Mac Engel

Rangers should trade Yu Darvish, who doesn’t have It

Rangers Manager Jeff Banister talks about Yu Darvish's Opening Day performance

by Jared L. Christopher
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by Jared L. Christopher

After watching Yu Darvish make his first ever MLB Opening Day (night) start it’s enough to know they should trade him. Get something now while you can, because we have seen enough to know our Yu.

Moving Darvish would feel like a white flag when in reality it’s the wisest thing for the future of this club. Think of it as the pitching version of dealing Mark Teixiera to the Atlanta Braves. That was the trade in 2007 that essentially built GM John Daniels, and the guts of a World Series team.

Even with Yu these Rangers are not a World Series team. They are a playoff-contending team, which can no longer be the gold standard in Arlington.

Yu is good, but he just isn’t worth the insane money he’s going to command as a free agent after the season. Yu is not too much different than the Rangers — they make a lot of money, which heightens expectations, who in the end will be good enough to frustrate the four-letter words out of us all.

Monday night was a three-plus horror movie, only without the clown from “It.” Whatever “It” is required from a true celebrity ace pitcher ain’t in our Yu.

The home team handed their ace pitcher a 5-1 lead against the Cleveland Indians in the third inning and then they all worked together, as a team, to collectively blow it and lose 8-5.

In his first ever Opening Day start, Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish went 6 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on four hits with five walks and four strikeouts.

The starter was bad. The relief pitching was extra bad. And shortstop Elvis Andrus committed an error, too.

But Yu worked the hardest to make 0-1 a reality.

Those three components were so not-good it erased the reality that the offense knocked around Indians ace Corey Kluber. If your team scores five runs against Kluber, and you’re at home with your Opening Day ace on the mound, your team should not lose. Not if they are good. Not if your ace is an ace.

“I struggled throwing the strikes, but at the same time I got some early outs early in counts, so that was a positive,” Darvish told reporters after the game. “I managed to go into the seventh, so that’s something I was able to take as a positive.”

Low Expectations? Your table is ready.

If Yu Darvish was a rookie pitcher just up from Double A Frisco, all of this would be a positive. But this is Yu Darvish. Getting ahead of hitters and reaching the seventh inning should not be a positive. It should be a given.

Yu has to outduel Kluber in these situations, and he didn’t because he can’t. He has the stuff but he doesn’t have It — that magical and necessary component that frustrates the analytics geeks no end because it lacks statistical measurement.

GM Jon Daniels will never move Darvish unless the season is shot, not in a year where owner Ray Davis predicted a Cy Young from his Japanese All-Star.

JD would not do it simply because he has so much invested in Yu. He was the one who convinced ownership, and then good buddy Nolan Ryan, to invest the staggering sum of $111 million to secure Darvish from his Japanese league team as a Ranger.

None of this should mean they should not deal him whenever plausibly possible.

5 Number of walks issued by Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish. That’s one short of a career high and the most he’s thrown since 8/24/16 against the Reds.

Despite all of Yu’s power and his ability to throw a variety of pitches, he’s simply not worth another crippling contract he will command as a free agent, which he will be in the offseason. And given JD’s recent history with big contracts (Prince Fielder, Shin Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus), the franchise cannot afford to be wrong again.

Calling to move Yu at any point is not based on watching him pitch Monday night, where he worked 6  1/3 innings and allowed four earned runs on four hits. What is inexcusable is a guy this talented with this much control who gave the Indians five walks.

Yu had more walks than strikeouts (5-4).

Five walks likely drove his manager nuts, and his pitching coach to the point of throwing something through a wall.

Five walks speaks of a guy who is afraid to throw a strike. Five walks speaks of guy who does not trust his defense.

No, calling to move Yu now is not about Monday night.

It’s about a 30-year-old guy who has made at least one trip to the disabled list every season he has been with the club. It’s about a guy who logged a lot of innings before he came to the United States. It’s about a guy whose top end we likely simply never saw, because he was across the Pacific.

This is about a guy who since coming to the team in 2012 has racked up some pretty numbers with impressive strikeout totals, but who looks the part better than actually plays the part.

It’s about a guy who could command a lot in return for a farm system that needs it, especially young pitchers.

He has doggedly worked at creating zero sentimental value to the community or the franchise. Since his arrival he has not had a single moment to which a fan, or a teammate, would attach their hearts.

We want him to be great because we are sure it’s there, but we simply have yet to see it.

Now in his sixth season with the club it’s time to accept this is what he is — a good pitcher who doesn’t have It to be more than this.

Deal him.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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