Since we are close to the Friday trade deadline, I thought last night was a good chance to pick the brains of Mr. Grant and Mr Hindman during the first hour of last night's game against Detroit. We talked about Rangers pitching and deadline moves, as well as what it might take to get Roy Halladay, and what the Rangers motivation level should be.
One note, both of the chatters have busy lives, so Evan arrived a bit after we started, and Mike had to leave a bit early, but still we got you almost 2,000 words of Rangers talk for you to digest today.
Bob: So, with hours to the deadline, what do you think of the moves on the board so far?
MJH: Pretty boring. I'm not sure that Cliff Lee is a huge difference maker. The Seattle move is the most fascinating to me.
Mjhindman: They appear to be playing it both ways. Adding and possibly subtracting simultaneously.
Bob: Seattle's posture is an interesting study, no? They obviously feel they can win this. So does the deal today kill the premise of Washburn on the move?
Evan: Hey now. ....
Bob: Ladies and Gentlemen....Evan Grant
Mjhindman: No. Seattle may be fortifying themselves to deal Washburn and still attempt to stay in the mix in the division.
Bob: Evan, we were just tossing around impressions of the pre-deadline activity to this point. Thoughts on the splashes?
Mjhindman: Rick Adair has done a tremendous job with the Seattle staff this year and I'm guessing that they believe that he can get just a bit more out of Snell. If that frees them up to get a bigger bat by trading Washburn... Could be interesting.
Evan: Decent amount of activity. Nothing I would call a blockbuster. That is something that would come out of the blue and involve huge talents on both sides.
Bob: Seattle is 7.5 out going into tonight. They pretty much have to focus on the Boston/Texas pursuit with the wildcard, no?
Mjhindman: Hey Bob!! A Feldy strikeout, just for thee.
Evan: I think Seattle probably should focus on the wild card, yes. But there are enough games left within the division that they are still on the map.
Bob: Let's not paint me as a hater. I like "Feldy". I just don't want to be so naive everytime a starter strings together 3 months.
Bob: I believed in Drese. I believed in Koronka for a while. It would seem that I spend too much time believing, and perhaps I don't trust my eyeballs too much anymore since they have let me down in the past.
Mjhindman: I'm not painting you as a hater. What Feldman has going for him is exceptional range from his infield defense. Pitchers like him are heavily dependent on defense, of course.
Mjhindman: You see that a lot with guys who depend heavily on the sinker / GB formula. Fausto Carmona. They come and go. Ride them while you can.
Bob: so you buy the Bill James premise (as I assume you read the piece this morning)?
Mjhindman: Of course, I'm pretty sure that Drese was loading up the ball and got a warning to stop it. It was a poorly kept secret that Orel was a greaser.
Bob: Mr Grant, what sayeth you on the controversy du jour?
Evan: I tend to agree with MJH, but I will say that Feldman is young enough and new enough to starting and apparently adaptable enough to potentially develop a better strikeout pitch. And your thesis this morning had Feldman at 4.49. Bill James only had one decimal point in his 4.5 K per nine theory. It was interesting reading. And worth paying attention to.
Evan: I think it serves as a reminder that in general, you've got to have a strikeout pitch to succeed long-term. Feldman's got a great base right now, but yeah, as clubs get more familiar with his delivery and his cutting action, he's going to have to adjust.
Mjhindman: Yes. I hope I'm wrong, but Feldman is extremely enigmatic. Usually, extreme GB / non-strikeout guys have very low pitch counts and can go deep on a habitual basis. That's not the case with Feldman. On the other hand, you almost never see a hard-hit ball.
Bob: Yes, and I should have elaborated on the 4.5 number. In his essay he spends quite a bit of time showing that very few (if anyone aside from Glavine) can dramtically improve their K's per 9 at the big league level. Therefore, you set a baseline for the rest of your career at a given number. So, however far you may be above 4.5 is how far you can afford to slide. So, if you begin at 4.5, uh Danger Will Robinson.
Bob: There is no question, he leads my eyeballs in soft grounders. I guess the counter to that is that opponents batting average for balls in play are impossible to control. The averages catch everyone.
Evan: Sure, he's at the bottom of the scale. I don't think he will dramatically improve it, but 4.75 or 4.8 is doable and that would get him a little more above the bar. But the thesis, I think is sound. If you are going to be a starting pitcher, you have to be able to extract yourself from jams with the strikeout.
Bob: Tommy Hunter is the guy I am actually curious about. His sample size is so small that I don't have a feel for him yet. I think he will shake out in the 5.5 or 6.0 range when he gets more work. I think. Thoughts?
Evan: Four pitches to work with make strikeouts much more realistic possibility. I'd say look up Joe Blanton's numbers - well , I actually did (5.51 per nine) - and you've got a decent guess at what he might be. Blanton is the constant comparison for him. Big fellas from SEC schools who advanced quickly.
Evan: I also think Rick Helling might be an adequate comp. Didn't we discuss that, MJH?
Mjhindman: Yes. I think that Tommy has Rick Helling written all over him in a lot of ways.
Evan: Is that a good thing or bad thing?
Evan: I'd take Rick Helling.
Mjhindman: Good, of course.
Bob: Totally. Helling would battle you.
Bob: With this recent run of form and the recent issues with health on the team, isn't the pressure fairly high to help this team with a deadline addition to fortify things?
Evan: MJH did you see my proposed Lee/Francisco comp on the blog? Thoughts?
Mjhindman: Tommy is underrated and always has been. Go back and take a look at what he did in Triple-A just a year out of college last summer and let that sink in.
Evan: Bob, I think this team has done everything possible to justify making an addition, a big-time addition. The money thing has got to be frustrating for players and Daniels. This team has manuevered its roster for years to have financial flexibility and what is clear to me is that this year when that flexibility would really help, they simply don't have it.
Mjhindman: just one year after being drafted, Hunter blew through the Cal League, the Texas League, got a cameo in Arlington and posted a 2.89 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A Oklahoma.
Mjhindman: and Tommy is demonstrating an ability to make adustments; huge
Bob: Surely, though, a guy can scrape a little cash together if the situation is there. Is it so dire that even in this situation that HSG will pat for the wallet?
Bob: Or does all the cash go to try to sign your picks by 8/15?
Mjhindman: digression: I really have a mancrush on C. Granderson
Evan: Me, too. I've said that many times.
Bob: He good.
Evan: I think there is no money to do anything with. That seems to be the impression I get.
Mjhindman: Roy Halladay is the pitcher I'd most want to see here; Granderson wins my position player award in that category.
Bob: What are the guys in the room saying about that, Evan? I know how bummed they were a few years ago, when they got no help at the deadline.
Mjhindman: OK then Evan: then why are the Rangers ostensibly in the mix? Just to confuse the Pimp and try to kill a Boston deal? I don't understand why Daniels is injecting himself into the Halladay talks if he can't afford him. Is this org so disfunctional right now that they can't get that straight? Isn't that Nolan's job to keep that from happening?
Evan: I think the players believe Halladay can change the race and the playoffs. I believe they think Halladay makes them the favorites for the division. I'd hate to see the reaction if Halladay gets traded and it's to the Angels instead of the Rangers.
MJhindman: I'm sure that's true. So you're saying that the Rangers are just posturing?
Evan: I don't think they are posturing and wouldn't accuse them of that. I just think it's going to be more difficult than we've even alluded to get a deal done.
Bob: Based on what you hear or think, what would a Halladay package from a Rangers perspective look like?
Evan: This is a guess, guess, guess. But I get the feeling they would part with Smoak and Feliz to headline the deal. As long as Toronto doesn't insist that the third player is either Martin Perez, Derek Holland or Elvis Andrus, there should be a workable four-player package to put together. That would be fair. Baseball trades stopped being about fair a long time ago.
Evan: You can blame the rotisserie-league reared GMs or the media's instant grading of trades. But trades now are about being the other team, just bitch-slapping them. Not about making a fair deal for all involved.
Bob: OK. So, you are JD, Evan. Would you do that deal?
Evan: On a talent-for-talent basis, yes. Make Perez, Holland and Andrus off limits and the Jays could have their pick of any one pitcher and any one position player not currently in the majors.
Evan: But remember, Bob, you agree on all the talent and then you still have to be sure you can add $4.5 million to the payroll for the rest of the season with the specter of $15.75 looming for 2010.
Bob: the 15.75 is Padilla + Blalock, right?
Evan: Roy Halladay is an ace. Nothing matters more in a playoff race and in the playoffs.
Evan: Bob: Yes, but you are also looking at an uncertain financial situation for next year with the payroll since ownership is undetermined. It could shrink even more. There are a number of arb guys + kinsler who will jump significantly in salary.
Bob: Trust me, I am in. I don't want to overpay, but this franchise should not sneeze at being close to doing something special. They have 1 playoff game win in franchise history. This could do wonders for the Rangers fanbase. But letting it die on the vine over cashflow may be unavoidable, but also quite damaging.
Evan: If the financials prohibit a big deal, that could get ugly.
Bob: So, do you have a hunch on what we can expect in the next days, or is it a complete mystery that could go either way?
Evan: My hunch is no big name. They could add a piece, but I don't know that there is anybody out there who would wow me after Halladay.
Bob: This is going to be interesting. Thanks, guys.