clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

New Rangers newsletter up

Evan Grant has a new Rangers newsletter up...

Grant covered most of the really big stuff in the chat session yesterday that we linked, with the newsletter questions being stuff like "why trade a good, inexpensive centerfielder for a catcher in the low minors" or "why not make Travis Metcalf our new first baseman, since we moved Mark Teixeira from third base to first base" and things of that ilk.

A couple of specific things in there I wanted to address...

One person wrote in and said he'd have traded Mark Teixeira for Joe Saunders straight up, rather than take the Atlanta package, because Saunders is a "solid starter."

Saunders is a 26 year old starting pitcher with a career ERA+ of 98. He's been great this year in 7 starts, but that's not going to be sustainable, given his mediocre strikeout and walk rates. He's basically Kason Gabbard, a guy who can maybe slot in at the back of a rotation, but who isn't ever going to be a legit top of the rotation (or even middle of the rotation starter). And it doesn't make any sense to trade Teixeira for a #5 starter.

The other thing I wanted to address is in Grant's recommendations for Daniels:

Find the numbers for the agents of Torii Hunter, Aaron Rowand and Andruw Jones (hint: the last guy's agent rhymes with "Horace") and commit them to your five favorites or whatever your circle of frequent callers is. Be prepared to start dialing the minute they file for free agency. Pledge to get one of them this winter, regardless of cost. This team needs a long-term, above-average answer at center field. This is the year to solve that problem. Do not start thinking: Well, Mike Cameron might cost less. Get a premium player for a premium position.

Nevermind my bias towards Mike Cameron...I'm fine with paying a premium to get a premium player for a premium position. But those guys (other than, maybe, Andruw Jones) aren't premium players.

In particular, I'm terrified of the idea of the Rangers trying to moneywhip Torii Hunter to come here, something that a lot of fans and folks in the media seem to think is a great idea.

Torii Hunter is not a premier centerfielder. He's an overrated defender with a career .270/.324/.470 line in a hitter's park who turns 33 next season. He doesn't hit for a great average, doesn't walk, and has never hit 30 homers. He's 7th in the A.L. (out of 11 qualifiers) in Zone Rating among centerfielders, and was 7th out of 10 qualifiers last season.

He's having his best season with the bat right now, leading some folks to say that he's not as big a risk to decline in his 30s...but the reality is, he simply got off to a hot start. His OPS by month:

April -- 1003
May -- 884
June -- 828
July -- 769

He's not an elite player, and he's likely to be a not particularly good player in the next few years. BP's PECOTA/MORP system -- which has been criticized for wildly overvaluing what players are worth in the free agent market -- says that Hunter's likely 2008-11 production is worth about $8 million per season. It is likely going to cost twice that to sign him.

The Rangers already blew it in committing $80 million over 5 years to Michael Young, a guy who is likely to be an average, at best, player over the span of that contract. Torii Hunter is likely to be average, at best, and quite possibly a 4th outfielder, over the life of the contract he's going to get this offseason.

Even if the Rangers bump payroll to $100 million in 2009-11 -- which seems likely -- paying two guys in their mid-30s 30% of that to provide you with mediocre performances is a good way to cripple your ballclub financially.

Torii Hunter is not an elite player. Bringing him to Texas and paying him like an elite player would, based on what I've been reading, get fans and the media fired up and provide "proof" that Tom Hicks is committed to winning.

But what it would really do is provide another budgetary drain for a guy who would be vastly overpaid to provide middling performance.