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Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Baseball America - 2003 WrapUp: Texas Rangers 

Baseball America - 2003 WrapUp: Texas Rangers

Baseball America takes a look at how the Rangers' top 10 prospects coming into the year did.

And, of course, in typical Ranger fashion, the six positional prospects all took steps forward, while of the four pitching prospects, 2 succumbed to Tommy John surgery, one regressed to the point of becoming a non-prospect, and the fourth was a major disappointment in the majors.


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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

DallasNews.com | Dallas-Fort Worth | Sports 

Rangers about to sign Eric Young?

The DMN is reporting that the Rangers will announce the signing of Eric Young on Monday.

Even though this is another crusty old guy added to the team, I like adding Young (assuming that he is signed for one year at less than $1 million).

He turns 37 next year, but he's aged well, continuing to be remarkably consistent and provide decent offense, with a career EQA of .263; he's maintained an EQA between .250 and .280 every year since 1994.

Young isn't a good defensive second baseman, but he does provide speed and the ability to get on base off the bench; since the ARod and Young DP combo will probably start at least 95% of the time in 2004, Young's ability to contribute as a pinch runner or a pinch hitter is going to be more important than his ability to spell the middle infielders.

And, as with Jordan, Young is the type of battle-tested veteran that causes certain managers to salivate in a playoff race; he could conceivably end up being a player who could bring a grade-C prospect come July 31.

Evan Grant's brief piece is typical of the DMN coverage of the Rangers; a couple of snide digs at the organization, along with the suggestion that "Ramon Garcia" might be removed from the roster to make room for Young. The Rangers have a Rosman Garcia and a Reynaldo Garcia on the 40 man, but no "Ramon" Garcia.

With the 40 man roster full, the Rangers will have to remove a player to make room for Young. Along with "Ramon" Garcia, Grant suggests that Jason Jones is a likely candidate. With Tydus Meadows and Peter Zoccolillo in the organization, Jones seems superfluous and would seem to be a likely candidate, but given Buck Showalter's odd attraction to Jones, the roster casualty could be one of Los Dos Garcias, or Travis Hughes, who is stuck in AA at the age of 26.

Eric Young is at least better and more useful than Dave Dellucci. I am starting to have nightmares of a Dellucci/Tyner/Jordan outfield in Texas next season, after Kevin Mench has been shipped out and Laynce Nix has been benched because his locker wasn't neat enough.

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Yahoo! Sports 

Two more players off the board for the Rangers...

The Tigers have signed Jason Johnson, and the Orioles have signed Mike DeJean.


The Jason Johnson signing comes as something of a relief to me...he's been a mediocrity with unimpressive peripherals the last three years, after being sub-mediocre prior to that. 30 year old flyball righthanders are a bad fit in TBIA, particularly those (like Johnson) with high walk rates. But, like Ponson, he's someone that the Rangers have supposedly be interested in in the past, and I've been afraid that Hart would end up bringing him to Texas.

At 2 years, $7 million, he ended up signing for about the same amount as John Thomson; Thomson is a better pitcher than Johnson, and I thought Thomson was a bit overpaid, so I think Detroit really blew it here. Best case, they get an average 6 inning starter for the next 2 years. Worst case, he pitches more like he did in 1999 than he has since, and the Tigers are stuck with an untradeable, very overpaid starter while they are trying to rebuild.

On DeJean, the terms are undisclosed, but it is only one year. He was someone the Rangers apparently were going after to fill the righthanded setup role, and he would have been a nice cheap option in the pen. While righthanded relief was a big problem last year (particularly after Urbina was traded and Dickey went to the rotation), a healthy Zimmerman gives the Rangers a nice one-two combo with him and Cordero. With Benoit out of options and Mabeus needing to stay on the roster all year or be sent back to Oakland, the pen could end up being a bit crowded, so I'm not going to lose too much sleep if the Rangers don't add any other relievers this offseason.

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Monday, December 29, 2003

AP Wire | 12/29/2003 | Dellucci signs with Rangers

Confirming the inevitable.

And according to the AP story, Dellucci "will likely get a chance to be the starting left fielder in Texas".

Oh, joy.


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Sunday, December 28, 2003

Rangers sign Brian Jordan

After a little Christmas hiatus, I am back, and have returned to find good news in the form of the Brian Jordan announcement...

My initial reaction to this was that this signing was great, because it meant (1) the Manny/ARod trade is probably dead until after the 2004 season, and (2) we wouldn't be subjected to having David Dellucci or Jason Jones playing right field every day in 2004.

Jordan's stats aren't quite as good as his reputation would suggest, but he's been a good player throughout his career, a guy who can mash lefthanded pitching while providing plus outfield defense when healthy. The "when healthy", of course, is the catch, as Jordan has a history of injury problems, and missed most of the 2003 season with knee surgery. He's supposed to be 100% come spring training, but with a 37 year old with Jordan's track record, his health is probably going to be a concern all season long.

Nevertheless, even with the injury problems, Jordan has aged well, posting EQAs of .278, .283 and .285 the last three years, all of which are higher than his career .276 EQA. And while he's no longer really capable of handling CF, he can still man the corner outfield spots quite capably, and should be able to be at least a league average rightfielder if he can stay in the lineup. For what he's costing the Rangers (and his contract is a little convoluted, with Jordan getting $1.25 million for 2004, a $4 million mutual option for 2005 with a $125K buyout, up to $250K in incentives based on plate appearances, and a $125K trade kicker), league average performance would be a pretty good bargain.

It would be an even better deal if the Rangers could have landed a lefty bat, such as Ben Grieve, that they could platoon with Jordan, but at this point, I'll take what we've got.

The signing was panned by The Transaction Oracle; the Oracle's position is that there's no reason to pay Brian Jordan $1 million and change to do what Jason Jones, Peter Zoccorillo, or Tydus Meadows can do just as well.

While I'm as big a proponent of giving Ken Phelps All Stars a chance as anyone, I have to disagree with the Oracle on this one. Jones, Zoccorillo, and Meadows aren't quality major league hitters who have gotten trapped in AAA, like Fernando Seguignol or Billy McMillon. The J/Z/M guys are potential major league 4th outfielders or starting left fielders for the Orix Blue Wave, not the next Geronimo Berroa or Matt Stairs. So it seems like running one of those guys out there is basically punting a starting position, auditioning players for a potential job as the 25th man on the 2006 Ranger team.

Jordan, on the other hand, offers you three things you don't get with the J/Z/M guys:

First of all, as I mentioned above, you have a guy who has been an average major league corner outfielder the last three years, something that J/Z/M can't offer. Yeah, he's getting up there in age, and he's eventually going to quit hitting...but if that doesn't happen this year, you've got a decent right fielder in place for cheap.

Secondly, he offers you a Playoff Tested Veteran of the variety that is always in demand at the trade deadline, the type of player that Dusty Baker or Felipe Alou or Bobby Cox is going to want to add at the trade deadline if they need an outfield bat with some pop. As Jamey Newberg points out, Carl Everett (despite his limited mobility and toxic reputation) brought three quality prospects at the trade deadline this year; if Jordan could bring a Josh Rupe or an Anthony Webster come July 31, 2004, then this is a great signing for Texas regardless of any other considerations.

Third, Jordan is, by all accounts, an ass-kicking clubhouse leader. Yeah, yeah, that veteran leadership and clubhouse presence issue is something that I think is overblown; but Cardinals, Braves, and Dodgers fans all speak very highly of Jordan as a person and on his influence on a team. Given the youth of this team, the repeated assertions that the Rangers have missed the leadership that vets such as Mark McLemore brought to the team in the past, and the subtle suggestions that Buck was unhappy with the attitude vets such as Raffy and Juan brought to the ballpark each day, Jordan's presence in the clubhouse certainly would seem to be a positive.

To clarify, Jordan's clubhouse presence isn't worth paying $1 million for. But the intangibles that he brings to the table certainly don't hurt.

In the meantime, David Dellucci is supposedly about to sign for $725K. While I disagree with the Oracle on the Jordan signing, where I do think he has a point is with the contention that you can get a decent 4th outfielder from the J/Z/M triumvirate for the league minimum. I don't see what Dellucci offers that you can't get from one of the J/M/Z guys, other than a past history with Buck Showalter and a shiny championship ring. Maybe it will make Buck happier to have one of "his guys" around him in a backup outfielder role. But it seems like a waste of assets to bring in someone like Dellucci instead of looking at your in-house options.

And if Buck really is considering having Dellucci split time in left field with Kevin Mench...well, I'm not even going to consider that. As irritated as I've been with Buck this offseason, I can't imagine that he's really that dumb.


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Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Mike Bacsik

Lost in all the ARod hoopla over the last week was the news that the Rangers signed pitcher Mike Bacsik to a minor league contract.

Bacsik is actually a pretty nice signing for the Rangers, even though he's another one of Hart's guys from his Indian regime. Bacsik was an 18th round pick of the Indians back in 1996, who ended up going to New York as part of the Robbie Alomar/Matt Lawton trade.

Bacsik's minor league career up until 2003 was basically solid, if unspectacular, with a couple of brief stints in the majors in 2001 and 2002. He took a step backwards in 2003, however, posting an ERA of almost 5 in Norfolk, and over 10 in limited action with the Mets.

Bacsik just turned 26, though, and while he doesn't have the stuff that excites scouts, he seems to be one of those guys with "pitchability" that Grady Fuson is so fond of. His minor league peripherals have always been decent, and even last year in Norfolk, his K/BB ratio and homer rate suggest that he pitched better than his ERA indicates.

He's not going to blow guys away, but as a lefty ground-ball pitcher, he's the type of pitcher that would seem to be better suited to TBIA than a lot of the power pitchers Hart has pursued in the past.

Good pickup for the Rangers as a low-risk guy to help fill out the Oklahoma pitching staff. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get some starts for the Rangers in 2004.

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Boston.com / Globe weighs in with much nothingness

A lengthy article very short on substance.

And, of course, one that is critical of Hicks for talking too much about the deal, and not just jumping on the opportunity to dump Alex Rodriguez for Manny Ramirez.

As a sidenote, Milwaukee's deal with Ben Grieve is apparently $700K for one season, non-guaranteed...which means that if they release him in spring training, he gets (basically) nothing.

Grieve, for all his travails, has consistently put up a good OBP and has shown power in the past. He wanted to come to Texas, and his stroke seems tailor-made for TBIA.

But because of the continuing futzing about over the ARod situation, the Rangers missed out yet again...

And so we'll probably end up stuck with the very mediocre David Dellucci, who has little to offer other than an ability to play all three outfield spots, and the fact that he played for Showalter before.

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Monday, December 22, 2003

ARod deal dead?

Let's hope so...


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Improper relations between Boston and Bud Selig

I'm not a huge Ken Rosenthal fan, but I think he hit the nail on the head with this column on Bud Selig's dealings with the Boston ownership group.

It is obvious that baseball wants Alex Rodriguez out of Texas and in Boston, and Selig is clearly trying to facilitate that...but Rosenthal points out that Selig's relationship with John Henry and the rest of the folks in Boston has been unusually cozy, starting with the fact that Selig awarded Henry & Co. the Red Sox franchise despite having a higher bid from Charles Dolan.


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Sunday, December 21, 2003

Yet another deadline from Hicks

So now, the drop dead date is 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Enough with moving the deadlines. Either make the trade or don't, but quit jerking us fans around with this.

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58 players non-tendered

With the Rangers bottom-feeding this offseason (unless and until the Alex Rodriguez trade occurs, at which point the Ranger braintrust apparently wants to throw money away on Sidney Ponson), the powers that be have been waiting with bated breath for what is essentially a second round of free agency, with December 20 being the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.

It took them a couple of decades, but teams are finally figuring out that it doesn't make much sense to go to arbitration with a player, if it means paying him more than he is likely worth on the open market. With teams prohibited from offering a player less than 80% of what he made the previous season, and with arbitration awards almost always resulting in a significant raise for a player (regardless of his production), arbitration has worked in recent years to artificially drive up salaries. In the last couple of years, teams have started to non-tender more and more mid-level players rather than go to arbitration with them, figuring that they can get similar talent on the free agent market for less. And as a side benefit, increasing the free agent pool drives down salaries for those free agents further (and illustrating that Charlie Finley was probably right all along).

While some of the most intriguing non-tender candidates (Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, Brad Penny) ended up staying put, there still is an interesting group of (mostly) young players who are going to be available for relatively cheap one- or two-year deals.

Among the ones who either will be, or should be, on the Ranger radar:

Jason Johnson and Damian Moss: Baltimore justifiably non-tendered these two starting pitchers, who are somewhat interchangeable, and both likely to be foolishly pursued by the Rangers.

Johnson still has an aura of respectability, due largely to a great first half of the 2001 season, and Damian Moss is still perceived as a quality pitching product of the vaunted Atlanta farm system. Both, though, have poor peripherals, resulting in an over-reliance on the defense behind them.

Johnson actually has been an average starting pitcher the last three years, despite a poor K/BB ratio and a tendency to give up the long ball. Put him in a big park with a top quality defense behind him (somewhere like Seattle or Los Angeles), and he'd be a good #4 or #5 starter, much like Ryan Franklin for the Mariners. Texas, though, with its short right field porch and poor outfield defense, would be a poor fit.

Moss is the same story, writ larger...almost as many walks as strikeouts over his career, and too many homers. He posted a great ERA in 2002, but a closer look at the numbers reveals that the superb ERA was largely the result of giving up the lowest batting average on balls in play of any pitcher in the National League. As any stathead worth his salt knows, McCracken's DIPS theory holds that a pitcher cannot directly influence whether balls in play fall for hits, which would suggest that Moss's 2002 season was quite likely a fluke. And while Tom Tippett did a great job de-bunking some of the more extreme claims McCracken asserted, the basic premise remains the same...a pitcher such as Damian Moss, who has a poor K/BB ratio, allows a lot of homers, but gets a lot of outs on balls in play, is unlikely to be able to sustain his success.

And thus, not surprisingly, Moss came crashing back down to earth last year, struggling mightily for both the Giants and the Orioles (who received him, along with prospect Kurt Ainsworth, in exchange for the overrated Sidney Ponson in a 2003 trade deadline deal).

Still, Moss is a lefty, and is perceived as being young and full of potential (even though he's now 27 years old), so someone will probably overpay for the right to roll the dice on him in 2004.

Hart has historically had some interest in Johnson, and so I wouldn't be surprised to see him land in Texas, although I think he'll be reminiscent of Mark Clark if he does end up with the Rangers. Moss seems like a lesser possibility.

Danys Baez: A Cuban refugee who Hart signed while with Cleveland, and who has been something of a disappointment for the Indians. In three seasons, he has bounced between the pen and the rotation, never really staking a solid claim to either the closer's job or a rotation spot.

As we've seen with Herb Perry, Einar Diaz, and John Rocker, Hart has no problem bringing his guys from Cleveland here to Texas. With Baez being a pitcher that Hart liked well enough to give a $14.5 million, 4 year deal to after he defected, I think he's someone that Hart has targeted and will push hard to bring to Texas. Plus, he throws hard, which always gets John Hart a little excited. Come April, 2004, I expect to see Danys Baez in the Ranger rotation.

Is that a good thing? Who knows...the history of Cuban pitchers in America has been poor, and Baez never lived up to expectations in Cleveland. He's supposedly 26, and while age is always a mystery with Cuban players, it has at least been verified that he isn't 19, as was claimed when he came over in 2000.

Bottom line, I don't know. I expect Hart will overpay him a little, in the hope that he can vindicate Hart's original decision to sign him in Cleveland, and provide a rotation anchor that the Rangers desperately need.

Ben Petrick: The catcher, once a top Colorado Rockie prospect, was dumped by the hapless Tigers (although in all fairness, Detroit has mediocre catchers coming out of their ears). He never lived up to his potential, but he's a decent backup, and is probably a better player than Einar Diaz right now. If Hart can foist Diaz off on someone else, Petrick could end up keeping the catching job warm until Gerald Laird is ready.

David Dellucci: Bleah. A mediocre backup outfielder. There is no reason that the Rangers should be interested in him, but he played for Buck in Arizona, which means that they'll probably make a push for him, since Buck seems intent on getting his guys here in Texas.

Jeremy Fikac: A random, mediocre bullpen arm. Nothing special. But he's righthanded, which the Rangers are lacking in the pen (until Zimmerman is healthy, Los Dos Garcias are the top righty setup man candidates), so he's someone who could be brought in for somewhere in the $500-700K range.

Mark Redman: Probably the top starting pitcher among the non-tenders, and a guy who had a nice season for the Marlins. He's basically an average lefthanded starter, who has bounced from Minnesota to Detroit to Florida the last three years. Florida dealt him to the A's for Mike Neu last week, but Oakland non-tendered him after they couldn't work out a deal with him.

Redman turns 30 next month, so he should still have a few good years left, but I probably wouldn't go more than one year with an option for him. Redman-types -- nibblers with mediocre stuff -- seem to go south in a hurry, and with the bad Powell, Van Poppel, and Greer contracts finally coming off the books, I wouldn't want to be stuck owing an interchangeable part like Redman $9 million over 3 years when the wheels come off.

Redman will probably end up cashing in on a nice season and a World Series ring to get a multi-year deal from a team like Baltimore or Colorado (or Texas, for that matter)...

Cliff Politte: See Jeremy Fikac. Although, in all fairness, Politte has pitched better over his career than Fikac, and even closed for the Blue Jays for a while in 2003. He had most of his success in Philly, and seems likely to end up back in the National League, but I think the Rangers will kick the tires a little and see if Politte would accept a setup role here for 2004.

Michael Barrett: Like Petrick, Barrett is a former top catching prospect who hasn't lived up to his potential. After a very nice season in 1999 at age 22, he has regressed, not coming close to that level of production again, and spent the first couple of months of 2003 as possibly the worst player in baseball before rebounding to have just a really bad year. The Rangers were supposedly interested in Barrett last year, and could try to bring him in if they can find a taker for Diaz. Reportedly, though, Barrett wants to return to Montreal, and is willing to take a significant pay cut from his 2003 salary of $2.6 million to do so.

Russ Branyan: Another former Indian, another one of Hart's players, and another guy that the Rangers have had interest in acquiring in the past. Branyan has intrigued scouts for a long-time with his "light tower power", and has frustrated coaches with his inability to make contact, with 449 strikeouts in 1245 major league plate appearances. With his power and ability to draw a walk, Branyan would be a pretty good player if he could hit .250-.260. Unfortunately, he hit .216 last year, and has a .227 career batting average.

Branyan is another one of these Indian hitters without position, as he has bounced between 3B, 1B, and the corner outfield spots in his career. If Manny does not end up in Texas, the Rangers have an outfield spot available, and could see them putting Mark Teixeira in right field so that Perry and Branyan could platoon at 1B.

Like Ben Grieve, he's an interesting reclamation project, a guy with power and patience who hasn't gotten it all together yet. He'd be a useful cheap gamble, a guy to roll the dice on in the hopes that he is 2004's Jose Guillen or Raul Ibanez. I think he'll end up playing home games in TBIA next year.

Ruben Mateo: Another one of those "could have been"s...I see Mateo joining Danny Kolb, Scott Podsednik, Doug Davis and Jayson Durocher in Milwaukee, as Melvin competes with John Hart to see if he can turn Milwaukee into Rangers North before Hart turns Texas into Cleveland South.

Jay Payton: A classic tweener, doesn't hit well enough to play a corner outfield spot, doesn't field well enough to play centerfield. Supposedly wanting a multi-year deal at $3 million per, which would be almost as foolish as giving Scott Spiezio a multi-year deal at $3 million per...

But Hart has shown an unhealthy fascination with Payton in the past, so I wouldn't be surprised if he's someone on the Rangers' list of possibilities. And given Hart's poor decisions on free agents since he came to Texas, I wouldn't be surprised if Payton ends up getting overpaid to wander aimlessly around CF in TBIA.

Braden Looper: See Fikac, Jeremy, and Politte, Cliff. Although Looper has been a little better than those two, and has the added cachet of not only being a Semi-Proven Closer (having held that role off and on with the Marlins the past two seasons), but also a High Draft Choice (the Cards took him #3 overall in the 1996 draft, which, in retrospect, is notable mainly for being a colossally disappointing first round).

Again, though, he throws hard, and shouldn't be too expensive, so John Hart will probably be sniffing around, and seeing if he has any interest in spending the summer in Arlington.

El Duque: Let's see, he's never been able to stay healthy, didn't pitch in 2003, and could be anywhere from 35 to 45 (although he's now listed at 38).

But he's famous, and he used to be a Yankee, and some people used to claim he was a legitimate ace.

Someone will overpay for him...let's just hope it isn't Texas...

The bottom line

I'll predict that, of the available non-tenders, Russ Branyan and Danys Baez end up signing with the Rangers.

Really makes you fired up about the coming season, huh?

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Saturday, December 20, 2003

Gammons casts doubt on ARod trade

Interesting piece, from one of the biggest media cheerleaders of an ARod-to-Boston deal...

He says that Alex is pissed at the Red Sox, and specifically at team president Larry Lucchino...

I'll be quite happy when this thing is put to rest...

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ESPN.com - MLB - Report: Clemens would not consider Rangers

Which is probably just as well.

Clemens was a once great pitcher...he, Greg Maddux, and Pedro Martinez are the dominant pitchers of this era, and will probably go down as three of the 10 or 15 greatest pitchers ever.

But he's no longer the great pitcher he once was, and he's ready to retire...and while Hicks no doubt has visions of Nolan Ryan's Ranger renaissance when thinking of Clemens, the fact remains that Clemens isn't going to make this Ranger team a playoff contender, and would be nothing but a distraction during what should be a rebuilding year.

What's most remarkable to me, though, is that anyone thinks that there was any chance the Rocket would come to Texas. The Astros just signed Clemens' buddy and Yankee teammate, Andy Pettitte, to a three year deal (significantly backloaded, so that the Astros could stay under budget this year without dumping Richard Hidalgo's $12 million deal). Houston is salivating at the idea of adding Clemens, along with Pettitte, to young studs Wade Miller and Roy Oswalt in their rotation.

And despite a season full of struggles for the Astros last year, Houston stayed in the NL Central race until the very end, and with Clemens, would be considered one of the favorites in 2004. Why would the hyper-competitive Clemens, the guy who threw a piece of a bat at Mike Piazza in a playoff game, and who almost assaulted an umpire after getting ejected from the ALCS 15 years ago, pass up playing for a playoff contender in his home town, so that he can join the disorganized mess which is the current Texas Ranger team? Does Tom Hicks really think that the idea of mentoring headcases like Colby Lewis, Ryan Drese and Joaquin Benoit would hold more appeal to the Rocket than leading the Astros to the playoffs would?

People talk about how Clemens is from Texas, which would make the Rangers a natural fit. And it might, if the Astros weren't in the picture. But Clemens is from Katy, a suburb of Houston just a half-hour drive from the Juice Box. It would be like expecting a player from Duncanville to go play for the Astros, rather than for Texas.

Really, this is good news...adding Clemens would just result in one more sideshow act with the Rangers, a franchise that seems to be turning into a circus in the last few seasons. At least adding guys like John Rocker and Carl Everett had some baseball merit, on a team that thought it could be a playoff contender.

Adding Roger Clemens to the 2004 Rangers would serve only to give Tom Hicks a shiny new bauble, someone to try to build a marketing campaign around in dealing with an increasingly disenchanted and hostiile fanbase, while fulfilling what has been a long-time goal of bringing his fellow Longhorn to TBIA to finish his career.

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FOXSports.com | Selig saves Rangers by halting A-Rod talks

Good piece by Dayn Perry, who also writes for Baseball Prospectus...


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Friday, December 19, 2003

Why trading Alex for Manny is bad...

A well-reasoned explanation from Gary Huckaby (of Baseball Prospectus) about why this trade would be a nightmare...

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Thursday, December 18, 2003

Jayson Stark says the deal is dead

Hopefully so...

What's weird about his column, though, is that he claims that one of the very big stumbling blocks has been that Boston remained adamant that they would not pay any of Manny's salary, even if they could re-structure Alex's deal to reduce the amount Boston would have to pay him.

If that's the case, it seems like there would be little chance of the deal ever going through...

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Randy Galloway rips Hicks, Hart, Buck

And justifiably so...

John Hart and Buck Showalter deserve to be fired just for trying to push this deal through.

The management of this team continues to disgust me.

And even more troubling, John Hart apparently wants to spend the money the Rangers would save on a Manny-for-ARod deal on the very mediocre Sidney Ponson.

Let's see...Ponson is fat, has been overworked early in his career, has had arm problems, and is mediocre. Sounds like exactly the type of pitcher the Rangers need...

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Wednesday, December 17, 2003

USATODAY.com - A-Rod trade may fall through over contract terms

Gene Orza, the #2 guy with the MLBPA, says that the restructuring proposed by the BoSox won't pass muster with the union...

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Deadline set for A-Rod trade

Hicks says that 5 p.m. tomorrow, if the deal isn't done, there is no deal.

Good.

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ESPN Radio is reporting that the only remaining issue on the ARod trade is who would pay the $5 million per year insurance premium for the insurance policy on ARod's contract.

Sigh. Sad day to be a Ranger fan.

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Jim Reeves hits the nail on the head

On the mess the Rangers have been the last three years...I can't say it any better than Reeves does in his first three paragraphs today.

I still am hoping a trade doesn't go through. I don't think that dealing the best player in the American League, a guy who will go down as one of the two or three best shortstops in baseball history, helps the team.

But it is starting to look a lot more likely.

We'll know soon enough...

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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Setting the market for mediocre catchers

Michael Barrett has been traded for the second time in two days. After going to the A's yesterday for a player to be named later, the A's have now shipped him to the Cubs for a player to be named later.

I sure hope that he enjoyed his stay in Oakland...

Seriously, my guess is that Oakland realized that they weren't going to be able to get him to agree to cut his salary enough to make keeping him worthwhile, and sent him to Chicago so that they could take a run at him.

Either way, he's likely to make somewhere around the $2.5 million that the splendorific Einar Diaz is scheduled to "earn" in 2004...so there still is hope that someone may take Diaz off the Rangers hands this offseason, although the Rangers will probably have to pay at least a half million as part of the deal...

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Why it sucks to be a Ranger fan right now...

Because the Rangers are talking about bringing in Tony Womack to play shortstop, if ARod is traded...

Tony Womack is one of the worst players in baseball right now. He's never been good. But he's one of Buck's guys, having played for him in Arizona, and no doubt he'll toe the line and wear his socks the way Buck wants them worn. We know that doing things Buck's way is more important than being a good player, or having talent or ability, or anything like that...

Alas...at least the Mariners are also having a terrible offseason...

This offseason is about the most depressing offseason I've ever experienced as a Ranger fan. I have zero confidence that Hart and Showalter have a clue about what they are doing right now...

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The wretched ARod-for-Manny trade

At least, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Hicks is holding fast in his demand that the BoSox pay a big chunk of Manny's salary, and kick in a couple of legitimate pitching prospects.

This is still a bad deal for Texas, though...

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Monday, December 15, 2003

The Rangers selected three players, including Tydus Meadows, in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft.

They got him from the Royals, who got Meadows in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft two years ago. BP writer and Royals fan Rany Jazayerli liked the selection then, and Meadows has continued to hit fairly well in the Royals organization.

He's someone who can provide some nice organizational depth, and may be a decent backup outfielder in the major leagues. And he's more proof that carrying guys like Jason Jones on the major league roster is a waste of resources...if anything, Meadows may be a better player than Jones right now.


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Ponson to the ChiSox?

They are reporting 3 years, $18 million...

Less than I thought Ponson would get, more than he's worth...

He's a fat Darren Dreifort...

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Rangers select Chris Mabeus in the Rule 5 draft...

Righthanded pitcher with the A's, a relief prospect. Nice season last year, albeit as a 24 year old splitting the year between high-A and AA.

And a guy Fuson selected in his last draft with Oakland.

I imagine they'll give him a shot at a middle relief role, competing with Joaquin Benoit and Los Dos Garcias...

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More on ARod...

Gosh...someone in the DFW media actually giving Hicks some credit, and acknowledging that he might know what he's doing...

That's a first...

I still hope ARod doesn't go anywhere, though...

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Sunday, December 14, 2003

Rule 5 Draft is tomorrow

And it is Rule 5, not "Rule V", as the unwashed sometimes refer to it...

With the 40 man roster currently sitting at 37, I'm betting that the Rangers take two players tomorrow.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they snag Chris Shelton, and give him a chance to claim the backup catcher job (and maybe DH a little against lefties). Most likely, they'll take a flyer on an arm or two...Ty Howington's name is one that seems to be thrown around quite a bit.

Shelton may not last until the Rangers at #9...he has a history of producing in the minors, showing the power and batting eye that the new breed of stathead G.M.s covet. There are apparently some questions about whether he can handle catching in the majors, but it would seem to be worthwhile to take a look at him in the spring and see if he can at least be serviceable.

As for the Rangers, my prediction is that Jason Botts and Justin Echols are both selected, and end up getting sent back to Texas before the season starts.

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Marlins interested in Einar Diaz?

According to the Palm Beach Post, he's on their list of possible Pudge replacements.

Getting Diaz, and any portion of his $2.5 million salary, out of Texas would be a positive step for the Rangers at this point. And I'd like him out of here, so there is one less reminder of Hart's awful trade last winter, when he gave up Travis Hafner to get Diaz.

The writer of the piece says that the Rangers have asked about Brad Penny and Mark Redman. Penny is overrated and will be overpriced in arbitration, but Redman would be a decent, cheap starting pitching alternative.

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Saturday, December 13, 2003

ESPN.com - MLB - Report: Sheffield blinks, accepts Yanks' deal

Another unpleasant episode for baseball now is put to rest, as Gary Sheffield agrees to live up to oral agreement he made with Steinbrenner.

Atlanta, reportedly, is going to file a grievance against the Yanks, claiming that a deal was in place before the deadline for offering arbitration, and that the Yanks delayed announcing the deal to avoid giving up a draft pick to the Braves.

Of course, if the Braves were that sure a deal had been made, they should have just offered arbitration to Sheffield, thus guaranteeing that they'd end up with a draft choice...much like the Dodgers and ChiSox did with Paul Quantrill and Tom Gordon, who orally agreed to deals with the Yanks that weren't consummated until after the arbitration deadline.

It will be interesting to see how Bud Selig deals with the Braves' complaint...

But in the meantime, this is a very solid pickup for the Yankees. 3 years, $39 million isn't unreasonable for a guy who was one of the 5 best players in the National League last year, and who, despite his advancing years, remains one of the premier offensive threats in the game. The bigger question for the Yankees is if they are going to suffer through an outfield of Matsui, Williams and Sheffield, which would be the worst defensive outfield in the league, or if they'll bite the bullet, move Bernie to DH, and stick Giambi at first.

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ESPN.com - MLB - N.Y. Mets sign Cameron to three-year deal''

Well, that sucks.

Cameron is a guy that I've been coveting from afar for three years now, and is someone who ARod supposedly was pushing the Rangers to sign.

At 3 years, $21 million, the Mets paid a little more than I thought Cameron would end up getting -- after a terrible second half with the Mariners, I had him pegged at 4 years, $22 million this offseason.

The one positive is that Cameron didn't end up at Oakland, though, despite Billy Beane's hot and heavy pursuit. Cameron is one of those stathead faves, a low-average, high OBP, high power type that offers gold glove defense in centerfield; pairing him with Kotsay would have given the A's an outfield defense to rival Seattle's. Cameron was one of the few impact free agents who would have fit in Oakland's budget; I'd expect to see Beane turn his attention to a lower-profile veteran outfielder now, maybe a Carl Everett.

Cameron would have been a perfect fit in Texas, giving them the elite defensive centerfielder the Rangers need to cover all that ground in TBIA and make up for some of the pitching staff's mistakes, while also providing an OBP boost and injection of speed for the lineup. With Cameron out of the picture, I expect to see Texas run Laynce Nix out there, see how well he handles the position defensively, and then make a run at Carlos Beltran after 2004.

Let's see...my ideal offseason was to sign Mike Cameron, Brad Fullmer, and Miguel Batista, and to bring back John Thomson.

At this point, Fullmer is a Ranger, the other three are gone, and we may be looking at Brett Tomko as the only significant free agent pitching acquistion this offseason.

Colby Lewis and Ricardo Rodriguez better get it together real quick...

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Definitely a mixed bag today in the life of the Rangers fan.

On the one hand, even the Boston press, which has been frantically fanning the flames on the awful ARod-for-Manny trade for weeks now, is starting to acknowledge that the trade is just about dead. This is on the heels of Hal Bodley (of the USA Today) and Peter Gammons both acknowledging that the deal probably won't be going down.

So at least we have some assurance that the best player in the American League likely won't be shipped out of town, that Alex Rodriguez will be anchoring what is turning into a very nice young infield in Texas.

On the other hand, John Hart is providing more ammunition for those who claim his success in Cleveland was more a product of inheriting a strong farm system and the cash cow that is Jacobs Field than through any real ability to build a team. With John Thomson now gone to Atlanta, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is now saying that the Rangers' top free agent target is the very awful Brett Tomko.

It is just too depressing to contemplate...and yet, Tomko is a "Hart-type" pitcher, in that he throws hard and...well, he throws hard. Who knows, maybe Hart wants someone in camp that Ryan Drese can actually beat out for a rotation spot.

If the Rangers sign Brett Tomko to anything other than a minor league deal, it is more evidence that the transfer of power between Hart and Grady Fuson is not occurring nearly fast enough.

Oh, well...we can at least hope that the 1st round pick the Rangers will get as a result of the Braves signing Thomson will be put to good use by Fuson...

As a sidenote, speaking of the Braves and overrated G.M.s...the trade of Adam Wainwright and Jason Marquis for J.D. Drew is one more in a sequence of baffling deals from a supposedly brilliant organization...

Overpaying Vinny Castilla, giving Kevin Millwood away, and refusing to find a first baseman all were very questionable moves, but dealing one of the top pitching prospects in baseball (along with Marquis, a young pitcher with talent who still hasn't broken through, and a decent LOOGY in Ray King) for a talented headcase who can't stay healthy and is a year away from free agency is a move you'd expect from King George or the Devil Rays.

Add in the fact that Drew will probably receive more in arbitration than it would have cost for the Braves to sign a Juan Gonzalez or a Carl Everett, and you really have to admire the return Cardinal G.M. Walt Jocketty got for a player the Cards were reportedly considering non-tendering...

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