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April 04, 2010

Transaction Roundup

After a week in Arizona, I’ve been swamped at work and/or sick ever since. So, belatedly, some thoughts on transactions:

4/02: Texas traded pitcher LUIS MENDOZA to Kansas City for cash.

Unlike Joaquin Arias, at no point during the winter or spring did the optionless Luis Mendoza enter the discussion regarding the 25-man roster. During the previous decade, virtually any warm body with a half-decent two-seamer was seen as part of the solution. How times have changed in Texas.

Statistically, Mendoza is a mess excepting a strong 2007 in Frisco that bought him a long look in Arlington. Sure he generates grounders, but too many reach the outfield. Mendoza has a career 5.28 Run Average and 12% strikeout rate… in the minors.

4/02: Texas signed pitcher SCOTT FELDMAN to a new contract and extension: @2.425 million in 2010, $4.4 million in 2011, and $6.5 million in 2012, plus a team option for $9.25 million with a $600,000 buyout in 2013.

The deal covers Feldman’s arbitration years, the option (if exercised) his first year of free agency. So, Texas has guaranteed Feldman no less than $11.5 million beyond this season.

This isn’t a bad deal, but I like it more for Feldman than for Texas. While the Rangers have locked in cost certainty, they’ve also banked on Feldman performing reasonably close to his 2009 level for three more seasons. The 2011-2012 salaries are fair substitutes for what he’d get in arbitration after an adequate performance.

Yes, Feldman has the magical cutter. Yes, the deeper statistics indicate he pitched pretty well despite the low strikeout rate and “lucky? BABIP. Still, I worry that he’ll be figured out by opposing hitters, and their contact will do more damage. There’s a meaningful chance (less than 50%, but certainly more than zero) that he’s an inferior starting pitcher by 2012, or even sooner.

As for 2013, team options are always winners. That said, I have a very hard time seeing Feldman as a $9 million pitcher. True, he posted a 3.3 WAR in 2009, worth over $14 million on the open market. But… I don’t know. I just don’t see it. Maybe everyone’s on the same page but me. I would’ve continued to take my chances in arbitration.

4/01: Texas claimed 1B RYAN GARKO off waivers from Seattle.

The Rangers wanted a right-handed bat to spot Chris Davis and pinch-hit, and into their lap dropped an inexpensive man with a line of .313/.392/.495 versus lefties. I suppose the ancient and oft-injured Mike Sweeney playing well for Seattle this season would be a warm-and-fuzzy story, but rooting for the M’s is well outside my purview. Texas fans can, however, thank Mr. Sweeney for making Garko expendable. Also, Garko isn’t totally helpless against righties (.266/.335/.420). If Davis falters or gets hurt before Justin Smoak is ready for world domination, a daily dose of Garko for a month or so isn’t the end of the world. A+.

4/01: Texas passed reliever BEN SNYDER through waivers, acquired him for pitcher EDWIN ESCOBAR, and outrighted Snyder to AA Frisco.

The Rangers traded someone who might help the Giants in 2014 for someone who might help them this season or next. Escobar has some upside – just ignore that 5.00 ERA – but he’s well down Texas’s list of pitching prospects. It stings a little to lose one of the four intriguing Latin starters from rookie ball, but really, 50% of their purpose is development as bait. It’s a fair trade, not a steal for either side.

3/27: Texas acquired infielder ANDRES BLANCO from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later or cash. 3/24: Texas acquired infielder GREGORIO PETIT from Oakland for EDWAR RAMIREZ.

Having already run Ray Olmedo, Esteban German, and Hernan Iribarren through Major League camp, then grabbing two more middle infielders in the span of three days, the only logical follow-up for Texas is to dispense “We Hate Arias? shirts among the front office, coaching staff and grounds crew. Okay, that’s unfair. The backup infield position was his to take. He refused, so Texas had to try Plans B, C, D, E and F.

Let’s review: Arias’s competition for fifth infielder consisted of his Oakland doppelganger, albeit a slower one (Petit), a 28-year-old without an MLB at-bat since 2007 (Olmedo), an OBP machine with no business at shortstop (German), a former prospect with no shortstop experience whatsoever (Iribarren), and a guy who can play short but can’t hit (Blanco). Arias actually did make the roster as Blanco’s backup and ostensible pinch-runner, but he’s first in line for waivers when Ian Kinsler returns.

3/22: Texas acquired catcher MATT TREANOR from Milwaukee for infielder RAY OLMEDO.

Bringing in Treanor while questions lingered about Jarrod Saltalamacchia was a wise move. Alas, the combined acquisitions of Treanor and Garko speak ill of Max Ramirez. Now 25, Ramirez simply must hit well in AAA, immediately, to preserve any chance of eking out a Major League career.

Posted by Lucas at April 4, 2010 01:58 PM