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What's the Rangers Plan? Print E-mail
by Norm Hitzges    Wed, Dec 21, 2005, 01:41 PM

The Rangers made a deal yesterday…And the deal is intriguing to me. They traded hometown favorite Chris Young, Terrmel Sledge and Adrian Gonzalez to San Diego for a starting pitcher in Adam Eaton, setup man Akinori Otsuka and a prospect at catcher. This is a 6 man deal that, at first glance favors the Padres.

The Padres get is a good young pitcher in Chris Young. His contract is cheap. And, they have control of him for the next 5 years. Adam Eaton is a solid 28 year old pitcher that is costing them a fortune and can leave at the end of the year.

There are some things that are a little worrisome about Eaton:

1) He is not a groundball pitcher…He is a fly ball pitcher.

2) In a very spacious Petco Park he gave up too many home runs.

3) A finger injury ruined his numbers from last year after a great start.

But, before his injury last year, he was on his way to being a true contender for the Cy Young Award.

What is the plan here? I believe the plan is to sign Adam Eaton here long term. I believe they will have to offer in 3 years $25 million. If you give him the money and he comes here and fails, you are stuck with him for another 3 years. I believe that the key to this trade is signing Eaton long term.

The Rangers have a long history of not being able to lure free agent pitchers to this ballpark. Part of the problem is the ballpark itself. Pitchers don’t want to come here and put up bad numbers. Pitchers that put up bad numbers have a hard time negotiating future contracts.

That’s the beauty here. The Rangers can actually use the ballpark to their advantage. You see, Eaton has no idea how he will perform in Arlington. Yes, he can leave at the end of the season but if he puts up bad numbers here his value as a free agent will drop. Does he really want to take that chance? I don’t think so.

Eaton and his agent have got to consider all options and all scenarios. What if Eaton goes 8-12 with an ERA in the high 4’s? Does he want to take that into the open market and hope that he can still get megabucks? Or, would he happily accept a 3 year deal here that gives him security?

Signing a 3 year contract before the season begins provides Eaton insurance against “ballpark failure”. I’m thinking that, in a creative way, the Rangers can actually use the Ballpark’s effect on pitchers as an advantage in signing a pitcher.
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