Sunday, October 31, 2004

Joel Sherman on the Rangers 

NY Post baseball writer Joel Sherman weighs in today on some offseason possibilities involving the Rangers.

In particular, he says that Billy Beane in Oakland is preparing to go into rebuilding mode, and as such is looking to deal one of the Big Three, most likely Barry Zito. This, obviously, would make an A.L. West title more obtainable for Texas next year, and Sherman lists Texas among those teams who are interested in grabbing Zito if he's on the trade market.

Sherman also says that the Rangers are finding out how much the market for Soriano has dwindled...


Saturday, October 30, 2004

Gammons on the Rangers 

Gammons says the Rangers want to trade Soriano, and spend the roughly $15 million they have available on a shortstop and a pitcher or two...


Friday, October 29, 2004

No Reyes for Soriano 

In the ongoing Alfonso Soriano drama, New York Newsday is reporting that the Mets, despite being willing to consider trading Jose Reyes in the right deal, won't deal him for Soriano, because of the $8 million pricetag Soriano is likely to command in arbitration.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Palmeiro re-signs with Baltimore 

In a rather mysterious move, the Orioles have apparently re-signed Rafael Palmeiro.

Palmeiro was reportedly pissed at the Orioles for not playing him at 1B late in the season, thus preventing an option based on playing time in the field from vesting.

But, coming off a pretty bad year, he must have decided that there weren't many other viable options out there for him.

Terms haven't been disclosed.

In the meantime, I'm a bit baffled about why the Orioles, with B.J. Surhoff and Jay Gibbons on the roster, also want Raffy around. Although Gibbons is a non-tender candidate...


More Soriano to the Yankees talk 

New York Newsday today mentions the possibility that Soriano could return to the Yankees to play centerfield for them.

And, again, Newsday says that the Rangers want to move Soriano.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A fluff piece on Jason Botts 

From mlb.com

They incorrectly refer to him as a right-handed hitter, when he's actually a switch-hitter.


Showalter named TSN's A.L. co-manager of the year 

Showalter tied with Ron Gardenhire, the Twins' manager...

Showalter deserves the win. While I've been critical of many of his moves, he did a very good job as manager this year.

As a shadow g.m., however...


Nelson and Garcia get probation for 2003 bullpen brawl 

Per the AP wire...

They also have to do 50 hours community service...I'd like to see that...Jeff Nelson wandering down the freeway in Boston, picking up trash...


The Lofton Curse 

With the World Series going on, there is very little Rangers-related news, so my entries have been a little more scarce and off-topic lately...

But I thought Tom Verducci's column today was worth noting...particularly, his comments on the Kenny Lofton Curse.

Lofton has been on nine playoff teams, but has never won a World Series, and he's been on four teams (the '99 Indians, the '02 Giants, the '03 Cubs, and the '04 Yankees) that were involved in huge post-season series collapses.

Hmmm...let's hope that the Yanks decide to keep Lofton around for a while...


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Ripping on Schilling 

New York Newsday's Jon Heyman calls out Curt Schilling:

"Yet it's hard to fathom a player who's more self-centered, self-aggrandizing and in-your-face than the con man they call "Shill.""


A few Ranger notes from the S-T 

The S-T says that John Hudgins, John Danks, and Mark Teixeira all have bought homes in Surprise, Arizona, the Rangers' spring training complex. This is apparently so they can be with the team year-round, something that no doubt makes Buck Showalter happy. And would seem to contradict some of those who think that Teixeira is waiting with bated breath to bolt for greener pastures.

Showalter, also, is reportedly raving about Joaquin Arias, the shortstop who came over as part of the ARod trade. The Arias-love is part of what has apparently made Ian Kinsler expendable...Grady Fuson was apparently more of a Kinsler guy than an Arias guy, but the S-T suggests that Arias may be up in the majors by 2005.

I don't see any way that Arias is possibly ready yet...he had an okay year in high-A in 2004, but it was the fact that he held his own at such a young age that really makes him a prospect. He isn't going to be major league ready for another couple of years, though, and the Rangers are going to be a lot better off finding a Mark Bellhorn or a Todd Walker to hold down the 2B fort next season, than if they try to rush Arias.


Friday, October 22, 2004

Klapisch thinks Soriano ends up in New York 

Baseball writer Bob Klapisch, in a column today on the Yankees, predicts that the Yankees will trade for Alfonso Soriano, and will want to dump Kevin Brown.

It is a good column, worth reading, that offers some insights about Joe Torre's mistakes in managing during the series, and suggests that Don Zimmer's departure had a bigger impact than most realized.

I think a Soriano deal involving Javier Vazquez is the way to go...at some point over the weekend, I'm going to go over some Soriano trade possibilities and offer my thoughts.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Soriano back to the Yankees? 

In their Yankee postmortem, New York Newsday speculates that Soriano could come back to the Yankees, noting that "Buck Showalter wants him gone"...


New York Post on the ARod Curse 

Joel Sherman weighs in...

Who knows, maybe he'd rather be back in Texas now?

Hell, the Rangers would have made the playoffs this year, if we hadn't made that ridiculous trade...


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

XM Radio get MLB broadcast rights 

XM Radio is paying $650 million for the right to broadcast major league baseball games for the next 11 years.

Under the terms of the deal, every major league game will be broadcast, although each game will feature just one feed. The XM Radio folks say that they will consult with MLB about which feed to carry. Thus, unfortunately, if the Rangers are playing the Yankees, XM will most likely be broadcasting the Yankee radio feed.

It sounds like they're going to be picking the feed for whatever team has the biggest fan base.

Still, it is hard to complain, since it means that, as an XM radio subscriber, no matter where I am, if I have my XM radio system with me, I'll be able to hear the Ranger game.

$55+ million per year for the rights, though, seems pretty excessive. I'm just hoping XM Radio ends up being around through this whole deal.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

More Fraley pettiness 

In the playoffs this year, Alex Rodriguez has posted an 1150 OPS.

And yet, Gerry Fraley's column titled is entitled "A-Rod hasn't been a hit in this series", and is more of Fraley's whining about how Alex Rodriguez can't come through in the clutch.

Fraley needs to seek professional help. His obsession on this topic, and his disconnect with reality, is becoming rather pathetic.


Monday, October 18, 2004

Bonds and the steroid thing 

A pretty damning story in the San Francisco Chronicle...

Bonds' performance in his twilight years has been incredible...no player in baseball history has had the kind of late-career surge he has. Hell, his last 5 years may be the greatest five year stretch of any player in baseball, much less one pushing 40.

And how much of it does he owe to better living through chemistry? Like they used to say about Tootsie Roll Pops...the world may never know...


I am now a DirecTV customer 

The Yankee/Red Sox game has gone into the 12th inning. Regardless of who wins, this will go down as one of the classic battles between Boston and New York.

However, I am not watching that game.

Why, you ask?

Because the no-talent assclowns at Dish Network can't get their act together long enough to get the baseball feeds right.

I live in Houston. For most of the country, Fox is broadcasting the Red Sox/Yankee game until conclusion, then switching to the Astros/Cardinals game, which is, in the meantime, being shown on FX. In Houston and nearby areas, it is the other way around...Fox is showing the Houston game, and FX is showing the Yankee/Red Sox game.

Unless you are a Dish Network subscriber in Houston.

If you are a Dish Network subscriber in Houston, then you get Cardinals/Astros on FX. And on Fox. And on some random-ass alternate feed channel that the totally useless Dish Network customer service person suggested I try.

So, for those keeping score...that is three channels with the same Astro/Cardinal feed, and none showing the Boston/New York game.

I called Dish Network. As my brother could tell you, I can be rather proactive with these companies when they aren't showing what I want to see.

Their customer service person first wanted to argue with me about what I was seeing, insisting that I was getting the Boston/New York game. Then she asked someone else for help. Then she talked to her supervisor, came back, and informed me that the problem was with my local Fox affiliate, and I needed to call them.

This, I pointed out, was a lie. The local Fox affiliate was showing the game it was supposed to show. It was FX that was showing the wrong game, and that was under the control of the geniuses (genii?) at Dish Network.

She went back to the supervisor, came back to me, and said, basically, sorry, can't do anything about it.

This sort of problem is commonplace with Dish Network. I've had this problem with them before, particularly in regard to their inability to get the right sports feed on the right place, and have found their customer service in the past to be about as helpful as a gaggle of retarded chimpanzees.

The Rangers, as well, appear to be pissed at Dish Network's incompetence.

However, it is not a problem for me anymore. I am now a DirecTV subscriber, and will be hooked up with them as of Wednesday morning.

Dish Network, because of their collective incompetence, has lost a customer who was spending $1200 per year with them -- and who only went with them, rather than with TimeWarner cable, because I could get the Rangers games on the alternate FSSW feed.

And as it turns out, I'm actually saving money, at least the first four months -- $40 per month less for the same cornucopia of channels I had been getting, plus I get NFL Season Ticket.


AFL stats 

Courtesy of Baseball America, you can find the stats for the Peoria Saguaros here.

Jason Botts is really tearing it up early. I still think he needs another season in the minors, but he's looking good, and forcing the Rangers to consider him as a future DH.


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Good news on Jaramillo 

Rudy Jaramillo is saying that he expects to be back as the Rangers hitting coach next year if he isn't hired as the Mets manager.

Jaramillo is supposed well thought of by Mets G.M. Omar Minaya, but his low profile and lack of experience would appear to be a significant hurdle for an organization that is in the #1 U.S. market, and is constantly fighting a p.r. battle with the Yankees.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Analysis of Brad Radke 

The guys at U.S.S. Mariner are doing analyses of the significant free agents, and have a pretty good take on Twins righty Brad Radke.

I generally agree with their analysis of Radke the pitcher, and I think that he'd be an excellent pickup for the Rangers this offseason. Where I differ from them is on whether Radke will really command all that much money.

While Radke made $10.75 million last season, it was the last year of a deal where he averaged $8 million per year, so I can't really see him just refusing to sign anywhere if he doesn't get $10 million per. And I don't think anyone is going to offer him $10 million per anyway.

I think the Sele-type contract that they mention -- 2 years, $15 million -- is likely to be in the ballpark of what Radke ends up signing. Let's say 3 years, $21 million...which is an offer that Hart and the Rangers should be willing to make to Radke this offseason.


Tigers Withdraw Offer To #2 Overall Pick Verlander 

Baseball America is reporting that the Detroit Tigers have withdrawn their offer to 2004 #2 overall draft pick Justin Verlander, a RHP from Old Dominion.

This doesn't officially impact the Tigers' ability to continue negotiating with Verlander...they own his rights until he attends a class at Old Dominion, or until a week prior to the 2005 draft, whichever comes first.

Still, this sort of move would normally tend to damage the relationship between team and player, and while it may just be a negotiating ploy, it is also the type of move that can alienate a prospect.

This has been a contentious year for draftee negotiations, as Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann, Jered Weaver, and Stephen Drew are still in the midst with negotiations with the teams that drafted them, and Baltimore lost the rights to #8 pick Wade Townsend after he returned to Rice.


Source: Autopsy shows Caminiti overdosed 

Per ESPN's Jeremy Schaap, Ken Caminiti's preliminary autopsy report reflects that he died of a drug overdose.


Magglio Ordonez hires Scott Boras 

Magglio Ordonez was supposedly one of the Rangers' top free agent targets this offseason. He may not be any more.

Ordonez has hired Scott Boras as his agent.

Boras, of course, is the guy who represents Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and numerous other high-profile clients. Two of his 2004 draftees, Jared Weaver and Stephen Drew, still haven't signed, and are each purportedly asking for guaranteed deals worth in the neighborhood of $10 million.

Grady Fuson's relationship with Boras was supposedly part of the reason Buck and Hart wanted him gone, and it seems unlikely that the team is going to go out of its way to deal with a Boras free agent.

Really, though, I'm not all that disappointed by this. Ordonez will be 31 next season, and is coming off knee surgery. He may not be 100% to start the 2005 season.

While he's the type of bat the Rangers need, I think Ordonez has always been a little overrated, and he's at the point where he's more likely to decline than improve. I'm afraid that, if we were to sign him, we'd be paying him for his peak production, but be getting post-peak performance.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Schilling needs surgery 

Boston ace Curt Schilling will need surgery on his bad ankle after the season.

The bad ankle hampered Schilling in game 1, and while the Red Sox are hopeful that he'll be able to go in game 5, his availability appears to be in doubt.


The LCSes and confusing managerial decisions 

I'm at a loss as to why Phil Garner is starting Brandon Backe on 3 days rest today, in game 1 of the Houston/St. Louis series. Pete Munro, who would otherwise be the game 1 starter, just slides back a day and pitches game 2. Garner apparently wants Backe ready to pitch on regular rest in game 5, but I just don't see what the advantage is. If I'm Garner, since Clemens and Oswalt can't pitch in either of the first two games anyway, I'd just as soon go with Munro in game 1 and a rested Backe in game 2.

And on a related note...with the Red Sox down 8-7 in the bottom of the 8th last night, it would appear to be an ideal situation to bring in closer Keith Foulke. He can pitch multiple innings, so it isn't as if using him in the 8th would mean that he couldn't pitch the 9th. And down a run, with Mariano Rivera pitching the 9th, it is critical that you keep the score as close as possible.

But Foulke didn't come in to start the inning...instead, Mike Timlin did. And gave up 2 runs. At which point, with a 3 run deficit, Foulke came into the game.

So the question for Terry Francona is...if you are willing to use Foulke with a 3 run deficit in the 8th, why didn't you just bring him in to start the inning?


Bill Simmons on BoSox/Yanks, game 1 

Pretty funny stuff...

While I like Simmons, I find him lacking when it comes to baseball, since he doesn't really care about anything outside of his beloved Red Sox and the evil Yankees. But there are few things as amusing as watching a Red Sox fan implode...


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Analyzing the Rumor: Vernon Wells for Mark Teixeira 

In this week's Baseball Weekly, Bob Nightingale suggests that the Rangers are talking to the Toronto Blue Jays about trading Mark Teixeira for Blue Jay centerfielder Vernon Wells.

Wells to Texas has been kicking around for a few years now, in no small part because of his Texas roots. Wells is a graduate of Bowie High School, in Arlington, and committed to the University of Texas before the Blue Jays made him the 5th overall pick in the 1997 draft. The Hardliners on the Ticket were big proponents of a Blalock-for-Wells trade for a while, and in 2002, John Hart's first year in Texas, there were rumblings during spring training that a deal involving Blalock to Toronto, as part of a package that would fetch Cris Carpenter and Vernon Wells, came very close to being consummated.

Hart has been convinced since he got here that TBIA, with the vast amount of room one must cover in center field, dictates that the Rangers have a fleet player with a lot of range at centerfield. Wells fits the bill defensively, and with his power bat, is one of the more tantalizing power/speed combos out there.

A straight Teixeira for Wells swap is intriguing, with the players having certain parallels. Both players were taken with the #5 pick in the draft -- Wells in 1997, and Teixeira in 2001 out of Georgia Tech. Both were considered elite prospects coming up -- Wells was Baseball America's #4 prospect in 2000 and the #12 prospect in 2001, while Teixeira was the #10 prospect on the 2002 list and the #1 prospect on the 2003 list. They are also similar in age, with the 24 year old Teixeira being 16 months younger than Wells.

Their skill sets and contractual situations differ enough, however, to make a trade conceivable. Wells is a speedy centerfield with power but little plate discipline...he'll hit homers, steal bases, and play quality defense, but he's not going to walk enough to post a terribly high OBP.

Teixeira, meanwhile, following the path of sluggers like Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, and Jim Thome, has already moved from third base to first base, although he has the arm and mobility to play right field competently. Still, while his defense at first base gets good marks, it isn't the premium defensive position that centerfield is, and Teixeira doesn't have near the speed of Wells. However, he is a switch-hitter with an excellent eye at the plate (he posted an 89 point spread between average and OBP in 2004, after a 72 point spread in 2003, both impressive numbers for a young hitter), and his power potential is considered to be greater than Wells'.

Wells is under contract through 2007, and is owed $12.8 million over the next three years, after which he will be a free agent. Teixeira will make $2.5 million in 2005, and then will be arbitration eligible for 2006 through 2008.

According to some folks in the DFW media, the contract situation with Teixeira is one of the sticking points. In Cleveland, John Hart pioneered the tactic of locking up young players through their arb-eligible years, getting the players signed for less than they'd likely make in arbitration and gaining cost certainty for budgetary purposes. In the past several months, he has signed Hank Blalock, Francisco Cordero, and Michael Young to such long-term deals, and is supposedly talking to Ryan Drese about a similar arrangement.

Teixeira, however, has reportedly rebuffed talks of a long-term extension, and his agent, Scott Boras, is well-known for spurning such contracts and preferring to go the arbitration route, to try to maximize his client's possible return. Going through arbitration from 2006-2008 with Teixeira, if he continues to produce as he has, would likely result in the Ranger paying him in the neighborhood of $20 million for those three seasons.

So it can be argued that, from a financial standpoint, the Rangers may prefer the locked-in contract of Wells rather than going through arbitration repeatedly with Teixeira, even though Wells is eligible for free agency a season before Teixeira is. Peter Gammons, Buck Showalter's buddy at ESPN, has also reported repeatedly that the Rangers want to get rid of the "Boras influence" with the team, which has led to speculation that Teixeira could be shopped. Radio host Norm Hitzges went so far to say earlier this season that the Rangers were getting frustrated with Teixeira, and were getting close to "making a decision" on him, thinking that he was a J.D. Drew-type expensive tease, who would cost a lot of money, show flashes of ability, and not stay healthy, making him more valuable as a trade chip (particularly with Adrian Gonzalez on the way) than as a member of the team.

That talk, of course, was largely floating around in late-May, when Teixeira was struggling after returning from the oblique strain that put him on the D.L. Teixeira then went on a tear that continued pretty much through the end of the season; Teixeira and Kevin Mench were at times the only players hitting in the second half for the Rangers, and Teixeira's name even got kicked around as an M.V.P. candidate. And while that would seem to quell the trade talk, Teixeira's name is still popping up here and there.

A possible trade becomes a little harder to evaluate because of the divergent seasons the two players had this year. Teixeira posted a 929 OPS and an EQA of .301, with a WARP3 of 6.9. Wells, meanwhile, posted an 809 OPS, a .275 EQA and a 5.4 WARP3. Given that Teixeira is the younger player, a look at just the 2004 numbers would give a significant edge to Teixeira.

The situation was reversed in 2003, however...Wells' .303 EQA and 9.2 WARP3 made him an MVP candidate, while Teixeira's .274 EQA and 3.3 WARP3 had folks labeling his rookie season as a mild disappointment. And Wells' 2004 season was marred by a calf strain that put him on the D.L. in June, and hampered him even after his return.

The interesting thing about their 2004 performances, however, is how well they dovetail with Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA forecasts. Coming into 2004, PECOTA forecast Teixeira to be the better offensive player, despite Wells' 29 point edge in EQA the previous year; and Teixeira's actual performance puts him close to PECOTA's 75th percentile projection of a .306 EQA. Wells, meanwhile, despite his success in 2003, was projected to drop in 2004, and his actual performance came in just slightly above PECOTA's 25th percentile projection of .269.

So while Teixeira slightly exceeded what PECOTA projected as his midpoint, and Wells slightly underperformed, neither player's performance in 2004 deviated greatly from what PECOTA thought was reasonable from each player. And as such, PECOTA's forecasts for beyond 2004 offer some insight...Teixeira's 50% projections come in at an EQA of around .300 for the next four years, while Wells' projections are in the low-.280s. Should each player meet these expectations, Wells probably has the slight edge, given the additional value he has as a centerfielder, but the difference between the two is slight. PECOTA's Wins Added actually gives Teixeira a slight edge over that period.

The other aspect of PECOTA that provides for a terrific contrast between the two is the similar players listed. BP provides a "Similarity Index", a score which shows how unique a player is compared to other players historically, along with a list of the 20 most similar players. Teixeira's score of 32 indicates that he is a relatively unique player, something that is usually more indicative of a special talent. Moreover, the list of players most similar to Teixeira is very impressive...Dale Murphy, Boog Powell, Eric Chavez, Scott Rolen, Jose Canseco, Cal Ripken, and Manny Ramirez are all names that jump off the list, along with players like Larry Parrish, Ruben Sierra, George Scott, Willie Horton, Ken Hrbek, Chili Davis, and Bob Watson, guys who were quality major leaguers who had solid careers.

As noted by the similarity score, Teixeira is a relatively unique player, and the PECOTA system had to strain a little more to find comparable players. But the two things that jumps out at me, in looking at the comps, is the large number of players who took big steps forward the year after the one examined -- 11 of the 20 did, with none significantly regressing -- and the fact that the major difference between Teixeira and the less-successful comps is generally in Teixeira's much superior walk rate. Teixeira's combination of plate discipline and power is rare in a player so young, and the pairing makes it that much more likely that he will become one of the great players of this era.

Wells' PECOTA, in contrast, reflects a similarity score of 43...while he's not terribly common, his skill set is significantly more frequently found than Teixeira's is. Moreover, there are quite a few players who fall in the good, but not great, category with his comps...Al Oliver, Dusty Baker, Ellis Burks, Tommie Agee. Reggie Smith is probably the best player from his 20 most comparables, but unlike with Teixeira's comps, there are no truly "great" players.

And more troubling, you see too many names on like Kevin McReynolds, Raul Mondesi, Rondell White, Gabe Kapler, Darryl Motley, Mike Ivie. Guys who were highly-touted prospects -- White was among BA's top 15 for four straight years, Mondesi cracked the top 20 a couple of times, McReynolds and Motley were stud outfield prospects in the 1980s, Ivie was the #1 overall pick in 1970 -- who showed some flash early in their careers, and then fizzled.

My initial reaction was that I really didn't like the idea of trading Teixeira for Wells. Having looked deeper into the situation, it is a little more complicated than my knee-jerk "Hell no" would have suggested...quality centerfielders are harder to find than quality first basemen, Wells is less expensive than Teixeira, and there's a pretty good chance that the two will be about equal in value over the next three years.

The biggest thing to me, though, is that Teixeira is a guy who seems to have a much better chance of being a superstar than Wells does. Wells is a very good player, but his lack of plate discipline and power limitations mean that he's never going to be in the realm of dominant players, the Hall of Fame and perennial MVP candidates.

Teixeira might not be, either...but looking at what he's done thusfar, the potential is there, much more so than with Wells. And I'd rather see the Rangers keep him, and try to let him tap that potential in a Ranger uniform, instead of a Blue Jay uniform.


Callaway dropped from the 40 man roster 

The Rangers have removed Mickey Callaway from the 40 man roster.

He has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Oklahoma; essentially, he now becomes a free agent.

No big surprise.


Ken Caminiti's last day 

New York Newsday has a piece where an acquaintance of Caminiti's describes Caminiti's last few hours.

Chilling stuff.


Monday, October 11, 2004

Rosenthal with praise for DeMarlo Hale 

On a piece on the "new wave" of minority managerial candidates, Rosenthal has high praise for Ranger first base coach DeMarlo Hale, who is described by one exec as a "hidden jewel".

With MLB requiring teams to interview minority candidates, Hale is likely to get a lot of looks. But it is interesting to note that he's considered, in at least some quarters, an up-and-comer...


Offseason Ranger blurbs 

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a year-end wrapup of the 2004 Rangers which does the standard what went right/what went wrong year in review.

Not surprisingly, though, the "Off Season Needs" is identified as "Pitching, pitching, pitching," even though the mediocre offensive performance this past season is a major reason why the Rangers missed the playoffs.

The funniest thing, though, is the P.I.'s claim that Alfonso Soriano was an MVP candidate before he missed the last two weeks with an injury.

Soriano was the fourth best infielder on the team, and was a pretty big disappointment offensively. Defensively, he was as bad as advertised. To suggest that Soriano was an MVP candidate -- rather than Michael Young and Mark Teixeira -- indicates that someone did little homework in preparing their piece.


Former Ranger Ken Caminiti dies at age 41 

Caminiti died of a heart attack in New York City...

An autopsy is scheduled to be performed today. Caminiti had been in the public eye recently for his problems with drugs, and his admission that he used steroids during his MVP season of 1996.


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Marlins young arms get pitching coach whacked 

Interesting piece in the Palm Beach Post about how the Marlins' young guns -- and in particular, Josh Beckett, who has a reputation for churlishness -- ended up getting pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal fired.


Saturday, October 09, 2004

Washington Post on the Fuson/Baltimore rumors 

The Washington Post reports that the Orioles are still discussing getting Grady Fuson to come on board and fill their vacant director of scouting and director of minor league operation positions, which would be combined if Fuson came on board.


More Soriano rumors 

From the Oakland Tribune today...

Their baseball notes column says that the Rangers are "dead serious" about trading Soriano, wanting to use the money saved to add Carl Pavano.


Friday, October 08, 2004

More roster stupidity from Ranger management 

Colby Lewis and Ben Kozlowski are no longer with the Rangers.

Lewis was claimed on waivers by the Tigers, Kozlowski by the Reds. Both were put on waivers for the purpose of removing them from the 40 man roster, in preparation for needing spots on the roster for minor leaguers who have to be added this offseason and for potential free agent signings.

Lewis was an understandable risk. The likelihood of a successful return from shoulder surgery is not good, and he likely would not be ready to pitch until the middle of 2005. It seemed unlikely that a team would put in a claim on him, and even if they did, it was a reasonable risk, since he probably would not be a contributor in the majors until 2007, at the earliest. The chances of Lewis ever being a quality major league pitcher, after this injury, were slight.

Kozlowski, though, was coming off of Tommy John surgery. He showed terrific stuff in 2002, when he was the Rangers' minor league pitcher of the year, before struggling in 2003 and going under the knife. The rehab period for T-J surgery is thought to be 18 months -- meaning the Kozlowski probably still isn't 100% yet -- and the recovery rate is extremely high. He has an option left, which means he can spend 2005 in the minors working on regaining his pre-injury form...and if he does, he once again becomes a very good pitching prospect.

I'm absolutely floored that this organization appears willing to devote roster spots to Travis Hughes, Edwin Moreno, and Ryan Wing -- guys who are fringe prospects, at very best -- but is willing to lose Ben Kozlowski on waivers. Kozlowski is a better prospect than any of those other three, and the only thing I can figure is that Kozlowski has been hurt or struggled ever since Buck joined the organization, and Buck, not having seen him when he's pitching well, was ready to give up on him.

So now, the organization has lost Sam Narron, Ben Kozlowski, and Colby Lewis this offseason, and has nothing to show for it.


Prior calls out Sosa 

Prior is unhappy that Sammy Sosa bailed on the team.

This sort of public nastiness can only increase the possibility that Sosa will end up elsewhere in 2005.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Colby Lewis placed on waivers 

Surprising, but not shocking...

With Lewis undergoing shoulder surgery, he's unlikely to contribute in 2005 or ever get back to where he was before the injury. And with just one option remaining, a claiming team would likely have to keep him on the 60 day D.L. all season, let him rehab, and then option him in 2006 to let him have the season to try to work himself back into form.

So you are looking at 2007, when he'll be 28, before he's likely to do anything more on the major league level.

Disappointing for Lewis, who had a ton of potential. If he makes it back, it would likely be as a reliever.


Baseball America: 2004 Top 20 Prospects: Pacific Coast League 

BA's PCL top 20 prospect list is up, and only Juan Dominguez, at #9, makes it from the Rangers.

BA has always liked Adrian Gonzalez, so I guess it is a minor upset that he didn't make the cut.

No one else at Oklahoma deserved any consideration.


Rangers claim Ryan Wing off of waivers 

The Rangers have claimed ChiSox lefty Ryan Wing off of waivers, and outrighted Ken Huckaby, Michael Tejera, and Chad Allen to AAA.

Tejera is the only mild surprise among the three dropped from the roster, although it was pretty clear that Buck lost faith in him down the stretch.

I know nothing about Wing, except that he was a 2nd round pick in 2001, and he was hurt all of 2004.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

That Alex Rodriguez... 

Good thing we got rid of that choker.

A ground-rule double?

Please...Derek Jeter, clutch hitter that he is, would have hit it out.


Compare and contrast...M's ownership and Ranger ownership 

In the past, Tom Hicks has gotten credit for being willing to spend money on improving the Rangers, while Mariner ownership has been ripped for being concerned only with making a profit.

It appears that things have changed...in an interview, Mariner president Howard Lincoln says that the Mariners plan on losing millions to get the team back on track next season.

Meanwhile, Ranger owner Tom Hicks claims that the Rangers "don't need a bigger payroll", that a team's success has nothing to do with its payroll, and that the team is going to continue to be profitable.

Hicks' newfound fiscal conservatism is the reason why Selig has suddenly become a fan of the Rangers, after several years of battling with Hicks over Hicks' refusal to toe the line on payroll matters.


A's DFA Kirk Saarloos 

Somewhat surprising move for the A's, who traded Chad Harville to the Houston Astros to pick up Saarloos earlier this year.

Saarloos is a command righthander who, after being picked in the 3rd round by the Houston Astros in the 2001 draft, was in the majors a year later after dominating the minors. He could never quite get it together in the majors, though, proving to be a bit too hittable.

He'd be a worthwhile pickup off of waivers for the Rangers, but given John Hart's preference for hardthrowing guys, I doubt they'll put in a claim.


Bob Melvin speaks on his firing 

Mariner G.M. Bill Bavasi refused to comment on why he fired manager Bob Melvin. However, Melvin spoke at length about the subject, as the Seattle Times reports today.

In particular, Melvin said that he got the axe because, Bavasi supposedly told him, "the players who left here did better, and the players we brought in didn't".

That's a pretty stupid reason to fire a manager, particularly given the players in question. Was Melvin the one that caused Rich Aurilia to go into the tank, or Scott Spiezio and Raul Ibanez to be predictably unimpressive?

Bottom line was, the Mariners needed a scapegoat for an abysmal season, lest the ticket buying public which has grown accustomed to 90 win seasons, even sans October success, get too crotchety.


First-guessing Gardenhire 

We are heading into the top of the 7th in the Yankee/Twin game, Twins are down 4-3.

Bottom of the lineup coming up for Minnesota...Kubel, Guzman, and Cuddyer.

Rivera is coming in in the 9th, and possibly the 8th, so you need to make hay now.

Lew Ford, who was benched for Kubel today, needs to hit for Guzman.

There is simply no excuse for Gardenhire to let Guzman bat in this inning.

Now, we'll see what Gardenhire does.


The last DMN Ranger newsletter of 2004 

It is pretty "blah".

We have the obligatory Rusty Greer question, someone carping about players not signing autographs, and Grant opining that the Rangers want to get rid of the Ho and will likely trade Adrian Gonzalez.

The one interesting thing is the notion that the Rangers' most difficult decision on arbitration this offseason will be with Carlos Almanzar. I don't see that it is that hard a call to make...the most he'd be likely to make is in the $2 million range, and you could likely lock him up for less. I think you could probably get Almanzar to sign a 2 year, $3.5 million deal, which would make him a reasonably priced setup man for the next two years.

Almanzar has always been a solid pitcher, and this season he's simply shown what he's capable of doing if given a chance at the major league level. Non-tendering Almanzar, particularly given how strong the bullpen has to be to continue the team's success, would be absolutely foolish.


Sosa to the Rangers for the Ho and Soriano 

Chicago columnist Phil Rogers mentions that as a possibility.

Obviously, it depends on who takes how much in salary to figure out if this is a good deal, and what other players might be involved, but I'd listen closely to such an offer. The Ho and Soriano for Sosa straight up is a slamdunk...if you are the Rangers, you make that deal. If the Rangers have to kick the difference in salaries between the Ho and Sosa, then you want something back in return...maybe Corey Patterson, if the Cubs are going to make a push for Beltran, although Patterson's work ethic issues probably wouldn't play well with Buck.

But with Sosa now on the outs in Chicago, and with the team wanting to scapegoat someone for their disastrous September, I think he'll be moved. And with the Rangers needing a power-hitting DH to plug in the middle of their lineup, they seem like a perfect fit.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Giambi left off the Yanks playoff roster 

Somewhat surprising move...

I don't guess it will make that much difference one way or the other.

And for what it is worth, I'm picking the Twins over the Yankees in this series.

For the other three, I'm going with the BoSox, the Cards, and the Astros.

Twins over Cardinals in the W.S.


Monday, October 04, 2004

Rosenthal also says Soriano will go 

In his column on "Bargaining Chips", Ken Rosenthal lists Alfonso Soriano as a player likely to change teams this offseason.

Another player on his list is Cliff Floyd, and Rosenthal suggests that the Mets would pick up most of his salary if they could get something for him.

Floyd would seem to be a perfect fit for the Rangers, who are looking for a corner OF/DH guy with some pop who can get on base. When Floyd is healthy, he can mash the ball, with a career line of .283/.362/.493 in mostly pitcher-friendly environments. This is the first time since 1999 he hasn't posted an EQA of at least .300.

Floyd turns 32 in September, and has two years, $13 million left on his contract. He'd seem to be a perfect fit for the Rangers, a guy who could hit in the #3 slot while splitting time between left field and DH (which should help him stay healthy), with a lefty swing that would be ideal for depositing home run balls into the Home Run Porch.

While the Mets picking up some of Floyd's salary would be nice, I'd like to see a deal where the Rangers send Soriano to the Mets for Floyd and Jose Reyes, and if that means picking up Floyd's salary, so be it.


BA's Texas League prospect chat session 

John Manuel hosted the BA Texas League chat session today, and it was a very lengthy, informative session.

Among the Rangers prospects, Manuel touched on Jason Botts, John Hudgins, Kam Loe, Erik Thompson, Drew Meyer, Ian Kinsler, and Jason Bourgeois.

Good stuff...


Bob Melvin fired 

Yeah, shocking news, I know...

But someone had to take the fall for the awful season, and Melvin, who was hired by Pat Gillick, the old G.M., was the easiest head to roll.


Gammons on a possible Soriano deal 

In his column today, Peter Gammons says that he'd bet on Alfonso Soriano being dealt to the Mets for shortstop Jose Reyes.

That would be an incredible deal for the Rangers. Reyes was getting tons of attention in 2003, with BA calling him the Mets' best positional prospect since Darryl Strawberry, and putting him #3 overall among all prospects, behind only Mark Teixeira and Rocco Baldelli.

After putting up respectable numbers in half a season in the majors with the Mets last season, this year was essentially a lost year for Reyes, who struggled with hamstring injuries all year and posted just a 644 OPS in 220 ABs in 2004.

Still, he's just 21 years old, a switch-hitter with a bunch of speed and good defensive skills, a guy who was untouchable coming into the 2004 season. I have a hard time seeing the Mets parting with him for Soriano, but if they did, that move along would be a successful offseason for the Rangers.

Gammons also, at the end of his piece, throws a bone to his buddy Buck by praising John Hart and Buck's boy Jon Daniels for their purportedly deft roster management, losing only Sam Narron on waivers despite all the roster moves that they made. Nevermind that Narron never should have been up to begin with, and it was only poor roster management that exposed him in the first place...


Sunday, October 03, 2004

More BA prospect rankings 

Baseball America's prospect rankings for the Midwest League and California League came out last week, with the Rangers' John Danks and Ian Kinsler being 4th and 8th in the Midwest League, and Danks, Joaquin Arias and John Hudgins placing 11th, 15th and 18th in the Cal League.

The Midwest League rankings seem fair, but I think Hudgins is way too low on the Cal League rankings, something I question Kevin Goldstein about in the Cal League chat session. BA tends to be very tools and stuff oriented, and Hudgins, who has put up great numbers without a blazing fastball or electric curve, just isn't going to be on their radar. Also worthy of note is the fact that Goldstein didn't think Vince Sinisi would have made the Cal League top 20 even if he had been healthy, which would have been a major disappointment.

They also had a chat session on the Midwest League, as well.


Saturday, October 02, 2004

Larry Bowa fired 

It is about time.

He had a nice year leading a team expected to be a cellar-dweller to playoff contention a few years ago. In the wake of that, he ran off Scott Rolen, the Phillies' best player; alienated numerous other players; and led the Phillies to three straight disappointing, underachieving seasons from 2002-2004.

This is probably his last go-round...his tenure in San Diego was such a disaster, it took him over a decade to get another shot, and his personalty is so toxic that only in Philadelphia, where he was still well regarded from his playing days, would put up with him for that long.


Johan Santana and the Cy Young Award 

For about a week or so, I've been gearing up to write an angry, self-righteous piece about how Johan Santana is going to get hosed out of the A.L. Cy Young Award this year, despite the fact that he's been by far the most dominant pitcher in the American League this year, and may possibly be deserving of the M.V.P. award, as well.

I was going to talk about how the mainstream sports media had already come into the season ready to anoint Curt Schilling, whose arrival in Boston has been played in the media like the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy, the culmination of the inevitable, a pairing that ranks right up there with chocolate and peanut butter, with the Cy Young bestowed upon Schilling as the media's acknowledgement of the greatness which is the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of his season with the Red Sox.

I was going lament the fact that Santana has flown under the radar because he's pitching in Minnesota, because he got off to an awful start this season, because he's young and was a long reliever until late last season and has been a household name only to baseball geeks like myself. I was going to bemoan how Schilling's win total and leadership overshadowed the fact that Santana is running away with the ERA title (despite pitching in a very hitter-friendly park), and the fact that, since late May, he's been on one of the most incredible runs ever by a pitcher, including a 1.21 post-ASB ERA with 129 strikeouts and 23 walks in 104 1/3 innings pitched.

A strange thing happened, though...people starting coming out in support of Santana. Ken Rosenthal picked Santana as his A.L. Cy Young winner. So did Jayson Stark, John Donovan, even Black Jack McDowell, one of the biggest proponents of leadership and intangibles. On ESPN's Baseball Tonight the other day, after Keith Foulke blew a save that would have given Schilling a victory, the cast stated flatly that that eliminated Schilling from the Cy Young race.

To my shock, it looks like Santana isn't just the favorite, but the race may be turning into a landslide.

So it may be that I'm tending to underestimate the willingness of the mainstream press to recognize unexpected dominance when it occurs, to honor the small-market relative unknown even if it means shunning one of the icons.


Casualties in the minor leagues 

Part of the fallout of Grady Fuson being run out of town is that several of the people he brought with him to the Ranger organization are also being axed.

Today's Oklahoman contains a lament from Redhawk manager Bobby Jones that pitching coach Glenn Abbott and positional coach Bruce Crabbe are not returning.

Jones says he wanted them both back, but apparently, the organization wants to go in a different direction, and is purging Fuson people from the franchise.

With Fuson likely to end up in Baltimore, I'm guessing that that is where a lot of these folks will end up, as well.


More Fraley nonsense on the Rangers 

In Gerry Fraley's latest column, he throws his customary wet blanket over the Rangers' success this season.

He compares them to the 2003 Royals, whom he claims were the "chic pick" to win this season -- never mind that every preseason projection I saw had the Twins or White Sox coming out of the A.L. Central, with the Royals generally slated for third.

He then throws in a factual error by claiming that if the Rangers had gone 15-15 instead of 14-16 over their last 30 games leading to the Seattle series, this series would actually be meaningful. However, if the Rangers had won an additional game against someone other than Anaheim or Oakland in that stretch, they'd still be able to finish no better than one game out of first with a sweep of Seattle.

The thing that really irritates me, though, is that he seems to blame Kansas City's struggles this year on their decision to sign veteran free agents, and then opines:

"The Rangers will face the same temptations that brought down the Royals.

Get a veteran free-agent hitter for the middle of the lineup. Sign some free-agent starting pitchers.

Don't do it.

That is how a sucker team gets stuck with hopeless right-hander Chan Ho Park for two more seasons.

The best course for the Rangers is to let this product grow and mature for at least another year."

The biggest need for the Rangers this offseason -- even bigger, I would argue, than another starting pitcher -- is a power hitting bat in the middle of the lineup. A close second would be a guy who can get on base to hit at the top of the lineup.

Fraley seems to be suggesting that the Rangers can succeed next year with essentially the same lineup they had in 2004. He seems to be falling into the trap, however, of assuming that because the Rangers' offensive performance is superficially acceptable, it doesn't need to be upgraded.

The Ballpark in Arlington is the most offensive-friendly stadium in the A.L., and inflates numbers accordingly. If you look at EQA, which takes into account park effects, the Rangers were 23rd in the majors -- behind such offensive juggernauts as the Mariners and the Mets.

Teixeira, Blalock, Young and Soriano were above average offensively, considering their positions, but DH, CF, C and RF were black holes, and Mench in LF was basically average. The disasters which were the DH and RF positions desperately need to be corrected if the Rangers are going to build on their current success. But it appears that Fraley would prefer to have the Rangers trot out Gary Matthews Jr. in RF and some sort of Chad Allen/David Dellucci combination at DH next season.

Fortunately, the DFW media seems to be convinced that adding a big bat is at the top of the Rangers' shopping list this offseason, with Magglio Ordonez's name being the most commonly mentioned. Troy Glaus, Carlos Delgado, and J.D. Drew are also names that are out there that the Rangers should be looking into.

But we are a lot more likely to suffer the Royals' fate -- irrelevancy and out of the race by May -- if we go into 2005 with the status quo.


Friday, October 01, 2004

Jaramillo a candidate for the Mets managerial spot 

With his old buddy Omar Minaya joining the New York Mets, Rudy Jaramillo's name is among those suggested as candidates for the vacant Mets managerial position.

It would be a great opportunity for Jaramillo, and a big blow to the Rangers, who are apparently prepared to make Jaramillo the highest paid hitting coach in the league.


Changes in the AFL roster 

The Rangers have announced that Wes Littleton and Matt Lorenzo will be replacing Chris Young and Kameron Loe in the Ranger contingent going to the Arizona Fall League this offseason.

My guess is that, with Young and Loe getting looks in the majors, the Rangers have decided to let them get more rest, and use the slots for younger pitching prospects.

However, it was my understanding that the AFL allows teams to send no more than one player from A ball to the league. Littleton and Lorenzo both ended the season at high-A Stockton, so unless the Rangers got a waiver, I'm not sure how they were able to place both guys.

Also, it is a little disappointing that Erik Thompson didn't get a bid. He's a guy who could use the innings, but unfortunately, his stock seems to have fallen since Fuson left the organization -- at 5'10", he doesn't fit Hart's preference for big pitchers.


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