If anybody has heard yet, that Cliff Lee guy signed with the Phillies. The Rangers, who had hoped the ace left hander would stay in the Lone Star State, chose otherwise, leaving a big hole in the Texas rotation. So there has been plenty of talk about signing Rafael Soriano and pitching him in the 9th thus sending Neftali Feliz to the rotation. Like Rich Harden, who is the centric of this entry, Feliz has tremendous stuff. Would it really make sense to put a closer who was dominant through 70-80 innings in a rotation where he would pitch 200 innings and have all of the opposing hitters get used to his fastball and curve? Or does it make sense to keep him in the closer role where he can empty everything out in one inning?
Well Rich Harden is apparently in talks with his former team, the Swingin’ A’s on what would most likely be a one year deal with plenty of incentives. The real question is, will he be starting or relieving?
Personally, Rich Harden is one of my favorite pitchers. He can’t stay healthy, but when he is healthy, he’s sometimes unhitable. Other times, he doesn’t miss bats and gets in to lots of trouble with opposing hitters. So like someone like Clay Hensley for example, does moving to the pen take pressure off of not only you, but your manager, and your teamates. I could see Harden succeeding in the 5th spot in the A’s rotation, but there are definetly some pros about possibly setting up for Andrew Bailey. In fact, say the aformentioned Feliz pitched in the rotation this year and pitches quite well, can Harden join a teams rotation in ’12 after expierence in the pen and pitch a decent 180 innings? I’m not sure, but the problem again for Harden has not been the fact that he can’t pitch well, it’s about staying healthy. In 2008, he was dominant. It would be great to see him get back to that form, but for now, I think a place like Oakland, even though things didn’t end well, would be a fine fit for him unlike Colorado or any other team in the west. I thought a la Clay Hensley, the Marlins would be a great fit on a minor league deal and a chance to make the rotation, but it looks like he’s close to a deal with the A’s. Let’s just hope that Rich Harden can be Rich Harden again.
The three R’s. Well i’m certainly not talking about radishes, rhino’s, and rolex’s. I’m also not going to be discussing Ryne Sandberg, Ricky Weeks, and Ronny Paulino. We’re going to discuss the comparisons and parellels between the Royals, Rangers, and Rays over the past several and the next several seasons.
Take a look at the Yankees organization. Great management, great fan attendance. The point is, the Yankees management is among the best in Baseball due to passion for keeping the game original and spending when they need to. They are not the only productive organization in Baseball, but the three that I am discussing today couldn’t be more different. Take a look at the Rays for example. They don’t have the money to go out and spend $181MM on Mark Teixeira or get in to a bidding war for Matt Holliday. The Rays have to draft, spend internationally, build from within, and maintain a team where you have little fan attendance and no payroll. The aformentioned ballclub has obviously been extremely successful lately thanks to Stuart Sternberg, Andrew Friedman, among others…But can a team succeed in the long run when they are in the dumps for such a long time? I say the answer is yes, and I think Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers fan base would agree. Obviously you look at some of the great moves that Jon Daniels has made recently. Now take a look at their 2007 draft, again, I used the “D” word. Most of the trades that they have made over the past year consist of letting go of players to whom they had drafted in ’07. Isn’t that all it is though? If you draft smart, spend money on amateurs including international amateurs, how far can that get you in the long run? Now take a look at the Royals. Not only the best farm system in Baseball but maybe the best farm system in Baseball History. I could spend hours just discussing and thinking about how scary their teams are and they are still underrated.
Now how do the Royals go about becoming a winning and successful franchise again such as the current Rays and Rangers? Well there are actually a lot of comparisons that need to be discussed.
According to Baseball America’s top 10 Rays prospects in 2007, (by the way, tell me this isn’t extremely awesome) from 1-10, Evan Longoria, David Price, Jake McGee, Wade Davis, Reid Brignac, Desmond Jennings, Jeff Neimann, Jeremy Hellickson, Ryan Royster, Chris Mason.
Obviously it’s about those two big names, Ryan Royster and Chris Mason. Seriously though, is that all it takes to be a winning team let alone successful franchise for years to come? Simplfying it, maybe. The Texas Rangers now, who actually had a little bit of a different road to glory, boasted the best Minor League System for a time before they had their pieces in place for this season. Now if you look at their roster, Elvis Andrus, Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, among others…All of whom are on that team due to Estaban Loaiza, Mark Teixeira, and good drafting. The Rangers also have two minor leaguers who I really like, both international signings, Martiz Perez and Jurrickson Profar.
So the point is, can the Royals, who currently boast a top 15, (my opinion) Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, John Lamb, Mike Montgomery, Christian Colon, Chris Dwyer, Johnny Giavotella, Cheslor Cuthbert, Danny Duffy, Salvador Perez, Tim Collins, Brett Eibner, Derrick Robinson, and Crawford Simmons. Now there are many others who I can go crazy about (and trust me there are), but the question is, can these 15 translate in to a 2013 2008 Rays season? You look at the Rays and how their great drafts translated in to 3 consecutive winning seasons to say the least, the Rangers who will in my opinion have a winning team for many years to come, and the Royals, who in my opinion are extremely underrated and have a lot to be excited about.
The point is to focus more on the drafts, international scouting, player development and such, that to me is more important than signing player A for $10MM and player B for $15MM. Dayton Moore has done a fantastic job even after dealing Leo Nunez and Ramon Ramirez for pretty much nothing. Bottom line is, there is a lot to be excited for if you are a Royals fan, and even more to be excited about if you are a Rays and Rangers fan, who are two and three of the best managed teams in Baseball. The Rays, Rangers, and Royals…The REAL three “R’s”