Ian Kinsler was an instant fan favorite from the minute he broke into the big leagues in 2006. A hard swinging, fast, top of the lineup guy who plays old school baseball (including the socks) and is a female favorite (so says my permanent roommate).
He had a 20/20 year in 2007, and 30/30 year in 2009 and 2011. He’s been an above average player every year, and even though he had a down HR/SB year in 2013 (13/15), he actually posted the 2nd highest VORP of his career, 5.3, last year.
But frustration stemming from back to back WS losses and raised expectations across the Rangers organization did not suit Kinsler well. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the fans down here in Texas were happier to get rid of Kinsler than the Tigers were to move Fielder along.
Kinsler had always been regarded as a difficult personality in the clubhouse, and for whatever reason he didn’t get along with Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels. When Nolan Ryan was forced out last year, that led to even more apparent discontent from Kinsler, which manifested itself in popups (from HR seeking upper-cut swings), loafing down 1B on ground balls, and lapses in concentration on the base paths (11 CS against 15 SB was the 2nd worst % in the AL last year). As one Texas commentor (-er?) wrote “I look forward to watching Kinsler get picked off of 1B in a Detroit uniform next year.”
Well, ESPN asked Kinsler about the Rangers this week, and Kinsler didn’t leave anything in the clip. He stated his desire for the Rangers to go 0-162, and referred to Jon Daniels as a “sleazeball.” I don’t know Daniels, but that’s the first such characterization that I’ve heard. Daniels was professional in his response, preferring to leave it alone. I do want to note that Kinsler said his quotes were taken out of context. No word if he meant that he wanted the Rangers to win a few games.
Kinsler was a key cog for those AL Championship teams, and he still has the talent to be an All-Star player in Detroit. Let’s just hope that the change of scenery will result in an attitude change as well.
In other news, Andy Dirks will be out until approximately June. This is troublesome because Dirks was slated to start in LF, and he’s really the guy who should be filling in for an injured starter. Looks like Rajai Davis will be the starter and that his backup will be filled internally. I don’t know much about Rajai Davis, other than he gets a lot of “stolen bases” whatever those are. But this news, coupled with Kinsler’s word bombs, didn’t make for a merry Spring Training Tuesday. Hopefully Jud can restore the shine with some Lakeland lowdown.