Jul 302012
 
BD8E8129

Could Cliff Lee be a Texas Ranger (Again)?

Yeah, that would sure add comfort to even the most restless of Ranger Nation souls.

As I’m sure we are all more than aware, there is approximately 24 hours left for this year’s non-waiver MLB Trade Deadline. I’m also confident that even those of us who still have dial-up Internet access—looking at you Mom and Dad—are well aware that Zack Greinke is a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

And he’s already lost once for the Halos! Snort, giggle, repeat. Guffaw as necessary.

Some of the names that were bandied about have lost a little luster. Josh Johnson. James Shields. Both are solid pitchers, but would either one actually be good enough to rise to the top of a pretty solid Rangers’ rotation? Maybe, maybe not. Shields had 11 complete games last season, and produced a sparkling 2.82 ERA. This year? Zero complete games, a league-leading 156 hits allowed, and a not-so-savory 4.52 ERA.

And the Rays would want one of the killer Ps or the “Oltimate Warrior”? Pass. Besides, if Shields were to wear the Rangers red or blue, it would take away from the pleasure of beating him senseless in the playoffs as the Rangers are want to do.

Josh Johnson? It’s hard to naysay a power-pitcher that’s 6’7″ 250 pounds. But the Marlins supposedly want a bevy of prospects that would even outweigh what the Angels shipped off for Greinke. Yep, you guessed it—it’d be one of the killer Ps and possibly the Oltmeister.

Plus, Johnson’s injury-riddled past leads one to believe that this giant with the eye-popping potential and stuff to match is constructed of paper-mache. You’re going to want something more fireproof when that thermometer hits it’s mid-August southern stride.

So what does that leave in regards to rotation quick fixes? Well, it may be quite a long shot, but it does leave one Clifton Phifer Lee as a possibility.

If you’re a glass is half empty type, Cliff Lee is the dude that lost two games in the 2010 World Series for us. Personally, I’ll always remember him as the only reason we made it to the dang World Series in the first place.

Ciff Lee is about the only name I can think of that would allow me to let loose my death grip on the Mike Olt, Jurickson Profar, and Martin Perez-types. How far-fetched is the notion t hat Cliff Lee could land in Arlington once again? Well, Buster Olney of ESPN seems to think it could happen:

Yes, it would take a premium prospect (or two.) Yes, there would be a HUGE financial investment. But the window for greatness always seems to shut a little prematurely—Philadelphia Phillies, anyone? So if it’s possible, I say get this done. Bring him on down. We always kind of considered Lee one of our own, anyways.

Not only am I the optimistic sort, I also believe in atonement…there’s a chance—albeit remote—that Cliff Lee could land back in Texas. Hey, everyone deserves a second chance to make the right decision.

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Jul 282012
 
Josh Hamilton 13

Podcast Episode 17: Trade Deadline Part 2 & Slumping Josh

The trade deadline is fast approaching…Scott & Jasen discuss some recent developments, the Rangers next move and the slump of Hambone.

The Angels landed the first blow yesterday in dealing for Zack Greinke to add to an already salty starting rotation, but did they mortgage too much  of there future for a rental player?

Will the Rangers answer with a deal of there own?  Josh Johnson or James Shields?

Do the Rangers need to add some offensive help?  Could we see a big bat that could eventually serve as the replacement of Josh Hamilton – someone like Carlos Gonzalez or Justin Upton?  Or, are we simply looking for depth form the likes of Alfonso Soriano or Jeff Francouer?

Speaking of Hamilton, he is currently in the midst of the biggest slump in his career and he’s starting to hear the boo-birds at Rangers Ballpark. What does this mean long-term? Can Hambone turn it around this year when we need him the most – September & October?

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Jul 272012
 
Josh Johnson 2

Continuing the Trade Target Profiles today with Josh Johnson, who has peaked the interest of many Rangers fans over the last couple of days.  With Cole Hamels off the market and the unsavory thought of Greinke being nothing more than a 3 month rental, Johnson’s attractiveness shot up the charts quickly.

Joshua Michael Johnson

The Player

Potential Trade Target Profile: Josh JohnsonJohnson has long been a player of desire for Rangers fans, primarily due to the fact that the Marlins are always a volatile team when it comes to the trade market – either buying or selling big every season.

The 28 year-old Johnson grew up in Oklahoma, which has been  used in the media recently as a reason why he would be a logical trade target for the Rangers – being closer to home would make him happier.  Also floated out there for the media to gobble up is that his wife wouldn’t mind being closer to her family…in Orange County.  Seems the Marlins are pandering to the Rangers and Angels…bidding war anyone?

Johnson is a two-time All-Star and finished fifth in the 2010 NL Cy Young voting.  Since his first full season in 2006, he hasn’t necessarily been the model of consistency in regards to playing time and health, only surpassing the 20 games pitched mark three times in his career (2006, 2009, 2010).

After a successful rookie campaign in 2006, Johnson had issues early in 2007 and was eventually shut down and had to undergo Tommy John surgery which caused him to miss the second half of 2006 and the first half of 2007.

Similar to Greinke, he has one season (2010) that stands out on paper as a season of dominance, but his 2009 numbers were very strong as well and  he was well on his way to a dominant 2011 before being shut down early due to inflammation in his right shoulder.

All that said, this dude is a stud and I don’t view him as any more of an injury risk than any other alternative.

As noted, the contact situation is attractive here because we’re not dealing with a 3-month rental.  Johnson’s contract pays him $13.75M this year and the same in 2013.

The Measurables

Year Age Tm W L ERA G CG IP H HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP SO/BB
2005 21 FLA 0 0 3.65 4 0 12.1 11 0 10 10 112 1.703 1.00
2006 22 FLA 12 7 3.10 31 0 157.0 136 14 68 133 140 1.299 1.96
2007 23 FLA 0 3 7.47 4 0 15.2 26 1 12 14 60 2.426 1.17
2008 24 FLA 7 1 3.61 14 1 87.1 91 7 27 77 121 1.351 2.85
2009 25 FLA 15 5 3.23 33 2 209.0 184 14 58 191 133 1.158 3.29
2010 26 FLA 11 6 2.30 28 1 183.2 155 7 48 186 180 1.105 3.88
2011 27 FLA 3 1 1.64 9 0 60.1 39 2 20 56 239 0.978 2.80
2012 28 MIA 6 7 4.14 20 0 119.2 125 7 35 105 99 1.337 3.00
8 Yrs 54 30 3.14 143 4 845.0 767 52 278 772 134 1.237 2.78
162 Game Avg. 13 7 3.14 35 1 208 189 13 68 190 134 1.237 2.78
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2012.
  •  Exceeded 200 innings only once in his young career (2009)
  • Current WAR is 1.7, which is lower than Harrison, Darvish and Colby Lewis (R.I.P. Colbra), but a 6.4 in 2009 and a 6.8 in 2012 far surpass the high-marks of any current Rangers starting pitchers.
  • Similar players of note in terms of performance (according to Baseball-Reference.com) are:
    • Clayton Kershaw, Jair Jurrjens & Adam Wainwright for career
    • David Cone, Adam Wainwright and Orel Hershiser  for similarity thorugh age 27 (2011 season for Johnson)
  • While his career has been brief and subject to time away for recovery, Johnson has been a better first half pitcher, posting second half marks of 3.83 ERA (compared to 2.71 in first half) a 1.318 WHIP (compared to 1.186 in first half)
I Split W L ERA G CG SHO IP H HR BB SO WHIP SO/BB
April/March 8 6 2.88 28 2 0 147.0 121 6 47 140 1.143 2.98
May 11 4 2.66 27 0 0 169.1 144 8 51 140 1.152 2.75
June 11 7 2.62 22 1 0 144.1 128 7 53 135 1.254 2.55
July 9 4 3.20 25 0 0 151.2 145 16 43 140 1.240 3.26
August 10 5 3.71 22 1 0 138.1 127 8 42 122 1.222 2.90
Sept/Oct 5 4 4.29 19 0 0 94.1 102 7 42 95 1.527 2.26
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2012.
  •  Johnson has faced the Rangers only once in his career, shutting down the Rangers offense in 2010 by pitching seven strong innings, striking out 7 and giving up only one run on 1 walk and 4 hits…in a no-decision.
  • Johnson has never faced the Angels, A’s or Mariners.

Could Josh be a Ranger?

Potential Trade Target Profile: Josh JohnsonMost prefer Johnson to Greinke at this point.  Neither player is having a career year by any standards, but both have the make-up and ability to be dominant aces on the mound.

The Marlins have put the word out that there is only a 5% chance that Johnson is dealt away this season.  They have already made to big trades this season as their fire sale is well under way – sending Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers and sending Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers.

It’s also well known that the Marlins current asking price for Johnson is very steep.  While this may be posturing on there part, you have to figure it’s higher than what could be expected for Greinke (rental).

What would the Rangers have to give up to land Johnson?  Given the Marlins dealt away there third baseman (Ramirez), you have to assume that Mike Olt (recurring theme of these trade discussions) would be involved in any package.  Beyond Olt, I could see another lower-tiered prospect or two being involved.  An interesting scenario that I have only seen discussed once (so it’s probably not going to happen) would have the Marlins including super-utility player Emilio Bonifacio in a deal to the Rangers, with the Rangers increasing their package beyond Olt to  include a more highly rated pitching prospect.

Just gonna float this out there:

  • Rangers give Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and a player to be named (marginal prospect at best)
  • Marlins give Josh Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio – with no help on Johnson’s contract.

***Bonifacio would be under the Rangers control through 2015 and has good value as a switch hitter that can play just about any where in the field.

While many are putting better odds on a deal for Greinke occurring (lower asking price, history with Doug Melvin), I think a deal for Josh Johnson is possible.  The Marlins are in a complete rebuilding phase now and know that the return they could net for Johnson will never see a higher point.

Who’s next?  James Shields is on deck unless I get another request…

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Jul 252012
 
portraitoffuturestarters copy

Texas Trade Rumors: With Cole Hamels off the board, will it be Josh Johnson, or Zack Greinke?

“You mean I’m going to be traded to a team with postseason aspirations?! Hells yeah I’m cool with that!”

Cole Hamels will not be coming to Arlington after all. Evidently he wants to languish in last place with Philadelphia. And per various reports, he has about 144 million reasons why.

Here’s a look at some pitchers that are on the Rangers’ radar. You can call them “trade possibilities” or, better yet, potential agents serving the noble cause also know as the “Scott Feldman to Playoff Rotation Protection Program.” SFiPRPP if you’re so inclined.

Clifton Phifer Lee

Yeah, hard to believe a dude from Benton, Arkansas has the middle name of “Phifer,” huh? Yeah, not really. Kind of shocking that it’s not his first name.

”Phifer! Gramma is out of pseudoephedrine for her crystal meth. Here’s some cash, now you hitch on down to Allsup’s and gather her up some, y’hear? Get me a pack of Pall Malls too, hon.”

Look, I don’t think Cliff Lee is going anywhere. I’m also convinced that his Arkansas kin aren’t meth manufacturers—it’s not like he’s from Missouri.

Seriously, Lee’s exorbitant contract makes him far less movable than Michael Young, even back when The Face could still hit.

Phifer’s owed $75 million over the next three seasons (not counting this one), plus a vesting option of $27.5 million in 2016 (insert ear-rattling whistle here.)

Lee will be 34-years-old next month. At his current age of 33, he’s giving up home runs to pitchers. Also, he hasn’t won a postseason game since he beat the Yankees in the 2010 American League Championship Series…

You still want him over here?

Yeah, me too.

Since the Rangers probably won’t snatch the far-fetched Lee, with whom do they have left to choose?

Zack Greinke—The “Section 8”
What do you think, R. Lee Ermey?

Texas Trade Rumors: With Cole Hamels off the board, will it be Josh Johnson, or Zack Greinke?

“Greinke’s a section 8! Plus there’s no damn ‘k’ in ‘Zachary,’ so what gives with the ‘Zack’ thing?!”


I’m sure we’ve all seen Full Metal Jacket. Rather than a fully loaded M14 rifle (as well as a crippling case of insanity), Greinke comes equipped with a 98 MPH fastball, wipeout slider and a slight Social Anxiety Disorder.

As a baseball fan, I love Zack Greinke—even if his full name is “Zachary” which has nary a “k” in it. But as a Rangers fan, I’m a little iffy on selling the farm to get him to Arlington.

He’s a strange cat. Last night, he pitched brilliantly, went dong-city on Cliff Lee and did it all on 11 days of rest. Evidently, he needed to “recharge his batteries.” Hmmph.

Greinke’s downside is that he hasn’t had the playoff experience of Cole Hamels. And he certainly hasn’t seen the postseason success of the 2008 World Series MVP.

Plus, why can someone with such an unbelievable arsenal not dominate no matter the domicile?

Greinke’s home/road splits over his career are perplexing. Home: 51-28, 3.42 ERA, 4.12 SO/BB ratio. Road: 34-48, 4.18 ERA, 3.05 SO/BB ratio. Hmmm.

And in the playoffs, Greinke’s been hit hard. It’s a small sample size, but in his three career postseason starts (all of which came last season…the Royals don’t play in October, silly), he’s gone 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA.

Regardless, I’d love to see Greinke in a Rangers uniform. He’s already turned down a nine-figure deal from Milwaukee, so you know he’s up for a change. Now it’s just up to JD to pull the trigger.

Josh Johnson—Mr. Glass

Texas Trade Rumors: With Cole Hamels off the board, will it be Josh Johnson, or Zack Greinke?

They call him…”Mr. Glass.” Okay, just me. But still.


Josh Johnson is a stud, and possesses every skill you (or anybody else) would want from a TORP.

Upper-90s fastball, with an excellent slider. He grew up just outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, so you know he understands how awesome Texas is.

Plus, at 6’ 7” and 250 pounds, Johnson is a dude you want on your side when the shit goes down—be it down the stretch, in the playoffs, or in the parking lot of the local Whataburger.

So what’s the downside? Well, he’s often-injured. He’s already had Tommy John surgery—who hasn’t, right?—and various shoulder issues forced him to be shutdown in 2010, and to miss most of 2011.

I’m all for a Josh Johnson pick up. Even though he has a checkered injury past, if he could just stay 100% this season—that might be all the Rangers need for the ultimate postseason prize…

Other possibilities…

Matt Garza: The Rangers have been interested in Garza for a number of years. He’s an enchanting option, since, like Johnson, he has another year of control.

James Shields: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are supposedly hot and heavy over Mr. Shields. The Rangers should acquire him and them dump him in Oakland…just so the A’s will win enough games to keep the Angels from making the playoffs.

Mwahahahahahahaha!

The Tampa Bay Rays aren’t exactly out of the A.L. East race, and with Joe Maddon at the helm, I’m not sure you can ever dismiss them…the Rays might not want to move Shields anywhere.

And that’s cool with me, as long as those dang Angels don’t snag him (or anything other than missed opportunities.)

The non-move move

It’s definitely not the sexiest of moves. The “non-move,” that is. But there is word that the Rangers are willing to slide Ogando back into the rotation. Not only would this create a viable playoff rotation, it would also keep our fantastic farm system and its bevy of prospects intact.

Texas could then focus on picking up some far less expensive bullpen pieces, and making a postseason go with their rotation “as is.”

Forecast

In true Ron Washington fashion, my “gut” tells me that the Rangers are going to acquire a pitcher sometime between now and next Tuesday’s non-waiver deadline.

Wow, I’m really going out on a limb, eh?

I tend to agree with Joey Matches in that the Mike Olt for Josh Johnson trade speculation is long on mutual benefits…it could definitely happen.

After all of the rampant rumors and spine-tingling speculations, it’d be hard to “settle” for a non-move. It’d be a letdown similar to car shopping with crappy credit—look at all the cool stuff we’re not getting!

But an even tougher sell than remaining static would be a playoff rotation with a name like “Scott Feldman” in it.

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