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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Open Letter To The Rangers

Dear Nolan & Ron -

Congrats. I love what you've done with the place. You're threatening to post a team ERA under 4.60 for the first time since 2004, which was, coincidently, the last time the Rangers had a winning record. You've still got no shortage of power, but also improved speed and infield defense with the promotion of Elvis Andrus and the conversion of Micheal Young. As of today, you've got the best damn record in the American League. I'm proud of you guys. We all are.

That said, there's a few issues I'd like to address. Don't get me wrong, I admire your skills and trust your judgment. Kudos on the Josh Hamilton trade and the Mark Texeira deal (which netted Andrus [.289, 21 R, leading MLB shortstops in Range Factor, leading AL shortstops in Ultimate Zone Rating], Matt Harrison [3-2, 3.82 ERA, 5.00 K/BB in May], Jarrod Saltalamacchia [respectable platoon catcher], and Neftali Feliz [2-2, 3.93 ERA, 36 K, 34 IP in AAA at age 21]). Letting Milton Bradley walk, it was a tough decision, but the right decision. Ian Kinsler (17th Round, 2003) was a stellar draft pick and getting Nelson Cruz thrown into the Carlos Lee rental was pure genius. Omar Vizquel and Andruw Jones have been outstanding inexpensive veteran free agent acquisition.

There's a lot to hang your hats on, but it's only June and there's a lot of baseball left. The Angels managed to stay above .500 even without Lackey, Guerrero, and Santana. They're only five games back. It's time to plug the holes.

First, you're getting a 687 OPS from your first basemen, primarily Chris Davis. That's 200 points below the AL average and 27th in baseball. He's got a lot of pop and a lot of potential, clearly another great draft pick (5th round, 2006), but he needs to re-build his confidence and you can't afford to carry that kind of OPS at a premier position. You've got other options.

Secondly, you need to find a way to keep Josh Hamilton in the lineup. I know, I know, you're off to this great start even though he's missed 15 games and been mediocre when he's been available, but in the long run, he carries the big stick that opposing pitchers fear. Down the stretch, you're going to want visions of Home Run Derby in Yankee Stadium dancing in their heads. Josh is a monstrous talent, but obviously he's a little injury prone. That's what happens when you abuse your body the way he has. Help him out. Don't allow him opportunities to pull his groin diving into the wall in center field. Put him in right. Or at DH. Sure, Blalock is injury-prone too, but he plays a less active position (1B) and is infinitely more replaceable (with Chris Davis, Max Ramirez, and Justin Smoak waiting in the wings).

Tangentially, when did Andruw Jones become a DH? As I recall this is a man who for a long time was spoken of as potentially the greatest center-fielder of all time. I know he's more portly than he used to be, but as recently as 2007 he trailed only Coco Crisp in Ultimate Zone Rating at 22.4. Last season Hamilton was at -17.7. I have a hard time believing that Andruw's decline has been that steep. With a ballpark like Arlington, where every flyball gives your pitcher a coronary, it seems like the graceful glide of Andruw Jones would be a welcome sight, especially if it also helps to protect one of the best hitters in the AL.

Finally, teams do not win pennants with Kevin Millwood as their Ace. Just ask the Braves. As a #2, sure, but not as an Ace. You've got the prospects. You're going to need to be aggressive...but wise!!! Jake Peavy is a flyball pitcher, not right for you. The same goes for Dan Haren. Guys who do make sense for you, who may (or may not) be available include Roy Halladay (53.7 GB% in '08), Aaron Cook (55.9%), Roy Oswalt (50.3%), and Cliff Lee (45.9%). Go get one of them. It'll take the pressure of Millwood and the kids (McCarthy, Harrison, Holland, and Feliz).

Anyway, keep up the good work.

Best of luck,


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