Cleat Geeks

OTOGH: Lucroy Out, Darvish In

It is being reported by several sources that the Rangers are accepting offers to trade catcher Jonathan Lucroy. His current stats at the plate are .263/.310/.373. He is one of the best catchers in Major League Baseball, and yet the Rangers have played him as the DH a lot more this season. I reported a few weeks ago that Lucroy was going up on the trading block. One of the reasons he did not wanted to be traded last year from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Cleveland Indians was they were going to put him in a DH-first base role, and he felt like this was the wrong role for him. He is a catcher. The Rangers have been placing him in more DH roles and less catching, especially with Yu Darvish. In Darvish’s previous seven starts, Lucroy has only caught Darvish twice, and only the last two starts, perhaps to show off his catching abilities.

This is a mistake. Lucroy is going to command a lot of money, and the Rangers are not going to have the money to make an offer and they will lose Darvish. Lucroy is one of the best catchers and really a missing piece in the Rangers arsenal. The main focus should be bullpen help. I think no matter what happens, you will see the Rangers going after bullpen help. They have already picked up former Blue Jay Jason Grilli.

The other glaring mistake is that while Robinson Chirinos has a great bat right now and is a good catcher, he is also extremely injury prone, and he spent a good chunk of last year on the DL. And while many of his injuries were unfortunate and part of the game, the Rangers do not have a capable backup, and if Lucroy leaves, they are in an extremely worse position. Being a catcher is the hardest position in baseball. The Texas heat tires guys out. With Chirinos going from part time to full time, we will see the batting average drop.

The last road trip was a test to see whether the Rangers were going to be buyers or sellers during the trade season. During the Yankee series, we saw some very good baseball. Even in a loss, Darvish pitched one of his best games, with Lucroy behind the plate. During the Indians series, we saw the bullpen struggle, and while starting pitching was a problem with Cole Hamels and Andrew Cashner, I think it is unfair to evaluate a pitcher coming off the DL. While we are running out of time before serious decisions should be made, I think it is unwise to use the Cleveland series to judge a pitcher’s performance coming off the DL. The White Sox series proved that the real problem is the bullpen. And in an interview with Jeff Bannister after the game, the phrase “we’ve got to find a way to close out baseball games” was repeated numerous times. The Rangers brought in Jose Leclerc, who has done a wonderful job in the shaky bullpen, but he got his first blown save during the White Sox series.

Recently, Michael Young was asked about the team, and he said, “This is a playoff team.” Why would this be a significant opinion? Michael Young is a player adviser to General Manager Jon Daniels. I think the Rangers are not just going to sell Lucroy to get rid of him. I see them using him to get more bullpen help, possibly a closer. The Rangers are all in, and I think they have what it takes to make it to the playoffs.

They do have some of the pieces to make it to the playoffs, but they have them in the wrong order, and they are keeping things they need to get rid of.

Keep

 

Jonathan Lucroy: Great bat and great glove. Extremely knowledgeable about the competition.

Carlos Gomez: Owns center field and has a great bat. Great person to have in the dugout and tons of heart.

Andrew Cashner: Has been a good fit and once healthy will only add to the rotation.

Robinson Chirinos: Put him in the DH role, keeping his bat but not wearing out his body behind the plate full time.

Joey Gallo: Move him to first base and accept that he is going to strike out a lot. But the long balls he will hit will be beautiful.

Toss

Mike Napoli: .193 is his current batting average.

Tony Barnette: Lights out last year, but this year he is one of the most unreliable in the bullpen.

 

Yu Darvish: The amount of money is too high to keep him, and if the Rangers pay it, they run a huge risk of not being able to afford anymore help, i.e. a closer or other bullpen help.

 

 

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