Posts Tagged ‘Darren O’ Day’

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SP2: Ten questions to be answered on Hwy. 162(Part 2)

02/24/2011

In part 1 of our series we covered the topics of Michael Young’s standoff with management, what impact(if any) Cliff Lee’s departure for Philadelphia would have on the team, and my projected Opening Day rotation. Three down, time to answer three more questions about what those red shoe Rangers will have to face as they make their way down Hwy. 162.

 

4. You’ve discussed the rotation, but what’s your take on the bullpen going into this year?

Answer: Mike Rhyner had a very solid quote when he said “The best thing you can say about a bullpen is that you have one.” Spending a good part of my existence with Ranger baseball being fairly poor, the pitching staff on the whole has been terrible and the bullpen has been no exception.  Last year however, the Rangers had a 3.38 ERA in the bullpen which was good for sixth among all the major league clubs. This will all depend on if Neftali Feliz goes to the rotation, same with Alexi Ogando. However since I listed my Opening Day rotation without those two, for the purpose of this question let’s assume they will both be in the bullpen. So you have Neftali in the ninth inning, Ogando as your eighth inning guy, Darren O’Day, Mark Lowe, Arthur Rhodes, and Darren Oliver locked into your bullpen with the long reliever spot open and up for competition. As far as my take on the bullpen, I’m more than happy with it. Darren Oliver got a lot of work last year, and now Ron Washington has two Olivers with the addition of Arthur Rhodes so you figure he can split the work load of what Oliver would have had between those two and keep each man fresh. One night Oliver can go, the next night Rhodes. Keep cycling them, keep them fresh, and you don’t have to worry about that. The thing I like the most about this bullpen is the potential options you have. Matt Harrison could be a long man, you might see Tanner Scheppers come out like a house of fire to be yet another good young bullpen arm, even Kirkman(who I’ve projected into the rotation) could make it in. There is a good solid pool to pull from, and I’m thinking this is going to be a benefit. The more depth you can have on a team, and for your bullpen in particular then that is nothing but a good thing. Keep an eye out for Yoshinori Tateyama, he’s a dark horse candidate to make an impact in the bullpen. He’s definitely a wild card, but Jon Daniels has been fairly resourceful with his signings. O’Day was a waiver wire pick up, Mark Lowe was a throw in on the Cliff Lee deal, Matt Harrison was one of the last pieces of the Mark Teixeira trade. With any luck, Tateyama will be able to write his name on that list when the 2011 season is over.

 

5. Who do you feel is the one player on the club who needs to make 2011 his break out year?

Answer: This player is also the most frustrating Rangers player on the roster for me: Julio Borbon. From the great Jason Parks, here’s a scouting report on Borbon written in 2009: “While I don’t think Borbon will ever become the prototypical top-of-the-order threat that many Rangers fans envision, I do believe that he will be able to offer league-average offensive production while providing above-average defense in center field. That, despite what the slightly disappointing tone to this report might suggest, has tremendous value.” Parks was right on the nose, however we have not seen this from Borbon yet. Example: last year Borbon had 59 strikeouts as compared to only 19 walks. On base percentage was .309, while the average for the entire league was .325. His batting average dropped, however he played in over ninety more games last year than he did the year before so you have to factor that in. Borbon is a very fast player, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to call him the fastest guy on the team. With that said, if he’s only using that speed to walk quickly back to the dugout after you strike out then you might as well not have it at all. Borbon needs to figure out how to get on base period, if he can do that then he quickly becomes a valuable asset to this team. If you can put Borbon on base, no matter where you put him in the line up then you can get him home because he has some great wheels. If you are expecting the second coming of Rickey Henderson, please feel free to check yourself into the nearest insane asylum because you will not get that. If Borbon gets up to his potential, lives up to his billing, then he will be getting on base more and you’ll see him cross the plate when the puck movers on this team start to hit. Or, he will be traded in a deal to acquire a starting pitcher because Engel Beltre will force himself into the picture for the starting center field job in a year or so. Either way, I fully believe Borbon can be useful to this team in some form or fashion. I would like him to turn into a Gold Glove center fielder whose an on base machine, and I hope in a year or so I can come back and say that he did just that. But I’m a realist, and right now Borbon is in a “prove it” mode to me and should be to all Rangers fans. It’s time for him to step up, or be included in a deal to bring someone that will help the team. I’m a Borbon fan, but my expectations are low.

 

6. You said in Part 1 that you had an Opening Day rotation. Does this mean you feel the rotation will change sometime within the year?

Answer: Absolutely. The starting five on April 1st I projected as CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland, and Michael Kirkman. Brandon Webb was not included, but by June I fully expect him to replace either Holland or Kirkman in the roster. Not because those performed poorly, though that’s very possibly. The talk out of Rangers camp is that Webb will be handled with care, due to his aforementioned monkey shoulder and that could include a stint in AAA to start the year for two reasons. So that he can get on a regular rotation, and so there is no real pressure on him to succeed. It would allow him to build his velocity, and get used to pitching again. If Webb can get anywhere close to where he was in his prime, then he can easily unseat one of the lower guys and force his way back into the rotation. I’m convinced that if Webb ends up in Round Rock to start the year, we will see him with the major league club only when he is back up to speed. Which is fine with me, because when Brandon Webb is on his game I can’t pitch him enough. So by sometime in June, possibly July I hope we are seeing a CJ/Colby/Hunter/Holland/Webb or CJ/Colby/Hunter/Webb/Kirkman rotation. He could replace Tommy Hunter, but more logically I think  see one of the two younger lefties falling down and Webb performing well enough for Round Rock to earn his spot back with the major league club. Let me reiterate I do not think we see Webb in the majors unless the team feels he can make it work. So if he’s in the rotation on Opening Day, or if he has to wait some time while that may not set well with him it’s for the best. If it’s not Brandon Webb, then it’s very possible my original rotation holds form until the season is over. It would shock me to no end, but it’s possible. I’m not anywhere near convinced Matt Harrison is useful as a starter anymore, regardless of what articles are written about him. Scott Feldman is recovering from microfracture surgery, and nothing he did last year showed us that the 17 win year he had in 2009 was anything but a fluke. Brandon Webb would be 5A in a situation like that, and if he’s performing well then by all means give him a shot if the opportunity arises.

Another section of questions knocked out. Next time, the last four questions including the big one “Can the Rangers get back to the World Series?”

Sam

sam@sportsperspective.net

twitter.com/SHSPerspective

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