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January 26, 2010

The Return Of Colby

Texas signed pitcher COLBY LEWIS to a two-year contract with a club option. Texas placed infielder JOE INGLETT on waivers.

The Rangers have 104 pitcher-seasons of at least 25 starts. Colby Lewis’s 2003 ranks last in ERA (7.30), ERA+ (69), opposing on-base percentage (.402) and opposing slugging (.550). In 2004, he underwent surgery for two tears in his rotator cuff. In the subsequent three years he was waived twice and released twice. He spent the last two seasons in Japan.

And with this resume, the cash-strapped Rangers guaranteed him $5 million? Stupefying. Terrifying.

No, no, no. Just kidding. While the first paragraph is factually correct, it glosses over two superior years overseas. During Lewis’s initial venture in Texas, the respectable control exhibited in the minors vanished on the mound in Arlington. In Japan, Lewis walked or hit less than 5% of opposing batters while fanning 26% and leading the league in strikeouts in both seasons. That won’t translate directly to the US, of course, but Lewis has apparently learned to pitch rather than throw. He also employs a cutter, that favored pitch of rotation mates Scott Feldman and Tommy Hunter. There’s considerable upside to this deal, particularly in the form of a $3.25 million club option for 2012 should Lewis pan out. If he flops, Texas appears to possess some supra-replacement-level pitching depth. Plan B is not Elizardo Ramirez or even Luis Mendoza. Also, with payments to A-Rod, Little Cat, and three others ceasing after 2010, having to eat Lewis’s 2011 salary becomes more palatable, if need be.

(Interestingly, Lewis and pitcher Ben Kozlowski were teammates with Hiroshima in 2008-2009, several years after being lost on waivers by Texas within days of each other in October 2004.)

Inglett was/is a marginal candidate for the 25-man roster, so outrighting him to Oklahoma City now (assuming he clears waivers) really doesn’t significantly affect his status. He’s a pretty darned good backup 5th infielder, and I don’t mean that as a backhanded compliment.

Only 16 hitters populate Texas’s 40-man roster, and that includes dead-man-walking Joaquin Arias.

Posted by Lucas at January 26, 2010 02:10 AM