The Rangers have five pitchers who they could plug into the 2014 rotation today: Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, and Alexi Ogando. As the saying goes, though, a team can never have enough pitching, and the Rangers learned that again in 2013. Harrison was the big loss. The Opening Day starter pitched twice before a back injury shelved him for the rest of the season. Ogando was on the DL three times, but showed enough in September to have the Rangers thinking he will start again.
There is a movement to bring back Matt Garza, who didn’t meet expectations after being acquired for four prospects in July. He has the support of manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux, but Garza won’t come cheap as one of the top starters on the free-agent market. Don’t forget about Colby Lewis, who could come to spring camp on a minor league deal looking to make the team and contribute at some point in the rotation.
In the Bullpen Joe Nathan is headed toward the open market, barring a last-minute agreement, and the Rangers could be faced with having to find a closer. There are internal candidates, beginning with Joakim Soria, Neftali Feliz and Tanner Scheppers. Ogando is a dark horse candidate because most believe he can handle the job, while that’s not entirely the case with the other three. —Jeff Wilson at the Ft Worth Star-Telegram
So they said
“ ‘I’m the only one left who voted in 1972 for the designated hitter,’ [MLB Commissioner Bud] Selig said, according to MLB.com. ‘So here we are now, 41 years later. And I often worry about that. But my friend [Phillies chairman] Bill Giles once said to me, “You know, I like the controversy between the leagues. I think it’s good.” Having said that, I did say three or four years ago that I had strong feelings on [expanded] instant replay. And, like everything else in life, you make adjustments and I now have somewhat different feelings. So I’m never going to say never to anything. But at the moment is there anything going on? No. If somebody has something to say, I’m glad to listen.’ ” —The Commish as quoted by Brett Logiurato at Sports Illustrated
“I’ve been in baseball now 50 years. I thought I had seen everything, but apparently I hadn’t.” —MLB Commissioner Bud Selig quoted by Christian Red at the NY Daily News
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
As part of their week in review posting, Tim Dierkes and Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors reviewed what they expect some free agents would receive for their signatures on contracts this off-season. Steve Adams envisions two years, $30MM for Carlos Beltran, a one-year, $8MM deal with incentives for Corey Hart (or he will settle for $6MM to re-sign with the Brewers), and five years, $75MM for Ervin Santana. Tim Dierkes anticipates Shin-Soo Choo receiving a six-year, $100MM contract, Brian Wilson signing a one-year pact worth $8.5MM, and Kendrys Morales agreeing to $28MM over two years.
Steve Melewski at MASN has tried to figure out what impact Tim Lincecum’s 2/$35 million contract will have on the Orioles’ ability to bring back Scott Feldman. He pointed to an earlier free agent profile on Feldman by Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors in which Adams concluded that Feldman would likely receive a two-year, $17-million contract with a vesting option for a third season. In light of the Lincecum deal setting the market higher, Feldman might do better than Adams predicted. Feldman is an interesting option for the Mariners, even if he costs more than the 2/$17 million projected cost. He was worth 2.1 fWAR to the Cubs and Orioles this year, with a 3.86 ERA in 181 innings, a 49.6-percent ground ball rate, and an 11-percent HR mark. He has spent most of his career in hitters’ parks and should do better in Safeco Field. At least, in the dinger department.
Re-signing free agent Ricky Nolasco would be a great way to shore up the back end of the starting five, and the Dodgers would almost certainly welcome him back if they knew they could have the pitcher they saw from July through early September. The wheels came off a little bit in his final few starts of the year, but those rough outings only bumped his ERA to 3.52 with 7.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 15 starts and one relief appearance for L.A. In September, when Nolasco had a 2.07 ERA in 74 innings for the Dodgers, Tim Dierkes estimated that he could see a three-year, $36-million contract. Talking to Dierkes now, he’s considering upgrading that to a four-year, $52-million deal. —Zach Links at MLB Trade Rumors
Draft and Prospects
The Future Is Now: Top Farm Systems Poised To Deliver Near-Term Value by Matt Eddy at Baseball America tries to rank each team’s farm system based on a complicated points system evaluation of the team’s top player ranking in each minor league. The Red Sox, Astros, Padres and Rangers are ranked one-through-four by their calculations, with the Mariners rated as the 13th best farm system. DJ Peterson was not included, nor was Mike Zunino, although Franklin and Miller were. So go figure. You can read the whole article here.
Tanaka handcuffs potent Giants lineup, lifts Eagles to Game 2 triumph – When you’re in desperate need of a win, a pretty good strategy is to give the ball to the guy who never loses and get out the way. Masahiro Tanaka went the distance and struck out 12 in his Japan Series debut, getting a little help from a crucial blown call, to lead the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to a 2-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants in Game 2 of the Japanese Fall Classic on Sunday night at Kleenex Stadium. “The guy is an animal,” Rakuten third baseman Casey McGehee said. “Especially tonight. Every pitch he threw was a possible game-changing pitch. He made, maybe, arguably, one mistake that the guy (Takayuki Terauchi) hit out. He was unbelievable, just like he’s been pretty much every time he’s been out there.”
Then Tanaka followed up an amazing career-first with something even more impressive the second time around. Less than 24 hours after striking out 12 during a complete-game victory in his Japan Series debut, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles ace was named the Sawamura Award winner for the second time. “I’m so happy,” Tanaka told Kyodo News. “It’s the biggest award a pitcher can receive. For an entire year, I was able to keep my place in the starting rotation, and the numbers followed.” —Based on stories by Jason Coskrey at the Japan Times
By The Numbers
“In Ubaldo Jimenez’s first 16 starts of 2013, he had a 4.63 ERA; in his last 16 starts, he had a 2.18 ERA.” —The Bill Chuck Files
[David Ortiz] is the third Red Sox first baseman with three hits in a World Series game. The others are Dick Hoblitzell (1915) and Carl Yastrzemski (1975). —ESPN Stats & Info
Matt Garza was 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA with Texas after going 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA for the Cubs. —The Bill Chuck Files