Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Texas Rangers & Pitching

For YEARS - since I was a kid - the Rangers have needed starting pitching. They always need a better #1 or #2 man in the rotation. So, as the MLB trade deadline looms, it's time for the annual Rangers fan disappointment as the team fails to go out and get what they need to make the playoffs.

As in most years, there's debate in Arlington whether the Rangers are one move away from contention. And debate about what they need most - another bat, help in the pen or a starter. Based on the current standings in the AL West and the wildcard, the Rangers should absolutely try to make a run this year. And, after 25 years as a Rangers fan, I can tell Tom Hicks and crew that the answer is simple - GET A DANG STARTER!

The Rangers say they won't deal their top pitching prospects, of which they have several that, packaged properly, could bring them a proven major league pitching stud. So, why won't the Rangers make such a move? Because the Rangers are paralized by a chronic inability to admit one simpe truth: they have NEVER been able to develop starting pitchers - and it's NOT the Ballpark's fault.

Their best pitching prospects have always either flopped in the bigs or gone on to flourish somewhere else (both those who came up through the Rangers organization or were acquired at a relatively young age) - Esteban Loaiza, Kevin Brown, John Thomson, Doug Davis, Jamie Moyer have all worn Rangers uniforms and then gone on to better seasons elsewhere. Only Rick Helling and Kenny Rogers stand out as minor exceptions. And yet, the Rangers still refuse to admit this organizational weakness even with more evidence this season when they waived their Opening Day starter - Ryan Drese - who was promptly picked up by the Nats. and has since gone 3-2 with a 3.44 ERA!

Yet, somehow, the Rangers have a pretty good track record for evaluating/acquiring and even developing relief pitchers - especially closers. Proof that it's not the Ballpark.

Because of the Rangers' and the Ballpark's reputation, the team can't attract top free agent pitchers in the offseason. They embarrasingly struck out swinging at past free agents like Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson.

So, why in the world aren't the Rangers in discussions for the likes of A.J. Burnett or Jason Schmidt? Or any servicable starter for that matter? Why not grab a great arm in a trade and negotiate a contract extension as part of the deal? This may well be the only method by which the Rangers could actually piece together the rotation of a contender.

With Kenny Rogers having a career year, Chan Ho Park actually winning more than losing and Chris Young looking like he might be an exception to the Rangers' development woes (time will tell), one great top-of-the-rotation arm like Schmidt or Burnett could easily ease the pressure on the bullpen and combine with a pounding offense to take the Rangers to the next level.

But, no doubt, I write in vain. Surely, the Rangers will stay true to form - at best picking up one spare arm or maybe a mediocre bat-for-hire and finish just short of the playoffs. The only difference this October will be a legitimate "what if" debate, because with one more stud starter, Rogers and Park/Young plus Benoit, Wasdin and Cordero in the bullpen and this offense - the Rangers could actually do something in the playoffs this year.

3 Comments:

At 11:48 AM, Blogger AceMakr said...

Jim Reeves makes a good argument in today's Star Telegram that it is the ballparks fault - it's even surpassed Coors Field as the #1 homer launching pad. His theory is that prevailing wind changed when the crown club closed in the area behind home plate.

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger AceMakr said...

Jim Reeves makes a good argument in today's Star Telegram that it is the ballparks fault - it's even surpassed Coors Field as the #1 homer launching pad. His theory is that prevailing wind changed when the crown club closed in the area behind home plate.

 
At 10:14 PM, Blogger dbest said...

It's always been a hitters park, sure. But, do what it takes to get pitching that can win with our offense.

Why in the world didn't we trade Kenny Rogers this year? He was 10-4 at the break with a 2.54 ERA (a career stretch performance), and has gone 4-3 since with his era rising to 4.74 since the break.

The Rangers SHOULD have gotten at least two good prospects for Kenny in July, but instead still just have just a 40 y.o., disgruntled free agent.

STUPID!

They could have dealt him, and then resigned him for next year in free agency if they were smart - and ended up with at least 2 prospects.

 

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