On Thursday, Rangers lefty Martín Perez informed a publication in Venezuela that he will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery, which was ultimately expected. His only alternative would have been to try rehabbing his partially torn UCL -- missing 10-12 weeks -- with no guarantee he wouldn't inevitably need the surgery anyway. By biting the bullet now, Perez should be eligible to return to the big league rotation around the All Star Break next season.
With all the injuries has come the generic the sky is falling hysteria trickling down from the national media. And for some reason -- maybe because there isn't enough caliginous language out there -- "doomed" is the way the Rangers are being described.
Jon Paul Morosi writes:
The Rangers should have at least one World Series title by now. Instead, the franchise is 0 for its first 42 years. What if 2011 was supposed to be their year, and now they’re doomed — by injuries, by underperformance, by bad luck — to an interminable wait for another great chance?
If the question is whether the Rangers’ pitching is good enough, the present answer is no.
David Schoenfield opines:
If Perez and Harrison are indeed out of the year, you can pretty much put a fork in the Rangers. Yes, you can blame the injuries, but when you build a pitching staff built on contingencies, this is what you get. On Wednesday, Nick Tepesch became the team’s ninth different starter and 21st different pitcher already, not including the outing from first baseman Mitch Moreland.
Rather than signing a veteran free agent like Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez to provide a more dependable No. 2 behind Darvish, the Rangers were content to give this a group a shot, a group with a lot of unknowns and questions and pitching in a park that doesn't help pitchers.
Man, what is the point of the Rangers even playing baseball games anymore?
There's no question Texas is in a worse position now than they were before Perez and Harrison went down, but can we slam the brakes a little on all this doom and gloom garbage? It's May. There's a ton of action left.
Before the season, ZiPS projected Perez to generate +1.3 zWAR, and Harrison +1.5 zWAR. Collectively, the two starters were projected to be worth about +3.0 wins in 2014. So, let's not pretend this was an indispensable duo. For what it's worth, while they were here the two pitchers combined to produce +1.0 win, per FanGraphs. Overall it's a net-loss of two wins.
As far as Schoenfield's point about Jon Daniels neglecting the pitching staff, I just don't see it. For the amount of money Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana signed for, it's not like the Rangers couldn't have afforded them. If a 4.02 ERA (4.08 xFIP) with a 20% K rate (10% BB rate) from Jimenez is something that impresses you, then I guess JD made a major mistake. If 40.2 innings of brilliance from Santana is enough to crown him a "great signing" or a "failure by the Rangers not to sign him," then... okay.
Intellectually dissatisfying as it is, it could have simply come down to the fact that Jon Daniels and Texas's front office just weren't all that into either of those pitchers, and I can't blame them. I don't remember hearing any Ranger fans clamoring the second Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez hit the free agent market. All anyone wanted different from the 2013 team was an improved offense. Daniels addressed that by dropping fat stacks of cash on Shin-Soo Choo, and by trading for Prince Fielder.
Pitching-wise, you can't forecast these kinds of injuries. As Joe Sheehan brilliantly put it to conclude his last newsletter: What I am certain of is this: there's no such thing as a healthy pitcher. There are only pitchers who have been healthy, and the next pitch.
Derek Holland went down with a hockey injury that he claimed was him tripping over his dog, Matt Harrison got checked out by the Rangers medical staff, went on his rehab assignment, and ascended back to the big league club just as he was supposed to, Tanner Scheppers and Neftali Feliz have weird things going on with their arms, Martin Perez is getting Tommy John Surgery just like every other young pitching stud in baseball, and, yeah. Health.
With Darvish, Holland, Perez and Harrison all under contract long-term, and with pitchers like Colby Lewis and Nick Tepesch and Robbie Ross as stopgaps, Jon Daniels went into 2014 with a totally reasonable plan on the pitching front. He even tacked on Joe Saunders and Scott Baker in case of an apocalypse.
I don't know where a Santana or Jimenez -- who are basically making Harrison money -- fit into the Rangers goal, whether that's in 2014 or any year past it. Texas had cheaper arms, like Tepesch, or Lewis, who offer comparable production at a fraction of the cost. If Texas was looking to improve its pitching staff last offseason, they wouldn't have played around with $50 million #3 starters; they would have gone for a TORP. The marginal upgrade of a mid-rotation starter would have, maybe, increased the Rangers' expected win total by one Platonic Win, and that's just not enough to justify that cost.
Really, though, at 20-21 and with all this negative injury news, all the "What if?" scenarios after the fact just scream revisionist history, which is the type of nonsense that turns otherwise level-headed fans into second-guessing robots.
I'm not putting any money on the Rangers to make it to the playoffs or anything, but in my right mind I can't pretend like injuries aren't a part of the game. It's still only the middle of May. There's so much baseball left this season.
Let's save the obituary for a later date.