Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Puffery and nonsense from texasrangers.com 

Nevermind that it was a major weakness last season, and that the Rangers have done little to upgrade it in the offseason...according to Jesse Sanchez, writer for the Rangers' website, the pitiful 2005 Ranger outfield "could rival the infield in popularity and production".

He's talking, of course, about David Dellucci, Richard Hidalgo, Gary Matthews, Jr., Laynce Nix, and Kevin Mench. Mench is described as "arguably the best overall defensive outfielder in the group", which, if true, means that Laynce Nix needs to be moved to a corner outfield spot immediately, and Matthews Jr. has no business in the major leagues.

Adding to the silliness, Assistant G.M. Jon Daniels claims that "it is safe to say that the outfield has become an area of strength for the organization", a statement that would put him in the running for the post of Iraq Minister of Information, if it still existed.

How puny is the Ranger outfielding corps? In 2004, those five outfielders had a combined VORP -- runs over replacement level offensive production -- of 67.3, with only Mench (29.0) and Matthews (15.3) posting a VORP over 10. In comparison, Mike Young, part of the infield that this group is supposedly going to rival in production, posted a 60.1 VORP by himself. Travis Hafner, the DH we discarded because we didn't have room for him, posted a VORP of 70.9.

Looking at RAP (Runs Above Position), the five combined to be an aggregate 24.3 runs below average for their positions last year. In other words, the area which Daniels claims is a team "strength" was, as a group, subpar with the bat in 2004.

If you look at WARP, which combines offensive and defensive contributions into a "Wins Above Replacement Player" number, the outfield looks a little better, at 15.2. Of course, just the four starting infielders for the Rangers posted a 24.9 WARP last season, and Barry Bonds alone had a WARP of 15.1, so again, that isn't very impressive.

So we are going into 2005 with a group of outfielders who performed pretty poorly last season. Now, there is some reason to hope for improvement. Mench is a solid, if unspectacular, corner outfielder. Nix, despite his awful second half, is considered a potential Jim Edmonds-type player in centerfield, and could come on very quickly with the bat. Hidalgo was great in 2000 and 2003, and if he can come close to producing the way he did then, the Rangers will be in great shape in right field.

But overall, the outfield is an area of concern. And I'm pretty disappointed that the Rangers front office, and the "reporters" they pay to write for their website, are insulting our intelligence by pretending otherwise.

And Jon Daniels is the future of the Rangers front office, sigh. I miss Grady.
How much does Hidalgo add to the outfield? I have not looked at his stats for 2004, but after the Astros traded him to the Mets (where he admittedly stunk), he posted phenomenal numbers for a short time. Did his production drop off dramatically afterwards?
The last post was ambiguous. I meant he stunk with the Atros before they traded him, but I do not know how well he did with the Mets.
Hidalgo played poorly both in New York and Houston last year.
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