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Giants supposedly shopping Sanchez, and why Texas shouldn't care

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Jon Paul Morosi has a story up on Yardbarker this morning, talking about how the San Francisco Giants are shopping lefthanded starter Jonathan Sanchez.

Much like the news that the Braves are willing to trade Jair Jurrjens, this news will no doubt provoke a certain amount of "should the Rangers pursue him?" talk, often accompanied by the argument that "you can never have enough pitching."

But the reasons that the Giants are looking at dealing Sanchez are the same reasons that the Rangers shouldn't be interested in him.

First of all, let's look at Sanchez's 2011 season:

2011 - Jonathan Sanchez 4-7 19 19 0 0 0 0 101.1 80 54 48 9 66 102 4.26 1.44

The numbers look even worse when you consider that he was pitching in the N.L. and with half his games in San Francisco, dropping his ERA+ to 84.  The only one of the Rangers' primary starters who didn't have an ERA better than Sanchez's 4.26 is Colby Lewis, and all the Rangers' primary starters had a better ERA+.  Even Scott Feldman, the Rangers' long man and someone who would be fighting for the fifth starter spot in 2011, was better than Sanchez last year.

Sanchez's peripherals were equally mediocre, as he posted a 4.30 FIP and a 4.36 xFIP.

San Francisco wants to deal him because he's a year away from free agency, he'll likely make $6-7 million in arbitration in 2012, and they've got other options under team control that are just as good.  Those are the same reasons the Rangers should have little interest in Sanchez.

Morosi explains what the hope is on Sanchez:


Sanchez performed like a No. 5 starter this season, but other teams will need to weigh whether the motivation of a contract year will help the left-hander return to the form he showed while having a career year (13-9, 3.07 ERA, 193 1/3 innings) for the champion Giants in 2010.


That sounds nice, but Sanchez had a 4.00 FIP and a 3.94 xFIP in 2010.  His ERA was the product of a .252 BABIP and a 79.5% LOB%.  

And the 2010-11 FIPs are consistent with his career numbers...he has a career FIP of 4.11, a career xFIP of 4.17, and has only had a sub-4 FIP once in his career (3.85 in 2008) and a sub-4 xFIP once (3.94 in 2010).  And he's not really going to "eat innings"...even in his "career year" of 2010, he averaged fewer than 6 innings per start because his pitch counts are so elevated, as a result of his control problems.

So maybe Sanchez is a young pitcher still figuring it out, who is poised to break out?  Not really...he turns 29 in two weeks.

Basically, San Francisco is wanting to dump Sanchez on a team that is willing to pay him $6-7 million in his walk year in the hopes that he can replicate his fluky 2010 season when he had the fifth lowest BABIP in the majors.  That's not a bet I'd be willing to make.

Similarly, there was a burst of excitement over the news that the Braves were willing to deal Jair Jurrjens.  Former top prospect, 25 years old, 2.96 ERA last season...what's not to like?  If the Braves are dumb enough to part with him, Texas should be all over him, right?

No.  Let's look at the red flags.  Jurrjens only made 23 starts in 2011, only 20 starts in 2010.  Jurrjens' 2.96 ERA in 2011 was put up despite a 3.99 FIP and a 4.23 Sanchez in 2010, Jurrjens benefited from a low BABIP and high LOB% (.269 and 81%, respectively).  The same spikes occurred in 2009, when Jurrjens had a 2.60 ERA despite a 3.68 FIP and a 4.28 xFIP.  Moreover, Jurrjens' velocity has gone down each season in the majors, to where he was only at 89.1 mph in 2011.  

That's not to say that Jurrjens is a bad pitcher.  He's not.  But he's also a pitcher with some issues and red flags, who probably isn't quite as good as his ERA suggests.

Combine that with his contract situation -- he's a free agent after 2013, and will likely make $5 million in 2012 and $7-8 million in 2013 -- and the appeal of Jurrjens diminishes even further.

That's particularly the case for a team like the Rangers, who are bringing back four starters from the 2011 rotation: Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, and Alexi Ogando.  Of those four, Jurrjens had a worse FIP- (FIP relative to league average, adjusted for league and park) than everyone except Lewis, and he barely beat out Lewis (105 for Jurrjens, 106 for Colbyashi).

Aside from those four, you've got Neftali Feliz and Scott Feldman in the mix for the #5 spot, along with the Rangers' well-publicized interest in Yu Darvish and the possibility that they will bring back C.J. Wilson.  And then there is Neil Ramirez, Martin Perez, and Michael Kirkman who will be in AAA for depth purposes and to step up if any of the top six guys, plus whoever may be added, go down.

Which is why it doesn't make sense for the Rangers to seriously pursue Sanchez, Jurrjens, or any number of similar pitchers who we will hear are on the market in the next month or so.  The Rangers don't need a warm body for the middle- to back-end of the rotation, particularly not at the salary that these guys would command (not to mention the cost of the prospects they'd cost).

The Rangers need a legit #1 or #2 starter.  That's what they are going to pursue.  If they can't get one, they're better off standing pat with who they have than going out and adding someone else's mid-rotation guy?