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Saturday, January 31, 2004

Reds Going to Tandem Starter System 

Baseball America is reporting that the Cincinnati Reds are going with a tandem starter system.

This is an interesting move, as it is one of the first major changes implemented by new Cincinnati G.M. Dan O'Brien, who was the assistant general manager with the Rangers from 1996 through 2003. The Rangers implemented the tandem starter system in their farm when Fuson joined the team before 2002, and O'Brien's decision to take the idea with him to Cincy is indicative of the impact Fuson is starting to have, and the respect that those who have worked with him over the last couple of years have for his ideas.

By the way, although BA credits Fuson with coming up with the tandem starter system, Fuson has given credit to Bob Cluck for coming up with the idea.

The tandem starter system, which Texas uses at all levels below AA, involves an eight man rotation, rather than the standard five man rotation. However, the eight "starters" are paired off into four groups of two. The starter for a game goes 50-70 pitches, then gives way to the tandem starter, who goes (ideally) the rest of the way. The two then flip-flop the next time their spot in the rotation comes around, with the reliever starting, and the starter following him.

Fuson believes that this system teaches pitchers to use their pitches more efficiently (one of the hallmarks of the ideal Fuson pitcher), and reduces the strain on the pitchers' arms by reducing the number of pitches thrown each outing; meanwhile, pitching every fourth day instead of every fifth means that the pitchers should still get enough innings to properly develop.

Hopefully, this will help Juan Dominguez, the winner of the 2003 Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award, avoid the curse that has struck past winners, particularly the last three (Jovanny Cedeno, Ryan Dittfurth, and Ben Kozlowski, all of whom suffered serious season-ending injuries).

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ESPN needs a fact-checker 

In the midst of a particularly uninsightful column today, Jayson Stark claims that the only A.L. West team to have a payroll under $95 million this year will be the Oakland A's.

Ummm...Jayson? Last I checked, the Rangers' payroll is in the low-$70s. And with Sasaki gone, Seattle's payroll is currently under $90 million, and unlikely to cross the $95 million threshold.

So the A.L. West actually has one team over $95 million, the Anaheim Angels.


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Friday, January 30, 2004

New York writers pining for ARod 

Today's column from George Vecsey, of the New York Times: Yankees Should Think Big About A-Rod.

Sigh.

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Payroll information 

DugoutDollars is a site with a lot of very detailed contract information for all the major league teams.

Good site, worthy of a bookmark...

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Thursday, January 29, 2004

Lamb DFA'd, Almanzar added, Heard retires 

In an unusually active day for minor moves, the DMN is reporting that Mike Lamb has been designated for assignment to make room for Carlos Almanzar on the 40 man roster, and former first rounder Scott Heard has retired.

Lamb being DFA'd isn't really a surprise, as he has been a major disappointment since having a big year for Tulsa in 1999. He's out of options, and has no place on the major league team. The DMN indicates that he was shopped this offseason, but had no takers.

Almanzar being added to the 40 man roster was unexpected, but apparently, he had an offer from a team in Japan, and the Rangers (who had signed him to a minor-league deal) had to give him a major league deal or lose him.

Almanzar has pitched rather well over the last few years...I had ignored his addition, but looking at the numbers, he could be an asset in the pen.

Heard was a complete disaster after being taken in the first round of the 2000 draft, much like most of the rest of Doug Melvin's first round picks. High school catchers have historically been a huge gamble in the 1st round of the draft, and Heard seemed even moreso, failing to even hit .300 as a high school senior. He continued not to hit in the minors, while his much-heralded defensive tools also seemed to be lacking. Heard really wasn't a prospect at this point, and his retirement merely closes another disappointing chapter for the Rangers.


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Colby Lewis interview 

Just a puff piece on the official Texas Rangers website, but given how important Lewis's 2004 season is, both for him and for the franchise, worth skimming nonetheless.


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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Pudge about to sign? 

The AP is reporting that Pudge is "on the verge" of signing with the Tigers.

4 years, $40 million is a lot of money...but I'm still a little surprised that he isn't more interested in Seattle.


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Old Rangers never die 

The Marlins have signed Darren Oliver.

As a sidenote, anyone who remembers Oliver as a rookie reliever in 1994, mowing down lefties with an unhittable curve before the season was cut short by the strike, knows what a disappointment his career really is. Not sure if it was the injury, or Oates' decision to make him a starter, but Oliver never again was as good as he was as a rookie.


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Robb Nen's career possibly over? 

The Giants are concerned about Robb Nen's health situation, after Nen missed all last season with shoulder and elbow problems which required three surgeries. The Giants trainer says that another setback could end Nen's career, and says that they are not even "cautiously optimistic" about his availability this year.


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Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Pudge news 

Rotoworld is reporting that Scott Boras is trying to drum up interest in Pudge Rodriguez from the Dodgers, the Cubs, or the Mariners, apparently in an effort to avoid relegating Pudge to Detroit for most of the rest of his career.

The 4 year, $40 million offer Detroit has made is unlikely to be topped by any other team. Chicago has committed to Michael Barrett (for now), and although they've been rumored all winter to be a possible player in the Pudge Sweepstakes, there's no indication that they've really pursued him all that heavily.

The Dodgers have a significant financial commitment in place with Paul LoDuca, although there are some thoughts that LoDuca could be dealt or moved to first base to make room for Pudge, once the new ownership group gets put in place.

The Mariners, meanwhile, have already committed significant dollars to Dan Wilson and Ben Davis. While Pudge would represent an upgrade, the organization has been very loyal to the ethereal charms of Wilson, meaning that the younger Davis would likely be the one to go. And signing Pudge would probably require at least a four year commitment, something that the Mariner front office has been loathe to do historically. It would also require Seattle to go against their history of avoiding signing high-dollar free agents from other teams, preferring to go after more moderately priced players (such as John Olerud and Aaron Sele in years past, and Raul Ibanez, Scott Spiezio, and Eddie Guardado this year).

One other factor is that, except for Chicago (which seems to be the least likely destination of the four at this point), all the suitors play in home parks that are very pitcher-friendly. While Pudge has not been accused of being a stathog, as, say, former teammates Juan Gonzalez and (to a lesser extent) Rafael Palmeiro have been, he does take pride in his offensive production, and one has to wonder about how badly he really wants to spend his last years in an environment that isn't conducive to putting up big numbers.

With Seattle and Los Angeles, you at least have teams that seem able to make playoff pushes over the next few years; the opportunity to play for a winner would seem to outweigh the hit his statistics would take. With Detroit, though, he'd be joining a team that barely avoided surpassing the 1962 Mets as the worst team (record-wise) in modern history, and that probably won't be ready to make a serious run until the end of Pudge's contract.

We'll see what happens...

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Monday, January 26, 2004

Red Sox claim Reynaldo Garcia 

Weird.

Don't see the point of that, but the BoSox system isn't real deep right now...

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Shocking news... 

Fraley is critical of the Rangers naming ARod team captain.

It will be more interesting to see what one of the legitimate DFW writers has to say...

However, as a study in contrasts, and to see why the Rangers have been so peeved at the DMN lately, check out the differences between Evan Grant's article and T.R. Sullivan's article on the announcement.


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Yanks lose Boone, maybe for season 

Yankee 3B Aaron Boone blew out his knee playing basketball, and might miss the entire 2005 season.

Boone came over to the Yankees in a rather panicky trade-deadline deal, where the Yanks sent stud pitching prospect Brandon Claussen to the Reds, along with pitcher Charlie Manning and a boatload of cash in an effort to replace incumbent Robin Ventura. Of course, in doing so, they ignored the fact that Ventura had been just as productive as Boone in 2003, which meant that they essentially received no upgrade and lost their best young pitcher.

Then, they compounded the mistake by giving Boone a one year, $5.75 million deal. This was substantially overpaying, but then, since they had just dealt Claussen to get Boone (and since Boone had performed rather underwhelmingly down the stretch), it would have looked terrible if they had non-tendered him, leaving them with just 189 mediocre regular season ABs and the one homer against the BoSox in the playoffs to show from the deal. And besides, with the Yankees, it isn't as if signing Boone really limited what else they could do, in terms of payroll.

Now, they are in a position where they appear to have no third baseman this season. Even if Drew Henson decides not to go to the NFL to play quarterback (and every indication is that he's returning to football full-time), Henson sucks, and isn't a major league caliber third baseman right now. The options on the free agent market are virtually nil, and the other option in-house is Enrique Wilson.

If I'm John Hart, I'm calling up Brian Cashman right now, offering up Herb Perry for whatever the Yankees might be willing to part with.

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Sunday, January 25, 2004

ARod = The Ranger Captain 

No, I'm not talking about the ridiculous mascot.

The Rangers have named ARod as the team captain, as a "sign of respect".

Everyone has kissed and made up, it seems.


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Praise for the Rangers 

From Ken Rosenthal...

Of course, he's praising the Rangers for signing David Dellucci, among others...

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More good news 

Tony Womack, the very bad shortstop whom the Rangers were supposedly interested in (after all, he used to play for Buck), has signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox.

As with Brett Tomko, the fact that they aren't coming here is reason to celebrate...

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Saturday, January 24, 2004

Urbina arrested in Venezuela for allegedly firing gun 

Uggy Urbina, who has mainly received attention this offseason because of his insistence that he'd sit out the season rather than pitch for less than he thinks he's worth, was arrested in his native Venezuela for allegedly firing gun.

I'm assuming that that won't enhance his marketability to the few remaining clubs out there who are interested in him.




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More Bitter Bleating from Fraley 

A new Fraley column in the DMN, belaboring his same tired points in the same bitter manner which DMN readers should be accustomed to.

Nothing new from Fraley, nothing more to say on my part that I didn't already say two weeks ago.


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Thursday, January 22, 2004

Jon Lester 

In his ESPN.com - MLB - Down on the Farm: most recent mailbag column, John Sickels, ESPN's prospect guru, talks about Jon Lester, the BoSox pitching prospect who would have come to the Rangers if the ARod trade had gone down.

Sickels' conclusion? "Objectively, the numbers aren't special, but subjectively, I think this is a guy who could develop into a very interesting pitcher."

I certainly hope that ARod isn't traded...but if he were, I'd hope that the young pitching that the Rangers would get in return would have a little better report than that.


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Former Ranger Dempster signs with the Cubs 

Ryan Dempster, the former Ranger prospect who was a good pitcher for about one season, signed a one year deal with the Cubs.

Dempster had Tommy John surgery late last season, and thus will probably not be available to pitch until August of 2004.

Dempster and Rick Helling were traded for John Burkett during the 1996 season, when the Rangers desperately needed to shore up their rotation for the pennant race. Dempster was an All-Star in 2000, at the age of 23, leading Rangers fans to bemoan the fact that they had given away a future ace, but has been mired in sub-mediocrity since then.

So instead, he goes in the same category with Chuck Smith, Aaron Harang, Pete Munro, and Luis Vizcaino, former Ranger pitchers who showed just enough elsewhere to get long-suffering Rangers fans worked into a frenzy over losing them, only to end up crashing back down to Earth.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Rotoworld picks Rangers' top 10 prospects 

Rotoworld.com had a piece on the players they consider to be the Rangers' top 10 prospects recently.

The players were ranked as follows:

1. Adrian Gonzalez
2. Juan Dominguez
3. Ramon Nivar
4. John Danks
5. Gerald Laird
6. Ben Kozlowski
7. Anthony Webster
8. Vince Sinisi
9. Drew Meyer
10. Josh Rupe

This is probably one of the "safer" prospect lists you'll see...everyone is going to have Gonzalez, Nivar and Dominguez in their top three in the Ranger organization, although after that, opinions are going to differ widely. While the Rangers don't have a Blalock or a Teixeira or a Carlos Pena topping their prospect list this year, they do have much more depth in the system than they have in years past...there are probably 20-25 players on the farm who could be legitimately considered for the top 10 list.

Rotoworld followed the conventional route for 4 through 10, going with the Rangers' top two picks in the 2003 draft (Danks and Sinisi), their top pick in the 2002 draft (Meyer), the two highly touted prospects received from the ChiSox in the Everett trade (Rupe and Webster), and their top two upper-level prospects from last year who didn't lose their prospect status (Laird and Kozlowski).

It is a bit odd to see Kozlowski so high up on the list...even though the recovery rate on Tommy John surgery is extremely high, Koz probably should have fallen farther, given the amount of time he'll miss in 2004.

Danks and Sinisi are both probably a bit too high...particularly Sinisi, who was a disappointment at Stockton last year, and who I fear is not really worthy of the hype and signing bonus he has received. Webster is also a puzzling choice at #7, mainly the result, I think, of some sizzle he generated last year, plus a lack of blow-your-socks-off choices in the lower minors for Texas.

I'm planning on doing a top 30 list later in the spring, but right now, if I had to pick a top 10, it would be:

1. Dominguez
2. Gonzalez
3. Laird
4. Ryan Snare
5. Wes Littleton
6. Nivar
7. Erik Thompson
8. Rupe
9. Jason Bourgeois
10. Kozlowski


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Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Everyone denies ARod talks 

A new article on espn.com quotes Theo Epstein and Scott Boras as rather adamantly denying that talks have resumed.

As for the Rangers, the article says:

The Rangers responded with a statement released to ESPN: "This deal is dead. Honestly. There is no chance of this happening. Don't read anything into some of those people being in New York."

Please, please, please...this needs to die...

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Not again... 

Sigh.

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Dodgers give Beltre 1 year, $5 million 

Let's see...the Los Angeles Dodgers, who didn't have enough money to pursue Vlad Guerrero (despite a crying need for a power hitting outfielder), avoided arbitration with Adrian Beltre by giving him a one year $5 million deal. Beltre will be eligible for free agency after the 2004 season.

Now, let's take a look at this...Beltre looked like a future superstar when he first came into the league, posting a 780 and 835 OPS his first two years in pitcher-friendly Chavez Ravine. But he missed time in 2001 with appendicitis, and hasn't been the same since, posting OPSs in 2001 through 2003 of 720, 729 and 714, and EQAs of .256, .259, and .251. And he isn't a particularly good defensive player, either.

Beltre is young, turning 25 at the beginning of the 2004 season...although that, of course, is another source of contention with Beltre. It turns out that he lied about his age to the Dodgers when he signed, claiming to be 16 (the minimum age for signing players from Latin America), when he was really 15. Beltre's agent, Scott Boras, in a move that practically defines chutzpah, asked that Beltre's contract with the Dodgers be voided.

Boras's theory? Well, since it is a violation of the rules of baseball to sign a player under 16 years old, the Dodgers acted improperly in signing Beltre, and thus should not get to retain Beltre's rights. Instead, Boras wanted Beltre to become a free agent (thus allowing him to reap millions more than he would otherwise)...nevermind that it was Beltre's dishonesty that led to the Dodgers' mistake.

So we have a guy who has been a lousy player the last three years, and who tried to screw the team to get out of his deal (and who cost the Dodgers a significant fine and the right to sign players from the Dominican Republic for a period of time).

And how do the Dodgers reward him? By giving him $5 million on a one year deal...significantly more than he'd make in the free agent market.

But remember, Rangers fans...it is Alex Rodriguez (and his contract) that is ruining the game.

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Monday, January 19, 2004

Ken Rosenthal: Sasaki will not return to M's 

TSN's Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Mariners reliever Kaz Sasaki will not return to M's.

Although that is a bit of a blow to the Mariner bullpen, Sasaki has been inconsistent the last couple of years, and the $9.5 million he is due could be put to better use elsewhere. Rosenthal suggests that this might make the M's players in trying to sign Pudge Rodriguez or Greg Maddux.


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What are Pudge Rodriguez and Greg Maddux worth? 

Nice column by Rob Neyer on espn.com today, about the risks associated with signing Greg Maddux and Pudge Rodriguez. Pudge, of course, is of particular interest to Rangers fans, and the piece should be instructive to those still wailing about the Rangers' refusal to give Pudge that seven year deal he was asking for after the ARod signing.

Neyer indicates that insurers will no longer insure contracts of more than three years, and will only cover injuries unrelated to previous injuries. This makes Pudge, with both a knee injury and a back injury, very difficult to insure...particularly because back injuries tend to have long-range implications on a variety of problems (Troy Aikman's hamstring problems several years ago, for example, were thought to be linked to his back problem).

And of course, there is the history of catchers slumping offensively in their 30s. It is debateable whether or not the traditional slide will happen to Pudge, but a look at the catchers most comparable to Pudge through age 31 has to give one pause, as Gary Carter, Ted Simmons, Joe Torre, Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Mickey Cochrane and Bill Dickey all hit the wall in their early 30s.


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Sunday, January 18, 2004

Pujols rejects 5 years, $57 million, will ask for $10 million in arbitration 

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinal superstar Albert Pujols has rejected a 5 year, $57 million deal and will proceed to arbitration.

The Post-Dispatch is also reporting that Pujols will be seeking $10 million in arbitration; if successful, Pujols would double the record amount awarded to a first-year arbitration-eligible player. The record was set by Derek Jeter in 1999, when he was awarded $5 million.

The Cardinals are expected to offer $7 million; this case, should it go to arbitration, would end up having significant repercussions for the team not just this year, but in 2005 and 2006, as well, since the arbitration process uses a player's previous year salary as a baseline for future increases. The difference between a 2004 salary of $7 million, and a 2004 salary of $10 million, could end up costing the Cards as much as $15 million over the next three years.

Pujols is a unique player anyway, having entered the league as a (supposedly) 21 year old rookie and immediately establishing himself as one of the best players in the game. There were reports that a long-term deal between the Cards and Pujols was nixed last spring, when the team couldn't verify that Pujols was really 23. Rumors continue to abound that Pujols is really 26 or 27, which affects his long-term projectability and ceiling, and makes him less valuable than if he were as young as he claims.

Regardless, the Pujols situation is going to be the top arbitration case this offseason, and if it goes to a hearing, will likely have long-range implications on player salaries league-wide.

On a related note, Baseball Primer has a nice piece on the arbitration process in baseball...

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Friday, January 16, 2004

Tigers offer Pudge 4 years, $40 million 

Wow.

That's a lot of money.

Looks like Pudge will be a Tiger.

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Rangers agree to $2 million deal with Cordero 

Francisco Cordero, the only arbitration-eligible player for the Rangers, avoided arbitration by signing a 1 year, $2 million deal.

That's a pretty reasonable amount for him. If he stays healthy and productive in 2004, the Rangers will probably look at locking him up on a 2-3 year deal. Otherwise, he'll be one of the dozens of non-tender free agents next offseason.

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Jason Jones, Travis Hughes clear waivers 

The Rangers have announced that Jason Jones and Travis Hughes have cleared waivers, and been outrighted to Oklahoma.

No surprise there, really...they designated Hughes for assignment when Jeff Nelson was signed, and although there was no announcement about who was being removed from the 40 man roster to make room for the Gambler, Jones seemed like the most likely candidate.


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On the Expos and rule changes 

Sportsnet, out of Canada, has an interesting (if somewhat pitiful) piece about the plans for the Expos after 2004. After being the prime contraction candidate, with folks sure that they would be out of Montreal after the 2002 season, the Expos are about to start their third season in Montreal since being purchased by major league baseball. Commissioner Bud, though, assures us that they will be relocated by 2005, and that Montreal "is not an option".

There is also a rundown of certain rule changes implemented by the owners at the end of this article. Most interesting is the decision to enforce a one-year suspension on players who falsify information about their names or ages on their contracts.

This is mainly a crackdown on the trend of Latin American players (particularly from the Dominican Republic) to lower their ages by a couple of years, to make them appear more attractive as prospects. The problem is fairly widespread, and came more to light after 9/11, when visa requirements became more stringent. With the Rangers, Joaquin Benoit, Juan Dominguez, and Francisco Cordero have been discovered in recent years to be two years older than previously advertised, and Bartolo Colon and Rey Ordonez are among the more prominent major leaguers who were caught in Age-Gate.

The suspension seems to be more of a deterrent, to try to keep players from lying in the future, than a real weapon to use. If Miguel Tejada or Albert Pujols (two players whose "real" ages are shrouded in mystery) were discovered to be 3 years older than they claimed, I doubt MLB would kick them out of the game for a year. It seems more likely that this is just a mechanism to allow clubs an out in certain bad contracts...for example, there were rumblings that the Mets would try to void Rey Ordonez's contract after it was discovered that he had lied about his age, even though the real reason they wanted out of the deal was because they finally realized how much he sucked.

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Thursday, January 15, 2004

Rangers sign Barajas to minor league deal 

The Rangers signed catcher Rod Barajas to a minor league deal.

Bleah.

Barajas is a very bad player. While I think Gerald Laird might not quite be ready yet, I'm beginning to hope that the Rangers just go ahead and go into the season with him as the starter, and let him split time with Diaz.

Ken Huckaby also has gotten a minor league deal with an NRI.


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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

DIPS, McCracken, and the Resurrection of John Connally Barnett 

John Connally Barnett was the second player chosen in the 2002 draft by the Texas Rangers. Picked in the 5th round in Grady Fuson's inaugural draft, he immediately turned heads within the organization, starting at Pulaski in the Appalachian Rookie League, moving up after one start to Savannah in the Sally League (low-A ball), and finishing up 2002 with Charlotte in the Florida State League (high-A). Posting a combined 1.94 ERA and an impressive 37/10 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 IP, Barnett looked like he might be a steal for the Rangers, someone who could be poised to move quickly through the organization.

Barnett started 2003 at high-A Stockton, in the hitter-friendly California League, and seemed like a good bet to get a mid-season promotion to Frisco. Barnett struggled all year, however, never seeming to get on track, and ending the season with a 4-14 record, and a 4.85 ERA -- not impressive at all for a 22 year old at high-A. Barnett saw himself eclipsed up by players such as Juan Dominguez, Justin Echols, Erik Thompson, Kameron Loe and Sam Narron as the season progressed.

What is interesting about Barnett's season, though, is that his peripherals aren't those you would associate with a 4.85 ERA. His 102 strikeouts and just 36 walks in 123 2/3 IP give you a K:BB ratio of 2.83 to 1, and K/9IP and BB/9IP rates of 7.4 and 2.6, respectively -- numbers that compare well to other prospects of his age. Moreover, his 12 homers allowed over the course of the season are not a particular negative, either. These rates compare favorably with other grade-B prospects at his age and level.

So what was Barnett's problem? An awful rate of hits allowed -- 149 hits in 123 2/3 IP. And that, ironically, is what should give us hope that John Barnett's prospect status can be resurrected.

Voros McCracken's DIPS (Defense-Independent Pitching) theory has been much debated. McCracken's methodology, in a nutshell, involves evaluating pitchers based solely on their strikeout, walk, and home run rates, while ignoring the percentage of balls in play (i.e., everything but homers and strikeouts) that go for base hits; McCracken argues that a pitcher has no control over whether a ball in play goes for a base hit.

Last summer, Tom Tippett did a great job de-bunking some of the more extreme claims of McCracken, by using a much larger group of data to evaluate; however, Tippett still confirms McCracken's underlying point -- pitchers have less control on how many hits fall in on balls in play than is generally believed. In essence, pitchers that post a low ERA while generating mediocre home run, strikeout, and walk rates, and a low rate of hits allowed are going to be less likely to be able to continue to have success. On the flip side, a pitcher who has quality peripherals, but a high rate of hits allowed, may simply be the victim of bad luck or bad defense, and thus be a strong candidate to bounce back.

Which brings us back to John Connally Barnett.

Be it bad luck, bad defense, or just plain hittability, Barnett had an extremely high percentage of balls in play go for hits in 2003 -- 35.8%, compared to a normal rate of 26-27%. This was a 180 degree turnaround from 2002, when, in 55 2/3 IP, he allowed 18.7% of balls in play to go for hits. This rate was also significantly higher than the rates posted by the other four Stockton pitchers to throw at least 100 innings -- Jason Andrew (31.2%), Kiki Bengochea (30.0%), Kelvin Jimenez (29.2%), and Sam Narron (29.6%).

So what does this mean? Does this mean that John Barnett is a lock to re-gain his prospect status, come 2004, once fate chooses to smile upon him again?

Not necessarily. DIPS is not foolproof -- it may very well be that Barnett, despite his strong college career and pro debut, is simply more hittable at the higher levels. He may just very well be someone who teases us a little, before fading away. And I've never seen Barnett pitch before...there may be something mechanical, something lacking in his repertoire that makes him unable to succeed in even the upper minors.

But if you want to keep an eye out for a dark horse, a pitcher at the lower levels of system who seems to have been forgotten, but who could make a serious move up the ladder this year, Barnett is someone to keep an eye out on. He suffered the sophomore jinx in 2003, but a closer look at his performance suggests that he could be well positioned to rebound, and get back on the map as a pitching prospect in 2004.


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Ponson signs with Baltimore 

Sidney Ponson, the guy that Hart has been hot and heavy for for a few years (and the #1 free agent target, supposedly, if the ARod deal went down), has signed a 3 year, $22.5 million deal with the Orioles.

Again, I'm glad he isn't coming here. Not that good a pitcher, much too big a health risk. But I am surprised that he only got $7.5 million per year over three years...I was expecting more along the lines of a 5 year, $45-50 million deal.

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John Hudgins 

Jamey Newberg, who does the excellent Newberg Report, hosted a terrific chat session with 2003 Ranger 3rd rounder John Hudgins.

Some really nice insights on the Rangers minor leagues, and life as a prospect, from a guy who is clearly quite intelligent (he did go to Stanford, after all) and quite forthcoming.


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G.A. deserves $1 more than Vlad??? 

Proving that it isn't just Dallas writers who are clueless from time to time, Randy Youngman of the Orange County register writes today that Garret Anderson deserves $1 more than Vlad Guerrero, claiming that the Vlad deal "established the true market value" of Anderson.

As a Ranger fan, nothing would make me happier than to see the Angels give Anderson a 5 year, $70 million contract extension, which would pretty much negate the gains they made by inking Guerrero to such a (relatively) cheap deal.

Anderson has a career EQA of .273 -- mediocre, at best, for a corner outfielder, and dwarfed by Vlad's career .313 EQA. And although Anderson has had his best two seasons in 2002 and 2003, he still has never posted a .300 EQA, and at age 32, would appear to be entering his decline phase. Meanwhile, Vlad, four years younger, is in the midst of his prime.

Anaheim has had a hit-and-miss offseason, getting a great deal on Guerrero, overpaying for Jose Guillen and Kelvim Escobar, and taking a pretty big gamble on the pretty big Bartolo Colon. Giving Garret Anderson a $14 million per year, long-term extension, though, would make this a terrible offseason overall for the Angels.




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Tuesday, January 13, 2004

How Wrong Can One Man Be? 

Flipping over to the DMN sports page tonight, looking for news about who the Rangers dropped from the 40 man roster to make room for Kenny Rogers, I noticed a new "Just Venting" column from Gerry Fraley.

If you aren't familiar with it, "Just Venting" is Fraley's notes column, which mainly consists of ragging on pretty much everything related to sports in the DFW area in one or two sentence bite-sized bits, generally glib comments devoid of substance.

So I'm scanning through the column, and come across this tidbit:

"Smart money: Anaheim's spree offers more evidence as to why the Alex Rodriguez contract has never made and will never make sense. The Angels added the best outfielder in the game in Vladimir Guerrero, a front-line outfielder in Jose Guillen and two quality starting pitchers in Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar at a total commitment of $145.8 million. That is $106.2 million less than the Rangers' commitment to Rodriguez."

I had to go back and read it again, to make sure I wasn't seeing things. This paragraph manages to be so logically flawed, in so many ways, that I'm amazed that an editor let it pass.

First things first...as I've made clear, I think this team is better with Alex Rodriguez, and his contract, than without him. If you are going to argue that Alex Rodriguez is holding back the Rangers, you have to assume that the $25 million per year (actually more like $23 million, considering the present value of the money Alex deferred at below-market rates) can be better spent in other ways. I have challenged numerous people over the past three years to come up with a better way of spending that money on available players -- not by assembling an All-Star team of players who aren't eligible for free agency, the parlor game that many columnists enjoy playing, but by identifying players who Texas could have acquired with that money. For a while, the popular choices were either Mike Hampton, or both Darren Dreifort and Kevin Appier. Those voices have been silenced, as all three pitchers ended up being colossal busts. Now, there are fewer coherent responses to the request, but rather an inchoate ranting about how Alex Rodriguez's contract is crippling the Rangers.

Now, Fraley (who has demonized the contract from day one) comes in with his assertion that the contract "has never made and will never make sense". One must keep in mind the paradigm that Fraley is working from...he has made it clear that he endorses the "Seattle model" of franchise building, the idea that you give a lot of good players medium-sized contracts, rather than giving big contracts to a handful of players and building the rest of the team from the farm and lower-priced players. Thus, the signing of an ARod, a Barry Bonds, a...well, a Vlad Guerrero flies directly in the face of what Fraley thinks is best for a team.

Nevertheless, although spending big bucks on marquee free agents flies in the face of what Fraley has historically indicated is best for a team, he uses the Anaheim offseason spending spree as a roadmap for what the Rangers apparently should have done instead of signing Alex Rodriguez.

Looking at his descriptions of the players involved...first of all, Vlad Guerrero isn't the best outfielder in the game. He isn't even the best outfielder in his state at this point...Barry Bonds is the best outfielder, and the best player, in the game, and I don't see how that is really debateable. Albert Pujols is the second best. Vlad Guerrero is a terrific player, but rather than state that, Fraley chose to rely on hyperbole to make his point. And while I think the Guerrero signing is a terrific deal for Anaheim, one that I wish Texas had made, it is worth noting that Guerrero also missed significant time last year with a back ailment, which made many teams leery of signing him to a long-term deal. He's a terrific player, but one that carries a lot more risk than Alex Rodriguez.

Bartolo Colon is a very good starting pitcher, but one whose build, workload, and work habits have led many to question how well he will age.

Kelvim Escobar, described as a "quality starting pitcher", has actually bounced between the rotation and the bullpen throughout his career, struggling as a starter until 2003, when he started 26 games for the Blue Jays and posted a 3.92 ERA, albeit with an underwhelming K/BB ratio. Escobar has loads of talent and has tantalized the Jays for years...really, coming into the 2003 season, he had a track record similar to free agent bust Esteban Yan. But a quality starting pitcher, he is not...at least not yet.

Finally, Fraley calls Jose Guillen a "front-line outfielder". It is astonishing that someone not in the employ of the Angels or Guillen himself would make such a claim. Guillen has a career EQA of .252, has been a fourth outfielder most of his career (and a bad one at that), and has had one-half of a good season...with Cincinnati in 2003, in a very hitter-friendly park. Once he was traded to Oakland, he posted a .265 EQA, a sub-par mark for a corner outfielder. Anaheim spent foolishly in picking him up for $3 million per year, and now has nowhere to play him, likely making him a fourth outfielder once again...yet he is described in the pages of the DMN as a "front-line outfielder"?

As egregious as these statements are, the most remarkable thing about this blurb is that Fraley attempts to make it appear that Anaheim is getting all these wonderful players for less than the Rangers are paying Alex Rodriguez.

What he ignores, however, is that Guillen has a two year deal, Escobar has a three year deal, Colon has a four year deal, and Guerrero has a five year deal. Per year, the Angels are paying these four players $36 million, versus the $23-25 million per year the Rangers are paying Alex Rodriguez. Yet Fraley would have you believe that the Angels are getting all these players for less.

This is a level of intellectual dishonesty that offends me, as a reader. It indicates to me that either the author doesn't care whether his arguments are blatantly transparent, suggesting that he is just cynically trolling to elicit a response, or he holds the reader in such low esteem that he feels that they aren't smart enough to catch the logical distortions in his arguments. Either way, I find it insulting.

Fraley introduces this paragraph with the phrase, "Smart Money", implying that the money Anaheim spent on Guerrero, Guillen, Colon and Escobar was smart (we already know that he thinks ARod's contract was foolish).

Well, let's see...for $36 million per year, the Rangers could pay ARod the $23 million per year he is currently getting, sign Mike Cameron, and bring in John Thomson and Uggy Urbina. I'd take those four over the Anaheim quartet anyday.


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Fernando Seguignol 

Fernando Seguignol, one of my personal favorites, a guy who would be a pretty good DH/1B/LF for the league minimum for a team willing to give him a shot, was designated for assignment by the New York Yankees to make room for Tony Clark.

I'm still angry at Clark for ruining my fantasy team in 2002 with his craptacular player at 1B, but even looking at it objectively, this seems to be a backwards move for the Yanks. They get a Proven Veteran who had a nice run in Detroit for a while, but who now offers little other than some power off the bench. Clearly, King George is wanting to hedge his bets at 1B, where Jason Giambi and his balky knees will be taking over for the unappreciated Nick Johnson, and with Clark having been a major league starter before, having him available probably lets George and Joe Torre sleep better at night.

But Seguignol is a guy who has mashed AAA pitching repeatedly, and who put up okay, if unspectacular, numbers in irregular playing time for the Expos before missing all of 2002 with an injury. He came back in 2003 with a vengeance, though, posting a 1025 OPS for Columbus, the Yanks' AAA affiliate, before coming up for a cup of coffee at the end of the year.

He's someone who I would have loved to see the Rangers bring in as a bench bat, but with Dellucci and Perry already providing Veterany Goodness for Buck in that role, I think it is quite unlikely that Seguignol gets claimed off waivers by the Rangers.

More likely, the switch-hitter will get claimed by the A's or the Blue Jays. Oakland seems to be an ideal fit...Beane has gone this route before, plucking Matt Stairs and Geronimo Berroa from obscurity when they were in their late 20s and getting useful seasons from them for cheap. At age 29, Seguignol is running out of chances, but if the right team puts in a claim for him, he could be the next Ken Phelps.

Too bad it won't be the Rangers...

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Sunday, January 11, 2004

No Pudge for Baltimore 

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the Orioles are unlikely to pursue Pudge Rodriguez or Greg Maddux, unless their prices seriously plummet.

With his major offseason suitor passing for the second year in a row, that seems to continue to leave the door open to the possibility of Pudge returning to Texas.

And with him not landing the big, multi-year contract on the market, wouldn't this make it all the more likely that he might take a more reasonable deal from the Rangers?


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Rangers sign Kenny Rogers, Jeff Nelson 

Ken Daley of the DMN is reporting that the Rangers have signed Kenny Rogers and Jeff Nelson.

Rogers is 2 years, $6 million, which seems a bit steep.

Nelson's contract is unknown.

I'll comment on this more tomorrow.


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Saturday, January 10, 2004

New York Daily News - Breaking News - Sources: Guerrero to sign with Angels 

The New York Daily News is reporting that Vlad Guerrero is going to the Angels, at 5 years, $71 million.

Bad news for Rangers fans.


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Vlad Guerrero to sign with a "mystery team" 

The AP is reporting that Vlad Guerrero has broken off negotiations with the New York Mets, saying that he has decided to sign with another team.


No one, however, seems sure about who that team is.

Rotowire is reporting that ESPN Radio in New York is reporting that it is Anaheim; however, there is no confirmation of that anywhere else.

Vlad going to Anaheim would be a huge coup for the Angels, much bigger than the Colon and Escobar acquisitions, and could well vault them ahead of the Mariners in the AL West pecking order.


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Friday, January 09, 2004

Old Rangers Never Die 

According to Rotoworld, the Cardinals have signed Luis Ortiz to a minor league deal.

Blast from the past...Ortiz was the third base prospect who came over from Boston with Otis Nixon in the Jose Canseco deal. He's been out of the majors since 1996.


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Baseball America on the Rangers' 2004 draft possibilities 

In today's Ask BA, Jim Callis discusses pitchers the Rangers might target at #10 (noting, in particular, Vanderbilt's Jeremy Sowers, who was the Reds first round draft choice out of high school in 2001) and at #30.


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Great News -- No Tomko!!! 

In what may be the best news for Rangers fans yet this offseason, the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with Brett Tomko.

In case you have forgotten, Brett Tomko is a very bad pitcher whom the Rangers were supposedly interested in signing.

I'd rather have Ryan Drese in the Ranger rotation in 2004 than Brett Tomko. Or Ryan Glynn. Or Jose Canseco and his Knuckler of Death.


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Thursday, January 08, 2004

Devil Rays re-up Huff 

In a continuing effort to act like a professional baseball organization this offseason, the D-Rays have signed 1B/DH Aubrey Huff to a 3 year, $14.5 million deal.

This locks him up through his arbitration years, and is a pretty decent signing, although perhaps a little on the pricey side. Still, given their incredibly low payroll right now, the D-Rays can afford to overpay a bit to get cost certainly for a guy who has been one of their few bright spots the past two years.

And locking up Huff should make him more attractive to others, should a big market team decide to try to pry him away from the D-Rays down the road...

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Aurilia to the Mariners 

The much-derided catchphrase that Tom Hicks and John Hart hung on the ill-fated ARod trade was that the Rangers were trying to "get better, faster".

Well, with the Mariners signing 32 year old mediocre shortstop Rich Aurilia to a one-year deal, they are continuing in their quest to make one of baseball's older teams in 2003 older (and worse) faster.

The rumblings for the past couple of weeks have been that the Mariners were going to give Aurilia a one year, $4 million deal as soon as they found someone to take Carlos Guillen off their hands. Guillen is just as good as Aurilia, and is under contract for $2.5 million in 2004, which makes him cheaper than Aurilia; however, Guillen is handicapped by the fact that, by bringing back Randy Winn, the Mariners already had their token under-30 player in the starting lineup, thus making the 28 year old Guillen expendable.

Making this all the more bizarre is the fact that the Mariners are reportedly going to ship Guillen to the Tigers in exchange for Ramon Santiago -- one of the few players in major league baseball who might not be able to beat out Donnie Sadler for a utility infield job.

So to summarize, the Mariners are paying more to get an older version of the shortstop they already have, and are giving away their current shortstop for the baseball equivalent of a box of rocks.

Again, it looks like the best thing about this offseason for Rangers fans is the offseason of the Seattle Mariners.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Orioles about to sign Palmeiro 

First Juan Gone signs, and now Raffy is reportedly about to sign with Baltimore.

Supposedly will be either a two year deal, or a one year deal with an option, and he is apparently insisting on playing first base.

Well, at least he has his priorities in order...

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ESPN.com - Gammons: Rethinking my vote for Rose 

Good column by Peter Gammons, on Pete Rose's unsavory behavior the last few days, and how it has changed Gammons' opinion about Rose in the Hall.

However, I still haven't forgiven Gammons for his Hicks-hatin', or for his relentless cheerleading of the ARod/Manny deal.

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The bizarre Seattle/San Diego trade 

So the Mariners and Padres finally consummated their trade.

It ends up being Jeff Cirillo and 29 year old journeyman pitcher Brian Sweeney to San Diego for Kevin Jarvis, Wiki Gonzalez, Dave Hansen, and 1st round pick turned bust Vince Faison, with enough money kicked in by the Mariners that Seattle G.M. Bill Bavasi calls it a financial "wash".

So the Mariners get rid of Cirillo, finally. But they don't save any money, and in return they get a very bad pitcher (when their system is already overflowing with good young arms), a bad catcher (when they already have Dan Wilson and Ben Davis), and an old, mediocre lefty bat off the bench (when they really need a good righthanded bat off the bench -- or, better yet, a righthanded platoon partner for Raul Ibanez). Oh, and they get a 23 year old outfielder who doesn't walk, who has no power, and who hasn't hit better than .253 since rookie ball.

How this makes the Mariners better, I have no idea. It basically gets rid of Cirillo without having to release him, but they basically dumped one really bad player (and a throw-in) to get three really bad players (and a throw-in).

The Padres, meanwhile, unload their problems on Seattle, and in return get a guy who used to be good, but never really hit that well in Colorado (when you take into account the Coors Effect), and has been miserable in Seattle. He's a terrific defensive 3B, no question, but unless they are seriously considering the Sean Burroughs at 2B experiment again, I don't see much chance that San Diego benefits from this move, either.

I guess there's a possibility that getting Cirillo out of Seattle will allow him to get his head straight, and he can hit at least well enough to be a mediocre starting 3B, as compared to a terrible one, which provides some justification for the deal from San Diego's P.O.V.

But what this does for Seattle, I have no idea.

All this really does is give us Rangers fans hope that at least one of our competitors in the A.L. West has a front office as clueless as ours.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Juan Gone signs with Kansas City (for real, this time) 

1 year, $4 million, with a $7 million mutual option for 2005 with a $500K buyout.

So, basically, he's guaranteed $4.5 million for next year.

Not a bad risk for Kansas City to take...particularly since a healthy, motivated Juan Gone could be the difference between the Royals making the playoffs this year, or sitting at home.


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Will Carroll, Baseball Prospectus writer 

Will Carroll, who writes the excellent "Under The Knife" column for Baseball Prospectus (and his column alone is worth the cost of a one-year subscription), is going to be doing a chat session tomorrow (1/7/04) at 3:30 PM CST at Jamey Newberg's website.

Check it out, it should be good...

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Monday, January 05, 2004

No Juan deal yet... 

The previous reports that Juan Gonzalez signed a one year deal with the Royals apparently were premature, although Juan's agent, Alan Nero, says that the Royals are the favorites to sign him.


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E. Young signs, Reynaldo Garcia DFA'd 

As expected, Eric Young signed with Texas today. To make room on the 40 man roster for Young, the Rangers designated RHP Reynolda Garcia for assignment.

This gives them 10 days to waive him, trade him, or release him.

I imagine that they'll run him through waivers, and that he'll clear, allowing him to be outrighted to Oklahoma.

The 29 year old Garcia aged 4 years in Age-Gate after the 2001 season, and has a career major league ERA of 11.25, which makes it unlikely he'll be claimed. He has a sometimes-vicious slider, but little else to go along with it.

If he clears, he's a possible candidate to get another look in the pen this year if injuries or ineffectiveness take their toll, but he's probably getting crowded out by the other pitchers in the system.


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Eric Young: 1 year, $1 million 

The Star-Telegram reports that Eric Young will sign with the Rangers on a one year, $1 million deal.

A few hundred thousand more than I would have liked, but he's a decent backup infielder.

Danys Baez, it appears, is about to get the same 2 year, $6.5 million deal that Braden Looper got. I'm surprised that the Rangers wouldn't match that...

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Sunday, January 04, 2004

Someone at ESPN finally gets it... 

ESPN.com - MLB - Offseason Power Rankings

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Juan Gone goes to Kansas City 

Rotoworld is reporting that Juan Gonzalez has agreed to a one year, $4 million deal with Kansas City, that could be worth up to $6 million with incentives.

I'm guessing Juan has seen his last multi-year contract, and what Kansas City is paying him seems reasonable.

Bill James once said that acquiring Sixto Lezcano was like investing in the silver market...you know you're getting something of value, but there's no way of telling how much what you are getting is really going to be worth. Juan is like that at this point...even past his prime, Juan is still a potent offensive force in the middle of a lineup. But there's always going to be a question whether he'll be in the lineup from day to day, and after missing the final two and a half months of the season last year with a strained calf (when the Royals were supposedly interested in trading stud pitching prospect Jimmy Gobble to get him), he's again facing those nagging questions about his attitude and desire, along with the questions of whether he can stay healthy.

Kansas City is a small market with a hitter's park (although they are moving the fences back this year) and a grass field, which makes it an ideal fit for Juan. We'll see if he can resurrect his career as a Royal.

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Joel Sherman is a hack 

NY Post columnist Joel Sherman predicts Vlad signs with the Mets, and ARod is traded to the Yanks.

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Urbina threatening to stay in Venezuela 

According to Rotoworld, Uggy Urbina is threatening to stay home in Venezuela this year, if he doesn't get the type of contract he thinks he deserves.

He's supposedly asking for 2 years, $9 million.

I don't think he'll get that from any team, but this is a situation to keep an eye on...he reportedly enjoyed pitching for Texas last year, and the Rangers are still in the market for a righthanded reliever. He would seem to be a long shot to return, but I wouldn't completely rule it out.


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Saturday, January 03, 2004

All in the Family 

ESPN.com - MLB - Down on the Farm: Jayson Nix

John Sickels takes a look at Rockies 2B prospect Jayson Nix, brother of our own Laynce Nix...

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Rose to admit to betting on baseball 

After 14 years of denial, Pete Rose allegedly admits to betting in baseball in his new book, which is coming out next week.

As the article points out, though, it is really too little, too late, although Bud Selig, Whore of Baseball, is apparently willing to re-instate Rose anyway.


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Mets to sign Looper 

Braden Looper, one of the more interesting names among the arbitration-eligible players non-tendered last month, has apparently agreed to a 2 year, $6.5 million deal with the Mets.

Another reliever possibility to scratch off the list for the Rangers...although Looper clearly benefitted from the fact that he had experience in the closing role. A middle reliever with Looper's same numbers would likely go for about half the price.

At $6.5 million over two years, the Rangers were smart to pass on him. And with every righthanded reliever who disappears from the market, the chances of Chris Mabeus sticking get a little bit better...

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Thursday, January 01, 2004

Bill Simmons, Angry Red Sox Fan 

Bill Simmons is an entertaining writer. He sometimes makes some good points on the NBA.

But he's pretty clueless when it comes to baseball, and he's a Red Sox fan.

And what does that combo mean, in the 2003-2004 offseason? Not just one, but two angry columns whining because Tom Hicks wouldn't give Alex Rodriguez to the Red Sox, and mindlessly regurgitating that same tripe about how ARod's contract has destroyed the Rangers, with the Rangers' only opportunity for salvation coming from the chance to swap ARod for Manny.

Bitter, party of one...

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Wells signing could help Rangers 

With the Padres signing David Wells to a 1 year, heavily incentive-laden deal, the Rangers' search for starting pitching may have just gotten a boost.

The Rangers never appeared to be involved in the hunt for Wells, so his signing with the Padres doesn't really change the free agent possibilities for them. The addition of Wells does, however, increase the possibility that the Padres might deal some starting pitching.

San Diego had five pitchers hit double-digits in starts last season -- Brian Lawrence, Jake Peavy, Adam Eaton, Kevin Jarvis, and Oliver Perez. Perez was shipped to Pittsburgh in the Brian Giles trade, but the other four starters are all still in San Diego. They have been joined this offseason by free agent signings Wells, Sterling Hitchcock, and Ismael Valdes. With Ben Howard and Dennis Tankersley also in the mix, the rotation for the Padres seems to be a bit crowded.

This could present an opportunity for the Rangers. The Padres would love to unload Jarvis, who is owed almost $5 million, counting his 2004 salary and the buyout of his 2005 option. The decision by the Padres to sign him to a 3 year, $9 million deal after the 2001 season was rather mystifying...he was coming off a bad season, and prior to 2001 had never posted an ERA lower than 5.70 in the majors. Since signing that contract, he's given the Padres 127 awful innings, and the Padres have been trying to dump him on someone else, first trying to put him in the Giles trade, and more recently, supposedly discussing sending him and fellow albatross Terrence Long to the Mariners for Jeff Cirillo.

Even without Jarvis, however, the Padres have six vets for five rotation spots. They could stick Hitchcock or Valdes in the bullpen as a long man; however, it is also possible that they would use the additions of Wells, Valdes and Hitchcock to allow them to move either Lawrence or Eaton.

Brian Lawrence is a late bloomer, a guy who didn't debut in the majors until the age of 25, but who has been a solid starting pitcher since breaking in. Lawrence is under contract for a while, with salaries the next three years of $800,000, $2.25 million, and $3.5 million, with a $5.7 million team option in 2007 with a $550,000 buyout. This contract makes Lawrence attractive, as it provides cost certainty for any acquiring team, while limiting the financial exposure should Lawrence end up cratering. His 2003 is a bit troubling, as he regressed, and showed a significant spike in his homer rate. Nevertheless, he looks to be the type of solid starting pitcher that the Rangers need in the organization.

Adam Eaton is a more intriguing pitcher than Lawrence, with a much higher upside, but also more risk. Eaton came over to San Diego prior to the 2000 season from the Phillies in a deal for Andy Ashby. He showed signs of #1 starter potential before Tommy John surgery sidelined him for the end of 2001 and most of 2002. Although Eaton returned for a full season in 2003, he was a bit disappointing, posting an ERA of 4.08 (ERA+ of 97), and a reduced strikeout rate. Nevertheless, he just turned 26 in November, and is the type of pitcher that can be the cornerstone of a rotation. Eaton is arbitration-eligible, leading some to speculate that Padre G.M. Kevin Towers might deal him rather than go through the arbitration process.

Should either of the two pitchers be made available, there would no doubt be widespread interest throughout the league. The Rangers, though, would seem to be particularly well situated to make a push. The Padre farm system is heavy in pitching prospects but lighter in positional prospects, and in particular are said to be seeking a young centerfielder. Either Ramon Nivar or Laynce Nix would appear to be attractive pieces that a deal could be built around; Adrian Gonzalez is another player that San Diego might be interested in.

In the alternative, the Rangers could offer to take on Jarvis along with either Lawrence or Eaton; the team seems to be well under the budgetary guidelines set out by Tom Hicks earlier this offseason, and could afford to take the $4.5 million hit that Jarvis would represent. Either Lawrence or Eaton would still be a worthwhile pickup, even with the addition of Jarvis's salary, and taking on Jarvis would reduce the cost of the trade in terms of prospects that the Rangers would have to give up.

It is still a long shot -- something along the lines of Lawrence, Jarvis and Tankersley for Nivar and Francisco, for example, or Eaton for Nix and Echols, would seem to make sense for both teams. But it would require San Diego electing to deal one of their (relatively) young rotation arms (something they have said that they don't want to do), and, if Jarvis is included, would require the Rangers to be willing to pay yet another player not to play for them in 2004 (with Jarvis joining Greer, Todd Van Poppel, Mark Petkovsek, and possibly Jay Powell).

But for Rangers fans, it is something to keep an eye on. San Diego seems to be the best candidate for the Rangers to work with, should they make a move to try to trade for quality young pitching.

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