Welcome to the latest edition of Daniel's Minions, a weekly roundtable of writers who follow the Texas Rangers. The Rangers have advanced to their first World Series and now face the San Francisco Giants on baseball’s biggest stage.
The American League Championship celebration was nice, but it’s time to get back to work and our writers this week discuss a variety of topics heading into Game One of the World Series.
Our writers this week are myself, Bo Reed, Let's Talk Rangers contributor Matthew Irby and KZNE 1150 reporter Stephen Rhodes. Let's dive right into some ALCS talk.
1) If there has been one pitcher that has been a let down so far in the playoffs, it's Tommy Hunter. Should the Rangers replace him with Derek Holland for game four?
Bo Reed: After Hunter was knocked out of game four of the ALCS my immediate reaction was to replace him in the rotation with Holland if the Rangers advanced to the World Series.
However, now that the Rangers have advanced and looking at all the right-handed hitters in the Giants’ lineup, I think Hunter should get the ball in game four at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
He’s been a good pitcher at home all season and I also really don’t want to alter anything that’s going on with Derek Holland right now. The kid is comfortable and very confident coming out of the bullpen so joining the rotation can wait until March when the Rangers start playing Cactus League games.
Matthew Irby: For the World Series I would stick with Hunter for game four and the reason behind that is two-fold. One, I like Hunter at home as opposed to on the road, and game four will be in the friendly confines of the Ballpark. Two, I have thoroughly enjoyed Wash's use of Holland in the postseason. He is a very solid weapon coming out of the bullpen to be used in short relief and long if necessary.
When Hunter struggled in game four of the ALCS it was Holland's performance that allowed time for the Ranger bats to ignite and win our third game of the series. I still have some confidence in Hunter going against Madison Bumgarner, but as before with a short leash. If he struggles, bring in Holland.
Stephen Rhodes: I think I made my case last time. Also I think that after their respective ALCS performances it showed that Holland consistently has been more effective this postseason. However, I know Hunter has it in him to do great things as well and he hasn't been bad. Holland has just been better. I think we'll be okay whatever they decide to do. It also helps Hunter's case that his game will be at home because of his great regular season home record.
2) There has been a lot of discussion about the bullpen for both the Rangers and the Giants. Is there anyone in the bullpen that you do not trust going into the World Series?
Bo Reed: The bullpen had a rough start to the playoffs but things have settled down very nicely over the past few games. Neftali Feliz has regained that confident, hell flat out cocky look on the mound making his command troubles earlier a distant memory.
The one reliever that makes me nervous going into the World Series is Mark Lowe simply because the guy hasn’t pitched more than a couple of innings since the beginning of the season. That’s a long time to go without pitching so hopefully he won’t have to come into a tight game just in case he’s more rusty than expected.
Matthew Irby: I have said before that I'm a tad concerned about Neftali Feliz, but only because he hasn't had a save opportunity in the postseason. Granted the healthy margin of victories have been nice for my blood pressure, but after his ninth inning shutdown of the Yankees in Game 6, I feel a tad better. Mark Lowe replaces Clay Rapada, but I'm still unsure of him. As for the Giants, from what I have read Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo (maybe it's the name) don't scare me at all, but a locked-in Brian Wilson will be a tough match, and right now the "Beard" is locked-in.
Stephen Rhodes: Well I'm pretty much alright with everyone in the bullpen right now but if I have to choose it would be Mark Lowe. He's historically a good pitcher but he's coming off the DL and he's only pitched 3 games for us. I don't really know what we have with him and that makes me a little nervous. Hopefully the starters will make it easy on the bullpen though.
3) Vlad gets the start in right field for game one with the rest of the games played in San Francisco still to be determined. Should he start every game of the World Series no matter what happens in game one or do the Rangers need to sacrifice his bat for better defense?
Bo Reed: As much as Vlad playing right field scares the hell out of me, especially the one in San Francisco, the Rangers simply can’t take his bat out of the order. He started heating up the last couple of games of the ALCS which would make the middle of the Rangers order incredibly strong if he continues to swing a hot bat.
Matthew Irby: Either Vlad's game six performance was a flash of his midseason form or he is heating back up. If Vlad is heating up, Wash will have to sacrifice the defense to get Vlad's hot bat in the lineup and be able to protect Hamilton. If he struggles again in game one, then the staff needs to look into using Vlad as a late pinch-hitter instead of a starter. If I had to make the decision, I would start Vlad in RF in game one, then Murphy in LF for game two, and have Vlad pinch hit late in the game if necessary. As for games six and seven, well we can deal with that later.
Stephen Rhodes: I think they've already announced at the point I'm writing my answers that he will start in both games one and two in San Francisco. I'm fine with it. I'm great with it. If for some strange reason he struggles we've got incredible depth that can sub in for him. Also, I think he's just getting back in to the rhythm of things and I expect a huge World Series from Vladdy.
4) Just for fun, what contract would you offer both Cliff Lee and Vladimir Guerrero this offseason?
Bo Reed: Let’s start this off with Vlad who will be looking for a multi-year deal and rightfully so.
I’d offer him a two year contract frontloaded in case he starts to age faster than he appears to be right now. $12 million in year one, $8 million in year two with an $8 million option for a third year.
Cliff Lee is about to get a serious raise in salary and the Rangers are going to have to compete with the Evil Empire on this one. The good news is Lee seems to like it here in Arlington and has said it would be very hard to walk away from the team if they win the World Series.
Chuck Greenberg has said the Rangers aren’t going into this fight “with a peashooter” so with that I’m prepared to open the vault for Lee.
Six guaranteed years for $170 million.
Yes I know that number is staggering, however, the Rangers core players are still young and affordable for the next few years, not to mention the Rangers have an ownership group that knows how to generate revenue for a change; just look at their new TV deal.
Matthew Irby: Oh I do like this; it's like getting to play with house money.
Vladimir Guerrero - 2 year, $20 Million w/ a mutual 3rd year option of $12 Million
Cliff Lee - 5 years, $125 Million (back loaded, so that it is more affordable once the added revenue comes in, especially from the new TV contract)
Stephen Rhodes: I'm not good with this but here are my guesses:
Vladdy- $45 million for 4 years
Lee- $120 million for 5 years