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One More Time...The Rangers Aren't Signing Pitching!!!

Two chat sessions at the DMN recently...

Tim Cowlishaw said:

briant77: It seems strange to be talking about the Rangers and 'lack of offense' in the same sentence, but that is what we have, and recent trades have taken a lot out of the team. I understand the dropoff is to be expected given the strategy for the rest of the season. Besides the CFs we've heard about, what are some positions/names in the FA market which you think the Rangers will be targeting.

Tim Cowlishaw: This team is scary in how much it strikes out. They don't even put the ball in play. I think Torii Hunter because of the local ties and the Twins' notorious cheapness is a name that will come up, although Marlon Byrd has actually been one of the bright spots for the Rangers this season. I still think the emphasis has to be on adding pitching. And it won't be Carlos Zambrano because he just got $91 million from the Cubs.

And Jean-Jacques Taylor:

THorner5: Do you think the Rangers will go after a big-name pitcher this off-season? It seems as though they keep addressing all of the other areas of the team every off-season, and forget about the glaring weakness.

Jean-Jacques Taylor: They will make a good attempt. But if a guy doesn't want to play here, he's not going to sign no matter how much cash you stick in front of him. This is not a good ballpark for pitchers, which is why it's hard to sign good ones. That's why it's so important for Texas to develop its own pitchers.

Where to start...

First of all, the common theme between J-JT and Cowlishaw...that the Rangers are going to, need to, go out and try to sign a big name pitcher this offseason.

According to the very awesome Cot's Major League Baseball contract site, these are the free agent starting pitchers this offseason:

Kris Benson * BAL
Paul Byrd * CLE
Shawn Chacon PIT
Matt Clement BOS
Bartolo Colon LAA
Scott Elarton CLE
Josh Fogg COL
Casey Fossum * TB
Freddy Garcia PHI
Livan Hernandez ARZ
Jason Jennings HOU
Brian Lawrence * COL
Jon Lieber PHI
Kyle Lohse PHI
Rodrigo Lopez COL
Wade Miller CHC
Eric Milton CIN
Odalis Perez * KC
Joel Pineiro * STL
Kenny Rogers DET
Curt Schilling BOS
Carlos Silva MIN
Julian Tavarez * BOS
Brett Tomko * LAD
Kip Wells STL
Randy Wolf * LAD
Jaret Wright BAL
Victor Zambrano NYM

I would like someone to tell me what big name pitcher on that list the Rangers should be pursuing. I want to know who, on that list, should be making the Rangers want to open up the checkbook and break the bank to sign.

If this team is in rebuilding mode in 2008, the answer is, "no one." There's no one you'd want to sign to a long-term deal on that list, and if you are rebuilding in 2008, there's no one there it makes sense to bring in on a one or two year deal.

Why? Well, despite Cowlishaw's assertion that the emphasis for this team needs to be on adding pitching, barring injury, there's only one open rotation spot for next year. Millwood, Padilla, McCarthy, and Gabbard are, I think, already locked in.

You've got Kam Loe, Edinson Volquez, John Rheinecker, and Eric Hurley who (it appears) will be vying for the #5 starter spot. I'm guessing either Loe or Volquez gets it, which means that in AAA, you'll have a rotation of Hurley, Armando Galarraga, Luis Mendoza, Doug Mathis, and Josh Rupe (unless Volquez goes to AAA, in which case, someone from that group will have to be bumped).

Yeah, yeah, yeah, there's always the possibility of injuries and all that...but does it really need to be a priority for the Rangers to go out and try to moneywhip a Carlos Silva or a Livan Hernandez to come in here and post a 5.25 ERA in 2008? Even if you have your doubts about Millwood or Padilla, aren't you better riding it out with them and seeing if they can turn it around than you would be with a Matt Clement or a Brett Tomko?

Which gets to the next issue...these columnists flogging the "the Rangers need to go out and get pitching" meme, despite the fact that the bigger problem for 2008 is that, for the first base, outfield, and DH roles, you only have one solid option -- Frank Catalanotto, a platoon guy. There's a dearth of positional prospects in the upper levels. What this team needs, as it is rebuilding, are more Jarrod Saltalamacchias -- quality young positional prospects.

The simple, throwaway attitude by many in the media -- particularly those, like Cowlishaw and Taylor, who don't focus a whole lot on the Rangers -- is that the problem is pitching, the Rangers need pitching, the Rangers need to focus on pitching, hell they scored 30 runs yesterday so the offense must not be a problem...

The reality is, I think the Rangers are closer to being able to put together a playoff-caliber pitching staff with the pieces already in the majors and upper minors than they are to being able to put together a playoff-caliber lineup.

And even if you do think the Rangers need to add veteran starting pitching, this year's free agent market isn't the place to do it.