Texas Rangers: Chris Ray

Jon Daniels gets deserving honor as top exec

December, 4, 2010
Jon Daniels was named Baseball America's 2010 Major League Executive of the Year on Friday. There's little doubt he deserved that one. And the timing is fitting leading into the Winter Meetings.

It was last year at the Winter Meetings that Daniels really started putting together a World Series team. He traded Kevin Millwood to free up space in a tight budget. That enabled him to eventually sign Rich Harden, Vladimir Guerrero and Darren Oliver. Going 2-for-3 on that front wasn't bad. But to review what Daniels did in less than a year to put this team on its way (note that this isn't all of it, but some of it):

* Traded Millwood to sign other free agents, including the guy that led the team in RBIs (Guerrero)
* Signed Colby Lewis out of Japan
* Moved C.J. Wilson from reliever to starter
* Acquired Andres Blanco and Matt Treanor before spring training ended
* Traded Chris Ray and Michael Main to get catcher Bengie Molina
* Traded for Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman in an effort to help bolster club at deadline
* Made the biggest acquisition of the season in getting Cliff Lee from the Mariners
* Found time to attend a court hearing or two and did all of this with the team in bad financial

There's, obviously, more to list, but you get the point. Few executives did what Daniels did and they weren't GMs of a team in bankruptcy.

What are the Rangers getting in Molina?

July, 1, 2010

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Rangers are expected to finalize a deal already agreed to with the Giants that makes catcher Bengie Molina a Ranger and sends reliever Chris Ray to San Francisco. So what does the deal mean for the Rangers? What can the club expect? A few things:

* Molina, who turns 36 in July, is a career .275 hitter. He isn't batting at that level this season, but his .257 batting aveage in 2010 is still 20 points higher than Matt Treanor. That's no shot at Treanor, who has gotten some key hits and given this team an anchor behind the plate. But Molina throughout his career has been a better hitter. The catching spot has yielded a .212 batting average so far this season for Texas, lowest in the majors. But Molina's slugging percentage is also more than 100 points lower.

* I talked to someone who has been around the Giants clubhouse the last few years to give me a scouting report. Let's start with defense. He said Molina's arm is decent and that the Giants pitching staff is difficult to catch and not very good at holding runners, which hurt Molina's numbers. But teams aren't afraid to run on him. He has had a sore left arm at times, but is healthy (he did get a cortisone shot for the arm a month ago).

* As for Molina's personality, the source tells me he's a good leader. His teammates liked him enough in San Francisco that he won the team award for most inspirational player in 2007 and 2008. That sounds like someone who should fit right in to the Rangers' clubhouse.

* The Rangers would likely option Max Ramirez and allow Treanor to back up Molina. I can tell you that in the Texas heat, especially come August, this club will need two catchers who can get the job done. So I think Treanor will certainly get his time.

* Bottom line: Molina still has something in the tank and should add to an already good clubhouse.

* It's a budget neutral deal, with cash coming back to Texas. So essentially they swap salaries. The Rangers will owe the rest of Molina's $4.5 million contract (some of that paid by the Giants in the form of sending cash). On a personal note, I'm sad to see Chris Ray go. He wasn't here long, but he was a good guy and a good teammate. This bullpen is particularly tight and I know it will be tough on them.

* Also, I think the emergence of Alexi Ogando made it easier for the Rangers to consider trading Ray. Ogando is showing he can pitch late and get outs, not to mention he's got good velocity.

What do you think of the trade? Does it make the Rangers better at catcher?

Source: Deal agreed to for Molina

June, 30, 2010
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A baseball source confirmed the Rangers have agreed to a trade for catcher Bengie Molina. Texas is sending Chris Ray and a player to be named later. They are receiving cash back as well to make it budget neutral. The deal is pending the normal approval process.

The move gives the Rangers a right-handed hitting veteran catcher with a career. 275 batting average for the bottom of the lineup. Molina turns 36 in July and is batting .257 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 61 games (202 at-bats) for the Giants this season. He is making $4.5 million this season, so he has about $2.5 million left on his contract.

Rangers drag to finish line at Miller Park

June, 12, 2010

It sure seemed Rangers pitching escaped several jams in a 4-3 win at Milwaukee on Saturday, barely surviving bases-loaded situations in the ninth.

Scott Feldman turned in a quality start, allowing four hits and no runs while walking three. A good chunk of those hits led off the inning for the Brewers, but the home team could not capitalize against Feldman.

Milwaukee managed to score a run in the eighth off Frank Francisco to bring them within 4-1. But closer Neftali Feliz had control issues in the final frame, allowing a bases-loaded single to Rickie Weeks that cut the Rangers lead to two with one out and three still on. He gave way to Chris Ray, who permitted one of the runs to score on Corey Hart's fielder's choice that produced an out at second. He followed by getting Prince Fielder to fly out to left to end the threat and the game.

Josh Hamilton went 1-for-4 and delivered his 14th home run of the year, a solo shot off Manny Parra in the sixth. Justin Smoak and David Murphy drove in the other two Rangers runs.

Michael Young's infield hit in the first inning put him just two away from Ivan Rodriguez's franchise record. Young's at 1,745 all-time in a Rangers uniform.

Rangers stay in slump, fall 8-3 to Twins

May, 29, 2010

The Twins stormed back against the Rangers in a span of about an inning and 1/3 on Saturday, socking C.J. Wilson and Chris Ray for all of their eight runs in that span in defeating Texas, 8-3.

Orlando Hudson's two-run homer in the sixth tied the score and propeled the Twins, who erupted for six more runs in the seventh. Wilson left the frame having loaded the bases and without recording an out, and Ray's entry opened the floodgates for Minnesota from the first pitch on.

Julio Borbon provided two RBIs for the Rangers, whose other run came courtesy of two Twins errors in the eighth.

The Rangers have lost five of six and are in danger of falling a half game out of first place in the AL West if Oakland beats Detroit tonight.

Twins pound Rangers with 6 in seventh

May, 29, 2010
Chris Ray couldn't rescue C.J. Wilson from the Twins' surging bats in the seventh.

Delmon Young bashed Ray's first offering in relief of Wilson to deep left for a bases-loaded double -- and that was only the beginning of the onslaught.

Ray would give way to Dustin Nippert, who stopped the bleeding only after the Twins had taken an 8-2 advantage. It was the Twins' second-biggest inning all year.

To think that the Rangers held a 2-0 lead with an out to go in the sixth.

No hard feelings from Kevin Millwood

May, 19, 2010
ARLINGTON -- Last December, the Rangers traded RHP Kevin Millwood to the Orioles for RHP Chris Ray.

Millwood returns to the place he called home for four seasons with the Orioles. He won't pitch in this series. He still has a home here. His kids, however, go to school in Georgia, and he has no hard feelings about the trade.

"No, it’s a business," said Millwood, who went 48-46 with the Rangers with four Opening Day starts. "The game is a business. Nothing I can do about it, no reason to whine about it. I just move on and go on about my business."

Millwood said he enjoyed his time in Texas and is getting used to life in Charm City. He joked about learning a lot about America because of how close Baltimore is to Washington, D.C.

This season, Millwood is 0-4 with a 3.65 ERA in nine starts. In his last four starts he's gone into the seventh inning, yet is still winless for the Orioles (13-27).

"There's nothing I can do about it," Millwood said of his 2010 stats. "All I can do is pitch, and whatever happens, happens. I think I've done a good job of keeping us in ballgames."

Rangers' bullpen is going the distance

May, 19, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- To nail down two wins over the Los Angeles Angels Monday and Tuesday, Rangers manager Ron Washington had to roll the dice with eight relief pitchers over 8 1/3 innings -- nearly a full game.

The bullpen pulled through with scoreless relief in both games. In the last five games, which includes the two big wins over L.A. in Arlington and three consecutive losses at Toronto, the Rangers have received one quality outing from their starters. The bullpen, which leads the American League in innings logged, threw 16 1/3 innings.

"At some point we're going to have to start getting more out of the starters, but [Monday] night and [Tuesday night] we needed them and they showed up. That's their job," Washington said. "We get to the point where we want to back off, but we have to do what we have to do to try to win a ballgame. Those guys want the ball. I know at some point it might catch up with us."

After rallying from a 7-3 deficit to take an 8-7 on the Angels Tuesday, the Rangers relied on middle relief from Dustin Nippert, Darren O'Day and Chris Ray, and late-inning relief from Frank Francisco and flame-throwing closer Neftali Feliz.

O'Day's sixth inning, in which he struck out two and allowed one hit, earned him his first win since May 22, 2009 at Houston. He's now retired 20 of the last 23 batters he's faced.

On Monday, Nippert, former Angel Darren Oliver and Feliz closed the door over 3 2/3 innings.

With Baltimore in town for two games starting tonight, the bullpen is hoping it won't have to continue a similar work schedule.

"I don't think anybody wants to see that," Darren O'Day said. "No bullpen can maintain four to five innings a night, but if we have to battle, so be it if that's what it takes to win games."

Jays complete sweep of Rangers, 5-2

May, 16, 2010

The Rangers outhit Toronto, 9-3, on Sunday, but the Blue Jays made the most of their hits to complete a three-game home sweep with a 5-2 victory.

On the bright side, the Rangers will return home with no worse than a one-game lead over the Oakland Athletics. The A's lost the first two of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, with Game 3 on Sunday afternoon. The third-place Angels, who trailed the Rangers by three games pending the result of their third game against the A's, come to Arlington for a quick two-game series Monday and Tuesday. (UPDATE: The Angels completed the sweep and come to Texas 2 1/2 games behind the Rangers and a half-game behind Oakland.)

* The efficient Blue Jays went 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position and stranded four runners. The Rangers didn't take advantage of their chances, going 2-for-8 with RISP and stranding five. The Rangers hit into three double plays and had a runner caught stealing.

* Each team loaded the bases once. When the Jays did it with two outs in the sixth, John Buck's double plated three runs. Texas did it with no outs in the seventh, but pinch hitter Vladimir Guerrero grounded into a double play and the Rangers only mustered one run in the inning.

* The Blue Jays' pitching staff pumped up its strikeout totals during the three-game sweep with 11 more. The Rangers struck out six times Friday and 12 more times during Saturday's shutout by Ricky Romero. Nelson Cruz (four strikeouts in four at-bats) and Josh Hamilton (three) had the toughest time making contact for the Rangers on Sunday. That's seven strikeouts in his last eight at-bats for Hamilton.

* The Rangers' relievers did their job, with 2 1/3 hitless innings. Chris Ray walked the first batter he faced, but the bullpen retired the next seven hitters, five by strikeout, to finish up. Darren Oliver and Frank Francisco each struck out two in an inning of work.

Ray takes over for Lewis in sixth

May, 16, 2010
The good news was that Colby Lewis only allowed three hits Sunday. The bad news is that one of them was a bases-loaded double and another was the home run by Jose Bautista that finished Lewis off with two outs in the sixth.

Chris Ray came in and finished the sixth inning. The Rangers have three innings to overcome a 5-1 deficit if they want to avoid being swept Toronto.

Bautista's homer came on Lewis' 111th pitch. Lewis' final line: 5 2/3 innings, three hits, five runs (all earned), five strikeouts and four walks.

He has 54 strikeouts for the season, which ties him for fourth in the AL with Boston's Jon Lester.

Game thoughts: Rangers fall in 12 innings

April, 21, 2010

BOSTON -- Some quick thoughts after the Rangers' 8-7 loss in 12 innings to Boston. Kevin Youkilis hit a double to score the winning run.

* The Rangers lose for the sixth straight time. They had a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the second, but couldn't hold it. Then they came back with a three-run homer to tie it in the seventh, only to have Boston win in 12 innings.

* Dustin Nippert pitched well in the 11th, but struggled in the 12th. The Rangers decided to intentionally walk Dustin Pedroia to get to Kevin Youkilis and Youkilis came through with a double off the wall in center to win it.

* Josh Hamilton had a solid game. And he sure did need it. Sure, the home run was the big hit. He blasted one to straightaway center with Elvis Andrus and Julio Borbon on base to tie the score in the seventh inning. But Hamilton was having a good game before the homer.

He started with a patient first at-bat, walking with two outs. He also ran the bases hard, going from first to home on a long double by Vladimir Guerrero to give the Rangers an early lead. Give Dave Anderson some credit for not hesitating in sending Hamilton, who was safe easily. But that's the kind of run the Rangers want to score: patient at-bat, aggressive baserunning, timely hitting.

He also had a single in the second on a 1-2 pitch to drive in a run. And he started off the 10th inning with an opposite-field hit off Jonathan Papelbon.

* SS Elvis Andrus is getting the hang of this leadoff thing. First, he a walking machine. He has a team-high 11 walks. Andrus struck out in the first (seeing five pitches) and then made Josh Beckett work with a seven-pitch walk to put runners on the corners in the second. He then stole second to eliminate the double play with one out and scored on Hamilton's single. Andrus dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt to get Borbon over to third in the fourth (he was called out on a close play at the plate) and walked again in the sixth.

* RHP Neftali Feliz threw some serious heat in the bottom of the ninth and 10th, consistently hitting 100 mph on the Fenway Park radar gun. He had three strikeouts in facing the minimum six batters. A few Boston writers were quite impressed.

* OF Julio Borbon had a very good game. He made a diving catch in center on the first batter for the Red Sox in the game (Marco Scutaro) and then tripled in his first at-bat, driving in the club's second run. His speed also meant that a fly ball hit to right field -- even one that might not be very deep -- scored him. He singled and stole a base in the fourth and got on base (via an error on the first baseman, but I think he probably would have been safe on an infield hit anyway...either way, Borbon's speed made the Red Sox rush things). He scored on Hamilton's homer.

* It was a controversial play at home plate in the fourth inning. Michael Young hit a fly ball to center and Borbon tagged and came home. He slid (maybe a little too soon) and was called out when home plate umpire Brian O'Nora ruled that he didn't tough the plate. The replay shows that Borbon may have barely touched it with his left hand. Borbon wasn't happy about it and Washington argued, but it was an inning-ending double play.

* It was not LHP Matt Harrison's night. He started off very efficient, but had some control problems in the third. He walked the leadoff hitter (never a good thing) and singles by Bill Hall and Marco Scutaro loaded the bases for J.D. Drew, who hit one to the short porch in right field for a grand slam. That turned a 4-1 Rangers lead into a 5-4 deficit. Harrison lasted just four innings (he gave up a walk to start the fifth). It ended his string of quality starts and allowing one earned run in at least six innings pitched.

* An overall good job by the Rangers' bullpen, being asked to work extra after Harrison went four and the game went into extra innings. That included (but not limited too):

-- RHP Chris Ray could end up being a power righty for the eighth inning for this team. He came in for the seventh on Wednesday to face the heart of the order and got Dustin Pedroia swinging for the first out. Youkilis popped up on a 3-1 pitch and Lowell flied out to right. It was a 1-2-3 inning for Ray, who is showing good form of late.

-- RHP Darren O'Day also got a 1-2-3 inning, including a fly ball out to Darnell McDonald in the eighth, which was his first out in a Red Sox uniform.

-- Washington saved RHP Dustin Nippert for the extra frames and he came in and got three outs in the 11th to keep the game going. He eventually gave up the winning run in the 12th.

More thoughts to come later.

Is Chris Ray flying under the radar?

April, 19, 2010
BOSTON -- One pitcher we haven't talked much about this season is reliever Chris Ray.

He was part of the Kevin Millwood trade and had some soreness in an area near his shoulder in spring training and struggled at times in Surprise, Ariz. But he was on the Opening Day roster as someone with experience in pitching in close games late.

Ray gave up a run on a homer in a win against Seattle on April 9. It's the only run he's allowed all season in 4 1/3 innings. He got all three batters he faced against the Mariners on April 11. He struggled against the Indians in a Rangers' win, getting the first two hitters, but walking the last two.

"I was up a few times warming up and I think I just ran out of gas," Ray said. "I'm building up that strength, but that day I just ran out."

But Ray rebounded Saturday against the Yankees, he got three batters in eight pitches, six of them strikes.

"I feel good physically and that's an improvement over last year," Ray said. "I'm long tossing every day and getting my endurance up. I feel it getting there every day. I feel like my stuff has been good and I'm finding some consistency with my command."

Ray seems to be gaining confidence and could become an important asset in a bullpen with some quality late-inning options.

Chris Ray

Game thoughts: Rangers fall 7-3 in NY

April, 17, 2010

NEW YORK -- Some quick observations from the Rangers' 7-3 loss to the Yankees. Click here for a replay of today's in-game chat.

* The Rangers' offense continues to sputter a bit. After falling behind 7-0, the Rangers tried to start to claw back into it as Chris Davis hit a double -- his fourth of the season -- and Joaquin Arias singled. An Elvis Andrus walk loaded the bases with one out for Julio Borbon. But the leadoff hitter, who has struggled at the plate to start the season, took a swing at the first pitch and popped it up. It just seems that the club hasn't been able to string the hits together enough to create some big innings and some momentum to build on.

* OF Nelson Cruz did provide a big blast to get the Rangers some runs in the eighth. He was 0-for-11 since his homer in Cleveland and had three strikeouts in his previous at-bats on Saturday before smashing a three-run homer to right-center in the eighth. It was his seventh of the season. It's the earliest a Rangers player has hit seven homers. Ian Kinsler hit seven in the first 13 games of 2007.

* Obviously, the Rangers' run production is higher in wins than losses. But the margin may surprise you. Texas is averaging 2.33 runs per game in losses and 6.00 runs per game in wins.

* It has not been a memorable last three days in terms of defense. The club had fielding issues late in the Cleveland, and some mishaps Friday and Saturday. The lastest troubles included Scott Feldman's attempted throw to first on a slow roller between the mound and first. Feldman got to the ball, but it looked like he rushed it and made a wide throw of first, pulling Davis off the bag. It was called a hit. Catcher Taylor Teagarden one-hopped a throw to second that allowed another run to score in the third. He was charged with an error. A broken bat hit by Mark Teixeira in the second seemed to confuse Joaquin Arias (the bat was headed toward him too).

* Feldman didn't have his best stuff on Saturday. A high pitch count early in the game hurt him. He threw 73 pitches in just 2 1/3 innings of work, matching the shortest outing of his starting career (last year vs. Detroit on July 29 was the last time he threw that few innings of work). Feldman's throw to first that pulled Davis off would have ended the second inning. Instead, he had to throw 19 more pitches and surrendered another run. A 10-pitch at-bat from Nick Swisher also drove up the pitch count. Feldman threw 38 pitches in the second inning alone.

* The Yankees love seeing pitches. Coming into Saturday's game, they were sixth in the majors in pitches per plate appearance (thanks Elias Sports Bureau). And they made sure Feldman had to throw a bunch of them early. Rich Harden starts Sunday and he's had high pitch counts this season. The Yankees aren't likely to make that any easier on him.

* Speaking of seeing pitches, Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report makes a good point in his post sent out during the game. Newberg notes that Rangers starters were throwing 4.10 pitches per batter before Saturday's game and that number went up some after today's game. That's the highest in baseball. And the Rangers hitters were seeing 3.64 pitches per plate appearance, the lowest in the American League. Newberg writes: "When the gap begins to narrow between those two composite numbers, it’s going to feel like we’re another step closer to being where this team is capable of being."

* 1B Chris Davis had two hits off righty A.J. Burnett -- a single and a double. But he struck out against lefty Damaso Marte in the eighth. Davis is 7-for-24 (.292) against righties and 1-for-11 (.090) with 7 strikeouts against lefties.

* DH Vladimir Guerrero must feel good. He keeps running the bases aggressively. He went from first to third on Davis' single up the middle in the sixth. He isn't the fastest runner, but he runs hard.

* RHP Chris Ray had a good outing. He needed just eight pitches (six of them strikes) to get three outs in the seventh.

* C Taylor Teagarden was 0-for-3 on Saturday with two strikeouts and a walk. He is now 0-for-18 with 13 strikeouts and three walks to start the season.

* OF Julio Borbon was 0-for-5. He's now 3-for-36 to start the season.

Feliz gets out of Ray's 8th-inning jam

April, 14, 2010
When Chris Ray walked two batters in the eighth with the Rangers leading by four runs, it became a save situation.

So Ron Washington didn't hesitate to bring in his closer in need of four outs to save the game. Neftali Feliz needed two pitches to get Asdrubal Cabrera to fly out to center and end the eighth-inning threat. The Rangers led, 6-2, heading into the ninth.

UPDATE: Feliz walked a batter in the ninth but needed just 18 pitches to get the final four outs and earn his second save in two tries.

Chris Ray

Game thoughts: Rangers fall in finale

April, 3, 2010
FRISCO, Texas -- Lefty Matt Harrison was hoping to work on his backdoor pitches in Saturday's 10-7 loss to Kansas City

"But I fell behind 2-0 and 3-0 on too many batters and didn't get a chance to work on it," Harrison said. "I couldn't get in a groove there early, but the third and fourth innings I felt better and made some pitches."

Harrison ended up allowing five runs on seven hits in five innings of work. He had a walk and three strikeouts. But overall, Harrison said he's ready for the season and his first start, which is against the Mariners on Saturday.

""After coming off the surgery, I thought I came in as strong as I could be," Harrison said. "I was ready to work on every aspect of my game and get ready for the season and I think I did that this spring. I got back to what I was doing last year."

Manager Ron Washington felt that Harrison didn't have his rhythm, as evidenced by hitting Kendall with two strikeous on him and later hitting Thorman as well.

The Ragners finish spring training 10-19-1, but Washington isn't worried about the overall record.

"They are ready to go," Washington said. "I feel good about it, I really do. I think my regular guys have been out there doing a pretty good job."

Other game thoughts:

* OF Nelson Cruz (jammed thumb) returned to the lineup and concluded a sensational spring in style. He was 2-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI and hit .364 this spring.

* Vladimir Guerrero a double and scored a run in leading off the fourth inning. Guerrero ran the bases hard, getting to second on his double down the line and scoring on Nelson Cruz's double. Guerrero didn't homer in the spring, but he had seven doubles and 10 RBIs and hit .333, which is solid production.

* It was an up and down game for Julio Borbon. He bobbled a ball in right-center as he tried to back hand it and then made a poor throw to the cutoff man (he was charged with an error). He was also caught stealing with two outs in the first. But Borbon also had two singles and an RBI and hit .326 this spring.

* RHP Chris Ray had a tough inning (though a rough defensive play in right field didn't help him). He ended up allowing five runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout in 1/3 of an inning. That bumped his spring ERA to 9.00.

"Whatever he had in his system, I hope that was it and he got it out," Washington said. "We still believe in Chris and we still think he can get some outs. We'll go through the year and see how it goes. We're confident he can help us."

* RHP Doug Mathis got through his inning without allowing a run (one hit, one walk, one strikeout).

* 1B Ryan Garko had two hits on Saturday, including a double. He also bobbled a ground ball hit at him. It was scored a hit, but he was frustrated he didn't make the play. The plan is for Garko to spell Chris Davis against tough lefties this season.

* A few stories from earlier today for you to look at. The Rangers are likely to split the catching duties (at least that's the plan) and Chuck Greenberg said the transfer of ownership is on track to happen the week of April 19th.



Yu Darvish
10 3.06 182 144
BAA. Beltre .323
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 69
RA. Beltre 68
OPSA. Beltre .874
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182