Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yu Darvish and Brad Hawpe Analysis

This week I will provide my analysis on both of the Rangers’ moves this week, the signing of Yu Darvish, and the signing of Brad Hawpe. I also provided a look-ahead for the rest of the offseason. This post will be a fairly short one as I was gone all of Saturday at a church retreat.

YU DARVISH: I really like this signing, as I think Yu is a future ace, and the Rangers are getting him right at the beginning of the prime of his career at age 25. He has a career 1.99 ERA in Japan, including an ERA of 1.44 this past season. Scouts have said that he has 7 pitches, including 2-3 great ones. He has great command of his fastball, which is normally at about 93-95 mph. He also is supposed to be a hard worker with a lot of drive and determination. I think that he will be one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball in the very near future, and if he is that, then 6 years and $110 million will be a bargain.
GRADE: A, it is very hard to get aces to sign here in Texas with the hitter’s ballpark and with the heat, and so this is a great way for the Rangers to get an ace. I love this move.

BRAD HAWPE: I also like this pick-up, as Hawpe will be very good depth, and is a low-risk, high-reward addition. Brad had a rough year last year, and has really had a rough 2 years, but has been an All-Star as recently as 2009. Before having back-to-back years with batting averages of .245 and .231 and combined power numbers of 13 home runs and 63 RBI’s, Brad had really been playing well. Starting in 2006, Hawpe had averages of .293, .291, .283, and .285, and hit 20+ home runs to go along with 80+ RBIs in each of those four years. Also, the depth he gives is important in case Mitch Moreland struggles, especially coming off of his wrist injury, and also gives us the depth we need to trade Mitch for starting pitching or for a center fielder if the Rangers sign Prince Fielder.
GRADE: A-, I’m always in favor of depth-adding, low-risk, high-reward moves, just because they cost you almost nothing, and give you so many options. And if they work out well, the players can be an integral part of the team.


UTILITY INFIELDER WITH SHORTSTOP ABILITY: The most likely options here would be Edgar Renteria and Miguel Tejada. They are both veteran players, who will not get a starting job, and although neither excites me much, there just are not many options left at this position.

LEFT-HANDED RELIEF PITCHER: Mike Gonzalez is by far the most likely player to fill this role, as the Rangers have been in talks with him, and already have familiarity with him from last year. I would love to bring him back, and I think he will have a really good season next year. There really aren’t any other options at lefty. If they don’t sign a lefty, they will probably sign a righty, such as Juan Cruz, or maybe even Michael Wuertz.

PRINCE FIELDER: I wouldn’t necessarily call him a need, but there are a lot of rumors connecting him to the Rangers, and I would love to sign him. He would be a huge addition to the line-up, and would also open up the Rangers to trade Mitch Moreland for a Wade Davis type pitcher, or in a package for a Matt Garza caliber one.

Come back next week for more offseason analysis, hopefully on the signing of Prince Fielder.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

CJ Wilson

Ever since CJ has become a free agent and was then signed by the Angels, I have heard a lot of people say that they are glad that he is gone, and it has really frustrated me.

First off, he had a lot of success with the franchise, with a career record of 43-35, with a 3.60 ERA and 52 saves along with 637 strikeouts in 708 innings. Those are numbers that easily make him one of the Top 50 All-Time Rangers, as he ranked number 33 in my most recent list. There is no way that anybody should be saying good riddance to one of the franchise’s top players, and a player that has been a key part of back-to-back American League champion teams.

He has had this success as a starter, a closer, and a set-up man, showing his versatility and willingness to do whatever the team asks him to. He was 31-15 in his two full seasons as a starter, with ERAs of 3.35 and 2.94, pitching well enough to be an All-Star in 2011. He also led the league in games started this past year. Are those the numbers of someone that you want to get rid of?

As a closer, he had plenty of success, converting the vast majority of save opportunities, and definitely did his job. He also spent part of two seasons as a set-up man, and had ERAs of 3.03 and 2.81 in those years.

And while, yes, he did struggle in the playoffs this year, he did well in the 2010 playoffs. He compiled a 3.70 ERA and held opponents to a .191 batting average in the 2010 playoff run, and pitched extremely well in both the ALDS and World Series. So it’s not like he has been a terrible playoff pitcher in his career.

And that’s just what he had done on the field. He has also been great for the Rangers off the field. Over the course of his career, he has done a lot of work out in the community, and has been at a lot of charity events, even starting his own charity. So not only is he a great pitcher, but he is a great person, and that’s something that I have personally been able to see. He has probably been the nicest Ranger I have ever met, and that is saying a lot with all of the great guys in the organization. He did an interview with me and also helped me line up an interview with Ian Kinsler. He has taken a lot of time to talk with me. There were multiple times at Spring Trainings when he talked with me for a good 20 minutes after the morning workouts were over, while every other player on the team was back in the clubhouse showering and getting ready.

CJ is a guy that I will sorely miss, and has received a lot of unfair criticism and negativity.