Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rangers health update

Jennings, Gabbard and Turnbow are all throwing batting practice now but this places all of them behind the curve in the battle for roster spots. I think it is likely that all three start off in the minors and are not added to the 40 to start the season. If this is the case for Turnbow, look for Eyre and Rupe to take the last 2 bullpen spots with Madrigal assigned to AAA to close until he is called up. Both Rupe and Madrigal have 1 option year left while Eyre does not.

Kris Benson, strengthening his injured shoulder all off-season after pitching 60+ innings in AAA ball last season, is ahead of every pitcher in camp. He pitched two innings today and has been up to 98 pitches in a bullpen session. I still say he starts off in the minors. Not sure I mentioned this in a previous post, but I thought that Benson would be a better option than Jennings due to his career #s, despite being older, and that he had better velo at least as of 06. Fangraphs did not have any velo info for 04 and 05, his best years, so I was not able to see if his declining #s in 05 and 06 were due in part to a decline in velo/health. Nor did fangraphs have any data on 07 or 08 as he only pitched in the minors in 08 and not at all in 07. However, Benson hit 91 on the gun today, which means that he is throwing at the same velo as he was in 05-06. He said his arm strenght was back to normal after today's outing. IF jennings proves healthy, the rangers could have 2 decent back rotation options in case of injury though Jennings can opt out after 4/27 and Benson can do so as of 5/5. However, look for Benson to opt out (or be traded) if not added to the 40 by then and Jennings to stay at least until the end of May as he likely won't be at full strength until mid-April.

After having zero press since he was shut down (not sure if he had another surgery or not)last season, AJ Murray appeared in todays ST game, going one inning with 2 SO. I though he might be done after last season but it is likely that he ends up in the minors as well fighting for a roster spot at AAA. His fastball was in the 85-87 range last season likely limiting him to a loogy role if that due to his inconsistent command.

Byrd is still not running, after reporting to camp at only about 70% after last october's microfracture surgery on his knee, but is taking batting practice. I still imagine that he starts off the season on the 15-day dl (rehabbing/playing in extended and then on to a full season club for some games) taking a conservative route to his recovery. IF so, this improves the chance that both Catt and Jones are still with the club on opening day.

David Murphy and Kinsler appears to be 100%- finally some good post-surgery news. Andrus' wrist seems to be improving as he played today as well. Wash said that Arias' arm still looked weak at shortstop in an intrasquad game on Tuesday. Look for him to be outrighted off the 40 a/s opening day and assigned to AAA or traded if he is claimed off waivers. TR Sullivan thinks that Andrus will make the active roster and start at SS when the season begins despite the loss of one controllable year as a result. I don't really care, as the ranger's like to tie up guys before they become arbitration eligible anyways, so look for them to do that with Elvis before arb hearings after the '11 season.

Bannister is shelved with forearm soreness but it does not appear related to his surgically repaired elbow. I don't believe he had a chance to make the active roster even if he was healthy as he needs to work on his control probably starting off at AA.

Camp notes: Diamond has apparently ditched his CB as his breaking ball and gone back to his slider. There is some question about the evolution of Diamond's use of breaking balls in his career. Some were surprised when he started throwing a curveball once he returned to AA last year. However, BA suggests that the curveball was his primary breaking pitch until the 2006 season when he switched to a slider. Could be that he was trying to see which pitch he felt comfortable with, or could throw strikes with, after his surgery, and decided the slider gave him the best chance to throw strikes. He could not throw the curve for strikes to be sure. What is sure is that he threw both the slider and the curveball in 05 and neither is a new pitch only the order of preference and pitch frequency has changed.

OT: RH RP Borowsky retired; Odalis Perez was released. If anyone signs him, it will be after the WBC to see how he looks. He may have to wait to sign until after the season begins if he wants anything more than a minor league contract.

UPDATE, WED, 2/25/ 1130pm:
Jeff Wilson also just did an injury update on the DMN blog that I will post in full.
Basically, Turnbow, Jennings, and Gabbard will be ready in that order, the first two ready to pitch in a game next week, and Gabbard more likely the week after or longer. So, lets say that Turnbow is 7-10 days behind and Jennings about 2 weeks behind the other pitchers, which isn't so bad.

############################################

"Right-hander Jason Jennings will throw a simulated game Sunday and get on a schedule that will put him into a spring game next week. "He looked very good," pitching coach Mike Maddux said after Jennings' bullpen session Wednesday.

Derrick Turnbow is one step ahead of Jennings in his road to recovery from a rotator-cuff injury that didn't require surgery. The former All-Star closer threw a simulated game Wednesday and is set for game action.

John Bannister, who has been suffering from stiffness in his right forearm, will throw a simulated game Friday.

Left-hander Kason Gabbard is continuing at "Gabby pace," Maddux said, but is not ready to pitch in a game. He had elbow surgery last season."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Getting Defensive

No matter what you think of Ron Washington - whether you like the fact that he is a "players coach" or you hate the fact that his mangagerial style is more bodily than cerebral - you would have to agree that the decline in team fundamentals that has occured under his watch has been both suprising and distrurbing. There were really only 2 known quantities about him upon becoming skipper: he was a players coach and he was a defensive stalwart. While you could argue that last year, his repoire with the players allowed them to be suprisingly competitive for 3 months or so after a dismal April, what is also clear is that the Rangers have become a defensive laughing-stock since his hire, and worse in his second year.

These facts alone may very well have got him fired in the off-season, and assurely will if they recur next season, as he has been unable to translate his personal philosophy into team-wide discipline. So, if one holds that the one thing the Rangers control has to vastly improve next season - defense and game fundamentals vs health - I thought I would review some stats from last season and reflect on the likelihood of that happening in various areas.

So let's review the various and embarrasing stats marking the Rangers' defensive ineptitude:

Unearned runs: 107 League ave: 55
Errors: 132 League ave: 95
Def. Effic: .666 League ave: .689
Fldg%: .978 League ave: .984
Pitchers fldg%: .927 League ave: .952

Error Totals by Position:
Catchers: 21E/13PB/114-151SB(24.5%CS)
First: 10
Second: 20
Third: 23
Pitchers: 21
Shortstop: 14
Center: 8
Right: 10
Left: 5


Since spring training camp opened, it is clear that the Rangers are being (re)schooled in defensive/game fundamentals. I can't say for sure if this is different from Wash's first 2 camps, but it feels different. The have been working on baserunning, pitcher fundamentals (pop ups, fielding), run downs, and running live batting practices. All of these areas need a great deal of improvement, so we will see if the reeducation program works, and wonder why it hasn't been done or been taken seriously before. Hopefully, both the players and coaches were sufficiently embarrassed last year so that we will see, at the very least, a league average defense this year, which will allow us to be competetive for the division.

Injuries certainly played a part in the team's meltdown last year as rookies were called upon sooner than expected and asked to do more than than should have while vets played out of position. Having said that, they were all professionals, paid and trained, but played like amateurs.

Taking a look at the stats, 2 positions whose defensive profile should improve greatly are 1b and 3b now that those roles will be filled by above average defensive players, Chris Davis and Michael Young, respectively. Young's arm will and sound fundamentals will play better there and his decreased range at short will be negated with the move.

The outfield, average to above average last year, should be above average this year. Hambone should be improved in center with an added year at TBPIA, and even better if he moves to right. Adam Jones might be an upgrade in center if he can still bring above average defense to the position. Cruz will be in Left or Right full time in theory, though he never played LF last year so it might be a concern. I think he is athletic enough to do it. Byrd was stellar in Left with Murphy above average and Murphy was stellar in Right with Byrd slightly worse than average. Both Murphy and Byrd were above average in center, with Byrd getting much more time there. Boggs played all spots average to above average. So, in general the outfield remains the most stable component of the team defense even moreso now that we won't see Bradley gimping around out there nor Catt. The potential of Jones roaming around out there with some above average defense would also be a plus, coupled with the upgrade in Right with Hambone, but we will have to see how he looks in the next month.

The defensive position of highest concern is catcher. Laird had an off year in general while Salty has yet to show that he can develop a league average position profile, even if his bat comes around. Max and Tea put in some time there as well, throwing 2 rookies into the mix. The aggregate #s are unimpressive if not disturbing for what is said to be a position of strength at all levels. With 21 errors, 13 passed balls, and 114 SB against, in addition to perceived problems with Salty's game calling, it isn't all that clear that Salty and 1 or 2 rookies will be able to improve on those #s, even though game management/position defense are said to be Teagarden's stregnth. I would have to predict that this position will be no better if not worse than last year, unless Salty has made great strides in the off-season and in winterball, which I doubt.

The shortstop position is a little uncertain at this juncture of the preseason. Vizquel should start the season, and now that he is fully recovered from his knee injury last year, he should provide above average defense at the position. The basic question that simply cannot be answered right now is what kind of defense will Andrus provide when he is called up. Will he be a jittery rookie or a cold-blooded playmaker? Arguably his will provide plus range and quickness, but the main concern is whether or not he can consistently make the routine plays and consistently avoid trying to force spectacular ones. I think the position will be average at worst and that is about what it was last year due too Young's diminished range and inability to make any many plays out of his zone. The one thing that can be said for him though is he was fundamentally sound.

The other position that is a concern is 2b. Kinsler has great range but makes many careless errors/mistakes at the position. Only a rededication to position fundamentals and increase concentration can make him a better player so it is really uncertain whether he improves or not. WE can only hope that he takes as much pride in his defense as his hitting.

In general, game fundamentals were a glaring weakness on this team last year for both position players and pitchers, and this must improve if the team is to compete for the division this year. The Pitchers were the worst fielding bunch in the majors; they were pitiful. The position players were guilty as well, making mmany base-running errors, straight errors, missing cut-off guys, not taking extra bases, etc. These aspects of teh game can only be worked on in spring training and by rededicating themsleves to working on areas of weakness throughout the season. The Rangers need to develop a team culture whereby each player and coach believe it is unacceptable to make bonehead mistakes and get on each other if these problems recur.

If there any series last year in which the Rangers' bad news bears approach to game fundamentals was on stark display, it was the Minnesota series right after the all-star break. At that time there was a lot of buzz about how the rangers were in the wildcard hunt and all of that. They went to MN and got dominated by a team who was so superior to them in team fundamentals, that is made TX look like an undiciplined college team. The difference was palpable as they got all the key hits, key outs, threw the right pitches, picked us off the basepaths, induced us to swing badly- they were the superior team. It was good to see actually as it should have erased any hopes that TX was _really_ a playoff caliber team, as MN set into stark relief what a playoff team would look like.

It is that kind of culture that the Rangers need to develop and don't yet have to move to the next level. It isnt really all about pitching. With league average pitching and superior game fundamentals, this team could be competitive any year with the hitting we have. I think it will be another year before we see that kind of club emerge, and if it doesn't, Wash will be out.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cordero update

He threw at about 70-75% at his audition on wed or thursday, whenever it was. Reports say that he looked healthy and was throwing free an easy. Clubs were encouraged as it appeared he should be ready to contribute to a club before June or July. However his agent's optimistic projections seem pretty unrealistic who says that he should be ready by opening day. Even if he is 100% by mid-march, he won't even start throwing to hitters until then and still has to build up stamina. so I'm thinking mid-may is more likely for a guy recovering from a labrum tear - I think this is just a play by his agent.

Whatever the case Cordero will likely want to play for a playoff-caliber club and have a shot to close some games and I'm sure he would want to be added to the 40man roster with an out clause stipulating an active roster activation date. I think he may have a tough time finding a playoff-caliber club who doesnt already have closer 1a/1b but waiting until opening day could increase his chances of being an injury pickup. The rangers might be willing to offer him an opportunity to close some games but the likelihood that he beats out Franky and CJ (and Donnelly as 1c) is remote but he could get situational saves. In this market, Cordero might have to settle for a minor league contract with all the normal clauses so that a team can evaluate him first. The rangers could do that but likely will not. Still the idea of having a 28yo closer for next to nothing is pretty intriguing even if the rangers just flipped him later on.

Update 2/21:

RBT did not watch Cordero this week but will be there next week when he ups his intensity a bit.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Donnie Sr.'s Revenge

The Nelson's are in cahoots that has to be it. Just to rub salt in the fresh wound of the post-trade deadline inactivity, a late trade was announced. Thabo Sefolosha was traded to OKC for a cond. 1st round pick, surely either that of denver or Phx. So the top guys that I thought the mavs should angle for did indeed get traded, Sefolosha and Salmons, with Thabo getting traded for value the Mavs could have matched (plus cash).

Curse you JR, Curse you to hell...

Thank god for spring training

MAVS SUCK!

So with Jet out for up to 6 weeks, Ginobli chronically injured, New Orleans concerned more about salary than winning, Houston losing McGrady and trading their starting point guard, all coupled with the fact that Dallas is essentially in a 5 team tie for 4th place (w/ homecourt in 1st rd), the Mavs did NOTHING by todays trade deadline. I also failed to mention that they are only 3 games out of first place behind SA.

Donnie Jr. s/b be canned. They need one piece to compete for a 2-4 seed and can't do it even with every team in the league looking to shed salary on decent players.

The MBT has essentially said decided that we don't need a swingman to compete for said seeds, we believe that stack and carroll are are secret playoff cryptanite VS the Spurs magic, so much so, that, well, everything is fine in mavsland.

Let me be more voiciferous just in case this didn't come through the first time, and, with a little more specificity: Fire Donnie Jr after the mavs just miss a #4 seed and the division title _and_ their unceremonious first round playoff exit!

UGH.

Mavs update

Sac just acquired McCants from MN so scratch another guy off the list. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the Mavs don't get anything done. The top 3 remaining on the list IMO:

Sefolosha (chic)
Azubuike (GS)
Anthony Parker (tor)

Not sure if Neslon Sr is up to dealing with Cuban or not but maybe he will if he only has to speak with JR.

Update 2/21:

Tor was reluctant to deal Parker as they want to resign him in the off-season. So they were more interested in getting a talented player in return if it came to that rather than merely dumping salary.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bad news for Mavs: ya could'a been a contender

Chicago just netted Brad Miller and John Salmons. Salmons was really the best swingman candidate on the market who was good, who was relatively cheap in salary, and who could be had for salary cap relief+. Salmons would have made this team a threat to reach the WC finals, but no further (so why not break 'er up you ask? good question...) In an earlier trade including Jermain Oneil, Jemario Moon was traded to Miami.

These 2 were among those I had recommended the mavs pursue. Here is the full list that I posted a few weeks ago:
John Salmons
Anthony Parker
Francisco Garcia
Grant Hill
Azubuike
S. Thefolosha
Matt Barnes
Mccants
Gomes

fall backs
Belinelli
J. Moon

Long shots
Blatche (but only packaged with a swingman)

I don't think Hill or Barnes are going anywhere as phx is trying to retool their style of play in an attempt to make the playoffs. I wouldn't think that Blatche would be on the market and Washington doesnt really have a 5th starter type swingman to ante up but they are apparently shopping Jamison. I really like JR Smith, who the mavs did not pursue when he was a FA and on the trading block, but Denver's success this year really precludes any deal for him. Belinelli, well, you have to question what the guy has if he is a shooter who can't get any minutes on a small-ball club. He is just too unproven to warrant trading for IMO.

McCants can be had but is he better than some of our swingmen stiffs? I have always liked Gomes and he would be a better SF than anyone not named Josh on the roster however he would be a def. liability. A. Parker could be had. He is paid about 4.5mill this yr and is a Diaw type guy who can shoot the three. Great court awareness, excellent passer, scores when he has too. I would take him.

I doubt Sac is interested in trading Garcia anymore as they are now in youth-mvmt mode. Azubuike might be had and he is under 4mill per and I have always liked Thefolosha who is a good all-around player- plays D on 2 positions, rebounds, passes well, shoots wells, secondary scorer.

So who is reasonable to acquire? I say Azubuike and Thefolosha are the top candidates at the moment with McCants and Gomes pulling up the rear. Other than these 4 (unless anyone else on the list becomes available), I don't really see anyone else worth pursuing that would not require decimating our roster to acquire. In fact, I'll go one step further and say, if you want to decimate the roster, send players out rather than bring them in. GO MAVS! 2010!

injury update: boggs

In another injury twist, added to the innumerable and unexpected injury revelations that have come out the last few days/weeks, Boggs is apparently unable to throw at full strength right now as a result of his shoulder injury last season.

I have been unable to locate anything related to any kind of surgery that Boggs underwent after the season but it seams likely that he had one. So, I can't really say how serious the situation might be for him. I did find a note that he went on the dl or was held out at various times last season due to a rotator cuff strain or somesuch. I can only hope that he didn't have a small rotator cuff tear repaired as this might indicate that his injury was more serious than was known (or reported) and might require some time in extended or at the very least remove him from consideration for an active roster spot.

So right now we have Byrd at 70% and Boggs unable to throw at full strength. Should we go ahead and say hello to our new cf this year, adam jones?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Free Agent Stuff

A few free agent tidbits, tangentially rangers related:

Gagne signs with brewers and all it took was a minor league contract. Still no word on why MN withdrew their offer to him. Not sure if he is healthy or if he was demanding to much at the time. I hoped the rangers would tab him to increase the bullpen depth, likely meaning that Rupe and Madrigal would spend time in AAA working on their weaknesses - with Madrigal getting more valuable time closing games rather than being the Rangers desultory 7th-inning guy. With no new starters for TX, bullpen depth is really the only way to avoid the inevitable injury implosion that the staff will go through in 09.

Chad Cordero throws off the mound for the first time since his surgery in an open workout for teams this WED, 2/18. I hope TX signs him. He won't be ready until around the end of May or June and would provide a nice mid-season upgrade and forestall any stupid talk about overpaying for a reliever at the trade deadline. Milw has shown strong interest.

Isringhausen is begging to return to the cardinals who apparently have little interest in him. I originally touted him as possible TX sign, but have since read reports that he is a locker room liability, Ponson redux. He is not likely to be ready to pitch until June but the Ranger's are not likely to bite.

Still no word on the workout of behemoth lefty reliever Andy Sisco who I would like the TX to sign. He likely won't be ready until May or June and has some mechanical/command issues but would be a low-risk sign.

MLB and the players union have reached an accord to allow sign and trades for type A free agents caught in free agent purgatory: Cruz, Hudson, Cabrera. I am hoping this weakens Oakland's hand in signing Cabrera by allowing for more appealing suitors, likely playoff clubs for example. Getting Cruz on a 1-yr deal for prospects would be really cool for TX as well depending on the type of prospects that it would cost them. However, his command problems are a real concern, so I am conflicted on what he would bring to tX. I just read a note suggesting that losing a 2nd-rd pick for Cabrera is not the holdup for him signing for the As it is his 9mill/yr contract demands.

Josh Fields signs. I was hoping that he wouldn't so that he would land in the top of the first round and push a college starter down to us in this years draft.

There is some speculation that Toronto may be more willing to trade Halladay this year due to the impact of the recession on the ballclub. With the super deep farm system that the rangers have, I can only hope that is the case. He is under contract for 2010, and would surely make TX a favorite for the division. Imagine this: Halladay, Feliz, Holland, B-Mac, Harrison...Drool.

I had tabbed Benson and Odalis Perez as more attractive veteran starter signs to minor league contracts than Jennings. I still think so, and benson remains unsigned I think, but we dodged an arrow by not signing Perez. In the first ever holdout of its kind, Perez slammed the Nats for disrespecting him withh alow salary and a minor league contract. He wants guaranteed money. Apparently he didn't read the contract? He has reportedly engaged in this kind of rhetoric before and I'm only glad that TX does not have to deal with it.

Ohman, Beimel and Dennys Reyes are a few of the best bullpen arms left in this very strange market. An Ohman signing appears imminent, with 3 firm offers from NL teams.

Spring Training is here & the Rangers' secretive stance on Injuries

Spring training started this weekend, finally.

Couple of tidbits.
Donnelly has reportedly been impressive and Turnbow has turned heads. The players seem more excited about Andruw Jones than the fans and local press are. He has lost 20+ pounds, which should put him at about 220, and Jaramillo says he still has decent bat speed and quick wrists which bode well for a Jaramilloesque vivisection of his swing. Gabbard and Jennings are not throwing off the mound yet, which likely puts them in AAA to start the season. Gabbard has been told he will be a bullpen guy this season, likely a long-man, and some extra time to get healthy in ST or extended and acclimated to a bullpen role in AAA will do both him and the org some good. Jennings lives in frisco so the scuttlebutt is that he will start there to begin the season. This would likely displace Moscoso to AAA, which he should be ready for, as I indicated in a previous post. Rupe has apparently been told his is competing for the long relief role, which is puzzling, as Nippert seems to be the favorite for this role, and Gabbard seems to be the fav for this role in AAA. He really swung between both long and middle relief and I had anticipated him being in that same role this season. Perhaps it indicates that he is destined for AAA as he has an option left if he doesn't beat out Nippert. Basically I see it coming down to Rupe and Eyre for the final bullpen spot so whoever pitches best...

There was actually some big news. Marlon Byrd had microfracture surgery and is only 70% at this time and has not sprinted since his OCT 1 surgery. He also had cartilage removed at that time. This is a serious surgery that requires a lot of time spent on activities that don't stress the knee. I seriously doubt that he will be ready for spring training and could be put on the DL to begin the season maybe until June. Big news IMO. The essenteally solidifies a spot for Andrew Jones and may very well precipitate an early move of Hambone to Right field, that is, if Jones proves that he is still a starting-caliber player rather than a 4th OF type.

Byrd's injury likely removes him as a trade piece this season and may in fact remove him from Type B status next off-season.

So really, we have seen health remain an issue even before spring training opened. It is curious to note as well that there really has been ZERO press about the status of rehab for various players critical to the Rangers 09 season. Not sure why this is save for reasons of privacy for the player or to strengthen the rangers hand in trade/FA negotiations.

To begin with, we learned that Hurley and Benoit were both out for the season after there rehab failed to progress. Only weeks before, JD had been quoted touting both as critical for the 09 season, expecting Hurley to start and Benoit to recapture his 07 ubermensch status. Weeks later, he says there rehab was not progressing, and they were out for the year. Misinformation? I don't know, nor do I know why that would be beneficial to anyone. However, why not just say their rehab is ongoing and that they will be reevaluated at such and such date before ST? Puzzling.

In addition, we learn that Gabbard and Jennings will not be throwing from the mound as of the start of ST. WE learn that Byrd's surgery was much more serious than the public knew, with no indication from the rangers that he might not be ready for opening day, and, infact, is only 70% as of now. Not really sure what is up with this. Maybe it is as simple as a lack of due diligence on the part of the press. However, JD's optimistic portrayals of every last one of these injured players surely disarmed any public speculation and dissuaded anyone from making inquires. So it seems that this amounts to a team policy aimed at both preserving a player's privacy and strengthening the teams position with respect to player acquisition.

What else? well, the star telegram is posting really bad videos of hitters and pitchers in batting practice. Jim Reeves for said paper is posting inane columns.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2009/2010 Pitching Prospects, Part II: Texas/Oakland

I am going to expand this projection to include position players as well as pitching staffs and do a brief analysis in part 3.

Here is an admittedly early look at main candidates who will be competing for spots on the 2010 25-man rosters for Oakland and Texas, with their Baseball America rankings (those still rookie eligible) in ():

TEXAS
Starters:
(1)Feliz, (2)Holland, Harrison, McCarthy, (23)Moscoso
other candidates:
(17)Hunter, Diamond, Feldman, (19)Kiker, (24)Poveda, (22)Tim Murphy
Notes:
Padilla and Millwood have contracts that could vest in 2010 if they meet some performance clauses in 09. However, I think Padilla has a buyout clause for about 2 million.

Bullpen:
Strop, (14)Madrigal, Francisco, CJ Wilson, Young, Garr, (30)Bannister, Beau Jones, Rupe

Position:

1B, Smoak(3), 2B Kinz, SS Andrus(4), 3B Young, RF Hambone, CF Borbon(9), LF Murphy or Cruz, C Teagarden (6) or Salty, DH Davis

Bench:
C/DH Ramirez (10), 4-5 OF Boggs/Golson (26), Inf Vallejo (18)/Duran/Arias(27)


OAKLAND
Starters:
(Dushcherer-FA 2010), Gallagher, (1)Anderson, (2)Cahill, (7)Gio Gonzalez, (12)Outman
other candidates:
(8)Mazzaro, (10)Simmons, (15)Tyson Ross, Eveland, Braden

Bullpen:

Devine, (20)Blevins, (23)Bailey, (25)Carigan, (14)Rodriguez, (26)Demel, (27)Lansford, (19)Brett Hunter, Ziegler, Wuertz, Casilla

Position:
LF Holliday, CF Sweeney, RF Buck, C Suzuki
Entire infield undetermined:
1b c/b Giambi another year or Doolittle(11)
3b c/b Chavez or Cardenas(5)
2b c/b Ellis or Cardenas
SS c/b Crosby or FA
DH c/b Cust or Carter(6)- though he might need more time.

Bench:
Inf Pennington(17), 4-5 OF Cunningham(4)/Davis

other prospects:
2b Jemile Weeks(9), probably will not start out of spring training until 2011.
C Josh Donaldson(13), see above.
COF Corey Brown(16), see above.

2009/2010 Pitching Prospects, Part 1: Texas/Oakland

Just took a look at the BA handbook to remind myself of all the good pitchers that the As have in the pipe in AAA/AA.

Here are the notable starters at the ML/AAA/AA levels this year with their system ranking and highest ceiling in ():

ML: Duscherer (#2), Gallagher-LH (#2), Eveland (back), Braden-LH (back), 7. Gio Gonzalez-LH (#2 or bullpen), 12. Josh Outman-LH (#3 or bullpen), 20. Blevins-LH (Middle Reliever)
NOTES: Gonzalez was rocked last yr before being moved to the bullpen. He has a lot of work to do to reach the status as a #2 starter. So his realistic ceiling is a #3. They prefer Outman in the pen and Gonzo starting this year but could switch their roles based on spring training performance.

AAA: 2. Cahill (#2), 1. Anderson (#2), 8. Mazzaro (#3), 10. Simmons (#3), 23. Bailey (setup/MR), 25. Carigan (closer/setup/MR)
NOTES: Quite a lineup! Mazzaro's slider is ave, his change is below average but his FB is AA - plus. So to reach his ceiling he needs to improve his change to at least an average pitch. Simmons has to improve his below-ave slider to reach his ceiling but has an ave-AA fastball and an AA-plus change.

AA: NO STARTERS IN TOP 30. Relievers: # 14. Rodriguez (closer/setup), #26. Sam Demel (closer/setup), 27. Lansford (setup/MR)

A+: 15. Tyson Ross, 19. Brett Hunter
NOTES: Both could quickly move to AA especially in relief but both will be kept as starters to begin the season.


Unfortunately for the Rangers, Oakland clearly has the advantage in the # of ranked pitching prospects in the majors or on the verge in AAA. Many of these prospects were acquired last season/this off-season but Oakland had the advantage of having more talented players to trade, who were having/had better seasons, and could draw packages of ready/near-ready players.

The Rangers had a less-talented field to trade from, many of whom were chronically injured or sucking until the trade deadline: Millwood went on the DL one week before the trade deadline and Padilla went on the DL 2X before the deadline, though pitched 3 nice starts before 7/31. CJ and Benoit were injured, which likely kept JD from trading Guardado until after the deadline for a bag of beans as our need likely outweighed any proposed return.

I don't blame him for holding on to our catchers if the return wasn't good enough. The only player I think they shouldve traded was Bradley. I might blame JD for not being imaginative enough to do that by packaging other players and prospects to get some near-ready starters. But we will never know what the offers were or what the Rangers were holding out for in order to judge his relative sagacity. Also, there may have been some pressure to remain idle due to unfound sentiments in the front office that we had a chance at the wildcard, read, Ryan.

Whatever the case, the lack of anykind of haul at the deadline, put the rangers about 1 yr behind the As in terms of starting prospects who should be ready sometime in 09 and assuredly by 2010. Hurley's injury, a legit #3 starter, further reduced the # of candidates.

By contrast to Oakland, here is a breakdown of the Ranger's ready or near-ready pitching prospects in BAs Top 30:

ML: (13. Hurley, #3 - DL), UR Harrison-LH #3, Millwood #3, Padilla #3, McCarthy (#3/bullpen), UR Feldman (back/bullpen), 14. Madrigal (setup/closer)
NOTES: McCarthy must stay healthy and regain his stuff to reach his ceiling. Otherwise he will be moved to the bullpen. Feldman is a #5 who would be moved to the bullpen if there were other options - unless he throws 180 innings in 09 (I am one of the few who thinks he will).

AAA: 2. Holland-LH #2 (could reach ML by mid-season), 23. Moscoso (#3/bullpen), 17. Hunter (back/bullpen), 28. Diamond (#3/bullpen), UR Mendoza (back/bullpen), UR Gabbard-LH (back/bullpen)
NOTES: The problem with this group is that among them only Holland is a sure-fire keeper as a starter. All of the rest have significant hurdles to overcome to solidify themselves as legit starters on a playoff club. Most of them will end up in the bullpen IMO.

AA: 1. Feliz #1(could reach ML by yr's end), 19. Kiker-LH (#3/bullpen), 24. Poveda #3, 30. Bannister (closer/setup -could progress quickly to AAA), UR Strop (closer- could make to ML by mid-season)
NOTES: Feliz is a prospect who has the rare ceiling of a #1 starter. Oakland has one of those in their system as well (Inoa) but at least he is about 4-5 years away. Both Kiker and Poveda had poor seasons in 2008 and must answer their critics this year to reach their ceilings. If they don't, Poveda won't be in the system next year and Kiker will be moved to the bullpen.

A+: 22. Tim Murphy-LH (#3/bullpen), UR Corey Young (setup/MR)
Notes: Both could see AA very quickly with the possible progression to AAA as relievers. They want to keep T-Murph as a starter for now though so in that capacity he would likely end the season in AA.

Ok I will parse all of this into some sort of coherent analysis regarding composition of the 2010 pitching staffs for both clubs in Part 2 - I hope...

Remaining Free Agents of Interest to Texas

Just to sum up info from previous posts, here is a list of free agents that the Rangers might be interested in signing to minor league deals over the course of spring training. It is mostly an injury core:

Cordero, 28 (setup)- open workout 2/19
Isringhausen, 36 (setup) - status unknown
Otsuka, 37 (setup) - status unknown
Sisco, 25 (LH setup) - No rumors about his 2/6 workout yet
Mulder, 31 (LH SP) - open workout end February

RH Bats (should we not ditch Catt for Jones):
Vidro, Thomas, Grudzeilnak, Alou, Anderson, Nomar

Rangers 25/40-man Roster Projections

As of opening day:

Active roster-
Starters: Millwood, Feldman, Padilla, Harrison
Relievers: FranFran, CJ, Guardado, Donnelly, Rupe, Eyre, Turnbow, Nippert
Inf: Young, Kinz, Vizquel, Duran, Davis
C/DH: Salty, TG, Blalock
OF: Hambone, Murphy, Byrd, Cruz, Jones

Remaining 40-man-
Starters: McCarthy, Hunter, Moscoso, Diamond, Poveda
Relievers: Mendoza, Madrigal, Gabbard, Bannister
INF: Duran, Arias, Vallejo
OF: Borbon, Boggs, Golson
C/DH: Ramirez

60-day- Hurley, Benoit
DFA/Trade: Metcalf, Catt


End of April (Say April 25)-

Active Roster-
Starters: Millwood, Padilla, Harrison, Feldman, McCarthy
Relievers: Franky, CJ, EddieG, Donnelly, Turnbow, Rupe, Nippert
INF: Andrus, Kinz, Young, Davis, Vizquel
OF: Murphy, Cruz, Jones, Byrd, Hambone
C/DH: Salty, TG, Blalock

Remaining 40-man-
Starters: Hunter, Moscoso, Diamond, Poveda, Jennings
Relievers: Mendoza, Madrigal, Gabbard, Bannister
INF: Duran, Vallejo
OF: Borbon, Boggs, Golson
C/DH: Ramirez

60-day: Benoit, Hurley
DFA/Trade: Arias, Eyre

Where will Holland, Feliz, and Moscoso be assigned?

Just taking a look at the Oakland top 30 in the BA handbook, and despite both Anderson and Cahill only having 6 starts at AA last year, BA suggests Oakland will start them off in AAA next year.

That got me to thinking about where Holland, Feliz and Moscoso might be assigned. I initially had all of them pegged for AA due to limited innings there but eventually put Holland in AAA due to a lack of quality arms in the AAA rotation. However, I noticed that all three have around the same amount of AA innings as Anderson and Cahill. The two college pitchers are roughly comparable, Holland and Anderson while Feliz and Cahill are comparable due to age and their quick trajectory through their respective systems. I would also suggest that Moscoso is roughly comparable to the 2 college guys as he has been in the minors for 6 years (2 in DSL) beginning at a late age (19.3), his trajectory having been delayed due to shoulder problems. Judging by Age as of 4/1 (25.5) and his dominating numbers at A+/AA last year, I would say that he is ready for AAA in 09.

So what am I saying here. Basically, if these pitchers are relatively comparable in a number of areas, and if we follow Oakland's aggressive approach to challenge their top prospects with difficult assignments, I would say that all three TX pitchers merit assignments to AAA in 09. Of course, if you don't think that AA and AAA differ too much in (elite) talent level, then it really doesn't matter too much which level that they are assigned to. You just fill as many viable starters in those 10 spots as you can. The biggest difference I can see is that you have fewer veterans and more org players in AA and more veterans and fewer org guys in AAA.

Whatever the case, what would the okc staff look like then and who gets bumped to the pen?
Starter candidates: Moscoso, Jennings, Hunter, Holland, Feliz, Diamond, Mendoza, Gabbard

So what makes the most sense here? Do I want Diamond or Hunter in the pen? I say no; I want to see how they develop as starters and they can easily be conscripted to bullpen work for the big club or AAA if necessary, and, arguably, might do a better job there if it comes to that.

As for Feliz, he jumped 2 levels last year, and still has a lot of mechanical and game management issues to work on, his head full of directives from instructionals, so I think I'm ok with an initial assignment to AA. That leaves Mendoza and Gabbard reduced to LR/spot starters which I am perfectly ok with. However, the club still seems to be enamored with Mendoza as a starter, a guy without a third pitch, so I think the Rangers might leave him as a starter in AAA. This would likely bump moscoso to AA.

So for what it is worth, here are the AAA/AA rosters as I would have them:
AAA: Holland, Moscoso, Diamond, Hunter, Jennings (mendoza/Gabbard in pen)
AA: Feliz, Kiker, Poveda, Reed, Schlact (the latter 2 sent to pen after A+ promotions)

If Jennings activates his FA clause on 3/27 or 4/27, then I would promote Feliz to the AAA rotation.

what are the rangers likely to do?
AAA: holland, diamond, hunter, jennings, mendoza (Gabbard in pen)
AA: Feliz, Kiker, Poveda, Reed, Moscoso (with Schlact in pen where he should be)


No matter how you slice it I think you will see all three of these guys, not only in AAA by mid-season, but also with the big club after the trade deadline or Sept 1 at the latest.

Idle Roster Speculation

i'd like to see Madrigal get more time closing in AAA. Otherwise he will just be a MR on the staff. If that happens then then I see Turnbow making what should be an 8-man bulllpen until a fifth starter is needed. I think Rupe is sent down when the staff is pared down to 7. So, initially, I see the bullpen shaking out like this: FranFran, CJ, Donnelly, Guardado, Rupe, Eyre, Nippert, Turnbow.
I like the depth at AAA that this arrangement leaves us since we have little appreciable depth in decent starters: Madrigal, Garr, Laughter, Torres, Mathis, Gabbard, (Bannister, Ballard or Hyatt), and eventually Rupe.

I guess if a starter went down Nippert would get first dibs, with Jennings, Holland and Gabbard getting second dibs. If Holland has a nice spring training, I’d rather see him up first over anyone else including Nippert.

Yeah it presumes a lot. Injuries and comebacks are key so it is an ideal scenario to say the least, but I'm bored and feel like indulging in some idle roster speculation. I'm presuming that Donnelly is healthy and can be a reliable contributor in MR and that Maddux can get Turnbows head on straight to pitch MR as well. It also presumes the Eyre is pitching as well as he was when he debuted with us before his injury and that he has regained his control post-surgery (a problem he shares with Bannister).

My scenario presumes these things and in addition that they decide to go with an 8-man bullpen for the first few weeks until a 5th starter is needed. Maybe they won't. It also presumes that the Rangers will choose to go with vets over Rupe/Madrigal so that the rangers have some injury options in AAA. Maybe they won't. It also presumes that some or the other younger candidates don't simply beat them out for a roster spot, that one of Arias/Metcalf is DFA'd, and that Catt is not on the team (but Jones will be so that is a wash).

The #s crunch comes when Andrus is called up (yes he starts the season in AAA, perhaps for less than a month) and placed on the 40/active, the 5th starter is activated and Jennings is placed on the 40 (he can take FA 4/26). Basically it just means that Duran will be sent down and that both a reliever (Eyre) and a position player (Arias or Metcalf, whoever makes the initial roster) are DFA'd (and if they clear waivers they could still wind up in AAA).

The critical thing for me is that we have to account for our injury-prone starters and thin AAA depth through bull-pen depth. To do that, I am willing to sacrifice redundant position players like Metcalf and Arias. Duran and Vizquel can play third base, and even Davis if it came to that. Huffman/Frostad can play 3b in AAA if metcalf is not claimed off waivers. As for Arias, We have Vizquel, Andrus, and eventually Vallejo and Duran in a pinch at SS. We have Duran, Vallejo, and Vizquel at second. Arias no longer has a future in TX with his injury history.

When in doubt go with pitching, and a surplus of bullpen pitchers is the only thing that the miserly rangers have to show for this off-season. Might as well use it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Helpful trade tips for Donnie Jr

I'd like to see you make a good trade DJ, and to that end I have some helpful leads for you to follow. First I would suggest that you focus on a key word that you can say over and over again like a mantra to break you out of the cursed Nelson mindset for pondering ridiculous trades. Let's just use the word 'SWINGMAN'. Notice that it is not 'Point guard', high post Power Forward, point forward, scoring point guard, or high post Center, rather it is "swingman". Repeat it again and again. It will renew your focus to concetnrate on acquiring any of the following players. who knows it just might save your job:

John Salmons
Anthony Parker
Francisco Garcia
Grant Hill
Azubuike
S. Thefolosha
Matt Barnes
Mccants
Gomes

fall backs
Belinelli
J. Moon

Long shots
Blatche (but only packaged with a swingman)

All have reasonable contracts with only Salmons at 5mill and parker at 4 mill with the rest ranging from minimum contracts to the 3mill range.

Get it done or be prepared to break up the team this summer after the lakers or Nuggets throttle us in the first round.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rangers Ink Jones - Bleh

Well, the Rangers' have inked Andrew Jones to a 500K MiL contract with ST invite. The contract includes 1Million in bonuses but he can only realize the bulk of them if he wins a starting job.

As an interesting side note, he declined a similar offer from the NYY, to get the chance to work with Jaramillo, held in high esteem by both Boras and Jones. It was also noted that he appeared "slimmed down" in his workout last week with Rudy and his knee seemed healthy. Jaramillo must have also put in a good word for him related to his workout/motivation/coachability for the deal to get done.

Reporting date almost here

On the eve of the reporting date next week, it appears that the Rangers are just about done roster-tweaking. As I predicted in a previous post, they extended a Mil deal with invite to a late-30's 7th/MR type, 37yo Brendan Donnelly. A late bloomer, who broke into the majors at 30, Donnelly was a very successful and reliable setup guy for 5 years before undergoing TR surgery after putting up another set of nice #s for 20g with Boston in 07. He came back at the end of last year and struggled in his time with Cleveland in the second half.

Donnelly is one of those low-risk/high-reward guys that a miserly team like the Rangers has to take a flyer on especially in this market when there are fewer major league deals being offered. If his recovery is anything like Frankie Francisco's, he should be able to put up at least average #s 1 1/2 yrs out from his surgery if not above-average #s but he will likely not repeat his prior success until the second half. If he makes the team, look for that kind of line: slightly below-ave #s in the first half with command issues and slightly above-average #s in the second half as his command/velo improves. This kind of profile is acceptable for this team as he will likely fill a 7th inning/MR rather than setup role, and should do a better job than Wright did for us last year. As evidenced by Frankie's trajectory, he didn't recover his velocity and command until 2 years out so Donnelly's ticket to the bullpen will be the progression of his command over the next 6 weeks.

The good news about Donnelly is that his ave velo in 08 already returned to his career average of 89.5. The one thing that can be noted from his pitch-type profile, is that there was a fairly significant change in his FB/SL/CU percentage between his 05 and 06/07 seasons, with a marked decrease in his FB/CU % and concomitant increase in sliders thrown. As a result, his h/9 increased quite a bit while still being acceptable and his SO/9 decreased quite a bit as well while still being acceptable as well. This is something to keep an eye on in ST: will he regain his command enough to confidently throw his FB and changeup and become a legit setup option or merely an inconsistent MR?

There is also some scuttlebutt that Andrew Jones might be offered a MiL contract with invite and I am really just indifferent if not slightly opposed to this tact. Basically, he doesn't fulfill a need on the team IMO, as I really liked the offensive/defensive production and flexibility that our OF brought to the table last year: Cruz, Murphy, Byrd, Ham, and Boggs. You have to wonder about a guy who can't get motivated enough by a 30million$$ contract with a playoff caliber club to come to camp in top condition especially after hitting .222 in 07. We don't need his bat, his baggage or his declining defensive profile in our OF. In addition, I believe the club will promote Borbon before the ASB, and Golson for a sept callup, both premium defensive center-fielders, so Jones would be the kind of gamble that will interfere with the club's forward-looking trajectory that allowed them the foresight to open up the SS job to Andrus, sign Vizquel and move Young to 3B. So no matter what people argue about how great it would be to have Jone's 2006 production in our lineup, and there has been fervent debate about the issue on lonestarball.com yesterday (some 350posts), the present composition and trajectory of the club really mitigates against signing Jones.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Ghost of Finley Haunts Donnie Jr.

Please fire Donnie Jr. NOW, before the trading deadline, the draft, and free agency. Let me count the years and reasons:

1. 03-04: For squandering a season with the acquisition of Jamison and Walker. Scrubbs signed that year: Delk, Fortson, Williams, Best, Ndiaye
2. 04-05: Podkolzin period. But P-Pod over: Kevin Martin, Delonte West, and Tony Allen? Year of Damps huge extension?X!! For the failure to recognize that Jet is not a PG. For the failure to recognize that Devin Harris was destined to be a shoot first PG. Romance with Dampier. failure to recognize the 'Quis cancer. Scrubbs: henderson, van horn, booth, dickau, mbenga, armstrong. Failure to recognize Finley's decline soon enough.
3. 05-06: Terry still starting PG. Failure to replace Finley, instead relying on Quis and Stack and the following scrubbs: griffin, christie, marshall. Other scrubbs: benga, armstrong, powell. Failure to buy picks in first round that were being given away.
4. 06-07: Terry now essentially the starting SG at 6-2. Almost signed Mike James to full exception. Terry given huge extension. Swingmen still trying to replace Finley: Terry, Croshere, Bucker, George, AGer, stack. Stacks continued decline. Other scrubbs: Johnson, Bonsu, Willis, benga. Failure to buy picks in first round that were being given away.
5. 07-08: Still trying to replace Finley: Jones, George, stack, wright, hassell, ager. Other scrubbs: Fazekas, Ju. Howard, Allen, Lue. Stacks continued decline and resigned to boot. Trade away the teams future instead of firing the coach even though players were asking to be traded internally. Failure to buy picks in first round that were being given away. No first rounder. Jet is essentially the starting SG.
6. 08-09: Still trying to replace finley: Jet, Wright, Green, Williams, Carroll, George, R. terry, Shan Foster. Scrubbs: hollins, Singleton. Diop signed to full exception. Stack has hit bottom. Jet is essentially the starting SG.
7. 05-09: Failure to sign draft or trade for available swingmen who represented marked improvements over any other scrubbs the last four years (to name just a few): Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, M. Pietrus, Roger Mason, Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace, Posey, Diaw, Marion, Ariza, Tony Allen, Rudy Fernandez, JR Smith, Artest, Korver, Mason, Maggette, salmons, sefolosha, Anthony Parker(please feel free to add your own).

Enough already Donnie Jr, please don't let the door hit ya!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Free Agent signings quickening in pace

A few updates:

TX signs Jennings as NRI of course, the worst kept secret since his surgery.
Wolf signs with LAD.
Gordon signs with AZD.
Ayala signs with MN.
Nats sign Odalis Perez as NRI.
Chuck James did not have RC/Labrum surgery until last september so scratch him until 2010.
Mulder's audition should be in Feb? Sign him what the hell.
Cordero's audition is feb 19th. Him too.
Otsuka's audition should be any week now. And him.
6'10" behemoth Andy Cisco auditioned today 11 months removed from TJ surgery and I think the rangers should sign him. A's Nation makes the same argument for the 26yo (see A's Nation Wants Sisco)and notes that he should have one option left!!
Nomar is considering retirement. And him.
SFG are the only other team intrigued by Manny.
Cliff Floyd signs with San Diego.
And sign Gagne too you frackin' misers!

Off-season moves to date

Ok let's just offer up a summary of the Rangers' off-season to date:

Trades:
Golson CF, AA
Moscoso SP, AA
Melo SP, AZL
Vaughan RP, AAA

Rule 5:
G. Rodriguez 2B/SS, AA
Sarmiento C, A+

FA Minor Leaguers (not with team last year):
Huffman 1b/3b (inf/cof), AAA
N. Haynes CF, AAA
B. Harrigan C, A-
A Thompson P, AZL
Pedro Strop RP, AA

Non-Roster Invites (not with staff last year)
Major League Experience:

Omar Vizquel SS/Inf
Melhuse C
Guardado RP
Jennings SP
Turnbow RP
Daigle, RP

Minor Leaguers:
J. Torres, RP

Critical Moves:
Moved Young to 3B
Andrus will be starting SS sometime in 09
Signed Vizquel to start/backup at SS
re-signed Blalock to DH
Added Bannister and Eyre to 40-man
Traded Laird for Moscoso and Melo
Traded Mayberry for Golson
Signed Pedro Strop (available in a Madrigal-like blunder)
Signed Melhuse, provides vet backstop in case catcher is traded
Signed Jennings for AAA roster spot
Signed Turnbow to see if he can recapture late-innings magic of 06
Signed Joe Torres to compete for Loogy spot
Traded Littleton
Let Loe go to Japan
Signed Nathan Haynes in case some OF are traded are released
Did not resign Bradley, Wright, Vazquez

Moves yet to come (YAWN):
Starting Pitcher - Only an NRI type if any
Could also take a flyer on a rehabbing guy

Relief Pitcher - Gagne (Cruz too $$) is possible, more likely a 40yo NRI MR
Could also take a flyer on a rehabbing guy

Position Players - Probably a 40yo RH-hitter as NRI in case of CATT $$dump


What does it all mean?
Defense should be much improved with addition of Vizquel/Andrus, Young to 3B
Traded Laird for Salty/TG platoon
Added veteran position depth (melhuse, Haynes) in case of trades of surplus OF/C
Resigning Blalock allows MAx to spend all of pre-ASB period catching at AAA
Having Davis for a full season: No more Broussard/shelton/blalock/Salty/Catt/Botts at 1B!!!!
Not resigning Bradley: More playing time for Cruz, Boggs, Borbon, Golson and Murphy in addition to creating more roster flexibility
As for the Pitching: NADA, the youth-movement will begin to traipse its way through BPIA beginning about June as our pitches are DL'd one by one and quicken in pace as some vets are traded for major-league ready prospects to hasten our excitement for the 2010 season when these guys are competing for rotation spots:

Holland, Feliz, Harrison, Moscoso, Hunter, Diamond, T-Murph, Poveda, Kiker, McCarthy, Feldman

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cool

I figured out how to create sidebar links and created a permanent link to my Roster and Ranking spreadsheets. Check'em out

Injured FA workouts of interest to TX

Chad Cordero, 2/19
Andy Sisco, 2/6
Aki Otsuka, ???

Sheets update!!

TR Sullivan is reporting (uhem...it was more than just a gut feeling right TRS?) today that TX nixed a 2 yr deal with Sheets after he flunked his physical. It appears that the partial tendon tear was more serious than previously thought and that rest and rehab would not be enough to allow him to pitch for a full season.

Wow! Medical science is an imperfect art indeed but eventually they get their man. So I guess the issue is should TX take a risk on him signing a minimum salary deal for 2 years with incentives that kick in the second year of the contract. Having a possible ace on the staff in 2010 would make this team a contender and they will have gaping holes in the rotation after Millwood and Padilla leave (hopefully). I would do it. As Jamey Newberg wrote this AM, Joe Lieber is a good comp, as NY did the same with him and he came back to pitch a nice year with 2 playoff starts after his recovery.

Ok so I guess our rotation is set now unless we make a trade: Millwood, Padilla, Harrison, McCarthy, Feldman. UGH.

A few updates

Update 2/6: Odalis Perez signs minor lg deal with Nats, someone, like Benson, who I preferred over Jennings, both of whom pitched last year at the very least

Guardado finally signed with TX, a minor lg deal to boot so that fills a glaring need in the bullpen. Guardado fills two or three roles: lefty specialist, 7th inning guy, setup guy on rare occasion. Thinking about it in this way, I think the rangers really don't have to sign another setup guy for the pen. Wilson will cover this role with Guardado occasionally filling in. If Turnbow can turn his career around, or if Cordero or Ringo signs and makes an appearance in June, then we could have a bullpen surplus, _before_ the ASB for once - looking at it optimistically of course.

So Balt traded a bag of bones for Rich Hill who I thought the Rangers should take a flyer on. I think he would've had a better chance here trying to work out his issues as a lefty reliever in our bullpen - with the hope that he could eventually return to the rotation - than he will in the Balt rotation. They gave up a LH SP with decent #s who pitched in short season ball last year. With a full rotation of legit starting prospects at each level we can afford to trade the likes of these players for Hill:
Schlact, phillips, ballard, hyatt, mathis, Miggie, henry, wilkins, Nevarez, peralta, quintero, nelo, nam, Tatusko, Swanson.

The equivalent for him would likely have been Miggie or Tatusko.

As I stated in a recent post, I wondered if the rangers were in on Millar as he was only being offered a NRI by Toronto. A post on MLBTR today, confirmed that the rangers were one of the teams in on him but that he seemed poised to sign as an NRI with Tor.

TR Sullivan has a strange post up suggesting that Sheets won't sign with TX but admits it is nothing more than a gut feeling. It does not appear that their are any other teams talking to him as much as the Rangers have, so despite the fact that he wants a better contract, he may have to take the best offer on the table. As of now, that appears to be from the Rangers.

In an interview on the rangers' site (I think), JD suggested that the rangers were still looking for pitching depth, which means IMO, that a decent setup guy like cruz is out ($$) but we might see a 7th inning vet signed as NRI. The remaining candidates are not that impressive (as I detailed in a previous post) and I would rather stay in-house for a 7th inning guy (madrigal, rupe, turnbow, eyre, mathis, garr, even Torres (lh)>. I think it likely that there will be a NRI offered to a starting pitcher and a RH hitter by the reported date.


No other Rangers scuttlebutt today on: NRI starters, bullpen dregs, Sheets, or RH hitters.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Updated Rankings, Profiles, Roster Projections

I just updated my roster projections for 2009. They can be found in excel format here:

Rangers09RosterProjections


I've also update my top 90 prospect rankings, with a separate top 20 for foreign players, complete with brief prospect profiles:

Rangers09ProspectRankings

I've just added notations in the profiles indicating my breakout and sleeper candidates but I will detail them here:

Latin American players: Breakout Candidates in their state-side debuts(with top 20 rank)
#1 Carlos Melo (SP), #2 Juan Grullon (LH SP), #3 Ayennil Mendoza (SP), #4 Tomas Telis (C), #6 Edwin Garcia (SS)

State-side Prospects (with top 90 rank)
Sleepers: #51 Michael Kirkman (LH SP), #58 Joe Torres (LH RP)

Breakout Candidates:
Starters - #14 Guillermo Moscoso, #20 Joe Wieland, # 22 Tim Murphy, #29 Kyle Ocampo
Relievers - #15 Pedro Strop, #31 Brennan Garr, #34 Corey Young, #39 Evan Reed, #53 Ryan Schlect, #54 Tanner Roark, # 55 Cody Eppley
Position - #36 Mike Bianucci (RF), #40 Carlos Santana (C)


enjoy!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Not so slow Monday

So 20 minutes after my "slow monday" post, Perez signs and 20 minutes later we get the news from TR Sullivan that Guardado is in the pipe and should sign in the next few days.

Also from TRS, running counter to one of his previous posts, the rangers are still interested in Benson as well as Jennings and have kept tabs on Cordero's rehab all winter.

I would take Benson over Jennings in a second and would love to have Cordero available at mid-season to take over for whatever setup guy goes under the knife by that time. It also would mean that we wouldn't have to overpay for a reliever at the trade deadline. However, Cordero reportedly had the same kind of surgery that is going to keep hurley out for 15 months, a labrum/RC repair, the worst possible combination and hardest to recover from so there is no guarantee that Cordero will be back to form this year, or even return this year at all...Still worth the risk.

So how about the possiblity of Sheets (2yrs), Looper (1 yr), Benson (NRI), and Cordero (guar. deal but solely incentive-based). I likey...

Perez finally signs!!!

Thank god- 3yr 36mill. Hopefully this means that the LAD will sign Wolf so that there will be more pressure for Sheets to sign with the Rangers. Oakland is also rumored to be interested in Looper and might be the favorite now to sign him. LAD should be out when they sign wolf, the mets are out after Perez, the cubs should be out after acquiring Heilman, and Balt should be out after trading for Hill.

Couple of other updates:
1. Toronto sign 40yo LH Takahashi and will evaluate him as a starter during ST. He can earn up to 1.5mill
2. SD is interested in Livan Hernandez. I would like TX to consider him as a NRI. Not sure if SD is offering him guaranteed money. He made 5mill last year and will surely make at least 1/2 that in 09
3. Toronto offers Millar a minor league contract. wonder if the rangers are in on him or should be if they are still in the market for a RH hitter...?

Just to reiterate what I said in my other posts. If we can't sign sheets, I think Wolf, a LH, would be a good sign and will have a very nice season next year if not the year after. I also like Looper, who pitched 200ip last year/4.13 era, and has a fresh arm after converting to a starter in 06. I like him as a 5th starter, depth this team needs.

Very Slow Monday

A few updates on the free agent front:
1. Ken Rosenthal reports that the Sheets-Rangers talks have slowed as TX is trying to hold out for a 1 year deal. Unless sheets is opposed to a 2-yr low-base salary with heavy incentives to protect the team, I do not understand why this hasn't been done two weeks prior.
2. Oakland trades 2 non-top 30 position prospects (both ranked around 15th in 08) for the Cubs 30yo RH reliever Mike Wuertz whose #s the last 5 years have been really good. He appears to be a versatile 7th/8th inning guy. His splits are among the weirdest I have ever seen. He seems to pitch off of his slider which much be pretty nasty. In previous years he only threw his FB about 42% of the time but in 08 he threw it only 30% of the time. Really odd. And his fastball is not bad in terms of velo averaging 91. Salary of 1.1mill.
3. As rumored the last week, Balt gets the Cubs Rich Hill for a bag of bones. So there goes my evil plan to snag this headcase for nothing, set him lose in the bullpen to become our second or even third lefty, hopes he turns it around and maybe even competes for a rotation spot by the end of the yr or in 2010. FB/CB guy who lost 1-2mph on his FB/CB/Sl(show pitch) in 08 along with his control and state of mind (reportedly). FB ave of 89-90 in 06/07, 88.3 in 08.


So, taking the cue from the A's and Balt, JD should also be using the depth of the system to trade for guys like Wuertz or Hill. System depth is nothing if it is not used effectively and trading away prospects in your 31-60 range to get effective, relatively young, and cheap vets has to be a primary strategy for the rangers who are refusing to budge on payroll despite bargains remaining on the free agent market. In addition, if the Rangers' choose to be miserly this off-season, then they should be prepared to take on a few players that are high risk/high reward like Hill. As i stated in earlier posts, this means they should be in on guys like Mulder, chuck james, Sisco and Cordero. There is really no excuse _not_ to do both at the moment. However, we have seen JD do _neither_ this off-season which is cause for some concern IMO.

There is still plenty of time left, 10 days or so until ST, 2 months until the season starts. I bet JD is waiting on some more FA to sign, forcing teams to jettison some guys from the 40 or increasing the atmosphere to trade for a guy like Wuertz. Unfortunately, the longer the waiting goes, the more the remaining _bargains_ still out there will get snapped up, leaving this team with, once again, the dreggs of the market. With the cost of and length of contracts for starters, hitters and releivers getting knocked down to historically low levels, I think the rangers should be more aggressive and be willing to go 4-8 million over budget.

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