The Under-appreciated Side of CJ Wilson

Two winters ago, C.J. Wilson pitched an idea to the Rangers brass of moving himself from the back-end of the bullpen to the rotation. The Rangers did not ask him to go to the rotation, and some in the front office were split on whether he could make it or not successfully in the rotation.

Imagine if C.J. did not propose the move to the rotation. He had some closer experience with some varied degrees of success, but he was the prototypical reliever – up, down and erratic. You know who doesn’t get fat, free-agent contracts? Erratic relievers, or C.J. Wilson circa fall 2009.

I cannot help but think money was a primary motive of C.J.’s desire to move to the rotation. I cannot fault him either. If C.J. never broached the subject of the rotation, his fate likely could have been the same as another fan-favorite reliever with a scatter plot of results, Darren O’Day. O’Day was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles when the Rangers attempted to outright him off the 40 man roster.

That could have been C.J.

The Rangers reaped the benefits of C.J.’s determination and C.J. will reap the financial benefits of his boldness. He was once a spare part and now he’s the Angels’ property for the next five seasons.
I see C.J. like a talented high school athlete. The one with all the talent, yet does not apply himself at all, then all of a sudden he sees that a college scholarship lies in the distance. Then turns it on, reaches the potential and cashes in on the scholarship. I’m not saying he’s lazy, just saying he picked it up once he realized his career may have been slipping away.

The degree of success that C.J. has had over the last two seasons hasn’t been matched by a Rangers starter in quite some time. Rick Helling was never this good, Kenny Rogers, nope, not Colby Lewis, nor Kevin Millwood, not Vicente Padilla either; and I‘m not even sure Chan Ho Park ever had two consecutive quality starts as a Ranger.

kevin brown

The most recent Rangers pitchers to post consecutive sub-four ERAs are Nolan Ryan in 1989-92, Kevin Brown  in 1992-93 and C.J. Wilson in 2010-11.

Brown is remembered in Texas for being arrogant, a word I’ve heard more than once to describe C.J. Wilson. Brown left Texas via free agency after the 1994 campaign for the Orioles. I cannot escape the feeling that C.J. will likely become Kevin Brown to Rangers fans.

His charity work is forgotten, and after years pass, only his twitter antics will remain in memories. His last two very effective seasons are all but marred by signing with the Angels and making snarky comments all the way to the beach.

If Yu Darvish posts a sub 3.00 ERA, and strikes out 200+ guys this year he will be a shoe-in for ROY and a Game 1 start in the playoffs. Also, with a season of that caliber, Darvish will have met wild expectations, and the admiration of fans.

It’s easier to remember all of C.J.’s failures in the postseason, but C.J. DID have a sub 3.00 ERA, and he DID strike-out 200 guys last year for the Rangers.

If Darvish has a season like the man Rangers fans affectionately now call ‘douchebag’, he’ll be the de-facto ace for the Rangers.

C.J. has never had an ace pedigree. He is a former reliever, TJ survivor and mid-30s lefty. Expectations, goals and titles are silly. They’re irrational and unnecessary.

The Rangers are now very deep in the organization pitching-wise. C.J. was the best pitcher the Rangers had in the last 10 years, he definitely won’t be the best for the next 10. The Rangers are banking on Darvish to be that man.

Now that I’m done reminding you that C.J. was actually historically a very good SP for the Rangers…you can go back to harassing him on Twitter.

But I will leave you with this:
67 starts, 427 innings pitched, 376 strike-outs, 31 wins, 15 losses, 3.14 ERA, 9.4 WAR 

Dan Allsup is a Senior Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. You can email him at or reach him on Twitter @SDIDan.
Dan Allsup

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