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Thursday, March 31, 2005

DeRosa added to the 40 man roster 

The Rangers have apparently added Mark DeRosa to the 40 man roster.

This pretty much guarantees that he'll be the utility infielder this season, and that Ian Kinsler will start the season in AAA. Both those moves are the right thing to do, although you could definitely make the case that Marshall McDougall is more deserving of the utility infield job than DeRosa.

The Rangers are going to have to clear a spot on the 40 man to make room for DeRosa. Joaquin Benoit could be put on the 60 day D.L. or DFA'd...otherwise, Travis Hughes or Agustin Montero seem like the most likely candidates to get axed.

Greg Colbrunn, who will be starting the season on the D.L., apparently is not a candidate to get axed, as Hart announced that his roster spot is not in danger.

I just don't get it...Colbrunn has been hurt and unproductive the last two years, was awful this spring, and yet gets added to the 40 man anyway and has a secure spot while he sits on the D.L., waiting for his wrist to get better.

Makes no sense...


18 comments

BP's A.L. predictions 

BP's A.L. predictions are out, with their staff voting on divisional races, MVP, Cy Young, and the like.

Interestingly, the Rangers, while being picked to finish 3rd on average, were picked by the individuals to finish in every place from first to fourth in the A.L. West. Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock got strong support in the MVP predictions (and Teixeira seems to be the hot "dark horse" MVP choice around the country), and Kinsler was the 4th choice in the ROY race.


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Ben Davis clears waivers 

Catcher Ben Davis was waived by the ChiSox, and has apparently cleared waivers. If he doesn't accept an assignment to AAA, he becomes a free agent.

He's someone I wouldn't mind taking a look at. Supposedly has pretty decent defensive skills, although his hitting skills seem to have regressed. He's 28, though, and has a .242 career EQA...he's a better backup catcher than Alomar Jr., among others.


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The Transaction Oracle on the Riley trade 

The Oracle thinks Riley and Nivar both are pretty valueless...

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Blalock on his 2nd half struggles... 

The DMN with a piece on Hank Blalock's second half struggles last year...

Blalock seems to lay the blame on getting worn down as the season went on, and on pitchers taking advantage of his overaggressiveness at the plate. The latter issue is one that it seems will likely make Blalock vulnerable to some slumps over his career...he's one of those batters who, when he is going well, jumps on the pitcher early in the count. Pitchers pick up on that and stay away from the strike zone early on, and Blalock tends to get over-aggressive, flailing at pitches out of the zone, or the ones that Grady Fuson refers to as the "bitch pitch", the strike that you want to let go by early in the count because even if you make contact, you aren't going to make good contact.

You'd like to see Blalock strike a balance, working the count to draw a healthy number of walks while still retaining his natural aggressiveness, even though the two seem to be largely incompatible. But it is encouraging to see Blalock acknowledge the source of his problems in the second half of last year, and be realistic about what he needs to do to improve and continue to get better.


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BA on the trade 

Baseball America's analysis of Riley and Nivar...


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2005 Diamond Mind projects 

The 2005 Diamond Mind season projections are out...

The DM season projection has the Rangers finishing last in the A.L. West, but with an 80-82 record.

The issues they identify are the obvious ones...the Rangers were luckier (or more efficient) than average last season, in terms of runs scored and runs allowed based on individual components, and W/L percentage based on runs scored and runs allowed. The DM folks have issues with the Ranger starting pitching, and the best starter, Ryan Drese, has peripherals that suggest that repeating his 2004 success may be difficult. And no one of note, other than Richard Hidalgo, was added this offseason.

DM has had a hard time projecting Texas lately...after several seasons of projecting a record over .500, only to see the Rangers vastly underperform, last season DM projected the Rangers to lose 90 games, and the Rangers did much better than expected.

Interesting analysis, with the understanding that everything is based on statistical projections and modeling...


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Juan Gone hurt again... 

Juan may not be ready for opening day...

Yes, I know, I'm sure you are all as shocked as I...


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BP on Matt Riley 

In their Triple Play segment a few days ago, BP talked about Matt Riley being on the trade block. Given that he's now a Ranger, their analysis is worth checking out...


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Rangers trade Nivar for Riley 

The Rangers have apparently dealt OF/2B Ramon Nivar to the Orioles for LHP Matt Riley and veteran minor league catcher Keith McDonald.

Rumblings about the Rangers picking up Riley have been going on for a while, and I've got concerns about whether Riley is a good fit here, given that he's a flyball pitcher who walks a ton of guys and gives up homers...a bad combination for TBIA.

But he's a lefty who throws hard and was once a top prospect, and he should be able to fill the last spot in the bullpen until Francisco is ready to return. He's a worthwhile player to take a flyer on if he doesn't cost much, and by getting him for Nivar -- whose future is as a utility man, at best, and who was a questionable use of a 40 man roster spot -- the Rangers have made a very nice move.

This is really a no-downside move by Texas...Riley can work out of the pen and provide depth for the rotation while the injury situation with the pitchers sorts itself out, and Hershiser can see if he's salvageable. If he gascans here, you put him on waivers and try to slide him through and stick him in AAA, and you've lost little as a result. If he can turn it around, you've got an arm with a ton of upside that you picked up almost for free.

Nivar broke out in 2003 by hitting for a huge average in AA and AAA, but he's got no power and no plate discipline, and his baseball instincts are reportedly very poor, meaning that even though he has a ton of speed, he isn't a good basestealer or defensive outfielder. McDonald is a journeyman minor league catcher, who will caddy for Laird in AAA.

Very good acquisition for Hart & Co. here.


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Sullivan on Laird 

T.R. Sullivan has a piece on Gerald Laird today in the S-T.

Not surprisingly, Laird talks about how he's had to deal with the frustration of knowing he was heading back to AAA, after winning the job last season in spring training. Apparently, management is a little happier with his attitude over the past two weeks and the way his coming to terms with it.

Interestingly, Sullivan flat-out says that Laird had no chance of winning the starting catching job this spring, something that I had suspected was the case, given the statements made by John Hart this winter.

I still strongly believe that the organization has handled this situation very poorly...but hopefully, Laird will get his starting spot back soon enough...


1 comments

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Colbrunn situation 

Greg Colbrunn's wrist problem has flared up again. This is the same problem that cost him most of the last two seasons, according to Todd Wills in the DMN...
The parallels between the Colbrunn situation and the Astacio situation are interesting...both are guys who have missed most of the last two seasons with injuries, who were added to the 40 man roster despite there not appearing to be any other teams interested in giving them a major league deal, who have been awful this spring, who are struggling with injuries again, and yet seem to be guaranteed spots on the 25 man roster.
I don't get it.

3 comments

Chris Young, Adrian Gonzalez make the Opening Day roster 

According to T.R. Sullivan in today's S-T, Chris Young's performance yesterday was enough for him to nail day a spot in the starting rotation, beating out Ricardo Rodriguez for the last open slot.

RicRod could still end up on the major league roster, either in the bullpen as a middle reliever with Frankie Francisco on the shelf, or as the #5 starter if Pedro Astacio isn't healthy to start the season. I'd just as soon see the team cut bait with Astacio, who hasn't pitched well for several years and has had problems this spring, but they still seem as committed to plugging him in the rotation as they did when he was signed.

Gonzalez sticking as the DH is an interesting twist, as well, one that I touched on a couple of days ago. Colbrunn's awful spring, and the acknowledgement by management that he just isn't swinging the bat well right now, opened the door for Gonzalez, and he's apparently walked on through. The challenge for him is going to be to continue the progress he's made into the season, particularly since there doesn't appear to be a legitimate righthanded compliment on the bench, with Colbrunn on his way out.


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Baseball Toaster : The Griddle : Preview Week: American League Preview 

Baseball Toaster : The Griddle : Preview Week: American League Preview

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Monday, March 28, 2005

Soriano to the Rays rumor 

The St. Pete Times today mentions a rumor that the Rangers were willing to talk about parting with Alfonso Soriano in exchange for reliever Danys Baez.

I have a hard time believing there is much merit in that...Baez was acquired by Hart when he was with the Indians, and the Rangers want to dump Soriano, but I think they'd want a bit more in return...

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Revo with a lovefest for Alomar 

Jim Reeves' column today is a big lovefest about the character of Sandy Alomar, Jr., and the leadership he provides...

Too bad Alomar can't play anymore...


1 comments

Sunday, March 27, 2005

On Adrian Gonzalez and spring training stats 

Over at U.S.S. Mariner, there is a great discussion on spring training statistics. In particular, the fact that spring training statistics are largely irrelevant, but spring training performance is not, and the key in evaluating players in the spring is differentiating between the two.

One of the thing that any stathead will tell you is that the reliability of statistics is directly related to sample size...the more data you have to work with, both from the player you are looking at and his peers, the better you can evaluate his performance based on the numbers. The less data there is however, the more important observation and other subjective measures become in evaluating a player. For example, if I were given one game in a vacuum, and had to decide who the best player on a team was based on that one game, I'd be more inclined to trust my eyes than the box score, since anyone can go hitless or have a 3 for 4 game. But as the sample sizes increase, the objective data increases in reliability, making it less necessary to rely so heavily on the subjective.

Which gets us to spring training, where there are two data problems. First, you are talking about only a handful of ABs...for example, the other day, someone was lamenting that they were hoping that Gerald Laird would come into spring training and be hot with the bat, forcing the Rangers to give him the starting catcher job, but that a .250 average wasn't going to get it done. The problem is, though, that at the time, Laird was 7 for 28, barely a week's worth of ABs over the course of a season. Two more hits, and he's got a .321 average, and everyone is talking about how well he's hitting this spring. Anyone who has seen "Bull Durham" remembers Kevin Costner's drunken diatribe, about how one hit a week -- "a bleeder, a gork, a groundball with eyes" -- is the difference between being a major league regular and a bush leaguer. What he says is absolutely true, and highlights the sample size problem with baseball, since difference in a couple of extra bleeders or gorks or groundballs with eyes in the spring is the difference between a .250 hitter and a .320 hitter, and can be the difference between a player heading North and getting shipped out if a manager or G.M. gets to fixated on that data.

Along with the sample size problem, you also have players facing a huge variety of players in the spring...one candidate for a job could be facing mostly major league pitchers in his outings, while another is facing minor leaguers, and a couple of #3 starters who were throwing only breaking pitches to try to get ready for the start of the season. This makes comparing statistics from player to player in the spring much more problematic.

What Derek Zumsteg and Dave Cameron point out, though, in the U.S.S. Mariner piece, is that while spring training statistics shouldn't carry a lot of weight -- particularly in comparison to historic performance -- spring training performance is worth keeping an eye on, since a player who has spent the winter developing a new pitch, or who has gained some strength and power, or who, conversely, has lost a step, can reasonably be expected to have a larger deviation from their historic performance than would be expected. The key, of course, is differentiating between who has legitimately improved their performance, and who is simply on a hot streak.

Where this really becomes relevant for the Rangers is in regards to Adrian Gonzalez, whose torrid spring has the team considering him as their starting DH this season, rather than going with the planned Dellucci/Colbrunn platoon. The putrid performance of the D/C combo this spring, particularly in light of Colbrunn's lack of playing time the past couple of seasons, no doubt plays a role, as well, but Gonzalez has seized the opportunity and has put himself on the map with his play.

Now, I've spent the winter loudly disagreeing with those who have said that Gonzalez should be a candidate for the DH role in 2005, based on the fact that 1) his defense at 1B is one of his greatest attributes right now, and playing him at DH wastes that, and 2) he's not going to hit for enough power to be a productive DH. And at this point, Gonzalez's power, or lack thereof, is the biggest issue with him as a prospect, since how his power develops is going to be the largest factor in determining whether he's going to be the next Rafael Palmeiro (as his proponents suggest he can be) or the next Rico Brogna (as his detractors, including myself, suggest he'll become).

Scouts have felt that Gonzalez has the swing and the body where he can develop power, but it is one of the latest skills to blossom, and for some players, it simply never comes (see, e.g., Sean Burroughs). Gonzalez, however, has shown that missing power stroke this spring, and that is what has gotten him into contention to be the DH.

This is where the spring stats/spring performance differentiation becomes crucial...the fact that Gonzalez is slugging .678 or whatever it is right now is no reason to make him the DH this season. That is, in my mind, almost irrelevant. However, if Gonzalez has gotten bigger and stronger over the winter, if his approach at the plate has improved, if he has made real strides towards becoming the player that scouts thought he could become when he was the first overall pick of the draft, and if this represents a real, permanent improvement in his ability...if that is the case, then he should probably be the DH for the Rangers in 2005.

Again, though, the rub is in making the determination as to whether this is a real leap in ability, versus a hot streak...and that's the decision that Showalter, Jaramillo, and the rest need to make.


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Juan Gone wins Indians starting RF job 

The legend of Juan Gone continues...

Juan beat out Grady Sizemore for the starting right field job (although Sizemore would have been in center field, had he stuck)...Jody Gerut, though, should be back from injury before too terribly long, so once Juan gets hurt, they'll have other options.

I should start up a pool on when Juan will strain something and end up on the d.l.


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Saturday, March 26, 2005

Ryan Drese to start Opening Day 

After weeks of mystery, the Rangers have finally announced their Opening Day starter, and it is going to be Ryan Drese.

It is the logical move...the only two real candidates are Drese and Kenny Rogers. Drese was better last season, and has been stronger this spring, including going 6 solid innings today.

But Buck is big on respect and deferring to veterans, which made Kenny the slight favorite...however, Rogers' slow recovery from the flu allows them blame his illness for sliding him back, rather than it being a sign of disrespect, and he'll apparently start the home opener.


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Slowing down Danks 

The DMN notes column today indicates that John Danks, who has been slowed this spring due to a "slight groin injury", is likely going to end up at high-A Bakersfield to start this season, rather than AA Frisco, as management had hoped.

Frisco already has six candidates for the five rotation spots, although John Hudgins, whom the DMN mentions as one of the candidates, should probably be at AAA anyway.

As for Danks, this may be a blessing in disguise...he was one of the youngest players in the California League last season, and had a rough go of it against high-A batters. John Sickels, for one, mentioned that he thought he had been rushed, and it seems like sticking Danks in AA, less than two years after he graduated from high school, and when he hadn't shown the ability to handle high-A yet, would be moving Danks along way too fast.

Hopefully, Danks can go to Bakersfield, show he can handle the California League, and move up to Frisco sometime in June or July.


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On Torres, Nix and the centerfield situation 

I did a lengthy post this morning inspired by the S-T article by T.R. Sullivan indicating that Andres Torres had forced himself into contention for the 4th outfielder/CF platoon role.

But then Blogger ate it, and it disappeared...but the Cliff Note's version...

1) While my initial reaction was that Buck and Hart were overreacting to a strong spring by Torres, having looked at it more closely, I think it is a worthwhile idea.

2) Torres' minor league performance suggest he can be a Gary Pettis-lite type player, a guy who will give you zero power, but defense, speed, and enough walks to make his OBP respectable. And that is something that has value, given the makeup of the Ranger roster.

3) Nix maybe should have been in AAA last year, and he might be better served by going back down and playing every day and getting his offense going, rather than continuing to struggle in the majors.

4) If the Rangers could flip Matthews for something of value, and keep Torres as the 4th outfielder instead, I think that would be a smart move.

1 comments

Friday, March 25, 2005

My Fantasy Baseball draft 

Last night, we had the FBL in draft in my "primary" fantasy league, which consists of various and sundry Rangers fans from cyberspace. It is a 17 team roto-style league, 6X6, using OBP, slugging, homers, RBIs, steals, and runs scored on offense, and wins, saves, IP, ERA, WHIP, and Ks for the pitchers. 21 players -- 12 offensive positions, 9 pitchers, no bench.

I've been competing in this particular league since 2001, and have never won, but have finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th...not bad, considering there are generally at least 16 teams. This year, though, I'm as pleased with my draft as I've been with any of my drafts ever, and so I thought I'd run through it with everyone...

1st round -- Albert Pujols. Surprised he was there. I was going #2 overall, and was expecting to see Pujols go first, which would have left me choosing between ARod and Bobby Abreu. But ARod went #1, so I took Pujols.

2nd round -- Adam Dunn. Like a lot of statheads, I think he's got a great chance to break out, and his low batting average is irrelevant since we use OBP, and Dunn is always solid there. For the #33 overall pick, I thought this was a great bargain.

3rd round -- Vernon Wells. I didn't feel great about this pick, but I needed a CF (we use a LF/CF/RF/OF format for the 4 outfielders), and I think Wells should rebound and have a season closer to 2003 than 2004. But I didn't really like anyone else on the board that much -- Rivera, Prior and Garciaparra went immediately after Wells -- and I figured if I was going to reach for a "position" pick, it was going to be Wells at CF, rather than Garciaparra at SS or Kent or Giles at 2B, because I had a couple of sleepers in the middle infield I was more willing to wait for. So I held my nose and took Wells.

4th round -- Lance Berkman. One of the problems with having a very early (or late) pick in a serpentine draft with a lot of teams is that your second pick in the back-to-backs are more difficult, since you have a bunch of players (30, in this case) going off the board between choices. In this case, I saw a lot of guys disappear that I had flagged as possibilities, but Berkman slipped to me, and I just couldn't pass him up. Yeah, he's going to spend the first few weeks of the season on the D.L., but he's also a top-10 fantasy player when healthy, and with him sitting there at #67, I had to take him. I thought he was a terrific value there.

5th round -- Mike Lowell. Like Wells, a pick I didn't feel great about, but there was an early run on third basemen, and Lowell is a solid contributor, so I pulled the trigger, rather than have to poke around after the likes of Chone Figgins or Corey Koskie.

6th round -- Jeremy Bonderman. My first pitcher, and chosen much earlier than I usually take starters...my strategy is generally to load up on offense early, and get some middle of the road starting pitchers late in the draft. But Bonderman fits the profile of pitchers I like for fantasy purposes -- strikeout guy in a pitcher's park -- and like Dunn, he's someone who seems poised for a breakout, particularly given how well he pitched late last season. I wouldn't be shocked to see him go Oliver Perez or Johan Santana on the league this season...this was a high-risk, high-reward pick, but one I felt very good about.

7th round -- Larry Walker. Much like Berkman, a guy who will put up good numbers, but in an unknown number of ABs. He'll probably only get 450 ABs, but he'll put up good runs scored and RBI numbers in the Cards lineup, and will produce enough when he's not on the d.l. to make him a good value pick at #104.

8th round -- Khalil Greene. I had targeted Greene and Bobby Crosby at shortstop, and with Crosby going in the 7th, I figured I needed to jump on Greene. Another guy I see as being a legit candidate for a breakout season, someone who looks ready to establish himself as a top-tier shortstop, after a solid fantasy season in 2004.

9th round -- Mike Cuddyer. This prompted much groaning from folks, who apparently had targeted him as well. The beautiful thing about Cuddyer is that he qualifies as a second baseman, and he's finally going to play everyday in the hitter-friendly Metrodome. An 800 OPS from a second baseman is a steal in the 9th round...

10th and 11th rounds -- Odalis Perez and Adam Eaton. Interesting juxtaposition...I'm not a big Perez guy, but I've always loved Eaton, and been disappointing that he hasn't had more success. But like Bonderman, they are guys in pitcher's parks who should put up good strikeout numbers, and I seem to end up with Eaton in at least one league every season...I don't want to miss out when he has his 2004 Ben Sheets season.

12th round -- Craig Wilson. Great value pick here, I thought. It would be even better if he qualified at catcher, but now that he's finally playing every day in Pittsburgh, I looked at him as a steal when he dropped to #203.

13th round -- Andy Pettitte. Like Perez, I've always thought Pettitte was a bit overrated, but coming back from his arm problems, if he's healthy, he's a steal in the 13th round, and is one of the type of high-risk/high-reward pitchers I want to target in this range.

14th and 15th rounds -- Glendon Rusch and Jorge Julio. Our league requires you to fill three RP spots, and Rusch and Julio both qualify. Rusch had a decent season in the Cub rotation last year, and should start off there this season, while I want to see if Julio ends up re-claiming the closer role in Baltimore.

16th round -- Trot Nixon. A guy who should put up good numbers, even sitting against lefties. Got buried in the Yahoo rankings because of his injury last season, and slipped. Great value pick there.

17th and 18th rounds -- Brandon Backe and Tony Armas. Armas is a guy who, like Eaton, I always seem to end up with. If he can give me a few healthy months, he's worth an 18th rounder. Backe should stick in the Houston rotation this season, give me innings and some wins with a decent ERA and WHIP.

19th round -- John Buck. I needed a catcher. He was the best one left. Less than a 50% chance he's still on my roster come June 1, but I'll give him a shot.

20th round -- Wily Mo Pena. A guy who qualifies at CF, and he'll get playing time if Griffey or Kearns get hurt, which means he'll get playing time. Lousy OBP, but provides steals, homers and slugging. Basically a late-round flyer on a guy who has a chance of putting up huge numbers, and a much better chance of not reaching 400 ABs.

21st round -- Cliff Lee. He was on the board. I needed a starter. I think he's better than he pitched last season.

So that's it. I need to try to deal for a closer or two, and as always, my starting pitching will probably get churned, but I'm very happy with my draft. I'm quite optimistic about the coming fantasy season...

2 comments

A few Friday morning notes 

From the S-T today...

Astacio missed his start today, with a strained groin, but apparently is still going to make the rotation, although the Rangers are hedging their bets by leaving open the possibility that he'll start a minor league game instead of a major league game in his next start, which would allow him to go on the D.L. retroactively. I'd still rather see them cut bait with Astacio, and go with RicRod and Young in the rotation, but that looks exceedingly unlikely...

After all the hit batters the other day, things are apparently getting increasingly pissy between the Rangers and A's, with Ranger bench coach Don Wakamatsu and A's manager Ken Macha getting into a yelling match before yesterday's game, and a dispute arising over where the Rangers were taking BP. With the whole Bueno/Francisco fiasco last year, and the fallout from that, along with the all the games that will be played between the two teams this season, the Texas/Oakland dynamic is primed for a real rivalry to develop, something we haven't had for quite some time. I wouldn't mind at all, seeing some bad blood develop between the two teams...it would make the coming season a lot more interesting...

Finally, Frankie Francisco is apparently going to start the season on the D.L. This would seem to open up a spot for Joaquin Benoit, if he's healthy, Erasmo Ramirez, or the loser of the Chris Young/Ricardo Rodriguez battle for the last spot in the rotation. Montero, Bukvich and Hughes are all on the 40 man roster, but if any of them -- particularly Montero or Hughes -- are pitching in other than an emergency situation, there's a huge problem.


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Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Hardball Times with a State of the Rangers piece... 

A lengthy, well-thought-out piece at Hardball Times on the Rangers...

They aren't big fans of the direction the team is heading...


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Braves claim Bourgeois 

As expected, Jason Bourgeois didn't make it through waivers, being claimed by the Atlanta Braves.

I figured someone would grab him. He's not a great prospect, but he's still young and had a terrific season in 2003, making it rather inexplicable that the likes of Travis Hughes, Agustin Montero, and Ryan Bukvich were kept on the 40 man roster instead of him.

I know that the stock response from Ranger management would be that the H/M/B trio are more likely to contribute this season than Bourgeois, but that isn't really the point. If we need any of those three this season, we're going to be in trouble anyway. Those types of players can be found on the waiver wire at any point in time. There's no reason to have them around so they can throw a half-dozen innings out of the bullpen in a pinch, if it means losing someone like Bourgeois.

And that seems symptomatic of the management mindset right now...Kozlowski was supposedly dropped because he wasn't going to pitch in the majors in 2005. Danks and Diamond are being rushed because management wants them in Arlington quickly. The focus is on finding guys who can help now, rather than nurturing the farm to develop players who are going to help a couple of years down the road.

It wouldn't be such a big deal, if we had a $90 million budget and were geared to win now. But this is a .500 team right now, one that isn't likely to compete until 2006 or 2007, and even then, is going to need contributions from the farm system to succeed. A team can afford to trade or lose its minor leaguers if, like the BoSox and Yankees, it is spending lots of money on the major league team to keep it a playoff contender. But for a team with a small-market payroll, like the Rangers, to foolishly give away prospects so that they can protect the Agustin Monteros and Travis Hugheses, as a misguided insurance policy for the bullpen, indicates a lack of long-term planning by the front office.


5 comments

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Van Benschoten 

Back in January, when John Van Benschoten was diagnosed with a torn labrum that would sideline him for the season I suggested that the Pirate pitching prospect -- who was considered an elite outfield prospect, as well, when he was drafted -- should DH this season, given the high attrition rates of pitchers coming back from labrum tears.

Today's Ask BA fields that very question, but Jim Callis seems to be coming at it from the wrong angle. He dismisses the possibility, suggesting that the risk of further injury was too great to make it worthwhile for him to DH. But Callis appears to be ignoring the possibility that, given the labrum injury, Van Benschoten's prospects might be greater now as a hitter than as a pitcher, which would make the possibility that he'd delay his recovery on the mound somewhat moot.

I still think that the torn labrum jeopardizes Van Benschoten's future on the mind sufficiently that the Pirates should seriously consider returning him to the field. The guy hit 31 homers in college in 2001, and could salvage a career as an outfielder if he can get his stroke back.


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Five things from CBS Sportsline 

CBS Sportsline has their "five things to know" segment on the Rangers up...

Of course, #1 about the supposedly potent offense, even though the catcher, centerfield, and DH positions are likely going to be problematic, and two of the big bats they mention -- Alfonso Soriano and Richard Hidalgo -- are pretty big question marks...

The do acknowledge the strength of the bullpen, though, pointing out that the pen ERA was third in the majors and first in the A.L. They also mention that the team will be wearing black armpatches this season with "26" on them, in memory of Johnny Oates...


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Changes to the blog coming 

Just a note to let folks know that there likely will be some changes coming to this blog in the relatively near future...

Content-wise, I expect there to be little or no difference. It will still be me writing, updating just as often, and being just as antagonistic towards management and stats-oriented as always.

There will be some cosmetic changes, though, along with a new URL, as the Texas Rangers blog will be joining an affiliation of baseball bloggers, including some very talented folks whom I'm proud that I'm going to be associated with.

The changes should be in place by Opening Day, and I hope when the time comes, everyone will follow us over to the new site...


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Vince Sinisi's jacked-up arm 

Wow...a chilling story about the staph infection that almost ended Vince Sinisi's career this winter.

A reminder that what seem like simple, straightforward injuries aren't always that simple...


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Reeves on Soriano 

Jim Reeves with a column on Soriano today...

He's defending Soriano, claiming not to know what all the fuss is about, but his basis for thinking that Soriano is going to produce this year is 1) Mike Young thinks he's fine, 2) he's a high pick in a lot of fantasy drafts, and 3) he hit .280 with 28 homers last season.

I've already expressed my opinion on Soriano, and I'm not going to re-hash it here, but this is a really superficial look at the Soriano problem.


3 comments

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Gascanning 

From today's box score...

Travis Hughes, 1 1/3 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 K, 1 homer, 1 HBP, 2 ER
Agustin Montero, 1 1/3 IP, 4 hits, 2 walks, 0 Ks, 3 ER
Ryan Bukvich, 1 1/3 IP, 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 K, 1 HBP, 3 ER

All three of these guys came into camp as very questionable uses of 40 man roster spots, and all three have been awful thusfar this spring.


3 comments

Update on Soriano contract situation 

On Sunday, I mentioned that the Rangers should consider releasing Soriano, saying that the Rangers would only have to pay him $1.5 million if they did so.

I did this based on my understanding of arbitration-eligible player contracts, derived from this Baseball Primer piece from a couple of years ago. It says in part:

A player with a non-guaranteed contract or an arbitration award may be released up until the 15th day of spring training with 30 days' pay or from the 16th day of spring training until the opening of the season with 45 days' pay.

My reading of that included arb-eligible players who settled pre-arbitration. However, Jamey Newberg, who knows this stuff better than me, thinks that it applies only to players who go to an arbitration hearing, which would not include Soriano.

He's going to check the rules tonight, and confirm one way or the other, and I will update this whenever I find out for sure...


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Monday, March 21, 2005

On RicRod 

Hosannas for Ricardo Rodriguez, in the wake of his 5 inning, 0 run, 6 K, 1 walk performance yesterday. Mark Teixeira called it the best performance from any pitcher this spring, and Buck is saying that RicRod's lost time due to injury last year and over the winter is a non-factor now.

Good to see, and hopefully RicRod will force his way into the rotation. I'm not counting on it -- I still think he'll end up in AAA to start the season -- but he needs to pitch in the majors, and pretty quick.


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Rosenthal's 2005 A.L. predictions 

Ken Rosenthal offers his 2005 A.L. predictions...

Mark Teixeira is his pick for home run champ, and Alfonso Soriano the biggest name to be traded before 7/31. Both of those are quite reasonable choices...

The weird choice, to me, was Matt Clement as free agent bust of the year. Clement seemed to be one of the better signings this offseason...with Jaret Wright, Troy Percival, Magglio Ordonez, and Carl Pavano all in the A.L., Clement seems like a pretty far-fetched choice to be the f.a. bust of this season.

Oh, yeah, and some third baseman in New York was his pick for MVP...

3 comments

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Why Soriano shouldn't DH 

It has been suggested that, given the trainwreck which is Alfonso Soriano in the field -- especially this spring, with his hamstring giving him fits -- the Rangers should make him a full-time DH.

There's a problem with that, though.

Here are Alfonso Soriano's splits last season.

Against righthanders, he hit .284/.319/.471. He's hit .283/.317/.493 against righties for his career.

If the Rangers go with a platoon at DH in 2005, David Dellucci is going be the lefthanded part of the platoon.

Against righties last season, David Dellucci hit .254/.354/.472. For his career, Dellucci has hit .272/.352/.441 against righties.

Dellucci, both last season and over the course of his career, is a better hitter against righthanders than Alfonso Soriano is.

So if you are going to have Soriano at DH, he isn't going to play everyday...just against lefties.

Which means we are paying $7.5 million for a guy who will DH about once every three days.

Quite honestly, I'd rather the Rangers release him, pay him the $1.5 million they'd owe him for releasing him before the season, and use the $6 million saved to pay towards Cliff Floyd or Mike Sweeney.




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Cordero pitches 

Francisco Cordero pitched an inning in a minor league game on Sunday, giving up a homer and a single and striking out two in an inning.

No problems reported, which is good news...he appears to still be on track to start the season, which is critical, given that he was possibly the MVP of the team last season. If the Rangers are going to have any success this season, they need another big season from the pen, and Cordero has to be a big part of that.


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Rosenthal's Inside Dish 

Ken Rosenthal's Inside Dish today has a couple of Ranger tidbits.

He has praise for Ian Kinsler, saying that he could force his way into the starting lineup at 2B and allow the Rangers to trade Alfonso Soriano for starting pitching help. The problem with that scenario is that it assumes that Soriano could be traded for starting pitching help...I think, if the Rangers could get a starting pitcher for Soriano right now, he'd already be gone.

Rosenthal also suggests that Adrian Gonzalez could have Mark Teixeira moving to the outfield next season, but hints that Teixeira would balk at such a move...


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My prediction on Shawn Chacon 

I don't know if I've already mentioned this or not, but I want to make sure I'm on record with my prediction that the Rangers will pick up Shawn Chacon before the season starts. Probably for John Hudgins, or Gerald Laird.

Why Chacon?

Because I think the Rangers don't want to go into the season with two young starters in the rotation, and I think they don't want to go into the rotation with Park in the rotation.

I think they'd like to get someone via a trade, such as Chacon, and go into the season with a rotation of Rogers, Drese, Chacon, Astacio, and either Ho or Young.

I think they -- specifically, Hicks and Hart -- are terrified of the idea of starting the season 11-19 or something like that, and losing all the momentum they got from last season, and having the fans lose interest by June 1. You'd also have the fans screaming again about John Hart being here, Randy Galloway and Jim Reeves and the like writing snide columns about the do-nothing offseason and the highest-paid G.M. in the game doing nothing to improve the team...

I think management thinks that by having some established mediocrities in the rotation like Chacon and Astacio, it makes it less likely that they'll get blown out of the A.L. West race early, they can limp along at .500 until the ASB, and sell more tickets.

I don't think the front office thinks that this team is going to be a playoff contender, but I think they are extremely afraid that going with Rogers, Drese, the Ho, and a couple of kids will result in a bunch of early blowouts, the team getting buried, and attendance going into the tank, and this is a way to try to keep that from happening.

So I expect that we'll see Chris Young and Ricardo Rodriguez (who went 5 shutout innings today, with 6 Ks and just one walk) start the season in AAA, while Astacio, Chacon and the Ho hold down the #3 through #5 slots in the rotation.

And I expect that that will set the Rangers back a couple of months, as time that should be used evaluating guys like RicRod and Young will instead be used seeing if Astacio's shoulder can hold up for six innings.


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My thoughts, elsewhere on the web 

Sports Fan Magazine asked me to share my thoughts on the coming Rangers season, in a Q&A segment that can be found here.

Bloggers around the internet are doing similar pieces for their teams for SFM, with the links to their Q&As at the top of the Rangers Q&A.

Check it out...


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2005 Ranger preview -- Third Base 

It says a lot about Hank Blalock that his 2004 season -- where he put up a .269/.355/.500 line with quality defense at age 23 -- was considered to be something of a disappointment. A season where he put up a .283 EQA, had the 9th-highest VORP among major league third basemen, and was actually getting to face lefties for the first time was seen as a letdown. And I have to admit, I'm one of those who was disappointed.

Blalock has only himself to blame for these expectations, of course. A third round choice in 1999, Blalock was solid, if unspectacular, his first two seasons before exploding in 2001, tearing up the Florida State League and the Texas League, and earning himself recognition as one of the top 5 prospects in baseball by just about every entity that does prospect rankings. I remember watching him in 2001, in a series against Round Rock, and coming away very impressed with Blalock...despite being one of the youngest players on either team, he carried himself like a veteran, and hit the ball hard every time he came to the plate. Since then, he's been one of my favorite players, a guy I pull for more than just about anyone else.

After backsliding a bit in 2002, he rebounded impressively in 2003, earning an All-Star berth despite being one of the youngest regulars in the majors, and announcing his presence on the national stage with authority by homering off of Eric Gagne to give the American League the victory in that game. He ended the season with a .300/.350/.522 line, and was heralded as a budding star, the next great third baseman.

And it looked like he was taking that next step in 2004, starting the season hot, and going into the All-Star break with a 941 OPS, before falling apart in the second half, posting just a 743 OPS after the break, including a miserable July that saw him post a .190/.296/.330 line.

Despite the second-half slump, I'm not worried about Blalock for 2006. He's mechanically sound at the plate, has hit at every level, and I expect him to keep getting better. Even against lefties, believed to be his Achilles heel, he managed a respectable .282/.344/.436 line last season. And while he's been knocked for being unable to hit on the road, his home/road splits last season show that his extra-base hits, walks, and strikeout rates were similar at home and on the road last season...while he had a large split in OPS between his home and road performance, it was almost all attributable to his having 20 more singles at home. While Rangers hitters are almost always going to hit better at home than on the road, due to TBIA being such a tremendous hitter's park, the power and K/BB ratios suggest that the home/road differential for Blalock last season isn't something to be overly concerned about.

I'm expecting 2006 to be a consolidation year for Blalock, a year where he solidifies his position as an elite third baseman. While there were comparisons to George Brett when Blalock was coming up, the two guys who I see as being most comparable to Blalock are two active third basemen -- Eric Chavez and Scott Rolen. Blalock isn't quite at the level of Chavez defensively, and neither Chavez nor Blalock are close to Rolen with the glove (Rolen may be the best defensive third baseman since Brooks Robinson), but particularly offensively, they are very similar players...guys who should hit for average, draw a lot of walks, and hit for good power, while not being 40 homer guys. And Chavez and Rolen, like Blalock, burst on the scene very early, played very well, and then were perceived as mild disappointments because they didn't show a huge improvement in their early 20s.

I'm expecting Blalock, over the next three or four years, to perform like Chavez and Rolen at a similar age did, putting up EQAs in the .290s, with flashes that suggest that he could be doing a lot more. The George Brett comparisons early in Blalock's career may have put unreasonable expectations in everyone's mind, but the bottom line is, even if he never gets any better than he is now, he's still a very good player. And with the Rangers having locked him up with a five year deal before the 2004 season, we can expect to see him manning the hot corner for the Rangers for some time to come.

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Saturday, March 19, 2005

Rangers reassign three players to minors 

The Rangers sent three players to the minors today...Jason Standridge, Wilfredo Rodriguez, and Justin Hatcher.

None of them were going to make it on the 25 man roster, and as it stands, there are still 44 players in camp, which is an awful lot to have still hanging around this close to the start of the season, particularly when the 25 man roster is, other than one or two spots, already pretty much set.


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Evan Grant chat session 

Evan Grant hosted a chat session at the DMN website on the Rangers Friday...

Among other things, he picks them to finish 2nd in the A.L. West, thinks Chris Young will get the 5th spot in the rotation, and thinks that OBP isn't a priority for this management group in constructing a team...

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On Gerald Laird 

An AP piece on Gerald Laird, and how he not only lost his starting job when he got hurt, but is getting sent back down to the minors.

From the article: "We made the decision we're going to let Rod do the bulk of the catching," general manager John Hart said. "With the job he did last year, he deserves it."

Given that Barajas was a pretty mediocre catcher last year -- and was abysmal after the All-Star Break -- I'm not sure how the job he did means he deserves the starting catching job.

I still expect Laird to be packaged with John Hudgins for a starting pitcher in the next week to ten days.

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Long-term extension for Lance Berkman 

The Astros sign Lance Berkman to a 6 year, $85 million deal.

That gives us the minimum that Mark Teixeira will be looking for in a couple of years, in terms of a long-term deal.

And it also means that there are no marquee free agents that will be on the market this offseason...Berkman is the only player in the 2005-06 offseason I would have wanted the Rangers to break the bank on.


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John Sickels chat 

Chat session from two days ago on BP with John Sickels, the prospect maven who wrote for ESPN for quite some time.

Has some thoughts on Adrian, Botts, Kinsler and Arias...


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Alomar retires 

Unfortunately, it is the wrong Alomar.

Recall that Robbie Alomar, who is retiring, was a Ranger offseason acquisition target, as well.

With any luck, his brother Sandy Jr. will follow him into retirement in a matter of weeks.


6 comments

Friday, March 18, 2005

LeBreton with a puff piece on Mike Young 

Gil LeBreton had a column on Mike Young yesterday, and the opening sentence rubbed me a little wrong:

Michael Young is fast becoming the best shortstop a lot of people have never heard of.

I guess LeBreton went with that because it is a catchy intro, and plays into the whole "lack of respect" thing that the Rangers seem to want to thrive on...but it doesn't seem to match reality.

Young was an All-Star last season. He got a ton of publicity of succeeding He Who Shall Not Be Named at shortstop for the Rangers last year. He was generally credited, locally, as being the team MVP, even though Mark Teixeira was probably more worthy. The Baseball Tonight guys fawned over him all season, with John Kruk calling him the league MVP at one point?

So who are all these people who haven't heard of Mike Young? Even most casual fans know who he is.

It doesn't really matter, but it seems that too often journalists try to downplay the recognition level or notoriety of certain players, as if the player somehow should get even more credit if he is underrated.

And besides, if there's a "best shortstop a lot of people have never heard of", it is Mark Loretta -- more obscure than Young, and a better player the last couple of years.


5 comments

More thrilling Ranger news 

Evan Grant says this morning that "R.A. Dickey hasn't been counted out" for the 5th starter job...

So we could have a rotation to start the season of Rogers, Drese, the Ho, Astacio, and Dickey, while Juan Dominguez, Chris Young, and Ricardo Rodriguez -- the young pitchers who might actually contribute to a Ranger playoff team in a couple of years -- head back to AAA.


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Sullivan's Barajas piece 

A depressing article from T.R. Sullivan today, celebrating Rod Barajas's "defense, clutch hitting and leadership," and claiming he's "entrenched" at starting catcher for the Rangers, while Laird is heading back to AAA.

Barajas is a sub-par defensive catcher, and he can't hit, in the clutch or otherwise. I can't speak to his leadership, but I have a hard time believing it makes him for the fact that he isn't a good player.


3 comments

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A follow up to the Observer/Hart article 

Many thanks to Taylor, who in the comments portion of my previous entry on the Observer's John Hart piece linked this article from last spring, by the same author.

Taylor excerpted several choice tidbits, which I'd encourage everyone to check out...


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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A sympathetic view of John Hart 

From the Dallas Observer, a lengthy, sympathetic piece on John Hart suggesting he's been unfairly criticized by the Dallas media and sports fans.

As with a lot of Hart supporters, the writer is basically criticizing the critics, rather than defending Hart (although he seems to think Hart deserves praise for not trading away Melvin's young players who are now the core of the team).


3 comments

Astacio, Colbrunn, and veteran goodness 

According to T.R. Sullivan in the S-T today, even though Greg Colbrunn and Pedro Astacio are on the 40 man roster, they aren't guaranteed spots on the Opening Day roster, and still have to earn their way onto the team.

And if you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you...


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LeBreton column on Ricardo Rodriguez 

Pretty good fluff piece on Ricardo Rodriguez by Gil LeBreton today, celebrating RicRod's return from injury, and talking about how well he's been throwing this spring.

I still don't think he has a chance at a job out of spring training, but if/when Astacio or the Ho go down, he should get the call to join the rotation...

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Jason Bourgeois DFA'd 

Greg Colbrunn has been added to the 40 man roster today -- something the Rangers had to do, or risk losing him -- and to make room for him on the roster, they have designated Jason Bourgeois for assignment.

Adding Colbrunn wasn't exactly surprising -- he's apparently been pretty bad in spring training, but once Delgado didn't pan out, he was pretty much guaranteed part of the platoon DH role -- but dropping Bourgeois from the 40 man is disappointing to me.

A former 2nd round pick, Bourgeois was very disappointing last season, after seemingly having a breakout year in 2003, including posting a .329/.416/.473 line in a half-season at high-A Stockton. He spent all of 2004 in AA Frisco, putting up a .256/.315/.330 line, and struggling all season long.

He is just 23, though, and with guys like Ryan Bukvich and Travis Hughes on the 40 man roster, I question whether Bourgeois was really the guy who needed to go.

He'll likely get claimed by someone else...perhaps Milwaukee, since Doug Melvin drafted him in the first place.


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The Cordero Situation 

The S-T today has a piece on the Francisco Cordero situation, with the Rangers satisfied with where Cordero is after he yesterday threw to hitters for the first time this spring.

Cordero had had some shoulder problems that had sidelined him earlier in camp, but the reviews from yesterday's session -- where he threw 24 pitches to four minor leaguers -- were positive. Orel Hershiser is indicating that he should be ready to start the season.

The Cordero situation is huge, of course. The biggest reason that the Rangers won 89 games last season was the performance from their bullpen, which was one of the best in baseball last year. Cordero, of course, was the best reliever in the best pen in baseball, and with both him and Frankie Francisco on the shelf early this spring, there has been ample cause for concern about the state of the pen come Opening Day.

Francisco is apparently a couple of days behind Cordero, but is progressing, and the team sounds optimistic that they will both be ready to go. I certainly hope they are right...


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Monday, March 14, 2005

Prior problems 

Bad news for Cubs fans...Mark Prior is hurt.

He's having stiffness in his elbow, and is out "indefinitely". Kerry Wood is also on the shelf right now, with shoulder problems.

The Prior situation has to be alarming for the Cubs...he had elbow problems on a couple of different occasions last season, and this could be an indicator of a torn elbow ligament, which would require Tommy John surgery and knock Prior out until probably the All-Star Break of 2006.

If Prior is going to have T-J surgery, the Cubs would probably be best served optioning him to the minors...he has at least one option remaining, and by doing that, they'd avoid having Prior accrue a full season of service time while sitting on the D.L., and would delay his becoming a free agent for another season.

That said, T-J surgery would be a disaster for the Cubs' playoff hopes, particularly if Wood is also going to miss significant time. It would also hurt the Rangers' chances of moving Soriano to the Cubs, since, if they are missing Prior and Wood for much of 2005, they aren't likely to want to give up much for one season of Soriano.


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Sunday, March 13, 2005

2005 Ranger Preview -- Second Base 

I don't hate Alfonso Soriano.

I feel the need to preface my comments on the Ranger second base situation with that statement, because one of the most frequent accusations that is levelled at me is that I hate Alfonso Soriano. What is my motivation for supposedly hating Soriano? Either 1) because we got him in exchange for Alex Rodriguez, or 2) just because.

Now, with that said...the Ranger second base situation is a problem. The Rangers have waited too long to trade Soriano -- and I absolutely believe that Buck, at least, wants him gone -- to the point where they now aren't going to be able to get much of a return for him.

Part of the problem with Soriano is the perception that he's still a young player. He's not...with his true age having been revealed last season, we now know that he was 25 when he debuted, and he's currently 29 years old. A 29 year old is heading towards the end of his peak years, not towards a period of significant improvement. Soriano is, right now, likely about as good as he's going to get.

Which leads us to the second problem...there's a perception out there, at least among fans and the media, that he's a perennial All-Star, a player with a lengthy track record of success. In fact, he's been a regular for four seasons, and has been an above-average player for only two of them:

Age 25 -- .263 EQA
Age 26 -- .300 EQA
Age 27 -- .297 EQA
Age 28 -- .269 EQA

Soriano wasn't anything great with the bat as a rookie, which didn't surprise folks who looked at his horrible plate discipline and felt that he'd be unable to post respectable OBPs in the majors. Despite this, he had a breakout year in 2002, putting up numbers that made him one of the best second basemen in the league that year.

The thing that people seem to overlook now is that Soriano's 2002 season was, as John Sickels pointed out at the time, incredibly unique, and the big question during the 2002-03 offseason was whether Soriano would be able to repeat that performance, given his horrible K/BB ratios. Soriano's year wasn't necessarily viewed as the beginning of a lengthy stretch of greatness, but rather, as a possible aberration from a player without the skills necessary to have long-term success.

And for much of 2003, that skepticism looked to be well placed. After a hot start, Soriano struggled for much of the middle of the season, putting up an OPS for May, June and July of 756, 717 and 697, before finally ending the season red-hot in September, posting a 1056 OPS. His torrid September and April (when he posted a 1066 OPS) brought his overall numbers up to where they were close to his 2002 performance, but the streakiness throws up a big red flag.

So his struggles in 2004 weren't terribly surprising, at least to me. Moving to a hitter's paradise like TBIA helped mask some of his offensive decline, but his road numbers were abysmal (.241/.291/.444), and his EQA (which takes into account park effects) reflects that he regressed almost to his 2001 level of performance.

There is a tendency among a lot of folks -- not just Rangers fans, but the mainstream baseball media -- to dismiss Soriano's 2004 season as an outlier. He's got a track record of success, they say, and now that Soriano has spent a season in Texas and is comfortable here, he's sure to bounce back.

I question how comfortable Soriano really is right now -- he's a constant subject of trade rumors, the media is constantly reporting that his manager wants him gone, he was booed repeatedly last year, and he's currently hobbling around on a hamstring he hurt 5 months ago -- and even if he were more comfortable, I think the whole notion that a player will perform better in his second season with a club rather than his first just because he's used to his surroundings to be rather specious.

But more importantly, the first premise -- that his track record suggests that 2004 was an aberration -- simply isn't correct. People act like Soriano has half-a-dozen seasons of great play under his belt, when in reality, Soriano has now had four seasons in the majors -- in two of them, he was an average offensive player, and in two of them, he was an above-average offensive player. I can understand that a glass-half-full mentality and wishful thinking would lead one to say that 2002 and 2003 reflect the "real" Soriano -- that 2001 and 2004 shouldn't count, because in 2001 he was a rookie, and in 2004 he was adjusting to his new surroundings -- but I'm not inclined to grade Soriano on a curve for those two seasons, at least not for those reasons.

The other thing is that Soriano's arrival in 2001 didn't occur in a vacuum -- you can look at Soriano's minor league performance in 1999 and 2000 and use that to help gauge where his expected level of performance should lie. And Soriano's minor league numbers are underwhelming...in 1999, an OPS of 717 in AA and 598 in AAA, and in 2000, an OPS of 795 in AAA. When Soriano was thought to be 21 and 22 those two seasons, those performances aren't that bad...he's young for each level, after all. But the two year aging really hurts him in this regard...a 23 year old posting a 717 OPS in AA, and a 24 year old posting a 795 OPS in AAA, is going to dramatically lower his expected ceiling in the majors, particularly given his inability to draw a walk and his ridiculous strikeout totals.

So if you include his minor league numbers, and look at his performance from 1999 through 2004, what you see is a track record that suggests that the outlier isn't 2004, but rather, is 2002-03...looking over his entire career, in the majors and minors, the question that should be asked shouldn't be, why did he regress in 2004, but rather, why did Soriano have as much success as he did in 2002 and 2003? In light of his performance in 2004, I think those two seasons simply represent a performance spike, a period where he hit much better than he should reasonably have been expected to hit, and better than he should reasonably be expected to hit going forward.

Something else to take into account...when Soriano first came up, he was compared to Juan Samuel, a comparison I think is very apt. Like Soriano, Samuel was a poor second baseman with a ton of speed, good power, and a horrible K/BB ratio, who thrived on swinging at everything and putting as many balls as possible into play. Samuel never quite reached the heights expected of him, and his performance declined quickly when he approached 30. Another player who Soriano reminds me of, albeit less than Samuel, is Carlos Baerga, a cornerstone of several very good Indians teams in the mid-90s who rapidly went downhill after age 26 (although I wouldn't be surprised if Baerga were older than advertised, and were actually 28 or 29 in 1995, his last good season).

For much of the offseason, I've been saying that I thought Soriano would hit somewhere between the way he did in 2003 and the way he did in 2004. Looking at all this, though, and taking into account the problems he's having this spring with his hamstring, I'm moving my projection downward. I'd be very surprised if Soriano posted an EQA higher than .275 this season, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he was worse offensively in 2005 than he was in 2004. I think Soriano is on his way downhill, which is why I'm so opposed to a long-term deal for Soriano, particularly with the idea that he'll DH in a few years. As it stands right now, I don't think his bat is good enough to keep him in the lineup as a DH in 2005, and in 2007 or 2008, it may not be good enough to keep him in the lineup as a 2B.

Now, the common response from Soriano fans is that, even if he doesn't hit any better than he did in 2004, he's an asset, because how many second basemen hit 30 homers? The answer, of course, if very few, but the problem is that Soriano doesn't bring a whole lot more to the table offensively. His OBP is sub-par, and his slugging percentage, even with all those homers, didn't crack .500 last season. Plus, his steal numbers have dropped every season since he entered the league, and he only recorded 18 last season, a number he's not likely to improve on if he's still skittish about his hammy.

That said, his .267 EQA is above-average for a second baseman. According to Baseball Prospectus, Soriano was 9.6 runs above average for a second baseman offensively last year.

But that, alone, doesn't make him an above-average second baseman. Normally, I don't put a whole lot of weight on defense, but Soriano is so bad in the field, it drags him down significantly. BP puts Soriano at 13 runs below average defensively last year, and while BP's defensive stats aren't perfect or exact, that seems like a reasonable number...if anything, it might be on the low side.

So combining defense and offense, Soriano was 3.4 runs below average for second basemen last year. I don't expect that to improve in 2005, when he'll be making $7.5 million -- about 20% of the non-Ho payroll budget. And then folks wonder why no one wants to give up anything of value for Soriano, or why I so badly wanted Soriano to be dealt this offseason, and Todd Walker or someone of that ilk added.

I expect Soriano to be gone come 2006, either because he's dealt at the trade deadline, or because he's non-tendered next offseason. He's in line to make $10 million or so in arbitration after 2005, so absent a huge season from him, there's almost zero chance any team would trade for him and go to arbitration, and almost zero chance the Rangers would go to arbitration with him. The only reason they might bite the bullet and refuse to non-tender him would be because they'd rather pay the money and save face than admit that the Soriano part of the ARod trade was a bust, which would be the tacit admission if they non-tendered him and let him walk without getting anything in return. That would be the worst scenario for Texas...Soriano having a 2004-esque season this year, the team not being able to trade him, and deciding they have to go to arbitration with him and keep him around to DH in 2006.

The news is better if they can find a taker for Soriano. Ian Kinsler leapt into the public consciousness last year by hitting .400 with a double a day in low-A Clinton, before being skipped a level and promoted to AA Frisco, where he continued to hit the ball well, hitting .300/.400/.480 in the Texas League. Kinsler was drafted in the 17th round in 2003 as a shortstop, and was viewed before the season as an organizational depth guy who made pick it well enough to be a viable utility player someday. But he turned heads in spring training -- both Jamey Newberg and Mike Hindman of the Newberg Minor League Report came back from Surprise raving about him -- and impressed all season long. He cracked Baseball America's top 100 prospect list, and Baseball Prospectus slotted him as the #21 prospect in baseball, high praise for a guy who saw almost 500 players get picked ahead of him less than two years ago in the draft.

With Young ensconced at shortstop, Kinsler has been playing a lot of second base in camp, and has been hammering the ball. I think Kinsler would be best served going down to AAA and playing second base every day for the time being, but if he can avoid being dealt (he was part of the trade to Colorado for Larry Walker that Walker vetoed last year, and is supposedly a hot commodity with other teams), I wouldn't be surprised if he was the Rangers' starting second baseman by August. He's described as a Mike Young Starter Kit, and if he can come up and hit like Young has the past couple of years, and play defense like Young does at second base, then the middle infield for the Rangers is in pretty good hands.

5 comments

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Latest from Gammons 

Gammons has a new column up on espn.com...

Two Rangers items...on his list of young players MLB should be marketing, he includes Mike Young, Mark Teixeira, and Hank Blalock (as a trio), saying they are about "team, talent and playing the game the right way."

He also says that Shawn Chacon to the Rockies is the rumor that just won't die...as I mentioned earlier, I'm really afraid the Rangers are going to panic and overpay to get Chacon, giving up a Kinsler or a Hudgins.


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S-T with a feature piece on Blalock 

Kathleen O'Brien of the S-T has a nice feature piece on Hank Blalock today. Typical stuff...hard-working, supposedly overlooked because of the other stars in the infield (something I'd disagree with -- Blalock is possibly the most prominent member of the infield right now)...

O'Brien does say that Blalock wants to improve his patience at the plate this season, lamenting Blalock's 149 strikeouts in 2004, which was second in the A.L. Blalock did draw 75 walks in 2004, boosting his OBP to an extremely respectable .355, but Buck is expecting him to reduce the Ks and increase the bases on balls this year.

If he can make some improvements in those areas, he could start putting up Bobby Abreu-like offensive numbers...an OBP approaching .400, with a slugging percentage in the .525-.550 range. That would put him solidly among the offensive elite in the league, and put him right there with ARod, Chavez and Rolen among the best third basemen in baseball.


2 comments

Friday, March 11, 2005

More problems for Dominguez 

Juan Dominguez was yanked early from his outing today, despite reportedly throwing fairly well, apparently for a couple of mental errors -- a bad pickoff throw and failing to backup home plate on a run-scoring single.

And so continues the saga of the third of the three young rotation candidates. Dominguez has a better arm than either Ricardo Rodriguez or Chris Young, but seems to have alienated the coaching staff with his attitude and his lack of focus. Buck seems to have little patience with these sorts of headcases, and these sorts of episodes lead me to believe Dominguez is going to be gone soon.

And speaking of headcases who will be gone soon, Soriano was hitless again today, bringing him to 0 for 16 for the spring. He also made an error and, according to Grant, was tentative on a couple of balls hit towards him that went for singles. Showalter continues to claim that Soriano will be ready, although whether that is wishful thinking or trying to prop up Soriano's trade value, I'm not sure.


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Rangers and revenue sharing 

Thanks to Mark Holden for pointing out this Jayson Stark column on revenue sharing.

According to Stark, the Rangers are going to get $8 million from revenue sharing this year. They are also getting $20 million from the national TV deal, $4 million from the new XM radio deal, and between $6-8 million from major league baseball's "central fund". Add the $2.5 million the Rangers get from the Ameriquest Field naming rights, and the Rangers are getting a little over $40 million, guaranteed, without selling a single ticket or concession, and without taking into account any of the local media revenue (and the Rangers have a pretty lucrative local TV & radio deal).

To put this into perspective, if you take away Chan Ho Park (and goodness knows Hicks wishes somebody would), the payroll for the rest of the Rangers' roster comes in at about $40 million...less than the guaranteed money Hicks gets from MLB and the naming rights to TBIA.

Just in case anyone out there still believes Hicks' cries of poverty...the fact that this team -- a large market team -- is limping along at a $53 million payroll is an embarrassment. Hicks needs to sell the club.


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Thursday, March 10, 2005

RicRod gets rocked 

After a solid debut outing this spring, RicRod got rocked today by the ChiSox, giving up 5 runs in 3 1/3 IP, although he didn't walk anyone or give up any homers.

The one positive, though, is that his arm seems to be fine...Rodriguez says that there wasn't any pain or problems from the broken elbow, he just left the ball up.

Soriano went 0 for 3 to remain hitless for the spring, although I haven't seen anything about whether he's still hobbling around. He did play second base, for what it is worth...

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

An M's fan on Woody Woodward 

As promised, M's blogger Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing (formerly Leone for Third) has put together an excellent piece sharing his thoughts and comments on Woody Woodward, the misfit former Mariner G.M. that John Hart has added to the Ranger front office, which he has graciously allowed me to post in its entirety...

Jeff Sullivan on Woody Woodard

Woody Woodward isn’t the worst general manager that ever lived.

This is a necessary preface, because Seattle fans hold strong negative opinions about their former GM, and tend to overstate their case.

No, Woodward had his moments. Perhaps more important than anything else, the Mariners won 49% of their games over the 11 years that Woodward ran the team. It doesn’t seem like much, but when compared with the team’s .417 winning percentage over the first 12 years of its existence (immediately prior to Woodward’s hiring), it represented a significant performance leap. The Mariners finished above .500 for the first time in franchise history under Woodward, twice winning the division and once making the ALDS.

People usually point to that magical 1995 season as the high point of Woodward’s career – the team’s incredible late-summer rally to win the division, followed by the historic comeback against the Yankees, are considered to be the defining moments that saved baseball in Seattle.

And yet, 1995 isn’t so much a representation of Woodward’s accomplishments as it is an example of his shortcomings. In typical Woodward fashion, the Mariners entered the season with problem areas that hadn’t been addressed over the offseason – they were missing an outfielder, the rotation had no depth behind Randy Johnson, and the bullpen had problem arms in line to collect too many innings. As a result, Woodward was forced to improve the roster as the season progressed, adding Tim Belcher, Salomon Torres, Norm Charlton, Warren Newson, Andy Benes, and Vince Coleman in six separate transactions during the summer.

In what has become the lasting impression of the Woody Woodward regime, the additions didn’t work out as well as hoped. Charlton was fantastic, and Newson was an effective spare part, but Coleman’s impact was greatly exaggerated, and the Benes/Belcher/Torres trio combined to allow 196 runs in 314.1 innings out of the rotation. The Mariners were able to ride Randy Johnson and a hot core of the lineup into the playoffs, but the inability to surround the key star players with productive low-cost solutions held the team back, and even the valiant efforts by Jay Buhner, Ken Griffey Jr., and Johnson weren’t enough to defeat the Indians in the ALCS.

A common criticism of Woodward is that he could never build a consistent winner despite having Edgar Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Buhner, Alex Rodriguez, and Randy Johnson on the roster – even at the same time, for a stretch near the end of his career as GM. And this criticism isn’t without merit, because Woodward had a flawed vision of how to build a championship roster. Never one to understand the notion of “freely available talent” or “replacement level,” Woodward allowed left field to be a revolving door for an entire decade, despite the fact that the corner outfield is one of the easiest positions to adequately fill on the cheap. Such notable attempts at solving the problem include trading Bill Swift, Mike Jackson, and Dave Burba for Kevin Mitchell, and later flipping a then-promising southpaw in Andy van Hekken for Brian Hunter, arguably one of the worst everyday players in the league.

Woody Woodward was a dangerous hybrid of poor scouting ability and over-aggression. He had trouble identifying weak areas of the roster during the winter, preferring to wait until they proved themselves problematic over the course of the season. By the time the season was well underway, he wasn’t too bad at recognizing a roster hole, but he had trouble locating potential improvements on other teams. Once he found a player who he thought could help, he did whatever he could to bring that player to Seattle. If nothing else, this kind of methodology kept Mariners fans on their toes, but it was a significantly flawed plan of attack that led to such moves as dealing Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb, and later giving away Jose Cruz Jr. – the last homegrown Mariner position player to establish himself at the Major League level – in exchange for Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric. You can also see this thinking in the 1995 moves – Woodward gave up Ron Villone and Marc Newfield for Benes, no small package at the time, and Roger Salkeld was a hefty price to pay for Belcher.

During his 11 years at the helm of the Seattle Mariners, Woody Woodward transformed a hopeless, abysmal franchise into an occasionally palatable one. He was bold, if not excessively so, and it’s not unreasonable to suggest that the organization’s hiring of the über-conservative Pat Gillick following Woodward’s resignation was a reaction to the previous regime. For, despite Woodward’s aggressiveness on the market, things didn’t really improve. Between 1989-1999, the Mariners’ problems never changed – they always struggled to find a left fielder, the never had too much depth in the rotation, and the bullpen was an annual nightmare. Major deals that aimed to make the team better almost invariably bombed, from the Mitchell failure to Slocumb/Timlin/Spoljaric acquisitions to the awful Tino Martinez trade in 1995. There’s a reason that Mariners fans were so forgiving of Gillick’s conservative nature, and that’s that everyone remembered the alternative.

No, Woody Woodward isn’t the worst GM that ever lived. He’s the worst the Mariners have ever had, though, and that’s bad enough to make all of us cringe upon the mention of his name. That he hasn’t yet joined the Devil Ray organization, which has employed the execrable Cam Bonifay and Syd Thrift as advisors to Chuck Lamar, suggests that his career still has a little steam, but there’s no real benefit to having Woodward hang around a front office, and the Rangers are worse off for hiring him.

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Galloway with Ranger notes 

Galloway's Ranger column today is a collection of Rangers notes...particular items of interest...

He says that Hicks was unhappy about Teixeira's comments over the weekend, about the team needing to step up and spend money like a big-market club. He also says that there is a significant group of players who are not happy about the fact that the team did virtually nothing to upgrade this offseason.

Both items aren't terribly surprising, and are, if anything, encouraging...Hicks doesn't care about what the fans think, and I doubt that he cares much about what the players think, but grouchiness from within about the budget certainly can't hurt.

Galloway also says that the Rangers are looking to make a trade for a starting pitcher immediately, rather than waiting until the end of the spring, and are offering prospects that were previously thought to be untouchable. That's a scary thought, and brings to mind the deals that haunted Hart in Cleveland (Sexson for Wickman, Giles for Rincon). The guys who I'd think are being shopped are Kinsler (who has impressed, but still seems to be behind Arias), Hudgins (a Fuson-type pitcher, not a Hart-type flamethrower), and Danks (struggled after being promoted to high-A last year, which may have the organization concerned that he's not going to be able to be fast-tracked, and has the pedigree to bring a nice return). The problem is, there's not much out there in the way of starting pitching that is going to represent much of a significant impact.

I'm afraid we're going to see Kinsler and Hudgins flipped for some run-of-the-mill #3/#4 starter, due to the team's misguided notion that they are a starter away from being a legitimate playoff contender. That would be a huge mistake...I hope that the team is just kicking tires, and isn't seriously pursuing this.

Galloway also says that Soriano's trade value is "zero", according to several sources. I'm not surprised. As I've said before, I think the Rangers have waited too long to try to deal Soriano. His hamstring issues and Kinsler's play this spring are simply eating away at what leverage the Rangers have...the time to deal him was last spring or summer, not now, and ultimately, I think the Rangers (and us fans) are going to be very disappointed in what Soriano brings, if they can even deal him.


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BP on the Rangers 

BP's Triple Play today features the Texas Rangers, and hits on Laynce Nix and Ryan Drese in particular.

Nothing earthshaking in their look at Nix...he started off fast last year, cooled off dramatically, was awful in the second half, and could get squeezed out by all the outfielders that are under contract right now.

On Drese, they point out something that I'd missed...Drese had one of the highest batting average on balls in play of any starting pitcher last year, at .303. High BABIPs don't generally go with breakout, might-be-a-fluke seasons...it is usually the other way around, with lower BABIPs driving a fluke season. His walk and homer rates were much lower than usual last season, which BP suggests could indicate a fluke, but they are missing the fact that Drese wasn't a sinkerball pitcher until 2004...before then, he'd tried to throw everything by batters, with little success.

They seem on board with the Rangers giving him a 2 year, $2.5 million deal with a third year option at $3 million, and I agree...that contract is a great bargain for the Rangers. Even if Drese is awful in 2005, they aren't paying him much, and if he's close to as good as he was in 2004, they've got him locked up for a very reasonable amount for the next three seasons. Great signing by Texas...


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Juan Gone has an owie 

Stop the presses...

Juan Gonzalez, who is on a minor league deal with the Indians, has a strained hamstring. No timetable on a return.


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Juan Gone has an owie 

Stop the presses...

Juan Gonzalez, who is on a minor league deal with the Indians, has a strained hamstring. No timetable on a return.


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The Baseball Analysts A.L. West preview 

The Baseball Analysts website does an A.L. West preview, including Jeff Shaw of U.S.S. Mariner and Tyler Bleszinski of Athletics Nation in a roundtable discussion.

Suffice it to say, they don't think the Rangers will be good...Shaw predicts 72 wins, Bleszinski 75 wins, with everyone agreeing that they'll finish last.

I'm a pessimist, but even I don't think the Rangers are likely to be that bad this year...


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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Galloway defends the Ranger offense 

Galloway's column today takes to task the "number crunchers" in the Rangers front office, who feel the Ranger offense last year was a disappointment.

Galloway disagrees, but as best I can tell, Galloway is wrong, and the argument he is refuting is wrong.

Galloway's position is, quite simply, the Rangers were fourth in the league in runs scored, so the offense was fine. However, that ignores the fact that the Rangers are playing in the run-inflating environs of TBIA, which boosts the raw run totals. The offense on the road was miserable, and when you factor in the inflation value of TBIA, the Ranger offense was mediocre last year.

However, the argument he claims the other side is making -- that the Rangers were 10th in batting average last year -- is bogus as well. The team batting average isn't terribly relevant, and doesn't explain why the Rangers' offense was sub-par last year. It was the team's 11th place finish in OBP that was particularly damning, combined with the fact that any stat that takes into account park effects put the 2004 Ranger offense in the bottom half of the league.

I like Galloway, but he's dead wrong here. The offense wasn't good last year, and it isn't some butt-covering or a front office plot that leads to that conclusion, as he suggests...it is simple reality.

Galloway seems to be using the offense argument into a segue about front office plots against Rudy Jaramillo, which may or may not be valid...personally, I think the Jaramillo Cult has overstated his influence, and would prefer to see our young hitters trying to draw some walks rather than hacking at everything they see at the plate.

Regardless, the pitching was better than the offense last year. And Galloway is falling prey to one of the oldest traps in baseball...ignoring park effects when determining how well the offense or pitching staff performed.


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Monday, March 07, 2005

Soriano's hamstring 

Alfonso Soriano isn't doing much to dispel the notion that he's a headcase, as he was limping around in the locker room on Monday after coming out an inning ahead of schedule from the exhibition game.

Soriano missed the last couple of weeks of last season with a hamstring injury, which has hobbled him at the beginning of this spring training, and claimed that his hamstring still didn't feel right. According to Showalter, though, "There wasn't anything wrong. He's structurally okay. He needs to build his confidence by playing."

Showalter remains in a precarious situation with Soriano...it seems pretty clear to me that Showalter wants Soriano gone, and there were widespread stories at the end of last season that Soriano was going to be dealt. There apparently was little interest in him this past winter, though, owing to his $7.5 million salary for 2005 and his disappointing 2004 season. Showalter seems to be losing patience with Soriano -- whose hamstring pull occurred almost 6 months ago -- but he can't get negative about him publicly without damaging what trade value Soriano does have.

I still think the Rangers are going to make a serious push to try to move him at the end of spring training -- Houston and the Mets still seem like the most likely candidates -- because if they don't trade him now, they're not going to be able to move him during the season unless they fall out of contention (which is probably a more real possibility than management wants to admit). And if they don't trade him during the season, they're likely going to have to non-tender him after 2005, since he's not going to be worth the $10 million he'll get in arbitration next offseason unless he has a substantial rebound season. Ian Kinsler is hammering the ball and has seemed to have impressed Buck, and he could slide in quite nicely next to Mike Young at second base if need be, although given that he only has a half-season above low-A ball, I'd like to see him spend at least a half a season in AAA, particularly since putting Kinsler on the 25 man roster necessitates clearing a 40 man roster spot.

But if Soriano continues acting squirrelly about his hamstring, no one is going to want him, which is only going to make Buck -- who tends to have little patience with injuries anyway -- more irritated. Soriano has never had a serious injury before, and hamstring injuries can kill a player who relies on speed, so it makes some sense that Soriano is tentative right now. Still, it will be interesting to see how this plays out...


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Sickels: Texas Rangers Top 20 Prospects 

John Sickels ranks his Texas Rangers Top 20 Prospects...

Interesting list...not much to disagree with in the top 5, but then it gets divergent, with Mike Nickeas checking in at #9, very high for a relatively late round 2004 draftee. Joaquin Arias is at #10, lower than most folks have him, but as Sickels points out, his lack of walks and power mean that even with a .300 average, his OPS is sub-par. Additionally, Sickels is critical of his defense and baserunning, although he says the speed and athleticism is there.

Arias evokes the major stathead/scout split, of course...scouts love the tools, statheads look at the stats and can't figure out what's so special about a guy who projects to be the next Cristian Guzman.

Jason Botts and Kam Loe both get C+s, and at #12 and #13, respectively, seem a bit low to me. The negatives for both are well known...Botts is old and (some think) has a hole in his swing, while Loe is a finesse righty (although his frame is such that he could add velocity, like Chris Young did last year).

The big surprise on the list is Mark Roberts, who comes in at #16, right behind Matt Lorenzo, while guys like Juan Senreiso, Erik Thompson and Ramon Nivar don't make the cut. Roberts was an 8th round choice out of Oklahoma in 2004, posting a very impressive 54/14 K/BB ratio in Spokane last year. But he was drafted as a senior, and as a guy who turns 23 in June, he's going to need to move up the ladder quickly to justify the ranking.

Good list, though, and Sickels' blog is a must-read.


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Shawn Chacon and the Rangers 

The Denver Post today is reporting that the Rockies are continuing to talk to the Rangers about Shawn Chacon, but that no deal seems likely because there's no agreement on what prospects Chacon is worth.

While I'm a Chacon fan -- I even suggested a few years ago that a Mike Young for Chacon deal would make sense for both teams -- I wouldn't give up much, if anything, of value for him. After being solid, if unspectacular, as a starter from 2001-2003, he was awful as a closer last year, and has been bumped back in the rotation by Colorado. He's making $2.35 million for 2005, and if he isn't non-tendered after the season, he likely will be after 2006, making him a one- or two-year solution.

Ian Kinsler is the guy the Rockies supposedly want in return -- if you recall, he was supposed to go to Colorado with Erik Thompson in exchange for Larry Walker last summer -- but Hart seems dug in on not giving up Kinsler in this deal. Chacon, though, is someone like Pedro Astacio and Sidney Ponson, who the Rangers have seemingly been interested in ever since John Hart got here, so I wouldn't be shocked if something ended up happening with him, if not now, then this summer, if the Rangers stay in the race.


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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Galloway, Teixeira on the Ranger financial situation 

Galloway today calls out Tom Hicks on the Rangers' finances. And this time, he's got Mark Teixeira echoing some of the same concerns.

Rather than try to summarize, I'm going to quote a significant portion of Galloway's column:

"I would hope," he said Saturday, "this is an organization willing to do whatever it takes to win.

"Be it by trades, in free agency, or in getting our own players signed, we need to step up and go to the next level with all that."

Listen closely, and you can hear an "amen" chorus from Surprise Stadium clubhouse cubicles to the left and right of Teixeira.

Here in Surprise, lined up against the back wall of the Rangers' clubhouse, the locker roll call includes maybe the finest collection of young talent in the majors.

Your faith in baseball can be restored just by listening to and watching this good-attitude group.

But winning is still the bottom line, and don't think it went unnoticed by the young horses when management failed to bring in help when the Rangers were in divisional contention late last season. Or again, when major needs were not properly addressed in the off-season.

Or when the owner flip-flops from one spring to the next, be it the "financial flexibility" sermon of last March, to the "fan support will determine payroll" nonsense of this March.

"What comes first, winning or the fans?" Teixeira said. "To me, that's an easy answer. In our market, the fans have already proved they will come to our beautiful ball park if we put the right product on the field.

"That should not be an issue for us. We aren't Oakland or Minnesota. We are in a top market. If our organization does its part, and we do ours on the field, the fans will support us."


That last part is the key thing. Teixeira is right...this is a big market team. While it shouldn't have payroll up there with the Yankees and Red Sox, it should at least be on the fringes of the top 10, given the stadium revenue and local media deals.

Instead, this is a team with payroll in the bottom third. Just a year after Hicks put $70-80 million as the target payroll range where the Rangers "ought to be", payroll is now at $53 million. Just a year after the ARod deal was trumpeted as giving the team "financial flexibility" to make significant moves going forward, the Ranger payroll in 2005 is less than it was in 2004 -- without ARod.

The organizational lapdogs will no doubt parrot the team's line that the extensions to guys like Drese, Blalock, Young, and Cordero are the result of the new "financial flexibility". That simply isn't true, though...those are smart moves to lock up guys for below-market salaries, moves that the team would be making whether ARod were here or not.

And in the meantime, Hicks is now blaming the fans for payroll being so low, claiming that only if more fans turn out in 2005 will he be able to raise payroll.

Meanwhile, Galloway also touches on the Teixeira situation. Teixeira says, again, that he wants to stay in Texas, that Boras will do what Teixeira wants, and not the other way around. But Galloway also suggests that, given the newfound management financial austerity, Teixeira may be gone after 2006, traded by a team that wants to cash him in before he gets too expensive.

The Alex Rodriguez trade was my lowest moment of a Ranger fan. But I can say emphatically right now, if Mark Teixeira is traded for financial reasons, then the ARod trade will move to #2. I don't care what the return is...dealing a homegrown player like Teixeira, because you are afraid you won't be able to afford to spend the money to keep him after he becomes a free agent, is what the bottom feeders of MLB do. It is a move that the small market teams, the Kansas Citys, the Pittsburghs, the Oaklands do.

It is not something that a big market team like the Rangers, with a rich local media deal and a strong fan base, is supposed to do.

Hopefully, Tom Hicks will sell the team before this becomes an issue.

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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Saturday's box score up 

Rangers win 5-3...

The most encouraging things from today's game...two solid, shutout innings from RicRod, and a home run from Gerald Laird in his only AB of the day, off of former Longhorn lefty J.P. Howell.

Laird had come in at DH for Soriano, who was 0-for-3 (Buck was easing Soriano into game action at the DH slot, to protect the hamstring he hurt back in September). Dellucci then pinch-hit for Laird...hopefully, we'll see Laird get some more ABs in tomorrow's game...

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The Delgado saga just won't die... 

Controversy has now erupted around Carlos Delgado, as he and his agent, David Sloane, are accused of stirring up problems with Met management, in the aftermath of the Mets' failed attempts to get Delgado to come to New York.

Delgado, of course, was wooed by the Rangers, apparently shopped their offer to get a better deal from the Marlins, and then got involved in a public pissing match with Ranger management over whether or not the Rangers monkeywrenched the deal by backpeddling on an agreement to let Delgado play first base, rather than DH.

In the case of the Mets, Sloane and Delgado are apparently bent out of shape that G.M. Omar Minaya and assistant Tony Bernazard "approached Delgado as a fellow Latino, instead of, first, as a man."

I still would rather have Delgado here as the DH instead of Dellucci/Colbrunn, but this whole thing has gotten pretty bizarre.


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