The SANDbox: Joey Gallo & Hunter Pence Need Your Votes

Jared Sandler
June 24, 2019 - 9:58 am
Joey Gallo and Hunter Pence

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Categories: 

The SANDbox

ALL-STAR UPDATE

We have advanced from the “Primary” to the “Starters Election” stage of the voting process. This will be a 28-hour election used to determine the starters at each position for this year’s Midsummer Classic. Starters voting will begin at noon ET Wednesday, June 26, and end at 4 p.m. ET Thursday, June 27. Starters will be revealed at 7 p.m. ET Thursday, June 27.

REMEMBER TO VOTE FOR JOEY GALLO AND HUNTER PENCE!!!!!

LEADING OFF

I guess I was a week early, huh? In case you missed it, last week’s post led off with me sharing why I believed Michael Young’s #10 deserved to be retired. What happens the next day? The Rangers announce that Michael’s jersey will be retired on August 31 of this year.

While I figured this would happen eventually, I honestly had no idea that an announcement was imminent. Some have asked whether a social media movement to retire Young’s jersey influenced the decision and the answer is no. These decisions get made months in advance with plenty of people involved in the process.

Anyway…I don’t want to be lazy and just do a re-run of last week’s post but I feel odd “leading off” with anything unrelated to Michael Young so I’ll just try and add to what I’ve already shared.

One of my first friends from back in my preschool days was a pal named Michael Young. So, naturally, as any well-reasoned 11-year old might, I decided that Michael Young, a minor leaguer I knew nothing about, was going to be really good when the Rangers traded for him on July 19, 2000, because…well…I had a friend named Michael Young. I told my friends, feigning expertise on the Blue Jays farm system, that Michael Young was going to be a stud. I’m not sure I even knew what a “stud” was but I knew people described good players as studs so, Michael was going to be a stud.

Lo and behold, Michael Young was good—he was very good—and because he made me look like a top-notch scout, he very quickly became my favorite player, a title he holds to this day.

Beware to aspiring scouts: As much as scouts use comparisons to help form their judgments, I’m not yet aware of a scout who believes in a player with zero knowledge of him other than that he shares the name of a friend so, I wouldn’t advise that strategy.

While my initial interest in Michael Young was because of a familiar name, my interest sustained and grew because of the guy we got to watch where a Rangers uniform for more than a decade.

I’ve already shared the numbers and his impressive resume. Check out the link above with last week’s story for more on that. What he accomplished was impressive. But while the numbers opened my eyes to Young, it wasn’t was cemented his status for me.

When the Rangers had some bad years, there was always Michael showing up and putting in his work. It was clinical. He was such a skilled hitter and the guy you’d want up in big moments. I loved that, as a fan, I could always count on Michael to give me something about which to get excited in the dead of July with the team out of any sort of postseason discussion.

I loved that edge and that competitiveness. No matter how good or bad the team was, it was clear—and supported by those who knew Michael—how badly he wanted to win every single game. There was never a sense of, “Well, we suck but I’m going to go out and get mine.”

I loved that his teammates and opponents raved about him. There was admiration for his ability and a serious level of respect for the way he went about business. And from those who shared a clubhouse with them, they demonstrated a reverence for Michael’s generosity as a teammate and command as a leader.

I loved that in an era where guys were getting plucked left and right for using PEDs—including Rafael Palmeiro, who was a favorite among Rangers fans—you knew that Michael went about things the right way.

I think most of all, I love that since I’ve gotten to know Michael and am fortunate to call him a friend, I’ve learned that he’s as awesome of a human being as you’d imagine he’d be by the way his teammates always described him. Being a good person doesn’t get your jersey retired or anything. Michael did a whole lot more to earn that. But, to me, being a good person matters…and Michael is an outstanding person.

Already looking forward to August 31 to celebrate the career of Michael Young.

In case you’re interested, scroll down for Michael’s explanation of how he landed on the number 10.

(ST)RANGER THINGS

*How can I not kick off Stranger Things without a picture from this week of Chris Woodward chatting with Chief Hopper (David Harbour) of Stranger Things?

*I imagine Asdrubal Cabrera’s appeal gets heard and his suspension starts for tomorrow’s game against the Tigers. He was issued four games for throwing equipment towards an umpire. The appeal might take a game or two off, but nothing more.

*Joey Gallo is expected to return tomorrow against the Tigers. The Rangers optioned Kyle Bird to Triple-A Nashville after Sunday’s game to presumably clear a spot for Joey.

*The thought is that Hunter Pence will likely be ready to go later this week—maybe Wednesday—which is great news considering there was a thought it might be several weeks when he walked off the field in Cincy eight days ago.

*Danny Santana’s season is no longer just a “hot start.” Not only has he played like an everyday player, but now it’s fair to ask to what degree the 28-year old is a part of the team’s future. I don’t think the Rangers are planning on building a lineup around him or anything, but maybe he’s the team’s starting second baseman next year.

*When I asked a few coaches how Maz can more consistently tap into his prodigious power, in three separate conversations they each responded with the same thing: consistency with his timing.

*Joe Palumbo is back with Triple-A Nashville, a decision made on Thursday after his rough outing on Wednesday. Joe has less than 100 innings above A-ball so there shouldn’t be fear about where the 24-year old is in his development. He also has less than a full-season under his belt since Tommy John. He’s never pitched in Triple-A so it’ll give him a good challenge to continue to develop. As I shared before his debut, I believe Palumbo has the ability to develop into a quality #3 pitcher.

*Jesse Chavez is now a starting pitcher, a role with which he is very familiar. Not including starts as an “opener,” Chavez has 70 career starts and made 21 starts in 2017. He’ll have a limit of about 80 pitches tomorrow and maybe for his next start, too. Chavez has been this team’s best reliever, posting a 0.58 ERA over 31 innings since May 1. He has been of tremendous value to the bullpen and that void could present a challenge…unless Pete Fairbanks has something to say about it. I think the addition of Fairbanks as a guy with a chance to be dominant over more than just a 3-out span gives the Rangers a little more freedom to move Jesse into the rotation. There’s still a chance Jesse moves back to the bullpen if the Rangers make an acquisition to improve their rotation, but for now, he’s a starter.

*Locke St. John still hasn’t made his MLB debut after three games on the roster but when he does, the Rangers hope he’ll provide a strong left-handed presence in the bullpen. The Rangers have ranked among the bottom-third in the league in success against LHB out of their bullpen. Lefties hit under .200 against the sidearming St. John across Double-A and Triple-A this year.

*The Drew Smyly era is over. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out and the Rangers decided to move on. Drew was a good guy. Missing two years due to arm injuries isn’t easy and hopefully he’ll have more success as he continues to build strength.

*The Rangers have signed their second round selection (50th overall) in the 2019 MLB Draft, RHP Ryan Garcia from UCLA. Garcia signed right at the slot value for the 50th overall pick at $1,469,900.00. He’ll go to Arizona to get some work in and then join the short-season affiliate in Spokane where he’s expected to throw 20 innings this summer in addition to the 100 he’s already thrown for UCLA.

*LHP Jeffrey Springs was placed on 10-day IL Wednesday with left biceps tendinitis. The Rangers believe he’ll be available upon the completion of 10 days.

*Edinson Vólquez is trying to stretch out to 120 feet with his throwing program. When he gets there, he’ll go to Arizona and start throwing off a half-mound. He believes he can return shortly after the All-Star break, if all goes well.

STRATEGY NOTE OF THE WEEK

I don’t think Joey Gallo would move back to first if Guzman got hurt or if a need was created for whatever reason. My guess is that Forsythe and Santana would share those duties. I think the Rangers just want Gallo to stay in the outfield. Even though first base isn’t a high-leverage defensive position, it is considered to be a more mentally taxing position because of all the different things that go on and that you have to consider each pitch. It’s not that they don’t believe Joey is intellectually capable—they certainly do—but that they just want him to spend most of that capacity focusing on the most dangerous part of his game: hitting.

MAILBAG

@Chuyitotx: Odor…what’s next?

Let’s first begin with what isn’t next: Rougie getting sent down. At least, that won’t happen unless Rougie wants it to happen. With five years of service time, Odor has the ability to reject a minor league assignment. He’s unlikely to accept that move. So, with that said, the next step could be the IL if there’s something remotely wrong with him so he can maybe get some minor league work through that avenue. If not, Rougie will likely start to see fleeting playing time. Perhaps they’ll pick their spots and try and cherrypick favorable matchups to spark his season? Unfortunately, he doesn’t offer a ton as a bench guy because he can only play one position. But, there’s no denying that that’s where he might be headed if he doesn’t start hitting.

@SamInNash: How do you think the Rangers deal with Minor? … Maybe it depends on if they are buyers or sellers later in the year?

Yeah, their strategy will totally impact it. Their three options are to trade him, extend him, or hold on to him without an extension. If the Rangers are within a couple games of a wild card spot, I’d have a tough time seeing them trade Minor. With that said, the Rangers will play the Rays, Twins, and Astros in 10 of their next 17 games and 13 of their next 22 games. That 22-game stretch ends on July 21. My guess is we’ll have a much clearer picture at that point.

@SourPat82090840: Is there any way to realistically speculate how long it might take a pitcher like Hans Crouse to reach the big show?

We can always speculate, but there’s no way of knowing for sure. These days, projecting the arrival of a young pitcher is tougher than ever because of the prominence of arm injuries. That’s a big reason why some teams, generally speaking, prefer to grow their own hitters and acquire established pitching. Whether it’s Verlander and Morton, Sale and Price, or Lester and Arrieta, some of the best teams in recent years have staffs headlined by guys whom they didn’t develop. That’s not a coincidence.  Developing pitching is hard. But, back to your question...if I had to speculate, I’d guess 2022.

MOMENT OF THE WEEK

Logan Allen had a chance encounter with John Cena at a Tampa steakhouse over the off-season after which a cool friendship sprouted following several hours of conversation. Allen, one of the Padres top prospects, conceded to Cena that he hadn’t dealt with a ton of adversity, relatively speaking, over his professional career. According to Cena, "To face him with the concept of failure, I bet him that night a dollar he wouldn't make the major leagues. If I lose, when you make it to the major leagues, I will come and personally pay you one dollar on the mound at a San Diego Padres game."

Well, Allen debuted last week (going seven scoreless innings and picking up a win) and Cena was not only there for the debut, he was there the next day and presented him with a dollar bill on the field before the game. The dollar bill was signed: To Logan, I was wrong. John Cena.

Pretty cool!

ANECDOTE OF THE WEEK

Michael Young shares how he decided to choose the number 10.

KT’S “HOLY WOW” GREAT PLAY OF THE WEEK

Nomar Mazara hit a 505-foot home run on Friday night. That’s tied for the longest home run ever recorded in the statcast era with Colorado’s Trevor Story, who did it last September.

I’ve seen balls hit this high up in the upper porch at Globe Life Park, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a ball that appears to still be climbing when it gets that high. Holy Maz!

KT’S “HOLY WOW” WTF PLAY OF THE WEEK

Max Scherzer broke his nose trying to bunt…

…and then the very next day he did this:

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

Michael Young on the honor of having his jersey retired

“It’s a tough situation. He is coming off injury. I don’t think the expectations were overly high, but it just didn’t work out. He was fighting to figure things out. It was best for him and best for us to have him move on.” - Chris Woodward on the decision to DFA Drew Smyly

“Joe is in a great spot. He is a big part of our future and is going to pitch big innings for us. It might be this year, but definitely down the line. When you take a step back and look at it, he is in a good spot as far as the big picture. We brought him here sooner than we planned, but this is a good learning lesson, something he can use to improve his game moving forward.” - Jon Daniels on Joe Palumbo

STATS OF THE WEEK

*Lance Lynn, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Trevor Bauer lead MLB having thrown 100+ pitches in 14 starts.

*Mike Minor and Kyle Hendricks are tied for the Major League lead with FOUR starts lasting 8.0+ IP. Of course, that means Minor is the AL leader in that department.

*Rangers SP have a 4.25 ERA since May 15, 10th best in MLB/5th in AL

*The Rangers are 6th in MLB and 2nd in AL with 15 Ultra-Quality Starts (7+ IP and 2-or-fewer ER)

*Choo’s BA (.289), OBP (.388), SLG (.505), and OPS (.894) are all highs in his time with the Rangers. Specifically, that slugging percentage is the best of his career among seasons in which he was a qualifier.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

*I’m going to go out on a very strong limb and offer two things: 1) Tampa and Montreal will never have a split-season and 2) The idea is horrible. This is just another step towards baseball leaving Tampa and returning to Montreal after Tampa’s 2027 lease is up.

*How deep is that Yankees lineup? Clint Frazier got optioned to Triple-A despite a .843 OPS, which is 20% better than league average.

*Speaking of that Yankees lineup, they’ve hit a HR now in 26 straight games, one game shy of the MLB record of 27 set by the 2002 Rangers.

*Pretty impressive…

*Clayton Kershaw is one of the best pitchers of his generation. Heck, it’s probably fair to say he’s one of the best pitchers of all-time. He’s also been great against the Dodgers’ foremost rival, the Giants. Kershaw now owns a 1.68 career ERA with 343 strikeouts vs the Giants after seven scoreless innings against them last week. Per ESPN Stats & Info, since the earned run became official in 1913, Kershaw is the only pitcher with over 300 strikeouts and a sub-2.00 ERA against a single opponent.

*According to Jonah Keri who got this from Stats Inc., the last six players to bat .360 or higher in the first 50 games of their career are Yasiel Puig, Wade Boggs, Willie McCovey, Roy Weatherly, Joe DiMaggio...and Bryan Reynolds, Pirates rookie acquired in the Andrew McCutchen trade. Reynolds is currently slashing .362/.418/.564 (.982) over 188 AB.

*Congrats to Cole Hamels, who became the 10th lefty in MLB history to reach 2,500 strikeouts. Hamels joined Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton, C.C. Sabathia, Mickey Lolich, Frank Tanana, Chuck Finley, Tom Glavine, Warren Spahn, and Jerry Koosman.

*The Yankees released Danny Farquhar, who was/is vying to make a comeback from a brain aneurysm suffered in April 2018.

MINOR LEAGUES

*Hans Crouse returned to the mound Sunday for Low-A Hickory and delivered 3.0 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 2 K, and 2 BB.

*Leody Taveras has been promoted to Double-A Frisco. He’s 4-for-his-first-11 with a 2B in his first 3 games with the Riders.

*Jason Bahr has also been promoted to Double-A Frisco. One reason for Bahr’s great success so far this year? The addition of a split-change to his pitch mix, which has aided the righty to a combined 1.57 ERA this year. Bahr’s Double-A debut?  How about 5.0 IP of scoreless baseball.

*Curtis Terry was promoted to Hi-A Down East, but not before he won the South Atlantic League Home Run Derby after winning the Northwest League Home Run Derby last year. Terry has great power—15 HR in 238 AB—but needs to improve his walk totals with just 15 in 65 games.

*LHP Brock Burke was arguably the biggest prize acquired by the Rangers in the Profar deal this off-season. He impressed during Cactus League play and had success over three Double-A starts but a blister and shoulder fatigue had him sidelined until Burke pitched on rehab assignment for the AZL Rangers on Monday. Had Burke been healthy, it’s likely he would have competed with Joe Palumbo for some big league starts. Tracking his progress will be interesting and exciting.

*One name to put on your radar is Hickory 21-year old RHP Yerry Rodriguez. After seven shutout innings Saturday night, he now has a 1.77 ERA on the season with 71 K in 61.0 IP with opp. ba of .175.

*RHP Nick Gardewine signed to 2-year minor league contract

*Gators RHP signee Brandon Sproat has decided to honor his commitment to the Florida Gators and will not sign with the Texas Rangers. Sproat was Texas’s 7th round pick. Brandon Sproat tops out at 92 mph with three offspeed pitches.

A/V DEPARTMENT

*Michael Young joined Ben & Skin last week after the retirement of his #10 was announced.

*Here’s my conversation with Rangers’ Director of Minor League Operations Paul Kruger about the record-setting success of the Down East Wood Ducks and other goings-on down on the farm.