Monday, August 01, 2011

Rangers Trade Analysis - Deadline Deals

This week the Rangers made two trades before the trading deadline, and I will analyze both of them.

On July 30th, the Rangers acquired RP Koji Uehara and cash from the Orioles in exchange for 1B/3B Chris Davis and SP Tommy Hunter.

Evaluation: I really like this trade. Koji Uehara is a fantastic relief pitcher, one of the best in all of baseball, and the Rangers desperately needed relief help. Koji has a 1.72 ERA on the year, following up a good year last year in which he posted a 2.86 ERA. He has also struck out 64 batters in 48 innings this season and has held opponents to a .150 average, which is incredible. He will probably also be a Ranger next year, as his contract vests with about 10 more appearances this year for 2012. He has a 3.01 career ERA.

Meanwhile, the Rangers didn’t have to give up a whole lot to get him. I don’t think Chris Davis would ever have been a consistent role player for the Rangers, and I think if he plays well for the Orioles, it will have happened due to the change of scenery. Chris has a career .247 batting average, but has not had a good year in the majors since his rookie year in 2008 when he hit .285 with 17 home runs and 55 RBIs. In 2009, he hit .238 with 21 homers and 59 RBIs. In 2010, he really struggled, batting .192 with just 1 home run and 4 RBIs in 120 at-bats, and before the trade this year, he was hitting .250 with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs.

Tommy Hunter is a bigger loss than Davis, but I don’t think he will be missed too much. Tommy was a solid pitcher, with a 4.36 career ERA, but I think that he has reached his ceiling. I don’t think he’ll ever be much more than a #4 or #5 pitcher in a rotation, and the Rangers’ starting pitching is really stacked right now. The Rangers have Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, and Neftali Feliz as young pitchers with lots of potential in the majors right now that could be in the rotation next year to go along with Colby Lewis. Also, there is a good chance they re-sign CJ Wilson out of free agency, and they also have Martin Perez, one of the top prospects in baseball in Triple-A right now.

Grade: A+, the Rangers got a lot in this deal, but didn’t have to give up much to get it

On July 31st, the Rangers acquired RP Mike Adams from the Padres in exchange for SP Robbie Erlin and SP Joe Wieland.

Evaluation: I’m not as sure about this trade as I was about the Uehara deal. I really like Mike Adams, and think he is a great addition, but the Rangers gave up two major prospects to get him. However, Mike is arguably the best setup man in baseball, with an unbelievable 1.13 ERA in 48 innings this season. He has struck out 49 batters and held them to a .155 batting average this year. Mike has been dominant each of the past four years, posting ERAs of 2.48, 0.73, 1.76, and 1.13. Also, he has closer stuff and is an obvious candidate to step into Feliz’s closer role if Neftali goes to the rotation next year, as Adams is signed through 2012, which is another key part of this trade.

But while Mike Adams is a big addition, Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland are very significant losses. At this point Erlin and Wieland were probably the Rangers’ #2 and #3 pitching prospects, and while neither probably will ever be an ace, they are pretty surely going to be very solid #2-4 guys in a good rotation. After a great season in 2010, when Robbie Erlin had an ERA of 2.12 and struck out 125 batters in 114.2 innings, all of them with Low-A Hickory, Robbie started off 2011 with High-A Myrtle Beach. Erlin dominated with the Pelicans, and quickly got called up to Double-A Frisco after just 54.2 innings in which he had a 2.14 ERA. Since the call-up however, Robbie has struggled a bit, with a 4.32 ERA in 66.2 innings with the RoughRiders.

Joe Wieland, on the other hand, has been fantastic ever since he was called up to Frisco earlier this season, with a 1.23 ERA in Double-A before the trade. His last start in the Rangers organization was a no-hitter against the San Antonio Missions. He was called up earlier this year after starting off the season very well with Myrtle Beach, posting a 2.10 ERA in 85.2 innings of work. 2011 was a big improvement from last year for Joe, who pitched well in Low-A Hickory in 2010 with a 3.34 ERA, before struggling in the hitter-friendly California League with High-A Bakersfield, where his ERA spiked to 5.19. With his performance this year, Joe has quickly climbed most prospect rankings.

Grade: B, this was a great deal for the next couple of years, but the Rangers gave up two very good pitching prospects to get this deal done

Come back next week for my July Awards.

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