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March 11, 2007


I (and others) have been predicting that Sammy Sosa will have a Phil Nevin-like performance and tenure with Texas: a fine March against mostly non-MLB pitchers, a mediocre April, a terrible May, and unemployment by June. The DMN’s Evan Grant has a slightly different outlook:

On Sammy: I think he's still on the roster in mid-June, but don't think he's reached 12 homers. I don't think he's still on the roster at that point because he's been a great addition to the lineup, but rather because the Rangers are holding their own regardless of his performance.

My rejoinder is that Texas was holding its own last May when it jettisoned Nevin. On the other hand, Nevin was horribly expensive and not a “name,? while Sosa will be cheap and is SAMMY SOSA! So, on further reflection, Grant’s prediction makes perfect sense. It’s just a question of whether Sosa can maintain an employment-level line of around .250/.320/.430.

In the immediate future, Sosa’s presence exacerbates a crowded outfield situation. The Rangers already had eight outfielders on the 40-man roster before signing Swingin’ Sammy (but only five infielders including the bound-for-Oklahoma Joaquin Arias). Further, all eight outfielders have MLB experience, and only Jason Botts and Nelson Cruz have less a full year under their belts.

Texas will need to add Sosa plus a middle infielder (probably Jerry Hairston). Thus, not only does Sosa force an experienced player to the minors, he also forces a player (or players) off the 40 and most likely out of the organization. During the past three years, Texas has not started a season with more than seven outfielders on the 40.

Now, I’m not going to shed any tears if Texas trades Victor Diaz for some demi-prospect, and I don’t think Jason Botts is Travis Hafner’s heir. But I do disagree with the idea that Sosa is a risk-free, upside-only proposition. The risk is that because he’s Sammy, he could hit terribly and still occupy the #5 slot for a couple of months. That could cost Texas a game or two in the standings of a very winnable AL West.

(Lone Star Ball has a lengthy take on Jason Botts here.)

Posted by Lucas at March 11, 2007 12:49 PM