McAdam at the ALCS: Rangers the A.L.'s new power

562396.jpg

McAdam at the ALCS: Rangers the A.L.'s new power

ARLINGTON, Texas -- While the Red Sox sort through their institutional dysfunction and the Yankees lick their wounds and weigh their options after a first-round exit, an interesting development has taken root in the American League.

The Texas Rangers have become the AL's third super power.

The Rangers dusted the pesky Detroit Tigers, 15-5, in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series and advance to the World Series for the second straight year.

That doesn't exactly put them in the dynasty category, but consider this: the Rangers are the first team in a decade to win back-to back American League pennants.

And if that hasn't caught the attention of the Yankees and Red Sox, it should.

"I think it's hard to repeat,'' said club president Nolan Ryan, "and when you look at our ballclub, with the young talent we have and the balance that we have . . . Are we elite? I don't know. But I'll say this: I think we're as good a ballclub as there is.''

Over the last few seasons, the Rangers have become an effective and efficient organization. General manager Jon Daniels has emerged as one of the game's top executives and a stabilized ownership group has provided him with the necessary resources.

The Rangers aren't about to spend dollar-for-dollar with the Red Sox and Yankees, with a 2011 payroll of 92 million, good for 13th among the 30 MLB clubs. But remember: They were willing to hand out more than 100 million to retain Cliff Lee last winter.

There's room to grow with that payroll, too. The Rangers' new local TV deal, worth nearly 3 billion, doesn't even kick in until 2015. That might not rival the revenues generated by the Yankees' YES Network or the Red Sox' NESN, but it will do.

(It's worth noting that the among all 30 teams, the Rangers play in the second-biggest unshared TV market.)

It might not even be enough for the Rangers to be players for the super-elite free agents such as Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, but as the Red Sox and Yankees know all too well, that can be a dangerous neighborhood in which to work. The Rangers learned that first-hand with their 252 million contract for Alex Rodriguez.

Besides, these Rangers weren't built on big-dollar free agents. They've won consecutive divisions and pennants thanks to homegrown talent (Ian Kinsler, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, C.J. Wilson, Michael Young), shrewd trades (Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz, David Murphy) and smart free agent signings (Adrian Beltre, Colby Lewis).

But the real foundation of the team came in a huge deal by Daniels in 2007 in which the Rangers traded Mark Teixeira to the Atlanta Braves and got shortstop Elvis Andrus, starter Matt Harrison, closer Neftali Feliz and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in exchange.

The Texas farm system is well-regarded and was in the top half of all organizations last May by Baseball American, an achievement considering how many players the system has graduated in recent seasons, plus the four players they had to sacrifice to get Lee from Seattle in the middle of 2010.

The Rangers are in it for the long haul. And they've won as many pennants as the Yankees and Red Sox combined in the last six seasons.

The Super Two now have company.

Not that the Rangers feel their work is done. Reminded that his team had just become the first team to back-to-back A.L. pennants since the Yankees of 1998-2001, Daniels kept his perspective.

"I think the other teams that did it won the World Series,'' he said, ''so I think we've still got a pretty big step ahead of us before we can put ourselves in that group.''

It's even more incredible when you consider that, until the Rangers beat Tampa Bay in the Division Series a year ago October, they had won exactly one (1) postseason game in their history and had never won a playoff series. Now, they've won four of their last five.

Throw in the fact that the Rangers were literally auctioned to the highest bidder in the summer of 2010 and their journey is all the more remarkable.

Now, the Rangers are headed for the World Series again. And just in case the Red Sox and Yankees have been preoccupied surveying their own damage, they're not going anyway anytime soon.

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame

NEW YORK - Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the honor as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were passed over for the fifth straight year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. But they received significantly more votes this time and could be in position to gain election in coming years.

Bagwell, on the ballot for the seventh time after falling 15 votes short last year, received 381 of 442 votes for 86.2 percent. Players needed 75 percent, which came to 332 votes this year.

In his 10th and final year of eligibility, Raines was on 380 ballots (86 percent). Rodriguez received 336 votes (76 percent) to join Johnny Bench in 1989 as the only catchers elected on the first ballot.

Hoffman was five votes shy and Guerrero 15 short.

Edgar Martinez was next at 58.6 percent, followed by Clemens at 54.1 percent, Bonds at 53.8 percent, Mike Mussina at 51.8 percent, Curt Schilling at 45 percent, Lee Smith at 34.2 percent and Manny Ramirez at 23.8 percent.

Players will be inducted July 30 during ceremonies at Cooperstown along with former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta Braves executive John Schuerholz, both elected last month by a veterans committee.

Bagwell was a four-time All-Star who spent his entire career with Houston, finishing with a .297 batting average, 401 homers and 1,401 RBIs.

Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion. He spent 13 of 23 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season, and joins Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only players to enter the Hall representing the Expos.

Raines hit .294 with a .385 on-base percentage, playing during a time when Rickey Henderson was the sport's dominant speedster.

Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star who hit .296 with 311 homers and 1,332 RBIs, was never disciplined for PEDs but former Texas teammate Jose Canseco alleged in a 2005 book that he injected the catcher with steroids. Asked whether he was on the list of players who allegedly tested positive for steroids during baseball's 2003 survey, Rodriguez said in 2009: "Only God knows."

Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 percent in his initial appearance, in 2013, and jumped from 44.3 percent last year. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, rose from 45.2 percent last year.

Bonds was indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using PEDs, but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts he made false statements and convicted him on one obstruction of justice count, finding he gave an evasive answer. The conviction was overturned appeal in 2015.

Clemens was acquitted on one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, all stemming from his denials of drug use.

A 12-time All-Star on the ballot for the first time, Ramirez was twice suspended for violating baseball's drug agreement. He helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and `07, the first for the franchise since 1918, and hit .312 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs in 19 big league seasons.

Several notable players will join them in the competition for votes in upcoming years: Chipper Jones in 2018, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay in 2019, and Derek Jeter in 2020.

Sam Travis among nine non-roster invitees added to Red Sox spring training roster

Sam Travis among nine non-roster invitees added to Red Sox spring training roster

The Red Sox have invited nine non-roster players to spring training, the team announced Wednesday. The team now has a total of 15 non-roster invitees. 

Added Wednesday to the spring training roster were outfielder/infielder Allen Craig, third baseman Rafael Devers, first baseman Sam Travis, catcher Jordan Procyshen, outfielders Brian Bogusevic and Rusney Castillo, and right-handed pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Chandler Shepherd and Ben Taylor.

In addition to 39 players on the 40-man roster, the Sox have the following breakdown of non-roster invitees: 

Pitchers: Kyle Kendrick, Edgar Olmos, Chandler Shepherd, Ben Taylor, Marcus Walden
 
Catchers: Dan Butler, Jake DePew, Jordan Procyshen
 
Infielders: Rafael Devers, Matt Dominguez, Sam Travis
 
Outfielders: Brian Bogusevic, Rusney Castillo, Allen Craig, Junior Lake