Results tagged ‘ Texas Rangers ’

Top Prospect Jurickson Profar to make season debut tonight with the Texas Rangers

Baseball is really a what have you done for me lately league. With Ian Kinsler being put on the 15 day Disabled List, retroactive to Saturday with a right intercostal strain, (strained ribs) top prospect Jurickson Profar has been called up.

If you remember right Profar was called up last season and promptly hit a home run in his first Major League at bat before only playing sparingly down the stretch. He will be splitting time with utility infielder Leury Garcia while Kinsler is out.

This is good news for Profar and the Rangers, as Profar is playing his best baseball of the season right now. Before being recalled on Sunday, Profar hit home runs, 3 and 4 in Saturday nights win for the Round Rock Express (AAA). The latter of the two being the game winner. The two home runs also extended his hitting streak to eight games.

His minor league numbers this season might not look very good right now, he has a .278 average, but over that hitting streak he has raised his average almost 60 points.

The Rangers are likely just playing it safe with Kinsler as they have for the other two starters currently on the Disabled List, C AJ Pierzynski and SP Alexi Ogando, who was supposed to be tonight starter.

Also being called up today is Profars teammate Josh Lindblom whom the Rangers acquired from the Phillies in the Michael Young trade. Lindblom was a middle reliever in the Phillies organization but the Rangers saw him as a starter from the time they acquired him and he has taken to the transition well. After a bad spring that likely cost him a role in the Rangers bullpen he seems to be pitching well of late. He has a 4-0 record with a 2.08 ERA for the Express holding AAA hitters to a .173 average.

He has not started a game this season without Profar playing behind him and maybe that comfort of having him out there tonight will help as the Rangers take on the Oakland A’s.

- Brian Boynton (@gingabeard_man)

Chowin’ Down: The Beltre Buster

Everything really is bigger in Texas, from last seasons introduction of The Boomstick to one of the new items on the menu at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington: The Beltre Buster.IMAG0644

This is torture that should not be wished upon even the worst of enemies. The Beltre Buster is a one pound Nolan Ryan Beef hamburger patty, topped with half a pound of bacon, grilled onions, a mound of cheese and red pepper mayo and if you thought that was enough they decided to put it all on a pretzel bun.

If you decide to buy the burger and then walk to your seat to enjoy your feast there will be a lot of stares and people asking you what your carrying in the box. This burger contains roughly 2,800 calories and 185 grams of fat. I might not eat again for a week

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It can only be found in one location at the ballpark: directly behind home plate on the lower concourse in the Texas Sized 24 concession stand where every item is either 24 inches or 24 ounces.

All the health experts recommend not eating the items from this concession stand alone but I prefer to see if I can conquer these items alone. It is my goal to completely eat every item on this menu by the end of the season. So far I’ve knocked out two of five

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Apparently these items were added to the park to be shared by a group of people but honestly who doesn’t want to see if they have what it takes to finish one-off.

I still don’t understand why they even bothered serving chips with this burger.

-Brian Boynton (@gingabeard_man)

Colorado Rockies Sign Roy Oswalt

HELLO! Who else forgot Oswalt was still a functioning member of the MLB society? This move–signing the veteran to a minor league deal and sending him to extended spring training–came out of nowhere. Here’s the tweet that made it official, as far as we know:

So what does this mean for the Rockies and the rest of the NL West? Not much…yet.

Our own Brian Boynton can attest to Oswalt’s crapiness in his last stint, which was with the Texas Rangers in 2012. Oswalt posted a 5.80 ERA in that time, but still had pretty good splits otherwise.

For a team that has relied on its destructive offense and had a surprisingly competent rotation thus far, the Rockies may have scored with this move. Chances are their current, inexperienced rotation will be looking a lot more like the bruised and battered 2012 unit (last in the NL in team ERA, by a mile) after a couple more rounds.

So when Oswalt is ready, if he can pitch even half as well as he used to before going to Texas, he could conceivably be their number two starter. And if one or two of the young guns continues to produce this year, the Rockies are no longer a laughing stock; rather, a team to be reckoned with.

Luckily for Oswalt, pitching expectations in Colorado are generally low, so he won’t be as subjected to scrutiny as he was in Texas. And while I highly doubt we will see a Clemens or Pettitte-esque return for Oswalt, you can never have enough pitching.

Then again, Oswalt could be worse than the starter the Rockies already passed on once. And being worse than Aaron Harang is usually a sign to hang up the cleats for good.

What do you think about the move? Tweet us @3u3d to discuss!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all your 2013 MLB news!

Harrison to join the AL West platoon on the DL

This season has gotten off to an auspicious start for a couple of Opening Day starters in the AL West.

Jered Weaver went on the DL with a broken bone in his non-pitching elbow. He has been put on the shelf for 4-6 weeks. Although he has only missed two starts to this point the Angels have missed his presence on the field.

Matt Harrison was also placed on the DL with back stiffness that had been bothering him for a few weeks. The Rangers have now released a statement that he will undergo surgery on a herniated disk that will keep on the DL until at least after the All-Star Break.

Also throw in Yoenis Cespedes from the Athletics and this season hasn’t been friendly to some of their teams most important players.

-Brian Boynton (@gingabeard_man)

Bad Call Face-Off: Which Umpire Error is More Hilarious?

If the Tampa Bay Rays miss the playoffs by one game this year, do they have a legit beef with the umpiring from April 8th, 2013? Debatable. Either way, the strike three heard round the world on Monday was absolute comedy, and not in a good way.

Umpires are human, and miscues are going to happen. Oftentimes, if we’re being picky, they happen multiple times per game. But some are inexcusable (just ask Mapes–he’s still fuming over the “infield fly” in last season’s NL Wild Card game), whereas others are just plain funny.

When I saw the replay of Marty Foster’s perplexing full-count, game-ending, strike-three call on a Joe Nathan curveball that was gloved in the dirt, I couldn’t help but laugh. And I was immediately reminded of an equally embarrassing and obvious missed call last season at Coors Field that caused Rockies first baseman Todd Helton to comment: “[In the] neighborhood? It wasn’t in the same area code.”

So take a look at these two videos below, and vote in the poll: Which umpire error is more obvious…and more hilarious?

April 8th, 2013 — Rays vs. Rangers in Arlington, TX

May 2nd, 2012 — Dodgers vs. Rockies in Denver, CO 

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

One Out Away

“One Out Away” was the theme for Rangers fans Tuesday night as they saw Yu Darvish’s bid for a perfect game ended after he completed 8 2/3 innings. “One Out Away” was all I saw on my twitter feed after the perfect game bid was ended. One Out Away……

If you haven’t seen the hit that ended it all watch it here.

Marwin Gonzalez ruined the night on a cutter that didn’t cut on what was Darvish’s 111th and final pitch of the evening. He had pitched a gem all night striking out 14 Astros and only allowing one ball that was hit well, a Chris Carter fly out that David Murphy caught against the wall in left center.

“One Out Away” is a phrase that not only took center stage on what should have been Darvish’s night but it is also a phrase that has festered in the minds of Rangers fans since October 27, 2011.

Darvish wasn’t a member of the Texas Rangers or even playing for a team in Major League Baseball on that fateful night when the St. Louis Cardinals battled back against the Rangers to win Game 6 in extra innings. I think that game however, is one of the main reasons why they signed him out of Japan that offseason.

The Rangers knew they needed a dominant pitcher who could take the mound deep into games. He is proving more with every start that he can be that player.

From his first outing of his rookie season against the Mariners in which he walked the first batter of the game, Chone Figgins, and gave up five runs over 5 2/3 innings. To his first start of the 2013 season when he was “One Out Away” from a perfect game. This start was also his first start for the Rangers in which he did not walk a batter.

Darvish is the type of pitcher with the pitches he can command that will likely be in line for a few more of these games over his career. Maybe not potential perfect games, but we will all see dominant pitching performances from him for years. There are few players across sports that when they take the field you should stop and watch them and Yu Darvish is one of those players.

Maybe one day the Rangers will find a way to get that last out and as Anthony Andro tweeted, Ian Kinsler couldn’t have reiterated that thought better:

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 12.07.22 AM

One Out Away…..

-Brian Boynton (@gingabeard_man)

Top 5 Moments of Opening Day

Opening DayThis is no April Fools prank: Baseball. Is. Back!

After the Houston Astros dis–hey…stop laughing…it really happened–dismantled the Texas Rangers last night at Minute Maid Park, we had our first full day of baseball today.

Naturally, ESPN kicked it off with proof that they are extremely stubborn as a network, pitting C.C. Sabathia and the hobbled Yankees versus Jon Lester and the completely average Red Sox.

There were so many amazing moments in a long day of ball that it was hard to narrow down to just five. But here is our best shot at it. This is what we do at Three Up, Three Down. We write stuff on baseball-related activities for your enjoyment. So, enjoy!

5. Justin Jacks One

Welcome to Atlanta, where the playa’s play and Upton hits bombs like every day. No disrespect to Freddie Freeman, who also went mammo today, but this Justin Upton blast was put in orbit. And it’s not just a top moment because of the distance–the Braves outfield is the most freakish in baseball, and this is just the first sampling. The Braves faithful have been waiting for this moment since the original trade was made, and the little bro definitely didn’t disappoint.

4. Brewers Bailed Out

One of KP’s least favorite memories of the 2012 season was any blown save by John Axford and Co. If you see our tallest group member, give him a hug. Because Axford was at it again on Opening Day, giving up a no-doubter with two outs in the ninth to the Rockies’ Dexter Fowler, which tied the game. Fortunately for Milwaukee and the home fans, the Rockies pitching staff is deplorable and Jonathan Lucroy was able to score a walk-off sac fly and bail the bullpen out.

3. Bryce Decides Twice is Nice

If there was any debate that last year’s NL Rookie of the Year would suffer from a sophomore slump, he killed it quick. In his first two at-bats of the 2013 season, Bryce Harper absolutely crushed two Ricky Nolasco pitches and put them in the right field bleachers. I’m not buying that his second one has landed yet. In fact, it might currently be traveling over the Atlantic Ocean. Keep an eye out for it. The 20-year-old phenom is on pace for 324 jacks this year. 

2. Stan the Man MUSIAL PATCH

The late Cardinals legend and Hall of Famer Stan Musial is being honored by the team with a cool, classy patch (pictured to the right) on their left sleeves in 2013. But the Arizona Diamondbacks, who hosted the Cards on Opening Day, pulled off a fantastic move by paying homage with a video tribute to Musial between innings. Unfortunately, I don’t have video for you, but the gesture itself was a true act of sportsmanship and remembrance of one of the greatest hitters and humans the world has ever seen.

1. Kershaw Goes Krazy

Let me set the stage: The defending champions travel to their heated rival’s new stadium and face their fancy new team in a battle between two of the best pitchers in the league. A pitcher’s duel turns into a one-man show as Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw not only throws a complete game, four-hit shutout, but hits a go-ahead home run that breaks a scoreless tie in the eighth inning. Unbelievable. And in a game that began with a well-choreographed first pitch skit from Dodgers heroes Sandy Koufax and Orel Hershiser. I have to take a second to brag, as humbly as possible. I tweeted THIS about five minutes before magic occurred. Of course it was a coincidence  but it makes me believe in fairy tale endings, and reinforces our love of this magical sport.

Buckle up, baseball fans. This was just day one. Only 161 more regular season games to go! Vote below on which one of these moments should have been in the top five, or comment about any moments we missed!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook! The best baseball coverage, coming at you from five different states and five different fan bases.

Rangers and Elvis Andrus agree on a long-term extension

Where did all these teams find the money? Following the trend of giving young marquee players huge extensions the Texas Rangers have signed two time All-Star shortstop Elvis Andrus to an eight year extension worth $120 million.

Elvis-Andrus-Getty

The Rangers now have $131 million committed to Andrus over the next 10 seasons. Looking at similar deals given to young shortstops like Troy Tulowitzki the Rangers could have just signed Andrus to a very team friendly deal.

Andrus can opt out four years into his extension which will go into effect after his current deal expires after the 2014 season. So he will be in a Rangers uniform until he is at least 30 and maybe until he is 34 if he decides not to opt out.

This signing is very good news for the Rangers as both Hanley Ramirez and Derek Jeter’s contracts both expire after the 2014 season, and face it the free spending Yankees and Dodgers are both capable of outbidding the Rangers for Andrus.

The Rangers now have some flexibility on the field that GM Jon Daniels will have to work out. He has some very important personal decisions to make regarding certain players futures with the team. What does this extension mean for Ian Kinsler, Jurickson Profar and many others on the team?

This move almost certainly means that top prospect Jurickson Profar will either be the Rangers second baseman in the future or he could be the centerpiece in a deal that brings either David Price or Giancarlo Stanton to Texas. Both of whom are expected to be available  as they near free agency and arbitration respectively. That future could come later this season if Kinsler is moved to first base or elsewhere in the field.

Mitch Moreland could be the player most directly affected by this signing. Before Spring Training this season for the first time in his career Moreland was the starting first baseman from day one. He won’t be platooned like he has in the past few seasons, being sat down against lefties. One reason for this is because of the loss of Michael Young and Mike Napoli but the team also thinks he has matured into an everyday player. With this signing though his leash has likely been shortened and they might be quicker to pull him in favor of bringing Profar up and moving Kinsler over.

Currently the Rangers only have two outfielders on the big league roster under contract past this season, Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin. Both Nelson Cruz and David Murphy could hit free agency at the end of this season if they can’t agree on extensions with the team. So the Rangers could look to next season and try Kinsler in the outfield to see if he can be a replacement for either one of them.

What do you think of the signing? What should the Rangers do about Profar now? Let us know in the comments.

-Brian Boynton (@gingabeard_man)

Ranking the World Baseball Classic Rosters

World-Baseball-Classic-2013In about six weeks, the World Baseball Classic will be upon us again and Team USA will look to win its first title in the competition’s history. They’ve got a good shot — manager Joe Torre released his roster on Thursday, and they are absolutely loaded.

Unfortunately for fans of Team USA, one glance at a few competing rosters will stop the celebration in its tracks. Can someone unseat two-time defending champions, Team Japan? Will Team USA improve upon their 4th-place finish in 2009?

We can’t predict the results down to the wire, but we’re here to do what we do best at Three Up, Three Down. We rank the rosters! So strap in, baseball fans, and see if your favorite team stands a chance:

**The “Stick to Soccer” Group**

Brazil hat wbc

#16: BRAZIL

Notable player(s): Barry Larkin, Manager (and Hall of Fame Reds SS)

International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Ranking: 20

Breakdown: Good thing for their dominance on the international soccer scene, because Brazil isn’t going anywhere in the Classic. Yan Gomes was the first Brazilian player to ever reach the big leagues, and the country itself only has 14 players signed to Major League contracts. How they will win: They won’t. Why they won’t: See “How they will win.”  

china wbc cap

#15: CHINA

Notable player(s): Bruce Chen, SP, Royals 

IBAF Ranking: 18

Breakdown: The Chinese baseball team is a decade away from being a serious contender, but they are headed in the right direction. They’ve made steady improvements over international tournaments since a decent showing at the 2009 WBC, in which they eliminated Chinese Taipei. How they will win: Hustle, starting pitching. Why they won’t: Not enough of either.

Spain wbc cap

#14: SPAIN

Notable player(s): Paco Rodriguez, RP, Dodgers/Engel Beltre, OF, Rangers

IBAF Ranking: 16

Breakdown: I’m not sure what to think about Spain. They lack star power, but did knock off Israel and South Africa in qualifiers. The roster is dotted with promising Major League prospects, but I don’t foresee Spain winning more than a game, maybe two in the WBC. How they will win: Breakout tourney from Beltre. Why they won’t: Their Pool C competition is stacked (Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic).

italy wbc cap

#13: ITALY

Notable player(s): Jason Grilli, RP, Pirates/Francisco Cervelli, C, Yankees/Nick Punto, IF, Dodgers/Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs/Chris Denorfia, OF, Padres

IBAF Ranking: 9

Breakdown: Not only did we miss out on a Hall of Fame induction for Mike Piazza, but he won’t be participating on Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic either. Props to the Italians for back-to-back Euro Championships, but the competition is pretty weak over there right now. I think they will be humbled in the WBC. How they will win: Play with a chip on their shoulder. Why they won’t: Even the MLB-level hitters are thin.

kingdom of netherlands wbc cap

#12: KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS

Notable Player(s): Jair Jurrjens, SP, MLB Free Agent/Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox/Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers/Jonathan Schoop, 3B, Orioles/Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves/Roger Bernadina, OF, Nationals/Andruw Jones, OF, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 7

Breakdown: The Dutch soccer team is one of my favorites to watch. And for the first time in recent memory, so will their baseball team. They just missed my “dark horse” cut, due to sheer overall talent of the rest of the field. But the Major League potential of some youngsters on this roster is extremely intriguing. They’ve won 20 of 32 Euro Championships ever played. How they will win: Infield of dreams breaks out. Why they won’t: Not all the youngsters will perform.

**The Dark Horses**

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#11: SOUTH KOREA

Notable player(s): Jae Seo, SP, former Met, Dodger, Ray in MLB

IBAF Ranking: 4

Breakdown: I feel ridiculous ranking Korea this low, considering their past successes in the WBC. But, it’s the third time this tournament has been played and each team has scouting on the opposition now. I don’t think South Korea will sneak up on anyone this time around. How they will win: High on-base percentage, good defense. Why they won’t: Too much good competition.

Australia-WBC-hat

#10: AUSTRALIA

Notable player(s): Peter Moylan, RP, Dodgers

IBAF Ranking: 10

Breakdown: There’s a handful of good Major League players (like A’s closer Grant Balfour) who hail from the land down under, but there isn’t a whole lot of MLB experience on this roster. Team Australia still has a shot at advancing, but they may have more trouble than in years past. How they will win: Pure grit. Why they won’t: Not enough runs, upstart opposition in Pool B.

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#9: CANADA

Notable player(s): Jesse Crain, RP, White Sox/John Axford, RP, Brewers/Jameson Taillon, SP, Pirates/Russell Martin, C, Pirates/Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays/Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins

IBAF Ranking: 6

Breakdown: We all know that Canada produces some bona fide stars in MLB (Joey Votto, anyone?), but not all are present and accounted for on this roster, similar to Team Australia. They still have the talent to make a run with Lawrie, Morneau and Martin in the middle of the lineup though. How they will win: Dominant bullpen, good middle of the lineup. Why they won’t: Too much youth in the rotation.

taipei wbc cap

#8: CHINESE TAIPEI

Notable player(s): Chien-Ming Wang, SP, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 5

Breakdown: There’s a reason that Team Chinese Taipei is a top-five ranked country right now. But their proudest current professional representative (Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen) is not on the team yet. This team is still legit, and has a very winnable pool group. How they will win: Small ball. Why they won’t: Overall talent is lacking.

**The “Justtttt A Bit Outside” Group**

puerto rico wbc cap

#7: PUERTO RICO

Notable player(s): Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals/Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals/Angel Pagan, OF, Giants/Mike Aviles, IF, Indians/Javier Vasquez, SP, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 12

Breakdown: There may be no more high-ceiling-yet-average team in the WBC this year. Team Puerto Rico has finished fifth at both tournaments preceding this, and killed Team USA in 2009 before being ousted by them two games later on a walk-off hit. Even with players such as Molina, Beltran and Pagan, they won’t even be favorites in their own pool. How they will win: The Major League talent they have is relentlessly good. Why they won’t: Lack of depth in the rotation.

mexico 2013 wbc cap

#6: MEXICO

Notable player(s): Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers/Luis Cruz, 3B, Dodgers/Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers/Danny Espinosa, 2B, Nationals/Sergio Romo, RP, Giants

IBAF Ranking: 11

Breakdown: In their pool, Team Mexico will have to deal with Team USA, but other than that they should be favored to top Team Canada and Team Italy to move on. They have a decent infield, top-of-the-line ace, and one of the best closers in baseball. How they will win: Adrian Gonzalez goes off, Gallardo is dominant. Why they won’t: Romo is neutralized unless they have a lead late.

cuba wbc cap

#5: CUBA

Notable player(s): None 

IBAF Ranking: 1

Breakdown: Don’t let the lack of notable players deceive you — this team is good. Really good. They have played in the IBAF World Cup 29 times and won 25 gold medals, finishing second the other four times. In the WBC, Team Cuba has finished second and fourth (which, at the time, was their lowest finish ever in international competition). They just can’t legally have players like Aroldis Chapman or Yoenis Cespedes on their squad, otherwise they might be even better. How they will win: Hard-throwing starters, handful of five-tool prospects. Why they won’t: The top four teams are just too stacked.

**The Favorites**

japan wbc hat

#4: JAPAN

Notable player(s): None

IBAF Ranking: 3

Breakdown: Again, don’t let the lack of Major League firepower fool you. Much like Cuba, Team Japan has been a hotbed for MLB stars over the years (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish). Even though none of them joined the fray in 2013, this team is stacked. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of future MLB players come off this roster after good WBC performances. After all, they are two-for-two in WBC titles up to this point. How they will win: Ichiro-style on-base scavengers, deceptive pitching. Why they won’t: Not having Ichiro and Darvish, among others, will end up costing Team Japan.

dominican republic wbc hat

#3: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Notable player(s): Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants/Octavio Dotel, RP, Tigers/Alexi Ogando, RP, Rangers/Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays/Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Pirates/Edinson Volquez, SP, Reds/Carlos Santana, C, Indians/Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers/Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees/Edwin Encarnacion, DH/OF, Blue Jays/Hanley Ramirez, IF, Dodgers/Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays/Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers/Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays

IBAF Ranking: 13

Breakdown: The only reason Team Dominica is ranked so low by the IBAF is because all those notable players are stars in the big leagues, and don’t regularly compete internationally for their country. But now that the WBC has rolled around again, this is one unbelievably good team. My only concern is their starting pitching depth. How they will win: Scoring 15 runs per game (no…really). Why they won’t: Like I said, starting pitching depth. Will Volquez and Rodriguez be enough?

USA wbc hat

#2: UNITED STATES

Notable player(s):  Jeremy Affeldt, RP, Giants/R.A. Dickey, SP, Blue Jays/Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves/Kris Medlen, SP, Braves/Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants/Chris Perez, RP, Indians/Joe Mauer, C, Twins/Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds/Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies/David Wright, 3B, Mets/Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees/Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers/Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins/Adam Jones, OF, Orioles/Joe Torre, Manager

IBAF Ranking: 2

Breakdown: I didn’t even pick all the “notable players” I could have for this team. It’s Team USA’s equivalent of the MLB Dream Team, and Justin Verlander still is undecided as to whether he’ll join the rotation. This team is already a favorite with a balanced lineup and very strong pitching staff, but adding JV would be a coup. Check out fellow Three Up, Three Down host Bryan Mapes’ grades-by-position for Team USAHow they will win: Veteran experience, explosive pitching. Why they won’t: The bane of their existence, Team Japan, will come along eventually.

venezuela wbc cap

#1: VENEZUELA

Notable player(s): Anibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers/Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners/Francisco Rodriguez, RP, MLB Free Agent/Ronald Belisario, RP, Dodgers/Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks/Salvador Perez, C, Royals/Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers/Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians/Miguel Cabrera, 3B/1B, Tigers/Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants/Marco Scutaro, 2B, Giants/Carols Gonzalez, OF, Rockies/Gerardo Parra, OF, Diamondbacks

IBAF Ranking: 8

Breakdown: The quantity of star power on Team Venezuela might not match up to Team USA or Team Dominica, but the quality is far and beyond. When you start your rotation with Hernandez and stack the middle of your lineup with the reigning Triple Crown winner between Gonzalez and Sandoval, you are a very, very scary team. Even though their WBC pool is very tough, it would be a momentous upset to not see Team Venezuela make moves in the 2013 tournament. How they will win: A large margin of victory. Against anyone. Why they won’t: Slumping hitters or being outplayed by one of the other favorites.

And that’s a wrap. This writer believes Team Venezuela is the team to beat, with Team USA, Team Dominica and Team Japan not far behind. But in all honesty, there are about 10-11 teams who could potentially take home the title in 2013. Root for your team and country to take home top honors, and stay tuned to Three Up, Three Down because we’ll have all your World Baseball Classic coverage.

Like what you see? Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for more WBC and MLB news and analysis.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Teixiera trade still paying off for the Rangers

The Texas Rangers recently signed Matt Harrison to a five-year extension, worth $55 million, keeping the All Star left hander in Arlington through 2018. The first two years of the contract, which buy out his remaining years of arbitration, will net Harrison $13 million combined. While the final three years of the contract will earn him $13 million a season.

Harrison, 27, led the team in wins last season at 18. He has proved he can stay healthy and consistent which has plagued many of his teammates in the rotation. Over the last two seasons he has pitched nearly 400 innings, setting a career high in 2012 with 213 1/3 innings, with a 3.34 ERA.

The Rangers now have a core rotation with ages of 27 (Harrison), 29 (Ogando), 26 (Darvish), 26 (Holland). Three of which are signed through 2016.

Last offseason the Rangers won the bidding rights for 25-year-old right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish who they then signed for 6 years. Then right before the start of last season they agreed to a five-year contract extension with left hander Derek Holland who was slated to become a free agent after the 2015 season.

The Rangers have had an extremely hard time of bringing in free agent pitchers in the past  and locking up their younger pitchers has been of extreme importance in recent years. So having Darvish, Harrison, and Holland locked up through what should be the prime of their careers should lead to rotation stability for the next few seasons.

I’m not saying that all or any of these guys will be in the rotation in 2016 but having that much stability is something this franchise has been desperately missing for many years. Knowing what their rotation has for the next few seasons affords this team much more flexibility than it has previously had.

A lot of players on this team are the same guys who came within one strike, TWICE, of winning the World Series. So locking up as many of these young players should be the franchises first priority. Next that needs to be signed is Elvis Andrus.

-Brian Boynton

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