Before I begin, I�d like to give a big congratulations to Chip on his first article. I know he�ll fit in very well here at BTiA, and I�m looking forward to working with him in bringing you quality Rangers baseball coverage and analysis.
But right now, I have to vent a little. T.R. Sullivan reported earlier today that the Rangers will go with Jamey Wright as the #5 starter, ending the rotation battle and weeks of speculation. The organization�s reasoning behind the move seems to be that he�s got too much �ability� for them to let him go, as well as concerns surrounding the team�s starting pitching depth.
Let me just put it out there in the open: I hate this move.
The argument for keeping Wright that revolves around needing pitching depth is one I can understand. The Rangers don�t have many emergency starters at AAA that I�d consider worth using right now. My top two choices, Josh Rupe and John Koronka, had horrible springs. John Rheinecker hasn�t pitched this spring due to a bad back, and has no business starting games at the major league level until he figures out how to get right handed batters out. Edinson Volquez is headed for Class A Bakersfield (more on that tomorrow). Thomas Diamond is gone for at least a year. The bottom line is, the Rangers don�t have very much major league pitching depth, and keeping Jamey Wright helps that situation.
The other argument, however, is that Jamey Wright is too good for the team to let walk away. And this one is baffling.
We�ve heard quotes all spring from the coaching staff about how amazing Jamey Wright�s stuff is. We�ve heard about how Mark Connor has worked with Wright on his mechanics, and how Connor thinks he can unlock his potential and turn Jamey into a big winner. And perhaps this is all going to prove true, and Wright will turn into a critical part of the Rangers� rotation in 2007.
But I�m not counting on it.
I hate to keep going back to Jamey Wright�s career statistics, because I keep trying to look for some bright spot hidden within the numbers; something that will help convince me that he�s not as mediocre as he appears to be. No luck so far. The fact is, he�s a 32-year-old pitcher with a 5.14 career ERA and a pretty bad 1.595 WHIP. As our friend Scott Lucas points out, he hasn�t pitched 100 league average innings since 2000. Being that he�s a groundball pitcher, he has never struck out that many hitters, which makes the notion that he has �electric� stuff sort of misleading. He allows a lot of baserunners, leaving him little margin for error. And while his statistical line has been hurt by the 67 career starts he�s made in Coors Field, a quick scan reveals he hasn�t been that great anywhere else, either.
Wright has had a pretty good spring, but had an awful start on Wednesday against the Cubs that bumped his spring training ERA to 4.63 - granted, through only 11 2/3 innings. The more concerning part of that performance were his mechanical issues popping back up, which have been the main factor in his career-long inconsistency. And I guess that�s where the other part of my problem with Wright getting the fifth starter job comes in - Kameron Loe.
Kameron did everything that you could possibly ask for out of him this spring. He did not allow an earned run in his 13 2/3 innings, and looked absolutely dominant in doing it. He was excellent in his eight start audition in the rotation at the end of 2005, won a job in the Opening Day rotation last year, and was solid for Texas until elbow problems and the death of a close friend derailed his season in June. He rehabbed, came back strong this spring and looked like he was going to win the job. Heck, he should have won the job. Unfortunately, the Rangers opted for the guy with more �experience.�
Perhaps I�m being too hard on Jamey Wright. I�m sure he�s a nice guy. It�s just that we�ve been down this road before with Texas�s fascination for veteran mediocrity - the most recent example being Pedro Astacio. And I�m tired of it. Enough fooling around with retread players. Like T.R. Sullivan said, the Rangers need to move forward with Kameron Loe and let him try to establish himself as a big league starter.
And despite my frustration at the team�s decision, I�ll be cheering for every single Ranger come April 2nd. Jamey Wright is no exception; I hope he puts it all together and has a great season. But that�s not very likely, and if he does as badly as I fear he will, the Rangers must get him out of the rotation as soon as it�s clear the wheels are falling off. Texas cannot let the Phil Nevin Effect take place with Wright, as the worst case scenario revolves around him pitching poorly, but just well enough to keep his job for 10-15 starts or longer. If Jon Daniels and Ron Washington are serious about winning the AL West, they cannot let that happen.
As it stands, Kameron Loe will either land in Oklahoma City�s rotation, or as the long man in the Rangers bullpen. Should one of Texas�s starters falter, Loe will probably get the first crack at their job.
It�s just too bad that it�ll take another Ranger�s misfortune to put Kameron where he deserves to be in the first place.