There's stuff on the notion of Felix Hernandez being traded (he suggests it would take something like Holland/Profar/Olt IF the Mariners are even open to dealing Felix), and the obligatory questions about whether the Rangers should trade Josh Hamilton or whether they should fire Scott Coolbaugh ... but there are two responses that are particularly interesting:
I was just wondering of all the candidates for the Rangers to get in a trade, which one would be most beneficial to Texas? Which one would you like seeing the Rangers acquire the most?
-- Tony A., Austin, Texas
Zack Greinke. He is the one pitcher who could be a "difference maker" in the playoffs. The Brewers are determined to trade him and the Rangers are actively pursuing him. James Shields is a very good pitcher, but I'm not sure he would be a significant upgrade from what they have right now, or could potentially have when Neftali Feliz returns or if Alexi Ogando is moved to the rotation. Josh Johnson? No thank you. His numbers aren't overwhelming and his health is tenuous.
The answer on Johnson is interesting, because, from 2009-11, he was roughly a 5-6 win pitcher when healthy (regardless of whether you look at BR's or FanGraphs' version of the WAR statistic), and even in 2012, he's on track for a 5+ fWAR season. There are only two big knocks against his numbers: (a) his strikeout rate, which has declined from 9.1 K/9 to 8.4 K/9 to 7.9 K/9 over the last three seasons, and (b) his 2012 ERA, which is tricky to work through, because the underlying peripherals suggest that he's pitched quite a bit better this season than what is reflected by his ERA.
Anyway, my point is that, yeah, you CAN at least make the case that his numbers have been pretty overwhelming over the last few years when he's been on the field. No debate on the health point, but, if he's healthy, and if he can stay healthy (big if's, I know), I don't know that there's as much separation between the two as Sullivan suggests that there is. In fact:
Greinke, 2009-12: 744.0 IP, 125 ERA+, 17.0 bWAR, 22.2 fWAR
Johnson, 2009-12: 572.2 IP, 141 ERA+, 17.7 bWAR, 16.8 fWAR
Yeah, I think Greinke's quite a bit more appealing from a health standpoint, and he's having a better year than Johnson ... but I see a potential difference-maker in Johnson.
And the second matter:
While many of the Rangers' everyday players are slumping offensively, Michael Young in particular sticks out; he is clearly struggling and has been for weeks or months. Will the Rangers address this, or will they allow him to languish and jeopardize the team's chances of winning this year?
-- Andy S., Bryan, Texas
The Rangers' stance on their offense is simple: they are going with the guys they have and they are going to trust their track record, because there is nobody out there available that would be a significant improvement. Not sure why Young sticks out over some of the other hitters in the lineup, but he is certainly one of several that need to get going. It is interesting that he hasn't drawn a walk since the All-Star break.
The Rangers' second-worst full-time offensive regular this season has been Nelson Cruz, at .258/.320/.438 with a 99 wRC+.
The Rangers' worst full-time offensive regular this season has been Michael Young, at .270/.299/.346 with a 67 wRC+.
Not to continue hitting a dead horse with a stick (I've already said all that I intend to say about that for the time being), but I would say that's a pretty good reason why Young sticks out over the other hitters in the lineup, or at least why he's perceived as having less leeway when he continues to struggle as the rest of the lineup hits an offensive skid. It also seems like this is one of those things that intensifies the frustration of the masses, and leads to an even harsher response towards Young in the blogosphere and through Twitter and the like -- that is, the beats and local columnists largely sidestepping and/or downplaying the awfulness of his season.