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Baby Bubba

Over at SI.com, Joe Sheehan writes that the Texas Rangers are the ideal spot for one Prince Fielder:

The Rangers have a hard team to improve. They’re set at just about every position, and in many spots, for years to come. Three of their four infielders — plus DH/UT Michael Young — are under team control through at least 2013. Nelson Cruz and Cuban import Leonys Martin, 2/3 of the outfield, are locked in through then as well. The team’s projected 2012 starting rotation includes just one pitcher, Colby Lewis, who can leave before 2015. Only catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Josh Hamilton can become free agents after 2012, and the team has shown interest in locking up both players beyond that. While the Rangers would like to add a top-tier starting pitcher, they seem to be looking to do that in trade market rather than trying to sign Edwin Jackson, who–despite my case for him–isn’t seen as front-of-the-rotation material. The Rangers also have a good farm system that is particularly deep in pitching backing up the major league roster.

At first base, though, the team has Mitch Moreland splitting time with the veteran Young. Young is primarily a DH now, and his inexperience at first was a key part of the Rangers’ Game 6 loss in the World Series. Moreland is 26 and in a bit over a season’s worth of games has hit .258/.331/.427 in the majors, basically league-average performance. He recently underwent surgery on his right wrist that may limit his performance or availability at the start of 2012. Healthy, Moreland may be an average first baseman; he will never hit in the middle of the order for this team. He’s not someone who blocks Prince Fielder, who would make the Rangers three wins a year better, at minimum, over the next few years.

Meanwhile, the wait for Yu Darvish is on.

Categories:  1: Featured  Baseball  Games We Play

Tags:  joe sheehan  prince fielder

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1 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 14, 2011 10:46 am

The Yanks are acting like they don't have the money for Darvish this year. Misdirect, or does it speak to deeper concerns about what he really will be? Maybe at best he gives you a few more consistent years than Matsuzaka, who was older when he posted. But at some point the posting system will crumble in on it's own weight when MLB accepts that there are inherent liabilities with established players from those leagues that has little to do with their personal makeup and more to do with the style of play and difference in game equipment. The enormous amount of money spent on posting and signing also becomes a liability because rather than giving that player time to adjust to the differences with some seasoning in the minors (which at their age may be a wash), the team and the payer have to justify the money being spent and in doing so perhaps wear out their longevity much faster than they would under "normal" circumstances.

I get why the posting system is in place; it protects the Japan leagues from being pirated by MLB and forced out of their present existence, but the process ends up being a liability to the high end players, particularly the pitchers, who don't seem to have decent time to adjust to a new style and system of play (Matsui and Ichiro being outliers to a certain extent). It's not to say that ALL Japanese players suffer this phenomena; there are plenty of players who I've never heard of who seem to become serviceable units to various teams and I only hear about them in the trades or signings sections. Perhaps the key is the anonymity; unheralded players of all stripes generally have steadier, if low-key career arcs and the effect would be subdued with less ballyhoo on both ends.

Unfortunately, given the media insanity there and here with star players, that might be impossible to ask and will forever be a burden to high end prospects making the switch to American-style baseball. I just wonder if at some point MLB teams will understand the negative impact their activity seems to have on what they ultimately get.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 14, 2011 11:00 am

I can't imagine the Yanks getting Darvish, but stranger things have happened.

3 rbj   ~  Dec 14, 2011 11:13 am

I'm a bit skeptical about Japanese starting pitchers. I'm guessing it's because they only pitch once a week, and aren't built for a ML season. Dice-K had a couple of good seasons, but wasn't worth all the hype and $100 million price tag. And Igawa? I'll leave Irabu out of the discussion, given the ending.

Their best position players are certainly comparable to other MLers.

4 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 14, 2011 11:14 am

[2] I don't think they really want him. After Igawa, and seeing what Dice K actually brought you for that amount of money, why would you go down that road again? If they do win him, I bet that what I said before has even more merit.

5 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 14, 2011 11:26 am

Pitchers cannot be well evaluated based on stats in Japan, because over a certain level of skill, they all start to look similar/awesome. This has to be, primarily, a scouting decision. I trust the Yankees have learned a lot from Igawa & Matsuzaka's MLB careers. And they will base their bid on Darvish on his age, his height, his weight, his work ethic, his fastball, etc... and not his 1.40 ERA in Japan.

I have no real clue about any of his abilities, but if he's really good, I don't really care about how Igawa and Matsuzaka flamed out.

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