August 2, 2011
By Andrew Thell
The Orioles give Koji Uehara to the Rangers for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter; The Padres give up Mike Adams to the Rangers for Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin.
Let’s just get this out of the way first: this really sucks for everybody who owns shares in Mike Adams this season and beyond. I feel for you, I’ve been holding onto Adams in my keeper league for months assuming he would be the closer today. Not only does he get traded instead of Heath Bell and get shafted for the closer’s job in San Diego, Adams also goes from a pitcher’s paradise and a manager who ran a crisp bullpen to a hitter’s haven and a manager who struggles to keep his sock drawer in order. It makes no sense to me from the Friars’ perspective either: Adams is better than Bell, he’s younger than Bell and he’s under team control for a year longer than Bell. Boo-urns.
Let’s also say this: kudos to the Texas Rangers for landing two absolutely dominant and underrated relievers. This is how you shore up a bullpen at the trade deadline. On a per-inning basis, Uehara and Adams are now the Rangers best two pitchers. Hell, they might be the best one-two punch this side of Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel. Paired with 2010 AL ROY Neftali Feliz they should allow Texas to go into absolute lockdown mode after the 6th inning. That’s a scary thought paired with this team’s elite offense and decent starting pitching.
If I was gambling on either Adams or Uehara against Neftali I’d take either of the former to be closing out games by the end of the month. I don’t know what’s up with him, but with a 4.66 BB/9, 6.28 K/9 (only 6 Ks versus righties all year!) and 4.73 xFIP on the season Neftali is not closer material right now. The problem is, Texas got Adams and Uehara, and I have no idea which one will take over for Feliz if he continues to falter as I expect. In his second season in the MLB Koji Uehara has has posted an otherworldly set of numbers: 1.69 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 12.00 K/9, 1.50 BB/9. Damn. Still, he’s been a bit lucky with a .192 BABIP and 97.6% LOB this year and his track record isn’t lengthy with just 99 career appearances. In 271 appearances Mike Adams boasts a 2.11 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 9.29 K/9 – and over the last three years he’s been even better. With both under Rangers’ control for 2012, it’s that experience gap in favor of Adams and and old-school manager in Ron Washington that leads me to think Adams should have the inside track for the job if/when Felix falters.
There’s also one interesting piece on the Baltimore side of the equation. Chris Davis has made a name for himself as a prototypical quad-A player, and I don’t have anything to dispel that notion baseball fan, but he makes headlines once again. As per his usual, Davis has crushed minor league pitching this season to the tune of 24 HRs with a .405 OBP and .824 SLG (!). We’ve seen this picture before, though. Stellar in the minors, strikeout machine in the majors. Maybe the change of scenery helps, maybe it doesn’t. He’s not moving into a better lineup or park, and Texas doesn’t exactly discourage offense. A speculative play on Davis isn’t crazy given his prodigious power and gaudy minor-league totals and the fact that he should get all the playing time he can handle, I made the move in one deep league, but there’s no reason to have much faith in a career turnaround at this point.