscovery of their identity allowed them to turn a 1-0 ninth-inning deficit to the Cardinals into a 2-1 win, and to tie the series at one game apiece.
ST. LOUIS -- A check swing is a violent motion. A hitter begins to unleash a forceful cut at the baseball, only to decide at the last possible instant to arrest his accelerating momentum and torque as his lower-body swivels toward the speeding baseball.
St. Louis Cardinals struck first in baseball's World Series on Wednesday, beating Texas Rangers 3-2 in game one courtesy of a pinch-hit from substitute batter Allen Craig.
His 100-mile-per-hour offering had not just been hit for a home run but pulled down the leftfield line, and Tigers ace Justin Verlander could only laugh. He admitted later that he had "out-thunk" himself by throwing another fastball to Rangers rightfielder Nelson Cruz, rather than pitch to his weakness with another breaking ball, but recently there have been few pitches the 31-year-old Dominican hasn't driven with authority.
Interleague play has been around for 15 years, but this year's World Series opponents, the Rangers and Cardinals, have met just once before, in a three-game series in Texas in 2004. They thus enter the 107th World Series with a relatively clean slate, adding something of a throwback quality to the series for those fans who accuse interleague play of destroying the novelty of potential World Series matchups.
Is this the World Series we've been waiting for? Is the longest wait for the best day in sports about to end?
And so it comes down to this: a storied franchise seeking its 11th World Series championship (and second in six years) against a a long-suffering organization that's never won a title in its mostly dreadful 51-year history. The 107th World Series should be a dramatic and entertaining final act to a thrilling October. There are two juggernaut offenses and two great bullpens. There's the greatest player of his generation, Albert Pujols, and the player having an October for the ages, Nelson Cruz. There's the great mad professor, Tony La Russa, and the great dugout dancer, Ron Washington. There's Jason Motte's beard and Derek Holland's moustache.
ST. LOUIS -- It's not the Yankees, it's not the Phillies and it certainly isn't the Red Sox here in the World Series. FOX will fret. And MLB has to worry. But of course, the Rangers and Cardinals know they deserve to be here, and they figure they're going to put on a pretty good show.
Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland had a seven-run lead when he took the mound for the fourth inning in Game 6 of the ALCS. This being the Postseason in Which Starting Pitching Doesn't Matter, Holland would not even qualify for the win.
The American League Championship Series returns to Arlington Saturday night for its final act, in which the Rangers need to win just one of the next two games to claim their second consecutive American League pennant, while the Tigers continue their quest to become just the 12th of the 76 teams in baseball history to fall behind 3-1 in a best-of-seven series to comeback to win that series.
DETROIT -- Four thousand two hundred sixty-eight pitches deep into his season, Justin Verlander did something he hadn't done all year: he threw a pitch 102 mph. Adrian Beltre of Texas very nearly hit the fastest ball Verlander threw all year off the rightfield foul pole -- his fifth-inning shot swerved foul -- which had Verlander thinking, "Thank God it wasn't 101 or it would be a home run."
DETROIT -- The very name of the sport is baseball, a juxtaposition of two of its most important ingredients. Early writings of the sport first referred to it as "base ball" -- with a space -- and rarely does the nine-inch-round cowhide ball collide with a 15-inch-square base except in the modernized spelling of the word.
DETROIT -- Texas lefthander C.J. Wilson, who can pitch the Texas Rangers to their second straight American League pennant on Thursday afternoon, looks like the best available free agent starting pitcher option this winter. That's assuming CC Sabathia, who can opt out of his contract, works out a new deal with the Yankees, and projecting that Yu Darvish is considered a greater risk given the poor track record of pitchers transitioning from Nippon Pro Baseball to the major leagues.
MILWAUKEE -- Postseason baseball has been in session for more than a century, yet not before Monday had a player ended a game with a walk-off grand slam. That came courtesy of the Rangers' Nelson Cruz, who hit an 11th inning slam to win Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- "I believe in the game being complete," Ron Washington was saying one afternoon in September. He was sitting in the visiting manager's office at Tropicana Field before a game with the Rays. There was a stack of Winstons on his desk.
1. So much for the importance of starting pitching in the postseason. The Texas Rangers are proving there are many roads to the World Series, not just one. What they are doing is certainly unconventional -- with starting pitchers checking out of games early -- but it has worked.
The big news out of Chicago this weekend was that Theo Epstein might have been spotted at a Lincoln Park Starbucks. Not kidding. That came via a Cubs fan who said he was "99.9 percent'' sure it was the celebrated, elusive longtime Red Sox general manager, and it shows how secretive the Cubs' GM search is being kept by relatively new owner Tom Ricketts. If Ricketts is as good at building a successful team as he is at keeping a secret, maybe the Cubs will break out of their century of general futility.
Taking a look at Sunday's playoff action ...
It's hard to imagine that the League Championship Series could live up to the excitement provided by this year's Division Series, but then we didn't think the Division Series could live up to the final few days of the regular season, and they totally did. That's only one reason, and the weakest to be sure, that I expect both series to go a full seven games. So, I hope you all had a restful morning, because this year, the postseason doesn't believe in off-days.
The Texas Rangers' defense of their American League title continues on Saturday with the first game of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers, it should be noted, just eliminated the team with the American League's best regular-season record in the Division Series without the benefit of a quality start from their ace, Justin Verlander, and they represent a significant hurdle for the Rangers. Detroit went 38-16 (.704) over the final two months of the regular season, 20-6 (.769) in September, and 6-3 against Texas on the year, with the Rangers' three wins all coming in games started by Alexi Ogando, who has been moved to the bullpen and won't start a single game in this series.
ST. PETERSBURG -- You could hear the bass thumping and you could smell the champagne. The party was just getting started inside the visitor's locker room at Tropicana Field, but standing outside the clubhouse in the dark stadium tunnel was the famous CEO, dressed impeccably in a jacket and tie. "We've got a ways to go still," Nolan Ryan said moments after Texas' 4-3 win over the Rays in Game 4 of the ALDS, barely cracking a smile. "They view this as a three step process, and they just accomplished the first step."
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jon Daniels recalls that when he got the Rangers general manager job in 2005 he heard two questions over and over: 1) When are you going to get some pitching? and 2) How old are you?
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. --- There's something that happens before games at Tropicana Field that's unlike anything at any other ballpark, and it says almost everything you need to know about the Rays, the most unconventional organization in baseball. Before they introduce the starting lineups, they play a video clip on the big screen above the right-field seats to get the home crowd going. As loud music blares, Rays manager Joe Maddon appears on the screen, pushing buttons and moving graphics around with his arms on a giant computer interface, just like Tom Cruise in "Minority Report." Clips pop up of Rays players hitting home runs, making great plays in the field and running the bases as words flash on the screen. RUN HARD. WORK TOGETHER. RUN PREVENTION. SMART AT BATS. THE RAYS WAY.
The 2011 postseason will begin where the 2010 postseason ended: deep in the heart of Texas, where the defending AL champs meet the Team of Destiny in a rematch of last October's only five-game division series. Last year's tilt featured great pitching, great defense, aggressive base running, and a lot of shots of Nolan Ryan and George W. Bush on the edge of their front-row seats at Rangers Ballpark. Expect another dramatic series between these two evenly-matched teams.
Nobody besides maybe the Arizona Diamondbacks themselves figured they'd sniff the playoffs this year, but here they are, within a whisper of clinching an improbable postseason berth. Everyone associated with the team, from club president Derrick Hall to first-year general Kevin Towers to their emotional manager Kirk Gibson to their players, many of whom border on anonymity, deserve credit. Collectively, they've overcome a low payroll, lower expectations, a brutal local economy, limited experience and a fresh memory of last year's stinging disappointment in which they finished last in the NL West, 27 games behind.
The Phillies look like a prohibitive World Series favorite. But that guarantees nothing, of course.
Blue Jays star Jose Bautista deserves strong consideration for the American League MVP award, and if someone thinks he's the MVP because he's been the best player in the league, that's understandable.
Five Cuts on the weekend that was -- and, thanks to Hurricane Irene, often wasn't -- in baseball:
The practitioners of sabermetrics have debunked many of baseball's hoary cliches and put to the test much of the game's received wisdom. From the age at which hitters peak to the value of "protection" to the relative importance of experience, the use of data to evaluate ideas has made everyone smarter about the game.
Baseball fan Shannon Stone, who fell over the railing at a Texas Rangers game, is remembered.
It's a funny trade deadline day when it's almost as much about who didn't get traded as who did. Padres continuing closer Heath Bell, who told the world there was a "99 percent chance'' he'd be traded (and frankly, all of us in the media nodded along), stayed in San Diego, only to see his bullpen colleague Mike Adams go to Texas in the very trade to Texas that was supposed to be for Bell. B.J. Upton stayed in Tampa Bay. And Wandy Rodriguez stayed in Houston. And Denard Span and Drew Storen stayed with the Twins and Nationals, respectively.
The Rangers boosted their bullpen by trading for Orioles setup man Koji Uehara, sending Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter to Baltimore.
A man dies after falling 20 feet while attempting to catch a baseball at a Texas Rangers game.
Firefighter Shannon Stone slipped over the railing trying to catch a ball tossed to him by Hamilton
With the 2011 baseball season reaching its mid-point this week (the Dodgers and Reds will become the first teams to play 81 games Tuesday night), and the calendar flipping to July on Friday, the pennant races will gain increasing attention. Entering Tuesday's action, no team has a larger lead for a playoff spot than the Phillies' five-game advantage over the Braves in the National League East, and just nine teams were more than six games out in both their division and their league's wild card chases. That leaves 21 teams that could call themselves contenders. By now, most of the best players on those teams have made themselves known, but here's a look at some players whose impact on the pennant races those races has yet to be felt, but could well be a major factor in how this season plays out.
Nearly every time White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn, a notorious pull-hitting lefty, steps to the plate, he can survey the field and find the opponents' shortstop playing either straight up the middle or on the opposite side of second base from where he's accustomed, joining the first and second basemen on the right side of the infield.
NEW YORK -- Things seem to work just fine these days for the Texas Rangers, where the game's youngest and one of its finest front offices has assembled a team with a talented supply of young arms to go with a seemingly limitless procession of heavy bats. Even when things have the potential to blow up for them, as was the case with longtime star Michael Young, they still seem to turn out well.
Men who are 6'4" and 240 pounds with the power to crush a baseball from home plate to the horizon typically don't also have the speed to play centerfield in the major leagues, but the Rangers' Josh Hamilton mixes both with an on-field aggression that pushes the boundaries of what is physically possible on a baseball field.
With their 2-0 victory over Justin Verlander and the Tigers on Monday afternoon, the Rangers increased their franchise-best season-opening record to 9-1. They are just the sixth 9-1 team since the turn of the millennium, but as even a quick survey of the preceding five (the 2002 Indians, '03 Giants, Yankees, and Royals, and '09 Marlins) will reveal, a 9-1 start, while impressive, doesn't guarantee a team anything going forward.
The door just opened for the Oakland Athletics to steal the AL West. The Rangers are passing on turning Neftali Feliz into a possible shutdown starter, all for the sake of getting about 25 meaningful innings out of him.
Chuck Greenberg managed to annoy a lot of people in his short tenure as managing partner of the Rangers, from the commissioner's office to the Yankees front office to some within his own organization. While it isn't known for sure exactly what precipitated his quick departure as Rangers CEO after just seven months, it is safe to say he annoyed a lot of folks in a short time, among them Hall of Fame pitcher and team president Nolan Ryan. And that's a big mistake in Texas.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If Michael Young is surprised to still be with the Rangers, he isn't saying. If he's especially upset at the situation, he isn't saying that either -- at least not out loud. Young is the consummate pro, and he knows it is now time to get down to business. And that means the business of preparing to be a Ranger for this coming season.
C.J. Wilson stories in the SI Vault
It's like baseball's version of The Price Is Right. Imagine veteran free agents sitting in the audience, dressed to get attention in their workout swag, perhaps donning the jersey of their most recent successful stop. Russell Branyan and Scott Podsednik heard their names called on Wednesday for minor league contracts from the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays, respectively -- the game show for mid-30s players is increasingly lower stakes.
The biggest obstacle between Albert Pujols and a contract extension with the Cardinals is age -- and more specifically, what clubs know about how players age in the Testing Era. Pujols will play next season at 32, so an Alex Rodriguez-styled 10-year deal would pay him boatloads of money through his age 41 season. Look around baseball: The days of the superstar player in his late 30s are over.
It's been a winter full of unpleasant surprises for Michael Young, and the player who was once the face and cornerstone of the Texas Rangers may be in for one more. Although it's clear now that he badly wants off the only team he has ever known, several people familiar with the situation said they still believe there's a decent chance the six-time All-Star will be with the Rangers when their spring training camp opens in, appropriately, Surprise, Ariz.
The conventional wisdom is that the Phillies and Red Sox have turned themselves into prohibitive favorites with their great winters. But based on recent history, the conventional wisdom is worth even less than an obstructed-view bleacher seat.
The Yankees are again upset about comments made by Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg. This time, the Yankees believe Greenberg implied in remarks made to fans in Texas Thursday that he got one over on the storied franchise when he made his second trip to visit superstar pitcher Cliff Lee in Arkansas.
The Rangers' early-offseason plans to give closer Neftali Feliz a tryout as a starter haven't changed just because they traded Frank Francisco, the reliever who had been deemed most likely to take over ninth-inning duties if Feliz was moved to the rotation.
This arbitration season made it clear once again that this truly is the Golden Age of baseball. Players and teams got together like almost never before, reaching 82 settlements in advance of arbitration salary filings and leaving only 37 players and their teams to submit arbitration numbers (by comparison, last year there were 46). Included among those are several potentially very interesting cases, including the Rangers' Josh Hamilton, who is coming off a Mickey Mantle-like MVP season, and the Blue Jays' Jose Bautista, Toronto's sudden superstar. Here's a summary of the biggest cases that remain unsettled.
No longer does Thad Levine risk paper cuts or burst eardrums when he checks what the local media is saying about the Rangers, the team for whom he serves as assistant general manager. In years past, Levine said, as soon as the Dallas Cowboys began summer training camp in late July, the newspapers would relegate baseball coverage to the sixth page of the sports section and the loudmouths on sports talk radio would open with four football segments before finally shifting discussion to the baseball diamond.
The Texas Rangers took a huge step toward repeating as American League West champions on Tuesday by coming to terms with third baseman Adrian Beltre on a contract reportedly worth $96 million over the next six years. That's a huge commitment to a player who will turn 32 in April and has played at an All-Star level in just two of his 13 major league seasons, but it's one that seems likely to pay off for the Rangers, particularly given their current position in the American League hierarchy.
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Cliff Lee's last pitch to the Texas Rangers was too much.
Almost a year after they traded him, Cliff Lee is headed back to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Free agent Cliff Lee is planning to make his decision early this week, according to people familiar with negotiations. The Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and a third mystery team are all still thought to be alive as Lee deliberates the biggest player call of the winter.
In the race for free agent left-hander Cliff Lee, people familiar with the talks indicate that the the New York Yankees have a big advantage over the Texas Rangers in terms of total guaranteed dollars offered and also have one more guaranteed year currently on the table. But while it would still be a surprise to see Lee turn down the Yankees' offer, several other factors beyond money are at play here as Lee considers what are said to be three viable options, including the Arkansas resident's love of the Rangers, who play 4½ hours away from his Little Rock, Ark., home by car.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It was one wild winter meetings. Only a handful of teams made major moves, but oh, what deals they were.
The Rangers signed catcher Yorvit Torrealba to a two-year deal worth $6.25 million, according to a league source.
The Baseball Writers Association of America awards will be announced over the next week and a half, starting with the Rookies of the Year on Monday and continuing through the American League Most Valuable Player on Tuesday November 23. Here, then, is a look at who is likely to win the four major awards in each league (or who likely has won given that the votes were cast more than a month ago, before the playoffs began) as well as who, in my opinion, deserves to win.