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DFW Quick Hits 7/24/12

July 24, 2012

 

Colby Lewis: While Colby’s consistency and durability will be missed this regular season and his ability to rise to the occasion will be missed come playoff time there is one good thing about his season ending injury: signability. It’s a 9-12 month injury that occurred in July which means he’s likely to be unsigned as of spring training in March and the odds are strong that he’ll be in a Rangers uniform next season on a 1 year “show me” contract. That was not the likely prognosis a few weeks ago as Colby was shaping up as one of the better free agent pitchers this winter and would have commanded a 2-4 year deal in the $10-15 million range. The Rangers with free agents Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli, Mike Adams, and Roy Oswalt would likely have been forced to let him leave this winter yet now there’s a good chance they’ll get one more season of the Cobra. Whether he’s a shell of his former self or by season end is continuing his consistent ways is the only question but we haven’t seen the last of Colby in a Rangers uniform and his late season injury is likely the only reason why.

 

Josh Hamilton: Countless pages of print have been written on Hamilton’s current slump so I won’t spend too much time on it but a look at a few numbers are still insightful. In 2009 Hamilton had similar “streaks” like he’s having in 2012 with his April (.661 OPS) and July (.513) that year mirroring his July (.587) this year. While it looks like his slump is actually getting worse it’s important to remember that he bounced back from that horrible April to have a good May (.841) and when he went south again in July he bounced back one more time to have another good month in August (.839). We should keep that in mind as Josh looks absolutely lost right now at the plate (has a shocking .470 OPS post All-Star break) yet his career seems to be one long hot streak or dry spell so fans should just understand that Hamilton eventually will break out of his slump and when he does it likely will be in a big way. Yet until then there is no defending Ron Washington’s decision to leave him at his standard #3 spot. When Hamilton is hot it’s easy to tell and when he’s not it’s even more obvious as he has poor body language, a slower swing, and often gives the impression that he just doesn’t care. With the Angels only 5 games up with 67 games to go it’s important that Washington shift his lineup so the team isn’t hurt as badly during one of Hamilton’s slumps. Comparing Craig Gentry’s post All-Star stats (1.063 OPS) vs. Hamilton’s (.470 OPS) shows all you need to know about Washington’s stubborness in switching his lineup as I doubt you can find another team that has their #9 hitter outplaying their #3 hitter. If Joe Maddon was managing this team Hamilton would have been batting 6th or lower in the lineup weeks ago and Gentry would have been batting 1st in the lineup months ago.

 

Trading for an ace: I’ve said for awhile that I want the Rangers to stand pat at the trade deadline unless it nets them a bonafide ace. I don’t consider Greinke or Hamels in that category as Greinke has only once in his 9 year career had an ERA 3.30 or lower and Hamels hasn’t been considered an “ace” on his own staff since 2008. Yet now 2 new names have been floated by their teams’ that are extremely intriguing to me: Cliff Lee and Josh Johnson. Both pass the “ace” test as both have had a sub 3.30 ERA 3 of the past 4 years and both are under contract beyond this year. If the Rangers are going to give up a top prospect like a Martin Perez or Mike Olt, Jurickson Profar is off limits unless a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper is the trade target (I’m only slightly exaggerating), they better have the services of that ace for more than a few months. Some might argue that Hamilton, Cruz, and Napoli’s pending free agency warrants a high priced rental like Hamel but to me you don’t give up a player of Olt’s caliber on a rental, no matter how impactful they can be. Even if two of those three free agents walk next year I suspect that simply moving Kinsler to LF, Profar to 2B, and Olt to 1B would be sufficient to keep them in contention next year. Also shifting money from bashers (Hamilton, Cruz) to pitching (why not make a +100 million offer to Hamel this winter?) could be cheaper and more effective long term. My discombobulated point is that I don’t buy into the “this is the last year the Rangers are the favorites” train of thought so I’m unwilling to trade for just a rental. Yet Lee and Johnson aren’t rentals and both might be worth the acquisition cost as they could be the lead pitcher on the Rangers staff for this year and for years to come. A future playoff rotation of Johnson and Darvish as the #1 and #2 pitchers with a more experienced Holland, Harrison, or Feliz mixed in could be extremely formidable. If the Rangers can add an ace under contract I’d be willing to trade an Olt or Perez for them and it could be the perfect addition for the Rangers with Lewis’ recent injury.

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