Archive for the ‘Joaquin Benoit’ Category

Rangers Review: Relievers

October 18, 2007

The bullpen for the Rangers is supposedly one of the strengths of the team.  The team relief ERA ranked fifth in the majors.  And with an ERA of 3.69, it is certainly a lot better than the 5.50 that the rotation put up.  However, the same situation occurred last year, and somewhere during this year I read an article (that might have been on The Book blog, but I’m not sure of that) which said the Rangers bullpen was over-rated, because they had a lot of appearances in low leverage situations, where the team was already behind by several runs and so there was no pressure on them.  You could argue the same happened this year, because the team performed the same way.  You could also point out that the team was 26-18 in one run games, which some consider to be a pointer to bullpen quality, as they need to perform at a higher level in close games.

In 2007 the Rangers bullpen pitched more innings than any other team, because the rotation was so bad.  As the season wore on, so did the players, and with trades and injuries the bullpen was worn out by September, which led to a loss of performance and even more players being brought in to shore up the gaps.  This also led to the criticism by Ron Washington that the Rangers need a real closer, ignoring the fact that he had worn down Joaquin Benoit and CJ Wilson to the point of ineffectiveness.  This should be a major worry for the team, because if they ever get to contention they need to be concerned that he has ridden his top guys into the ground, and come September (or October) they may be unable to get the job done.

The team started the season with two closers, Aki Otsuka and Eric Gagne, and ended the season with two others, Benoit and Wilson.  Gagne began the season on the DL, had another stint there during the season, and was traded at the deadline.  Otsuka was closing at the start of the season, because Gagne was down, but when he came back Aki was moved to the setup role, where he stayed until his own injury problems began in June.  He missed the rest of the season, so by a process of elimination Benoit and Wilson moved up in the pecking order, eventually taking turns closing in August and September, until they were both shut down after having a heavy workload.

The back of the bullpen had it’s usual fluctuations, with the Rangers mixing and matching any warm bodies they could find.  Frankie Francisco did an average job filling in the 6th and 7th innings at various points, and a long string of others pitched in, taking some spot starts here and there and generally just taking innings when needed.  Arguably the team took a hot-hand approach, picking whoever they could to get those innings in, and once someone faltered, throwing them aside and trying someone else.  As the old saying goes, plans only survive until contact with the enemy, and whatever plans the Rangers had only survived until they started having injuries.  You can’t easily plan for that, you can only hope to have decent replacements waiting.

Eric Gagne summary:  Traded to Boston at the deadline, he managed to fall apart for their pennant drive.  The Rangers got Kason Gabbard and David Murphy for him (plus a minor leaguer), and they’ve already given the Rangers more than Gagne gave the Red Sox.  At this point you’d have to say the Rangers won the trade, and the returns can only improve.  Gagne was very good while he was in Texas, and even talked about how he enjoyed it here and was interested in coming back after he was traded.  He got 16 saves with a 2.16 ERA while here, but since the Rangers were going nowhere, ultimately, apart from the trade return, his biggest accomplishment was in enabling my three year old to go round the house singing “we will, we will rock you”.

Joaquin Benoit summary:  Pitched more than he ever had before (in number of games, not innings), and it showed as he wore down in September.  As the season went on he moved from the 7th to the 8th to the 9th inning, ending up with just 6 saves but an excellent 2.85 ERA, and 87 strikeouts in 82 innings.  I personally think he was a better closer than CJ Wilson, as he didn’t give you that edge of the seat feeling when he came in to end games.  If the Rangers go into 2008 with the pair of them sharing the closer duties, they’ll do fine, although they might want better defined roles.  Whichever way they go, I think they’ll end up being an excellent shut-down after the seventh inning.

CJ Wilson summary:  Like Benoit, he moved up in importance as the season wore on.  Like Benoit, he ran out of gas in September, having been used more than ever before.  Unlike Benoit, he has a history of arm problems, and it was a little foolish to use him so much.  Unlike Benoit, he didn’t give you an easy feeling, unless it was a tight game.  Time and again he’d come into the 9th with a multi-run lead and start giving up runs left and right, and it seemed like more often than not he’d complete the save with the bases loaded.  If he came in with a one run lead, he’d knock them down, but more than that and you knew it’d be a rocky ending.  If he can curb that tendency, he could be a superstar closer one day.  As it is, right now when used in the right places he’s outstanding.

Frank Francisco summary:  Another pitcher with an injury history, another pitcher used too much, and another pitcher who ran down at the end of the year.  He didn’t perform as well as you’d like, in fact he was arguably one of the worst regulars in the bullpen.  He had his moments, but his biggest problem was with control, as he walked 38 in 59 innings.  A couple of years ago you felt he was going to be dominant (a couple of years ago he was – in 2004, before his arm injury, he had 60 strikeouts in 51 innings), and he’s still only 27 so could certainly improve.  Still the only ballplayer my son has ever talked to in person, so we’re rooting for him to get it going.

Wes Littleton summary:  Up and down to AAA, he actually performed better in the majors.  He had done very well in his debut in 2006, but was kind of jerked around by the team this year.  He seems to be one of those guys who needs to be settled and comfortable before he performs well, and with his going back and forth, and then his random usage when up in Texas, never really got into a groove.  Only 24, so he has it all ahead of him, but his peripheral numbers are a little worrying (16 walks and only 24 strikeouts in 48 innings).  If the team can commit to him as the 6th inning guy, he’ll do fine.

Willie Eyre summary:  Had a couple of spot starts where he was hammered, but as a reliever he was pitching very well up until he was given those starts, at which point he quickly wore out.  Presumably due to being stretched in those starts, he injured himself, had surgery and will miss all of 2008.  Compare his splits as a starter to those as a reliever: 4.28 ERA in relief, 12.86 as a starter (but in only 7 innings).  More crucially, he had a 3.00 ERA prior to his first start, and a 7.59 from then on.

Mike Wood summary:  Had four starts in his 21 games with the Rangers.  In AAA he had dominated as a starter (9-3, 3.24), and he pitched well when starting in Texas, but just happened to be filling in as about the 6th or 7th starter, so got more time in the pen.  Deserves a shot at starting, which is why he chose free agency at the end of the year, and will look for another shot at a rotation somewhere.  Should be a decent 4th or 5th starter somewhere.

John Rheinecker summary:  Another good starter in the minors, but blew it when he got his seven chances to start with the big club.  Went to the bullpen and performed very well, and may have found his niche there.  If he will accept the role (he made some comments in the middle of the season that if the Rangers didn’t use him, he wanted to go somewhere he was wanted), he should be a good longman, although the Rangers might have an excess of those next year.

Ron Mahay summary:  Had several good years in the bullpen for the Rangers, but finally left in the Teixeira trade.  I doubt you’ll find a bad word about him from anyone on the Rangers.  You can expect to see him on a roster somewhere for the next several years, he’s 36 but seems to be the type who could pitch well into his 40s.

Scott Feldman summary:  Another young guy who split time between Arlington and Oklahoma.  This year he was not very effective in either place.  His 32 walks and 19 strikeouts while with the Rangers are a very bad sign.  He’s only 24, so he should get more opportunities, but he needs to go back to his 2006 form if he wants to stick around.

Akinori Otsuka summary:  Pitched well while he was here, but spent the last three months on the DL (after one of the more ridiculous injury management scenarios I’ve ever heard of).  Ended with just four saves, which was in part caused by Gagne’s being ahead of him, but also by the fact that the team was terrible in the first month, while Gagne was on the DL.  He may or may not be ready for 2008.  If he is, he may or may not get the closer’s job, in fact he may not even be with the team.

AJ Murray summary:  He had 41 games (1 start) for Oklahoma, with a 3.10 ERA.  He had 14 games (2 starts) with Texas, with a 4.50 ERA.  Coming off a couple of years of injury, he was stretched just a little, but by the end of the year the Rangers were suggesting he’d go back down to AAA in 2008 and work on being a starter.  He’s 25, so he’s got time, but right now his role is confused, and you have to question his health a little.

Jamey Wright, Armando Galarraga and Luis Mendoza both had relief appearances, but were covered in the starters review.

Bruce Chen summary:  This is how desperate the Rangers were, they actually got five games out of Bruce Chen before realizing what the rest of the league already knew:  he’s done.

Bill White summary:  Career minor leaguer brought up to fill a hole in September, ended up with a 4.82 ERA in 9 games.  He had spent the entire season being pretty ineffective in AA, so I think this was a case of a) someone from the Rangers saw a game in Frisco where he did well, and decided they wanted him up, b) they didn’t want to start the clock running on someone who might actually help the team in future, or c) he has nude pics of someone in the front office.  Whichever one it was, don’t expect to see him again.  He might be up, but only if all the other arms fall off first.

2008 outlook:  Ron Washington wants a “proven closer”.  If the Rangers get someone to do that (and Gagne is possibly as good a chance as any to make it back), then the rest of the bullpen will shake out behind them.  And since the Rangers won’t be contending next year, whoever they get is likely to follow the same path, that of someone signed to bring prospects at the trade deadline, so it will probably be a name you know.  Apart from them, you can pick from Aki (if he’s not still injured, and if the Rangers give him a new contract), Benoit and Wilson as the top three.  Benoit and Wilson would form a very good 8-9 punch, and if Aki is healthy then the Rangers have a chance of having a shut-down 7-8-9 innings, which would be great if only the rotation can get it to them.  Frankie Francisco will be in the mix, as will Wes Littleton.  Rheinecker has the lead on the longman role, although Kam Loe is also slated to move in that direction.  That’s a list of half a dozen guys, likely to be the top of the bullpen roster.  After that, you’re really just gambling on injuries and ineffectiveness, and any of another ten or a dozen players will shuttle in and out trying to fill in the holes.  Big question will be whether Washington can manage to spread the load a little, so the top guys don’t wear down at the end of the year.  Bigger question is whether the starters can go a little deeper into games, so those roster fillers don’t have to pitch so much.

2009 and beyond:  Follow the bouncing ball.  By that I mean your guess is as good as mine.  Below I’ll cover the minor league relievers, you can’t count on any of them.  Fact is, if you’re pegged as a reliever in the minors, especially in the lower levels, you’re very unlikely to make the big leagues.  If you’re good enough, they use you as a starter in the minors, and you move to the bullpen when you get to the majors.  For that reason, picking a bullpen years in advance is pointless.  The best guys go to the major league rotation, a few top guys are left over, and the rest fill out the back of the bullpen.  Throw darts at the list below and your results will be as good as anything I might suggest.  So what’s below is just the guys who pitched the most in relief for each team.  And since I don’t know contract status on many of these guys, some that I mention might not even be with the organization by the time spring training comes around (let alone by the time this is posted).

Minor leagues:

At AAA:  Francisco Cruceta and Franklyn German did well in Oklahoma, leading to the possibility of numerous “let me be frank with you” jokes if they join Catalanotto and Francisco in Arlington.  The other guys who pitched a lot of relief in OKC are either old (Randy Williams) or ineffective (Ezequiel Astacio and Steven Rowe), but since they’re at AAA they may get thought of at some point when the Rangers need bodies in the bullpen.

At AA:  A successful club has a successful bullpen, and there were several guys in Frisco.  Danny Ray Herrera was probably the best of them.  Jesse Ingram led the team with 26 saves, although he doesn’t seem to get the credit he might deserve.  Kea Kometani  was decent.  There were a string of average players, including Brandon Puffer (too old to be a prospect), Scott Shoemaker, Jorge Vazquez, Bill White (as discussed above, surprisingly made the Rangers), Ken Chenard and Matt Farnum.  These are the guys that could easily step up in future, or just as easily get their release.

At High-A:  As with starters, this is where the players really start to shake out.  The Bakersfield bullpen was full of guys who didn’t perform well, and a lot of them are not likely to be heard from again.  Of the success stories, Danny Touchet did well, but had problems with a short time in AA, and Jared Hyatt did a little at three different stops, but only had 23 innings all year.  Between Low-A, High-A and AA, Brennan Garr finished with a 2.03 ERA in 62 innings, striking out 75.  Given his movement up the ladder, he might be one of those who actually succeed from a minor league bullpen.  As for the rest, a bunch of names that will mean nothing in a couple of years.

At Low-A:  Even less to get excited about.  As pointed out earlier, if you’re tabbed as a reliever this early, you probably don’t have a bright future.  And if you’re tabbed as a reliever and fail here, you don’t have any future.  The few successes in the Clinton bullpen include Brennan Garr, mentioned above, Ivan Izquierdo, good ERA (2.61) but bad peripherals (18-31 BB-K ratio, in 48 innings) and struggled in a short stint at High-A, Josh Lueke (10-31 BB-K), and John Slusarz (2.89 ERA with 62 Ks in 65 innings).

At Short-Season Rookie:  Ryan Falcon had 62 Ks in 47 innings, with just 6 walks.  That will grab some attention.  Tommy Hunter was a first round pick, and he did pretty well in a very short time (13 Ks, 1 walk in 17 innings).  Same with Andrew Laughter, 32 Ks in 31 innings and only 4 walks.

In Rookie ball:  Hardly anyone worth mentioning.  I’ll throw out Ryan Turner (1.67 ERA, 27 innings, 30 strikeouts, 1 walk) just to get a name out there.

Passing out POTY ballots

August 16, 2007

Who’s your Texas Rangers Pitcher Of The Year for 2007? There’s still a little way to go, but the contenders narrow themselves down by the day. In the rotation, most of them have sucked for most of the year, with occasional bursts of good performance, but not enough to lift them into POTY contention. McCarthy might have been, what with his 3.41 ERA since the beginning of May, but he’s only pitched 74 innings in 14 games in that time, and in fact today he once again went on the DL, this time with a cracked shoulder blade (which leaves one wondering how good he would have been if healthy in that time – or better yet, how do we crack some of those other guys shoulder blades?).

In the bullpen there are, as usual, several good candidates. Gagne would have been one, but he was only here half the year, so he loses credit for being traded. Aki will have missed half the year with injury, so he’s out too. Mahay did some good now and then, but he’s gone, even Willie Eyre stepped up and performed well at times when he was needed badly. But really, as you probably already guessed, there are only two real candidates: Joaquin Benoit and CJ Wilson. As all around them have come and gone, those two have been steady as rocks, coming up with the goods day in and day out, and so with a month and a half left to go, it’s time to compare them as they stand now, and set them up for a grandstand finish in the POTY race.

Benoit started the year in the seventh inning slot, setting up for Aki and Gagne to end out games. Of course, early on, the offense and the starting pitching didn’t get the team into position where the back three were needed that much. But Jack has pitched well, used a lot with just one day’s rest, and used with the game tied or with a one run lead. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is about 3.5 to 1, which is excellent, especially as he’s striking out about 10 batters per 9 innings. His ERA is 2.71 as I write, which is a little deceptive because he gave up 6 runs in 1 inning in an April appearance, and 4 runs in 2 innings in a June appearance. Take out those two appearances and for the rest of the year his ERA is an astounding 1.35.

CJ’s role was as a lefty early on (not that his role could be anything else!), coming in early or the middle of the game, wherever needed to get some innings in. As time went by though, his role got bigger and bigger, and with Aki and Gagne gone, he finally moved into the closer role at the beginning of August. I had said for a couple of months that I thought he would be the closer one day, but I did not even expect it to be this year, let alone as soon as it was. CJ has mostly pitched on one or two days rest, and has varied the times when he came in, although of course now he’s the closer he’ll get a lot more leads in the ninth to keep hold of. CJ’s ERA is now 2.29, and although he’s struck out about one batter per inning, his walks are a little high at almost one every other inning. He has improved as the year has gone on in walks though. He’s given up two or more runs in five appearances (including tonight, although he did still get the save), take those out and his ERA is 0.71. That’s not quite as fair as taking out those two for Jack though, since they’re a lot more regular. Still, excellent work, and in fact CJ did just go through a period of 12 or 13 innings without allowing a hit.

Let’s take a look at what they’ve been throwing this year, starting with Joaquin Benoit:

Jack Speed HV

He has three pitches, this chart shows the horizontal and vertical breaks on them, related to speed. For each pitch, the darker color is horizontal, lighter is vertical. You can clearly see the three pitches, fastball in green at the top, slider in the middle in blue and the red changeup at bottom. He doesn’t have a curveball. His fastball runs 90-95 mph, the slider 85-92 and the change about 80-86. Of the 596 pitches I have for him in my Gameday database, he threw fastballs just under half the time, sliders just over a quarter and changeups just under a quarter.

Jack Horiz Vert

Looking closer at just the horizontal and vertical breaks, you can see his fastball and change break to the left, his slider doesn’t break much horizontally at all. The fastball is a little high, coming in at about 10 inches, but the other two pitches average about 5 inches, which helps keep the ball down.

Jack Breaks

Looking at the breaks, the angle of his fastball is pretty high, averaging about 40 degrees, while the other two pitches have pretty good length on them, mostly in the 6-8 inch range but regularly getting up to 10 inches.

Benoit is a righty, of course, so let’s look at the lefty Wilson:

CJ Speed HV

CJ shows four pitches, although without the color coding it initially looked like just three. The fastball at the top is really two different pitches, as we’ll see in a moment, both thrown at 90-95 mph. I’ve been trying to figure out all night what the other two pitches are, and I finally decided that the green one is the slider, at 80-85, and the red one is the mythical gyroball. I decided that because the green pitch is in a similar position to sliders I’ve tracked with other players (compare to Benoit’s above), and because of the publicity about the gyroball and how variable it is. In addition, CJ has said he’s thrown the gyro about once every appearance, and with 50 appearances under his belt, the red pitch appears 54 times in my database and the green 74.

CJ Horiz Vert

Now take a look at the horizontal and vertical breaks by themselves, and you’ll see why I separated the fastball into two pitches. Funnily enough, while the previous picture was harder to tell apart without color, this one was easier to tell apart when it was black and white. At that time you could clearly see a gap between what are the blue and purple pitches. Combining this chart with the one above, which separates the green out, we see what happens with the pitches. The blue fastball is averaging a horizontal break of 4.8 inches, and vertical of 9.1. The purple fastball gets a horizontal average of 9.6 and vertical of 5.9. If you look closely at the previous picture, you’ll see the dark blue and light purple together, and dark purple and light blue together. This is what distinguishes the two pitches. Again, a lot of research uncovered an article on ESPN.com from Jerry Crasnick, which said he throws a live fastball and hard sinker. Because of that I conclude the purple pitch is the sinker (it has the lower vertical) and the blue is the fastball.
CJ Breaks

Break angle and length show the distinctions in the pitches as well. In this case the sinker is breaking a little more than the fastball, and about the same rate as the slider. The gyro is much more variable.

I have 584 pitches tracked for CJ, just 12 less than I have for Jack. He throws the fastball about 46% of the time, and the sinker about 32%. The slider and gyro are thrown about 12% and 9% respectively.

So far everything’s been even, they’re both throwing well with a variety of pitches, with a lot of strikes and not many walks. At this point they’re fairly even, but there’s one thing left to look at. Look at the Rangers charts on the Fangraphs site, and scroll down to the relievers.  There’s a number of stats here, but I want to focus on a couple of them.  Leverage is a rating of how crucial a situation is, for example a runner on first with none out in the first inning is not nearly as important as a runner on first with none out in the ninth inning.  In the chart, the stat pLI is the average leverage situation the player has appeared in.  You can see that Gagne and Aki are around 1.65, meaning 1.65 times the average leverage situation for all players.  Jack shows up at 1.35, and CJ at 1.03.  This means that Jack has been trusted with more important situations that CJ has, so far this year.  I would expect this to change, now that CJ is closing, but so far Jack is ahead.  The other stat to look at is WPA, or Win Probability Added.  This is the likelihood that a team will win given the game situation, and the change therein based on the player’s performance.  If you pitch badly, pushing your team towards a loss, this will go down, and if you pitch well, especially in high leverage situations, your team’s chances of winning will go up.  The better you do, the higher your WPA.  In this case, Jack has a 2.40 WPA, higher than anyone else on the team, including the batters.  CJ at 1.05 has done pretty well too, but Jack is head and shoulders above in this stat.  The final stat, BRAA, is Batting Runs Above Average, meaning how many runs more than an average player have they scored (or how many fewer have they given up, in the case of pitchers).  This somewhat tracks ERA, but gets better the more innings you pitch with a lower ERA.  CJ is leading in this category, in fact leading all Rangers including the hitters, but Jack is just a little way behind (and look at how terrible the rotation has been).

What is there to conclude from all this? They both have a range of pitches and they’re both throwing them very well this year. They’re both excelling in what they do. With the loss of other pitchers via injury and trade, these two guys have stepped up and taken charge. If the Rangers were to suddenly find themselves in contention, I would be very happy having CJ and Jack running out there for the 8th and 9th innings, and I would be confident the Rangers would get good results with them. Overall I give a slight edge to Jack right now, but there’s still a month and a half left for CJ to make his case for Pitcher of the Year.

The Tigers are out of the woods

June 6, 2007

In 2003 the Detroit Tigers posted one of the worst records ever, finishing at 43-119. They were unredeemable in all senses of the word. They lost their first 9 games, won one, then lost another 8, to sit at 1-17. They had another period where they went 2-21, a 3-23, and a 1-16 streak. The only month they won more than 9 games was May, where they went 11-18. They were at the nadir of their tenth straight season below .500. People were comparing them to the 1962 Mets, a team ridiculed as the worst team ever, but at least those Mets had something to hide behind, the fact that they were an expansion team. The Tigers are a franchise proud of their history, with four World Series titles (the most recent in 1984) and numerous Hall of Famers have played for them.

But those 2003 Tigers did have one thing that they can now look back on. They threw a bunch of young players into the fire, and kept the ones who didn’t flame out. Just three years later they would go 95-67, win the American League, but unfortunately run into a Cardinals team that wiped them out 4-1 in the World Series. A year later they arrive in Texas for a three game series with a record of 32-25, 2.5 games out of first and comfortably in the Wild Card spot. Suggestions they could sweep the Rangers would be realistic. Just the other day I read that even the weak teams in the league now consider the Rangers an easy beat, and they’re right.

Of course, the Rangers upset the apple cart a little tonight, beating the Tigers 7-4, although after a 6 run first inning (the first time all year they’d scored more than two in the first inning), emergency starter John Rheinecker followed the rest of the rotations plan in trying to throw the game back to the Tigers. Once he was out though, the bullpen did an outstanding job in 2-hitting the Tigers for the last 6 innings. How soon until Willie Eyre is given a chance at starting, or is he too valuable cleaning up after the starters have blown up? And Joaquin Benoit? Are his starting days over, since he’s proven himself in the middle to late innings? Or did it just take a few years for him to learn how to pitch?

And that brings us back to the point of this article. By my count, 8 of the 30 players who’ve appeared for the 2007 Tigers were also on the 2003 Tigers. How can that be? How can a quarter of the players on a historically bad team still be there four years later. Or to put it another way, how did 12 out of the 40 players who went to the World Series in 2006 survive from 2003?

The answer is simple. They realized they were bad, horrendously bad, for several years. They realized they weren’t going to do anything in 2003. They realized as they were losing so badly that they weren’t going to somehow pull things out of the fire. On June 5, when they were 16-41, they knew they weren’t just a player or two away. So they left those guys in the big leagues, they didn’t shuffle them around, somehow trying to eke out an extra few wins to make themselves look a little better. They knew they were heading to 100 losses, and passed it easily. They didn’t stop and say “well, maybe we’d look better if we only managed to lose 99”. They bit the bullet, gave some guys all the rope they needed, and watched as some hung themselves, but also watched others use that rope to climb as high as they could.

Craig Monroe hit .212 for the Rangers in 2001 and was waived at the end of the year. Picked up by Detroit, he suffered through a couple of bad years but managed to come through, and for the last four years has been at or above league average in OPS, hitting at least 18 home runs each year since 2003. Do you remember what the Rangers saw in him to think he wouldn’t make it? Was it those lousy 58 plate appearances in 2001, at the age of 24, with his peak still years away? Did they prefer to run a parade of players through the outfield all those years, paying some of them many millions while Monroe didn’t even earn one million until 2006? Or was it just another in a string of bad calls by John Hart, who makes me think he was a saboteur on every additional thing I hear about him? Okay, so Monroe is not a superstar, but he would have been a stabilizing influence on one outfield position, in an outfield that has been terrible since the days of Rusty Greer in left and Juan Gonzalez in right holding things together.

The guys who really survived were Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson and Mike Maroth. Bonderman was 6-19 with a 5.56 ERA and Maroth was 9-21, 5.73, in 2003. Robertson only got 8 starts but was 1-2, 5.44. Do these numbers ring any bells? Add a run of ERA to each and they’re starting to sound like the 2007 Rangers rotation. Of course, they’re now three fifths of the Tigers rotation. Bonderman has really become the star, 5-0 3.27 this year, having gotten better every year he’s been in the big leagues. Maroth has stumbled a little, but is a serviceable guy in the four or five slot. Robertson gave up a bunch of runs to the Rangers today, but prior to that was doing decently.

They also got Justin Verlander at #2 overall in the 2004 draft. He didn’t sign until after the season, but got a couple of games in the bigs in 2005, and then was there to stay in 2006. The Rangers should take note, with the draft coming this Thursday. Of course, they don’t get a #2 pick, but that’s kind of a crap-shoot anyway, you don’t always luck into guys like Verlander but when you do you don’t make them spend three or four years in the minors.

So what’s my point? I think it is that even when you’re down, you can still look at guys as long-term potential. If you give up on them quickly, shuffle them back to Oklahoma after one or two bad games, you’ll end up watching them play for someone else in their prime (Doug Davis comes to mind, as especially does Justin Duchscherer, dumped at the same time as Craig Monroe). If you let them take their lumps, get them experience, and give them time to learn and prove themselves, you might end up with a core that you can build around, adding parts from free agency and the minors to build with. So sit back, watch, wince, cry and complain as Tejeda, McCarthy, Loe, and Kinsler frustrate you night after night, and think of how they’re learning on the job. Then, one day, you might just find yourself standing in line for World Series tickets.