As the Rangers prepare to have ten players battle it out for left field/DH, I am reminded of what happened last season when they desperately tried to fill the empty 1B slot with player after player after player. Eleven players, in fact, manned first until finally Ryan Rua ended up there. One of those players was the biggest head scratcher of all, Carlos Peña. Let’s hope the Rangers don’t drink from that well again. It’s a dry well. Here is a post from July 13, 2014. Enjoy.
I went to the Rangers game on Friday night. In his first at bat, Carlos Peña swung and accidentally let go of his bat, sending it flying away. As his bat so often does, it missed everything.
I don’t know about you, but I have never been a fan of Carlos Peña.
I’m aware that guys who hit twenty home runs are supposed to be valuable. And, yes, he had thirty-nine in his best year. But I’ve never liked the guy who strikes out more often than I did with the ladies in college. And ask my therapist, that was a lot.
Thirty-two percent of the time he walks to the plate, he slinks back to the dugout with the bat still in his hands, doing absolutely nothing with the opportunity he was given. At least grounding into a double play can plate a run from time to time.
Think about that this way: Guys like Carlos Peña shorten the game. Those three strikeouts a game represent one full inning. So with Carlos Peña in your lineup, before your team even starts the game, you are at a disadvantage. Your team plays an eight-inning game to the other team’s nine innings. (He’s an innings eater, like Joe Saunders.)
In an average 162-game season Carlos Peña strikes out 171 times. To me, that is about as productive as a congressman.
To put it in context, one season Tony Gwynn struck out just fourteen times. Fourteen. For an entire season. That’s a Sunday doubleheader’s work for Peña. (In fact, in eleven of Gwynn’s twenty seasons he struck out fewer than twenty times.)
Okay, Carolos Peña isn’t Tony Gwynn. But does he have to be Carlos Peña? And does he have to be Carlos Peña on the Rangers? He’s not the future of this team (unfortunately, his production represents the current state of the team) so why take away at bats from somebody who is?
There isn’t one player in the entire Rangers organization who can afford a first-baseman’s glove? I will gladly pitch in two dollars.
I remember two years ago, coming off a season where he “hit” .197 (and that was following a .207 season and a .196 season), Peña hit free agency. His agent was Scott Boras.
Boras went on MLB Radio and, with a straight face (I could see his face through the airwaves), actually said his client, one Carlos Peña, was one of the top five players in the game, and should be paid that way, and he spent the next five minutes spewing stats to back up his point. I was laughing too hard to hear them. He was asking for ten million dollars a year for this fine specimen of baseball.
He ended signing with the Astros for a million dollars.
It seems free agency was just one more thing Peña couldn’t hit. He foul tipped it.
I keep remembering that scene in Moneyball where Billy Beane, after repeatedly being ignored by Art Howe in his request for his stubborn manager to bench the unproductive Carlos Peña, finally said to him before a game, “You’re not playing Peña tonight.”
“Oh, yes I am,” Howe insisted.
“No you’re not. I traded him to Detroit.”
Can’t the Rangers trade Peña to Detroit or something? (They owe us big time.) Just get him off the Rangers roster.
Wait a minute, maybe he can be the hitting coach.