Sunday, November 21, 2004

More absurd roster decisions 

This weekend was the deadline for adding players to the 40 man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft.

If players with a certain amount of service time aren't added to the 40 man roster by now, they are eligible to be selected by another club in the Rule 5 draft. If they are selected, the team taking them must keep the player on the 25 man roster for all of the 2005 season, or else offer the player selected back.

Usually only about 15-20% of the players selected in the Rule 5 draft actually are lost...nevertheless, it can be a useful tool, with Cy Young winner Johan Santana having been acquired through the Rule 5 draft by the Twins a few seasons back.

The Rangers opted to add Jason Botts, Nick Masset, and Josh Rupe to the 40 man roster. None of those players are particularly surprising...in fact, it was a mild upset that Botts, who was Rule 5 eligible last season, was not added in the 2003-04 offseason. Botts ended up not being selected, and had a very nice season in the Texas League, plus a quality AFL campaign. Rupe and Masset are young, hard-throwing pitchers who have had some injury issues, but are considered guys with upside.

The Rangers opted not to add outfielders Anthony Webster and Juan Senreiso, infielder Drew Meyer, and pitcher Erik Thompson, among others. Webster and Meyer aren't real surprising...Meyer had a bad, injury-plagued season, and still hasn't shown he can hit, while Webster had only a decent campaign in high-A. Meyer could possibly be chosen, since he'd likely be a serviceable utilityman right now -- he's no worse a player than Manny Alexander or Donnie Sadler -- but even with his speed and defense, he seems to be a longshot to be taken.

Senreiso had a bad AFL campaign, but is still a young, toolsy, high-ceiling outfielder...I would imagine someone will pop him just to take a look at him in spring training, although the fact that he's limited to the corner outfield slots defensively probably means he returns.

However, the fact that Erik Thompson is left unprotected is inexplicable and inexcusable. Thompson posted a sub-3 ERA, with 6.5 Ks per 9 and a K/BB ratio of close to 5 in AA. He just turned 22 in June, and has dominated in the lower levels, as well. The Rangers supposedly passed on him because of a shoulder injury this summer, but Thompson is a guy who can probably step in right now and be a decent long man in the bullpen. He throws hard, has excellent control, and is exactly the type of pitcher that teams use Rule 5 choices on.

What makes the decision on Thompson so baffling is the makeup of the 40 man roster right now. As has already been lamented here, Ben Kozlowski was lost to Cincy on a waiver claim, with the Rangers essentially giving up on him just as he should be returning to 100% from Tommy John surgery. Kozlowski and Thompson being excluded from the 40 man roster would make some sense if there were better players being protected.

However, the Rangers' 40 man roster currently includes Travis Hughes, a 26 year old reliever who had a worse year in AA than Thompson did in 2004; Edwin Moreno, who has only had one good season, in 2003, and didn't do much in 2004 while battling shoulder problems; Ramon Nivar, who is proving that the Rangers blew it by not dealing him in 2003 when there was some buzz around him; and Ruddy Yan, a non-prospect 2B who posted a sub-700 OPS in AA last season at age 23, and who is basically the poor-man's version of Jason Bourgeois, a 2B already on the 40 man roster.

That's what makes this so frustrating...it isn't that Kozlowski or Thompson are necessarily going to pan out. Thompson may not get selected. Senreiso may not get selected. The gamble may pay off.

What is frustrating, though, is that this organization apparently believes that Travis Hughes, Ruddy Yan, and Ramon Nivar are better prospects than Ben Kozlowski and Erik Thompson. And it is that inability to judge talent that has me concerned that we are going to see the likes of Danny Bautista and Tino Martinez sucking in Ranger uniforms come 2005.

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