OTOGH: Adrian Beltre 3000

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With the swing of the bat and a good jump out of the batter’s box, Adrian Beltre reached a milestone today with a stand up double. At 38 he is the 31st player to reach the 3000 hit club and yet this is not the end of his career. No, this is not his last season before retirement. No Adrian Beltre is still here and still going.

Adrian Beltre reaching 2nd base after hitting 3000 career hits Photo credit: Nick Virgil

Adrian Beltre reaching 2nd base after hitting 3000 career hits Photo credit: Nick Virgil

As a young Dodger all of 19 who convinced Dodger’s great manager Tommy Lasorda to stay with the club and to learn how to play 3rd base by then 3rd baseman Bobby Bonilla. Adrian Beltre’s reputation preceded him no matter what team he was on. When he came to the Rangers it was like 3rd base had been waiting for him.

Now I am not about to spout a bunch of stats and look like a page from baseball-reference.com. There are 4 all star appearances, 5 golden gloves and 4 silver sluggers awards. We could talk about how he is not only a leader but a wonderful teammate; unless you touch his head then you are lucky if you don’t lose a hand. Don’t do it! What makes this accomplishment so great, it is not the end. Beltre is signed for 2018 and will be a free agent in 2019 and is that it? Could he crack the top ten? The point is this is not over. This is only another piece to make his case for baseball’s hall of fame. Will he join Pudge Rodriguez in Cooperstown? No Doubt, and as Rangers fans we get to enjoy the show.

OTOGH: Ranger Review

The Infield
It’s almost here. Opening Day. I cannot contain my excitement. The Rangers are going to have an interesting year, to say the least. They have signed Rougned Odor to a six-year $45.5 million contract. This is a good deal. It’s not so much money that the Rangers will go broke, and it locks in a good second baseman. I would hope that during this time, Odor takes a look at his fielding. During the World Baseball Classic, he made multiple fielding errors, and the coach, none other than Omar Vizquel, and Odor’s teammates from Team Venezuela worked with him. The Rangers need to work with Odor to help him become better in the field, and it looks like the Rangers’ new first baseman, Mike Napoli, has taken Odor under his wing, a step in the right direction.

Napoli has brought an excitement to the team. I am a little cautious in my excitement for Nap. He is going to be playing first base full time, and while he is a workhorse, it has been a long time since he has been in the Texas heat. And when he was with the Indians, he traded off his duties between first and DH, and I think that is what made him have one of his best years. Come the end of August, we are going to see a worn-out Nap.

Elvis Andrus has been maturing and last year had one of his better years. Will this year be the same? He had surgery during the off-season and missed a great deal of Spring Training. Look for Andrus to have a slow start, but if can keep his head in the game, I am thinking another great year for him.

Adrian Beltre is a gamer and always wants to play. He pushed himself to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, and he hurt his calf muscle again. He is a big question mark for Opening Day. If that’s the case, look for Jurickson Profar to take over. Profar looked great during the World Baseball Classic, and I just think he is too good of a player to stay part time on the bench. He needs to be playing full time.

Jonathan Lucroy is back again, working with Rangers pitchers. It’s going to be an exciting year for him. Calling the games the way he does will benefit our newest pitchers and keep steady the veterans such as Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. Last year, Lucroy had a wonderful bat, and while I wouldn’t expect the numbers he hit when he first came here, it was obvious he is very comfortable being a Ranger, and I am looking forward to another great season from him.

The Outfield
The signing of Carlos Gomez was one of the smartest moves the Rangers did. I think Gomez is set for a huge comeback, and it’s a good thing he is on our side.

However, Spring Training brought some surprises. Delino DeShields has made the team, and there are reports that he is going to be a full-time player. My prediction is he will take over in right field now that Shin-Soo Choo will be the DH. DeShields came to Spring Training leaner and hungry for action. Being sent down last year proved to be motivation to become a better player. DeShields has his speed back, which is going to be key in a possible lead-off position.

The best performance of the spring was from Ryan Rua, who was using his limited at-bats to still hit .333 and smash three home runs. Look for Rua to be the everyday left fielder.

This leaves Drew Robinson and Nomar Mazara as backups, which are much needed, as the Ranger outfield has had a history of injuries.

One such injury that hurt our outfield was to Choo, now the DH. Choo was reluctant to take on the DH role and even made statements that he did not want to DH. Now Choo seems to have taken his new role in stride, so this might be interesting to see how this plays out. It’s hard for ballplayers to not play in the field. Will he have the mental fortitude needed to be the DH?

The Starting Rotation

New faces on the pitching staff, but we haven’t seen them yet. Tyson Ross is only now starting a throwing program, and then it will be off to minor league camp, and it will probably be June when he comes in. Andrew Cashner pitched in the recent exhibition game at Arlington against the Royals and threw three scoreless innings. There is hope that he will be back sooner than later.

Yu Darvish is our Opening Day pitcher, followed by Martin Perez, Cole Hamels, A.J. Griffin and Cashner if he is going to come back. Pitching coach Doug Brocail is looking at an April 20 start for Cashner, and Cashner may start in the minors to get his arm warmed up. If Cashner can’t come back by then, the Rangers will probably call up Nick Martinez from Triple A Round Rock.

The Bullpen

While on the subject of Round Rock, there is some curios Ranger news. One of the things that make the Rangers so great is a close and comfortable clubhouse. Keone Kela has not been playing nice with his brothers or Manager Jeff Bannister and General Manager Jon Daniels. While there is no definite story of what happened, what we do know is this: Kela did something that was, thankfully, not illegal but that insulted Ranger management. As a disciplinary action, they sent him down Round Rock to cool off and figure out what’s next.

This is not the first time Kela has had trouble. There have been times where he was rude to reporters and other players and teammates. This is interesting, what could happen, but Kela had a good spring and is needed in the bullpen. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail.

The bullpen is at eight members. Bannister has talked about how he felt that carrying a larger bullpen would get the Rangers through the tough outings.

The closer is Sam Dyson, who was wonderful for the winning Team USA during the World Baseball Classic.

The right-handers are:
Matt Bush
Jeremy Jeffress
Tony Barnette
Jose Leclerc, who is only technically here, with Kela’s absence.
Left-handers
Dario Alvarez
Alex Claudio, who for Team Puerto Rico dyed his hair and also had a great performance during the World Baseball Classic.
Mike Hauschild had a good spring and made the team. Hopefully, this will translate into a good season for him, and as a lefty, he is much needed for certain hitter matchups.

OTOGH: Wanted: First Baseman

With Spring Training just around the corner, what is happening with the Rangers and first base? Mitch Moreland is now with the Red Sox, and there was talk about bringing Mike Napoli’s party to Texas. But, alas, there has been a bump at the refreshment table.
Nap wants a multiyear deal, of at least two years, and the Rangers aren’t going to do that. They are looking for someone right now to get them to the World Series.
I am on the No No Napoli train. Napoli is only a temporary solution to a real problem. The Rangers need a solid first baseman and someone for the long haul. The reality is that the right first baseman could send the Rangers on the way to a dynasty. Multiyear World Series appearances and championships.
That is not going to happen with Napoli. Rather, the Rangers’ focus should be on getting a long-term first baseman. Before the Rangers signed Carlos Gomez, there was talk about putting together a trade for Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds. Now that the Rangers have Gomez, why not put together a trade for a real first baseman?
Whom do I have in mind? Only the best first baseman in all of baseball. Paul Goldschmidt.

It would be a big trade. The Rangers are out of prospects after two years of trading for Cole Hamels, Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy. However, they do have too many players and some good ones that could be better suited for Arizona. Jurickson Profar is a great multiuse player who is too talented to be a backup, but the Rangers’ positions are taken. Going to another team means he plays full time. Joey Gallo has been on the trading block more than most mutual funds. While a lack of performance last year has hindered him, I believe that in the right package, he can be worthy piece of a trade. Mark my words, I think a trade is what is going to make Joey Gallo. As soon as he is traded, we are going to see the power and the numbers he is capable of. Nick Martinez can be a starter or a reliever. He’s very capable, and for a team that needs some bullpen help, Martinez can make the call. Keone Kela is a great arm, and, again for a team lacking in the bullpen, he can shore up the late innings.
The Rangers have lost their big bats. Prince Fielder, Ian Desmond and Carlos Beltran are gone, and Paul Goldschmidt could be the big bat the Rangers are looking for. Goldy also brings the much-needed defense that the Rangers are lacking with Mitch Moreland’s departure. I believe the Rangers won’t get the deal with Napoli. The Twins are going to get him. The Rangers also are not going to go after Goldschmidt. I still think it’s the right move to go after a quality first baseman.

I would also like to take a moment and defend my case for Pudge Rodriguez. Frank Thomas has made some wild accusations about the Hall of Fame class, saying in no uncertain terms that Pudge was a user of PEDs along with Jeff Bagwell. I grew up watching Houston, and the killer B’s were the best. I will now take this time to defend always and forever Pudge and Bagwell. I wholeheartedly believe that these men did not use PEDs. Over their careers, they did not have the huge body changes that you saw with Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and, on the Rangers side, Rafael Palmeiro. Pudge and Bagwell pretty much maintained their performance levels, having good and bad years but for the most part no huge explosion of performance, as we saw with McGwire and Sosa. Bagwell and Pudge both have a history of being extremely disciplined in their workouts. The other thing I keep hearing is that they are not defending themselves. If they were to defend themselves, what would that look like? Palmeiro up in front of government officials perjuring himself. This hurt any form of defense against using PEDs. Both Bagwell and Pudge have said next to nothing as a defense. I support that; there is nothing they can say. If they say they didn’t do it, people won’t believe them anyway. Pudge’s response is not a cop-out but a powerful statement of faith: “God knows.” Letting Pudge and Bagwell into the Hall of Fame does not allow other PED users. The tests were done, and those who did it were caught. It’s time to stop pointing fingers and start celebrating these men’s careers and welcome them to Cooperstown.

Michael Young is Why I Always Wear a Glove.

It was 2001 and I was working at the Rangers, I had some down time, so I went to see the Rangers warm up. Others had gathered around near dugout, I am walking down the stairs slowly, this was April or May and I had knee surgery in the past December.

As I walk down, I hear the Rangers team screaming “LOOK OUT!! LOOK OUT!!!” There is a baseball shot from the hand of a rookie, it was supposed to be caught by the high price big bat, but the rookie had overthrown.

I should note I learned something this day when ballplayers are playing catch, they are not playing catch like you and I play catch, they are trying to warm up their arms, so the throws are hard and fast. I was holding my glove and no way could have gotten it on time.

I had no choice hit the dirt or be hit by the ball, the concrete stairs looked much better than the baseball. I dove, and the ball hit the back of the chair in the stands and sounded like a gun went off. and bounce back on the field. It was my first time to meet Alex Rodriguez, he came over to make sure we were ok. In the distance, was the rookie, with a panic look on his face, I and so was everyone else was ok and no one had been hit by the wayward ball.

I even told “Alex, hey can you wait till I get my glove on?”

He responded “you should have had it on to begin with”

“Well, I thought you were going to catch the ball.” I said

“Bet you won’t make that mistake again.” and with a wink he is gone.

I waved at at Michael Young, to show I was ok and he waved back and went back to throwing accurate warm up tosses.

This is one my favorite stories to tell, usually the title is how Michael Young tried to kill me. It was the day I learned if you are near a baseball always wear a glove.

Congrats Michael Young on being inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame.

Frank Catalanotto: Baseball and Vascular Birthmarks

Baseball and vascular birthmarks don’t sound like two things that go together, but in 1999, both would collide in Frank Catalanotto’s world. In 1999, Frank was in the third year of his 14-year major league career and welcomed daughter Morgan into his world. Things should have been great, but Morgan had a spot on her nose that would later be diagnosed as a vascular birthmark called a hemangioma.

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I had a wonderful opportunity to interview Frank, who started the 2000 season with the Texas Rangers after being part of the trade that sent Juan Gonzalez to the Detroit Tigers, and talk about baseball and what he is doing to put an end to vascular birthmarks. I asked him what some of his fondest memories were with the Rangers.

 I loved coming to the Ballpark in Arlington (now called Globe Life Park) to play baseball. It has always been my favorite ballpark to play in because not only does it have so much character but the fans were always so passionate about the game and in my mind some of the best fans in baseball. I’ll never forget the batting title race in 2001 and also setting the Rangers record for consecutive hits (10) and consecutive times on base (13).

Frank tied for fifth in the American League in hitting in 2001, with a .330 AVG. He spent three seasons with the Rangers before heading to the Toronto Blue Jays, but he would find his way back to the Rangers for two more seasons, 2007 and 2008. He would finish his career with a year with the Milwaukee Brewers and his final year with the New York Mets.

And what happened with his daughter Morgan? In Frank’s words:

 In 1999, my oldest daughter Morgan was born with a vascular birthmark on her nose called a hemangioma. After much research and a few laser surgeries for Morgan, my wife and I started the Frank Catalanotto Foundation. We have since raised funds for surgeries and have promoted awareness about these vascular birthmarks which if left untreated can spread rapidly. Each year, we host a golf tournament on Long Island which helps raise money for the cause.  
It bears repeating: He and his wife have done research and started a foundation that helps pay for surgeries. Each year, the Frank Catalanotto Foundation picks a lucky family and pays for the entire surgery. This can-do attitude was also important in his baseball career and a cornerstone of his book, “Heart and Hustle,” and I asked him what his motivation was to write it.
 I wrote the book because I felt like I had a lot experiences that I could share that would help out some young baseball players. Being a student of the game, I wrote down everything I learned throughout my minor league and major league career. I realized that had I known more about the game at a young age, I would have been much better off.
I had to ask Frank if he would ever come back to baseball and what role he would like.
 At some point I may want to get back into the game. Possibly as a hitting coach. Currently I am enjoying spending time with my four girls and watching them grow up. Once they are older, I may look into coaching.
Frank now swings a golf club instead of a baseball bat, to help raise money for the Frank Catalanotto Foundation. This year’s outing will be Monday, Aug. 1, at Old Westbury Country Club on Long Island, New York. Visit fcatalanotto.org for more information and to donate to the Frank Catalanotto Foundation.

OTOGH: Rangers Need A Break

The Rangers may have won tonight but they didn’t look sharp from a error by Profar to a short outing from Hamels. The Rangers need a break!

Ok it started with the Yankees but we lost to the Twins, and now Boston, while there were a few games won here and there. The Rangers played a lot of baseball this month and are in need of a break.…

Source: OTOGH: Rangers Need A Break