Jon Daniels

Will the Rangers try to keep up with the Angels?

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The Rangers can come close to matching their AL West rivals; all they’d need to do is commit $150 million-$200 million to free agent Prince Fielder and then another $80 million-$100 million in the form of a posting fee and a contract for Yu Darvish. What’s the big deal?

As things stand now, the Rangers are currently looking at about a $111 million payroll with a 25-man roster that looks like this:

C Mike Napoli
1B Mitch Moreland
2B Ian Kinsler
3B Adrian Beltre
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
CF Leonys Martin
RF Nelson Cruz
DH Michael Young

C Yorvit Torrealba
INF
OF David Murphy
OF Craig Gentry

SP Colby Lewis
SP Derek Holland
SP Neftali Feliz
SP Alexi Ogando
SP Matt Harrison

CL Joe Nathan
RP Mike Adams
RP Koji Uehara
RP Darren Oliver
RP Scott Feldman
RP Yoshinori Tateyama
RP Mark Lowe

I’m assuming that an Oliver deal gets done for about $4 million, leaving the utility infield spot as the only hole on the roster. The Rangers could opt to non-tender Lowe, making Mark Hamburger the favorite for the last spot in the pen, but that’d only save about $1 million. Trading Uehara, on the other hand, would free up $3.5 million.

The Rangers opened last year with a $92 million payroll, so it’s not at all likely that they’d jump all of the way to the $140 million-$150 million range, which is what it would take to include both Fielder and Darvish. Still, it’d sure be nice if they could squeeze in one of the two. Fielder would look awesome behind Josh Hamilton in the lineup, and Darvish’s arrival would push Ogando back to the pen, giving the Rangers a potentially dominant setup man or closer if Nathan falters. Carlos Beltran is another who would make sense for the team. Young could then play first base most of the time, with Beltran, Hamilton and Cruz all sharing time between the outfield corners and DH.

Texas did win the AL West by 10 games in 2011, so it’s not as though the Rangers necessarily need an impact player. Still, a lot of things did go right last season and GM Jon Daniels can’t count on Napoli, Kinsler and Harrison to perform so well again.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.16.51 AM
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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.