It’s the thick of trade season, and Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is trying to pull off a magical trade by 3:00 Central in which he gets the parts that take his team to the Promised Land.
And while the trade deadline goes a long way to defining a GM’s legacy, where Daniels has had some of his greatest success lately is in his ability to find diamonds in the rough.
It’s an inexact science. But if you go digging through the discarded newspapers long enough, you come up with a perfectly good ham sandwich.
This year he found A. J. Griffin, Justin Ruggiano, and Tony Barnette in the bargain bin. Two out of three is not bad. (Of course, you can put Ian Desmond on the list, but that wasn’t thrift store shopping as much as it was discovering that the store had put the wrong price tag on an item and you snapped it up before they noticed their mistake.)
Barnette has turned out to be a real find. He was drafted by the Diamondbacks as a starter and washed out, with an ERA close to 6.00 in four seasons. He went to Japan to be a starting pitcher. His first season in Japan, in 2010, Barnette went 4-5 with a 5.99 ERA.
Turns out, he wasn’t a starter in two languages.
Then, desperate, he converted to a reliever. That’s when he found his stride. His first year, he appeared in fifty-seven games with thirty-three saves and an ERA of 1.82. By 2015 he was an elite closer once again, with forty-one saves and an ERA of 1.44.
That’s when Jon Daniels found him.
The news of Tony Barnette signing was met with all the joy of a William Shatner album.
Next thing you know, he was the catalyst in the first Rangers bullpen meltdown of the season, in the second game of the year. He was the losing pitcher, giving up two earned runs in just 0.2 innings pitched.
But since then he has been pretty much lights out. In fact, in thirty-three of his forty-two appearances, he has allowed zero runs. And after yesterday’s scoreless seventh inning, Tony Barnette’s ERA is now 2.08. He has pitched in fifteen straight appearances without giving up an earned run. And he has quietly become one of the more dominating forces in the Rangers bullpen.
And he came in through the backdoor.
It’s the closer or the set up guy who get all the glory. But Tony Barnette is just getting the job done.
NO GAME TODAY.