Thursday, October 20, 2011
The Koji trade, and deciphering what exactly happened to Uehara in Texas
Uehara roughly means "great control" in Japanese. For Orioles fans, this is extremely appropriate, for Ranger fans, Koji Uehara has struggled with just that. The reliever that was aquired at the trade deadline was left on the Texas Ranger's World Series roster after a mediocre last two months of the year and a horrible postseason. While he had a 2 WAR (awesome for a reliever) with the Orioles in 2011, he had just a .2 WAR with Texas (would be a .6 WAR if extended into a whole season). The Rangers traded for Uehara by shipping off two Major League players to Baltimore, Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis (Davis was technically in the minors at the time of the trade but has been in the majors for most of the last few seasons). Chris Davis was pretty pathetic with the Orioles with a -.5 WAR, while Tommy Hunter had a .6 WAR, adding up to a .1 WAR for the Orioles. This means that the Rangers barely won the trade down the stretch, but all 3 players are under contract for next season, so we will have to come back to this trade in the future. The Rangers had to pay 1 million of Koji's contract for this year, while Hunter and Davis made less than that combined. So the Rangers got slightly more production, while the Orioles got much better value. So what happened to Koji? In Baltimore he racked up an incredible -7.94 PE, while in Texas his PE was still really awesome at -6.529. In both places, he has struck out more than 11 per 9 innings. In Baltimore, his TR was the highest I have ever seen at almost 20! However, there were some things that probably should have caught the Rangers' eyes. In Baltimore, he averaged more than one homer per 9 innings, a little high. In Texas, that exploded to 2.5 HR/9IP. He is not the first pitcher to go to Texas and struggle with the longball. What should have been concerning, and I find it hard that Jon Daniels and company would have missed this, is that he is a flyball pitcher. It has been well documented that starter Colby Lewis, being a flyball pitcher, has an ERA of more than 2 higher at home. So why would the Rangers trade for a reliever that gave up 2 flyballs to every groundball in Baltimore? This doesn't mention that Uehara's great ERA was kind of fluky, with a FIP of about 1 higher than his ERA (still would be really good). We will see in the future if Uehara is able to adjust to the hitter friendly park that is the Ballpark in Arlington.