ST. LOUIS -- C.J. Wilson entered the postseason brimming with hope and promise after a second consecutive workhorse regular season, this time as the Texas Rangers’ No. 1 starter. He again logged more than 200 innings, won a career-best 16 games and lowered his ERA to 2.94 with a strong finishing kick.
However, to elevate to ace status he would have to earn such a distinction with a stellar postseason. That didn’t happen. Wilson was winless in five postseason starts, unable to last longer than six innings in any one start, and his ERA ballooned to 5.79.
His final appearance of 2011, and perhaps of his Rangers career, was as stunning as his postseason slippage. On in relief in the fifth inning of Friday night’s Game 7 with the bases loaded and two out, Wilson hit Rafael Furcal on the backside with his first pitch to allow St. Louis’ fifth run to walk home for a 5-2 lead in the eventual 6-2 defeat.
Wilson’s attention now turns to his future as an unrestricted free agent. Will he return to the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2001 draft? General manager Jon Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan both commented during this postseason that Wilson will be highly valued on the open market. Will his price tag reach a level that the Rangers are unwilling to entertain?
Here is Wilson, after Game 7 of the World Series, in his own words:
How much will playing on a team that reached the World Series in consecutive seasons affect your decision?
Wilson: I have no idea until things are actually presented to me. I don’t know how much of a factor that will be. You play to win. I mean, bottom line is you play to win as a baseball player. You want to be putting yourself in a good position or a better position than you were in previously. I have no idea what’s going to happen. [Assistant general manager]Thad Levine and Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan know what they think. I don’t know what they think, so that’s obviously a big component of how it’s going to go.
How do you feel about the Rangers organization?
Wilson: The baseball angle here is very strong. Obviously, we’re a good organization. We’ve proven we can win. We have guys on the team coming back. We have a lot of pieces that I think are complementary to me and vice-versa, so in that regard, that kind of speaks for itself. I like it here in that sense. They’ve treated me with a lot of respect the last two years as a starting pitcher and they’ve given me a chance to improve, given me a chance to solidify my role on the team as well as around the league as a premium starter. I feel like a lot of my success is because of the team that I’ve been playing on.
Do you have a sense of how things will progress?
Wilson: It’s foreign to me. I don’t know how it’s going to work. I don’t know if I’m going to get a text message saying, ‘X-amount of years; are you in or out?’ I have no clue. I don’t know if someone is going to be like, ‘we’re going to get you your own blimp; no matter how bad traffic is we will blimp your butt to the field.’ I literally don’t have any idea what’s out there.
Do you look forward to the free-agency process?
Wilson: I don’t really know what that means other than saying that I have no attachments other than to the fact that I want to be a winning baseball player. Everybody’s negotiations go differently.
How do you feel you represented yourself in the postseason?
Wilson: I feel like I pitched pretty well in the World Series and I hope that rinses out the bad taste people had in their mouth from the bad inning I had in Detroit and the bad game I had against Tampa. I feel like I made some good adjustments and got some help from some people to make those adjustments. The only thing I’m concerned with, personally, is, ‘what can I do to be a better baseball player next year?’ That’s the only thing that I’m concerned with because I did everything I could do. I couldn’t have won any more games, there’s nothing I could have done.