Texas Rangers: Edwar Ramirez
1. Chuck Greenberg said his group isn't likely to assume control of the team by Opening Day. But he also isn't surprised or worried about that. This is a complicated deal involving 40 lenders and it takes time to get everything in place. Greenberg says this won't impact his ownership. The timeframe looks like mid-April.
2. The club traded for infielder Gregorio Petit, sending RHP Edwar Ramirez to the A's to get him. Petit gives the club some more depth as they search for a utility infielder. The club is looking at other external options, but hasn't found anything that is better than what they already have in Joaquin Arias or Esteban German. Petit will get about 10 days to impress the Rangers. He appeared in 25 games the last two seasons with the A's. That utility infield position is an important one, especially considering Ian Kinsler is still not back to playing games yet. He expects to be back, but injuries pop up in the infield and it's critical to have someone ready to go that is reliable.
3. Some injury news: C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (muscle spasms in neck/back) will take some swings in batting practice on Thursday and, if all goes well, could DH in a minor league game on Friday. 2B Ian Kinsler is targeting Monday for a return to game action. He tested the ankle some on Wednesday, but hasn't run on it yet. He is swinging a bat off a tee. The Rangers are not concerned about his availability for Opening Day at this point. I talked with Kinsler on video today.
4. The bullpen was a topic of conversation today. Without C.J. Wilson in the bullpen (the Rangers have lined up their rotation for the season and that includes Wilson at this point), it alters things. Click here for a look at the bullpen, including a video I did with Chris Ray on Wednesday. BTW, Darren O'Day (bone bruse) threw on flat ground on Wednesday and will throw longer and with more intensity on Thursday. He said he usually finds his command pretty quickly in spring training, so he doesn't think it would take him too many innings to be ready for the season once he's cleared to get on a mound.
5. RHP Brandon McCarthy struggled again on Wednesday. He threw 45 pitches in a first inning where he gave up four runs. He ended up lasting just 3 1/3 innings and surrendered eight hits to go along with four walks and a strikeout. Manager Ron Washington said the club has not looked at McCarthy as a reliever, saying that McCarthy needs his routine. "I'm not going to say totally no to it, but it's not anything we've discussed," Washington said. The club could try to trade McCarthy or send him to the minors. He would have to clear waivers.
6. Check out Jim Reeves' column here on ESPNDallas.com about the Rangers catching situation. Reeves says it could be this club's Achilles' heel this season.
The Rangers had acquired Ramirez from the New York Yankees on March 9 for cash considerations. He had a 5.73 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 22 innings of work (20 relief appearances) with New York in 2009. The Rangers did not option Ramirez before making the trade, so that option transfers with him to Oakland.
Petit, who had a .278 batting average in 54 at-bats over the past two seasons for the Athletics, comes into the Rangers camp as a non-roster infielder. Infielder Hernan Iribarren was cleared through waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The Rangers continue to look for utility infield options. Petit will have a short time to try to impress the Rangers as they figure out the final roster decisions prior to the season. Joaquin Arias and Esteban German remain the leading candidates internally. The club is still evaluating and probably will be right up until the end of spring training.
* 2B Ian Kinsler said he is "progressing smoothly" right now with his right high ankle sprain. Of course, that means he's doing very little in the way of baseball activity. He did say he was going to throw today to keep his arm strength up. But he's doing some fast walking, but not running and basically taking it easy to make sure it's completely healed before he returns. "I want to make sure I can rotate it by the time the season starts," Kinsler said. "It's getting better everyday." Kinsler didn't put a timetable on a return, but the Rangers said he's still looking at that 7-day window. Stay tuned.
* Michael Kirkman said he's fine and has been cleared to resume baseball activities after a line drive hit him in the ear. Kirkman said he knew he was OK when he was walking back behind the mound and only felt a little ringing in his ear. "The ball bounced in the dirt and came at me quick," Kirkman said. "If that's anywhere besides the desert, I'm not sure it isn't just a ground ball back to the mound that I field."
* OF Brandon Boggs (shoulder) has no limitations and RHP Warner Madrigal (forearm soreness) is still scheduled to have an MRI today with the results coming tomorrow.
* The Rangers have a "B" game on Tuesday and Luis Mendoza, Guillermo Moscoso, Omar Beltre and Edwar Ramirez are scheduled to pitch.
* RHP Neftali Feliz and LHP C.J. Wilson will pitch back-to-back in Mesa against the Cubs on Tuesday. Both are scheduled to pitch four innings. RHP Pedro Strop will pitch one inning after them.
Ramirez did not have a strong 2009, with a 5.73 ERA in 22 innings pitched. Opponents hit .281 against him. Because of his plus changeup, Ramirez was used against lefties even more than righties by the Yankees. But lefties hit .302 against him last season.
What the Rangers hope is that a new environment and opportunity can rekindle the 2008 Ramirez. That pitcher had a 3.90 ERA and a 5-1 record in 55 1/3 innings. He was a reliable part of the Yankees bullpen and had 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
ESPN.com's Rob Neyer wrote about Ramirez a few weeks ago. First, he noted what River Avenue Blues said about Ramirez when he was designated for assignment:
Chan-Ho Park finally made it to Tampa today, and to clear a roster spot on the 40-man, the Yankees have designated Edwar Ramirez for assignment. Ramirez, entering his age 29 season, has been with the Yanks since mid-2006. Over parts of three seasons with the big league club, he has appeared in 96 games and has thrown 98.1 innings. He has a career ERA of 5.22 and an impressive K/9 IP of 10.6, but he’s also walked 5.1 guys per 9 and has a tendency to give up the long ball.
His “Bugs Bunny” change-up can be devastating, but he’s struggled to find consistency in his stints in the Majors. I’d imagine some other team will pick him up quickly.
Neyer said that's a good way to describe Ramirez's career with the Yankees. But he adds some thoughts of his own:
When the Yankees found Ramirez, he was pitching for the Edinburg (Texas) Coyotes in the independent United League. Having already washed out of the Angels' system, Ramirez had somewhere picked up one of the best changeups anybody had ever seen. In the minors, anyway. The very next year, Ramirez was pitching in Yankee Stadium.
Obviously, Ramirez has walked far too many hitters in the majors, perhaps because he's afraid to throw strikes, which might be smart because he's also given up far too many home runs in the majors. There's a tendency to write Ramirez off, which the Yankees seem to have done. He throws his fastball just 88 miles an hour and his slider is essentially a throwaway pitch. But he's still got all those strikeouts, and whether they're meaningful or not, I suspect there are a few pitching coaches out there who would like to find out for themselves.
That, apparently, includes Mike Maddux. It will be interesting to see which Ramirez they get.
FanGraphs also shared some thoughts on Ramirez. Among those:
It’s hard to imagine Ramirez making it through waivers. Sure, there are probably still some teams that look at a reliever with a 5.19 ERA and a sub-90 mph heater and blow him off, but this isn’t 1999. Many, probably most teams look deeper. Ramirez’s strikeout rate in the major leagues from 2007-2009 is 10.62 per nine innings. That is higher than Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano, Joe Nathan, and Jose Valverde, among others.
Of course, during the same period, Ramirez also walked 5.13 batters per nine innings, leaving him with a decidely below-average 2.07 K/BB ratio. To make matters worse, 2009 was by far Ramirez’s worst major league performance in both areas, with his K/9 dropping from 13.29 in 2007 to 10.25 in 2008 to 9.00 in 2009, at the same time his walk rate ballooned to its highest yet, at 7.36 in 2009.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.