I checked this morning on newly acquired righthander Edwar Ramirez's career splits, just for grins. The samples are all small, given that the reliever pitched just one full season for the Yankees and parts of two others, but facing nine batters in Rangers Ballpark, he got seven of them out, allowing two singles and no walks while fanning three in those 2.1 innings of work.
He's been pretty good against the Mariners and Athletics (at least those who suited up between 2007 and 2009), firing 10 scoreless innings (three hits [all singles] and 13 strikeouts, though an unsightly seven walks).
But keep the changeup artist off the mound against the Angels: 6.2 innings, 14 earned runs (18.90 ERA) on 16 hits and six walks (.485/.548/.909), eight strikeouts.
In the bigger picture, the key objective with Ramirez will be to cut his walk rate (5.13 per nine innings) so that the club can feel confident taking advantage of his extraordinary strikeout rate (10.62 per nine) in high-leverage situations. Or any situations at all.
Randy Galloway said on his radio show yesterday that he asked five Rangers officials who the club's first baseman will be in 2012: Chris Davis or Justin Smoak?
According to Galloway, the leading answer: Mitch Moreland.
I have some thoughts on that, but without going into much detail today, the half-baked scenario cooking in my head is that Davis or Smoak gets traded this July, maybe with Derek Holland or Matt Harrison, plus Wilmer Font or Engel Beltre, to the Giants for righthander Matt Cain (who has a $4.25 million salary plus a $6.25 million club option for 2011 that could escalate to $8.15 million) and right-handed corner bat Mark DeRosa (set to earn $12 million in 2010-2011).
Nolan Ryan was on Galloway's show yesterday and singled out righthanders Joe Wieland and Matt Thompson as back field arms who have impressed him this week. Wieland was an instant favorite of Ryan's when the sturdy 20-year-old arrived two summers ago.
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus ranked baseball's farm systems, with the Mariners coming in at number 23, the Angels at 20, the A's at seven (after last year's number one nod), and the Rangers at two, behind Tampa Bay. Goldstein on the Texas system, which he ranked number two last year as well:
Why They Are Here: No system in baseball can match a left/right pitching prospect combination like Neftali Feliz and Martin Perez, and there's just an embarrassment of riches after than when it comes to young arms. The system is actually below average when it comes to hitting prospects, but Justin Smoak is a future three-hole hitter, and Jurickson Profar could explode.
Where They Will Be Next Year: It will be tough to repeat this high of a ranking, as Feliz will be gone, while Smoak could be as well. Two first-round picks will certainly help, but overall, we're looking at a net loss 12 months from now, albeit not the kind anyone should be complaining about.
Four spring games for Matt Brown, three throwing errors from third base.
Hank Blalock's out clause with Tampa Bay allows him to ask for his release if he's not on the roster as of April 1. The Rays would have a defined period of days at that point to add him to the roster or let him go.
Richard Durrett turned in a solid, lengthy feature on Jon Daniels at the ESPN Dallas website. Check it out.
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(c) Jamey Newberg