Rangers working on Colby Lewis deal

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
11:35
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Nothing has been finalized, but the Texas Rangers are working on a new contract for right-handed starter Colby Lewis.

Team officials are hopeful they will know something soon regarding Lewis, who tied for the team lead in victories with 10 after returning from hip and elbow surgeries.

The Rangers have three free agents to deal with, and Lewis is at the top of the list. Lewis signed a one-year, $2 million minor-league deal last season. But after his successful 2014, considering what he came back from physically, a two- or three-year deal is a possibility.

Left-handed reliever Neal Cotts is also on the Rangers' radar, but the club wants to take care of Lewis and finalize their coaching staff before looking at him. Cotts pitched in a team-high 73 games last season.

Scott Baker, another free-agent pitcher, will also have to wait for the Rangers' offer. He pitched out of the bullpen as a long reliever and he became a spot starter toward the end of the season.

As expected, the Rangers will buy out the contract of right fielder Alex Rios at $1 million, making him a free agent. Rios had to remain on the roster until after the World Series.

A look at ten potential free agent signings

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
10:00
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James ShieldsRick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsJames Shields could be a fit for the Rangers' rotation this offseason.


FanGraphs has a contract crowd sourcing project where they rank the top free agents this offseason based on projected contracts.

The rankings project how much a particular player should make thanks to a formula they designed.

Last year, Shin-Soo Choo was projected to get a five-year $81.1 million deal by FanGraphs, the Rangers signed the outfielder to a seven-year $130 million deal. You can debate whether or not Choo deserved the contract he received just based on his injury-plagued season. Here's last year's project.

With that we rank 10 free agents listed among the best free agents by FanGraphs who might be targets for the Rangers.

1. James Shields

FanGraphs projected salary: Five years, $90 million.

Comment: Shields, the fourth-ranked free agent, is considered to be in the Rangers' wheelhouse in terms of salary demands. He’s not going to get Jon Lester money, however his 14-8 season with a 3.7 WAR for Kansas City was impressive. He also had a 5.46 ERA in the postseason that was a little concerning. Shields would make a solid No. 2/3 starter to Yu Darvish and a four-to-five year contract seems in line with what the Rangers want to do.

2. Russell Martin

FanGraphs projected salary: Four years, $56 million.

Comment: He’s expected to get a qualifying offer of $15.3 million and reject it. He batted .290/.402/.430 in 111 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Jeff Banister, the new Rangers manager, has a relationship with him from his time with the Bucs. If the Rangers make a play for Martin, ranked No. 6 by FanGraphs, it would mean prized minor league catcher Jorge Alfaro is at least two more years away from the big leagues. Martin will be 32 on Opening Day 2015 so his shelf life is roughly three years based on that age.

3. Nelson Cruz

FanGraphs projected salary: Three years, $45 million.

Comment: The Rangers are in need of a corner outfielder and a full-time DH. Cruz, a former Ranger who is No. 10 by FanGraphs, fits this need. His salary demands could rise over the projected $45 million especially after a .525 slugging percentage and a 3.9 WAR in 2014. There's a history here with Cruz and he was suspended for the final 50 games of the 2013 season. But is the salary too much?

4. Ervin Santana

FanGraphs projected salary: Three years, $39 million.

Comment: The 31-year-old right-hander threw 196 innings for the Atlanta Braves in 2014 and has made more than 30 starts the last five seasons. Santana, No. 11 by FanGraphs, went 18-23 in his last two seasons pitching in the AL. Santana could be a nice signing if Shields' salary gets to high for the Rangers.

[+] EnlargeBrandon McCarthy
AP Photo/Tony DejakBrandon McCarthy is another attractive option for the Rangers' rotation.

5. Brandon McCarthy

FanGraphs projected salary: Three years, $36 million.

Comment: The New York Yankees want to re-sign the righty, who is coming off a career-high 200 innings of work in 2014. McCarthy, ranked No. 13, had a WAR of 3.0 and is more of a No. 3 starter. Say the Rangers can’t sign Shields or another top-tier free agent, McCarthy becomes a nice pitcher behind left-hander Derek Holland and Darvish. The Yankees, desperate for pitching, might overpay to retain the former Ranger.

6. Colby Rasmus

FanGraphs projected salary: Three years, $30 million.

Comment: He’s primary a center fielder (732 games) with only 15 games total as a corner outfielder. Leonys Martin is the Rangers' leadoff man and the starting center fielder, but could he change positions, left maybe, or could Rasmus do it? Rasmus hit .225/.287/.448 for Toronto and was sat for younger players in September. A new venue and change of position might work for the No. 16-ranked free agent.

7. Jason Hammel

FanGraphs projected salary: Three years, $27 million.

Comment: The right-handed starter has pitched for five teams and struggled after a trade from the Chicago Cubs to the Oakland Athletics in 2014. He went 2-6 with the Athletics and in 13 starts pitched into the seventh inning four times. At No. 19, the 31-year old is a good No. 3 starter who might not command a ton of money.

8. Billy Butler

FanGraphs projected salary: Two years, $18 million.

Comment: A good durable player who might be a nice first baseman/DH to give Prince Fielder a break in the field and is the full-time DH. This is nothing against Mitch Moreland, but he’s coming off ankle surgery and it’s undetermined if he’ll be the same player. If you can upgrade with Butler, then it makes sense. He did have a poor -0.3 WAR and his strikeout percentage was 15.9 percent.

9. Torii Hunter

FanGraphs projected salary: One year, $10 million.

Comment: This is a one-shot deal. Hunter, 39, is a veteran player who can play a corner outfield spot and DH from time to time. If some of the younger Rangers aren’t ready to play the outfield yet, then Hunter is a smart play. You just wonder if Hunter wants to play here for one more season.

10. Justin Masterson

FanGraphs projected salary: One year $9 million.

Comment: Masterson will probably get more than a one-year deal from somebody but he dealt with knee problems and his sinker lost some velocity as the season progressed. He did make 25 starts last season between Cleveland and St. Louis. Ranked No. 36, the 29-year old Masterson, if healthy, might be a steal if someone wants to give him a chance.
[+] EnlargeElvis Andrus
Kelly Gavin/Texas RangersAndrus spent time at SafeHaven on Tuesday and presented the organization with a check from the Rangers Foundation.
Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus is mindful of the community in which he plays six months a year.

On Tuesday, Andrus donated $5,000, took pictures, signed autographs and spent time with the good people of the SafeHaven of Tarrant County, a domestic violence shelter.

"I think it's a great opportunity to give back to the community who has give me so much in my career in Texas," Andrus said. "I just love it, and it's a great cause, especially right now. There's tough time for them, and for me to help a little bit it, means a lot to me and to them."

SafeHaven of Tarrant County's mission statement is to stop domestic violence through safety, support, prevention and social changes. SafeHaven is one of the oldest and largest organizations helping domestic violence victims. SafeHaven makes sure to help the women and children of domestic violence with all sorts of programs.

"At some point, we need these kinds of donations, and they're going to use it in the right way," Andrus said. "And for myself and the Rangers Foundation to present this check, it's close to the holidays and Halloween. I hope its great news for them."

Jake Smolinski with 10 RBIs in winter ball

October, 27, 2014
Oct 27
12:00
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We take a look at five Texas Rangers who are participating in winter ball.

*Jake Smolinski, LF: Playing in the Mexican leagues, Smolinski has 10 RBIs on the season, all with runners in scoring position. Overall, Smolinski is hitting .276/.333/.414. He missed a good portion of the Rangers season with a small fracture in his foot but once he returned, he displayed good speed and ability to hit the ball consistently. He will compete for a starting job, left field, or could become the No. 4 outfielder in 2015.

*Tomas Telis, C: The switch-hitting catcher is in Venezuela and currently has a five-game hitting streak. He has just three RBIs the last 10 games and is hitting .265/.350/.441. Telis is the projected No. 2 catcher for 2015 and the Rangers were impressed with how he called a game. Telis just needs to work on some consistency behind the plate in terms of throwing out runners. That will happen with more opportunities.

*Roman Mendez, RHP: It's a small sampling but the reliever has pitched in just two games in the Dominican Republic. He's pitched in 1 2/3 innings, allowed one hit and struck out one. Mendez had a 2.18 ERA in 30 appearances for the Rangers in 2014 and his K/BB ratio was 1.29. Mendez has a chance to make the roster as a middle reliever, but there will be plenty of competition for those spots.

*Nick Williams, LF: He's second on the Arizona Fall League team with 25 total bases. He's hitting .267/.290/.417 in 15 games. But he's just 4-for-20 in the last five games and is just 3-for-15 vs. LHP. Williams played in 15 games for Double-A Frisco last season and most likely will start there again next season.

*Lisalverto Bonilla, RHP: He was solid in the big leagues last season, winning his first three starts and becoming the first pitcher in franchise history to do so. He's got a bright future. In three Arizona games, Bonilla has a 5.40 ERA. In his last outing on Oct. 23, he allowed four runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. In his previous outing on Oct. 17, Bonilla threw shutout ball for four innings, giving up just one hit with three walks and two strikeouts.
Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux's contract ends Friday and his status beyond that is uncertain.

Maddux has termed his conversations with new manager Jeff Banister as positive and is hopeful for a return.

"Jeff and I have had positive talks," Maddux said briefly.

The Rangers need Maddux because of the issues with the pitching staff. You have to ignore the 4.49 team ERA from 2014. Four pitchers were on the 60-day disabled list and the team lost Derek Holland for the first four months of the year. Yu Darvish was also out for nearly the last two months due to health issues.

This pitching staff was a mess.

Martin Perez, a promising starter, won't be around until next summer as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Matt Harrison, a workhorse starter, won't start throwing again until the start of 2015. GM Jon Daniels will most likely sign a free-agent starter or two this winter.

(Read full post)

Position Breakdown: Catcher

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
9:00
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We conclude our daily series on breaking down the Texas Rangers position by position with a look at the catchers.

[+] EnlargeRobinson Chirinos
Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsRobinson Chirinos figures to again be the Rangers' starter at catcher in 2015 after earning a roster spot last spring.
Catchers: Robinson Chirinos and Tomas Telis

Most productive: Chirinos

Least productive: J.P. Arencibia

Stat of Note: Geovany Soto, the projected No. 1 catcher in 2014, played 10 games.

Outlook: Before you get excited about Jorge Alfaro, one of the top minor-league prospects in the system, he won't be playing in Arlington in 2015. At least not in the early months of the season. Expect Chirinos to be the starter with Telis as the backup. Now that we've cleared that up, the two projected catchers for 2014, Geovany Soto and J.P. Arencibia struggled in several ways. Soto dealt with injuries before he was eventually traded to Oakland. Arencibia (.177/.239/.369) struggled at the plate the majority of the season. Arencibia did have a good stretch of games after the All-Star break, but it was just too late. Chirinos earned a roster spot in spring training and now morphs as the No. 1 catcher on the big-league roster. Telis, a switch hitter with some power, calls a good game but needs to work on some technical parts of the game to improve.

Dave Magadan to remain with Rangers

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
7:10
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The Texas Rangers will retain hitting coach Dave Magadan for the 2015 season.

Magadan met with team officials Thursday in Surprise, Ariz., and after "a getting to know you" session with new manager Jeff Banister, it was agreed by all parties involved he should stay.

Magadan, who has one year left on his contract, said contract talks for an extension weren't discussed.

The Rangers are trying to finalize their coaching staff, and in addition to retaining Magadan, who had spoken to several other clubs about employment, pitching coach Mike Maddux's status remains unsettled.

Maddux's contract ends at the end of October and while he's highly thought of, he needed to have conversations with Banister.

Position Breakdown: Relief pitching

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
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Our daily series on breaking down the Texas Rangers position by position continues with a look at relief pitching.

Relievers: Alex Claudio, Jon Edwards, Neftali Feliz, Michael Kirkman, Phil Klein, Corey Knebel, Roman Mendez, Alexi Ogando, Spencer Patton, Robbie Ross Jr., Matt West.

Most productive: Netfali Feliz.

Least productive: Robbie Ross.

Stat of note: 26 relief losses matches the team's total for the past six seasons.

Outlook: There’s some uncertainty regarding this group. Besides Feliz (13 saves), who is expected to become the closer again, the setup, long and middle relievers might not even be on the roster. Neal Cotts, who led the Rangers with 73 appearances, is a free agent and could sign elsewhere. There were some impressive efforts from Claudio (allowed a total of four runs in his 15 outings), Mendez (right-handed hitters hit .172) and Patton (27 of 35 retired). Klein and Edwards also showed some promise during the season, but they’re all young and could see more seasoning in Triple-A. Ogando is recovering from arm injuries and he could pitch at some point in 2015. The Rangers need to find a veteran setup man here unless the confidence grows on Claudio and Mendez. It's almost unfair to say Ross was bad as a starter and a reliever, but that's just the type of season he had. We expect him to improve next season as a lefty out of the bullpen. As a group, the Rangers had just 47 save opportunities, last in the big leagues, and that’s partially because of the club's poor overall season.

Position Breakdown: Starting pitching

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
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Our series on breaking down the Texas Rangers position by position continues with a look at starting pitching.

Starters: Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Nick Martinez, Miles Mikolas, Martin Perez, Tanner Scheppers and Nick Tepesch.

Most productive pitcher: Darvish

Least productive pitcher: Robbie Ross

Stat of note: Wins above average for starters was minus-6.1

Outlook: Injuries hampered the Rangers' entire 2014 season. The club’s rotation compiled a 4.75 ERA, third-highest in baseball and the highest since 2008 (5.51). The Rangers used 15 different starters, tied with Colorado for the major league lead and tied for fourth-most in club history. Darvish, Harrison, Holland, Mikolas, Perez and Scheppers were all lost to injuries of some sort. It led to some younger pitchers, such as Martinez and Tepesch, and making up the bulk of the rotation for roughly four of the six months of the season. Darvish (1.261 WHIP) was lost for nearly two months with inflammation in his elbow and Holland was limited to just five starts after his recovery from knee surgery. The most consistent starter was Colby Lewis (10-14 in 29 starts), and he’s a free agent. The club is in talks to bring Lewis back for 2015 and he’ll be a stabilizing force on the back end, unless the club fails to obtain a No. 3 starter to help Darvish and Holland. There are some promising pitchers (Perez for one) who won’t be available until later in 2015, and Harrison’s career is in doubt as he tries to recover from back surgery. Ross was in the rotation but his struggles will push him back to the bullpen. Is Lisalverto Bonilla a possible starter? Maybe, especially after becoming the first Texas pitcher to win his first three starts. GM Jon Daniels said finding starting pitching is a priority in the offseason, and if that’s the case, some young pitchers might not be around.

Rebuilding not an option for the Rangers

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
12:00
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Shin-Soo Choo, Prince FielderAP PhotosTexas is counting on Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder to be healthy and make an impact in 2015.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels is pretty direct in his expectations for his club in 2015: Win. Rebuilding isn’t an option.

In four consecutive seasons, the Rangers won at least 90 games. In that span, they also made it to the World Series twice.

In 2012, Josh Hamilton losing that fly ball in the California sun was symbolic of the Rangers' late season swoon.

The next season, a mid-September slump cost the the Rangers first-place and they tried to play catchup, but it was too late.

In 2014, after revamping the roster, injuries decimated the club.

What happens now?

The Rangers have a new manager and changes are likely coming to the starting rotation. They hope injured players, such as Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, recover and play a majority of the games in 2015. Daniels lost Ron Washington as his manager suddenly. He didn’t want to seek a new manager, but when it happened, the GM said there was some excitement in the front office because someone new was joining the team.

“Somebody that can help us and re-establish a winning culture,” Daniels said. “We had a rough year here, but this is a winning organization, a championship organization, and we want somebody that feels that passion for winning and can re-establish that after a rough year.”

(Read full post)

Position Breakdown: Outfield

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
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We continue our position series on the Rangers with a look at the outfield.

Outfielders: LF/RF Jim Adduci, CF/LF Michael Choice, LF Shin-Soo Choo, CF Leonys Martin, LF Daniel Robertson and LF Jake Smolinski.

Most productive outfielder: Martin

Least productive outfielder: Choice

Stat of note: Martin finished fourth in the big leagues with DWAR of 2.3.

Outlook: Martin (career-high 194 total bases) improved as a center fielder and leadoff hitter (.298/.354/.391) yet there are still concerns. Ron Washington didn't trust Martin against left-handed pitching or as a leadoff man, Tim Bogar did. New manager Jeff Banister hasn't said where he'll place Martin. Choo (123 games) played through a bone spur and then an ankle injury the majority of the season. He was the leadoff man until his injuries forced him to the 60-day disabled list. Choo said he's willing to move down from the leadoff spot and also possibly move to right field, a position he's more accustomed to playing. If Choo moves to right, the Rangers might look to a player already on their roster or to free agency for left field. If the Rangers sign a corner outfielder, Adduci, Robertson and Smolinski will compete for the fourth outfielder spot. Ryan Rua is another possibility, but he looked shaky in the outfield at times last season. Robertson is a contact hitter and might have the lead as the No. 4 outfielder, but Smolinski, after recovering from his foot injury, hit the ball pretty well late in the season. Choice won a job in spring training but was demoted. Can Choice respond and make a push to earn a roster spot? Engle Beltre has battled through leg problems and his status is unknown at this stage of the offseason. He was rehabbing but then had to stop when more leg issues developed. He's a talented player who hit .292 in 92 games for Triple-A Round Rock in 2013 and the club still has hopes for him.

Tim Bogar moves on from the Rangers

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
6:50
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The Texas Rangers announced Monday night that Tim Bogar will leave the organization.

Bogar was hired after the 2013 season as bench coach and took over as interim manager when Ron Washington resigned in September. Bogar was considered the favorite to get the job full-time, but that position went to Jeff Banister, who was announced as the new manager Friday.

"Jeff Banister and I have both had discussions with Tim over the last few days as we began the process of putting a major league coaching staff together, and we have decided that it is best for us to go in another direction," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said in a statement. "I have indicated to Tim that he has the option of accepting another position within the organization and, at present, he is going to look at other potential opportunities. I want to thank Tim for his contributions to the Rangers this past season, especially as interim manager under some very difficult circumstances."

Bogar went 14-8 in place of Washington and was praised for his work in communicating and trying different things with the lineup, such as having Leonys Martin lead off and mixing in different players in the No. 3 spot.

Bogar conducted exit interviews with several players after the 2014 season ended, leading to more speculation he would get the manager's job. Daniels said Banister simply won the job over Bogar, and that it wasn't due to any negative action on Bogar's part.

The Rangers are in Surprise, Arizona, this week, conducting interviews to finalize the coaching staff and to get Banister updated on several players in the Arizona Fall League.
According to the New York Daily News, Texas Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan will not become the New York Yankees hitting coach.

Magadan had spoken with both New York teams about becoming their hitting coach.

Rangers officials had given their coaches an opportunity to look for other jobs until a new manager was hired. On Friday, Jeff Banister was named the new manager and he spoke with pitching coach Mike Maddux, bench coach Tim Bogar and Magadan about their futures.

Update: Rangers officials, which include GM Jon Daniels and Banister, will meet with Magadan on Thursday in Surprise, Ariz., to talk further about his status.

The Rangers are hopeful to keep all three but have an understanding if Bogar leaves for another job. He was the interim manager and along with Maddux interviewed for the full-time manager job but didn't get it.

Bogar didn't return a call seeking comment.

With Magadan getting interest from several clubs, including the New York Mets and Oakland Athletics, the Rangers expressed interest in Chili Davis but he was hired by the Boston Red Sox.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels said he hopes to have Banister's coaching staff in place by November.

"I'm looking for men who want to have a passion for people," Banister said regarding what he's looking for in a coaching staff. "They're difference makers and they love to prepare and they love to be a the ballpark and ultimately they want to see the success of every individual player. They want to learn and they don't know it all and they're willing to make adjustments when needed but also are going to carry the model that the name on the front of the jersey means more than the name on the back of the jersey and that they're family men, because this is our family for seven months."

Could Cespedes be a fit with the Rangers?

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
2:25
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Over the weekend, the Boston Globe reported the possibility of Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes being on the trade block. Cespedes was part of the Jon Lester deal with Oakland at the trade deadline.

Oakland wanted to improve its pitching for the stretch run of the season and Boston needed a power hitter for the future. Lester will hit the free-agent market, as expected, and Cespedes might be leaving the Red Sox.

Yoenis Cespedes
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonCould Red Sox slugger Yoenis Cespedes be a fit for the Rangers in left field?
Could the Rangers be a trade partner with the Red Sox?

Cespedes had a slash line of .296/.423/.719 in 213 plate appearances for the Red Sox last season and apparently is balking at moving to right field and wants to play left.

The Rangers, if a deal can be worked out, can accommodate Cespedes and move him to left field. Shin Soo-Choo, the Rangers left fielder in 2014, is a natural right fielder. Choo has 600 career games there and played right 12 times last season.

It seems Cespedes just wasn't happy in pressured-filled Boston. He had a 24-game stretch without a home run and just two RBIs in a 10-game period in September. He did finish the season with a hit in seven of the last eight games, with four multi-hit contests during that stretch.

(Read full post)

New manager Jeff Banister is a fighter

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
12:05
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Jeff BanisterAP Photo/Tony GutierrezAfter battling health issues for many years, Jeff Banister knows what really matters in life.
New Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister has the proper prospective on life. A two-game losing streak won’t get him down too much.

Banister’s life was shaped by growing up in La Marque, Texas, where he spent the majority of his time playing baseball and football and also battling health issues.

Banister lay in bed fighting bone cancer and osteomyelitis (an infection of the bone or bone marrow). Doctors told him paying sports was a remote possibility, but he kept dreaming that he would recover from the surgeries and chemo and be able to get out of bed and play ball.

“I guess my two parents instilled in me that you survive, that you push, that you endure, because the other option is not what I’m looking for,” Banister said. “I will say that my experience, why my passion runs so deep for baseball, there were nights laying in a hospital bed knowing I wasn’t going to get up and I couldn’t leave the room, that one thing I could do is I could dream. I could think about and I could challenge myself that when I got out of the hospital I would continue to play the game of baseball.”

Banister did get out of bed, fought cancer and was able to play college baseball for Baytown Junior College. He was good enough that a few big league scouts wanted to see him play.

A scout with the New York Yankees asked Banister to catch in a game. If he did well, maybe the Yankees would draft him.

In Banister’s mind, that’s what you do. You play hard and do what’s asked. It’s the way Banister’s father, a high school football coach, taught him.

His mother did the same. Two educators, instilling family values in their son.

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.18 133 170
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182