Yu Darvish, and the Myth of "It"

We're one game into the season, and the overreaction train is already rolling. And yet, it's not a mere fan providing us with a juicy piece of ridiculous, it's a journalist who is actually paid to write and talk about sports by various media outlets.

In case you missed it, the Texas Rangers fell on Opening Night to the Cleveland Indians 8-5. This was after the Texas offense lit up Corey Kluber for five runs and gave starting pitcher Yu Darvish a 5-1 lead that he and the bullpen proceeded to cough up. And apparently, that was enough for one Mac Engel.

That's right, everyone's favorite Randy Galloway protege is back in the saddle with another spot-on impersonation of his former mentor, channeling the deepest pits of absurd to tell us that, one game in, he's seen enough. And Yu Darvish needs to be traded right now.

Engel makes a point to say that, no it wasn't just one game that has him convinced of this. It's that Darvish will be a free agent at season's end and will command more money than the Rangers should give him.

"Despite all of Yu’s power and his ability to throw a variety of pitches, he’s simply not worth another crippling contract he will command as a free agent, which he will be in the offseason. And given JD’s recent history with big contracts (Prince Fielder, Shin Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus), the franchise cannot afford to be wrong again."

Prince Fielder came up with an injury that no one could have predicted. Choo has been hot and cold. So I'll grant those two as deals that probably don't like so great in hindsight. But Elvis Andrus? The player who only just made $15 million per season each in 2015 and 2016, and is making that same amount in 2017? That's hardly what I would consider a "big" contract in today's game.

"After watching Yu Darvish make his first ever MLB Opening Day (night) start it’s enough to know they should trade him. Get something now while you can, because we have seen enough to know our Yu."

This, I think, is the crux of the problem. We're one game in, and Mac has already determined the season is lost. Good luck going to Adrian Beltre, the player you just signed to an extension last season, and telling him that, after one game in the 2017 season, you're prepared to blow it all up. Do you think Mike Napoli and Carlos Gomez will be terribly thrilled? I'm guessing not. And no, baseball clubs aren't meant to cater specifically to players, but when part of your pitch is that you're going to make every effort to compete, you don't throw in the towel after one game of 162.

All of this before considering that dealing Yu now might be significantly harder to do than it will be near the trade deadline. At that point, Texas has a better idea where the team stands, and other organizations have an idea of getting that one extra pitcher to put them over the top. You just don't trade top-of-the-rotation pitchers in April.

Perhaps most troubling is the notion that, even if this team can contend, they don't have "it" to win the World Series.

"Even with Yu these Rangers are not a World Series team. They are a playoff-contending team, which can no longer be the gold standard in Arlington."

If we accept this statement as the gospel, we're ignoring simple history. A history that tells us that getting in is half the battle. From there, you just hope to put together a string of good outings in the playoffs.

In fact, the Rangers have fallen victim to one such team. It's not hard to remember the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals. That season, the Cardinals clinched a Wild Card berth on the final day of the season, then proceeded to roll through the 102-win Phillies with a pitching staff that featured Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt on the way to the World Series. Once there, despite Texas being heavily favored, well... I think you know what happens next.

As a fan, we build up so much to the first game of the season, so yeah, it pisses us off when our team loses the way the Rangers did on Monday. It's going to happen many more times during the season. And if we're being honest, had Yu's outing happened in the middle of June as opposed to, say, Opening Night, we're probably less on edge about it.

Even the great Clayton Kershaw, who many consider to be the best pitcher in the game today, gave up five runs in a game last season. It happens. But it doesn't mean it's time to throw in the towel.

As one final point, Mac made a reference to Yu's personality.

"He has doggedly worked at creating zero sentimental value to the community or the franchise. Since his arrival he has not had a single moment to which a fan, or a teammate, would attach their hearts."

It might be that I'm reading too much into the reference to the community, but it doesn't take more than a simple Google search to uncover at least one instance of Darvish active in the community. And that's if we operate under the assumption that it's a professional athlete's responsibility. Sure, it's nice that some do, but I've no idea what it has to do with trading the man.

Proclaiming that he's not had a single moment to which a teammate would attach their hearts? It's a bold statement, and one that there's simply no way to back up. But by all means, let's jump on the hyperbole train.

No, Yu Darvish wasn't stellar on Monday night. He wasn't stellar in his ALDS start in October either. Despite that, it's not time to blow up the roster one game into the 2017 season. There's no magical "It" factor. Sometimes pitchers just have bad games.