If you've been paying attention, there is currently a running theme on One Strike Away: Yu Darvish, and the vital importance of Yu Darvish to the Texas Rangers organization. I make no bones about it, and I'm sure I can speak for Brandon and any other reasonable fan of this club when I say:
Yu is the most critical member of this club, and it's not even close.
Unfortunately, since this is such a slow-paced, dreadful season, local writers are starved for any quasi-dramatic angle they can take advantage of. When it became apparent that, yesterday, Yu Darvish's MRI checked out negative -- that is, no structural damage to his ulnar-collateral ligament -- ESPN Dallas's Jean-Jacques Taylor decided it would be an opportune time to question Yu's physical/mental/moral fortitude, going so far as to say he's left his teammates "hanging".
I could continue this diatribe, but the idiocy of the article pretty much speaks for itself:
General manager Jon Daniels, a smart dude at the helm of a forgettable season, made a huge mistake when he provided the pitcher with a free pass to quit on the season. [...]
If he's hurt, then by all means, shut him down. But if he can pitch, then he needs to be on the mound. Every trainer will tell you there's a difference between pain and injury. [...]
It's no fun to play in the stifling Texas heat on a team poised to lose 100 games, but that's what leaders do. That's what aces should do. [...]
See, it doesn't matter if the Rangers are more than 20 games out of first place. Yu should be playing for the other 24 guys. Instead, he's left them hanging.
Okay, so if I'm reading this correctly, then (a) Jon Daniels goofed up by offering Darvish a "free pass" to quit on the season, (b) Yu isn't a "leader" because the Rangers are on pace to lose 100 games and he isn't out there to make sure it's not 96, instead, and (c) he's leaving his teammates "hanging" because he isn't taking the ball every fifth day.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
For about a month now (if not longer) I've argued that it doesn't make sense for Yu Darvish to be pitching anymore in 2014, and when news broke Wednesday afternoon that he was going on the disabled list, the first thought I had in my head was it's about f---ing time.
Luckily, there is nothing wrong with his right arm. If there was I would've felt like a total dumbass. But this is where we are in the season; shutting Darvish down, which is expected from this DL stint, offers the best-case scenario for the Rangers: It limits Yu's exposure to some freak, possibly year-long injury that could affect the team in 2015 (and beyond), and Texas will replace him with a Robbie Ross-type -- or reasonable facsimile thereof -- which will generate more losses down the stretch, thus helping the Rangers procure the #1 pick in next year's draft.
I hate to sound like such a masochist, but the current Collective Bargaining Agreement rewards failure -- particularly being the worst of the worst -- incalculably more than mediocrity.
This is the flaw in Taylor's ridiculous article, that using Darvish in the rotation down the stretch somehow benefits the Rangers. It doesn't. Aside our personal enjoyment, it's essentially been three months since any of Yu's starts meant anything.
Taylor speaks like Texas's ace has some twisted obligation to his teammates, but I'm stranded here thinking, like, what teammates? Aside Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo, and maybe Alex Rios or Leonys Martin, Darvish won't be playing with the majority of these scrubs in 2015. And what is the end goal for the Rangers? So they'll finish with 98 losses instead of 100? I think not.
Practically speaking, the net-gain of having Darvish throw another 50 innings in 2014 does not justify the risk that entails, elbow inflammation or no elbow inflammation. The Rangers are a cagey organization, and Yu Darvish -- with the protection of speaking through a translator despite knowing a fair amount of english -- is a cagey individual. From a rational perspective, it stands to reason that the front office and Darvish, as well as his agent, have very likely had these discussions internally, how they want to approach the final month and a half of a season that no longer means anything.
For the Rangers, Darvish's health supersedes any player in the organization; he is the lifeline between the team going for it or not going for it in 2015. It's not a matter of toughness or some innate ability to be a leader, because Yu's masterful artistry on the mound speaks for itself.
It's been documented thoroughly, more so in 2012 and '13, that the surrounding D-FW media have a preoccupation with needling Yu Darvish by any means necessary. It used to be that he couldn't hold one-run leads -- because every pitcher is clearly supposed to hold every 1-0 lead he's given -- then it was his failure to throw complete games, because apparently every ace is supposed to throw nine innings a start, no questions asked.
I don't get it, but I'm not supposed to make sense of things that don't make any sense.
Maybe it's due to the fact that he's foreign, that he doesn't speak english to the media, that makes him such an easy target. It is, after all, still a good ol' boy band of traditional writers. Or maybe it's just because Yu Darvish is really good and these are the types of articles that get lots of clicks so bloggers like me get all worked up and write something about them.
If that's the case, then, well done, Mr. Taylor. I took the bait.
Edit: Yu Darvish will pitch August 25th, and Brandon has already written about it. Still, it doesn't change the stupidity of Taylor's article.