The Jorge Cantu Trade: Texas’ Perspective

The gates that opened for Chris Davis once Justin Smoak arrived in Seattle are once more closed today as the Texas Rangers have acquire Jorge Cantu for two minor league arms. Davis himself really can’t complain. He hit .188/.265/.267 in his 113 plate appearances this season. Nobody believes that represents his true talent level, but the Rangers are in the midst of a division chase. One that just saw Dan Haren join the other side of the fray.

So, the Rangers turn to Cantu. He’s hitting .259/.308/.408 this season and his projected line is .265/.320/.420. He’s not Adrian Gonzalez or even Travis Hafner, but in the short-run – which in this case is the next two months – he should be an improvement over what they had. Now given that we have about 40% of the season left and some wild things can happen in smaller sample sizes, there’s a chance Cantu has an abysmal period and misses that projected mean entirely.

The good – well, sort of good – news for the Rangers is that he would have to be pretty awful to match their first base production to date. Smoak, Davis, and the occasional appearance by Joaquin Arias and Ryan Garko have combined to hit .197/.296/.315 this season. OPS is hardly the best statistic for judging offensive production, but you could knock .100 points off Cantu’s current OPS and he’d still out produce the Rangers’ first base group.

The other good news is that the Ballpark in Arlington is as hitter friendly as they come. Cantu has a limited history of big first seasons with teams which is probably just a coincidence but could be construed as a sign that he might struggle with focus. He’s got the chance to reach the playoffs for the first time in his professional career and he will also reach free agency after this season. Motivation should be no thing; instead, it should be everything within him.

Don’t make the mistake of crowning Cantu as a savant, though. He is not mystically aware or knowing. He will not be reciting epics on playoff plane trips because of his own doings. The Rangers will continue to ride and die with their pitching, defense, and more relevant batters. He is simply a moderate upgrade for a probable playoff team. Nothing more or less.

(And please note that I am assuming Cantu will not play second base in Ian Kinsler’s absence. He has not played that position since 2007.)




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15 Responses to “The Jorge Cantu Trade: Texas’ Perspective”

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  1. Billy says:

    Rangers are too RH heavy to give Cantu the 1b job outright. I suspect he’ll platoon, as well as fill in at other spots.

    1 Andrus R
    2 Young R
    3 Kinsler R (Blanco R)
    4 Vlad R
    5 Hamilton L
    6 Cruz R
    7 Molina R

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  2. dustin says:

    Can someone please translate this for me?

    > Motivation should be no thing; instead, it should be everything within him.

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    • DRed says:

      You have to remember that Cantu isn’t a crowned, epic reciting savant. So I think it means he should be motivated to play hard so that he gets paid when he’s a free agent next season.

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  3. Ben says:

    Considering they gave up two guys that stood a great chance of being dropped from the 40 (Poveda) or being rule 5 picks (Reed) this is a win win move for both side.

    Cantu is on the cusp of being a Type B FA. If he does well in Texas this trade goes from even to a big win to Texas. I say this both because of the draft pick and the performance involved from Cantu to reach that point.

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  4. Aaron says:

    Once or twice a week I’ll be reading a seemingly innocuous Fangraphs article only to come across a line like,

    “Motivation should be no thing; instead, it should be everything within him,”

    or

    “He is not mystically aware or knowing. He will not be reciting epics on playoff plane trips because of his own doings.” (Really? How do you know?)

    and I get drawn up short as a I realize that I forgot to check the by-line before reading. Few things are as shocking as the sudden realization that I’m reading an R. J. Anderson article. It’s like reaching into a dark fridge for jug of milk and only realizing after taking a swig that it’s really orange juice. Maybe you guys could post the Anderson articles in bright red or something.

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  5. PJ says:

    Poor Texas Rangers. Two big hitting big hype 1B prospects and all they have to show for it is Jorge Cantu.

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  6. Ron A. says:

    “Motivation should be no thing; instead, it should be everything within him.

    Don’t make the mistake of crowning Cantu as a savant, though. He is not mystically aware or knowing. He will not be reciting epics on playoff plane trips because of his own doings. ”

    What the fuck are you talking about?

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  7. Jim says:

    “And please note that I am assuming Cantu will not play second base in Ian Kinsler’s absence. He has not played that position since 2007.”

    But..but..but…Aaron Boone just said on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight that he would! Are you saying he’s wrong? I mean, what’s next?

    ERA is not a good metric to measure pitching performance?
    Number of RBI doesn’t indicate the value of a player to a lineup?
    American Idol isn’t necessarily a quality television show just because it gets high ratings?

    My mind is being blown over and over again today!

    (It was also stated on Baseball tonight that Brett Wallace–who today was traded by Toronto to Houston–was obtained by Toronto in the Roy Halladay trade, which while technically true, negates the fact that it was by Toronto first trading one of the prospects they got in the Halladay deal–Michael Taylor–to get Wallace from Oakland. Oh, you guys–so lazy in your research.)

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