Saturday, January 26, 2008

Breaking Down The 40-Man Roster Day 4

Robert Earl Keen put on a great show. I could have done without all of the Texas A&M references, but I guess a successful Aggie has to allow all the other ones to live vicariously through him. You know you liked that one Aggie alums. He did end his set by playing "The Road Goes on Forever" as usual and it was just as good this time as it has been the previous three times I've seen him. So, my apologies to B-Mac as I am sure he has been on edge since learning he was next up in line. But you can't honestly expect me to turn down a free Robert Earl Keen ticket, can you? Have no fear though, I abstained from all things (well most things) alcoholic so I could wake up early and pass this along to all you Rangers fans and especially you Brandon.

Brandon McCarthy
6'7" 200 lbs
Born: 07/07/1983
Opening Day Age: 25

2007 Statistics
Games Pitched: 23 (22 starts)
Innings Pitched: 101.2
Record: 5-10
ERA: 4.87
Strikeouts: 59

2008 Prognosis:
A few years ago, the Rangers had three "phenoms" stashed in the minor leagues. The "DVD" trio, as they would come to be called was a reason to be excited about the future of the Rangers' pitching staff. Fast forward and one is in a White Sox uniform, another in a Cincinnati Reds uniform, and the last is coming off of Tommy John surgery and will likely start the season at AAA Oklahoma. John Danks was the one traded to the White Sox, and Brandon McCarthy was the return. There were three other players in the deal, but these two could be forever linked. Danks was the pride of the system to the extent it was rumored the Rangers were unwilling to deal him in a proposed move for Josh Beckett. That could, like many other rumors, be nowhere near the truth but it is food for thought. Also of intrigue was the stated reason for moving Danks was McCarthy was a proven major league arm and Danks was still a year or two away. Well Danks went in and won a spot in the White Sox rotation right out of Spring Training which pretty much crushed that argument. So, with that out the window, the argument came down to numbers.

Last year played out differently than many hoped (both White Sox and Rangers fans) and the argument could have shifted to who was worse (same argument, but you get the gist of what's being said). Danks posted a 5.50 ERA in 26 starts, but looked promising in stretches. McCarthy tossed up a 4.87 ERA in 22 starts, but looked promising in stretches. McCarthy also looked injured in stretches, and in fact made several appearances on the Rangers' injury report. These are the injuries listed for McCarthy during the 2007 season.

Oct 1, 2007: Missed the last 9 games of the regular season (forearm injury).
Sep 24, 2007: Forearm injury, day-to-day.
Sep 11, 2007: Missed 27 games (shoulder injury).
Aug 15, 2007: Shoulder injury, 15-day DL (retroactive to Aug. 11th).
Jul 2, 2007: Missed 17 games (right finger injury).
Jun 14, 2007: Right finger injury, 15-day DL (retroactive to June 10th).
Jun 13, 2007: Right finger injury, day-to-day.
Jun 9, 2007: Missed 11 games (finger injury).
May 2, 2007: Finger injury, day-to-day.

The blister was an obvious problem and one that is pretty hard to avoid. The Rangers probably mishandled the finger injury as an earlier stint on the DL could have saved McCarthy some poor outings and some spot starts he missed. Hard to find fault though because a blister is just a finicky thing to handle, especially when a pitcher throws a lot of curveballs as McCarthy does. By all accounts, the shoulder and forearm injuries are not lingering, but time will tell whether injuries will be a recurring theme throughout McCarthy's career. He was never really able to get into any kind of a rhythm outside of a 4 game stretch and his season was really a wash, as is the trade to this point. At 6'7" and only 200 pounds (if that) it seems as though a full season of starting will continue to take it's toll on him. Whether he can ever be at or around 200 innings for a season is a question that the Rangers front office needs to answer.

Now for the good on B-Mac. This kid looked great for a stretch in 2007. He was the best pitcher on the staff (that's kind of a complement) for a three week period. He has the ability to throw three pitches for strikes consistently with his 2 seam and 4 seam fastballs and his curveball. He throws a changeup as well but not with the control of the other three. After seeing him pitch in 2007, he looks like he is a major league pitcher. If he can stave off injuries and perhaps add some bulk or at least get after it with a strength and conditioning coach, he has a chance to be a very solid starter. Also, if he can develop a solid changeup, he could easily win 14-17 games with adequate run support. He may not ever be a number one or two pitcher, but he would slot in wonderfully as a team's number 3 starter.

The bottom line on McCarthy is health and confidence. If he can stay healthy and get into a rhythm he has a chance to do some great things in 2008. My hope for his season is simply showing he can do it for the long haul. I have no doubt he can get it done in spurts, but that doesn't help anyone. The Rangers' starters have to get deeper into ball games this year and B-Mac is a big part of that. At just 25, he is a key cog in the Rangers' plans going forward and the team's success is predicated on McCarthy developing into a consistent starting pitcher.

The post on Jason Jennings will show up later today or sometime on Sunday. I like to keep 'em guessing, plus I heard Jennings doesn't read my blog anyway so I don't feel like I'll be disappointing anyone this time.

brandon mccarthy photos courtesy of
robert earl keen picture courtesy of texas_mustang


Young2Kinsler said...

I really hope the blinded optimism you and I have in Brandon McCarthy is real. I'd like to think he can be a solid 3rd starter, because after watching Danks pitch, I don't think he will be anything special. He gave up 28 HR last season and didn't even start a full season. I think this whole rotation hinges on the health of the starters, seeing as the Rangers 1-6 starters spent time on the DL last season.

LongTimeListener-FirstTimeCaller said...

I do think I am very optimistic about McCarthy. But I wouldn't call it blind. His ability is very evident im my mind. He has major league stuff and is still young. No, as to my hopes for his health (and the health of the rest of the rotation as you mentioned) that is definitely blind hope on my part.