Money, Money, Money, Mooonnnneeeyyyy!

by Charles Parker on February 5, 2018

If only we could turn back time to the year 2013.  If this were the year 2013 it would be the best rotation in baseball! Unfortunately, this is 2018 and much has changed in 5 years.  The starting pitching put together with a shoe-string and prayer based budget would be the talk of the league!

That means the starting rotation will be Cole Hamels, Martin Perez (injured to start the season), Doug Fister, Mike Minor, and Matt Moore. They plan on stretching out Matt Bush out of the bullpen and give him a shot too.  Hamels missed two months last season and his September numbers are terrible the past couple of seasons. Matt Moore had an ERA of 5.52 last season and was the highest among qualifiers. Perez had the sixth highest ERA at 4.82, and Fister had a 4.88 ERA in 15 starts and 3 relief appearances last year.

Now they have added a 44-year-old right hander Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.  “Bartolo brings a track record of durability and success in the Major Leagues,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “He pounds the strike zone and provides quality competition for our rotation.”  The 44-year-old right-hander will earn $1.75 million plus incentives, according to a source.

According to the website www.baseball-reference.com they have projected 2018 numbers based on past performance. In past years these projects have been very close to actual performance. This is what they show:

  • Doug Fister age 34 7-9 record, a 4.73 ERA with a WHIP of 1.415 and a 2.11 SO/W while only pitching 118 innings.
  • Mike Minor age 30 4-4 record, a 3.52 ERA with a WHIP of 1.188 and a 3.14 SO/W ratio. However they have projected for the bullpen with only 64 innings.
  • Matt Moore age 29 8-12, a 4.88 ERA with a WHIP of 1.422 and a 2.35 SO/W ratio while pitching 166 innings.
  • Martin Perez age 27 10-10 record, a 4.55 ERA with a WHIP of 1.442 and a 1.87 SO/W ratio while pitching 172 innings.
  • Bartolo Colon age 44, 9-10 record, a 5..04 ERA with a WHIP of 1.433 and a 2.78 SO/W ratio while pitching 150 innings.
  • Cole Hamels age 34 10-6 record, a 3.97 ERA with a WHIP of 1.286 and a 2.30 SO/W ratio while pitching 154 innings.

The collective numbers look like this:

48-51 record, and an ERA of 4.54

To put that into perspective on how that stacks up I compared it to the 2011 Rangers and their last World Series appearance. That team had CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, and Alexi Ogando. Their numbers were incredible!

That staff went 73-39 with an ERA of 3.64.

That is almost one entire run less per 9-innings that this staff is projected to do. The 2018 Rangers will need to score 5 runs a game to overcome a 4.43 ERA. That does not count the fact that last season the bullpen blew a bunch of games. However, the projection is better than the 2017 Rangers staff of Martin Perez, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner, Yu Darvish, Nick Martinez, and AJ Griffin. They managed to go 50-52 with an ERA of 4.51.

I love boring numbers, but I know most of those reading this do not. However, baseball numbers and projections are very real in terms of understanding real production on the field. A staff ERA over 4 is not going to produce a contending team, unless your offense is composed of 9 all-stars and your bullpen is the best in baseball.

John Daniels built this starting rotation on hope and prayer.  Certainly it is cheap. Can Hamels rebound at age 34 and have a full healthy season? Odds are that he will miss some time and his ERA for 2017 was 4.20. Matt Moore is in the second year of returning from Tommy John surgery, and that usually is when players start to get back what they lost. However, his velocity is down, and his ability to get strikeouts are down. Mike Minor had an outstanding year in the Kansas City bullpen after returning from Tommy John. He would make a tremendous addition to the Rangers pen, but as a starter who knows if his arm is ready for that kind of stress. Doug Fister at age 34 has a trend going. His ERA in 2014 was 2.41, 2015 4.19, 2016 4.64, and 2017 4.88. Finally, Martin Perez has a busted elbow on his non-throwing arm. He will most likely be available in May or June, and while he shows consistency at times, his ERA his career ERA is 4.43 in 5 full seasons. At some point you are what you are.

I suppose the good news on adding Colon would be in having a true veteran to help the younger guys.  Then again, he brings a lot of baggage with him.

If only we could turn back time, or if these guys can somehow reinvent themselves this could be decent. However, in my years of observation numbers always tell the tale. The good news is that this will be a competitive team, and I think it easily projects to a solid 75-78 wins.  The bad news is that you normally get what you pay for.  This team is all about biding time until the big contracts go away.  Just like in the Eddie Money hit song, Money, Money, Money, Mooonnneeeyyyy, this team is built on the cheap, and that usually does not work out well.

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