Mar 29, 2012; Surprise, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain (18) pitches against Texas Rangers designated hitter Brad Hawpe (right foreground) during the second inning at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
T.R. Sullivan has a new Inbox column up, that includes questions on why Joe Nathan isn't being replaced as the closer, why Endy Chavez wasn't re-signed, and why Colby Lewis wasn't dumped to keep Alexi Ogando in the rotation, among other things.
There's also a quote from Sullivan that I want to talk about, though, in regards to a question about what needs the Rangers have that they'll want to fill via trade:
The biggest concern is injuries in the outfield, and what the Rangers really need is for Brad Hawpe, who had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, to regain his ability to play the outfield. He is currently working on that at Double-A Frisco.
When the news broke about Brad Hawpe re-signing, and my Twitter timeline filled with "Brad Hawpe is back" tweets, I tweeted something to the effect that I didn't understand the fascination with Brad Hawpe. The 140 character limit often prevents one from expanding upon thoughts to the point that people will know what you are talking about, and several folks, understanding, asked why I thought signing Hawpe to a minor league deal and sending him to Frisco constituted "fascination."
My comment was aimed more at the coverage of Hawpe during spring training, and the notion that he could somehow be an integral piece of the Rangers' 25 man roster going forward if only he were healthy. The above quote is an example of the Hawpe fascination that I was talking about...the idea that the Rangers really need Hawpe to regain his ability to play the outfield.
The problem here is that Hawpe is a lefthanded hitter who is limited to a 1B or COF role. He's basically made superfluous with David Murphy and Mitch Moreland on the roster. The last thing the Rangers' bench needs is another defensively limited lefty bat who is only going to DH or play first base or left field.
What makes it all the more baffling is that Hawpe hasn't really hit much lately...yes, he posted a 903 OPS in Colorado in 2009, but then he put up a .245/.338/.419 line in 2010 splitting time between Colorado and Tampa, and then had a .231/.301/.344 line in San Diego. He turns 32 years old in June. ZiPS projects him to be a .235/.329/.404 hitter, with a .320 wOBA. And he apparently looked terrible in Surprise this spring. If one of the outfielders on the 25 man roster goes down, its hard to claim that Hawpe would be a better option to replace them than Julio Borbon or Leonys Martin.
So this is what baffles me...you've got a guy who isn't much of a defender, who is even more limited defensively because he's recuperating from Tommy John surgery, who hasn't hit much the last couple of years, and who swings lefty when you need a righthander for the bench. I don't understand how Brad Hawpe could possibly end up fitting on this club, or being the best available option.