Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rangers Offseason Analysis

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a couple of weeks. I have been out of town in Cincinnati and in Disney World.

This week I will analyze the moves that the Rangers have made so far this offseason, along with giving them a grade, on an A through F scale, with A being the best, and giving them an importance grade, on an A through F scale, based on how important the move is for the Rangers, with A being the most important.

On November 21st, the Rangers signed closer Joe Nathan on a 2-yr, $14 million deal with a club option worth $9 million for a third year.

ANALYSIS: I think that this is a really good move by the Rangers. They are getting a guy in Nathan who has the potential to be the best closer in baseball, as before his Tommy John surgery he was posting ERAs of 1.58, 1.88, and 1.33 consecutively. And while he struggled coming off of the injury last year, he did improve towards the end of the year. He also makes the Rangers all-around pitching staff better, as his signing allowed the Rangers to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation, which may move Alexi Ogando back to the bullpen, leaving the Rangers with a new potential ace in the rotation and another dominant set-up man alongside Mike Adams. They may have overpaid just a little bit to sign Nathan, but I still like the move, especially with all of the positive ramifications it creates.

On December 1st, the Rangers traded C Taylor Teagarden to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for RHP Randy Henry.

ANALYSIS: While I will miss Taylor, as he is a really good guy and a good defensive catcher, I am happy he will get the opportunity to back up Matt Wieters in Baltimore. However, this is not a big loss at all for the Rangers, as he was spending almost all of his time at Triple-A and the Rangers obviously had no confidence in him, as they even traded for an emergency third catcher for September in Matt Treanor. Taylor had only 34 big league at-bats last year. Randy Henry is a right-handed relief pitcher who had a very good year last year, posting a 2.22 ERA between Low-A and High-A, including a 0.82 ERA against right-handed batters while in High-A. Despite a good season last year, Randy doesn’t figure to have a significant future with the Rangers.

On December 9th, the Rangers signed 2B Alberto Gonzalez to a minor league contract.

ANALYSIS: This is a nice pick-up as a guy to replace Esteban German, who went to Japan. Alberto is a utility infielder with plenty of major league experience that they can have in the minors as an emergency man in case there is an injury amongst the Rangers infield (cough, Kinsler). Alberto isn’t all that great, but he provides some good depth. He did have 247 at-bats last year, however, and while he hit only .215, he played good defense, and hit well with runners in scoring position, with a .278 average.

On December 19th, the Rangers won the bidding for the rights to negotiate with Japanese SP Yu Darvish with a $51.7 million bid.

ANALYSIS: I love this move. Darvish has all the pitches to be an ace. He throws up to 96 miles per hour, and reportedly has 4 plus pitches, which is just ridiculous. He posted an ERA of 1.44 this past year for the Nippon Ham Fighters. That was the best ERA of his career, and it is hard to set a new low when you have ERAs of 1.82, 1.88, 1.73, and 1.78 in your first four seasons. He has thrown for 200+ innings in four of his five seasons, which shows that he can be a workhorse, and he had a ridiculous amount of strikeouts (276) in 2011. Another thing I like about him is that he is only 25 years old, unlike most pitchers who come out of Japan who are already veterans. Now, the Rangers obviously haven’t signed Yu yet, as they only won the right to negotiate with him, but I think he is worth the amazing amount of money it will take to get him.

On December 21st, the Rangers traded RHP Ryan Kelly to the San Diego Padres in exchange for C Luis Martinez.

ANALYSIS: Like the pick-up of Alberto Gonzalez, this trade adds good depth in the minor league system at a position where depth is needed. Also, like Gonzalez, Martinez has some major league experience, and is much, much better defensively than at the dish. He hit just .203 last year in 59 at-bats for the Padres, but he played very well defensively, committing no errors, and throwing out a decent percentage of base-stealers. The loss of Tucker isn’t a big deal, either, as he did not have a place on the Rangers, and even if there were injuries, he would be well down the list for a potential call-up.

Come back next week for more offseason analysis.

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