Saturday, February 19, 2005

The DH Hunt 

T.R. Sullivan has a piece in the S-T today about the ongoing DH problem.

John Hart emerged from the batcave long enough to acknowledge that they didn't really fill the DH position like they wanted this offseason, but professes to be satisfied with the current DH situation, which is a platoon of Greg Colbrunn and David Dellucci.

Colbrunn is a decent bat off the bench, and Dellucci is an okay 4th outfielder, but a platoon of the two at DH means that you are largely punting a spot in the lineup. Given that the Rangers are likely to get no offense from the catcher position (particularly while Laird is serving his penance in AAA), and given that the CF and RF positions are likely to be sub-par, the DH problem becomes magnified.

Adrian Gonzalez and Jason Botts are kicked around as options, but Gonzalez looks like a singles hitter without much power or plate discipline, and Botts hasn't played above AA, and is the type of hitter (big swing, looks at a lot of pitches) that generally takes some time to adjust to new levels, making him a poor candidate to skip AAA and come right to the majors. Botts might be ready to DH in 2006, or even the second half of 2005, but I think bringing him up immediately would be a mistake.

Sullivan mentions three trade possibilities in his piece today. One of them, Cliff Floyd, is a name that has been kicking around since the 2004 season ended...he makes $13 million over the next two seasons, hits when he's healthy but can't stay healthy, and the Mets want to move him. Supposedly, the Mets have offered him to the Rangers, but there is no indication of what they want in return or how much (if any) of Floyd's contract they'll take on. As I've mentioned before, I like the Floyd option, but only if the Rangers aren't giving up much to get him. I'd give them a Travis Hughes or a Ruddy Yan to get Floyd, and would take on his entire contract, but if they want a Kinsler or a Hudgins as part of the deal, I've got no interest, unless they are going to pick up Floyd's entire contract.

Sullivan also mentions that the Tigers want to move either Bobby Higginson or Rondell White, but I'd hope that the Rangers would have no interest in either. They are mediocre players with lousy contracts, and even if Detroit were giving them away and paying their entire contracts, I'd have no interest in them.

Mike Sweeney is the third option, and Sweeney is a name that is intriguing. The Royals share the Surprise complex with the Rangers, so Rangers officials will get to look at Sweeney up close. And Sweeney has made it clear he's interested in getting out of Kansas City, a feeling that is likely mutual, given the three years, $33 million he is owed.

Now, I've got no interest in taking Sweeney and assuming his entire contract (unless the Royals want Chan Ho Park, which clearly wouldn't happen). And Sweeney's back problems are worrisome, since that's the type of problem that is hard to diagnose and project, and can de-rail a hitter completely.

But Sweeney is still just 31. If he can stay healthy at the DH slot, he's a pretty solid bet to be a decent hitter the next three years. The question becomes, how much of his contract is Kansas City willing to subsidize to get him out of town?

If the Royals were to pay half his contract, with Sweeney waiving his trade kicker (his salary increases by $1.5 million per season if he gets traded), and if the medical staff felt that Sweeney was a solid bet to return to health, then I'd definitely like to see the Rangers aggressively pursue him. The Royals have been after Kevin Mench for some time, but John Hart indicates that he won't deal Mench for a DH (and rightfully so, since that's just opening one hole to fill another).

But the Sweeney situation is worth keeping an eye on...I'd really like to see either Floyd or Sweeney as the Ranger 2005 DH...

Sweeney would be a pefect DH for the Rangers. Also, Buck would love him because he is known for being one of those "gritty", "hard-nosed" players. Who would we trade for him though? Saying that the Royals pick up around 4 million a year?
Excellent perspective, wholly agreeable but for one item .. RF may be a strength not a weakness. Hidalgo is one year from either having a good salary for his career, or busting down to the mediocre. I think the Rangers will get everything he is capable of, and he may be the best arm and second only to Matthews for coverage among the corner OF'ers. But yes, Sweeney might cost both salary and a player Buck is not anxious to shed, but is intriguing.
I'd want the Royals to pick up more than $4 million per year.

As for who we'd give up, I don't know. The Royals want Mench, but it doesn't make any sense to give him up as part of the deal.
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