I bet your baseball mind, like mine, can’t stop thinking about how two major acquisitions will impact the Texas Rangers this season. Greg Maddux and Tony Fernandez are the names in my mind. That’s what you were thinking, too…right?!?
“The biggest offseason acquisitions were Yu Darvish and Joe Nathan, but these two guys (Maddux and Fernandez) have made a huge impact so far,” Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said on a recent edition of Rangers Magazine (Saturdays, 10-11 a.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM). “When you bring in guys who have had storied careers like Tony and Greg have had, you don’t exactly know the role they are going to play for you. You bring them in because they are great people, they’ve had great careers and they have great knowledge they can share with the staff, but you truly don’t know how much they are going to get involved.”
Levine said Maddux usually arrives at the complex in Surprise, Ariz., around 6 or 6:30 a.m. He’s worked with pitchers in every way possible, including their fielding, and shared information on keeping a chart and what to look for when looking at video. Maddux has 355 career wins, is a four-time National League Cy Young Award winner, an 18-time Gold Glove pitcher, and he won a World Series with Atlanta in 1995.
“[Maddux] will talk to you about every single one of our pitchers, how excited he is about them, how he’s had a chance to sit down with them, tell Neftali Feliz how he sees a lot of John Smoltz in him,” Levine said.
Fernandez came to the Rangers to work with the infielder prospects in the Rangers' minor league system, but he has also lent his expertise to the major league infielders.
“We thought it would be good to have him come in, offer some mentorship, but what we weren’t necessarily expecting his impact he’s had on the big league side, which has been terrific," Levine said of Fernandez, who was a four-time Gold Glove shortstop, five-time All-Star and a World Series winner with Toronto in 1993. "I think we are now trying to figure out a way to have him around the club more and more.”
Levine also discussed why he visits with scouts who sit behind home plate at Cactus League games, left-handed relief -- including the story of Neil Cotts -- the debate of whether Josh Hamilton should be the everyday center fielder, contract negotiations with current players, free agent signings pre-World Series run compared to now and more. Listen to the podcast.
Bryan Dolgin is the host of the Rangers' pregame and postgame shows on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and the Texas Rangers ESPN Radio Network. Follow him on Twitter @RangersRadioBD.