Think back to the end
of October, when
we learned that the Rangers told C.J. Wilson a few weeks earlier that they
might let him compete for a rotation spot in camp, but that in order to
convince the club to move him out of his key set-up role in the bullpen, he
needed not only to be one of the team’s five best starters in Surprise, but in
fact one of the two best. It almost
seemed like an audition prescribed to fall short, a token opportunity extended
to Wilson as a tip of the cap and maybe not much more.
Turns out he was the
Rangers’ best starter in March (3.24 ERA, 14 hits and eight walks in 25
innings, .167/.242/.298, 22 strikeouts, 33 groundouts/13 flyouts, under 10
pitches per inning). He not only won a
spot in the rotation; he made the decision easy.
One of the shocking
statistics of the 2010 season, one that’s going to extend beyond 162, is this:
Texas is 15 games
over .500 in Wilson’s starts (23-8).
In everyone else’s
starts, Texas is two games over .500 (61-59).
Think about that.
Whether the true
inspiration for the camp audition was Wilson’s, or Nolan Ryan’s, or Jon Daniels
and his crew’s, it was a tremendous decision and a huge challenge met, and while
we all ask where this team would be without Josh Hamilton’s performance or Neftali
Feliz’s emergence after Frankie Francisco coughed things up in the first week
or Big Bad’s first half or David Murphy’s second half or Nelson Cruz’s breakout
or Colby Lewis’s Comeback Player of the Decade bid or the steadiness of the Darren
O’s or the effectiveness of Tommy Hunter and Alexi Ogando or the staff-wide impact
of the addition of Cliff Lee, imagine what 84-57 and a Magic Number of 4 with
11 games to go would look like if C.J. Wilson weren’t in the starting rotation.
Fifteen games over
when he gets the ball.
Two games over when
I have a ton of other notes to get to, but no time to do it
today. I filed my final weekly MLB.com column
of the season late last night and will blast the list when it’s on www.TexasRangers.com at some point
today. It’s a ranking of the top 10
Rangers prospects of the last decade – without the benefit of hindsight. Ton of fun to write.
If we were to make a list of the top 10 moves Texas has made
in 2010, the decision before spring training to give C.J. Wilson a chance to
prove he could start, just to see what might be there, has to rank very close
to the top.
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(c) Jamey Newberg