Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Let's not talk about trading Vlad just yet
By Richard Durrett
My colleague Ben Rogers (you can hear him this morning from 9 to noon on the Ben & Skin Show on 103.3 FM ESPN) fired off a memorable Memorial Day blog entry last night and it got me thinking (as a good blog entry should). Rogers contends the Rangers should be sellers and trade Vladimir Guerrero while his value is at its highest. Rogers notes that Guerrero could opt out of the second year of his contract and get bigger money elsewhere when the season ends. But Ben's main contention is that the Rangers won't be in contention. I've got a few thoughts and wanted to share them. Here goes:
I looked at my calendar and discovered it's June 1. That's two months until the trade deadline arrives. That's a ton of time. Just a week ago, the Rangers were in first place after a great homestand. But after losing six of the last seven, they now sit one game behind Oakland, who is 8-2 in its last 10 games. And don't look now, but the Angels are just 1 1/2 games back of the Rangers. But as quickly as things changed in the last week, they can change again.
I'm not saying this Rangers club doesn't have issues. Clearly, they aren't going to be winning a division title if they don't start winning games on the road (8-15) and against the better teams in the league (4-15 against teams with winning records in the other AL divisions). A lack of offense is the main reason. But the starting pitching is struggling all of a sudden too. Scott Feldman and Rich Harden have had slow starts. C.J. Wilson hasn't pitched as well his last three outings as he did to start the season. Derek Holland is now injured.
With all of that noted, Texas is still 26-24. They sit one game out. And they are in a weak AL West. That's the good news. If they were in the AL Central, they'd be 4 1/2 back. They'd be nearly completely out of range in the AL East.
So if they can't beat the good teams in the AL, is it time to give up? No. You do everything you can to try to win the division if you feel that you can. How can the Rangers not feel like they can win this weak AL West? Oakland has surprised folks this year, but are they as good as they've played? Is this the same Angels team that's dominated the division in the past?
If the Rangers are, in fact, as bad as the last week has shown (and I don't think they are), it will start to impact them even against teams below .500. But they have a chance this month to build some wins against inferior teams. Outside of Tampa Bay, the top team in the majors at 34-18 (and with the envious 19-6 road record), every other team the Rangers face this month is at .500 or worse. In fact, the combined record of those teams (White Sox, Mariners, Brewers, Marlins, Astros, Pirates, Angels) is 169-241. What if the Rangers perform well against them? They'll likely be in first place in the AL West entering July. Would you want to trade Vlad then?
Consider also that the Rangers' offense has sputtered of late. Guerrero and Nelson Cruz have been carrying the load for much of the season. And Cruz is back on the DL. Guerrero has 20 percent of the club's RBIs. He sports a .332 batting average, first on the team (and one of only four regulars at over .300). He's got a .920 OPS, second only to Cruz and he has 12 homers and 108 total bases, tops on the team.
Unless this team is completely out of it, why take that incredibly important cog out of this offense? I know we here in Texas are particularly excited about prospects. And this team has done a nice job of picking up prospects through trades and drafts the last few years. But the window for this team should be opening now. Trading away Guerrero would mean this team has given up in 2010 completely. I don't think it's time to do that.
I think this team, despite the ownership woes, needs to be a buyer at the deadline. How much can they buy? It depends on if this whole mess is settled by July 31. I'm not advocated trading the very top of the club's heap of prospects (you know the names I mean) at the deadline. But they do have prospects and this is one of the reasons you stockpile them. Go out and get a cather or a starting pitcher. If the ownership deal is done, maybe they can make a play for some of the top pitchers on the market. If not, maybe Jon Daniels can get creative and make something work (he did it at the Winter Meetings).
But let's not talk about trading Guerrero. He's way too valuable to this offense, even if it means he isn't back here next season. And a quick word about that: New ownership is bound to be in place by the time this season is over (it has to be, right?). I would think they'll do what they can to keep Guerrero here into next season if it makes sense for the club. I just can't imagine trying to make a second-half push without Guerrero's bat in the lineup.
Let's see how this club does in June before actually entertaining thoughts of trading away this club's best offensive player.
What do you think?