Saturday, April 10, 2010

Esteban German is an offensive weapon


Joaquin Arias had 2 hits on Friday and 3 hits today. Go Joaquin.

Francisco blew his 2nd consecutive save, and in both instances did not merely blow it: he was horrible. Panic time? Yes and no. It is time to get rid of Francisco as a closer, yet that doesn't mean it's panic time. IMO, if the Rangers were going to make the playoffs and possibly win a playoff series, Feliz was going to have to supplant Francisco at some point during this season anyway. I had not such great confidence in Francisco.

Though it would be perfect to bring Feliz along slowly, perfect hasn't happened. I would be happy to just run Feliz out there now and see what happens. IMO, Feliz would perform. Or, although the following opinion is a definite outlier, I would be happy to see any of these guys closing games during April, May, June:
Oliver, O'Day, Ray, Nippert, Holland, McCarthy.
All those guys are competitive pitchers. They could do the job until Feliz is fully ready in July.

Nolan Ryan, when he first came into the organization, said a hot relief pitcher ought be left to pitch a second or even a third inning in a game. His reasoning: the next guy who comes in might not be hot on that night. Lifting a hot pitcher from the game is taking an unnecessary risk. This is a perfect opportunity to allow Nolan Ryan's theory to play out: to allow any of the aforementioned relief pitchers to just keep on pitching additional inning(s) and to close games out. They are salty competitors (even McCarthy: he's a head case, but a competitive head case). They can do it.

Ron Washington, however, likely would never do such a thing. Washington is hidebound and traditional in much of his thinking. During Washington's time in baseball, official closers have been popular. Ron Washington is not an innovator. I just hope Washington's hideboundness doesn't result in us overpaying to purchase "closer" Houston Street for the 2 1/2 months before his free agency. Houston Street is not a dominant closer. He's gutsy and smart, but he's not dominant.


At this moment, Esteban German is the best 2B in the Texas Rangers organization, yet he's playing CF in OKC.

Last night, in AAA Oklahoma City, German singled, doubled, tripled, and drew two bases on balls. German played CF in place of the injured Craig Gentry. Meanwhile, in Arlington, the Rangers can barely hit; can barely score.

Esteban German is a ninja throwing star. He doesn't explode and vaporize an enemy. Rather, he inflicts his own peculiar type of localized damage ... which damage, in concert with damage done by other teammates/weapons, turns out to be very damaging indeed. You muse, almost as an afterthought: "Ya know, Esteban German's base on balls was really a key moment in that inning..." And your friend says: "It really was." Yet, somehow, teams never fully value what Esteban German brings to an offense. They keep sending him to AAA. Where he keeps putting up .400 OBP seasons.

Sept 9, 2009: Esteban German goes 5 for 5 in Cleveland. Note that his second hit comes after the Cleveland pitcher has retired 8 consecutive Rangers. This is the kind of thing German does: he hits tough pitching; he provides a shot in the arm to an offense.

In 2009, the Rangers had their finest run of the season - going from nowhere to somewhere late in the season - with German playing 2B and batting second in the order. German is a 5'7" guy who doesn't swing at pitches outside the zone; who can handle pitches in the zone and turn them into line drives. German, in Arlington last season, was a badly needed glue guy; was a badly needed guy who would not swing at any old @#$%^&* which the pitcher tossed up there. The offense was never more effective than during the weeks German spent in the line-up batting second, drawing walks, and lacing singles.

German is a natural 2B who plays mediocre if acceptable defense at that spot, and also in LF. His defense is poor at all other positions - not horrifying, maybe, but he can only make the routine plays, and he sometimes boots those.

Still, with the Rangers offense floundering, German ought be in Arlington and in the line-up beginning today. There's only a small distance between horrible and good. That distance might be the 5'7" of Esteban German. The Rangers are serious about contending this season. Games need to be won, now. Several Rangers are in momentary slumps. Esteban German is not. He is ready, right this moment, to help the team.

Vlad Guerrerro looks as if he might be huge for the Rangers this season. He ought be accompanied in the line-up by a little buddy: German. Even when Kinsler returns, there ought be days when Hamilton plays CF, Guerrerro plays RF, and German is the DH. German is a superior offensive player to Ryan Garko.*

Bringing German to Arlington might be the end of Joaquin Arias in Arlington. That might be best for everyone involved: cut poor Arias loose; end the agonized relationship between Arias and the Rangers franchise. It wasn't good for either party. Some relationships just don't work out.

*Think of this: arbitration awards are based on statistics. Garko earns $560K this season. Had the Rangers gone to arbitration with German, German was going to be awarded approx. $1M in arbitration.

B/c German does not hit home runs, therefore teams do not respect his offensive contribution as they should. B/c of German's stature, major league teams envision German as a utility player. Especially b/c good defense is more highly valued than ever: German fits no one's definition of a utility player. German is stereotyped into a role he cannot play. He's just not a good defender, and never will be.

However, the stereotype unfairly limits German: teams fail to recognize that German can stand alone as a valuable offensive weapon; that German has value which is separate from the utility player role. No team can envision featuring an offensive weapon who is 5'7" and doesn't hit for power and has good speed yet not freakishly great speed. What GM can justify featuring that weapon to his fans and to his owner? Showing confidence in German is the kind of thing which can get a Manager and a GM fired. The Rangers, for instance, will wait around and gamble that a Ryan Garko can resuscitate his offense; can become a player who will explode opponents via 3 run home runs. Yet, when no one is on base, 3 run home runs do not happen. The Rangers will not reach for a ninja throwing star which is ready to be utilized right now.

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