Report: Rangers reach agreement with Webb

Leave a comment

From Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse comes word that the Rangers have reached agreement on a contract with free agent right-hander Brandon Webb.  The deal is only pending a physical.

The Reds, Yankees, Rangers, Cubs and Nationals all showed interest in the 31-year-old this winter, but he chose Texas in the end and should open the 2011 season as the club’s fourth or fifth starter.

Webb comes with plenty of risk.  He hasn’t thrown a pitch in a major league game since the opening week of the 2009 season because of chronic shoulder issues and he did not display good velocity during a couple of late-season throwing sessions earlier this year.  But the Rangers needed a body to fill the massive gap left by Cliff Lee’s departure and Webb was once regarded as a top tier National League starter.

In 2008, he finished with a 3.30 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 34 starts, fanning 183 batters over 226.2 frames.  In 2007, he posted a 3.01 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over 236.1 innings.  In 2006, he won the National League Cy Young Award with a 3.10 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and a 178/50 K/BB ratio across 33 starts.

If Webb can get anywhere near that kind of production down in Arlington, the loss of Lee might not sting so badly.  Of course, it’s far from a guarantee that he will have enough stamina to last the entire season.

UPDATE: ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark says the deal is for one year.  As expected.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.