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Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Bowden: Texas needed to take Darvish risk

By Richard Durrett

Jim Bowden, former GM of the Reds and Nationals and now a writer at, writes that paying big bucks for Yu Darvish is a risk worth taking. Part of his thoughts:

This type of signing is the highest possible risk with the highest possible reward. Frankly, it’s the type of move that can make or break a general manager’s career. Between the posting fee and Darvish’s contract, the Rangers will be committing between approximately $120 million and $150 million for a pitcher who has never pitched to a single batter in the majors. It’s a gamble from which most people would walk away. Therefore, you have to give credit to Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels for having the conviction to land a potential ace in order to keep up with their AL West rival Angels.

Indeed, Darvish would even things out in the AL West, which witnessed the Angels sign Wilson and first baseman Albert Pujols. Darvish will replace Wilson at the top of the rotation, and will be followed by Neftali Feliz, Colby Lewis and left-handers Derek Holland and Matt Harrison.

This would allow manager Ron Washington to consider moving Alexi Ogando back to the bullpen to combine with Mike Adams to set up newly acquired closer Joe Nathan.

From a scouting perspective, the talent is all there for Darvish to be a top-of-the-rotation ace. The 25-year-old will sit in the 92-95 mph range with his fastballs, throwing a two-seamer, four-seamer and cutter. He throws a variety of off-speed stuff, but his slider is probably the best of the bunch. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Darvish is athletic and deceptive in his delivery. He has phenomenal hip rotation and whip action with tremendous arm speed. The only question is how he’ll fare against the game’s best hitters on a consistent basis at the major league level. He’s a four-time Japan League All-Star and has had an ERA under 2.00 for five consecutive seasons, including a WHIP under 1.00 three different times. Off the field, Darvish has a Hollywood-type persona. He exudes charisma, charm and a special passion that permeates the clubhouse.

The Rangers' rebuilt rotation will help the Rangers once again push into a pennant race this September. Darvish is certainly a risk, but it's one Texas needed to take in order to keep up with its rival in Anaheim.