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IF YOU ARE ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH MY SUGGESTIONS CONCERNING BLANCO GO AHEAD AND SKIP DOWN TO THE END WHERE I WRITE ABOUT THE CENTRAL POINT OF THIS POST, THE POSSIBILITY OF A 6 MAN ROTATION TO BEGIN THE YEAR. THE FIRST PART IS SIMPLY A SUMMARY OF THE DISCUSSION THAT TOOK PLACE ON THE MICHAEL YOUNG FLEXIBILITY THREAD.
In the long thread titled "On Michael Young's "Flexibility"" I suggested that if all Blanco will do is back up Andrus for 5-10 games with MY backing up 2B and 3B that we might should trade him to free up an additional roster spot so Wash could add whoever he thought would best improve the team. As far as backing up Elvis we could keep a SS with options left at Round Rock or Frisco who could be called upon within a day to fill the defensive need in the event of injury. If we add a 25 man roster lock such as Glaus (or other) this would still give us another man in the 25th spot, and if we don't add someone of that nature we would have flexibility in two roster spots. Spots could be open for Gentry, Davis, Tracey, a 13th pitcher, a free agent sign during the season, or a player traded for during the season.
People reasonably objected that when MY starts at DH we have no one to backup the IF other than 1st because to move the DH to the field you have to kill it.
I countered that such an event, the absolute necessity of killing the DH to fill in for an injured Kinsler, Andrus, or Beltre, would likely only happen one to two times a year if that, and that for the benefits of having an extra man (such as Gentry' speed off the bench) it is worth taking such a risk for one or two goofy games.
The further reasonable objection was raised that it would be impossible to allow a non-DL injury for a few days because if MY played at that position there would be no one to back up the IF at all. Further, in such an event you would not be able to call someone up because the injured player would not be going on the DL.
I countered that you don't use options on players every time you send them down, but that you can send them down as many times as you want during a year in which you choose to use one of their options (of which there are three years). A player such as Gentry could be sent down and called up more than once during a season and his spot could be replaced by a SS if the need was there for a few days and the injured major league player was not put on the disabled list.
Some reacted as if there was no possibility of this being a viable scenario, but some seemed to soften their stance toward the end of the thread admitting that such a scenario was viable while maintaining that the benefits were not sufficient to go ahead and trade Blanco. I also do not want to lose Blanco because of his superior glove in the event of injury to the infield for an extended period could be very valuable. But if MY is really going to backup Beltre and Kinsler; I find the likelihood of an Andrus injury rather slim. That makes me think trading him might allow Wash to have a guy or two extra to make the team better. Having Gentry's speed during the vast majority of the season before roster expansion could be a big benefit, or keeping the 25th spot open for rookie pitcher auditions to get their value up for a deadline trade for an ace could also be valuable (at least, it seems, more valuable than keeping Blanco to play SS for 5 games).
Of course all of this would be dependent on Wash's decision that MY can backup 2nd and 3rd as well as logging very minimal time at SS. We could wait to enact such a plan until he has proven his ability in Spring Training. I admit that such a scenario is rather unlikely, but I do think that I proved its viability in the long Michael Young Flexibility thread. The ultimate question is (as Scooby posed to me) what player would replace Blanco? Would the value in the freed 25th spot be worth giving him up?
THAT WAS A SUMMARY of much of that 130 comment thread and provides a foundation for my next question about how roster flexibility could make the team better.
BEGINNING OF THE POINT OF TODAY'S POST
The uncertainty of our starting pitching situation is rather scary, but that fear is somewhat assuaged by the presence of more SP depth than the Rangers have ever had. Please hear me out before you dismiss this idea out of hand. What if we could start the year (for say the first 2 months or less) with a 6 man starting pitching rotation? Such a scenario could be enabled if we forewent keeping Blanco on the team to backup Elvis and kept an options-left SS at Round Rock or Frisco to back us up in the event of injury. Here are the benefits of such a scenario?
1. A six man rotation would give all of our starters extra rest.
2. This may not seem all that significant but when you consider how many of our guys have never pitched a full season in the majors it seems to grow in significance. For example, Michael Kirkman was shut down with dead arm late during the regular season last year. Extra rest could stave off injury (especially to a guy like Brandon Webb) and improve the effectiveness of our starters. Further, it could increase the likelihood that our young pitchers will ultimately succeed after they make the team.
3. We have almost 10 viable options for the last three spots in the rotation in Webb, Holland, Kirkman, Hunter, Feliz, Ogando, Beltre, Hurley, Feldman, and Harrison. Of those who end up making the opening day roster some will inevitably fail or get injured. The rotation we field on opening day will not be the rotation that ultimately gets us the wins we need down the stretch to make it to the playoffs, and it will not be the rotation that gets us through the first couple of rounds of playoffs either (God willing). So it is easy to say that we ought to just keep the other guys at Round Rock and call on them if need be. I think having that additional guy in the rotation for a month or two until someone fails or gets injured could be a big benefit because it gets them in the grove, if they ultimately pan out as a good starting option, from day one all the way through the season.
4. Such a pitcher would not have to go through the difficultly of pitching in Round Rock against inferior hitters only to get knocked around once they are brought up to fill a need in Arlington. The seamlessness of making the rotation after Spring Training and pitching throughout the year on the big league level could greatly benefit one of our young pitchers making their ultimate success more likely and development more decisive.
5. The extra rest of the rotation could make their going late into games more likely which would take stress off the bullpen.
6. Pitch counts could go significantly higher considering the extra rest that a pitcher would receive between starts. And this is a big part of the Rangers pitching program, they want guys who have strong arms and not guys who are overly protected causing arm weakness. This could be made more likely if there was an additional day of rest. See this fascinating article (http://jonahkeri.com/2010/09/13/pitching-injuries-and-rangers/) on pitching injuries, Nolan Ryan, endurance, long toss, and arm strength.
7. Further, later in the season the in game endurance built up by pitching more pitches while anticipating an extra day of rest could translate to greater in game endurance when the rotation is switched to a 5 man and the extra day of rest is taken away.
8. The extra man gives you a chance to further assess your best starting assets while not giving your 6th guy the disadvantage of starting at Round Rock which could make it harder for him once he has to transfer from pitching to AAA hitters to pitching to big league hitters.
9. You put less emphasis on hoping that all of your 5 starters will pitch well all year because you have one more guy doing his best to stay on the team.
10. You could have greater rotation continuity once you do lose a guy or two from injury or ineffectiveness.
11. Such greater continuity could stabilize the rotation giving guys more comfort and routine surrounding them making success more likely because pitching effectiveness is often about routine and rhythm.
12. The likelihood that one or two guys are going to feel over pressured is reduced if you have more guys and more possibilities for success. This could come into play especially with CJ who is known as a guy who tends to try to do too much. A benefit like this could protect CJ and Colby from regression from their great breakout years last year in which, I believe, they both posted 4 WAR.
13. You increase competition for the final couple of spots in the rotation by basically continuing the Spring Training mentality of proving yourself. This would keep guys hungry, no one would want to be the odd man out when Wash goes back to the 5 man rotation.
14. At the same time you reduce pressure on your young pitchers, making their success more likely.
15. You keep pitchers fresher for the stretch run to win the pennant.
16. You have an opportunity to potentially get the value up on one additional pitcher, making a trade for an ace before the deadline more likely.
17. You speed the development of an additional pitcher, making the likelihood that you will be left with insufficient major league ready pitching depth late in the season less likely.
18. You can also have a competition for who will be the long man down the stretch when Wash switches back to a 5 man. This could also increase competition to give you a better idea of who is the best candidate for being your long man in the end.
19. You get some measure of the benefits of roster expansion long before September 1st giving you much earlier player evaluation opportunities that could increase the likelihood of great depth during the expanded roster period and the playoffs if we make it there.
20. This scenario is possible even while keeping Blanco by foregoing a Gentry, Davis, or Tracey addition to the 25 man roster, but only of course if you do not sign a free agent roster lock like Troy Glaus (or other) to come off the bench for a pinch hitting right handed bat who could also play some OF or 1st base (and who would fill in for an extended period in the event of serious injury to one of our big bats). What sayest thou? Does this option for roster flexibility interest you at all? Would you take a 6th starter over a Gentry, Tracey, or Davis add, and in the event of a roster lock free agent signing, would you take a 6th starter over Blanco while keeping a SS with options left at Round Rock or Frisco if we need him? I'm interested in any feedback that fires up your synapses.
The thing about this scenario is that it is possible without trading Blanco, but you would just have to not take a Davis, Gentry, or Tracey candidate. If we do sign another free agent roster lock or take a Gentry, Davis, or Tracey you would have to free the 25th spot by trading Blanco in order to get your 6th starter on the roster.
I'm thrilled about Nolan's frequent references (below) to Kirkman as one of the most promising starters we've got. I just worry about whether his arm can take the punishment of a long season seeing as how he was shut down with dead arm toward the end of the regular season last year.
"One of the things that we're excited about is that we have pitchers with the ability and quality pitches like Derek (Holland) and Kirkman have. When you lose a Cliff Lee that's a big hole to fill. And I'm not going to sit here and tell you that some of our young kids are going to pitch to that level. But I feel like they're ready and they're at the point in their career that they should have an impact on our ballclub. We feel very fortunate to have that kind of talent in our system. And we feel like there's going to be one or two of those young players that are going to get the opportunity and hopefully make a difference for us this year."
The Six man rotation i think is a great idea especially since last year was CJ and Colbys first whole season in the rotation and i think both are injury risks this year. Plus Webb wont be ready by opening day and it gives the Rangers a chance to see what they have in all that "depth".
Coming out of ST id like to see CJ Colby HunterHolland KirkmanFeldman
Hurley BeltreHarrissonSheppersKikerIn AAA
If Feldman still sucks, Holland and Kirkman arent ready, Hunter falls on his face, or CJ or Colby get hurt we have viable options to step in and hopefully all those things wont happen or at least all at once, unfortunatly at least one of those will happen and the Rangers could work in Webb when hes ready or someone from AAA but if Holland and Kirman establish them selves and CJ and Colby keep it up with Hunter not falling to hard there will be a good problem in AAA.
wth how come my post arent showing?
oops sorry computer was slow dang i wish i could edit my comments
The way I see it, you make the team worse by going from 40% of starts made by Wilson/Lewis to 33%. There's also not much evidence that pitchers are more effective on 5-days rest than 4.
But what if they get hurt from the strain of the innings jump and you dont get 40% or those 40 are worse then expected
Every 5th day is not an unusually large workload that would tend to lead to injury or ineffectiveness. There's a reason no one else ever does this.
While this idea sounds great, Scooby is right. We want CJ and Colby making as many starts as they can. Yes it increases their injury risk, but they are the best pitchers on the team so we need to use them. Now this might work coming out of spring training for a month or so, but I am not sure how likely that is.
Exactly, the starts lost by CJ and Colby would be minimal in the grand scheme because it would only be a 6 man for the first couple of months maximum before someone bows out with injury or ineffectiveness.
The question to me is not whether such a scenario is likely but rather whether it is the best thing to do for the many benefits that come with it, and whether those benefits outweigh the negatives associated with it.
Any idea that has 20 reasons for doing it is at least plausible. But early season is usually when they stick in a bunch of off days, making a mess of a six-man. How about this approach? Start Colby and CJ every fifth day. Then have a pool of 6 or 7 of the others who are the occasional starters. Stretch them all out, start them on longer rest, making them available to relieve in between starts. As performance merits, they could be added to the regular rotation. The time when a six-man rotation could really be useful is July and August. By then we could have six proven starters for a month or so. The pool pitcher starts could also be handled as two pitcher games. One guy goes the first five, the other guy the last four. They only get pulled for ineffectiveness. Just thinkin'.
To me, the scenario that offers similar benefits is having your long reliever and 5th starter flip positions from time to time. Obviously you couldn't plan it as well, but say Dutch and Kirkman (or any other combination) are very close coming out of ST. What if Wash makes Dutch the 5th starter for the first 2 rotations and then switches and gives Kirkman a few chances? Odds are that the long man will get in the game when the 5th starter pitches anyway so the rest days wouldn't be too hard to balance. There are flaws with this way of doing things, but I think we would reap nearly the same benefits as those stated above.
How would you deal with the roster difficulties of your scenario? You can't keep than many pitchers sitting around. Would you juggle them between Round Rock and Arlington, not sure that is viable, and I think 6 or 7 is way too big of a pool for anyone to get in the groove, but maybe 4 for the last three spots in the rotation would work. Basically you would have CJ and Colby pitch every fifth day with a rotation of 4 others starters splitting the other 3 starts out of 5. Could be interesting but you would have to do some serious roster juggling which seems unfeasible because once you send a guy down he has to stay in the minors for at least 10 games before you can call him back up. However, a four man pool might work if your 4th guy was the 25th man, but I just worry that starts would be too far apart in that case, maybe 8 days in some cases which really is too long.
Interesting about the long man. I'm not sure there would be enough opportunity for one of those pitchers to get in a good groove though if they were only starting about every 10 days.
I agree about a rhythm, that is why you would let each have 2 starts in a row and then evaluate from there. On top of those 2 starts each pitcher is likely to have another 2 or 3 appearances. A month in to the season you could reevaluate your options, but if the competition is too close and you want to see how 2 guys handle the pressure, this is the way to do it. This allows you to keep the appropriate number of starts from your more proven guys like CJ and Colby, while still encouraging competition for the final rotation spot.
What about something like Arnob's idea?
You start CJ and Colby every 5th day and you have 4 other starters who split the rest of the starts in a sub rotation. And you also have your long man in the bullpen.
Arnrob's idea is good, but the amount of roster shuffling is sure to leave someone exposed to waivers eventually. We need to guard against wasting a players options because if an injury or some other unforeseen scenario were to arise we might lose a player we really liked. I think his idea is best implemented at the end of the season with a team that is out of it and wants to see their young guys develop. Because we are at a point where it is "win now" I don't think we will risk shaking things up too much.
Help me with the math anyone?
If CJ and Colby pitched every fifth game, and 4 other guys split the rest of the games that means that one of those 4 other guys would pitch about every 6.4 games? Is that significantly too long between starts? It may be too long with off days.
I didn't suggest Arnob's idea but rather a variation on his. He said 5-6 guys while I said 4 guys other than CJ and Colby. That would be a total of 6 starters and if you had an opening for the 25th spot you wouldn't have to shuffle the roster at all. You would just have to forgo a Gentry, Davis, or Kasey addition to the 25 man while you were still holding 6 starters.
The problem I have with that, is I am not a huge fan of the 13th bullpen arm. I believe our bullpen is a strength and doesn't need the additional arm. I like the idea of Blanco and Gentry being on the team, and going with a 12 man bullpen. Teams essentially carry 6 starters already, they just call one the "emergency spot starter/long reliever." By switching the long reliever and the 5th starter you allow guys to compete against stronger competition while still having a fall back option. Dutch and Kirkman both proved they could over match AAA guys last year, but neither has shown prolonged dominance at the big league level. Let the guys compete and let the results speak for themselves. Also I am going to say look out for Hurley. He is a dark horse, but a guy that has talent when healthy.
Maybe we are splitting hairs, but I wasn't for an extra bullpen guy but rather a 6th starter. I don't really buy the idea that your long man is your sixth starter either, and I'm not sure that switching them, one on for 2 starts in a row, and then the other on for two starts in a row is feasible. I just don't know enough about the effect that would have on the pitcher's routine, but maybe it could work as an alternative to giving your 25th spot to a sixth starter. Would a pitcher be able to remain "stretched out" without any negative effects to their routine in that scenario as far as how their arm would handle that sort of transition back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen? I don't really know, but I do like your idea about it being a competitive showdown between say Holland and Kirkman.
My suggestion lacks precision on the roster move business because my old brain isn't that agile. Y'all's criticisms are sound. My main concern is that we have this large pool of on the cusp pitchers, we don't know which ones will become solid, and I want a way to find out. I have this feeling that we may end up stifling guys who could be good (and cheap) if not handled right, but who could become a winning rotation if we can sort things out.
Here's my take:
Eveb if you go straight 6-man for just 60 games, that's 10 starts each for Wilson/Lewis instead of 12 each under a 5-man rotation. That could easil result in 1-2 extra losses that you'll regret all season long, right down to the final week when it's touch-and-go for the division title.
If you send Wilson/Lewis out every 5th day, and use a pool of 4 guys for the final 3 spots, you screw around with their rhythm too much. They would start 6 days later, then 7 days later, then 10 days later, then 6 days later. Guys with too much rest often over-throw and have trouble finding the strike zone. I would like to see Dutch and Kirkman get some rhythm and get the best chance to succeed long-term.
Also, coming out of Spring Training, the coaching staff will have some ranking of the order in which they think the SP candidates are most likely to succeed. Trust your coaches. If they think that Holland/Kirkman/Webb are the 3rd-5th most likely to be successful, with Hunter 6th, then rolling Hunter out every 6-10 days takes a start away from someone the coaching staff feels better about.
Joe: in the Michael Young's "flexibility" thread, you asked those of us who were against trading Blanco whether we were against it mostrly because we wanted to keep him so that we could dump Young at some point in the future, or limit him to DH/1B only and prevent him from being a Super Utility.
I would ask you the flip of that question: when you suggest a rotating 25th man, or carrying Gentry instead of Blanco, or giving a bunch of prospects a swim through the bigs to boost their trade value (which would probably reduce their trade value by both reducing their playing time for development and also starting their service time clock, thus bringing arbitration and Free Agency closer to the present), or an 8th bullpen arm, or a 6-man rotation, aren't you mostly just looking for an excuse to get rid of Blanco, so that Young will be the team's only backup IF and your Super Utility vision can be realized?
Finally, Joe, you always preface these ideas by saying that they are conditional upon Young rpoving during Spring Training that he is a suitable backup at 2B defensively. I suspect that the Rangers have already decided, regardless of what they say in public, that he is not, and that Blanco is the backup SS/2B. Which would render all of this moot. You also always talk about the possibility of acquiring a new reserve SS with options to stick at Round Rock. I think you underestimate how hard it is to find/how much it would cost to acquire a kid with options who can roughly replace Blanco's glove and bat. I think you underestimate how good Blanco's bat is relative to the pool of Utility Infielders. And this is about more than 2011. In 2012, what if Young is, in fact, aging to the point that he is not at all viable at SS/3B/2B? Blanco has several more team-controlled seasons, and I think he's part of the longer term plan for the bench.
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