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November 21, 2008

40-Man Roster Additions, And A Trade

Texas added pitchers JOHN BANNISTER, WILLIE EYRE, and OMAR POVEDA and infielder JOSE VALLEJO to the 40-man roster. Texas also designated pitchers WES LITTLETON and KAMERON LOE for assignment.

Read here for my largely incorrect predictions of who would be added.

Texas has to be pleased that Vallejo made the decision to add him so easy. An absurdly fast and deft baserunner (131 steals vs. 21 caught in four seasons), Vallejo also made substantial progress at the plate in 2008. Yes, he played in better environments (Bakersfield and Frisco versus Clinton), but his 11 homers and 44 extra-base hits obliterated his previous bests of two and 23, respectively. He’s a fine 2B and might see action at short in the future.

I am pleased that Poveda made the cut, though the likelihood of him using all three options is pretty high. Arm soreness sidelined him for nearly two months after just his third start in 2008. He endured a rough summer, then finished the season with five terrific starts: 30 innings, 1.50 ERA, 15 walks, 33 strikeouts. Okay, the walks aren’t so hot. Still, performing at that level as a 20-year-old in the Cal League deserves praise. He’ll rank among the Texas League’s youngest in 2009.

The 24-year-old Bannister is the wild card. After missing 2007 with injury, he couldn’t find the plate as a starter (16% walk rate!), then showed improved control as a reliever (6.5%) even as his velocity ratcheted into the mid 90s. A respectable performance in the absurdly hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League (.268/.342/.451 against, 10% BB, 24% SO) perhaps clinched his addition. In my opinion, Bannister lacks Poveda’s ceiling but was more likely to be selected in the Rule 5 draft.

Eyre is 30 years old. In 127 MLB innings has a 5.23 ERA, an opposing line of .299/.372/.472, and an 11.7% strikeout rate. Texas signed Eyre to a minor-league deal in 2008 knowing he’d miss the entire year after Tommy John surgery, made him the oldest player in the Arizona Fall League by nearly three years, and added him to the 40 essentially at Littleton’s expense. I don’t know why. With Loe and Littleton gone and the 40-man roster full, he strikes me as the first choice for dismissal if a spot is needed for a free agent. Eyre can declare free agency if outrighted again.

Littleton never made an Opening Day roster and is out of options. Nevertheless, who looks more appealing to you?

MLB Career
Batters Faced
Opposing Line
Littleton 26 423 4.67
2.1% 8.7% 13.0% 60%
Eyre 30 582 5.13
2.7% 9.3% 11.7% 45%
FIP = Fielding-Independent Pitching

Littleton has a crazy-low BABIP that won’t last, but all the other peripherals point in his favor. While he had a 6.00 ERA for Texas this season, stripping just one of his 12 outings (an 0.2-inning, six-run debacle) drops it 3.12. It's no big deal, I suppose, but I think Littleton’s more likely than Eyre to be on an MLB roster in 2010. If not, hopefully I'll have learned something.

Loe wanted to start and was arbitration-eligible. Texas properly saw him as a reliever and probably wasn’t overjoyed at the impending salary increase, small thought it would be in the grand scheme of things. A Japanese team offered him a starting role, bought his rights from Texas, and everyone is happy. Unless he’s claimed on waivers. Loe doesn’t possess amazing stuff but is a determined competitor, and I wish him the best.

Texas traded outfielder JOHN MAYBERRY JR. to Philadelphia for outfielder GREG GOLSON.

One disappointment for another, as Texas relinquished the nearly assured blandness of Mayberry for the potential of Golson. Mayberry (19th overall, 2005) showed impressive power but otherwise failed to improve during his steady ascent through the minors. He’s never hit for average or drawn many walks, and at 25, his upside is limited. Philadelphia added him to its 40-man roster.

Golson (21st overall, 2004) likewise hasn’t advanced as hoped. Though a fine baserunner with moderate home-run prowess, his production is sabotaged by an atrocious batting eye that hasn’t improved an ounce in four years. Chris Davis might survive with a 5:1 ratio of strikeouts to walks. Golson won’t. He’s two years younger than Mayberry, can play center field, and is far toolsier. The Rangers win if they can instill in him some selectivity at the plate. A tall order.

Posted by Lucas at November 21, 2008 01:20 PM