FanPost

When 'Playing It Smart' Isn't Smart

The Texas Rangers are a savvy and successful organization that don't want to overpay for a 30 year old outfielder with great speed because of his diminishing contact rate. Right now, however, They should overpay for Michael Bourn.

In 2011 the Rays improbably made the playoffs. It took an even more improbable collapse, but they did it. They are just as savvy and successful as the Rangers, probably more so. They were so savvy they let Andy Sonnanstine make 4 starts (this is a guy with a career ERA over 5) instead of calling up über-prospect Matt Moore because they couldn't risk those four days he'd have to be on a big league roster. They also let a no-bat Sam Fuld start over their talented, nothing-left-to-prove-in-the-Minors Desmond Jennings who spent most of the year eating peanut butter and jelly in AAA. They did this because... wait for it... they thought the super-two deadline could possibly, maybe, be pushed back in the forthcoming CBA agreement and wouldn't want to possibly justify maybe losing a year of his pre-arb deals. Moore was good enough to start Game 1 of the playoffs. Jennings was good enough to hit leadoff for a playoff team and hit for a 127 wRC+. Clearly, this is what's called cutting off the nose to spite the face. Instead of fielding the best team they could the intentionally fought short-handed in order to alleviate some roster concerns six years from now. I'm glad they made the playoffs, but their process were wrong while the results were right. Texas is doing the same thing. I don't suspect the Angels will spectacularly collapse like the Red Sox did. Or any other team for another 30 years.

The Rangers didn't want to sell the farm for Justin Upton. Smart. They didn't want to sign Hamilton to a long term deal considering all his risk and baggage. Smart. They didn't outbid Tampa Bay for Shields. Really smart.They didn't want to sign Napoli to a risky deal. Smart. They didn't want to get in a bizarre bidding war for Grienke. Smart. Each of these moves is smart in and of themselves, but with the Angels getting better and their getting worse, it really puts them in a bind for 2013. They should sign Bourn a (in what will be an obvious overpay considering their desperation) and then they can be in the trade market for a starting pitcher during the course of the season, once they want to make their playoff push.

Bourn is a speed-guy first. He'll play excellent CF and steal a ton of bases. Granted he works better in a bigger park where deep fences help him gain more value turning deep flyballs into outs, but a hitters park like Arlington is hardly a deal breaker. He should be around 4+ WAR for next year. With the current gaping hole in CF, that should be a godsend - even considering that decline he'll inevitably incur in 3-4 years. He'll still play a great CF in 3 years, he'll just hit at the bottom of the order instead of the top. As far as I can see their only option is to sign Bourn and have an excellent player at the top of their lineup, or hold their nose up high and foolishly say "at least we didn't do anything stupid" as management takes October off.

Also, think last year when The Tigers suddenly had a gaping hole in their lineup. They could have stood PAT, but they did the "rash" thing and overpaid for Prince Fielder. Fielder put up 5 WAR and the Tigers only made the playoffs by 3 games. If they had stood PAT they'd have been cracking open a beer listening to Joe Buck during October instead of playing in the World Series. They also drew 3 million fans for the first time in four years. They took a reasonable gamble and are reaping the benefits. With rapid salary inflation, long-term overpays are as likely to work out as much as they ever have in MLB's history. Why let front office ego allow the primes of Darvish, Kinsler, and Andrus go to waste?


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