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Chat sessions and Ranger pitching

Keith Law and Evan Grant each did chat sessions lately where comments on Ranger pitching caught my eye


Keith Law did a chat session yesterday, and there were a couple of items in particular that caught my eye.

First was Law suggesting that Albert Pujols may be older than his listed age of 33.  The ensuing angry questions from people, one of whom suggested Law was racist, another of whom compared questioning Pujols' age with questioning whether Obama was born in the U.S., were entertaining.  But as Law points out, questions about whether Pujols' age is accurate have been floating around for a while, and it is a pretty big deal for the Angels, who have Pujols for 8 seasons after this one.  If those 8 years are for Pujols' age 34-41 seasons, that's going to be problematic for Anaheim, given how backloaded the contract is.  But if Pujols is actually, say, 35 right now, and the last 8 years of the deal are for his age 36-43 seasons...well, disaster is probably an understatement.

More Ranger-specific, meanwhile, was this item from Steve from California:

Steve (California)

Think the Rangers try to move Andrus in the offseason? Trading him for some pitching, moving Profar to short, and using the savings to sign Choo or Ellsbury seems to make a lot of sense.

(2:50 PM)

I think they move Kinsler to first for next year and put Profar at second.

Steve in California's question seems shot into the chat session from a time warp...its reminiscent of the early-2000s, the "when are the Rangers gonna get sum pitchin' in here?" mindset that somehow has lingered into the second decade of the 21st century, despite the current version of the Rangers being a team that is winning because of strong pitching and defense.

I mean, there are arguments for trading Elvis or Profar (even though I agree with Law's prediction about what the Rangers will do next year), but trading them so that the Rangers can afford to sign Jacoby Ellsbury (who plays the same position as Leonys Martin, who seems to be entrenched) or Shin-Soo Choo seems kind of silly, since Elvis's contract isn't much of an impediment for the Rangers to add payroll right now.

But more significantly...what pitching, exactly, do you trade Elvis for?  How does trading a position player for a pitcher make sense for Texas right now?

Which allows me to segue into Evan Grant's chat session, where he suggests that the Rangers are so rich in pitching that they are unlikely to pursue Matt Garza in free agency this offseason:

Will: Do you think that the Rangers will make a serious run at Garza in the offseason? Is he worth the same money that Anibal Sanchez got from Detroit last year?

Evan Grant: Personally, I don't see it. And if you are the Rangers, you are looking, you believe at a rotation of Darvish, Holland, Harrison and Perez. You need a fourth or fifth starter. You aren't going to invest that kind of money in a 4th or 5th guy. Maybe the Rangers give Tepesch another opportunity. Maybe Luke Jackson becomes a viable option. Maybe the Rangers even try to go with Ogando again (though I wouldn't). And if you explore the free agency/trade market, I think you you will find more affordable value than Garza. He's going to be the most highly sought after free agent starter this winter, I believe. No reason to get into that kind of bidding. Let Arte Moreno overpay for another guy and further bog the Angels' future down.

I've suggested for a while that, given the Angels' needs, Matt Garza seems like exactly the type of guy that Anaheim is going to get in a bidding war for this offseason.  But it is interesting that Grant thinks the Rangers aren't going to make a significant push to keep Garza.  We all know that the Rangers have been after Garza for years, going so far as to offer a package headlined by Derek Holland for Garza a few years ago, and the assumption has been that the Rangers will be aggressive in trying to keep Garza this offseason, since locking up Garza would allow them to have as stacked a rotation as any team in baseball.

But as Grant points out, the Rangers have four rotation spots seemingly locked down for 2014.  With Holland, Harrison, Perez and Yu, trading Elvis for pitching (as Steve from California suggests) appears nonsensical, and Garza could be viewed by the organization as a luxury, especially if the Rangers bring Colby Lewis back next year.  Yes, Lewis is a question mark, but if you have Colby, Tepesch, Josh Lindblom and potentially Alexi Ogando as fifth starter options, that's a strong group of starters, which would allow you to devote resources elsewhere.

As it is, the Rangers, with their arbitration cases, are looking at around $100M in contracts in place for next year.  If you go with the internal options for the 5th starter spot and an Engel Beltre/Craig Gentry platoon in the outfield along with Leonys and Alex Rios, that gives you about $20M to spend on a catcher and a DH (with Nelson Cruz being a possible option as a DH, especially if the Rangers make him a qualifying offer, which would mean about $14.5-15M for one year for Cruz in 2014).

Grant suggests that Joe Nathan could come back next season for around the $9M he would be due under his team option for next year (which he'll almost certainly opt out of) plus a vesting option for 2015.  However, when you look at the state of the Ranger pen, you have to wonder whether Texas is really going to be interested in investing that much money, and the closer's role, in a player of Nathan's age.  Without Nathan, you would still have Joakim Soria able to close, Neftali Feliz, Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross, Neal Cotts, and potentially Alexi Ogando in setup and middle relief roles.  If you bring Nathan back then, barring injury, you likely are looking at trading one of those guys or putting Ogando in the rotation.

In any case, both chat sessions are worth reading in full...but those specific items got me thinking about the Rangers' pitching, and how the pitching staff stacks up for 2014.  And right now, it looks pretty solid.