- Winter Preview----Texas Rangers:
I'll work under the assumption that the Rangers ownership/financial problems won't cause a massive sell-off and that they'll be able to bring in some reasonably priced players. I'd hate to see all the progress they've made in the past couple of years sabotaged by the economy.
What they need: A big-time power bat at 1B/OF; an innings-eating horse starting pitcher; a more reliable closer; a part-time catcher.
Free agents: 3B/1B Hank Blalock; OF Marlon Byrd; LHP Eddie Guardado; C Ivan Rodriguez
They have no place to play Blalock and were trying to move him for years. He'll get a chance to be a DH elsewhere, probably with a moderate contender.
Byrd will be in demand for the next tier of teams who either don't have the money to chase Jason Bay/Matt Holliday; or don't have the chips to trade for Carlos Lee/Miguel Cabrera. He had his career power year with 20 homers and 43 doubles; he'll cash in elsewhere.
Guardado has more comebacks in him than Mickey Rourke. Someone always wants to sign "Everyday Eddie"; there's a chance he's back with the Rangers.
Someone will sign Rodriguez and he might even get an opportunity to play relatively regularly----more so than he'll get with the Rangers. That said, considering the struggles of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden, Pudge might want to stay in his original big league home in the hopes of playing in 100 or so games. I think he's shot and the Rangers should move on, but he might be back after testing the market.
Players available via trade: OF Nelson Cruz; RHP Frank Francisco; OF Josh Hamilton; RHP Brandon McCarthy; RHP Kevin Millwood; LHP C.J. Wilson; INF Michael Young
Cruz is arbitration-eligible and in demand after finally busting out after many years of tearing apart Triple A and failing in the big leagues. He'll be 30 at mid-season 2010 and the Rangers might do well to move him now before he reverts back to what he was.
Francisco is arbitration-eligible and due a big raise from his $1.6 million salary in 2009. He's not a very reliable closer and would be very expensive to keep. He has trade value.
Betraying my normal, cold-hearted indifference, I truly hope that Josh Hamilton stays clean and sober and is able to fulfill his ridiculous talent. I mean that. With that, it's a pure blast of realism and money that I say the Rangers should see what the market is for Hamilton.
He had numerous injuries last season that cost him almost half the season; he's arbitration-eligible; and for all the good will and admiration he prematurely received for battling his demons and coming back to be a productive player and person, he's always a risk to fall of the wagon or worse as he did last winter when he got caught drinking and partying.
I don't trust addicts until they've been clean for at least five years. That's just the way it is with me. Even then, I'd tread lightly with them. And under no circumstances would I even consider giving Hamilton a long-term contract and a lot of money in the bank. No way. If I were the Rangers, I'd cut my losses with Hamilton and move him.
It's nothing personal.
It's strictly business.
McCarthy has been injured for chunks of the past two years, but he's still an intriguing talent. Perhaps they could package him in a deal for another similar pitcher who's had injury problems and has shown talent like Joel Zumaya of the Tigers. Both are arbitration-eligible.
Millwood has $12 million due him next year and then he's a free agent. He's effective when he's healthy and has value. I think he gets traded.
Wilson is a lefty who can close; he racks up the strikeouts (84 in 73 innings in 2009); he's also got a very big mouth and is arbitration-eligible. He'd bring back a decent return in a trade.
Young's contract is essentially unmovable unless the Rangers were willing to take back a Vernon Wells, an Oliver Perez, a Carlos Guillen or some other hideous contract. That said, I'd explore such a move if I were the Mets or Tigers to get rid of a player they no longer want and bring in the solid citizen Young. He can play second or third, is one of the most well-respected players in baseball and can still hit. Stat zombies criticize Young, but I like the way he hits and plays the game. He could get dealt.
Non-tender candidates: INF/OF Esteban German; RHP Jason Grilli
German has use as a utility player, but he's a guy you can find much cheaper than the raise he'll get in arbitration from his $1.2 million salary in 2009. Gone.
Grilli's an arbitration-eligible journeyman. He won't be back.
Players to pursue:
Via free agency: 1B Adam LaRoche (Braves); RHP Rafael Soriano (Braves); LHP Doug Davis (Diamondbacks); LHP Billy Wagner (Red Sox); RHP Rich Harden (Cubs); C Ramon Castro (White Sox); OF Jermaine Dye (White Sox); RHP Jason Marquis (Rockies); C Yorvit Torrealba (Rockies); RHP Fernando Rodney (Tigers); RHP Kiko Calero (Marlins); 1B Nick Johnson (Marlins); RHP Jose Valverde (Astros); C Miguel Olivo (Royals); DH Vladimir Guerrero (Angels); RHP John Lackey (Angels); C Brad Ausmus (Dodgers); DH Jim Thome (Dodgers); CF Mike Cameron (Brewers); RHP Braden Looper (Brewers); RHP J.J. Putz (Mets); C Brian Schneider (Mets); DH Hideki Matsui (Yankees); C Jose Molina (Yankees); RHP Justin Duchscherer (Athletics); C Paul Bako (Phillies); RHP Brett Myers (Phillies); LHP Erik Bedard (Mariners); 1B Russell Branyan (Mariners); RHP Joel Piniero (Cardinals); C Gregg Zaun (Rays); C Rod Barajas (Blue Jays)
Depending on what the Rangers intend to do for a closer, there are many viable options for a short-term replacement who'd either like to play in Texas (Wagner) or someone trying to replenish his value (Putz). They can find a replacement for Francisco/Wilson if they really want to.
The starting pitching market will be flush with cheap, useful names like Marquis, Harden and Bedard. Myers is an intriguing possibility as both a starter or reliever. Piniero will probably be too rich for the Rangers blood (I think Piniero's going to the Mets), but he's a contact pitcher who keeps the ball on the ground and would do well in Texas if he remembers the lessons he learned with the Cardinals and under the tutelage of Dave Duncan. Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux is reaching the same guru status after his work with Scott Feldman and Millwood.
Matsui, Guerrero and Thome would put up big numbers in Texas as their DH.
Johnson and LaRoche could fall to the Rangers as the market clears.
There are plenty of viable, part-time veteran catchers available to tutor Teagarden and Saltalamacchia. Barajas is a one-time Ranger; and Schneider would be a good fit.
Via trade: OF Carl Crawford (Rays); 1B Lyle Overbay (Blue Jays); RHP Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox); OF/DH Luke Scott (Orioles); 3B/1B Ty Wigginton (Orioles); OF/1B/DH Miguel Cabrera (Tigers); RHP Joel Zumaya (Tigers); 1B Paul Konerko (White Sox); RHP Bobby Jenks (White Sox); OF David DeJesus (Royals); OF Juan Rivera (Angels); RHP Brandon Morrow (Mariners); DH Jack Cust (Athletics); RHP Michael Wuertz (Athletics); OF Cody Ross (Marlins); 3B/1B Jorge Cantu (Marlins); RHP Matt Lindstrom (Marlins); RHP Josh Johnson (Marlins); RHP Derek Lowe (Braves); LHP Oliver Perez (Mets); OF Milton Bradley (Cubs); OF Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs); C Russell Martin (Dodgers); OF Aaron Rowand (Giants); RHP Chris Young (Padres); 1B Adrian Gonzalez (Padres)
The Rangers farm system is loaded, so they could get pretty much any player they want via trade; and that includes Crawford (he's from Texas); Josh Johnson; Cabrera; Martin; and Morrow.
I know, Bradley's a time bomb; but he also had his best year physically, practically and behaviorally with the Rangers and under Ron Washington in 2008. They'd get him for nothing; could have the Cubs pay a big piece of his salary; or dump some big money of their own if they took him.
No one in their right mind would want to deal with Perez, but if the Mets agreed to take the Young contract, maybe. Plus the Rangers could hope that Maddux would work his magic with the flighty Perez.
GM Jon Daniels's worst trade was the one that sent Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez to the Padres for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka. It's conceivable that they could reboot the deal and get both Young and Gonzalez back for prospects. Gonzalez would be a triple crown threat in Texas.
I'd keep tabs on what the Red Sox are doing with Papelbon. While he's probably not overtly available, I think he's a negotiable commodity because of the way the Red Sox do business in not wanting to overpay for a closer and that his mouth has gotten tiresome. It doesn't hurt to ask.
- You're a week behind me fellas:
There are now voices from supposedly "credible" people that are putting forth the information that because of Josh Johnson's reps breaking off talks with the Marlins for a long-term contract that the Marlins would be willing to deal Johnson "right now".
I said that six days ago----link.
Here's some advice: formulate some thoughts on your own rather than from some random set of out-of-context numbers and/or stuff swiped from your betters.
And here's some more news that should be obvious if you had a brain: not only would the Marlins move Johnson in the right deal, they'd move Hanley Ramirez too if a team offered enough!!!
- Viewer Mail 11.28.2009:
Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Hideki Matsui:
Why would the Angels want Damon and/or Matsui if they're ready to discard Figgins and Vlad? Sort of seems like they want to go younger and cheaper.
The Angels aren't looking to get younger and cheaper; but they're always looking to get better. Even with Matsui's physical limitations, he can still hit and he's a fit for the Angels clubhouse. So is Damon, but Matsui would be more willing to do a short-term deal.
Gabriel writes RE Vladimir Guerrero:
I'd like to see Guerrero in a Blue Jays uniform. A man can dream. And not sexually speaking.
The offers for Guerrero aren't likely to be very lucrative or long term, so there's every possibility that he could fall to the Blue Jays. (I think he ends up with the White Sox.)
We need to work on the level of absurdity for your dreams; this one's not that far-fetched.
Now, mine for example...um, never mind.