Monday, June 09, 2008

Eric Hurley Callup Underscores Rangers Problem

The Rangers callup of Triple A starter Eric Hurley to replace discarded retread Sidney Ponson underscores the team's continuing failure to find, sign and keep effective pitching.

With a 2-5 record and 5.30 ERA for the Oklahoma City Red Hawks, Hurley can hardly be expected to make much of a difference on a parent club with a team ERA exceeding 5.00 while giving up 656 hits, 29th worst in major league baseball.

The good news is that Hurley has a 3.46 ERA over his last six starts, but he will not find much help from a rotation and bullpen that has blown 22 leads on the season -- second worst in the majors after San Diego.

The rotation is in such shambles that Jason Jennings, Brandon McCarthy and Kason Gabbard are no longer on the roster after being asked to hold down the bottom of the rotation out of spring camp.

How one team decade after decade can make such poor evaluations regarding pitching -- and continually fail to address the problem -- remains something of a puzzle. Hurley -- 6-foot-4, 200-pound righty -- has shown an ability to reach the mid-90s with his fastball, but generally throws 4-5 mph slower to try to stave off flagging endurance that suggests he might be better suited as a middle reliever.

The Rangers acquired him in the first round of the 2004 draft, reaching for him ahead of Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo -- projected as a future ace -- and Huston Street -- who immediately went on to be Rookie of the Year in Oakland. About the only good thing that can be said for Hurley at this point is that he is only 22, so the jury is still out. The worst thing that can be said about him is that he was drafted by Texas.

Fairly or unfairly, some have lain blame at the doorstep of Tom Hicks, the hands-on owner whose presence provides the single continuous thread through a succession of general managers and their numerous bad decisions from the disastrous signing of Chan Ho Park, Adam Eaton and others, and the loss of Chris Young, John Danks and Edison Volquez, to name a few.

Hicks hopefully has finally done something to reverse the trend by hiring Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan as team president. If Ryan cannot not fix it, it is time to begin investigating just exactly what is in that Trinity River water.