Real, real rough outing for Brandon McCarthy today, on the heels of the unofficial news that the Rangers had pretty much made up their minds that McCarthy wasn't going to be in the starting rotation to start the season.
Evan Grant has a blog post up with quotes from McCarthy, who talks about his frustration with his performance, his feeling that he wasn't hit that hard, and the struggles with it becoming a "mental thing" and starting to try to be too fine when you start giving up hits, whether they are hard hit or not.
Earlier today, Grant suggested that the issue may be in part about confidence, and put it out there that it may be time for McCarthy to get a new start somewhere else.
McCarthy says in the Grant piece that he doesn't want to go to AAA, that if he isn't in the major league rotation, he'd pitch out of the bullpen, but from reading Richard Durrett's item from this afternoon, he may not have a choice:
Manager Ron Washington said the club has not looked at McCarthy as a reliever, saying that McCarthy needs his routine. "I'm not going to say totally no to it, but it's not anything we've discussed," Washington said.
If Washington is right, and McCarthy is not being considered for the bullpen, that leaves three choices.
One would be to put him on revocable waivers for the purpose of optioning him. However, as we've discussed before, that requires that every team in the league pass on him. If he clears, then great...you can put him in Oklahoma and let him work on the new mechanics and the two-seamer and cutter he's added all year, if you wish. But if a team claims him, and you aren't willing to stick McCarthy in the bullpen, you are presumably going to not pull him back off of waivers, and be willing to lose him to the claiming team. And again, I can't understand why the Mariners, for example, wouldn't grab him and put him in their rotation, at least until Cliff Lee is back.
The second choice is to cut bait and deal him for whatever you can get. Evan Grant has suggested that the Rangers could move him to Washington for Josh Willingham, which would provide the Rangers with a very solid bench bat to platoon with Chris Davis at first base and provide some insurance for Vladimir Guerrero, but it would also require the Rangers to add salary, something that may not be possible, given the sale situation. Using McCarthy to pick up a utility infielder -- I've mentioned the possibility of going after Brendan Harris or Nick Punto from the Twins -- is also a possibility.
The third choice is to find something wrong with McCarthy physically, put him on the disabled list, let him spend some time in extended spring training, and then in mid- to late-April, send him out on a rehab assignment, which allows him to work on things in the minors while punting, for up to 30 days, the decision on what to do with him long-term.
Personally, if I'm the Rangers,unless I really can get Willingham, I'm asking Brandon if he isn't thinking he's having an issue with back spasms or a tight hamstring or something, so I can get him on the d.l. and delay the decision.