The first day of the Ranger offseason. I thought I'd use one of the happier photos from the season just past this morning.
Anthony Andro said yesterday's game was a fitting end...solid enough pitching to win, but the bats didn't get the job done.
Jeff Wilson doles out grades for the Rangers this year. There are several in the "???" category -- in particular, giving Hank Blalock a C, despite the fact he was pretty much useless this year, and Chris Davis a C-, when he was also terrible and got demoted mid-season, suggests that there's a curve at work.
But the grades for the outfielders are what jumped out at me...Marlon Byrd got an A, David Murphy got a B+ (along with a note that he needs to play regularly in 2010), and Nelson Cruz got a B-.
Let's run down their numbers this year:
Byrd: .283/.329/.479, .272 EQA
Murphy: .269/.339/.446, .269 EQA
Cruz: .260/.332/.524, .283 EQA
So Cruz was the best hitter of the three, was above-average defensively in right field, but gets the lowest grade of the three? And Murphy -- who can't hit lefties, and who wasn't great offensively this year anyway -- needs to play regularly?
It seems like there's a push among those who cover the Rangers to have a Borbon/Byrd/Murphy outfield next season, with Hamilton DHing and Cruz shipped off. That's not a playoff-caliber outfield, and I don't understand how it is that a team that's biggest problem this year was its lack of offense should address that by replacing its second-best offensive player with guys who hit worse.
Evan Grant runs down four questions the Rangers have to answer, and the Byrd situation is one of the big ones:
A year ago, six months ago, even three months ago, Byrd and his representatives chased after a two-year deal that would now look quite affordable. Instead, he goes into free agency knowing that the best financial decision would be to test the market, which may yield a three-year deal worth about $20 million. While manager Ron Washington strongly endorses bringing Byrd back, it's unclear if the club will have the financial wherewithal to make such a bid. It's just as unclear if Rangers management would rather have Byrd or would rather turn the position over to a younger, cheaper alternative such as Julio Borbon.
The last sentence gives me a little bit of hope that some sanity will be applied to the outfield situation.
Andro's notes mention that King Felix slapped around the Rangers this year, and that Blalock isn't nostalgic about his time with the Rangers coming to an end.