Thursday, December 30, 2010

Texas kicking Colon's (spare) tires

Here is a summary of his winter work from Decemer 8th:

The Pirates are among the teams scouting Bartolo Colon in the Dominican right now, where he is 40 pounds lighter, throwing 90-93 mph and just dominating opponents in winter ball. He is 37 and probably would cost something in the range of the $1 million base the White Sox paid him to pitch pretty well in 2009.

His final line entering the playoffs: 7gs/1.45/37.1/35/1hr/6bb/28so/1hb
His last listed ht/wt was 5.11/245 so if he lost 40 lbs it's safe to say that he must have ballooned to 300 and is now sitting in a comfortable "Tommy Hunter" range. There should be an uproar if TX signs him. He has pitched 300 innings in the last 5yrs with an FIP of about 5. Any TX youngster can put up an FIP of 5 and all have the talent to do much better. Hopefully, Colon does not end up being next year's Benson or Jennings.



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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Andrew Miller, Bobby Jenks

TX offered Andrew Miller a major league deal per MLBTR:

Mark Rodgers, the agent for Andrew Miller, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that the lefty received big league offers from at least three teams, including the Rangers and Giants, before signing a minor league deal with the Red Sox.


Also per MLBTR, Texas was interested in Bobby Jenks as a starter.


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Roster Moves

Roster moves per BA:

Texas Rangers
Signed: RHP Derek Hankins, LHP Kevin Gunderson, LHP Zach Jackson, SS Omar Quintanilla, OF Erold Andrus, OF Salvador Sanchez
Released: LHP Michael Ballard, C Chris Gradoville

The Rangers signed two players who attended college in Texas in lefty-hitting shortstop/second baseman Omar Quintanilla (Texas) and lefty Zach Jackson (Texas A&M). They also signed Elvis Andrus's older brother Erold, who played in the independent Golden and Atlantic leagues in 2010.



Erold Andrus is COF depth at the AA level. Kevin Gunderson is a small lefty (not his listed 5.10) who once had a big FB, with inconsistent mechanics/command, and who did not play in 2010. Salvador Sanchez is HighA/AA COF depth or they will convert him to the bullpen (6.6/200). Omar Quintanilla is currently on a PEDS suspension (h/t Cole)and won't debut until early May if at all. This points to some continuity pre/post Preller: given the chance to acquire a low character bargain (see Gutierrez, Velazquez, Lueke, Santana) TX will quickly holster the "high character talent acquisition" mantra. UPDATE: Add Ryan Tucker to the list. Tucker has been suspended on multiple occasions during his career and ended the season on the restricted list.

People seemed to love Chris Gradoville's catchability and deft work with young pitchers, so i'm surprised to see him released though he was injured to end the year. Ballard was likely granted his release so that he could sign with another club (maybe overseas).


UPDATE:
With Texas on the verge of inking a second lefty from the Jurassic period in Arthur Rhodes (joining Oliver, but let's not forget about their younger Cretaceous-era brother, Tateyama) and also expected to acquire/sign a DH and starting pitcher (or two), we can talk about who gets booted from the (full) 40-man roster to make space. The first two would have to be the underrated loogy Rapada, and the overrated perennial prospect Zach Phillips. Next, you could see Max Ramirez and Guillermo Moscoso shipped off in trades for a player or cash. Wilmer Font will be moved to the 60-day DL at some point but I'm not sure if they can do that now or have to wait.

UPDATE

Texas has just signed Arthur Rhodes (41.4yo to begin the season, supplanting Oliver as the oldest player on the roster) to an embarrassingly large contract, 1yr with a vesting option that takes the deal to 8m total. Let's hope these details are wrong or that the vesting clause is ni'gh impossible to reach. I guess the good news is that Texas might be on the verge of convincing itself to plug Feliz into the rotation. Additionally, it would allow TX to keep Harrison, Kirkman and Scheppers in the AAA rotation for the first 1/2 of the season (and let Feldman get stretched out there as a starter while on the DL). The (very) bad news would be if Rhoads' contact vests for 4.5 million in 2012 when he'll be 42 and likely nothing more than a wildly overpaid loogy. Remember, this is the club that doesn't like to overpay relievers.






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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don Curmudgeon goes Prospecting

That guy who knows absolutely nothing about prospects who slams 90% of the prospects that you really like, is more likely to be right about their projection than you are. That man would be Senor Don Curmudgeon de la Vega.


Engel Beltre
Completely over-rated as an impact prospect at the plate. 4_5 OF in the NL. #9 hitter, with an OBP of .300, completely driven by his batting average. Speed doesn't translate to the base paths. Very poor pitch recognition skills, poor plate discipline, gap-only power. Slap hitter (59% gb), gets infield hits with speed but doesn't bunt or sacrifice well enough. Makeup issues, baseball IQ. Could he develop into a league-average CF at some point (2010 AL OPS CF min 400ab, .736)? Unlikely. Stated more positively, do you think he will develop into a better player than Borbon, who is likely a platoon player, but who hit only .660 vs RHP? Could Beltre become a starting CF somewhere in the majors with a .660 OPS? well Borbon's 120 starts suggest that yes, plus defense can earn you a start as only one club among 30 needs to go there and you've got yourself a job.

However, unlike what most people seem to think when they recycle old prospect reports about him from 2007, Beltre will have to earn his job as a fringy major league CF completely on the defensive end as he ain't going to hit well enough to be anything more than a #9 hitter who slaps at everything near the zone. It will only get more difficult for him: a full season of AA when other clubs know him a bit better than he knows himself, then on to AAA, where they will not pitch to his strengths, and into the bigs where he will simply be confused when his plus bat speed and contact ability are rendered mute by people who have mastered the craft in ways he will not.

Julio Borbon
.660 OPS vs RHP in 2010. He is what he is. Platoon player who should play about 100g and get you about 1.5 WAR, entirely from his defense. NEEDS A PLATOON PARTNER. Doesn't walk enough, doesn't work an at bat, not much patience. #9 hitter.

Moreland

May or may not be a platoon bat. They didn't give him a chance to play against LH SP until the playoffs so who knows. Battled LH really well in the minors according to some. Doubles hitter who will likely not hit more than 15HR. Never hit 20 HR in a minor league season. Hit 26hr in 166 games in A-ball. Hit 20hr in 168g in the upper minors. Led the organization in GIDP. Can be pitched effectively inside where he has trouble making contact. Sometimes a longish swing though is very effective with 2-strike approach. Does not have elite bat speed though some have commented that he has very strong hands/wrists. .879 OPS vs RHP. Which Moreland will we see in 2011 - August, 235/333/441/775; September, 257/379/500/879 ? If you were a bettin' man, err, person, you'd probably say that the league will catch up to the rookie, as they always do, with a .775 OPS vs RHP being a more likely outcome than an OPS of .879. He's likely to do much worse than that vs LHP if he isn't platooned.

So, as a full-time player, might we expect to see an OPS of .750? That would be an upgrade from what Davis, Smoak, Cantu, Arias, et al, offered up last year so that would count as an upgrade for 2011 but not league average (.811). His peripherals are all likely to regress next year as the league catches up to him, but it is a limited sample, all from one side, with one boom month, and one bust month, so .811 might not be out of his reach. I'm definitely rooting for him but an elite team shouldn't hang their hat on such things and needs a platoon bat to begin the season with a proper bench.

Scheppers

Pitched about 90 innings this year (including ~10 in instructs per Cole). Could he start for TX in the second half or will his depressed inning total relegate him to the pen? TX seems to believe in him as a starter though others do not. switched grips on his changeup per Cole (split grip, right around the same time Feliz switched to it last year in fact). He might be a little older but that doesn't really matter due to his draft/injury issues. He didn't become a full time starter until his JR year. So the you can wait on him if you believe he can wield a fringy changeup at least and if he has a feel for starting. All that really matters is that he is under control just as long as anyone else is beginning the day he signed and if he can't win a rotation spot until 2012, so what. I'm going against the majority here and say Scheppers will be a starter for TX out of ST in 2012 and will pitch like a 3_4 before having a breakout year in 2013. How good can he be? Depends on his command and mechanical consistency I would imagine, but there is no reason he couldn't develop into a #2. And to stop a trend, why not refuse to use Scheppers (and other developing starters for that matter) in the pen until the rosters expand, lest we see another starter get sucked out of his development program.

Perez
Struggled in 2010, really struggled with everything according to many reports. Some of Perez's value seems to lie in people's belief that he will be ready to break into the big leagues in 2012. But let's be realistic given his struggles. He shouldve pitched in HighA last year. AA in 2011 and AAA/bigs in 2012. So if you look at it like that, he is right on track, (though you really have to question the wisdom of having him skip Bakersfield even as dreary as it was. Developmentally, one wonders whether he progressed or not last year?) He likely won't break into the bigs as a starter until 2013 and even then it is unlikely that he becomes an elite starter (whatever that is for him #1 or #2, likely not an ace though due to his size, which is not to say that he won't be durable, but that #1 starters and Aces tend to be very big and strong, and Perez is not). So you're talking about a kid who might have his first breakout season in the bigs in 2014. Can you wait that long?

Derek Holland
Remember when Holland and Feliz were battling Cahill and Anderson for "best ace combo" back in 2008. In terms of value, Oakland has clearly won that battle, as Feliz is not starting, and Holland has not started well. We should probably talk about some issues the club seems to have with its development philosophy, always whining about not having starters, or being unable to pay them, and unwilling to pay relievers as they are not as valuable, while developing all their top starters into relievers. Hmmm. We'll save that for another post. In Holland's case, the club deserves some criticism for rushing him and then allowing him to get away from his strengths (fastball/changeup) while fumbling around with a curveball and not focusing on improving his slider. In addition, He has also shown some makeup issues: does he have the baseball IQ and whatever else it requires to become a #2 or a #3 starter? I'm going to say that Holland is a #4. And it hurts me to say that.

Hunter
his success in 2009 was in part due to the debut of a cutter but also due to the progress of his changeup. In 2010, we saw him do really well when really lucky in the first half of the season, and completely implode in the second half of the season, giving up like 15 homers in 7 games at one point - More homers in a 2-week stretch than anyone might have imagined possible, even if the name were Eric Hurley. This year we also saw him abandon the changeup, whether due to insufficient supervision, or due to lost feel for the pitch, I'm not sure. He also pitched up in the zone way too much. So all of this suggests to me that Tommy Hunter is basically a #5 starter and I would expect him to put up an FIP of about 5 from here on out


Craig Gentry
4A CF. Plus defense keeps him in AAA as a viable emergency backup but he'll never het well enough to play much on the big club. He'll be the Gregorio Petit of CF. Jamie Newberg used to include him on one of his interminable Greinke trade proposals. I think that has stopped now.

Leury Garcia
Jamie Newberg thinks he's a legitimate prospect so ask him. Problem: will never hit above highA; completely overrated hands (don't believe it's all about the bad throws). Occasionally you'll see a Newberg trade prosposal that includes him. Hopefully this will stop soon.


Jurickson Profar
Best second base prospect in the system. Could play plus defense at that spot with a plus arm for third, but likely not the bat. Inconsistent in debut with very nice gap power from one side. Some contact problems but nice walk rate. With his frame, I doubt he develops more than fringe-average power at that position in the bigs. If he developed into a kid with an average bat for Second (734 ops) with plus defense, that would be pretty good. For those that think KC is dreaming of Profar, well, that is too much risk for them to take, unloading an ace and getting a kid fresh out of short season, whose ceiling is that of an above average second basemen with not a lot of physical projection when they could have so many others. Check back in one year.

Luis Sardinas
Best shortstop prospect in the system. Might project to play plus ML defense at that spot, above average if you want to play it conservatively. Fast, Rangy, could be a prototypical lead off hitter. Tall and skinny, might end up looking like Arias, but not with the premature aging thing, and more freckles. Has always looked good at the plate from one side, with gap power. Can he project to play at least above average defense at short, and manage a league average .670 OPS to start in the bigs? Sure, why not, Elvis put up a .640 OPS/ 1.5 WAR season in 2010. Injuries cost him this year though, 1/2 the season, plus part of instructs and the off-season. He's plenty advanced to play in Hickory next year (much more advanced than Leury Garcia was/is during his 2 years there) but injuries might have cost him the opportunity to push the issue. As for KC's inerest in our other short-season millon dollar man? See Profar above but also add in the injuries to further muddy up their interest. Check back in one year.

Michael Kirkman
Horrible command vs RHH and below average changeup. Should stick in AAA for the first 3 months to see if he can pull it together. Has an excellent slider and fastball when his command is on. What is his ceiling, probably a #4 due to his command or some kind of bullpen arm, hopefully the setup kind, not the more fringy command middle reliever kind.

Matt Harrison
Another kid, who might have been rushed, and who the club failed to supervise closely enough after he arrived. Got fat during his first off-season, and forgot about what got him there: Fastball/Changeup. Fooled around with a curveball and a cutter, when they club should have made him stick to his guns in addition to kicking the cookie habit. Injury prone, not aggressive enough, doesn't pitch inside enough, doesn't pitch off his fastball enough, which is to say, he likely does not have the makeup to be a starter, though the club should continue to run him out there in that capacity in AAA next year.


Do you sense a trend here that suggests some problems in the program of development for starting pitchers once they make it out of AA, Feliz, Harrison, Hunter, Holland (and Hurley before them)? Rushed to the bullpen when they should be starting, moved to the rotation when they should be in the minors, sent back to the bullpen when they should be starting, getting away from what brought 'em, more pitches added when focus is needed...I'd call it a trend. Are Kirkman, Scheppers, and Perez (already rushed) next? That would be the second problematic trend to emerge is Texas' vaunted minor league system over the last three years. The first? Failure to evaluate and develop catchers. The third problem that might have emerged this year, but I hope it is a Tom Hicks one-off (that bastard): dumping prospects like Main (setup arm?) and Poveda (#4) for retreads.



Senor Don Curmudgeon de la Vega signing off.





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Thinking through a Greinke trade, 2011-2013

(OK so this is a rambling post that I have worked on in desultory fashion for like more than a week but it needs a thorough rewrite, if not complete disassembly into 2-3 separate posts. Well, that is not going to happen as I've completely lost interest.
Since it is my blog, I'm going to post it anyways. So, avert your eyes, or dig in.)


So Cliff Lee is gone, and TX made a competitive offer, but ultimately refused to cave to a 7th year. I assume that TX came in second based on various reports, and that makes me feel very good as it means the Yankees came in third. So now we move on.

Now that Greinke has officially demanded a trade and compromised KC's ability to play two ends against the middle in an attempt to secure a return that would sit in some rarefied air, we can reasonably start talking about what it would take to get him. I have written previously about how many not only seem to overvalue the present value of Texas' prospects but also their future value in terms of completely overestimating their realistic ceiling. The gist of the issue is: KC want's major league ready pieces, those who start in the bigs in 2011, more than they want risk, risk in this case being prospects who don't bring dominant high minors #s to the table. Texas simply might not have what KC wants and what KC wants TX might not be able to give.

It should be obvious to some, but not all, that Greinke's value is terrific. He's a 10-14 WAR player over the next 2 years at a reasonable salary, underpaid at that. In addition, you'll have the opportunity to try to sign him to an extension before that or as a FA after that (at a full 2.5 years younger than Lee, though, as a result, he likely gets a 7 year deal) or you get the post-arbitration picks. With a 2 year window with the current roster (you cannot assume that any of Hamilton, Wilson or Lewis will be here past 2012), Texas has to decide just how much whatever combination of players in any trade package are going to help them win a pennant during that time: Scheppers, Holland, Borbon, Beltre, Moreland, and Perez. So, let's say that you had to give up Holland, Borbon, Perez, Beltre (and maybe someone else, say Fabio Castillo), for 2 years of Greinke, 10-14 WAR, the chance to negotiate an extension, and, failing that (even failing that, you'll get another shot to sign him as a FA), getting post-ARB draft picks, would you do it?

The question here is not "Does TX have enough prospects that KC wants?", but rather "Does Texas have the kids on their current roster that KC is willing to hang their hat on?" So What combination of kids on the current roster are you willing to put into the deal? Do you think KC has a regard for players like Holland, Moreland, Scheppers or Borbon equal to the regard they might have had for Justin Smoak? I say no, Texas does not have a player like that on their current roster that KC can dream on that is available. Isn't it just as feasible that instead of dreaming on these guys, KC sees a couple of platoon hitters in Borbon and Moreland while also questioning Holland's ability to become a solid #3 starter in addition to Scheppers projection as a starter altogehter? If that is the case, it would just take one high ceiling prospect from another club (like Smoak, or whatever top 10 prospect in the top 100) with major league experience in 2010, to trump a Texas package.

What would the immediate ramifications be for 2011 as a result of trading 4 of those players, a couple of them from the current roster? You'd likely have to replace the loss of starting position players like Borbon and Moreland through the FA market (already thin at both spots) as Texas probably wouldn't have enough depth in the high minors to trade for their replacements. Given the lack of viable free agent options at those two spots, Texas might have to settle for older free agent leftovers, trade for a fringe-average player using lower-level prospects, or acquire a player in the final year of a bad contract. Losing Holland means that you would have to rely on Hunter as your 4th starter and someone like Matt Harrison (or a RECPRO like Brandon Webb or Jeff Francis) as your fifth starter with your AAA depth consisting of Kirkman, Moscoso, Hurley, Feldman(no options), Scheppers, Omar Beltre.

Among those pitchers, the following observations could be made: Harrison likely does not have the makeup to be a starting pitcher; Hunter is likely better cast as a 5th starter; Beltre is better suited to the pen due to chronic shoulder problems; Texas doesn't seem to care for Moscoso (though I do); Scheppers wouldn't be ready for a ML rotation until mid-season (if at all); Hurley is slated for the bullpen in the second half due to innings limitations; Feldman won't be ready for the rotation until mid-May; Michael Kirkman likely needs another 3 months on AAA to work on his command vs RHH an his changeup (though he could compete for a spot as middle/long reliever next year). There is clearly a lot more doubts about the depth here than anything else.

There might also be a few long-term consequences, if you lose some combination of Holland/Scheppers/Perez. The price might have to be: signing CJ Wilson (30.4) to a 4-5 year deal or lose him after this year; extending Lewis (31.7) an extra year or two; acquiring a veteran CF with one year left on a bad contract(for 2011); having to sign or trade more prospects for a starting CF to open 2012 or sign another retread. In terms of prospects, you are assuming that Hunter, Scheppers, Kirkman, and Feldman are your 4-7 starters. Or this would give you the perfect opportunity to move Feliz into the rotation in the presence of 3 guys who could pitch 200 innings for you. You then might also want to trade for or sign a veteran setup guy to pair with Francisco (when he gets injured) or whose presence might give you confidence to go with Ogando as a closer.

However you come down on a possible Greinke trade, one shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the central issue is how the club can contend for a pennant for the next 2 years. An incoming Greinke will get the team closer to this goal than the outgoing prospect package will during that time (whatever combination of Holland, Scheppers, Perez, Borbon, Moreland, Beltre, Hunter, et al). Acquiring Greinke would allow the team to bump Feliz to the rotation. With three 200 inning pitchers on the staff, they could be patient with the kid for the whole season. Without Greinke, I just don't think you could reasonably expect to make this move. So an added element of his acquisition then would have to be the ability to move Feliz into the rotation now, rather than in 2012. The value of that move could pay off handsomely, not only now but in 2012 when Wilson could depart via FA.

It would also be a perfect time to give Ogando a shot as a closer with Francisco being the perfect backup plan should he not pull it off. So if acquiring Greinke allowed the club to make those 2 moves that they otherwise would not have made, this has to be taken into consideration as the short-term acquisition might generate a couple of substantial long-term benefits: Feliz could develop into a top rotation starter while Ogando could develop into the long-term closer. Greinke's presence makes those two moves all the more viable by allowing the team to stick with them through their struggles or switching them back to their old roles should they flop. If they wait until next year when both Wilson and Francisco could be gone, well, it might not make as much sense depending on the construction of the roster.

One final thing to consider, over the next 2 years, much of the present minor league depth is going to make it into the upper level of the minors not even considering the draft haul over that time (though TX will have to change its philosophy a bit in a couple of areas one would hope). People complaining about gutting the system by trading pieces for Greinke are losing site of this fact, in addition to failing to see the complete lack of depth at the upper levels to begin with. The system will have a lot more depth starting as soon as mid-season 2011, when there will surely be a few breakthrough players impressing in AA. Now that will be almost entirely on the pitching front while the hitters likely won't make an appearances there until the start of 2012 (unless there is a cup of coffee in the playoffs).

Of course, none of this will likely matter if another team offers up a couple of now/near-ready position players as Texas won't be able to match. In the end, I think KC gets what they want, and Texas misses out. You can judge whether Texas or some other team "overpays" in 2 years by counting up the # of world series appearances. Or you can choose to do so in terms of WAR, when that package of players doesn't sniff Greinke's 10-14 WAR cumulatively.




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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Transactions Redux

Texas signs j2 middle infielder Alberto Triunfel (5.10/160) for 300k. Though Badler's original report on the kid claimed that he would likely move to second base due to a fringy arm and average speed, his quip 5 months later suggest he is known for his "standout athleticism" and smooth actions at short. Who knows. Badler notes that his hit tool is the big question mark so it is likely that he starts out in the DSL for 2011.

Here is Badler's j2 profile from the summer:

Triunfel has been on the radar for several years because his brother is Mariners shortstop Carlos Triunfel, who signed with Seattle in 2006 for $1.3 million. Like his older brother, Alberto Triunfel is also represented by the Scott Boras Corp. and trains in Santo Domingo with Javier Rodriguez. Alberto and Carlos don't have too many similarities on the baseball field. While Carlos was a stocky 16-year-old who stood out for his bat, Alberto is a thin-framed athlete who has a better chance to remain in the middle of the diamond. He moves around well at shortstop, showing good hands and actions with the ability to make the flashy play. Triunfel's arm strength is fringe-average and he's an average runner, so he might move to second base. The biggest concern is how much he will hit as he moves up the ladder, though reports from some scouts are that his hitting has improved as July 2 approached.



To continue with the theme of inconsistent j2 scouting reports, Frankie Piliere wrote this (emphasis mine):
Albert Triunfel, SS: According to sources, Triunfel is the younger brother of Mariners' top flight prospect, Carlos Triunfel so you have to immediately like the bloodlines if that's the case. Scouts like to talk about Triunfel's good feel at the plate.


So to sum up, Triunfel may or may not be athletic, may or not be a shortstop, may or may not run fast, may or may not hit, may or may not have a good feel at the plate, may or may not have tested positive for PEDs, may or may not have a fringy arm, and may or may not have projection. On more solid ground, there is no doubt that he is Carlos Triunfels brother, who, it seems, gets more ink in Albert's own prospect reports than Albert himself.



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Transactions

from BA:

Texas Rangers
Signed: RHP Yhency Brazoban, CF Hirotoshi Onaka (5.8/175)

Onaka, Strange signing. Private University kid who played in only 75g over 4yrs. Level of competition unknown. Hopefully he has plus speed if nothing else.

According to this source, Hirotoshi Onaka most recently played for Kantaiheiyo University.


Brazoban pitched in the Mexican league last year after being released from the Mets' AAA club. How is now pitching badly for Licey in the Dominican.



PRESS RELEASE




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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Minor league notes

Danny Wild over at Minor League Baseball has some very brief notes by Scott Service, Sr. Dir. Player Development, about some Rangers' prospects.



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Friday, December 10, 2010

Cliff Notes

It appears that some in the NY/national media still regard the Rangers as "players" in the FA market, perhaps even in baseball in general. This sort of contempt might be akin to a cognitive hangover caused by the embarrassing demolition of their beloved and payroll-bloated Yankees by Texas in this year's playoffs. Whatever it is, Lone Star Ball had a nice retort today to this sort of "Does Texas really know what's good for itself" metanarrative, with Dan Szymborski opening the comments with a nice salvo.

New York's latest offer is reputed to be 7/160 (22.9 per). If Texas went 6/147.2 (24.5 per), the total monies would be equal after taxes. I'm just sayin'... I'm still on the fence about a contract that commits more than 5 years for a pitcher over 30 and which comprises about ~23% of the annual budget. If the contract is conceptualized as a separate line item then maybe it makes more sense. In this framework, you could still have a $95-100m annual payroll, the flexibility to increase it for in-season trades when necessary, and the capacity to pursue extensions for select players. Would it also allow you to increase your draft, international, personnel and scouting budgets? Let's hope so. The latest comments by Greenberg and Levine suggest that this is precisely how the front office staff and ownership view the situation. If they don't think that the behemoth offer will hamstring the competitiveness and financial flexibility of the club over the life of the deal, particularly the greater elaboration of and financial commitment to talent scouting, acquisition and development, then that is good enough for me.




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Signing News

per MLBTR:

Jack Cust signs for 1/2.5m
Gregorio Petit signs with SD, likely a minor league deal. I had hoped that TX would want to resign him for Round Rock and as a 3rd shortstop in case of inury at the ML level, nice glove, some ML experience, can't hit. Unless they sign a veteran utility guy in ST, it looks like Renny Osuna will be that guy. So, they should probably sign someone. Guilder Rody should probably stick in AA.



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Mich Moreland Day!

Richard Durrett links to a couple of stories about Mitch Moreland day - an annual event every December 6th it seems - in accent-heavy Amory Mississippi: 3000 fans, 3 hours of autographs, alumni from Moe's baseball camps, and ex -high school/college coaches. Pretty cool stuff. Video here.

I especially liked this quote from his former MS St head coach:

"Was Mitch Moreland a great hitter when he came to Mississippi State?" Polk asked. "Nope. He was so bad, his teammates named him after a famous Chinese philosopher, HitWonSoon (Hit One Soon)."

And with so many hunters and fishermen and small-towners on the Texas squad, how could Cliff Lee feel more comfortable anywhere else:

He said his offseason plans include a lot of relaxing and a little time in the woods.


Slow News Day Miscellany

Tommy Hunter spoke to some elementary kids about the importance of exercise and proper nutrition recently. This would be an even funnier picture if we didn't already know that Hunter is a former Judo standout. However, I do hope it means he's checking in at about ~270 during the break.

Watch Tommy throw a head of lettuce to a carrot-wielding donkey HERE! WARNING - PLAY IN WORKPLACE AT YOUR OWN RISK!




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Mason Tobin chatter

Here is a video of Mason Tobin's lone Cactus League appearance (.1 innings!) 4/3/09 (via Lone Star Dugout). He starts at the 1 minute mark. Note that the breaking ball that he strikes out Headley appears to be a 75mph slurve and not an 85mph slider. This would be consistent with Pavlidis' analysis of the pitch f/x from his exhibition game vs the LAD on 4/2/09. How will that slow breaking ball play against big league hitters? Time will tell. Pavlidis seemed to like it, and it struck out Headley, but he noted it was not the characteristically hard breaking ball one expects to see from a flamethrowing late inning arm.

BA also has a brief chat about the Rule 5 draft (ht/ LSB) in which they have this startling news about Tobin. Not only did he have TJ surgery in 2009, but also shoulder surgery in 2008, and a cleanup procedure on his elbow in 2010!!!! The kid has been injured every year that he has been in the minors (sore shoulder 2007). Seems like a pretty questionable pickup in light of that info, as it isn't even clear that TX has access to his medical records before the selected him for the draft. The most recent scouting info is from early April 2009 - 20 months and 2 surgeries ago! The hope must be that they can get him through waivers at the end of spring training, trade for his rights, and send him to AA.

UPDATE:
I've come across some sources that say he missed most of 2008 due to a strained shoulder while others suggest he had shoulder surgery, so I'm not sure if he had surgery that year or not.



Here is an additional note on the kid from BA March 09:

Righthander Mason Tobin, whose 2008 season was cut short last June 6 because of a strained shoulder, will be the closer this year at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
The Angels, who signed him for $125,000 as a 16th-round pick from Everett (Wash.) CC in 2007, are banking on Tobin developing a better slider to compliment a fastball that touched 97 mph last year. Tobin spent last season at low Class A Cedar Rapids but was 2-3, 3.13 with the same number of strikeouts and walks (18) in 37 innings.
“If he does what I think he can do, I see him moving fast,” Angels pitching coordinator Kernan Ronan said. “His fastball was 94-95 mph the other day in a big league game. It’s explosive. When he’s down, he’s really got some heavy sink. And when he gets under it, it has some run. But he’s fun to watch.”




#########

Churchill on Peguero, TX talk

Over at Prospect Insider, Jason Churchill has some notes up on Esty Peguero, one of the highest paid members of this year's "weak" j2 signing class:


Peguero, according to a White Sox scout, should have no problems playing second base, but could end up at third or in right field, depending on how he develops physically over the next 4-6 years.I asked the scout to compare Peguero to Carlos Triunfel and this is what he said."Similar talent at the plate at the same age. But Esty is a little better athlete and has a better frame for which to add strength and sustain his athleticism. Triunfel has the better arm and bat speed, but it's close. Esty's swing is fluid, though, and boy, BP is fun to watch. And he's legitimate, by the way.
.280 with 20-25 homers and 20 steals. He's got a lot of upside."

I haven't given it a lot of thought just yet, but Peguero has a chance to be the No. 4 prospect in the entire system...



And a lobby note about TX at the Winter Meetings:

"They better hope Texas doesn't keep Lee and get younger at the same time," quipped one agent. "I hear them (Rangers) connected to every good player left on the market as of today (Thursday). They will not sit still, Lee or no Lee, Greinke or no Greinke. If they miss out on both, they'll look at Pavano, or try to trade for Garza -- or both. And at some point they will look for offense.




#####

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter Ball Notes

Teagarden's slash lines in 9g for Estrellas:
148/233/407/641 (all vs RHP)

MaxRam
0 xbh last 12g; 2 last 20g; 4 last 28g
4xbh first 8 games
10bb/7so last 12games

Miguel Velazquez
Looks like he might start getting some PT, not that I care. He's played in every other game the last week.

Kasey Kiker
11 walks over his last 2 starts (5.2ip) with a Turkey day break in between them.

Pedro Strop
Hasn't pitched since getting shelled on November 17th. Injured?

Omar Beltre
Not all that impressive in his 4 starts
10/15/6/0/4/6/.69g_o

Andres Blanco
.874 OPS last 10 games



#########

Winter Meeting Notes

Per MLBTR:

Mets sign Paulino.
Cubs charging hard after Webb.
Texas refuses to get into a bidding war over Lee and wants to be told what it would take to sign him. Do you think Lee and his agent will provide a counter offer to another team's offer? I'm not sure that is how it works, which might also indicate that Texas really isn't a player at this point.

UPDATE:
Lee's agent responds:
"We have no interest in participating in the unconventional negotiating style the club has requested," Braunecker told ESPN.com early Thursday morning. "For the player to submit an offer to the club ... that's not the way the process works."



JD had this to say about the rotation after a quiet Winter Meetings:
"We're looking at it as an alternative," Daniels said. "We've talked about moving Feliz and Ogando and seeing what they can do as starters. At some point, we may commit to it. Is it perfect? No. Are they finished products? No. They're in the development process, but at some point, we may need to see if it's something they can do.


Is that the kinda talk you would expect to hear from the GM on a contending team? NO. At the same time, the rotation might not shake out until 4/1 and by that time I would expect to see both Ogando and Feliz in the pen. Thinking about a Francisco/Lowe closer (only 1/2 of Francisco, as he spends the other half on the DL) and a bullpen full of soft tossers isn't all that encouraging. TRS seems to think that nothing got done but he totally elides the fact that TX got a starting catcher, filling a huge hole in addition to laying the groundwork for filling the DH spot (and assuredly lots of other stuff). (Well, ok, Yorvit signed before the Meetings, but still....)


Richard Durrett has some more comments from JD:


“We’ve talked about the idea of moving Feliz and [Alexi] Ogando and seeing what these guys can do as a starter,” Daniels said. “On one hand, it’s uncomfortable because you’re taking a known commodity out of the bullpen, but on the other hand, you look at the price of starting pitching on the free agent market versus the opportunity to acquire impact relief pitching. What’s the best use of our talent? What’s the best way to allocate our assets? Do I know definitely if Feliz can start and be an impact guy? No. But on some level, even if it’s a little uncomfortable, we owe to ourselves to find out. You can get relief pitching.”


"We’re not there, but at some point we may commit to it," said Daniels about starting Feliz or Ogando. "We may say, ‘Hey, is it perfect? Are they finished products? No.’ But you look around the league and there’s a learning curve and a growth process that starting pitchers go through. If you don’t give them an opportunity to go through it, you don’t have an opportunity to find out. Can Feliz be a No.1 or No. 2 starter? I don’t know. He’s got some attributes that make you think he has that type of potential. We look at it that we want to walk through the process and make sure we know instead of looking up in three or four years and salarys escalated and you never found out."


Lots 'O whining about money here even now that we have some to spend. Could the budget (without the Cliff Lee line item) be a little more restricted than we think?


On an unrelated note, Durrett (and others) seem to think that Greinke and Garza can be mentioned in the same breath. One of those things is not like the other.



#####

Rule 5 Notes

Texas passed on taking someone in the Major league portion of the Rule 5 draft today.

TR Sullivan reports that Texas was interested moving up in the Rule5 today. A trade could still be announced before the minor league phase is over. Texas traded to acquire the Snyder pick last year and then traded to keep him.

And...right on queue, TRS reports TX has traded for 6.4/220 (22.7 a/o 4/1/11) RHP Mason Tobin, selected by the Cubs from the Angels (16th rd 2007). John Manuel had nothing to say about him in his Rule5 preview. He missed the last 1 1/2 years due to elbow issues and TJ surgery but will be healthy enough to compete for a bullpen spot. In the end, this pick seems like another Ben Snyder, a guy who won't pitch well enough to make the club, but who TX hopes will be good enough to merit the acquisition his rights via trade rather than sent back to LA. 2 pitch bullpen arm, with some questions about his "slurve" (inconsistent arm slot).

Tobin has not pitched in the AFL or winter leagues this fall, so I'm not sure how much Texas could have seen him over the last 6 months. Since he is under another team's control at the time of the draft, one would think that Texas does not have access to his medicals. Food for thought.

JD had this to say:
General manager Jon Daniels said Tobin will attempt to make the club as a reliever. If he does, he must stay on the 25-man roster for the 2011 season or be offered back to the Angels.Daniels desribed him as a 6-foot-4, 220-pound with a "live fastball in the mid 90s and plus life and a good breaking ball."Tobin had Tommy John surgery in April 2009 and is trying to come back from that."A number of our scouts who have some history with him in the Northwest really like his upside," Daniels said. "He made a good impression with the Angels in big league camp two years ago before he got hurt."

He was the Angels' #10 prospect going into 2009. He had shoulder soreness in 2007 and 2008, making on 8 starts that year. He has only 96IP in 4years, 40ip over the last three. Tobin saw a velo spike during his first year in full season, pitching in the low 90s and touching 97, with heavy sink and good armside run from a low 3/4 slot. His slider was inconsistent, flashing hard, but mostly slurvy. He had a rudimentary change at that point. His delivery is said to be "less than fluid" and requires some effort (Source, BA 2009 Prospect Guide).

Harry Pavlidis notes that he was 94.5-97.3 in one spring 2009 exhibition game, with a 76mph slurve. In this outing, He pitched up in the zone, threw what might have been some sinkers, and no changeups. Those sinkers could also just be his 4-seam, which has heavy sinking action according to some reports.


In the minor league phase, 24 picks selected in the AAA phase, and only 4 in the AA phase. Texas lost no one in either phase. So much for the 40-man/Rule 5 apocalypse. As expected Texas took a catcher, Fausto "Jessie" Mier (Chattanooga, LAD), and also took LH reliever Starling de la Rosa (23.5, 4/1/11) (NW Ark,KC). Jesse Mier (26yo, 4/1/11) was a 12th rd pick of the Dodgers in the 2007 draft and has not appeared above AA (46g 2010). Hasn't appeared in many games over the last 4 years, so injuries have likely been an issue. Might have had his best year last year given that it was in AA, but he doesn't hit for power, can't hit LHP and only appeared in 10g during the second half. He is likely an org guy with good catchability who will play in the LowA to AA levels (perhps even in short season) in 2011 and who will work well with young pitchers.

De la Rosa is played all or part of his first 5 years in short-season ball including this year though he did get a taste of A-ball but demonstrated zero command, principally vs LHH. So, given that he is not a loogie, I guess he must throw very hard. Very tall, very skinny, from San Pedro de Macoris so TX should be familiar with him both in the DSL and from EST in Surprise, a complex the share with KC. He had 3-4 bad games in A ball that might mask some significant progress that he may have made last year but who knows. Long shot, who might be released in ST if he can't make the HighA club given the depth in the low minors - think Winston Marquez, who they took last year in the minor league phase but released in ST.

Neither player seems to have appeared in any winter league action.

First Inning: Starling de la Rosa
First Inning: Jesse Mier

UPDATE:
Kevin Goldstein seems to think that Tobin had a plus changeup at some point which isn't supported by any other facts, including Jon Daniels most recent comments. He is and has been a 2 pitch guy: sinking fastball, slurve.

Other Notes
Former Rangers Jacob Rasner and Roan Salas were selected by other clubs. Roan Salas disappeared from the DSL roster one off-season and then materialized in the VSL for the Rays. 4 years in the VSL/DSL (and LG this winter) - must have had a visa issue.



#####

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Meetings Redux

Per MLBTR (12/8):

Konerko gets 3yr/37.5m from ChiSox -no thanx.
Some deferred money: 12; 12; 13.5 (7m deferred year three)
Twins moving in for the Pavano kill.
Cust close to terms with Seattle.
Ordonez is angling for 2/10m.
Guerrero may be open to a 1yr deal now.


UPDATE 12/9
Crawford signs for 7/142 with BoSox
BoSox are rumored to have offered a 7/yr deal for force the NYY to offer a 7th year.
Texas is almost assuredly out on Lee if a 7th year is required.
Milwaukee is mulling a 3yr offer for Pavano. No thanx. Wait that was a rumor from yesterday; now they don't want to go past 2 years. I'd do a 2yr deal.
There is no doubt that Matt Garza flashes TORP talent at times. But should he be considered a top rotation starter in general and over the long term? I say no. His #s suggest that he is a #3 starter whose "talent" is very much intertwined with his erratic makeup as a starter.
Uehara signs with Orioles, 1/3m with a vesting option.
Passed Ball/Wild Pitch allowed machine Miguel Olivo is on the verge of a 2yr deal with Seattle.


Other Notes 12/9

The Kiker as power pitcher meme is still alive after not being true for 2-3 years now. Jonathan Mayo is the latest to redistribute it along the virtual highway.



#####

Hindman's Fugue

I'm lovin' this. Hindman has doozy of an article over at BBTIA in which he claims that Hunter is as valuable as Greinke and other cleverness. Check it out. And while you are there, tell him that all the cool kids have switched to Fangraphs and Statcorner to make all their cool little FIP, tRA and WAR-graph thingies. Or better yet, send him over to the "League Average Notes, 2010" worksheet in the "2010 Roster" workbook in the sidebar at this site for a more accurate appraisal of Ranger WAR.



######

Winter Meetings update

Carlos Pena signs a 1yr/10m deal with the Cubs with Adam LaRoche as their backup plan. For those who thought that Chris Davis had some value to them as a starter or platoon partner, that proved not to be the case. Davis is a RECPRO for 2011 who likely spends the year in AAA for any club that he is with. However, Texas seems to be angling for one of their catchers if the conversations have been legit (reported since the GM meetings so there appears to be some meat on the rumors). This would mean, someone would have to headline the deal, with Chris Davis as the high riske RECPRO. Does either catching prospect being discussed - Robinson Chirinos, Wellington Castillo - project to hit lefties well enough to make a better platoon partner with Yorvit than Treanor or Teagarden, both with a career ~550 OPS against them?

Now that Minor League Splits is on hiatus, it is hard to dig up splits for prospects who are playing winter ball. In the LVBP this winter, Robinson Chirinos (26.8 in 2011) does not have enough AB to compute, playing in only 15g but sucking all the same in a league that is AAA or better (.627OPS after a 1.0 OPS in 15 AAA games to end the year).

Wellington Castillo (24yo in 2011), playing for Licey in the LBD, has been even worse over 23g, still way too small a sample, but did have an OPS of 815 in 69g for AAA in 2010 along with a cup of coffee in the majors. His walk rate is very poor for his career and for 2010 as well.

So, if TX thinks one of these guys is better than Treanor or Teagarden, I hope they acquire him. It will also afford fans another opportunity to assess whether or not there is an issue with the talent evaluation/projection of catchers by the staff in this system - will they get it right or wrong this year with Castillo or Chirinos? They've gotten it wrong for a few years now.

The only other platoon catcher who is available that I like is Russell Martin but he is likely to command a starter's deal if not a starting job rather than accept a platoon role. Though, there are some who are talking him up as a utility catcher/catchall player who can play multiple spots, but his career experience doesn't seem to support this at all.

Teagarden and Treanor are so bad vs LHP that you might see a platoon in which they only play against RH starters when they see action, with Yorvit seeing action against both LH/RH starters. Unfortunately, Washingtion doesn't seem to envision the catching spot as a platoon spot, preferring instead to play the guy he likes the most regardless of his splits and pair the backup with particular starter or play him based on some feel for some "matchup". So, it is unlikely that Warsh gets the most offensive production out of that spot anyways unless by accident, eg, both catchers outperforming their career splits.

I would be interested in Brandon Webb as a 6th starter. I would be interested in Jeff Francis as a #4 starter, maybe even for his asking price of 4-5m but not for 2 years, unless it is an option year of some sort. The Matt Garza rumors are circulating again, and I like him as a #3 starter but he's no TORP.

Add Ordonez to the list of platoon DH guys that interest TX. Will he agree to be a platoon guy, and be paid like a platoon guy (only a ~750 OPS vs RHP last 2 years)? Not sure. Thome now appears on the official rumor list as well.

The DH terrain is still wide open enough for Texas to skip out on Konerko and Guerrero by putting together some platoon arrangement that lacks sex appeal but might very likely outperform the league average 810OPS for the position. A Thome/Gomes pairing looks good on paper, but offers TX no versatility at 1b, so that would be a problem. Getting a RHH to platoon at 1B is important I think, and TX seems to feel the same way. And after all, it would be difficult to contruct a lineup with 4 platoon spots (CF, 1B, C, DH) so versatility would seem to be a critical factor in constructing the 2011 lineup. In that respect, maybe Konerko makes some sense, as there aren't too many decent options out there if you cross him off the list of 1b/DH FA. However maybe it doesn't, as it means that he likely trots out a 780 OPS vs RH starters as a DH for the next couple of years and that really isn't good enough for the money he will get (is it?). Maybe TX can trade for that guy. I'm not hearing any names on that front however.

I'm not writing anything about the Mike Young rumors, which are an annual affair, and never have any substance based in the same concrete reality that we all live in. Suffice it to say that a team would be dumb to acquire him without TX paying them off about 6m/per on the remaining 3 years of his deal, so about 18m. NOT HAPPENING. He's still a 2.5 WAR player next year and TX has more important holes to fill on their 25. You can move him to DH next year. And you can still win a pennant with him on the team. Nothing to see here.


UPDATE
I think that Josh Bard might be a good platoon partner to pair up with Yorvit. He has a career .783 OPS vs LHP, but only in the .700-.730 range the last 3 years - still 150 points higher than Treanor's career split vs LH. They seem to have pretty similar profiles behind the dish.



######

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Ball Notes

Engel Beltre
Frisco 2010:
.083 ISO; 5% walk rate; 60% groundball rate
DWL 2010
0 walks first 22g; 2 walks 27g
0 xbh first 16g; 2xbh first 24g
BABIP likely sky high

Chris Davis
0 walks first 9g
21SO 17g
.333 OPS vs LHP (0BB/9SO)

Goldstein had this tweet about Davis:

Just talked to someone back from the DR, says #Rangers 1B Chris Davis has looked lost at the plate down there.


Brandon McCarthy threw 23 inning over 4 starts for the Toros del Este in the DWL and has generated positive buzz during the Winter Meetings.


Aaron Thompson and Tim Stanford are listed on ABL rosters but have yet to appear in a game.



#######

Winter Meetings update

From MLBTR:

Nats might go 7/160 for Lee!!! (In this scenario, Texas would only get the Nats second round pick at best, maybe a third rounder due to the their signing of Werth first - not sure on the rules here)
Wait, now Nats sources deny they are in for 7 years!
Oh rumor mill, you haven't changed a bit.
Wait, now the Nats are not in on Lee at all!
Oh rumor mill, you haven't changed at all.
Texas does appear to be in on Brandon Webb.
Ronny Paulino is close to inking with Mets.
Texas also has interest in Pavano.
Seattle in on Olivo.
Konerko wants 12-15 per? 3 years?
Athletics in on Brandon McCarthy.


Keith Law echoes my thoughts on overvaluing Profar in a trade for Greinke (Durrett has also bought into this media meme, and also thinks that Beltre could be a "superstar"), though I think the verdict is still out on Scheppers - at least for Texas officials it would seem:

KLaw, Does something along the lines of Profar, Scheppers, and Holland/Hunter bring Greinke to Texas? Or would take a 4th along the lines of adding Perez as well?
Tuesday December 7, 2010 10:45 JBell
10:46
keithlaw:
Not even close. Scheppers is a pure reliever. Profar is exciting but four or five years away. You can't lead a deal with those guys.


Keith Law also apparently has an autonomic meme which spouts the following line whenever Scheppers name comes up: "I don't know anyone who thinks Scheppers is a starter and his shoulder is a ticking time bomb."


Some interesting notes I missed from TR Sullivan:

The Rangers may see if there is any interest in catcher Taylor Teagarden.
Three teams from Japan are inquiring about Dustin Nippert
Rangers interest in Kerry Wood is tempered by concerns about keeping him healthy
The Rangers talked to Carl Pavano's agent briefly but word is that most of their foucs is on Cliff Lee. One prominent agent said "The Yankees have to sign Cliff Lee. They can't let him get away".
The Marlins are looking for a center fielder with speed. That could be Julio Borbon.
The Padres are looking for a first baseman now that they traded Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Davis is a player of interest
Texas isn't pursuing Brandon Webb as much as others. Rangers say odds against starters coming back from significant injury are much greater than a reliever.



As a contending team, would Texas ever consider ponying up to go to spring training with 6 starters? Dodgers just signed Padilla...

Over at BA, they remind us of a couple of players Texas did not draft who just missed their orgs top 10 list, and couple of international free agents they did not sign:

Luke Bailey
Cheslor Cuthbert
Adeiny Hechavarria
Kolbrin Vitek

BA's Jason Gonzalez also has this scathing piece on the Sam Lynn ballpark in Bakersfield. Why did Texas put up with this disgraceful situation for so long? If Hicks had any money for the last 2 years, could he have moved them to another city? Wow, embarrassing!

Finally, Evan Grant has a piece up about the Borbon/Hamilton/Murphy triumvirate; it is almost as good as his pieces on talent evaluation. He also has a highly suspect post with the misleading title, "Did Rangers bid on Japanese pitcher just to keep him away from the Rangers?" Not to be filed in journalism's "best practices" file. I'll spare you the links.



#######

Morning Notes

Keith Law has a very complimentary piece up about Shaun Marcum (insider), predicting a 3 WAR season for him in his 2nd year back from TJ surgery. He also notes that Milwaukee dumped Brett Lawrie due to makeup issues (work ethic, his commitment on defense, and refusal to go the the AFL for the SECOND straight year) though Law thinks his right-handed swing is one of the best in the minors. Due to his makeup issues and lack of athleticism, Law thinks he projects as a left fielder.

Now it is hard to criticize TX for not acquiring a player, given the deliberations that we'll never be privy to, suffice it to say, that Texas should have been in on him. Who knows, maybe Milwaukee was really keen on Lawrie despite his makeup issues and defensive shortcomings, despite what TX might have been willing to offer. Seems like a really good acquisition by the Brewer's, and one would think that Toronto could've gotten more for him now or at the deadline. Am I the only one that thinks this is a steal, getting a 200 inning 3 WAR starter for a AA prospect whose attitude poses serious obstacles toward his ceiling? Wow. This is the kind of move that TX should always be in on, even if it did sign Lee or trade for Greinke right?

Fangraphs had a couple of pieces up about this trade (here, here), but weighed against Law's take on Lawrie, they don't seem to get the whole story right.

1. neither fangraph's author noted anything at all about Lawrie's makeup issues, though his refusal to play in the AFL was surely public knowledge.
2. Toronto's rotation depth seems to be overstated, and the value Marcum had in any rotation in fact, understated. They really don't seem to have a solid #5 guy who is a sure bet.

This seems to indicate a couple of things. Toronto must have been very keen on Lawrie as a prospect, even if other teams offered a prospect like him (and TX probably didn't have anyone like him to offer, as Lawrie is much more likely to reach his ceiling than someone like Beltre is). They may or may not have been privy to his makeup issues and if they were didn't care, which is a risky proposition as we have seen with the likes of DGut in our own system, with very similar (though now much worse, if you don't buy the Adderral story) makeup issues. They must also be committed to developing a young starter at the back of the rotation, even though their ceiling appears to be limited (unless they think a AAA guy will fill that role at some point in the season).

Another thing to consider, though unlikely, is that maybe AL teams viewed him more as an NL pitcher, what with his fringy velo (though nice repertoire and plus change). Whatever the case, maybe the stars didn't align for Texas to pull of a trade here, but they should've (might've) been in on a trade like this to be sure. Would you prefer Tommy Hunter or Shaun Marcum?


Jore Arangure had this note about a Cuban defector:
Agent Scott Shapiro says OF Leonis Martin,22,considered best position prospect out of Cuba in years,in Mexico and should be declared FA soon

Durrett hears that a few teams are kicking the tires on Chris Davis. He may be blocked, but I would rather keep him in the system and see if he can figure it out in 2011. If he bashes next year in AAA, he'll have more value then to us or someone else than he has now.





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Monday, December 6, 2010

Miscellany

Per MLBTR:

Kevin Correia signs with the Pirates for 2/8m. I think he could be a darkhouse candidate to put in a solid 2011. Not sure I would've went 2 years.
Aaron Harang's contract is for 1/4m.
Boston interested in Magglio Ordonez as a platoon bat; I wonder if he accedes to a platoon role for 2011? He should. He only hit .750 vs RHP the last 2 years.
Minnesota has offered NPB infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka a 3 yr, 3-4m per deal.
TX does not seem to be interested in Brandon Webb and, given their needs, you would think that other teams have red-flagged him as well, even as high reward project.
Seattle is interested in rehab patients Eric Chavez and Gregg Zaun (labrum), as well as platoon DH guys like Matsui and Cust. And Rich Harden!
Texas not reportedly in on soft tossing late-inning arm Koji Uehara.
Chien-Ming Wang wants a major-league deal.
Rockies interested in Bengie Molina.
Boston and New York interested in Russell Martin.
One wonders if Texas had any interest in Shaun Marcum, who was apparently traded (even to his surprise) because he wanted a contract extension.

Other Notes
While I'm interested in signing Carl Pavano to a 2yr deal, Texas is interested in Jeff Francis. I am too as he is bettter than a reclamation project having pitched 100 innings in 2010 with a solid FIP but his shoulder is still a concern. Francis missed part of 08 and all of 09 due to labrum surgery. He also missed the first ~6weeks of the season with an unrelated "armpit" strain but his shoulder still seems iffy as he also missed a month due to shoulder soreness mid-August to Mid September. His FIP has been good enough to be considered a likely solid #4 starter (~4.4 fip, also his career line, including his rookie year in 2004) when healthy. The last 5 years (2005-2008, 2010): 4.74, 4.38, 4.19, 4.81 (inj), 3.88. So the verdict is still out on his health and a contender really shouldn't dick around with guys like this unless he is plan C and D and you are willing to cut him or trade him if he doesn't pan out even if you lose some guaranteed money.

Speaking of which, it looks like Texas will have to trot out plans C and D during the Winter Meetings, and they might even have to wait until spring training or even July to do so.

Ron Washington mentioned recently that he prefers to keep Hamilton in left field and give Borbon a shot to be a full-time player in 2011. Given that there are no other legitimate options save to move Hamilton to center field full time and sign an elite left fielder, this is the way to go (not really a wise option anyways given his injury history). Should TX be looking for another center fielder or at least a RH platoon partner for Borbon? Absolutely, as he seems like a platoon guy. As the reigning AL champion, TX needs to look to upgrade positions when they can.

TR Sullivan has slightly modified his "unofficial" stance (previously masked as an official one) that the most likely player to be moved into the rotation next year is Alexi Ogando, now saying that only a few Texas "officials" believe this, while Washington says that the option has not even been discussed. Hopefully these aren't the same Texas officials who decided to move Kris Benson into the rotation, send Jennings to the bullpen, and Feldman to AAA in 2009. Meanwhile, Washington says that he wants Feliz to return as the closer and I hope that is what happens. I don't have faith in Ogando as a closer nor do I have faith that Francisco makes it through the season without a couple of DL stays.


I don't think there should be any excuse not to acquire a solid mid-roto starter by the start of the regular season at the latest if Texas proves unable to acquire an elite arm by then. While Texas survived the iffy contributions of Holland, Feldman, Harden, Harrison and the 6 FIP version of Tommy Hunter this year in a weak division, how likely is it that they do so next year, say, if Hunter and Holland et al prove unable to pitch with an FIP below 5? What if they struggle from the gate at the same time that Lewis (31yo) and Wilson (30yo) do so? Both Lewis and Wilson struggled in May last year while Wilson was terrible in June and continued to struggle with walks in July (with a 4.62 bb/9 vs RHH on the year).

Given the lack of proven depth in the rotation going into the year, the risks of relying on Lewis and Wilson to repeat as quality #1_2 starters, and the huge injury problems in the lineup, Texas is going to have to spend some money and give up some prospects, probably more value than they want to or that is merited, in order to compete for a pennant in 2011. Do they believe this? I'm not sure. Will they rely too heavily on unreliable young players with uncertain ceilings when they should be more attentive to acquiring proven veterans to solidify their team? Should Texas even consider moving Feliz to the rotation this year when Holland and Hunter are your 3/4 guys, neither of whom has pitched a full season yet? Should we believe that the Tommy Hunter that we saw in the second half and during the playoffs (pitching high in the zone, a regression of his changeup), will be the 2011 Hunter? Will this finally be the year when people stop calling Tommy Hunter an "innings eater"? Is Tommy Hunter good enough to give you 200 innings over the next few years with and FIP in the 4.8-5.1 range? Some have done it; he probably will not.

If Texas eschews overpaying in prospects to acquire an above average or elite player now, won't they be overpaying even more to do so in July (though there will be more options) given that you'll get merely 1/2 season out of the player? Maybe Texas can wait until July to acquire an ace or elite position player but then maybe it will be too late if the LAA and Athletics are good enough and fortunate enough and Texas is not. Time will tell. Ok so I'm rambling on a bit breathlessly, and maybe a bit to impatiently. I still think there is a legitimate question here: Does Texas have to change its approach a bit to be annual pennant contenders, now that they can legitimately be thought of that way and have money to spend? If this were Detroit, New York or Boston, Holland and Harrison and Feldman and Hunter probably don't even make the rotation. They might not even make the big league staff, unless it was in the bullpen, and more likely, they end up in the AAA rotation. Maybe you don't even hear speculation about Ogando or Feliz being considered for a rotation spot during the offseason.

With respect to Greinke, how much do you really overvalue your prospects, when you refuse to part with them for a player who will give you 10-14 WAR over two years at a decent salary and two compensation picks? How many years do you think it will take all of the prospects involved to accrue that many wins (Whatever combination of Scheppers, Holland, Hunter, Moreland, Borbon, Perez, Beltre)? If your window for success is only, say, 3 years, those players probably fail to rack up that many wins over that time anyways and are therefore unlikely help you win a championship with the 30 year old core that TX has to win with. I say make the deal if those players won't help you win a pennant during the next 3 years. If you win one with Greinke, who would then regard their prospect haul as an overpayment? Not me. If Texas, also changes their draft, j2 and free agent philosophy to pay for elite talent each and every year, who can say that they won't have a better minor league system, with more major-league ready talent than they do now, not even factoring in all the A-ball talent that they have now? Do the deal for Greinke.

If Texas is going to be a perennial player, should we continue to praise them for being effective bargain hunters for fringy veterans, or signing RECPROS (reclamation projects), forgetting the fact that Texas is often too loyal to these types, far beyond reason, from opening the season with them at all to sticking with them far too long? I don't think that it would be too much to argue that Texas might have to ditch some old self-conceptions, outdated organizational narratives, and small-market practices given their status as an elite team.

Thinking about Texas' approaches to the draft and player development are a little off topic but things that the organization should be thinking about in my estimation (I might take a look a Texas' draft philosophy and relative success compared to other clubs in a subsequent post). Given the complete barrenness of the upper level of the minors this year, this might also include revisioning their approach to the draft, where solid upside college players are eschewed for more risky high schoolers, whose likely ceiling would not end up being any better. For example, I really like Minnesota's approach to valuing starting pitchers in the draft. They seem to take the common sense view that a solid #3 starter from a college program (Kyle Gibson, Alex Wimmers), who might take only 1-2 years to develop and break into the bigs, is a low risk, high reward option. Texas normally goes the high risk, high reward option and one could argue that this hasn't paid off all that well, though they do have Hunter and Borbon around, selections heavily criticized by many at the time, both having fringe average ceilings it would appear. Would you rather have Wimmers or Skole right now? Wimmers, no question for me (and at the time) especially if signability was paramount.

I also like the idea of signing players who fall a round or two due to their bonus demands and while Texas didn't have the budget for that before (ie, giving a 4th round pick a 7-figure bonus), they do now, and the reward can be high. One might also consider taking a serious look at Texas' failure to effectively evaluate, draft/sign, and develop position players (who started with the club) over quite a few years now. Or one could take a look at the flawed development of catchers in the system. Was Saltalamacchia an anomaly? Did they really think Teagarden was more than a platoon player with horrible bat speed? Did they really think that MaxRam had the skills to stick at catcher, even if only as a backup? Should they have kept Manny Pina? Is there a systemic problem in the organization? I'm not sure, maybe. And can there really be any defense for acquiring low-character guys, like DGut or MiggyV? Its a complete contradiction of their high-character rhetoric.

On the international free agent front, Texas has to improve their presence in Korea and has to be willing to enter into the 2million dollar bonus range if it wants to improve its chances of hitting on elite international talent. Seattle and Oakland are willing to do it and Texas should venture into that rarefied air as well. Two million also seems to have been a hard limit outside of the top 15 picks of the draft but why shouldn't they be willing to pay that kind of bonus to an elite player who falls into their lap in the third round? Think big right? If you want to gather elite talent each and every year, to play or to trade, you have to pay for it.

Just a speculative note on Feliz. In 2009, we heard that Texas was committed to Feliz as a starter in AAA and then they unexpectedly moved him to the pen after a string of very effective starts, his best stretch of the year (this came, in part, after he switched to a split-finger grip on his changeup, a pitch which astounded at the Futures Game less than a month later). Most people thought this move was premature, and maybe, in retrospect, Texas should be criticized for it. But it is possible that Texas moved Feliz to the pen early due to concerns about his shoulder, which bothered him early in the season. After the season, there was speculation that Texas would send Feliz to winter ball (confirmed later by JD himself) to get more innings and work on his secondary pitches in order to compete for a roto spot in 2010. This never happened. Why?

It is possible that Texas was still concerned enough about his shoulder to simply shut him down during the off-season, which seems smart if that was the case - why take a chance, when, at minimum, he was a lock for the bullpen, but only iffy for the rotation. So 2010 comes and goes after Feliz dominates as a closer and again fails to make an appearance in winter ball to get stretched out and work on his secs amid an avalanche of (likley unfounded) speculation that he would be moved into the rotation in 2011. Does Texas' decision to keep Feliz out of winter ball offer a clue about their intention to move him to the rotation or not? Or has Texas ever believed that Feliz needed to be "stretched out" during winter ball in order to compete for a rotation spot?

Given that Texas seems to have protected him arm in 2009, and never really intended to have him compete for a rotation spot in 2010, I don't think holding him out of winter ball again necessarily offers up a clue to what their intention is in 2011. I think that the best decision for a contending club would be to keep him in the pen for 2011. However, as we have seen with Scott Feldman and CJ Wilson, it does not seem necessary to stretch a player out over the off-season in order to have them make an effective transition from the bullpen to the rotation. As some others have written, pitching every other day in a full time bullpen role seems to allow a pitcher to make that transition without much problem. So if Feliz's exclusion from winter ball does not seem to preclude a move to the rotation next year, as the # of innings pitched does not seem to correlate with such a move with him any longer, the main question that Texas has to answer then is in what role would he have the most value?

Given the composition of the bullpen and the rotation at present, even if an ace is acquired, I don't think there is much question that he is most valuable as a closer. When would the move be a good one assuming that Texas has faith in his command of 3 pitches and ability to reliably execute a game plan over six innings for a full year? As long as Texas is a contender I say the move is a good move if there is another option at closer and that there are 3 above average starters in the rotation plus an "innings eater" to bolster the back of the rotation. Hopefully Texas has those elements in place in 2012 and Feliz can move to the rotation at that time. He'll pitch most of the 2012 season at age 24.




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Peguero to Seattle for 2.9m

So much for the "weak signing class". Also, too bad that the Texas has been completely outdone on the j2 scene this year by its own division rivals, Seattle and Oakland, no less. It is quite a shame rally, maybe even embarrassing. I chalk it up to one more aspect of the collateral damage that Tom Hicks has left in his wake in the 2009 and 2010 off/seasons. As such, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that TX signs two 2011 j2 eligible players (or Pacific Rim kids) to 7-figure salaries next year. POW!

Anyways, Ben Badler had this summary and Peguero projects as a 3B:

With Peguero and Dominican outfielder Phillips Castillo, who signed for $2.2 million in July, the Mariners have secured two of the top hitters from this year's international signing class and two of the six Latin American players this year who signed for at least $2 million, joining Cardona, Pirates righthander Luis Heredia ($2.6 million, Mexico), Astros outfielder Ariel Ovando ($2.6 million, Dominican Republic) and Athletics third baseman Renato Nunez ($2.2 million, Venezuela).



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Moscoso

Since moving into the rotation for Caracas, Guillermo Moscoso has a pretty nice line: 1.46/24.2/15/4er/7bb/22so/.195/1.60go/ao

I forgot to mention this some weeks ago, but I could have sworn I read a comment by Moscoso in an interview with a VZ paper that he was going to be working on a new pitch while there. Problem is, I can't find that quote and can't remember what the pitch was but I'm going to speculate that he's working on something (new pitch, new breaking ball, different grip, splitter) to double his career groundball rate, SSS notwithstanding. I should also not that he used to throw a splitter before he injured his arm and there was at least one report that he was throwing it in ST 2009 before the staff asked him to ditch it. If he is bringing back the split, I'm not sure that is a great thing given his health history, though he has been completely healthy and has pitched over 100 innings in each of the last 3 seasons. Hopefully its a cutter or a slider or something...

As a side note, my main man Edwin Garcia has been starting at SS in the Liga Paralela, though his walk rate sucked the last time I checked.



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Winter Meetings begin today, Finally!

In other news, per MLBR:

Werth signs a monster contract, which is sure to embolden all slugger types still on the market. Shaun Marcum gets traded for a pretty small package, Brett Lawrie, who may or may not project as a 2b (possibly left field). Marcum touched 200 innings last year. Lee wants 6 years. Greinke seem willing to go anywhere that isn't KC. Justin Upton is not generating sufficient interest to be moved. The Nats are still in on Pavano and Pena, who would like to stay in Tampa. AGon trade confirmed (after falling through) with an extension still in the works despite the lapsed deadline. Oakland is off Beltre after he refuse to respond to their offer, and they also appear likely to lose out on Iwakuma after trading Vin Mazzaro. Konerko still linked with the ChiSox.

Hopefully, Texas plays a smart hand.

The Rule5 draft is this week too. If Chad Tracy was healthy he might've been chosen but other then Renny Osuna (as a fringe util. inf, though unlikely given his poor winter ball stint - and I'm the only one that likes Osuna anyways) there is really no other position player unprotected in the upper minors worth noting. Lefty specialists are the most frequent selections in the process so Ben Snyder, Beau Jones, Kasey Kiker could appeal to someone. Snyder appealed enough to TX last year to give up Edwin Escobar, who is having a stellar winter ball stint at only 19 years old (though mainly in the LG). Bad call there by someone, though I think the kid's ceiling isn't that high, likely a #5 starter which is still not bad. Be interesting to see if his physical projection still seems iffy and if his FB velo has ticked up at all - one might catch him on TV a few times over the next few weeks if he's not running up against inning proscriptions.

Other than the lefties, the other notable "starters" seem too far away to draw any interest in order to be stashed on the 40 for the next 2 years: Pimentel, Boscan (who Fitt said had a #2 ceiling at one time?!), Brigham. Mark Hamburger might be a fringe candidate but Ovipso DLS just a one-pitch pony (who will be 23.4yo 4/1) to this point. So in the end I would say that only a loogie will get snagged, let's say Ben Snyder. I'll pay someone to take a flyer on DGut or MiggieV but neither headcases merit a selection (and MiggieV might not merit a return flight from PR in 2011). As for players TX might select, I don't really care this year as most are unlikely to stick with the club for a year or be worthy of a trade.

In the minor league phase, TX will likely grab an org catcher at the LowA-AA level for depth per usual and might also lose one, maybe Chris Gradoville, if he's healthy, who could start the season as the backup org guy in AA. In addition expect them to take a couple of guys for infield/outfield depth for the AAA club. Nothing to see here, and JD is playing 2 media ends against the middle per usual: "There are some potential high-ceiling players that we are interested in and some we're not interested in..." (TRS)



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Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Luis Sardinas out most of 2011?" and other notes

Not sure why no one has made note of this. In Aaron Fitt's recent writeup of Texas prospects (who has been hit or miss the last few years), he claims that Sardinas will miss most of 2011 due to shoulder surgery. He offers no details on the injury or the surgery or his rehab schedule except to say that he dislocated his shoulder on a swing an miss in instructs. Given that he has 6-7 months to rehab, hopefully Fitt does not mean that he will miss any time with Spokane next year. Perhaps Fitt is simply assuming that Sardinas would miss time if he broke spring training with a full-season club? Whatever the case, the kid has had a tough first year, missing a couple months after getting hit in the wrist, and now the shoulder issue; the injuries have definitely cost him some development time. Not that it matters, but I think Sardinas would have been just fine starting 2011 in Hickory if not for the injuries (out of spring training or via extended); if Leury Garcia can get posted there at the same age, with a much more diminutive stature and a skill set that was arguably more raw, Sardinas can surely play there at the same age.

As a side note, despite the fact that no one considers Jurickson Profar (here's a BA vid of Profar with a Tim Hulett voice over) to have plus range or speed, he is still touted by some to have plus upside at shortstop. People seem to be drawn in by the the beguiling smile and the preternatural instincts. Why, one is almost reminded of, dare I say, Elvis Andrus. Though he may share the same "it" factor that Jamie Newberg loves to go on and on about, Andrus did have speed and range that were undeniably plus. In that respect, Profar does not seem to be like Elvis Andrus. If Profar doesn't have present plus speed or range, he is not going to project to have them in the bigs 3 years from now. Sardinas is the guy who one _might_ project as having plus ML defensive tools at short (minus the beguiling smile and twinkle in his eye I guess) given that he _might_ have them now while it seems Profar would only project as a plus shortstop if his bat developed into a plus tool for the position. Given that the ave OPS in the AL for starting shortstops was only .670 in 2010, shortstop prospects don't have to hit much to stick at the position but you do expect them to put up stellar defense. If Profar only projects to play a league average shortstop at best, it would seem reasonable to project him as a second basemen in the long term. If he became the next Ian Kinsler, no one would complain.

As a penultimat note, I think people are overestimating the trade value of both Sardinas and Profar this offseason, particularly with respect to proposed trades for Zach Greinke (or any other young top roto guy). In trading for a young ace, I think that most clubs, including KC, would expect to get advanced prospects who are in the upper minors (AA, AAA) at minimum, while hoping to land major league players or major league ready talent as a first principle. Sardinas and Profar still carry a lot of risk, neither having appeared in full season ball yet, and I don't think either one necessarily has the upside or "can't-missness" of Elvis Andrus or Neftali Feliz. Elvis already had 260 games of experience (100 in highA) when he was traded to Texas while Feliz had 35 games of experience (though only in short season ball when acquired, but sill throwing 100mph). If a team was looking to trade Greinke to TX or anyone else, they will be looking for more upside and less risk in my opinion.

Speaking of risky, I'm not an Engel Beltre believer - not is his plate discipline, pitch recognition or "raw" power- so if Texas can get a nice ML regular with him as part of a package of prospects, I'm all for it. I think his value is less now than when he entered the system when people believed that those aspects of his game would improve as he matured. If you're KC, would you take the risk that Beltre will develop into a major league average centerfielder (AL: .736) who only projects to hit in the nine-hole at best due to an abysmal average-driven OBP (worse than Borbon's) and whose speed has yet to play up on the bases? I wouldn't, unless he is the _back_ of the deal. If you believe in Beltre, what you believe in is that he projects to play plus CF defense (I'm not sure he rates that right now though his speed range and arm are all reportedly plus) _and_ that his contact rate will keep his OBP at around a very fringy .300. If you look at Boston's recent deal with SD, do you think Beltre is in the same conversation as Kelly, Rizzo and Fuentes? Is Fuentes the CF who is more likely to reach his ceiling because he has a better feel for the game with similar tools? Time will tell I guess.

As a final note, Jamie Newberg still thinks Leury Garcia is a top prospect, good enough to include in a Greinke trade (thankfully though, Craig Gentry's name no longer appears in his ceaseless trade proposals), and Evan Grant thinks Chris Davis might be worthy of inclusion in a deal as a "major-league caliber player" (on par with Moreland or Borbon). If we're lucky, the iffy speculation ends when the winter meetings are over.




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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winter Ball feeds

Harry Pavlidis has some links to winter baseball feeds at his blog.



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Adrian Gonzalez to BoSox

BoSox trade 3 of their top prospects for Adrian Gonzalez. The likely did not have to include any major league players because of the giant extension that Gonzalez is seeking and likely to receive from Boston. Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, and Reymond Fuentes filled out the deal. UPDATE: Boston has a negotiating window of Sunday 2pm to finalize an extension. There will be a PTBNL who will not be a "top" prospect per some sources.

Lance Berkman signs with St. Louis, 1/8m.



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Friday, December 3, 2010

Daniels speaks

Baseball America awarded Jon Daniels their executive of the year award today.

He had some interesting things to say about the DH spot and 1B through a short conversation with Jeff Caplan:

Daniels said that Vladimir Guerrero is still in the mix for the DH spot, but also said there's been some discussion about looking at a more versatile defender who could " allow some of our other guys some time off their feet and allow us the flexibility with the roster to move some guys through that position, but Vlad is certainly high on the list. We continue to talk with he and his agent."

Daniels also said that "there's a pretty good chance [catcher] Matt [Treanor] will be back. He wants to be back and we want him back."

Daniels expressed optimism that Mitch Moreland could claim the starting first baseman job.

"I don't see any reason why he couldn't do it," Daniels said. "But, that's going to be on him. He'll have the opportunity to demonstrate that he can. If he were to win the job, which is certainly our hope, we don't see any reason why he can't be a full-time player."




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Minor League Coaching staff

Texas announced the 2011 coaching staff for the minor league system. Of note: Brad Holman moved to HighA in same capacity. Storm Davis takes over for Holman in Hickory. Seems a bit risky entrusting Texas' most promising young pitching prospects to a rookie coach but at least Brad "the wizard" Holman will still be working his magic in the system, working with some of the same youngsters in 2011 that he worked with in 2010.

In other changes, Jason Wood promoted from hitting coach to coach the HighA club; Bill Haselman will not return nor will Justin Thompson or Jayce Tingler. Jason Cole has an in depth writeup of the moves at his site.


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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nippert

Dustin Nippert non-tendered today.
Texas interested in Mark Prior.

In other news, a few players have signed that might have interested Texas, While Konerko seems close to signing with the White Sox as well at a salary that is probably out Texas' price range (though if he wants to stick at 1b full time TX might not have interest anyways):

Adam Dunn, 4/56m (Chisox)
AJ Peirzynski, est. 2/4m (Chisox)
Jason Veritek, 1/2m (Bos)
Erik Bedard, 1yr (non guaranteed) (Sea)
Pat Burrell, 1/1m (SF)

Colorado all in on Berkman. Red Sox in on Crawford, Werth.
Ronny Paulino non-tendered. Jack Cust non-tendered. Dioner Navarro non-tendered. Chien-Ming Wang non-tendered.

UPDATE:
Russell Martin non-tendered by the Dodgers after unsuccessfully trying to trade him before the deadline. Barajas close to a one year deal with them. Jim Thome wants to play in 2011.

UPDATE2:
Aaron Harang appears close to signing with San Diego. The Cubs and Nats are stepping up pursuit of Brandon Webb. Yankees continue pursuit of Russell Martin, just missing out on acquiring him before the non-tender deadline for Francisco Cervelli (even trading medical records). Kevin Correia is in negotiation with at least teams. Baltimore is talking to Koji Uehara. Harang signs for 1/3m.

UpPDATE3:
Texas is close to re-signing Matt Treanor probably to a split contract. Barjas signs a 1yr deal for the Dodgers for 3.8m! Harang signs with San Diego.



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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pacific Rim

TR Sullivan has a few notes on Texas' Pacific Rim operations from JD that include what seems to be a candid admission that those operations were really only up par until after the 2008 season, which I've noted on previous occasions. Jim Colborn was hired on as the director of those operations in the winter of 2007 and two inauspicious PR signings were made during his watch: Fazuo Fukumori and Tae-Kyung Ahn. Both players were (are, in the case of TKA, as he is still in the system after 3 years in AZ, but could be a candidate for release this spring) huge busts.

After the 2008 season however, TX was a legitimate player for Junichi Tazawa, losing out to BoSox lustre (and Texas infamy it would seem) rather than BoSox cash when he signed with them in December of that year. Not sure whether TX had hired a few new PR scouts by then but the Tazawa bid would seem to mark the beginning of a restructuring of that program as a point of emphasis at least even if the new hires came later.

As I have also pointed out however, Texas seems to have little interest or presence in the Korean market, which is the main source for high school and college-aged prospects given that the Japanese market is effectively closed. Tawain is a lesser market, but does produce its share of up-the-middle prospects (2b, SS, CF, C). The real indicator of Texas' commitment to PR prospects then will be when they solidify their presence in Korea and try to break the signing monopoly and cultural influence traditionally held by the Cubs.




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