Thank you, "17-1 over your last 18 games" Colorado Rockies:
● While the overwrought Nick Johnson-to-Texas chatter continues to simultaneously seduce (great hitter) and repulse us (high price tag), FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal submits that the difficulties presently being encountered by Cardinals third baseman Troy Glaus during his rehabilitation from off-season arthroscopic shoulder surgery could effectively turn him into a first baseman/designated hitter, with St. Louis's loss perhaps becoming some other contender's gain.
Among the teams which Rosenthal believes could wield some interest in Glaus -- whose progress in terms of his hitting is currently beyond that of his throwing; he's reportedly struggling to throw at distances of greater than 90 feet -- are the Rangers, Mets, Giants, Braves, Tigers and Mariners, although you'd have to scratch the first team off that list by default without the benefit of a substantial cash subsidy from the Cardinals; Glaus is banking $11.25 million in 2009 and will be due nearly $4 million through the regular season's final two months, and the 32-year-old slugger also wields a full no-trade clause which could require additional enticements to waive.
Glaus has not posted a full-season wOBA lower than .363 since 2003, his penultimate season in an Angels uniform (.349), and would likely give the Rangers' offense an immediate one- to two-win boost over the remainder of the regular season if healthy (not to mention his potential post-season impact), but one wouldn't assume that the Cardinals would be particularly motivated to eat a substantial portion of his remaining salary -- think 80 percent, or thereabouts -- and receive only a marginal package of prospects in return. Texas has the ammunition in terms of young talent to make a deal happen, but to pull the trigger would represent a substantial risk, given that the acquisition of Glaus would not be any assurance of a post-season berth.
● As part of a Monday morning column which fixated on the importance of the Rangers eschewing the win-at-all-costs approach but also seemed to meander to and fro, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News issued this blanket condemnation of the ballclub's relief corps:
If Daniels is inclined to make any moves, the best might be to shore up a weak bullpen. A veteran wouldn't cost much, and he wouldn't take up space better served for young talent.
Speaking strictly from a run prevention perspective, this assertion is correct: The Rangers' 2009 relief ERA of 4.58 through 190.2 innings is dwarfed by the American League average relief ERA of 4.24, a consequence of opposing batters clubbing Rangers relievers to the tune of .271/.353/.449 -- and yet, these same relievers have fashioned a 3.36 WPA (Win Probability Added), good for the third-best mark compiled by any bullpen in baseball. How is this possible?
The answer: Leverage, as quantified by LI (Leverage Index) -- a Tom Tango-devised measure of how important a particular game situation is, which takes into account the inning, score, number of outs and the number of baserunners. The baseline LI is 1.00, which is considered a neutral game situation, while 20 percent of plays have LIs above 1.50 and 10 percent of plays have LIs above 2.00. Superior performance in imperative game situations is accounted for in this way (and is incorporated into WPA); for example, a game-ending strikeout notched by the home closer with his team up one run obviously carries far greater weight in terms of enhancing his team's probability of winning than a fifth-inning strikeout notched by the home starting pitcher with his team up six runs. It's all about context.
Not only have closer Frank Francisco (2.14 pLI, with pLI being average LI for all game events) and the de facto setup tandem of Darren O'Day (1.30 pLI) and C.J. Wilson (1.71 pLI) admirably served as the Rangers' undisputed top relievers thus far in 2009, but they also have amassed the pitching staff's three largest pLIs; in essence, manager Ron Washington is uniformly deploying his best pitchers in the most critical game situations, which is exactly what a reasonable person should expect him to do.
Complement that formidable trio with the steady services of sinkerballer Jason Jennings and potentially viable long reliever Jason Grilli, and you have the basis of a bullpen which could undoubtedly benefit from a mid-season infusion of talent (particularly where the second left-handed relief spot is concerned, for Eddie Guardado sadly isn't getting the job done right now), but isn't quite as vulnerable as Sherrington's employment of the adjective "weak" might suggest.