While the San Francisco Giants celebrate their first World Series championship since heading out west, the Texas Rangers will continue their quest for their first title in 2011. The team has the foundation to keep winning, but a lot will depend on “the winter decision,” Cliff Lee style. Armed with a superb farm system and youngsters to fill gaps, they have plenty of options. Let’s see how the 2010 pitching corps was formed:
SP C.J. Wilson: drafted in the fifth round (141st overall) in 2001
Season salary: $3.1 million
2010 stats: 33 GS, 15-8, 3.35 ERA, 204.0 IP, 93 BB, 170 SO
Playoff stats: 4 GS, 1-2, 3.70 ERA, 24.1 IP, 10 BB, 17 SO
While in the minors, Wilson was moved back and forth between starting and relief roles. He had Tommy John surgery in 2004, and made only six starts for the Rangers in 2005 before returning to the pen. He convinced the Texas brain trust to give him a chance to start in Spring Training of 2010, and neither him nor his club has turned back since. He has a solid repertoire that misses bats (7.5 SO/9), but can be very wild (4.1 BB/9), ranking first in American League this year in base on balls
SP Tommy Hunter: drafted in the supplemental first round (54th overall) in 2007
Season salary: $409,850
2010 stats: 23 G (22 GS), 13-4, 3.73 ERA, 128.0 IP, 33 BB, 68 SO
Playoff stats: 3 GS, 0-2, 5.56 ERA, 11.1 IP, 1 BB, 13 SO
Chosen out of the University of Alabama, Hunter was always seen as a back-of-the-rotation starter, lacking stuff to be an “ace.” Hunter doesn’t miss enough bats to project any higher than that (it took him 79 pitches to miss a bat in Game Four of the World Series). His body type is similar to former Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon’s, big and heavy yet very flexible. In 2010, Hunter was third on the Rangers staff in VORP (23.5) and SNLVAR (3.0). He also led all of baseball in win percentage at .765, an impressive feat for a “back-of-the-rotation” hurler.
SP Derek Holland: drafted in the 25th round (754th overall) in 2006
Season salary: $414,430
2010 stats: 14 G (10 GS), 3-4, 4.08 ERA, 57.1 IP, 24 BB, 54 SO
Playoff stats: 6 G, 1-0, 4.76 ERA, 11.1 IP, 7 BB, 9 SO
Holland’s numbers improved tremendously from what he posted in 2009 (8-13, 6.12 ERA), as he had time to work on his mechanics and control during a few stints in the minors in 2010. His 92 mph fastball complemented well with a 82 MPH slider. Unfortunately for Holland, it’s going to be hard for Rangers fans to forget his Game Four performance in the World Series, in which he allowed 3 ER and 4 BB in 1 IP.
RP Michael Kirkman: drafted in the fifth round (159th overall) in 2005
Season salary: $400,000
2010 stats: 14 G, 0-0, 1.65 ERA, 16.1 IP, 10 BB, 16 SO
Playoff stats: 3 G, 0-0, 3.38 ERA, 2.2 IP, 2 BB, 2 SO
The 24-year-old rookie showed off a 95 MPH fastball in 14 appearances in 2010. He has a plus slider that's devastating versus lefties, but doesn't quite do the same damage against righties. Kirkman's curveball used to be his best pitch, but that has now been switched around with his slider. He’s in-line to be a Major League middle reliever, with the possibility of a set-up guy.
Rule 5 Draft
Originally signed by the Athletics as an outfielder in 2002, Ogando was selected by the Rangers in the Rule 5 draft in 2005. It was a rocky road for him to make the majors, though, as he was involved in a marriage for a visa and was caught, resulting in a ban from 2005-2009. The ban was lifted in 2010, and Ogando broke through in the majors with his 95 MPH fastball, two-plane slider, and changeup.
International Free Agents
SP Colby Lewis: signed a two-year deal in 2010 with 2012 club option
Season salary: $1.75 million
2010 stats: 32 GS, 12-13, 3.72 ERA, 201.0 IP, 65 BB, 196 SO
Playoff stats: 4 GS, 3-0, 1.71 ERA, 26.1 IP, 13 BB, 24 SO
Lewis was a bit of a journeyman before he left the States in 2007 to play for the professional Nippon Baseball League. In two seasons for the Hiroshima Carp, Lewis went 26-17 with a 2.82 ERA, leading the Central League both years in strikeouts (183 in 2008 and 186 in 2009). Seeing how Lewis focused on his control (46 BB in 354
Minor-league Free Agents
Major-league Free Agents
RP Darren Oliver: signed a one-year deal in 2010 with a 2011 club option
Season salary: $3.5 million
2010 stats: 64 G, 1-2, 2.48 ERA, 61.2 IP, 15 BB, 65 SO
Playoff stats: 8 G, 0-1, 4.82 ERA, 9.1 IP, 4 BB, 10 SO
Oliver was initially drafted by Texas in the third round of the 1988 draft before making his return in 2010. He gave the Rangers a veteran presence (and a dominant southpaw) in the bullpen, and will remain in the same ‘pen in 2011—his option vested when Oliver appeared in his 59th game. He dominated left-handers during the regular season, holding them to a .200 average.
SP Cliff Lee: acquired from Seattle along with RHP Mark Lowe for minor leaguers RHP Blake Beavan, RHP Josh Lueke, RHP Matt Lawson and 1B Justin Smoak
Season salary: $8.0 million
2010 stats: 15 GS, 4-6, 3.98 ERA, 108.2 IP, 12 BB, 96 SO
Playoff stats: 5 GS, 3-2, 2.78 ERA, 35.2 IP, 2 BB, 47 SO
This was the fourth trade Lee has been involved in after originally being drafted by the Montreal Expos in 2000. Lee was dealt from Montreal to Cleveland in 2002 along with Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips for Bartolo Colon. In 2009, following a 22-win Cy Young season, Lee was again traded—this time to the Phillies for a group of minor leaguers that included Carlos Carrasco and Lou Marson. In December of the same year, Lee changed addresses once again, heading to the northwest to play for the Mariners. Finally, Lee landed in Texas, helping push the Rangers into the postseason. Unfortunately, he was subpar during his half-season in Arlington (3.98 ERA, 1.6 SNLVAR) and did not perform in the World Series (0-2, 6.94 ERA). The question now remains, where will Cliff Lee pitch in 2011?
RP Mark Lowe: acquired from Seattle along with LHP Mark Lowe for minor leaguers RHP Blake Beavan, RHP Josh Lueke, RHP Matt Lawson and 1B Justin Smoak
Season salary: $1.15 million
2010 stats: 3 G, 0-0, 12.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, 1 BB, 5 SO
Playoff stats: 2 G, 0-0, 67.50 ERA, 0.2 IP, 1 BB, 0 SO
What’s there to say about Lowe’s 2010 campaign? He faced a total (regular and postseason) of 23 batters, retiring only 11. Why was he on the Rangers’ World Series roster? Your guess is as good as mine. So what if you have a 96 mph fastball and 85 MPH slider—you need to know how to use them, and Lowe didn’t have much time to prove himself in Seattle or Texas.
CL Neftali Feliz: acquired from Braves along with SS Elvis Andrus, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia LHP Matt Harrison, and minor-league LHP Beau Jones in exchange for 1B Mark Teixeira and LHP Ron Mahay
Season salary: $402,000
2010 stats: 70, 4-3, 2.73 ERA, 40 SV, 69.1 IP, 18 BB, 71 SO
Playoff stats: 7 G, 0-0, 1.23 ERA, 1 SV, 7.1 IP, 5 BB, 11 SO
In a similar debate to Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain, the Rangers organization has to decide whether Feliz is a better fit for the club as a starter or reliever. His 96 mph fastball and 79 mph curve are the perfect 1-2 punch pitches for a closer, and at least for the near future, it looks like Feliz will be at the back end of ballgames rather than at the front. He was 40-for-43 in save opportunities in 2010 with 9.22 SO/9 and a .234 BABIP. Strangely, Feliz only threw 9
RP Darren O’Day: claimed off waivers from the Mets
Season salary: $462,700 a
2010 stats: 72 G, 6-2, 2.03 ERA, 62.0 IP, 12 BB, 45 SO
Playoff stats: 11 G, 0-1, 7.71 ERA, 4.2 IP, 1 BB, 8 SO
O’Day went undrafted after being the closer for University of Florida in 2006. He’s been primarily used a righty-specialist though can be effective against left-handed pitching. O’Day uses a deceptive side-arm delivery with a two-pitch arsenal. His fastball has excellent sink and his slider sweeps across the plate, destroying right-handed bats. He’ll be eligible for arbitration for the first time in 2011.
*Replaced by RHP Dustin Nippert (DNP) in Game Five of the World Series
Giants Summary: Nine draft picks, six Minor League free agents, four Major League free agents and trades, one international free agent, and a waiver claim.
Rangers Summary: 13 trades, seven draft picks, two Major League free agents, one international free agent, one Rule 5 draftee, and one waiver claim. Click here to see part one of "How the Rangers Were Acquired," focusing on Rangers’ position players.