Friday, July 12, 2013

Rangers at The Trade Deadline: Starting Pitching

By Jeff Feltman


The Trade Deadline Looms

It’s July 12th.  The countdown to the non-waiver trade deadline has begun.  The Texas Rangers are in the mix on everything from starting pitching to hot dog vender.  Let us look at each area and see if and why they have a need and who I think they should go get to fill it.  Today we will look at starting pitching.

This team’s need is all about expectations.  If they expect to return to the World Series, they need pitching.  If they expect to win it for a change, they need quality pitching.  Let’s assume that Yu Darvish is not injured long term and he will be your number 1 starter.  You are golden with him in the front of the rotation.  And Derek Holland has pitched lights out in the number two hole.  

Rangers fans will bring up the Arizona Diamondbacks as an example of winning a world series with two dominate starters.  But the Rangers have to get there first.  After Holland the starting pitching gets sketchy AT BEST!  

There are 70 games left for your Texas Rangers.  They are in second place in the West and lead the wild card.  Cat bird seat right?  Remember last year?  How much of a difference would one win have meant last year to the Rangers?  They need to win the division.  For a team like the Rangers, leading the wild card should scare the hell out of them.  Fighting for your life at the end of the season is not conducive to winning a world series.  You want enough of a lead at the end of the year to allow you to set up your rotation and rest your older players.  This rotation won’t do it.  Without Darvish on the DL, your 3-5 starters will be going 42 more times for your team at least.  

So what do they do?  Get a one year rental?  Give up more and get a controllable pitcher for a couple years?  Do nothing and hope for the best?

Their first option should be a controllable pitcher.  The Rangers are not an old team with one more shot left in them.  They don’t need Cliff Lee from two years ago.  They need an up-and-comer who will help them this year and be a solid number two or three for the next couple years.  These players aren’t cheap.  What’s worse; with the extra wild card this year, there are fewer teams willing to trade a player that can help this year.  Here are the best options:

Yovani Gallardo:  Signed thru 2014 with a team option for 2015 (5yr 30 million) and a Texas kid.  He has spent his entire career in the National League Central.  Before this year, that included the light hitting Houston Astros.  He has a career 3.77 ERA, however, this year, it’s almost a run higher than his next highest year.  His interleague stats don’t look bad until you look at the teams he faces.  Career he has a 3.55 ERA in interleague, but against the Red Sox (3 IP, 5 ER, 2 HR, 15.00 ERA), and the Oakland Athletics (6 IP, 5 ER, 7.50 ERA) you start to worry.  How many times have you seen a national league stud move to the American league and get hammered?

Travis Wood:  Just now becoming arbitration eligible, Wood cannot become a free agent until 2017.  He is having a breakout season, far superior to any season he put up before.  Some “fans” worry that it’s just a fluke.  But scouts and talent guys alike all agree Wood got out of his own way and started pitching the way he was capable.  Some scouts are saying he will be one of the top ten lefty’s in the game by next year.  His interleague numbers are exceptional as well.  He threw 6 innings of shutout ball against Oakland, gave up 2 runs in 6.2 against the Angels, and gave up 2 runs in 6.1 innings against Seattle.  He will be expensive.  A left handed starter that is under team control for 3 more years should be.  

Bud Norris:  I don’t know what to make of Mr. Norris.  One game he is lights out, the next he is a Christmas tree.  He is under control thru 2016 and has pitched well in the American League.  Depending on what the Astros want, this would be a very good move.  I would love to see what the Rangers coaches could do with this kid.  This move would be less about this year, more about next year.  

Next are rental pitchers.  If you see the Rangers go this route again, John Daniels loses some respect in my opinion.  Nothing about this team says “this is our only year.”  But, since some GM’s refuse to give up anything substantial, this is the way it usually goes.

Matt Garza:  Universally agreed to be the best rental pitcher available.  He will change the fortunes of a team this year.  What is lost in the rental argument is they can still resign him.  Texas has a strong core of players and a great club house.  If the Rangers acquire Garza, I think they have a great shot at keeping him.  The key to Garza is he came from the American League East and cut his teeth against lineups with DH’s.  You don’t have to worry about the transition.  There are health concerns.  But with every pitcher there is.  This is where the Rangers will go if someone doesn’t beat them to the punch or outbid them.  

Jake Peavy:  A veteran pitcher who the White Sox will move.  IF he can stay off the DL.  This will more likely be a waiver trade.

Cliff Lee:  25 million over the next two years.  You could have had him for that price and not given up the prospects now.  If the Phillies eat 12.6 million of his contract over the next two years, I won’t throw rotten eggs at JD if he makes this move.  This is short sided and desperate….are the Rangers there?  


Third option: Do nothing.  This can’t happen.  This team needs to make a move and get a starting pitcher, or TWO!  You never hear a team say, “Oh drat, we have too many quality starters, that won’t bode well come playoff time.”

The road to the World Series is going thru the East this year in the American league.  A division where the fourth place team is 8 games over five hundred.  And the top three teams are 14 games over five hundred against the west.  Every team in the west is below five hundred against the east.  Oh, and Detroit in the Central?  How about 15-11 against the East.  

Darvish is a beast.  Holland is too.  But you can’t expect them to be perfect in every game.  This team needs pitching, to ensure they not just make the playoffs, but win their division.  The teams they will be facing have great starters too.  And someone is going to need to score runs for this team.  I will cover that next.

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