<![CDATA[ShutDownInning - Archives]]>Tue, 02 Sep 2014 19:02:49 -0600Weebly<![CDATA[Whatever Happened to Wally Pipp?]]>Fri, 07 Jun 2013 09:29:54 GMThttp://shutdowninning.com/5/post/2013/06/whatever-happened-to-wally-pipp.htmlPicture
Photo Uncredited
by Eddie Middlebrook

June 2, 1925: New York Yankees 1B Wally Pipp is struck in the head by a ball during batting practice and is unable to play. 22-year-old Henry Louis Gehrig steps in to play, and doesn’t relinquish his spot until 1939.

It’s a shame that Pipp is remembered more for this than anything else he did in his life. He did lead the league twice in homers (1916, ’17) and led the league with 19 triples in 1924. In 1924, Pipp hit .295/.352/.457, but he was struggling in 1925 (.230/286/.348) when he went down with the head injury. Despite accumulating 28.9 rWAR for the Yanks over 11 seasons, Gehrig soon made fans forget about Pipp as he hit .295/.365/.531 with 20 homers and 10 triples in only 126 games.

Pipp went on to play for the Cincinnati Reds for three seasons, one of which were above average (108 OPS+, 1926). After baseball, he did go on to become one of the first writers for Sports Illustrated, but his name has become a verb in English vernacular.   

“Ian Kinsler has not been Wally Pipp'd,” – Ron Washington

Wash said this when asked if Elvis was replacing Kinsler permanently in the leadoff spot, but now that Profar has hit the ground running in Kinsler’s absence the question should be asked again:

Will Kinsler be Wally Pipp’d?

We know it won’t happen, but should it happen? These things always seem to find a way to work themselves out and it will be at least several weeks before Kinsler returns to the lineup. Profar has flashed to fans what many of us have known for a couple of years, (albeit in only 10 games) he has a treasure chest of talent. The kid has shown incredible range at 2B and is currently hitting .324/.350/.514 with two homers including Sunday’s game winner.

Profar seems to be one of those players that welcomes the big moments (homered in 2012 Futures game) and he had an opportunity to win the game on Saturday, but came up short. Amazingly, the moment came again on Sunday in the eighth inning and he placed the ball in Home Run Porch.

At this point, what do the Rangers miss in Kinlser? The clear answer is his bat, but where do you place him in the field? Heading into this season the answer would’ve been first base, but Mitch is playing well though he has cooled off the last two weeks (.229/.289/.371). By the time Kins comes back from the DL, if everyone is healthy, then Profar probably slides into Michael Young’s vacant “super-utility” role with a chance to maybe play a couple days a week. It is not ideal, but it is a problem that 29 other teams would love to have.  


Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of “Chin Music” and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @emiddlebrook
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<![CDATA[SDI Talk: Alexi Ogando is Back!]]>Thu, 06 Jun 2013 23:39:08 GMThttp://shutdowninning.com/5/post/2013/06/sdi-talk-alexi-ogando-is-back.htmlPicture
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
by Dan Allsup


Alexi Ogando came back yesterday and shut down the Red Sox offense in a duel for the best record in the American League. 



1) Where will Ogando be come October? 
a) the rotation
b) the bullpen
c) the DL

2)How comfortable are you with Ogando possibly being in the playoff rotation?


3)Should Ogando be considered a legit starter going forward- or is he always going to be shuffled back and forth? 

4)Did you know Ogando turns 30 at the end of the season? 

5) Ogando has three arbitration years ahead of him. Extension- or  year to year? 


Happy Thursday!


Dan Allsup is a  Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can reach him on Twitter @DanAllsup, or email him at Dan.Allsup@shutdowninning.com
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<![CDATA[Nelson Cruz and the Possible Suspension]]>Thu, 06 Jun 2013 09:28:33 GMThttp://shutdowninning.com/5/post/2013/06/nelson-cruz-and-the-possible-suspension.htmlPicture
AP Photo/Elise Amendola
by James Holland

During Tuesday night’s shellacking by the Boston Red Sox (in which every Rangers’ pitcher but David Murphy allowed a run to score) news broke out that Major League Baseball was seeking to suspend at least twenty players including Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz in connection with the Biogenesis Clinic scandal. Other big names were mentioned including Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera. MLB is actually seeking to suspend most players for 100 games.

But there’s one small problem: None of the players mentioned have recently (this past season or never altogether) failed a drug test that could be linked back to Biogenesis. Instead MLB is relying on testimony from Tony Bosch and a paper trail that includes code names for certain players. Instead of having positive tests Bud Selig and his “good old boy” network are basing their suspensions on the word of a guy who is seeking protection and help from MLB with the feds. Stern is operating under the assumption that he can suspend players just on the belief that they simply purchased PED’s.

Here’s where I have a bit of an issue.

It doesn’t matter what sport you will find a history of players doing whatever they can to gain a competitive edge. It’s no different in baseball. From Roger Maris allegedly using horse steroids to Hank Aaron and a multitude of players in the 60’s and 70’s using “greenies” to the 80’s and rampant cocaine use and the 90’s until now with steroids and other performing enhancing drugs the game has seen plenty of “cheaters”. Baseball itself has cheated over the years with lowering the mound in the late sixties to create more offensive production and a number of changes to the ball itself to make it livelier.

Fans have to face the facts that players will do whatever they can to get a leg up on the competition and doctors will always keep coming up with the next thing that will be harder to detect. It’s the nature of all sports. And speaking of “all” sports, NBA star LeBron James has also been mentioned in connection with the Biogenesis Clinic but you won’t hear much about it because that wouldn’t fit David Stern’s agenda when it comes to his superstars and television ratings.

So for now we, as Rangers fans, can sit back and wait to see what happens  with Cruz and make suggestions as to who will be the right fielder whether it be Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland, Jurickson Profar, Lance Berkman, Mike Olt or my dear mom.

Either way it’s going to be a long hard fight with many appeals and no concrete evidence aside from what somebody scribbled on a notepad.


James Holland is a Senior Columnist for Shutdown Inning. He can be reached at James.Holland@shutdowninning.com or @SDIJamesHolland on Twitter. 
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<![CDATA[Ian Kinsler's Positional Value]]>Wed, 05 Jun 2013 09:28:31 GMThttp://shutdowninning.com/5/post/2013/06/ian-kinslers-positional-value.htmlPicture
AP Photo/Brandon Wade
by Dan Allsup

There have been several theories for several years on what to do with Ian Kinsler, now that Jurickson Profar is here. The Rangers have a knack for keeping the best nine guys on the field (as long as Wash doesn't interfere). It sounds as though they will just let the positions settle themselves on the field with play and injuries. It doesn't sound like Texas is keen on dealing any of their middle-infield assets. I can't blame them, a quick scan through other teams rosters will prove that Texas indeed holds the cards. 

The prevalent sentiment is that Kinsler sooner or later will transform into a first-baseman or corner-outfielder. The problem with that is Kinsler's value is tied to his position where he plays quality defense at second base. Can Profar supersede Kinsler's value at second base and will he make up for the lost value of Kinsler in another position? It seems that JD & Co. think this way. They tried to push Kinsler to first base before the season, and he initially agreed- then changed his mind. 

After 2013, Kinsler is owed $67 million over the next five seasons, with an option year at the end for another $11 million, when he's 36. Can Kinsler earn that contract playing in left-field or at first base? Everyone seems to assume that Kinsler will become league average at those positions. However, I found a few comparable hitters at those positions that gleam some hope that Kinsler could continue to provide surplus value at other positions.

IAN KINSLER career line of .273/.351/.813, 112 OPS+ with an average of 25 HR and 5.2 WAR per 162 games, with excellent defense. 

ALEX GORDON career line of .274/.350/.792, 113 OPS+ with an average of 18 HR and 4.2 WAR per 162 games, with excellent defense.  

FREDDIE FREEMAN career line of .275/.345/.798, 116 OPS+ with an average of 22 HR and 2.2 WAR per 162 games, with below average defense. 

Gordon is a very interesting comparison as he broke into the bigs as an infielder, then reinvented himself as an outfielder for the Royals. Hopefully Kinsler can make a similar transition to the outfield. Kinsler definitely has the power to hold his own and still rack up a few wins. Judging from Freeman and Gordon, it looks like the only concern would be Kinsler's defense playing up at those positions. 

Personally I would imagine that Kinsler would fare better at first base, rather than left field- mainly because his skill set is already focused towards the infield. If Kinsler were to play above average defensively at his new position I would imagine it would be first base. I would almost expect him to play below average defensively in left. How many 30 year-old players are elite defensive outfielders? Very few, especially if it's new to you. 

Overall the uproar about positional value has been overblown. Kinsler could easily continue posting his 4-5 WAR seasons at his new position, and possibly even more depending on his development at his new position. Moving Kinsler to first-base makes a lot of sense, given the perpetual lack of production from that position for the Rangers. The last Ranger first-baseman to post a WAR over two was Mark Teixeira in 2006 (4.4). That's a long line of replacement level players that could come to end very soon.   

Dan Allsup is a  Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can reach him on Twitter @DanAllsup, or email him at Dan.Allsup@shutdowninning.com
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<![CDATA[The SDI Watch Party]]>Tue, 04 Jun 2013 23:20:24 GMThttp://shutdowninning.com/5/post/2013/06/the-sdi-watch-party.htmlPicture
On June 22, 2013 at Mac's Tavern and Grill in Arlington off of Division Street, we are hosting a watch party, where you can come and mingle with the writers from Shut Down Inning, which is sponsored by Paranoid Fan




We have longed to do this, and the timing is right. The Rangers are in St. Louis that night, and we'll gather at Mac's and have a few drinks and some food, and talk baseball.

In addition to the great baseball talk, we'll have the following:
  • 2 sets of Rangers tickets (Lexus Club Level to giveaway courtesy of Paranoid Fan)
  • SDI Decals to sell and to giveaway as well
  • SDI t-shirts will also be available for purchase (and we'll give away a few of those too)
  • Kitten Face's biggest fan will be in attendance 

So come on out to Mac's on June 22nd about 5pm or so!

2821 Galleria Drive, Arlington, TX

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<![CDATA[You Can Put It All On the Kid]]>Tue, 04 Jun 2013 22:11:01 GMThttp://shutdowninning.com/5/post/2013/06/you-can-put-it-all-on-the-kid.htmlPicture
AP Photo/LM Otero
by Emily Cates

At the disappointing end of the 2012 season, your Texas Rangers had to play a wild card playoff game vs. the Baltimore Orioles. In this game, Yu Darvish shined bright like a diamond, and the offense fell completely flat. In the bottom of the ninth, the Rangers were down 5-1 with Napoli on first and Cruz on second with two outs. Ron Washington called on 19-year-old Jurickson Profar to pinch-hit, and I distinctly remember screaming at the television, “YOU CAN’T PUT THIS ALL ON THE KID!” He singled. I guess I was wrong.

Fast forward to 2013. There was no place for Jurickson Profar in the Texas Rangers lineup to get regular at-bats. He deserved a big league spot, but so did every other infielder on the team. Sitting him on the bench would be a waste of his talents. The kid needed to play. A Triple-A assignment is what he got, and that was fine. Kinsler started 2013 off the right way. Moreland wasn’t so bad himself. Andrus inked a shiny new contract that makes him a Texas Ranger for a long, long time. Profar was down in the minors getting regular at-bats, working hard, and playing really well. Things were looking good.

On May 19th, Ian Kinsler was put on the disabled list for a rib injury, and the now 20-year-old Jurickson Profar got the call. Profar had big shoes to fill since, before hitting the DL, Kinsler was producing quite nicely. In 180 plate appearances, he had an .869 OPS with 11 doubles and 7 homeruns. In just 40 plate appearances, Profar has an .864 OPS with 1 double and 2 homeruns. Most impressively, at only 20 years old, he’s still learning, yet he can look like a veteran at the plate. During Friday night’s game, he had four plate appearances, seeing 24 pitches total and working the count full each time. I have a perfect contrast for this, but it’s going to hurt. In that same previously mentioned October game, Josh Hamilton also had four plate appearances, seeing only 8 pitches, and striking out twice. The kid’s got it.

In Sunday’s game vs. the Kansas City Royals, once again the offense fell flat. Yu Darvish didn’t quite shine like a diamond, but he was good enough. Jurickson Profar was part of the offense in the game from start to finish this time. In the top of the 8th, Neal Cotts gave up the tying run, and Rangers fans raged. “Why was Yu Darvish taken out?” “Come on, it’s the Royals!” The confidence meter had run very low, even though the Rangers weren’t losing. The offense just hadn’t shown any signs of life. Jurickson Profar changed that in the bottom of the 8th inning. After two quick pinch-hit outs, it was the kid’s turn to show what he had. After a long foul ball, I remember thinking “this kid’s going to hit one out.” He did. Jurickson Profar tie-breaking home run to right field just over the wall. He sparked the energy back into fans and the team alike. After him, Elvis Andrus singled, stole second, made it to third, and David Murphy singled him home. The kid did it.

It may be a small sample size, but there is nothing about Jurickson Profar’s game that indicates that he isn’t ready for the show. He’s here, and he’s fighting to stay. Thad Levine recently discussed the possibility of keeping him in Arlington even after Kinsler comes off the DL. Where would he play? Everywhere. The kid needs at-bats, and he has nothing left to learn in AAA. He needs those at-bats in Arlington with Beltre’s influence, Kinsler’s advice, and even Andrus’ spirit. If there is anything I have learned from watching him play, it’s definitely that you can always put it all on the kid.


Emily Cates is a Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can reach her at Emily.Cates@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter at @EmLikesBaseball.
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<![CDATA[Cuban Defectors Revisited  ]]>Tue, 04 Jun 2013 09:40:02 GMThttp://shutdowninning.com/5/post/2013/06/cuban-defectors-revisited.htmlPicture
Associated Press
by Eddie Middlebrook

2011 was the “Year of the Cuban Defector” as Yoesnis Cespedes made news with his out-of-this-world Youtube video. Cespedes like another countryman, Jorge Soler, defected in 2011, but there was another player who left the Cuban national team while they were at the 2010 World University Baseball Championship in Taiwan: Leonys Martin.

He didn’t have a workout video that featured a Star Wars-like intro, Jay-Z and overuse of slow motion, but he did post solid numbers in Cuba and was the youngest player on the 2009 World Baseball Classic Cuba squad. Martin went from making $40 a week to signing a five-year deal with the Texas Rangers worth $15.5M with a $5M signing bonus in 2011. He was given a cup of coffee in the MLB late 2011 (eight ABs), but only played in 24 games in 2012 where he struggled: .174/.235/.370.

Meanwhile, Cespedes signed a four-year deal for $36M on February 13, 2012 with the Oakland Athletics. The 2012 season included a bevy of highlight plays from Cespedes as he .292/.356/.505 with 23 homers, five triples and 16 stolen bases. He helped the A’s claim the AL West title and finished second in ROY voting. Cespedes split his time between CF (48 games), LF (56) and DH (26). The scouting report on Cespedes has him projected as a corner outfielder with a below average hit tool and above average power.

Though the fanfare did not follow him, Martin was labeled an above-average defender, hitter and his ceiling is an All-Star centerfielder. This season Martin has flashed all of those things as he has hit .286/.336/.438 with four triples and eight stolen bases. Cespedes has regressed slightly this year with a slash line of .228/.301/.456, but his power (nine homers) has helped maintained an above average OPS+ (103).

The season is still young and both players still have a couple years on their contracts remaining, but Martin could be the valued signing when it is all said and done. He is lining up to be the best everyday centerfielder for the Rangers since Gary Matthews, Jr. Compared to Cespedes, Martin is younger, cheaper and can play a premium position on a ballclub. No pomp and circumstance needed for this guy, just an opportunity to play day in and day out.     


Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of “Chin Music” and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @emiddlebrook
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<![CDATA[Is It That Crazy?]]>Mon, 03 Jun 2013 21:32:30 GMThttp://shutdowninning.com/5/post/2013/06/is-it-that-crazy.htmlPicture
Kelly Gavin/Texas Rangers
by Robert Pike

The Texas Rangers have three really good middle infielders that are all under team control for the foreseeable future.  It isn’t so much a problem as it is a luxury that appropriate asset allocation does not afford.

It’s been a “problem” for a little while now.  It was a problem at the trade deadline in 2012, it was a problem during Spring Training, and while Ian Kinsler might be rehabbing at the moment, it is a problem right now.

There has been no shortage of opinions on what to do.  


First, there was talk of moving Ian Kinsler to first base, filling the Rangers infield with former shortstops and replacing Mitch Moreland’s bat in the lineup.  Even before the Rangers second baseman expressed his preference to stay at his current position, the argument against the move usually circled around positional value.  Would Ian Kinsler’s bat play well at first base, a position that is usually filled with a more powerful bat?

Since the struggles of David Murphy and Nelson Cruz began, attempts to place Profar in the everyday lineup once again revolve around Kinsler, this time with the idea that Kinsler could shift to the outfield after Murphy and Cruz are [presumably] gone.

There have been lots of ideas that surround trading Jurickson Profar, the consensus #1 prospect in all of baseball.  Some of those ideas are better than others.

I’m not totally convinced either way on whether the Rangers want to trade their young upcoming star.  Sure, they’ve kept him at shortstop in the minor leagues despite signing up their All-Star shortstop to a 10-year deal, but it isn’t like Jon Daniels doesn’t have Miami Marlins GM Michael Hill’s phone number.  Are they waiting on the right deal, or are they motivated to trade him at all?

Perhaps the Profar situation is fun to talk about because the conversation so frequently leads to more questions than answers, but I have more questions about the ideas currently presented.

What makes us think that Ian Kinsler can make such a painless shift to the outfield?

If Miami wasn’t willing to part with Stanton this offseason, would a few months really change both teams’ opinions on the value of the players they’d be parting with?

When Profar [maybe] gets sent down after Kinsler returns from the DL, what position will he play?  What does that tell us about the organizations plans for him, if anything?

I’ve got one more question, and maybe it is a crazy one.

What would it hurt to see if Profar could play CF?  Just, to see if he could do it?

So much comes naturally to him – he taught himself to switch hit after turning pro (I can’t get over that). What if he could do it?  The positional value of a second baseman that can hit like Kinsler isn’t much different than the positional value of a centerfielder who can hit like Profar.  Sure, it would spend some time with Profar that could otherwise be used by other prospects in center field, and it would be taking time away from Profar improving at his most natural position.  But isn’t it just as crazy to ask Kinsler, whose innings are undoubtedly all going to be coming at the major league level this year (outside of rehab assignments) to learn a new position in one offseason?

I don’t expect the Rangers to do this, and I have every confidence that the solution the front office settles upon will likely be better than this one, but is it that crazy of an idea?

The centerfield idea aside, it will certainly be interesting to see where Jurickson Profar plays his AAA innings this year (if he does, in fact, play any).


Robert Pike is a Staff Writer for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Robert.Pike@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @Bob_Pike
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<![CDATA[Sequencing]]>Mon, 03 Jun 2013 09:43:42 GMThttp://shutdowninning.com/5/post/2013/06/sequencing.htmlPicture
AP Photo/LM Otero
by Jeff Johnson

Saturday June 1st, 2013 marked the first time this season that I had issues with Robbie Ross and/or AJ Pierzynski. For the record, this article and the aforementioned issue is isolated to this instance only and not about Robbie Ross in general. He has been nails this season and will hopefully be a force to be reckoned with in the Rangers bullpen all summer long. But, on this particular day during this particular inning I believe Ross and AJP did a poor job of sequencing their pitch selection during the top half of the tenth inning. It’s also important to note that this was not the reason they lost the ballgame because there were several miscues in this game and blame could be distributed around the diamond, but this caught my attention for the first time in a Ross appearance.

Ross entered the game with the scored tied at one apiece after the Rangers failed to capitalize with runners at 2nd and 3rd in the bottom of the ninth. Alcides Escobar led off the inning turning around on the first pitch he saw for a single to right center. That particular pitch was a 92 mph fastball left out over the plate and Ross followed this with three more fastballs in the 92-94 mph area. Then after going 1-1 on Hosmer, he turned on one of these fastballs for another single to left putting the Rangers in jeopardy of letting this one slip away. Most of you saw the inning, so I don’t need to go further into detail of how the Royals tacked on three runs in this inning to go ahead 4-1 and eventually hold on for the victory. Relievers will have bumps along the way and Ross has been nothing short of spectacular all season, so these things happen but could this be a result of something more than just not having “it” on this particular afternoon? Could AJP or Ross done something differently to give them a greater chance of success?

Robbie Ross threw 26 pitches in the 10th inning with 24 of them being fastballs. It wasn’t until pitch 24 that Ross threw a slider (which resulted in a swinging strike), so the Royals hitters saw 23 consecutive fastballs prior to this slide piece thrown to Elliot Johnson. The 26th and final pitch of his day was also a slider, which struck out Johnson and ended the threat for the Royals. Using Pitch F/X data from Brooksbaseball.net the table below shows the velocity of each pitch during this inning and highlights the steady dose of fastballs thrown by Ross:

Picture
brooksbaseball.net


As you can see the 24th and 26th pitches both registered around 87-88 mph with the other 24 pitches all hovering in the 93-95 range. Now don’t get me wrong there is not a better pitch than a well-placed fastball and if that is your best pitch it needs to be the dominant pitch in any sequence, but on a day where that pitch isn’t getting the run or movement it usually does that is where the secondary stuff has to get you through the outing. Another great feature that you can see at brooksbaseball.net is the spin or rotation the ball has during the pitch. The table below shows the spin and rotation of all 26 pitches thrown by Robbie Ross. Look closely at the two orange squares at the bottom of the chart, as they were the two sliders thrown by Ross:


Picture
brooksbaseball.net



As you can see these two pitches of course had more spin/tilt than the fastballs and that will happen hopefully anytime you throw the pitch (hopefully), but the interesting and important thing to see from this graph is how those two pitches changed the eye level of the hitter more than any other pitch in the entire inning. Sequencing the hitter is all about changing his tempo, eye level, and trying to disrupt his timing by keeping him on his toes and not comfortable during the at bat. A lot of what makes Darvish great is the fact that nobody can settle in and sit dead red at any time during their at bat because, as Forrest Gump told us you never know what you’re going to get. This graphic isn’t abnormal to most Ross outings and it isn’t proof that he wasn’t getting his normal movement on his fastball; it just highlights the importance of changing that eye level. But, when hitters see 24 straight fastballs they are able to dig in a little bit more and gives them a bit of an advantage. Ross has thrown his fastball 80% of the time throughout his brief career the last two seasons and his slider 17% of the time during the same span, but he typically gets good downward sink and movement on his fastball.  Another point is that a slider doesn’t always have to be a strike or be offered at by the hitter to be effective. Sometimes you just need to change their eye level and thought process to help set up your primary pitch.


In Robbie’s previous outing against the Diamondbacks he only needed 11 pitches to get through an inning with no runs scored. Let’s look at the same velocity sequence chart from that game below:



Picture
brooksbaseball.net

Ross threw 15 fewer pitches in this outing than he did against the Royals on Saturday, but featured one more slider versus the two he threw in his 26 pitches against the Royals. The sample size is small and if this was an issue or Ross was someone I was genuinely concerned about, it would be interesting to dig deeper in the sample to see if there was a trend that could become an issue, but for now let’s leave that for another day. There are several factors and variables that causes a pitcher or catcher to rely on certain pitches more in those outings like scouting reports, spray charts, and maybe the most crucial is that maybe Ross didn’t feel good about his slider Saturday. There are certain days that some pitches just don’t follow you into the ballpark and you have to rely on your other stuff to get you through.


As I mentioned in the beginning, I am not overreacting or worried about Robbie Ross and I understand that this is an isolated event and shouldn’t be taken out of context or blown out of proportion, but there are moments during the course of a season that it’s fun to take out the microscope and examine closer just for the fun of digging deeper into this great game we all love.


Jeff  Johnson is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Jeff.Johnson@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @Houstonhog
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<![CDATA[ Grimm, Tepesch, Both, or Neither?]]>Sun, 02 Jun 2013 13:53:30 GMThttp://shutdowninning.com/5/post/2013/06/grimm-tepesch-both-or-neither.htmlPicture
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
by Bob Bland

Dating back to last season, the Rangers’ pitching rotation has been hit hard by a seemingly endless series of injuries.  Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando have all spent time on the disabled list, with all but Ogando’s a very lengthy stint.  As a result, the team has had to rely on a pair of lanky 24-year-old rookies: Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch, who came into this season with a combined 14 innings of big league experience (all Grimm).

At the start of this year (literally on January 1), Jamey Newberg had neither Grimm nor Tepesch ranked among the Rangers’ Top 10 prospects -- Grimm was 11th and Tepesch was 19th, which makes what these two rookie SPs have done so far in 2013 all the more remarkable.  As of this writing, Grimm and Tepesch have combined for eight wins, with the Rangers emerging victorious in 10 of their 18 starts.

In addition to providing the ballclub with desperately-needed solid starts (nine of which officially qualify as “quality starts”), both Grimm and Tepesch have gone from relative afterthoughts as prospects to increasing their potential trade value with each successful outing.  This latter point is particularly important, given recent developments.

The team’s (and MLB’s) top prospect, Jurickson Profar, is performing brilliantly during the extended playing time he’s receiving while Ian Kinsler is on the DL, which will likely make it that much harder for the Rangers’ brass to ever consider including him in a potential deal at the trade deadline.  But given the team’s continued need to bolster their bullpen and add another power bat to the outfield, a midseason trade seems imminent.

That being the case, the continued development of Grimm and Tepesch bring both into the discussion as increasingly important pieces in a potential trade.  Which means Jon Daniels and his staff will have to consider whether to keep or trade Grimm, keep or trade Tepesch, keep both, or trade both.  A closer look at their respective 2013 numbers doesn’t seem to make that decision any easier:

Grimm is 5-3 with a 3.93 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 7.52 K/9IP, and 0.5 WAR.

Tepesch is 3-4 with a 3.44 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 6.40 K/9IP, and 0.9 WAR.

Grimm has given up 5 HR to 6 for Tepesch.  Both have walked 14.

Grimm’s opposing hitters have a slash line of .287/.333/.417, compared to .258/.308/.387 for Tepesch.

There are a litany of other stats that could be placed under the microscope for further comparison, but the bottom line is Grimm and Tepesch are two very similar pitchers, in terms of performance to date.  Any differences between the two are pretty negligible at this point.  Several questions will have to be answered between now and July:

What will happen when the injured SPs reclaim their spots in the rotation?

If both Grimm and Tepesch continue to perform solidly, do the Rangers view them more as valued assets to keep or pieces to execute a major trade/trades?

Does the team decide to keep one and trade one, and if so, who do they keep and who do they trade?

Will that decision be based on which of the two generate more interest from other prospective trade partners?

There really are so many questions arising from this situation, but it’s ultimately a great situation for the Rangers to be in, because it gives them multiple options.  And it’s always better to have a lot of options than no options.  As a wise man once said many years ago, “It’s all about options, buddyyyyyyyy!”

So, if you were JD, what would you do?  Would you keep Grimm, trade Grimm, keep Tepesch, trade Tepesch, keep both, or trade both?


Bob Bland is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Bob.Bland@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @SDIBob.
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