DETROIT, MI - Koji Uehara #19 of the Texas Rangers throws a pitch as Andy Dirks #12 of the Detroit Tigers steals second base in the sixth inning of Game Three of the American League Championship Series. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
The Texas Rangers are looking to trade reliever Koji Uehara. Why?
Let's get this out of the way first: If the Rangers are truly looking to trade Koji Uehara, they're right to think of him and Yu Darvish as separate entities. There's no sense linking to specific reader comments around the Internet, but I've read intimations that it's automatically a great thing for Darvish to be on the same team as Uehara or Yoshinori Tateyama.
Oh, it makes some amount of sense, sure, but imagine that you move to Abu Dhabi to take a job. Don't speak the language, don't know a soul. After a few months, you're introduced to your co-worker, an American. He opens his mouth …
The first time I saw Twilight, I was with my friend Paul, who's one of those guys that's, like, you know, too cool or something, you know what I mean? So he pretends that he's not even going to like it right from the start, and I'm getting really irritated because we paid our ten bucks, you know what I mean? Just enjoy the movie, you know? You know what I mean?
No, seriously. Why does the flag move, then? There's no wind on the moon, bro. There's no wind on the moon.
♪♪I follow the Moskva/♪♪Down to Gorky Paaaaaaark/♪♪Listening to the wind … of chaaaaaaange♪♪♪♪
There you go. That's your countryman. That's your co-worker. Enjoy spending eight to twelve hours with him every day. He'll hang around you, and only you, because you're the only one in the entire company who speaks his language.
Which is to say, do you want to spend time with every single person you meet, just because you all happen to live in the same country? Then don't assume that just because Darvish and Uehara are from the same country that they'll be best pals. They might hate each other. Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent were from the same country. We're not talking about gerbils, here.
Anywho, enough of the sidetracking. The lede was buried up there, and it's this: the Texas Rangers are looking to trade Koji Uehara. He's already rejected a trade to the Blue Jays. A reminder of what Uehara's major-league career has been like:
That's a reliable reliever. More than reliable, even. His home runs jumped when he moved to Texas, so you might think that Rangers Ballpark isn't a good fit for him. Breaking: Rangers Ballpark isn't a good fit for any pitcher. Plus, it was only 18 innings.
Something about him, though, soured the Rangers. They're too smart of an organization to get goofy over a handful of innings. They left him off the World Series roster, though. Not to spray lemon juice in the open wound, but Mark Lowe was the pitcher on the mound at the end of Game 6. Mark Lowe has a career BB/9 of 4.0 and a home-run rate similar to Uehara's. Things might have been different if Texas had had Koji Uehara on the roster.
More than that, the Rangers have gone out of their way to collect an insane amount of relievers who combine to form some sort of bullpen Predaking or Voltron. They signed Joe Nathan to close; they've already given up prospects for Mike Adams. Alexei Ogando is moving back to the bullpen, and yet the Rangers were still interested in trading for Andrew Bailey. It's like the 2011 postseason, filled with starters that couldn't get out of the sixth inning, turned a light bulb on. Relievers were suddenly the "it" thing.
But not Uehara. There's something about that guy that the Rangers aren't into. He's not prohibitively expensive -- he's scheduled for arbitration after making $3 million last year.
Uehara's no-trade clause is good for only six teams, and the Rangers won't have a problem moving him. But that's kind of the point. The Rangers won't have a problem moving him because he's been effective and reasonably priced throughout his three MLB seasons. That's a good thing. That's the kind of thing that win-now teams should look for. The Rangers have different ideas.
Smart organization. Curious decision. It's not exactly buyer-beware if you're a team looking to trade for Uehara, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to ask "So, why are you doing this again?" eight or night times. From here, it sure looks like the Rangers could use him.