Thursday, July 08, 2010

I allllmost nailed a spectacular Texas Rangers prediction

On June 6, I predicted the Texas Rangers would go 22-5 for the month. They went 21-6. Dang it. So close. What's really frustrating: they ought have been significantly better than 21-6, i.e. they ought have gone maybe 24-3. They underperformed by about 2-3 victories. Still, I do get the satisfaction of being proven to not be the insane person it appeared I was.

Here's why my predictions sometimes seem odd: I watch the Rangers for myself, I watch the players closely, and I form my own opinions. I don't rely overly on statistics; I don't rely overly on what "scouts" are saying. I rely on my own eyes. Therefore, my amateur opinions are often at odds with the "scouts", and are almost always at odds with the casual fan's opinion.

The casual fan, plus most media (such as Jennifer Engels of the Star-Telegram) are currently plenty frustrated by Justin Smoak, and are demanding that the .210 hitting Smoak be sent to the minors. I think Justin Smoak is going to be a star, mostly b/c he has a shrewd batting eye to pair with outstanding hitting ability. I think the frequency of Smoak's excellent at bats is very high for a rookie. I think Smoak has played a crucial role in the Rangers line-up: occupying the batting slot immediately in front of the light hitting catchers. Therefore, I think Smoak has been contributing this season in a way in which few of the free swinging Rangers could have contributed. I would not trade the .210 hitting Smoak straight up for 2 months of Cliff Lee, much less package Smoak with Holland, as most Cliff Lee fantasizers are speculating.

Anyway, when I watch with my own eyes, and give my own true opinions, sometimes my opinions are way out there and way wrong: I thought Ramon Nivar would be a star CF; thought Jason Botts would rake; thought Chris Young would become dominant.

Still, sometimes my opinions are better than the professional opinions. I knew the Ian Kinsler for Larry Walker trade was stupid (the Rangers weren't ready to win that season, therefore giving up Kinsler was stupid). I knew the John Danks trade was stupid (the Rangers weren't ready to win that season, either). I saw, with my own eyes, something seemingly no one else saw: the rookie Nelson Cruz was getting yanked around in and out of the line-up by an airheaded Ron Washington. Therefore, the rookie could not get comfortable and in a groove. Therefore, I knew putting Nelson Cruz on waivers was stupid. And I almost knew the Rangers were going to go 21-6 in June. I was thiiiiiis cloooooose. There's plenty of stuff I've missed on. But sometimes I get it more correct than Jon Daniels.

Current advice for Jon Daniels?

Forget trading for a pitcher this season. The price, which is giving up the best arms in the organization, is too high. Instead of giving away the future in a trade, Daniels should go with this rotation in August, September, and in the playoffs:

Colby Lewis
C.J. Wilson
Tommy Hunter
Derek Holland
Neftali Feliz

Holland and Feliz have better arms than Daniels could trade for. If they are starting pitchers during August and Sept, then they will be ready to be starting pitchers in the playoffs. Think Colorado in the 2008 World Series with the young starting pitchers. Thats the goal. Holland and Feliz are ready to meet that standard. Why in the world would the Rangers stand in the way of Holland and Feliz fulfilling their destiny? All I can figure: a prophet is never respected in his own hometown. The Rangers are undervaluing the readiness and the quality of their own talent.


Harden (is ready to pitch better; is a natural reliever, imo)

Remember: you need a maximum of four starting pitchers during the playoffs. Therefore, the playoff bullpen could have another power arm during the playoffs, i.e. either C.J. Wilson, Feliz, or Holland.

Want still another power arm in the bullpen? How greedy are you? Well, you can have it: Tanner Scheppers. He'll be major league ready by August 1. Think of David Price's dominant pitching out of Tampa Bay's bullpen in the 2008 playoffs. Price first came to the major leagues as a September call up at the end of the 2008 regular season.

There is no need for Daniels to make a trade in which he must give up arms such as Hunter, Holland, Ogando, Scheppers, Martin Perez. The Rangers have spectacular young pitchers (Hunter, Holland, Feliz, Ogando, Scheppers) who are ready to succeed in the major leagues this season. Loosen the reins; let the horses run. Let Neftali Feliz out of the gate in the first inning!

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