Thursday, December 29, 2011

Yu Darvish signing was the first Counter is Prince Fielder the next?

A left, than a right, an uppercut then a body shot. And the season hasn't even started yet. The last team standing between the Rangers and Angels war of wallets, though, may be the last team standing among all 32 when its all said and done.

Pujols in Anaheim makes the AL
West Competition fierce.
The Anaheim Angels were the darlings of the Winter Meetings at the beginning of December, and look to be a force this year and years to come with a loaded roster and a TV deal to make sure it stays that way. The team was pretty darn good to begin with. Jared Weaver gave Justin Verlander quite the run at the CY Young award last year during which he posted a 2.41 ERA, 181 strikeouts and won 18 games. His partner at the the top of the rotation, Dan Haren, was more than a Robin to Weaver's Batman, 3.17 ERA 192 strikeouts and 16 wins of his own. Ervin Santana Rounded out the rotation with the stellar numbers of his own making the Angels rotation the best in the division, one of the best in the league and the primary reason the Angels stayed competitive in the AL West. However, with a record of 21-23 among the big three in one run games, the necessity to add to the offense and enable the Angels to take advantage of their best pitchers best efforts was paramount. With a defense that sported baseball's top defensive zone rated second baseman in Howie Kendrick, the AL Gold Glove winner at shortstop in Eric Aybar, an amazing talent with Mike Trout in center and two former center fielders in left (Vernon Wells) and right (Tori Hunter), the defense was impeccable and gave the pitchers more margin of error than most.

However, the majority of their bats could not hold, with Trout struggling in his first taste in the majors, a third base hole that ranked 10th in the AL in OPS, injuries to their potent first baseman Kendry Morales and regressions by Tori Hunter, Vernon Wells, and Bobby Abreu.

Kendry may be the real
key to a top 5 offense.
Enter Albert Pujols and Former Ranger C.J. Wilson. This is where it gets very interesting. Pujols is a star on both sides of the ball, in the dugout and on the practice field. His gold glove defense at first can only help an already great defense. His otherworldly bat, paired nicely with new contract and clear mind, transforms his teams lineup from pedestrian to formidable, which becomes top 10 with the return of a healthy Kendry Morales. With speed and OBP (Mike Trout, Eric Aybar) at the top, solid average and run producing in the middle (Hendricks, Pujols, Morales, Trumbo), and markedly better hitters than your average 7,8.9 hitters (Tori Hunter, Vernon Wells, Chris Ianetta) and this lineup can hold up with the best of them. At the very least it will do well to improve that 1 run game record, don't you think?

It sure will help C.J. Wilson, who was an ace on the Rangers, will settle in nicely as a number three starter behind Weaver and Haren. Though the defenses are similar, the ballparks of the Angels and the Rangers are on completely separate parts of the pitching spectrum. While the Ballpark in Arlington adds almost a half a run more to the average ballgame, tops in baseball, whereas the Angels Stadium of Anaheim removes nearly one fifth from the average, 27th in baseball. Though the Angels Stadium of Anaheim does allow 2.40 homers a game, 8th most in the league, C.J. Wilson's 6.3% road home run rate will do just fine at the Angels Diggs.

With aaaaalllll that said, what do the Rangers have to say?

Potential. Potential. Potential.
Well happy you would ask. From the looks of it the Rangers have started their counter and will throw the second half of that counter after the first one lands with sound and solid force. When not masked as boxing terms, the counter moves to C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols are the two players most linked to and compared to the newest Angels players; Yu Darvish and Prince Fielder. The first half of that free agent wallop is a 25 wonder kid named the best pitcher in Japanese professional baseball. The Japanese ace agreed to a six-year deal worth approximately $60 million on Wednesday. Now aside from the frightful comparisons and possible career similarities to one Daisuke Matusaka, this owner of a 95 mile per hour plus heater, 87 mph plus slider, a game ready curve and enough extra pitches to have  you scouring you tube for a glimpse. Over a five year career in Japan he's averaged nearly 10 strikeouts per 9 to only 2 walks per nine, 200 plus innings, less than .900 walks and hits per nine and enough brush backs and HBP's to let hitters and Nolan Ryan know he means business. But its more than the numbers that help push him to greatness and away from Dice-K-Land. It's the inning eater size to defy injuries. It's the American background with his parents and constant competition in American sponsored tournaments that will make his transition much smoother than any pitcher before him. It's the potential and dream of him pitching like a young Josh Beckett. His potential is endless and the money may be a deal, $111 million over 6 years when all said and done.

Nolan Ryan won't go quietly. 
The second part of that double whammy is the less certain but the more and more evident second part of that punch is the eventual signing of the best free agent not named Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder. The way things are shaping up and the way we have seen the Rangers operate recently, its apparent what their plan has been. It became apparent that the Rangers were moving on from Wilson and to Darvish when Wilson price himself into the 100 million range and the Rangers realized the same amount of money could get a younger, bigger, harder throwing prospect that could end up a better major leaguer than C.J. It then became apparent that Prince Fielder would not sign anywhere soon, that the Rangers took notice and knew they could focus their initial efforts on Darvish. Then, teams started knocking themselves out of the Fielder sweepstakes. The Yankees were never in it. 2/3 of the league can't afford him. The Angels grabbed Pujols and the Blue Jays won't agree to the years Fielder wants. And the Mariners? Sorry, but you are not the mystery team, your Boras goat to be used for raising the price ONLY. Who does that leave? The Orioles, the Nationals, Miami Marlins and Texas Rangers. Now considering that Fielder can win and make the same money in Washington, Miami and Texas, Baltimore is out. The fact that he prefers warm whether, according to his hometown and current home city of Orlando, the Capitol will have to settle for only one larger than life African American leader (though he may be gone soon). That leaves Miami and Texas. Its hard for me to believe that Miami is serious about spending much more money on Prince due to them counting on ticket sales that aren't there yet for cash, and the fact that they seem to be trying to bring in the Hispanic and Latino crowd with their free agent targets (Get ready for Cespedes Floridians of Cuban Decent!) That leaves the Texas Rangers as the most logical and likely final destination for the slugger.
Prince would make Texas an All Time offense and let the
Halos know that this won't be easy.

With those pieces in place the Rangers would be set to battle the Angels in what may rival the Red Sox and Yankees for the most exciting divisional matchups of the next five years. Buster Olney of ESPN called the Rangers rotation, minus both Yu and C.J. the sixth best rotation in baseball. And a lineup with Andrus, Kinsler at the top, Hamilton Fielder, Young , Cruz in the middle, and Napoli, Moreland and the winner of the center field job here and the Rangers lineup goes from the team with the best batting average and third most runs scored of the 2011 season to a possible legendary lineup, a Murderer's Row of sorts.

He's on his way Texas, and he definitely fits the analogy, everything is bigger in Texas.

So the Angels strike first and sway the league and the Defending AL Champs. Pujols is amazing and C.J. is a winner. But Nolan Ryan doesn't duck from a fight, and he always wants to win, battles or wars. With Yu almost under contract and Texas the most logical landing spot for the Biggest player in the union, Prince Fielder, Texas isn't ready to give up the West crown any time soon.

Looks like we got a slug fest on our hands, Ali - Frazier style.

1 comment:

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