Texas Rangers: Kyle Lohse

Buzz: Pierzynski sent for MRI on oblique

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
7:15
PM CT
MILWAUKEE -- Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski was sent for a precautionary MRI exam on his ailing right oblique. Pierzynski was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day while the team awaited the results of the test.

"It's something he's been dealing with and he said he's played with it," manager Ron Washington said. "So we just wanted to get a precautionary MRI and get some fact on it. We don't know what's happening right now. But if I need him to catch tonight, if for some reason [Geovany] Soto goes down, he can do it."

Pierzynski was given a regular day off on Monday and was originally in Tuesday's starting line up before being scratched with a flare-up of the oblique injury.

He said the injury is something that has been bothering him for a while and just hasn't gotten any better. After not starting the first two games of last week's three-game series against the Chicago White Sox, Pierzynski started the next four. On Sunday, he struck out in all four of his plate appearances against the Boston Red Sox and hasn't played since.

"I think Sunday was probably the height of [the pain]," Pierzynski said. "That's not an excuse for my performance on Sunday, but it doesn't help. I showed you all the bruising I had in there when I didn't play earlier in the week. That's kinda what we're trying to get out of there, and it's slowly gone away."

Pierzynski said he was hoping to avoid a DL stint but was unsure what would happen until they had the MRI results. Pierzynski has been on the disabled list only once in his career when he fractured his wrist while with the Chicago White Sox in August 2011.

"I like to play and I like to come every day to work and not miss days," Pierzynski said. "I work very hard in the weight room and with trainers to stay on the field. It's disappointing that something like this happens and you have to miss time with something that seems so minor. But at the same time, it affects you and you can't swing, it really only affects me when I swing."

Pierzynski is putting up a .263/.297/.411 line on the season with four home runs, as well as being the main catcher for one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.

Washington said no decision had been made as to who would replace Pierzynski on the active roster if a move were needed. However, Robinson Chirinos, currently getting the bulk of the playing time behind the plate at Triple-A Round Rock, would seem to be the logical choice since he's the only other catcher on the 40-man roster besides Pierzynski and Soto. Veteran catcher Eli Whiteside is also on the Round Rock roster.

Chirinos has a .295/.404/.487 slash line in 94 plate appearances with Round Rock.

(Read full post)

Matchup: Derek Holland vs. Kyle Lohse

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
1:30
PM CT


The Rangers wrap up a two-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night as Derek Holland takes on veteran Kyle Lohse. First pitch at Miller Park is at 7:10 p.m. on FSSW and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM (1540 AM in Spanish).

Holland (2-2, 2.74): Holland has lasted at least seven innings in five of his six starts this season. … He tossed eight shutout innings against the Boston Red Sox in his last start, striking out nine and throwing 112 pitches, both season highs. … Holland has allowed a .199/.244/.285 slash line to opposing hitters. … Holland has struggled in ten interleague starts, posting a 5.20 ERA and allowing nine home runs in 55 1/3 innings.

Lohse (1-3, 3.16): Lohse struggled in his previous outing, lasting only five innings and giving up a season-high 11 hits and four runs against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. … Lohse hasn’t walked more than one batter in any of his six starts this season and has a miniscule 2.1 percent walk rate, which is a vast improvement over his solid career rate of 6.6 percent. … Lohse has a 5.29 ERA in 35 interleague games (31 starts).

Hitters: When Lance Berkman (9-for-31, four home runs, six walks) hits Lohse, he hits him hard. Geovany Soto (6-for-18) has had some success against Lohse as well. … Only four Brewers have faced Holland (Yuniesky Betancourt, Carlos Gomez, Alex Gonzalez and Aramis Ramirez), with Gomez (1-for-3 with a HBP) being the only one to reach base.

Kyle Lohse to Rangers wasn't all that close

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
10:00
AM CT


MILWAUKEE -- Kyle Lohse didn’t sign with the Milwaukee Brewers until March 25 -- at the very back end of spring training -- in part because many teams were weary of losing a first-round draft pick that would come with signing the right-hander. Up until that point, it was rumored that the Texas Rangers might be interested in Lohse, who will take the mound against the Rangers on Wednesday.

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Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland joins GAC from Milwaukee to discuss what it was like facing former teammate Scott Feldman, Texas' upcoming series and more.

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Just how close were the Rangers to signing the veteran righty?

“Not close,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “We maintained a dialogue. There were two things: One, that we wanted to see if there was a possibility if MLB would consider a sign-and-trade type deal to protect our draft pick, but he had a market where he didn’t need to do that. And then, he had offers above what we would have considered, so we never made a proposal."

Lance Berkman, a former teammate of Lohse’s in St. Louis, said he discussed the possibility of Lohse joining the Rangers with both Lohse and Daniels. Berkman said Lohse’s interest in signing with the team was "high" and that the front office definitely had an interest in him.

“He’s great,” Berkman said of Lohse. “Great competitor, hard worker; I mean he’s everything you look for in a teammate. He’s been awfully good the last several years.”

Daniels added that it became a bigger topic of conversation when the Rangers' depth was tested with Colby Lewis already sidelined and Martin Perez going down with an injury early in March.

The attempt to do a sign-and-trade was something that never got very far along and isn’t technically even permitted under MLB rules.

“It had been speculated about in the media,” Daniels said. “And it had gotten that late in the offseason with the season right around the corner that we at least asked the question. Is this a case where it’s in everybody’s interest to consider it? But it was unnecessary because he had a market.”

Daniels said that if the players union and MLB had agreed to allow a sign-and-trade, it would have been an one-time deal special to this particular case and any team could have taken advantage of the sign-and-trade.

Daniels emphasized that losing a draft pick isn’t something that will prohibit the Rangers from signing a free agent. It just has to be the right guy, and apparently that wasn’t the case with Lohse.

“We’ve given up draft picks before, we gave one up for (Adrian) Beltre,” Daniels said. “It’s not the end all be all, in this particular case we were hoping to retain the draft pick. But rules are rules, and you can’t do that.”

Filling fifth-slot opening no easy decision

March, 17, 2013
3/17/13
9:51
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PEORIA, Ariz. -- This weekend offered a chance for a little more clarity regarding the competition for the Texas Rangers’ open fifth slot in the starting rotation with many candidates taking the mound. Not only did that not happen, the picture may have become even more cloudy.

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Fitzsimmons & Durrett are "Live in Surprise" all week for Rangers spring training. Pitcher Matt Harrison joins the guys to discuss the upcoming season.

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The most unexpected news came on Saturday, when the team announced an injury to Kyle McClellan. This setback took another candidate out of the running, as McClellan joins Martin Perez, who was pitching very well this spring, on the sidelines until May at the earliest.

McClellan had been sidelined for all of camp after returning from midseason shoulder surgery while a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. He threw two shutout innings in his spring debut on Tuesday and seemed to position himself as an additional contender for the job. He then experienced muscle soreness on Friday, leading to the discovery of the strained lat muscle.

LHP Robbie Ross was coming off his worst outing of the spring when he took the mound in Las Vegas on Sunday. He wasn't at his sharpest after allowing four hits and walking three in three innings. However, he didn't allow a run and struck out four, as he showed the ability to pitch out of jams in the second and third innings. Ross, who is looking to make the move from the bullpen to the rotation, became the unofficial leader for the fifth starter spot when Perez was injured. But Ross has struggled in his two starts since then.

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Manager Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett live from Surprise, Ariz., to discuss how the Rangers are looking heading into the 2013 season.

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Justin Grimm was shelled in his first two starts, but he cited a recent change to his mental approach for his much improved outing on March 10 when he allowed one run in three innings. He followed that up by throwing two scoreless innings on Sunday. Grimm walked two in his first inning of work, but set the side down in order during his second inning.

The rookie has a successful track record as a starter in the minors. If Grimm’s newfound success this spring continues, the 24-year-old right-hander may find himself in the rotation.

Randy Wells brings the most major league experience to the competition. But he has battled consistency issues during his starts. Wells is regularly allowing multiple base runners but figures a way to pitch out of jams. He also struggled with walks in his last start, which is another trend to watch. If Wells can reduce the number of base runners, then he could emerge the victor. Otherwise, the potential threat of a big inning once he is facing a lineup of all major league hitters may not be a risk the Rangers are willing to take.

There also are two dark horses to be added to the chatter:

One is rookie Nick Tepesch, who pitched well in his first three appearances but allowed three runs in five innings in his start on Saturday. He wasn't as sharp as previous spring outings but probably didn't pitch himself out of the conversation, even if it's as a longshot.

Another long shot could be reliever Michael Kirkman, who pitched three perfect innings in his start on Sunday in place of the injured McClellan. Kirkman has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in the majors over parts of the past three seasons, but he has been used as a starter in the minors. With improved control and a high strikeout rate, Kirkman may be a guy the Rangers' staff continues to stretch during the spring just to have another arm to consider.

Colby Lewis was pitching well as a starter for Texas in 2012, but he isn't expected to return to the Rangers until June 1 following elbow surgery last July. Team president of baseball operations/general manager Jon Daniels recently said Lewis was progressing slightly ahead of schedule but that the Rangers are taking a cautious approach with his pitching program.

Rangers management has said the preference is to stay in house to fill the fifth starter role. However, they may have reached the point -- due to injuries and with no clear leader currently on the roster -- that an outside acquisition may be necessary.

Kyle Lohse's name continues to swirl around as Texas and Milwaukee have been identified as the most likely landing spots for the free agent. Lohse comes with a hefty price though, as the team that signs him will have to give up its first-round pick as compensation. Also, Lohse's agent Scott Boras is reportedly seeking a high-priced three-year deal for his client.

If Texas does decide to go outside the organization, perhaps the Los Angeles Dodgers should be in their sights. The Dodgers are rich with starting pitching and ESPN's Buster Olney said in his Sunday column that Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano are available. This also would enable the Rangers to move Ross back to the bullpen, where he excelled last season.

The question is whether the Rangers are so anxious to add another piece, especially for a back-end rotation spot, which they would do so via trade. If so, Texas appears to be deep in the outfield and could possibly draw from that pool to make a move. Otherwise, they may have to pull from their system.

The silver lining in Texas trying to find a fifth starter is the team won't need to use someone in that slot until the second week of April, thanks to two off days during the first five days of the regular season.

With two weeks remaining in spring training, there is still time to let the competition play out, but time is starting to run out and a decision may need to come sooner than later.

Position battle update: No. 5 starter

March, 5, 2013
3/05/13
8:45
AM CT
The battle for the fifth starting spot in the Texas Rangers rotation is a point of interest during the early part of the 2013 Cactus League season. A number of players are competing for that slot and the race just became much more difficult to handicap following the injury to Martin Perez. The 21-year old rookie was positioning himself well prior to learning he would miss approximately two months due to a forearm fracture suffered during Sunday's game.

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With an off day today, this seemed like a good time to break down the candidates and where they stand in their quest for that final starting spot.

RHP Cody Buckel: Buckel has not performed well in either of his two spring appearances. In both outings, he was scheduled to throw one inning, but couldn't get three outs either time. In one inning, Buckel has allowed seven runs, on four hits, with five walks and two hit batters. The 20-year old was named the organization's minor league pitcher of the year in 2012 but it appears he still needs more seasoning before making the jump to the big leagues.

RHP Justin Grimm: Grimm may knock himself out of contention early in the competition. The right-hander has been hit hard in both starts, allowing nine earned runs on 10 hits in 4.1 innings. Grimm has struggled to keep his pitches down in the zone, which may ultimately lead to his undoing unless he quickly resolves the issue.

RHP Kyle McClellan: As one of two contenders with more than two major league starts, McClellan had an experience advantage over most of his competitors. Unfortunately for him, McClellan is yet to see action in a game, as he has been sidelined with a sore shoulder in his throwing arm. The longer spring, Perez' injury and the fact a fifth starter isn't needed until later in April may give McClellan a chance to stay in the hunt if he can return soon.

LHP Martin Perez: The unofficial leader in the competition, Perez was impressive with the improvement he displayed before getting injured during his second spring appearance. The left-hander likely won't return until May, at which time another pitcher, within or outside of the organization, may have a firm grip on the job.

LHP Robbie Ross: All Ross does is exceed expectations. He did so last season when he made the Rangers squad out of training camp as a non-roster invitee and he is doing so again in his second attempt to nail down the fifth starter spot. Ross has pitched well as a starter in the minor leagues, but his success with Texas has been as a reliever. He may become a victim of his own success though, unless the Rangers are comfortable they have enough other arms to round out the bullpen behind closer Joe Nathan.

RHP Nick Tepesch: Tepesch is the Ross of 2013. He came into camp as an unknown, non-roster invitee and all he does is pitch well. The even-keeled 6-foot-4 right hander has shown poise during the two appearances of his first major league camp. In five innings, Tepesch has allowed one run on four hits with five strikeouts.

RHP Randy Wells: If experienced mattered, Wells would be a slam dunk for the role. The 30-year old has a career record of 28-32 with a 4.08 ERA in 86 MLB starts. Wells has displayed craftiness during his two starts, as he's allowed eight hits and a walk in four innings but has found a way to limit the damage by only allowing two earned runs. Smoother outings later in the spring, as well as his experience could nab Wells the starting gig. His next start is on Thursday.

Other: Recent reports state the Rangers may have interest in free-agent right-hander Kyle Lohse or the Tigers' Rick Porcello and adding one of them to the rotation. The Perez injury, along with the early struggles of No. 4 starter Alexi Ogando, who is making the transition from the pen this season, may fast track a phone call. Let's also not forget Colby Lewis who is recovering well from his midseason elbow surgery and could provide the answer if Texas decides to piece meal the starts until he returns.

Does Kyle Lohse make sense now?

March, 5, 2013
3/05/13
8:00
AM CT
The short answer, at least right now, is no. That's not to say things couldn't change, but despite Martin Perez's broken bone in his forearm and the fact that it's four weeks before he even resumes a throwing program, the Texas Rangers shouldn't be rushing into anything with free agent Kyle Lohse.

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Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what his new title means and if it affects Nolan Ryan's role with the Texas Rangers.

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They should do what they're doing: Keep in contact with Scott Boras, but explore other avenues. ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin reports that the Rangers reached out to ask about the availability of Detroit pitcher Rick Porcello. He's 24 and was 10-12 with a 4.59 ERA in 2012. He's pitched at least 160 innings in each of his four seasons with the Tigers. That's not bad for a fifth starter.

The other thing about Porcello: We're talking about a trade here, which means no draft pick concerns. The problem with Lohse is that the Rangers would have to give up the No. 24 pick in the 2013 draft and the pool money that goes with it if they sign Lohse. They're not going to do that without getting him inked to at least a two-year deal. On one hand, the Rangers might have the leverage to get a deal that's favorable to them done with Lohse, who is still without a job here in March. But on the other, it's a lot to give up for a guy that would slot into a spot that may just be temporary.

Colby Lewis' rehab is going well. He's ahead of schedule. If he has not setbacks, he could return in May. If that's the case, why not cobble something together -- Robbie Ross or Randy Wells, for instance -- for the first six or eight weeks and then insert Lewis into the rotation? If the Rangers decided to skip the fifth starter spot based on off days in the first six weeks of the season, they could limit the number of starts needed by that position to five or six. Yes, the club would probably rather Ross start in the bullpen, but they may be forced to start him with limited options early. Wells, a long shot, has pitched well and will continue to get a look.

It just doesn't seem worth giving up the draft pick to add Lohse at this point. But watch Alexi Ogando, too. If he continues to struggle and the team thinks it has some big question marks at the Nos. 4 and 5 spots, maybe that alters things. Pitching depth is never a bad thing. That's why if you're Texas, you've got to check around. And if Lewis' progress gets stalled, that could certainly change things. For now, though, the Rangers should stay in a holding pattern with Lohse.

Do you agree?

Texas should save resources for trade later

February, 4, 2013
2/04/13
8:00
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We've talked about some of the holes the Texas Rangers could still fill on this 2013 squad. They still don't have a ton of depth in the lower-part of the starting rotation with the fifth spot up for grabs at this point with internal candidates. They don't yet know if they'll have to play without Nelson Cruz for 50 games this season, depending on what happens with MLB's investigation of the Miami New Times story.

Texas has some pieces that could entice teams to make a deal, if they wanted to poke around on filling some of these holes. But the reality is there aren't terrific options at this point via trade or free agency. Michael Bourn is a good player. But he doesn't hit for power and how comfortable are you giving a four- or five-year deal to a speed guy in his 30s? Kyle Lohse has pitched well and could help this rotation, but the long-term deal that agent Scott Boras requires may not be financially feasible either (or upgrade the club enough for the value, considering Texas can find out about one of its younger pitchers via the fifth-spot competition).

These needs, though, aren't likely to go away. Cruz is at the end of his contract anyway after 2013 and isn't likely to be re-signed, so the club has to look at alternatives there for the future. They are always wanting to build depth in the rotation and even with Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison at the top of that staff, another top-tier starter would be critical in keeping the contending window open longer for the Rangers.

Big names could be on the horizon. Besides an impressive free agent class heading into the 2014 season that includes some really good pitching options -- Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Brett Anderson and James Shields. As we've seen, the Rangers have had some trouble luring key pitching names to Arlington, most recently Zack Greinke. Plus, it's likely that Verlander, Kershaw and Hernandez re-sign with their current teams.

What about the trade front? David Price becomes a free agent after the 2014 season. Tampa Bay probably can't keep him, so they'd have to try to get as much value out of him as they could on the trade market, right? To be in the Price sweepstakes, you've got to have the assets. And they need to be young with upside.

Price is the kind of player that you at least have to consider putting any of your prospects on the table to acquire. That includes Jurickson Profar, though that may depend on whether the club thinks it can re-sign Elvis Andrus and if the Rays would consider a package that didn't include the highly-ranked shortstop. Texas can still put forth a competitive package without Profar, but only if they hang on to some of those key pieces now (like Mike Olt, Cody Buckel, Martin Perez, Leury Garcia and others). It might also mean being willing to deal a starting pitcher currently under contract, like Derek Holland or Harrison.

It isn't just about assets in the form of players, either. It's the financial flexibility (a term that offends Mavericks fans and may scare some Rangers fans) that helps too. Other names could pop up from teams that either aren't contending at the deadline and want to save money by unloading a player with a high salary. That could mean the Rangers need to give up players in a trade and not be afraid to pay big money to get a piece that could be the difference in making the playoffs and winning a championship.

To even have the opportunity to make a play at Price, the 2012 Cy Young Award winner and a guy who is 61-31 with a 3.12 ERA in his career (786 1/3 innings) and turns 28 in August, Texas must stay patient and keep its top trade pieces and money in the bank. That may mean not filling some holes right now exactly like they want, but getting the opportunity in July (and perhaps even next offseason as well).

Do you agree? Would you save those pieces now for a possible move later or is that risky? Is Profar untouchable or is there a deal where you'd move him?

GM talks Elvis Andrus extension and Upton

January, 28, 2013
1/28/13
10:00
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Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels went on The Front Office on MLB Network Radio on Sunday with Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden (an ESPN.com contributor) and discussed a few things. Here's some of what he said:

* Daniels reiterated that he doesn't believe his club will do anything major between now and when spring training starts. Of course, he won't rule anything out. While Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse seems like real longshots at this point, I'll remind you that it takes one phone call to get things going. So you never know. But Daniels is comfortable with the club as it's constructed and is prepared to go to spring as it is right now.

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* The Rangers weren't really "in" on Justin Upton after he vetoed Arizona's proposed trade with Seattle.

"Once the deal with Seattle went down and then ultimately didn’t, that was probably the end of our involvement," Daniels said. "Our deal had we done something with him was more prospect-oriented. I think (Kevin Towers') focus was, not that he wasn’t looking for prospects, but was looking for big league fits and got one with (Martin) Prado, and we weren’t looking to part with one of our shortstops.

"We just didn’t line up, so be both agreed to move on."

* Daniels said the club is interested in extended Elvis Andrus, but accepts that it could be a big challenge. Daniels noted that it's rare that a major Scott Boras client extends before free agency hits, though there are exceptions (Andruw Jones, Carlos Gonzalez, Jered Weaver).

"Those guys said, 'Hey, I don’t need top dollar. I don’t need to be the highest-paid guy. I want to be here.’ At some level, Elvis is going to have to say that. He’s expressed a desire to be here, but he hasn’t materialized to the point yet where I have a feeling one way or the other that it’s going to happen.

Right now, we probably do have to anticipate it’s going to be a challenging guy for us to sign, but we haven’t given up on that. We love the way Elvis fist on the club right now."

Surprise position outlook: No. 5 starter

January, 24, 2013
1/24/13
11:30
PM CT
Editor's Note: We finish off the starting rotation this week before heading to the bullpen as part of our spring training preview series.

Today's position: No. 5 starter

We've been able to assign specific names to each of the first four spots in the rotation -- Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando -- but that's not the case for the final spot.

[+] EnlargeKyle Lohse
Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports/US PresswireInternal candidates will compete for the No. 5 spot in the rotation unless the Rangers acquire a pitcher such as Kyle Lohse.
A lot of things could happen there. First, an outside option could still end up in the rotation. The Rangers have kept in contact with Scott Boras, the agent for Kyle Lohse, and if a deal for the veteran pitcher is reached, Lohse would slide in at that spot and there wouldn't be any open competition in the rotation.

But an internal fight is shaping up if Lohse isn't a Ranger. Texas has some pitchers that have either recently made their major league debut and want to get back for good or have pitched in another role and are looking to start or have come in as extra arms hoping to impress coaches and earn the job.

The main internal candidates: Justin Grimm, Martin Perez and Robbie Ross.

Grimm, 24, appeared in five games (two of them starts) for the Rangers in 2012, going 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA in 14 innings. He had a solid first big league start, struggled in his second and didn't get another chance after that as he was filling in while the club worked around some injuries.

Grimm spent the rest of the season in Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock and was 9-3 with a 1.72 ERA with 73 strikeouts and 14 walks at Frisco, helping him earn Texas League South Division All-Star team honors. He had a 25-inning scoreless streak as part of his stint in Double-A. At Round Rock, Grimm was 2-3 with a 4.59 ERA in 51 innings (nine starts). He had 30 strikeouts and 16 walks as he tried to adjust to Triple-A hitters.

Perez, who turns 22 in April, made six starts for the Rangers in 2012 and was 1-4 with a 5.88 ERA in those outings. He was recalled from Triple-A when Colby Lewis went on the disabled list on June 26 and made his big league debut the next night. He went back and forth, being used when needed based on depth and injury. He spent the rest of 2012 in Round Rock at 7-6 with a 4.25 ERA in 22 games (21 starts) in 127 innings with 69 strikeouts and 56 walks. He was inconsistent, but the club has shown plenty of faith in him and he's considered a top prospect.

Ross, 23, is the most experienced big leaguer of the group, having been one of the surprises of spring training last year. Ross came in to fight for a left-handed relief spot and pitched well enough to earn promotion to the big leagues despite just 38 innings in Double-A Frisco. Ross was 6-0 with a 2.22 ERA in 65 innings (58 appearances) for the Rangers in 2012. All of his action was out of the bullpen. He was 6-0 with a 0.95 ERA at the All-Star break. He ended up with 47 strikeouts and 23 walks.

Ross wants to start and has started in the minors. He was 9-4 with a 2.26 ERA in 21 games (20 of them starts) for Class A Myrtle Beach in 2011.

Others could wiggle their way into the discussion. The club has invited Kyle McClellan to camp as a starter, though he could end up in the bullpen. Perhaps Michael Kirkman surprises some folks. And others could be added to the mix between now and when spring training opens.

Who do you think will win the fifth starter competition? Will the Rangers sign someone else or do you think it's going to be an internal competition?

Hot Stove talk: Big names still remain

January, 16, 2013
1/16/13
9:34
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Perhaps the last thing the Texas Rangers fan base wants to hear is any talk of patience. So far this offseason the Rangers have seen Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton head to Los Angeles (one in each league), James Shields go to Kansas City and a gaggle of free agents come off the board.

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Jim Bowden joins Ben and Skin to talk about Mike Napoli's departure to Boston, Ian Kinsler's unwillingness to change positions, the future of Jurickson Profar and his belief that Justin Upton will be a Ranger by Opening Day.

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It wasn't for lack of trying., but the Rangers were only willing to go to a certain point on all of those guys. They battled for Greinke, but it seems clear he just preferred the Dodgers. Texas may not have been given a chance to counter-offer Hamilton, but they weren't going to give him five guaranteed years at $25 million anyway. Shields would have cost Jurickson Profar, if you match it up with what the Royals gave up. The offseason has not gone as the Rangers had hoped. But they have avoided the temptation to spend a ton of money on something they weren't comfortable doing, either.

Now, general manager Jon Daniels has to show a little patience while making it clear he's still searching for ways to improve the club and is ready to pounce when needed. Two of the bigger position-player options are still out there. Michael Bourn is a free agent and a Scott Boras client. We've discussed him on this blog recently (click here to read that). He's not a power hitter, but the 30-year-old Bourn has terrific speed (42 stolen bases last year) and scored 96 runs. He can play center field, a position that right now looks like a platoon between Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin. Daniels won't just sign Bourn to make a signing. But if the price drops as the season nears, he's worth a look.

Justin Upton is clearly a player that has interested the Rangers all offseason. And he's still out there. Sure, the Diamondbacks talk about taking all of their outfielders to spring training, but they've got too many. They've already tried to trade Upton once, nut he turned down a deal to the Seattle Mariners. If making that public was general manager Kevin Towers' way of letting everyone know the price for Upton, then it's too high. So the Rangers will sit. For now. But rest assured they'll keep tabs on this thing and as we get closer to spring training, perhaps a package involving Mike Olt and maybe a pitching prospect becomes something that entices the D-backs a lot more. It's also worth noting that how the club uses its big prospect pieces in a trade is a big deal. Olt, for example, is the type of player that must be used at just the right time for the right player. What if Giancarlo Stanton becomes available at the deadline, for instance? It's just something to consider. But Upton is certainly the caliber of player that you'd consider moving Olt at the top of a package to obtain.

Kyle Lohse is another free agent available (and one we've talked about) and price makes a difference here, too. Just like with Bourn and Upton, waiting things out on that front may not hurt, either. Yes, I know it's risky to take this approach after missing out on some offseason opportunities already. But with money to spend and a top farm system, the Rangers would be in a good position to bolster the club in a number of ways come July, if they choose. And this is still a team that has enough pieces to contend, though we've seen the Angels get even better this offseason.

No doubt bolstering the outfield and rotation would sure help. There are still ways to do that before spring training or the season starts. It requires patience, preparation and the ability to jump on a deal when the time is right. So far this offseason, the timing hasn't been what the Rangers wanted. But the offseason isn't over yet.

Hot Stove talk: Still want Kyle Lohse?

January, 15, 2013
1/15/13
8:00
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We talked about Kyle Lohse a month ago, noting that he was one of the top starting pitchers on the market outside of Zack Greinke.

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Coop and Nate discuss Ian Kinsler's comments about wanting to remain at second base for the Rangers.

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Well, Lohse is still out there.

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick just wrote about Scott Boras' clients, including Lohse, and noted that the Rangers could still use a starter. The question is whether Lohse fits the bill.

As with most things, cost -- money and draft picks -- will play a part in that decision. First, Lohse was offered a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer by the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason, so it would cost a draft pick (and the decrease in pool money) to sign him. Second, Boras is probably seeking a lengthy, multi-year deal.

The Rangers have Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando in rotation spots right now. Texas has stayed in contact with Boras and they have a need for one more starter. Lohse, 34, is coming off a 16-3 season with a 2.86 ERA in 33 starts for the Cardinals in 2012. He had 143 strikeouts and 38 walks. The numbers are solid.

Yes, he didn't do well in the American League at the beginning of his career with the Minnesota Twins. He had a 4.88 ERA and 51-57 record in 152 starts (172 games) in that span of nearly six seasons (he was traded to Cincinnati at the deadline in 2006). But Lohse has been in the National League since that trade and has a 4.07 ERA in 179 starts.

Lohse's numbers in the last four years are better. He's 55-35 with a 3.90 ERA with the Cardinals with 504 strikeouts and 200 walks. He relies more on his sinker now but still induces plenty of fly balls. As Crasnick points out, Ryan Dempster had a similar resume and that didn't turn out as well as the Rangers had hoped.

The reality is the Rangers could still use depth in the rotation. Perhaps Martin Perez or Justin Grimm or Robbie Ross step up in the spring and seize that job. But even if they don't, this club will probably need them at some point in 2013.

Injuries happen (see Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz) and you have to have depth to cover that. If the Rangers could find a starter who gets that spot, the younger pitchers could be waiting to help when needed as an important insurance policy.

But you can't do that at an inflated cost. That's what this could come down to. Lohse waited late to sign in March and got a one-year deal from St. Louis and earned his big extension after that. At 34, he's looking to cash in now. But if the market doesn't bust loose, perhaps he could come in on a one- or two-year deal. The club must weigh losing that draft pick as well (which may explain why Lohse is still out there).

Again, as I've stressed all offseason, this club has been careful not to get into a long-term deal it isn't comfortable doing that could handcuff it down the road. Lohse can help this team and makes sense, but only at the right price. There may be better options at the trade deadline, not to mention the return of Lewis and Feliz.

What do you think of Lohse? Has your opinion of him changed since we last talked about him a week before Christmas?

Rangers still working to fill some needs

December, 22, 2012
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Just because the Texas Rangers have missed out on some big names doesn't mean general manager Jon Daniels and his staff are simply shutting down for the offseason and hoping things work out in 2013.

There are a variety of ways to improve a club, and even if you can't do it with a big splash (and with this front office, an ownership group with money and a farm system with assets, a splash is always possible), you can do it in other ways.

The biggest need, if you ask me, was catcher. Geovany Soto is a fine backstop defensively and working with the pitchers, but he hit just .198 last season. With Mike Napoli still trying to get a deal finalized with the Boston Red Sox, the Rangers needed a catcher with some pop. They got one of the top ones left in a thin catching market. A.J. Pierzynski passed his physical on Friday, but a deal likely won't be announced until after Christmas, when the league offices fully reopen.

But bringing Pierzynski on board, at the reported price tag of $7.5 million, is a good deal for Texas. It's just a one-year contract for a 36-year-old player and he's coming off one of the best seasons of his career, hitting 27 homers and driving in 77 runs. He could split time behind the plate with Soto and be in the DH rotation when needed. And after losing Josh Hamilton, it's not bad to have another lefty bat in a right-handed-heavy lineup.

With catcher now done, the Rangers can still look to upgrade the lineup and build on pitching depth. They are doing that more in the bullpen than anywhere else to this point. They got Josh Lindblom in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies for Michael Young. They've got a group of guys that will be competing for bullpen spots that weren't with the club last year, like Cory Burns, Coty Woods, Tommy Hottovy and Joakim Soria (who probably won't be ready until May or June).

The club has four starters in the rotation and is prepared to let some of the younger pitchers -- like Martin Perez and Justin Grimm, for instance --fight for the fifth spot knowing they also have reinforcements in Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis preparing to come back at some point around midseason. But if they want to add to the starting depth, they could check in on the free-agent market. Kyle Lohse, a Scott Boras client, is likely the best pitcher left.

As for outfield, Michael Bourn is drawing the most attention after most of the big free-agent outfielders have signed. Nick Swisher is also still out there, and he's a player the club has shown some interest in.

So Daniels and company will keep searching for ways to improve. But despite not making a big splash to this point, they have addressed some of the team's needs. They've got time to do more of that between now and mid-February when the club arrives in Surprise, Ariz., for spring training.

Hot Stove talk: Kyle Lohse

December, 17, 2012
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We continue to take a look at some names of players still on the market and whether they make sense for the Texas Rangers to consider.

Today's player: Kyle Lohse

Many of you have emailed or contacted me on Twitter asking about Lohse, one of the top free-agent pitchers left on the market. Let's examine the 34-year-old's resume.

He was 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 2012 with 143 strikeouts and 38 walks. He had a 1.09 WHIP. To put that in perspective, Lohse set career highs in wins, strikeouts, WHIP and ERA. Lohse made 33 starts and pitched 211 innings. Yes, those are the most innings Lohse has ever thrown in a season.

So he's coming off his best season ever as he looks for a new deal. That's not bad timing, clearly. He had a 3.39 ERA in 188 1/3 innings in 2011, so it's not as if 2012 completely came out of nowhere.

But it's worth noting that Lohse hasn't pitched in the American League since early in 2006, his final half-season with the Minnesota Twins. Here's part of what ESPN.com's Keith Law said about Lohse when he posted his top free agent list in early November (Lohse is No. 6 overall on that list):



Lohse pitches with an average to fringe-average fastball, right around 90 mph, and his go-to pitch is an 83-86 mph slider that is more like a slider/cutter, with a short break that allows him to keep it in the zone when he needs to but doesn't have the swing-and-miss power of a true slider with hard break down and away from right-handed batters.

That lack of a true out pitch would concern me if I were looking at signing Lohse and had a porous defense or wanted to sign him beyond two years to an age where diminishing velocity would be a concern. If he loses another grade off his fastball, he'll drop to fifth-starter territory or worse.


Lohse would give the Rangers a veteran presence in the rotation and someone who has shown the past few years that he can eat innings. But I go back to something we've discussed at times this offseason: Is he an impact pitcher at the top of the rotation? I don't think so. With every free agent on the market, the Rangers must decide what kind of value they have and is it a better option than some young, internal options. Lohse would be nice to have in the middle of the rotation, but the cost would have be right and I think it may be too high.

What do you think? You willing to give Lohse a multi-year deal or do you see if Martin Perez, Justin Grimm or others can seize that No. 5 spot and go with Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando in front of them?

James Shields is off the market for Rangers

December, 10, 2012
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How about the Kansas City Royals? They've pulled off a six-player swap in an effort to get a better staff in the big leagues now. James Shields and Wade Davis are coming to Kansas City from the Tampa Bay Rays, who receive four prospects including Jake Odorizzi and Wil Myers in the deal.

Shields was someone the Rangers had interest in and someone who is under team control for two more years. He's pitched at least 200 innings in the past six seasons and will be 31 on Dec. 20. Davis, 27, was in the bullpen last season with the Rays' surplus of starters. But he started 64 games from 2009 to 2011. He was 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA as a reliever. He's also someone who could be around a long time, making $2.8 million this season and $4.8 million in 2014. Kansas City has three more options year now with him.

So what does it mean for Texas?

Well, this weekend saw two of the major pitching pieces on the market -- one in free agent Zack Greinke and the other via trade with Shields -- go elsewhere. That doesn't mean there aren't options for Texas.

R.A. Dickey remains a possibility, though much of that could center on whether the New York Mets can get a two-year extension done with him. (We'll have some more on Dickey later). The Rangers are interested in a reunion with the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner.

Perhaps the club turns its attention to a few more free agents like Anibal Sanchez, who is in a good position right now with others off the market. Kyle Lohse is still out there too. The 34-year-old right-hander was 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 33 starts (211 innings) in 2012. He had 143 strikeouts to just 38 walks and a WHIP of 1.09.

Winter Meetings shopping list: Starters

November, 26, 2012
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Front office personnel, agents and scouts will start to gather in Nashville this weekend in anticipation for the Winter Meetings, which run next week. In preparation for those meetings, we'll take a look at some areas the Rangers hope to address at the meetings. It's their version of a Black Friday shopping list.

Today's position: Starting pitchers

It seems that every year the Texas Rangers are looking for starting pitching. And why not? It's a critical area of any club and one of the quickest ways to improve. Last offseason, it was the final day of the winter meetings that signaled the club's intention to dive back into the market, though no one knew it at the time. That last day of the meetings in Dallas, several Rangers staff members had meetings with Bob Simpson and Ray Davis to help convince them to spend the money to bid for Yu Darvish. That yielded dividends in 2012 and Darvish comes into 2013 as the No. 1 pitcher on the club.

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Which free agent starting pitcher should the Rangers try to sign during the Winter Meetings?

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    7%
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    9%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,983)

Joining Darvish in the rotation at this point: Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando. That leaves one spot open. Filling it with a top-flight starter would certainly bolster the Rangers' chances in 2013.

On top of anyone's free-agent starting pitcher list has to be Zack Greinke. He's got the best resume of any pitcher looking for a job. And with Darvish signed up for five more seasons, the club hoping to get Harrison inked long-term (he's got two more arbitration years left before hitting free agency) and Holland already under contract that could have him pitching in Arlington through the 2018 season, adding another pitcher with pedigree to that group could make them a force for years to come.

Greinke pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers and then the Los Angeles Angels in 2012. He was 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 21 starts (123 innings) for the Brewers and then went 6-2 with a 3.53 ERA in 13 starts to finish the season for the Angels. Greinke's last eight starts in 2012 were impressive and have to be on the minds of general managers as they contemplate signing him to a big contract. He was 5-0 with a 2.04 ERA in those last eight starts, many of them big ones as the Angels tried (but ultimately failed) to secure a playoff spot.

Greinke has pitched well against the AL West in his career (2.91 ERA in 49 games) and is 3-5 with a 2.84 ERA in 79 1/3 innings at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The question is whether it would take six years to get him. At 29 years old, he may want something like the six year, $144 million Cole Hamels got. The Rangers may not want to make that big an investment, though I've got to think they'd consider it as it would be another player they could add to their core and fortify the rotation.

But the Angels are also going to be fully motivated to sign Greinke as their rotation goes through changes. Others will also jump in the Greinke sweepstakes, which you've got to think will heat up in Nashville.

There are other starting pitchers out there on the market -- Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson, for example -- but they don't stack up to Greinke. The Rangers will look at trade possibilities too. If there's any chance the Tampa Bay Rays would part with David Price or James Shields, the Rangers could match up. But to me, it has to be a pretty big name that would help the rotation at the top end.

That's not to say the club won't look at increasing depth. They always do. But in terms of a big deal, I think they'd look to really increase the club's competitive chances with a front-end starter. That's high up on the shopping list in Nashville.

Which starting pitcher do you want? How do you think the Rangers will fill that spot?

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.324 19 77 79
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 19
RBIA. Beltre 77
RA. Beltre 79
OPSA. Beltre .879
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.18
SOY. Darvish 182