The CBA allows a maximum of 20 days on the schedule without an off-day, and Texas is now done with one of those max runs, having gone a disappointing 10-10 in a stretch that included 13 games away from home, the season’s first roster move (a major one), a lack of rhythm from a lethargic offense that’s trying to work around converging slumps from Ian Kinsler and Michael Young and Mike Napoli and weird bursts from Nelson Cruz, a rotation that has lost the consistency which marked the season’s first month, and an absence of any that late-inning magic that occasionally allows us to forget the rest, for at least a day.
And yet nobody’s all that hot in the AL West, Texas still leads the division by five games and the Angels by seven, and that Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds calculus still has the Rangers as an acceptable 99.6 percent bet to reach the post-season.
In spite of this momentarily big bag of flat, what has me grumpiest this baseball season has nothing to do with the Rangers’ current state or even the Jairo Beras inertia.
I’m putting in the jinx right now. This righthander has gone 8.2 hitless innings, walking six and striking out a shocking 19 hitters.
Ernesto Frieri has a no-hitter going.
As a Los Angeles Angel.
That’s awesome. And not really the part that has me grumpy.
I get that Josh Byrnes has overseen an impressive resurgence of the San Diego farm system and I applaud him for giving Jon Daniels his start in baseball. But c’mon.
Frieri is 26 years old. He can’t be a free agent until after the 2016 season. Two thousand sixteen. Why the Padres decided to move him I’m not sure I understand.
Especially when they did.
Now this isn’t a complaint that Texas should have gone to San Diego on May 2 and outbid the Angels’ offer of righthander Donn Roach (who was really good in the High A Cal League before the trade and has been even better in that same league since) and infielder Alexi Amarista to get Frieri. At the time of the deal, the Rangers’ bullpen had struck out 58 and walked six in 66.2 innings on a 17-7 club, holding the opposition to a .194 batting average and compiling a collective 2.30 ERA. The pen was dominating.
But if San Diego had waited another day, Mariano Rivera would have been injured and the market for Frieri would have surely had another potential trading partner.
Another couple weeks, and Texas might have decided another bullpen arm made sense, with the loss of Scott Feldman to the rotation and with Los Angeles in on Frieri (or at least known to be on the hunt for impact relievers) and with Mike Adams in his free agent season and, frankly, with an arm like Frieri and his extreme controllability available for a couple tier two prospects.
And here’s the bigger point: Contending teams rarely decide in June and July that they have less of a need for bullpen reinforcement than they did in April and May.
What was San Diego’s hurry?
Frieri’s really good. He’s going to affect pennant races. Maybe this year, maybe next year, maybe for these next five years. I don’t hate that the Angels made a great move. I expect that. But I hate that it cost them so little, and more so that Byrnes sold him off when he did, when I can’t figure out any decent reason not to hold onto him and let other clubs’ injuries and either dwindling pennant hopes or surging pennant hopes introduce new trade opportunities.
I’m not sure why Frieri was even a guy that Byrnes wanted to trade in the first place, and he certainly couldn’t have been blown away into that stance by the Roach/Amarista package. But why he felt it was urgent to move him four weeks into this season, for what was at best a reasonable return, has me a lot grumpier than Derek Holland’s last start or Mike Napoli’s second straight frozen first half or a 4-6 run against the Royals, A’s, Astros, and Mariners.
Now get off my lawn.