January 15, 2014

The Ex-Texas Rangers

A 25-man roster comprising players removed from the Texas 40-man roster during 2013:

SP Matt Garza
SP Jeff Lindblom
SP Justin Grimm
SP Travis Blackley
SP Neil Ramirez

RP Joe Nathan
RP Jeff Beliveau
RP Tom Hottovy
RP Kyle McClellan
RP Justin Miller
RP Coty Woods

C AJ Pierzynski
1B Jeff Baker
2B Ian Kinsler
3B Mike Olt
SS Leury Garcia
LF David Murphy
CF Craig Gentry
RF Joey Butler
DH Nelson Cruz

C Eli Whiteside
IF Chris McGuiness
OF Julio Borbon
OF Joe Benson
OF Rafael Ortega

Not included: retirees in practice (Derek Lowe) and spirit (Lance Berkman), expats (Brad Mills, Ross Wolf).

Even with Garza and Nathan, it's a replacement-level pitching staff at best. Ramirez isn't ready for a Major League rotation, and the middle three are fifth starters. The bullpen would be historically awful.

Offensively, all the starters are at least worthy of MLB paychecks and a small handful merit full-time duty. They have too many outfielders and lacks a MIF.

The 2014 Ex-Rangers would surpass 100 losses, but they've enough talent to avoid sinking to the level of the '16 Philly Athletics. For a team with a slight majority of outrighted/released players (13), it's surprisingly good.


Wire, "Ex Lion Tamer," from Pink Flag, 1977

Posted by Lucas at 02:14 AM

January 17, 2013

Harrison's Vesting Option

Tonight, Matt Harrison signed a five-year contract, giving him $5mm in 2013 followed by $8mm and three years of $13mm. By my quick calculations ($4.5mm/WAR in 2012, 5% inflation, which may be conservative given the explosion in cable rights fees), Harrison needs to average about 2.1 WAR annually to break even. That's not quite true, as the first two years are arbitration-controlled, but the point holds that he can pay off with relatively modest production relative to the 4.1 WAR he's averaged during the past two years. Of course, signing any pitcher for five years is risky, but this risk is manageable, I'd say.

As for that 2018 option, which vests if he pitches at least 200 innings in each of 2015-2017: That's a tall order. Here's the complete list of pitchers achieving that during 2010-2012:

Felix Hernandez -- 715.3 total innings
Justin Verlander -- 713.7
James Shields -- 680.3
CC Sabathia -- 675.0
Clayton Kershaw -- 665.3
Matt Cain -- 664.3
Cliff Lee -- 656.0
David Price -- 644.0
Cole Hamels -- 640.0
C.J. Wilson -- 629.7
Mark Buehrle -- 618.0

I hope the option doesn't create a perverse incentive down the road, such as Harrison neglecting to rest an injury properly in order to reach the vesting goal. The Rangers can, of course, exercise the option anyway, which they'll do if he's anywhere near league-average even with a meager 180 innings in 2017.

Posted by Lucas at 01:44 AM

January 17, 2011

A Conspiracy!

Selected comments from the Dallas Morning News' reprint of the AP wire release "Rangers place pitcher Clay Rapada on release waivers."

Posted by Lucas at 12:19 PM

November 09, 2010

Mercenaries

On the evening of November 1st, catchers BENGIE MOLINA and MATT TREANOR, infielders JORGE CANTU and CRISTIAN GUZMAN, and pitchers FRANK FRANCISCO and CLIFF LEE became free agents.

Guzman cashed $16 million during the past two years (mostly from Washington, thank goodness), for which he provided all of 0.6 wins above replacement. He nearly scuttled Texas’s trade for him, which in retrospect might have been better for all concerned. Guzman was a cipher at the plate, didn’t play after September 8th, and, worst of all, robbed the Newberg Report of its player-blogger. Although a better player than he showed in Texas, Guzman doesn’t bring much more to the table than Andres Blanco, who is under team control.

Like Guzman, Cantu could start for a bad team but is better suited to a utility role, at which he’d be useful to the Rangers. Doubtlessly, he’s seeking more at-bats and money than Texas would be willing to offer.

Treanor achieved six years of MLB service and free agency without ever earning more than $750,000, so, unlike Guzman or Cantu, he won’t be staring at a pay cut. Though Treanor is barely above replacement level, he’s a known quantity and works well with C.J. Wilson and others. I also doubt Texas will enter 2011 with Taylor Teagarden or Max Ramirez higher than third on the depth chart. Wherever he signs, a year at around $750,000 feels right.

Molina has hinted at retirement. Though he’ll always be remembered fondly in Texas , he’s very close to the end. From 2005-2009, Molina averaged 18 homers and 23 other extra-base hits. This year, those figures declined to five and 13. He could be an acceptable backup if so inclined, but it’s hard to envision him starting another 100 games for anyone.

A disastrous opening week and last-season injury cost poor Francisco a lot of money. Fact is, Francisco was the equal of Neftali Feliz after mid-April except for a substantial margin in BABIP. Thanks to the quirks of the free agent system, Francisco might spend 2011 in Arlington. Assuming Texas offers arbitration, and it should, the signing team will forfeit either its top pick or a second rounder in 2011. That eliminates half of his suitors, as hardly any team would forfeit its first-round pick for a good-but-not-elite reliever like Francisco. (The Wade-helmed Astros might, but they finished in the lower half of the standings and would surrender only a second rounder. In any case, signing Francisco to three years at $5 million per makes more sense than Wade’s similar tender to Brandon Lyon.)

Per Fangraphs, Lee has been worth close to $30 million in each of the last three years. He won’t make that much, but $20 million is a floor and $25 million is reachable. C.C. Sabathia and Johan Santana both earn about $23 million annually. Despite all he provided for Texas, simply declining to bid for him would be defensible, albeit hugely unpopular. Lee is already 32, four years older than Sabathia and three years older than Santana when they signed their respective blockbusters. He’s also pitched 520 innings during the last two seasons (including playoffs). Do his age and workload merely confirm his durability or warn of impending breakdown?

If Texas could somehow sign Lee to an upgraded version of Roy Halladay’s deal – say, three years and $70 million plus a difficult-to-achieve vesting option – I’d be thrilled. That won’t happen, of course; Halladay was never on the open market and signed an extension with his present team. Despite his advanced age, offering Lee fewer than five years doesn’t get a return phone call.

Lee is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward signing. In any given season, he could raise a flag atop your stadium. He could also suffer an injury or show his age while absorbing funds that are no longer available for other players. I’ll understand if the Rangers are outbid, and at some point during the next three to four years Texas fans will likely sigh in relief as Lee nurses a sore elbow on New York’s disabled list. That said, his departure would leave a hole that can’t be filled.

Texas declined its half of a mutual option for 2011 with outfielder VLADIMIR GUERRERO, buying out his contract for $1 million and making him a free agent.

Evidently, the $9 million 2011 option was a contrivance to defer $1 million of his 2010 salary. Clever. So, should Texas want him back, and at what cost?

Part of the equation is simple. If any team offers a guaranteed two years, Texas should congratulate Guerrero’s agent and move on. A one-year deal is trickier. Offering less than Guerrero’s effective 2010 remuneration of $7.5 million seems superficially absurd in light of his .300 average and 29 homers. However, his performance after the All Star Game justifies concern.

To say Guerrero outright collapsed in the second half is an overstatement -- he had a fine September after a terrible July/August – but he certainly showed signs of reaching the bitter end, particularly in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the future Hall of Famer, one of 2010’s indelible images will be his stiff-legged bumbling in right field in Game 1 of the Series.

Per Fangraphs, Guerrero provided 2.6 wins above replacement for his employers in 2010, worth about $10 million on the open market but at a modest cost of $7.5 million ($6.5 plus $1 deferred) to Texas. As for 2011, let’s pretend his plate appearances drop from 643 to 550, his pro-rated offensive production (in terms of batting runs) declines by 20%, and he never steps onto the outfield grass. Such a performance results in about 1.4 wins above replacement, meriting $5.6 million in the 2010 dollars. That’s a reasonable guess, but recall that only two years ago an injured and suddenly, seemingly geriatric Guerrero managed only 0.8 wins. Also, he’s likely to spend a few games in the outfield, where his value decreases by the inning. I’d say the tails of his 2011 bell curve indicate a range between zero and 2.5 wins.

Undoubtedly, GM Jon Daniels won’t stand pat this winter; immediately after the Series, he stated his intention to enter 2011 with a better team. Unfortunately, resigning Guerrero doesn’t help to accomplish that goal, even if signed to a team-friendly deal. Vlad is unlikely to replicate or excel his 2010 and could deteriorate substantially.

What of the potential internal replacements? After several memorable trades and drafts, newfound postseason success, and years of memorializing by paid writers and assorted hangers-on, Texas’s farm system is receiving more mainstream praise than ever. That said, the farm isn’t an amorphous blob from which to draw useful parts at will. In truth, Texas is presently lacking in ready-for-promotion bats. (Note that the paucity of hitting prospects stems partially from two high-upside events: the trade of Justin Smoak [and others] for Cliff Lee, and Mitch Moreland’s graduation to the Majors.) The internal bat most likely to emerge from the farm to damage MLB pitching in 2011 belongs to Chris Davis, who may yet rejuvenate his career but has virtually no chance to earn a significant role on the active roster in March. Really, the pickings are that slim. Can you imagine Texas contemplating the out-of-options Max Ramirez or Chad Tracy (not the former AZ slugger), who has belted 43 homers in the last two years but is probably facing a second consecutive exposure to the Rule 5 draft? The most promising upper-level position player, OF Engel Beltre, needs to handle AA before entering the discussion.

Signing Guerrero to a one-year deal for $5-$6 million isn’t abhorrent, but again, at best it’s a water-treading move. At worst, it hurts Texas in the standings.

Here’s ex-Velvet Underground bassist/violist John Cale at CBGB’s singing about a different type of free agent. Joey Matches has his hip-hop. I have... this:


John Cale, “Mercenaries?, Sabotage/Live (1979)

Posted by Lucas at 09:59 PM

August 05, 2010

Greenberg/Ryan Partnership Wins Auction To Own Texas Rangers

This is all I can come up with right now:

funny animated gif

Posted by Lucas at 01:42 AM

July 31, 2010

Texas Rangers Organizational Movement, July 2010

Red = Out of organization
Blue = Injured or suspended
Green = Promoted
Purple = Demoted
Grey = Promoted and Demoted, Zero Net Movement
Yellow = Activated from DL
White = Stayed Put

TEXAS
RANGERS
(MLB)

C
Matt Treanor
1B
Justin Smoak
2B
Ian Kinsler
3B
Michael Young
SS
Elvis Andrus
LF
Josh Hamilton
CF
Julio Borbon
RF
Nelson Cruz
DH
Vlad Guerrero
 
c
Max Ramirez
if
Joaquin Arias
if
Andres Blanco
of
David Murphy
Oklahoma City
Redhawks
(AAA)

C
J. Saltalamacchia
1B
Chris Davis
2B
Hernan Iribarren
3B
Esteban German
SS
Gregorio Petit
OF
Chad Tracy
OF
Brandon Boggs
OF
Mitch Moreland
  
 
c
Kevin Richardson
utRyan Garko
utMatt Brown
Frisco
Roughriders
(AA)

C
T. Teagarden
1B
Emerson Frostad
2B
Renny Osuna
3B
Mitch Hilligoss
SS
Guilder Rodriguez
OF
Matt Lawson
OF
James Tomlin
OF
Joey Butler
 
 
c
Elio Sarmiento
utMarcus Lemon
ut
Andy Jenkins
ofEndy Chavez
Bakersfield
Blaze
(high A)

C
Jose Felix
1B
John Whittleman
2B
Davis Stoneburner
3B
Tommy Mendonca
SS
Andres James
OF
Michael Bianucci
OF
Engel Beltre
OF
David Paisano
 
 
c
Chris Gradoville
cDoug Hogan
ut
Erik Morrison
ut
Jacob Kaase
ofJared Bolden
Hickory
Crawdads
(low A)

C
L. de los Santos
1B
Michael Ortiz
2B
Travis Adair
3B
Matt West
SS
Edwin Garcia
OF
Cristian Santana
OF
Cody Podraza
OF
Miguel Velazquez
 
 
c
Zach Zaneski
utEdward Koncel
ut
Joe Bonadonna
SP
Colby Lewis
SP
C.J. Wilson
SP
Tommy Hunter
SP
Scott Feldman
SP
Omar Beltre
 
CL
Neftali Feliz
RP
Frank Francisco
RPDustin Nippert
RP
Darren O'Day
RP
Alexi Ogando
RP
Darren Oliver
RP
Chris Ray
SPMichael Kirkman
SPDouglas Mathis
SPGu. Moscoso
SPMatt Harrison
SPT. Scheppers
  
CLPedro Strop
RPMichael Ballard
RPWillie Eyre
RPGeoff Geary
RPWarner Madrigal
RPZach Phillips
RPClay Rapada
RPElizardo Ramirez
SPRichard Bleier
SPMartin Perez
SPTanner Roark
SPRyan Tatusko
SPBlake Beavan
  
CLAdalberto Flores
RPCody Eppley
RPBrennan Garr
RPBeau Jones
RPJosh Lueke
RPKasey Kiker
RPEvan Reed
RPBen Snyder
SPWilfredo Boscan
SPCarlos Pimentel
SPMichael Schlact
SPWilmer Font
SPMichael Main
  
CLMark Hamburger
RPFabio Castillo
RPKennil Gomez
RPTim Murphy
RPYoon-Hee Nam
RPCorey Young
RPShane Zegarac
SPJacob Brigham
SPRobbie Erlin
SPNeil Ramirez
SPMatt Thompson
SPRobbie Ross
SPJoe Wieland
CL
Trevor Hurley
RPSam Brown
RPHector Nelo
RPJoseph Ortiz
RPBraden Tullis
RPTyler Tufts
RPJohan Yan
Disabled List
POmar Poveda
PEric Hurley
PRich Harden
PDerek Holland
Disabled List
PBr. McCarthy
PCraig Gentry
Disabled List
PAndrew Laughter
IFJonathan Greene
Disabled List
PJustin Miller
Disabled List
SSLeury Garcia
PDanny Gutierrez
CVin Difazio
OFJared Prince
Additions
PCliff Lee
PMark Lowe
CBenjie Molina
IFJorge Cantu
IFCristian Guzman
Additions
Additions
PChris Mobley
Additions
1BChris McGuiness
Additions
PRoman Mendez
(to Spokane)

If the table looks like a mess, that's the point.

Posted by Lucas at 11:59 PM

July 02, 2010

Molina Acquired, Main Traded

Texas traded reliever CHRIS RAY and minor-league pitcher MICHAEL MAIN to San Francisco for catcher BENJIE MOLINA. Texas will receive about $2 million to make the deal “cost neutral.”

Michael Main
The Departed

Who is Benjie Molina?

Molina turns 36 in a few weeks and is suffering through his worst season at the plate since 2002. Is he undergoing a half-season aberration or the beginning of the end?

Molina’s offensive production depends heavily on power. From 2007-2009 with the Giants, Molina averaged 26 doubles and 18 homers. This year, he’s on pace for 12 doubles and six homers. His rate of homers per fly ball has plummeted, and his .332 slugging percentage ranks 24th among the 30 MLB catchers with the most plate appearances. Conversely, Molina is drawing nearly twice as many unintentional as usual. Per Fangraphs, Molina is swinging at fewer pitches and making more contact. Sometimes, improved patience is the last refuge of the dying hitter, though complaining about it seems absurd.

Molina’s improved contact has not resulted in a higher batting average. He’s hitting .257, the lowest in eight years. Also, Molina might be the slowest player in baseball, so those extra balls in play are of little benefit if not contacted firmly. He’s hitting a paltry .155 on grounders compared to .233 for the National League. Based on his current grounder rate and frequency of play, he’ll achieve 12 fewer ground-ball hits than average hitter, not an insignificant number. Surprisingly, only once has he ranked in the NL top ten in double plays.

Defensively, he’s no improvement on Matt Treanor in terms of shutting down the running game. He’s thrown out 23% of opposing runners, not the worst of his career but close, and is on pace to allow nearly 100 stolen bases, easily his most.

Without the homers, he’s not much. In essence, he’s a replacement-level catcher, no better than Treanor or Max Ramirez. So, why bother? I see three reasons:

1) Texas can’t rely on Treanor to catch the vast majority of games in the second half. The 34-year-old Treanor missed most of 2009 with a bone spur in his hip and hasn’t appeared in more than 70 games since 2003. In 2010, he’s already appeared in 56 games.

2) Texas expects a mild return to form from Molina, though I wouldn’t count on it. Whatever benefit he receives from the hitter-friendly Ballpark should be countervailed by his move to the tougher league.

3) What Texas really wants is his pitch calling and veteran leadership. Yes, I went there. Per GM Jon Daniels: “He brings a veteran presence. He's a guy that's been back there and caught quality pitching in some big games… This guy is a winner. He takes a lot of pride in his game calling and working with the staff and understanding the game plan… He's a great guy in the clubhouse.”

Such praise from the acquiring party is required. But what of Molina’s former teammates Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain? Lincecum, from the same article: [No player has] had the effect, at least on me, that Bengie has. He helped me mature and succeed. I've said time and time again, he deserves half of those awards that I've gotten." And Cain: “The things he's done for me -- from calling a game, to giving me confidence to throw different pitches in different counts -- really, really, really benefited me.”

High praise, indeed. Now, “veteran leadership” is an epithet in analyst community, partly because it’s immeasurable, and partly because front-office types, managers and players so often use the term to gloss over obvious shortcomings. However, that’s not reason enough to completely deride and discount it, particularly when the praise for Molina is so effusive and widespread. Even manager Mike Scioscia of the Angels, Texas’s chief combatant in the AL West, lauded the deal. If Molina can hit as well as Treanor and Ramirez while providing aid and comfort to Texas’s pitchers, he’s an improvement. I can’t say I’m excited Molina’s presence in Arlington. But I’m not writing him off.

What kind of prospect is Main?

When reports narrowed down the second player in the Molina deal to an pitcher in A ball, I assumed a lower-level prospect like Wilfredo Boscan, Carlos Pimentel, Jake Brigham, or perhaps Neil Ramirez. I’d have traded any of them in a heartbeat. That’s what they’re for.

Main is another matter entirely.

The estimable Jason Parks presented his take on Main in early May. Freak injuries limited the 24th-overall pick of the 2007 draft to 119 innings in 2008-2009. After a strong end-of-season showing in high-A Bakersfield and autumn instructional campaign, Main showed up to Surprise this spring having filled out to a startling extent. Like fellow 1st-rounder Blake Beavan, he’s lost some of his high-school velocity and is slowly reacquiring it.

With the caveat that we shouldn’t place too much emphasis on a statistical analysis of 91 high-A innings, here’s how Michael Main’s 2010 ranks among the 48 Cal League pitchers with eight or more starts:

Category
Main
League
Rank
ERA
3.45
4.81
10
RA
4.63
5.49
15
FIP
5.10
4.64
35
HR%
3.7%
2.0%
44
BB%
7.4%
9.4%
19
SO%
18.9%
17.7%
21
BABIP
.279
.338
4

Not to suggest that Main has pitched badly, but his 3.45 ERA is deceptive. First, Main’s BABIP is an unsustainable .279. I’m willing to ascribe more control over BABIP to high-A pitchers than their Major League counterparts, but not 59 points. Second, Main has allowed a league-worst 14 homers, and only three of 47 starters have allowed more on a per-batter basis. Yet, he’s suffered remarkably little damage from them:

Homers: Runners On Base
AL
Main
0
56%
86%
1
31%
14%
2
11%
0%
3
3%
0%

Note: I don’t have runner data for the Cal League (except grand slams), so I’m comparing his homer distribution to the American League. Based on runs scored per game, I doubt the distributions of the Cal League and AL are wildly dissimilar. The percentage of grannies is nearly identical (2.7% in the AL, 2.6% in the Cal League).

Main has a allowed a miniscule total of 16 runs on his 14 homers. 12 of 14 came with the bases empty, none with more than one on. A more typical 21 runs (based on 1.5 per homer) would add 0.50 to his ERA.

Nevertheless, Main had largely regained his upper-level prospect status. He’d pitched every fifth day without fail. He was effective enough to earn a promotion to AA, where, despite his setbacks, he would have been the third youngest pitcher on the staff and seventh youngest in the Texas League. Though he likely would have been knocked around in Frisco, he undoubtedly possessed the fortitude to withstand the rough outings.

What does Texas think of Jarrod Saltalamacchia?

Not much. That Texas parted with a first-round pick of the 2007 draft rather than promote Saltalamacchia is a depressing indication of his value to the Rangers. Molina’s arrival pushes him to fourth on the depth chart. How did he fall so far?

Saltalamacchia certainly didn’t let his rehab assignment and eventual full-fledged demotion to AAA affect his bat. Not at first. He walked twice in his first game in Oklahoma City, then embarked on a 16-game hit streak. However, in the waning days of his streak, he exhibited a terrible case of the yips. Me, on May 4th:

Photobucket

On May 12th, per Bob Hersom of okcredhawks.com:

Tuesday night at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, 12 of [Saltalamacchia’s] throws back to the pitcher landed either short of the mound or in center field. He had five errant throws in the first inning alone.

Saltalamacchia evinced no hesitancy or inability to throw cleanly to the bases. Only on return throws to the pitcher did he struggle. After the 12th, Saltalamacchia missed four days. Upon his return, he threw with confidence.

Unfortunately, Saltalamacchia has batted a dire .186/.263/.382 since his time off. He’s clubbed six homers in that span, but the remainder of his offense has disappeared. Arguably, he’s suffering some bad luck, as his BABIP is a paltry .188. On the other hand, Saltalamacchia has become extremely fly-prone in Oklahoma City. Flies that stay in the park tend to become outs. Bad luck or not, he’s walking less, striking out more, and not swinging in a manner conducive to a high batting average.

Worse, in my opinion, his throwing has degraded since his initially promising return from four days of inaction. He’s not short-hopping or overthrowing the pitcher, but neither is he putting any zing on the ball. Saltalamacchia faces the pitcher with his torso fully perpendicular to the mound and returns the ball purely with his arm. (You’ll better understand what I mean if you stand up and try throwing that way yourself. It’s awkward.) He’s not using his body at all. Perhaps it’s not important, but I don’t see other catchers (or even umpires) throwing that way. They hum the ball back to the pitcher. When I’m watching on the internet, Saltalamacchia’s return throws frequently exit the top of my viewing screen before reappearing to land gently into the pitcher’s glove. Whatever the reason, it sure looks odd.

Moreover, his already subpar performance at gunning down potential base stealers has declined further. Of the 26 Pacific Coast League catchers facing at least 30 stolen base attempts, Saltalamacchia ranks dead last with a 16% caught rate (6 of 37). To be sure, Redhawk pitchers aren’t helping – OKC ranks 15th in the 16-team PCL is nabbing runners. Still, other Redhawk catchers have a 24% success rate; not great, but better than Saltalamacchia. When comparing each catcher to the aggregate rate of the his teammates, he still comes in 22nd of 26.

What does Texas think of Max Ramirez?

The front office and Ron Washington prefer a defense-oriented catcher, which Ramirez most certainly is not. He gets on base at a nice rate, especially for a backstop, and in time he could fulfill some of the contact-plus-power potential displayed in the minors.

It’s not enough. Again, Texas surrendered Michael Main rather than endure Ramirez as a backup. Keeping him as a right-handed bench bat makes some sense, but I’d say his days as a catcher in Texas are essentially over unless Molina or Treanor suffer an injury.

What about Chris Ray?

I hadn’t mentioned Chris Ray previously, because, frankly, I don’t have much interest in him. He was adequate but unworthy of his 3.41 ERA. He doesn’t rank among Texas’s top seven or eight bullpen arms, so exchanging him for an upgrade elsewhere makes perfect sense.

Conclusion

Molina doesn’t thrill me. Perhaps he’ll swat ten homers in the second half, and the pitchers will rave about him. That would thrill me. More likely, he’ll provide only a modest upgrade on whom he’s supplanting. It’s also possible he’ll be worse. Look at his page at Baseball-Reference.com and envision a line of .240/.290/.320 for Texas in 2010, followed by a blank in 2011 and beyond. That’s not a far-fetched prediction, in my opinion.

While not of the level of Martin Perez, Tanner Scheppers, or (I’d argue) Blake Beavan, Michael Main is a tremendous athlete, outstandingly competitive, and has made up for lost time. I don’t begrudge Texas for trading him in order to improve a team with its best chance at the postseason in a decade. That said, I would have expected him to depart as the second or third piece in a blockbuster, not as the lynchpin of a deal for someone who might not improve the team at all.

That the Rangers apparently couldn’t assume Molina’s not-outrageous salary and had to surrender Main to consummate the deal is yet another taint on the stewardship of Tom Hicks, as if one were needed.

Posted by Lucas at 06:51 PM

April 23, 2010

Smoak Replaces Davis

Texas will purchase the contract of 1B JUSTIN SMOAK and option 1B CHRIS DAVIS to AAA.

MiLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo asked me about a Smoak/Davis swap after I’d tweeted this on Monday:

In 12 games, #texasrangers Justin Smoak has 13 hits, 14 walks, 5 strikeouts, and a .509 OBP. Locked in.

On Wednesday I replied:

My gut feeling is Texas is going to try to give Davis a chance to stick. The one thing in his favor is a decent walk rate and not as many strikeouts as last year. His pitches/appearance ratio is lousy, but at least he's making some contact.

Also, Smoak really didn't have a great spring, so his hot start is out of the blue. I bet Texas would like a some sustained success before they call him up.

Or maybe they panic as the season slips away. I guess, if Davis and Smoak continue at their current paces, we could see a move in as little as two or three weeks. But assuming Davis improves a little and Smoak cools off a touch, not before June. There's the season to worry about, but also Davis's future. If they send him to AAA again, he's pretty much done in Texas, I think.

So much for that. To be honest, I’d first written “as little as one to two weeks” but felt it slightly rash. Also, statistically, Smoak had a better spring than I remembered (.250/.333/.563 in 18 appearances) but certainly didn’t compel management to select him over Davis for the active roster.

Now, despite having used “panic” and “rash,” I don’t see this move as panic[ky] or rash. I wouldn’t have pulled the trigger this soon, but sometimes I’m afflicted with Ent-like deliberateness. This transaction furthers the notion that Texas is playing to win right now. A previous example is the decision to keep its five most effective Spring Training starters (okay, four plus Rich Harden) and option both the well-compensated Brandon McCarthy and the potentially electrifying Derek Holland.

Davis isn’t the hopeless batter from early 2009. He’s been drawing more walks and making better contact in the strike zone. On Thursday during what was apparently a lame-duck performance, he saw a highly impressive 26 pitches in four plate appearances. Unfortunately, he also went hitless with two strikeouts, and his marginally improved discipline has translated to a dismal line of .188/.264/.292 with zero homers.

Smoak is batting .300/.470/.560 in 15 AAA games. Is he ready for Major league pitching? Probably not quite yet, but to an extent, it’s irrelevant. He’ll help the team contingent on hurdling the depressingly low bar set by Davis. Adequate defense and a replacement-level bat are sufficient, equivalent to an imitation of Mark Teixeira, who hit .241/.330/.379 in his first 100 MLB plate appearances. Per GM Jon Daniels: “We're not looking at Justin Smoak to ride in on a white horse and save the day.”

So don't expect this on Friday:

Photobucket

Posted by Lucas at 02:19 AM

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 01:58 PM

February 25, 2010

Greene Gone

Texas voided the contract of infielder KHALIL GREENE.

The combination of treatment and lesser expectations apparently weren't enough to bring Greene back onto the diamond. This would be an exceptionally lousy way to lose a career, so best wishes for his recovery.

Meanwhile, Joaquin Arias lives! Suddenly, he's the best backup shortstop in camp, as Esteban German has barely played there in the minors and Ray Olmedo is Ray Olmedo. Arias has a genuine shot, his last shot, at flying to Arlington at the end of March. I'd say it's no worse than 50/50 that the Rangers trade for a 5th infielder before Opening Day. (If you're getting this on RSS, I'm two days late. Accidentally posted it as a "draft.")

Posted by Lucas at 11:30 PM

January 27, 2010

Golson Traded



In November 2008, I punched out two paragraphs about the Mayberry-Golson trade that could’ve been better expressed with just a weary sigh.

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.
Even though Mayberry was the better player, Golson had the upside, so the trade was defensible. Golson had a slight chance at becoming a valuable player if he could ever rectify his horrid plate approach, whereas Mayberry’s stoic performance would never stray far from replacement level. Think of their potential this way:


Golson’s removal from the 40 seemed a bit odd in terms of roster management. He still has an option, whereas shortstop Joaquin Arias is optionless and has an employer that acquired/re-signed no fewer than four backup infielders during the offseason (Greene, Inglett, German, Olmedo). That said, the Rangers indicated what lay in store for Golson when they let him cool his heels in September and instead retrieved AA center fielder Craig Gentry from AA.

Hilligoss is a shortstop who has moonlighted at third and first, positions at which his bat appears totally unsuited. Regarded as an intriguing hitter out of Purdue in 2006, he hasn’t cracked AA in four professional years and posted a dire .239/.286/.299 across two seasons in the Florida State League (which is pitcher-friendly, to be sure, but not nearly enough to rescue that line). He turns 25 in June and doesn’t rank among Texas’s top 50 prospects.

Posted by Lucas at 11:52 AM

January 26, 2010

The Return Of Colby

Texas signed pitcher COLBY LEWIS to a two-year contract with a club option. Texas placed infielder JOE INGLETT on waivers.

The Rangers have 104 pitcher-seasons of at least 25 starts. Colby Lewis’s 2003 ranks last in ERA (7.30), ERA+ (69), opposing on-base percentage (.402) and opposing slugging (.550). In 2004, he underwent surgery for two tears in his rotator cuff. In the subsequent three years he was waived twice and released twice. He spent the last two seasons in Japan.

And with this resume, the cash-strapped Rangers guaranteed him $5 million? Stupefying. Terrifying.

No, no, no. Just kidding. While the first paragraph is factually correct, it glosses over two superior years overseas. During Lewis’s initial venture in Texas, the respectable control exhibited in the minors vanished on the mound in Arlington. In Japan, Lewis walked or hit less than 5% of opposing batters while fanning 26% and leading the league in strikeouts in both seasons. That won’t translate directly to the US, of course, but Lewis has apparently learned to pitch rather than throw. He also employs a cutter, that favored pitch of rotation mates Scott Feldman and Tommy Hunter. There’s considerable upside to this deal, particularly in the form of a $3.25 million club option for 2012 should Lewis pan out. If he flops, Texas appears to possess some supra-replacement-level pitching depth. Plan B is not Elizardo Ramirez or even Luis Mendoza. Also, with payments to A-Rod, Little Cat, and three others ceasing after 2010, having to eat Lewis’s 2011 salary becomes more palatable, if need be.

(Interestingly, Lewis and pitcher Ben Kozlowski were teammates with Hiroshima in 2008-2009, several years after being lost on waivers by Texas within days of each other in October 2004.)

Inglett was/is a marginal candidate for the 25-man roster, so outrighting him to Oklahoma City now (assuming he clears waivers) really doesn’t significantly affect his status. He’s a pretty darned good backup 5th infielder, and I don’t mean that as a backhanded compliment.

Only 16 hitters populate Texas’s 40-man roster, and that includes dead-man-walking Joaquin Arias.

Posted by Lucas at 02:10 AM

January 24, 2010

Transaction

Hicks Sports Group LLC sold the TEXAS RANGERS BASEBALL CLUB to Rangers Baseball Express LLC for $570 million and a player to be named later.

I'll go ahead and let the bitterness flow forth so I can move on. No need to write anything new. To quote myself...

On my site, February 2004, regarding the trade of Alex Rodriguez, which doesn't mention the owner specifically but applies nonetheless:

An absolute disaster, and as stark of admission of organization-wide failure as can be imagined. Placing Rodriguez on waivers might have made more sense. Had Texas merely swapped Rodriguez for Soriano straight up, they could have excused the deal as a pure salary dump. But remarkably, Texas will contribute $67 million to the $179 million due to Rodriguez. Texas will pay Rodriguez $3 million this season, $6 million in 2005 and 2006, $7 million in 2007, $8 million in 2008, $7 million in 2009, and $6 million in 2010. Also, Texas will pay the entirety of Rodriguez's remaining deferred salary of $24 million, the payments of which were pushed out five more years and at an annual rate of 1.75% compared to the 3% in the original deal.. Adding in the remaining $4 million of his signing bonus and the $12 million in deferred salary accrued from 2001-2003, the Rangers will pay Rodriguez $83 million spread over the next 22 years.
For all this, Texas gains the ever popular "financial flexibility," a term of art that means little without the wherewithal to use it properly. In 2004, this newfound flexibility is a moot point, as the time to sign worthwhile free agents has long since passed (unless Greg Maddux loses his marbles and decides that several summers in Arlington would be a fine way to close a career). This season, practically all of the savings not spent on Soriano will rest contentedly in Tom Hicks's wallet.

Rodriguez did Hicks quite the favor by opting out of the final three years of his contract. Still, the new owners will pay $3 million to Rodriguez in 2010 -- the last of his deferred signing bonus -- which I believe finally closes that sordid book.

What I wrote in the Hardball Times annual, 2008:

Amidst these and previous management shakeups is team owner Tom Hicks. Though not impetuous in the manner of vintage-period George Steinbrenner, Hicks seems to institute a new five-year plan every other year or so. Some examples: 1) fired GM Doug Melvin two years after Texas won its third division title in four seasons, by far its most successful era; 2) signed Alex Rodriguez to a ten-year deal, then traded him three years later; 3) gave former GM John Hart license to spend freely after 2001, then instituted an aggregate payroll cut of over $30 million that lasts to this day; 4) fired assistant GM Grady Fuson two years and nine months into a three-year “internship? for the GM spot; 5) gave manager Buck Showalter a three-year extension following 2004, then fired him before it kicked in; and 6) hired a 30-year-old Ivy Leaguer as GM, then hired the older, old-school Nolan Ryan as his boss two years later.

Fuson's drafts turned out to be barely qualified disasters. 2002 produced virtually nothing beyond Kameron Loe. Unless Eric Hurley recovers, 2004's top pick will be Brandon Boggs. Also, Ryan and Daniels have co-existed better than I expected.

Nevertheless...

Team Record, AL West, 2000-2009:
LAA 900-720
OAK 890-728
SEA 837-783
TEX 776-884

Posted by Lucas at 12:29 AM

January 16, 2010

Nippert Avoids Arbitration

Texas signed pitcher DUSTIN NIPPERT to a one-year contract for $665,000.

With two years, 140 days of MLB service time, Nippert gained "Super 2" arbitration status by exactly one day. That extra day is worth almost $250,000. Nippert pitched inconsistently in 2009, as always, but with enough of the variance on the happy side to be pretty useful. He's a dark-horse rotation candidate, more likely a mop.

Posted by Lucas at 06:00 PM

January 15, 2010

McCarthy Avoids Arbitration / Charlie O. Was Right

Texas signed pitcher BRANDON MCCARTHY to a one-year contract for $1.32 million.

The Rangers avoid arbitration, as is their wont, but accede to doubling McCarthy's pay despite his 97 innings and 4.62 ERA (4.70 FIP). Projection systems expect similar results in 2010. Yee-haa.

Posted by Lucas at 02:29 PM

January 12, 2010

Guerrero and Greene

Texas signed outfielder VLADIMIR GUERRERO to a one-year contract plus a one-year mutual option.

Texas will pay Vlad $5.5 to $6.0 million in 2010 and an undisclosed salary or a $1 million buyout in 2011. Guerrero can also decline the option sans buyout.

I’m trying and failing to envision Guerrero wearing a blue cap emblazoned with a white “T.? Guerrero has murdered the Rangers for six seasons running. Even during 2009, his worst as a regular, Vlad batted .404/.433/.579 against the Rangers. Simply not having him as an opponent is worth a few million.

Past and present Dallas Morning News scribe Evan Grant compares and contrasts Guerrero to notable free-agent flop Richard Hidalgo, concluding: “Vladimir Guerrero is not Richard Hidalgo.? Quite so. Hidalgo was a great hitter for exactly two seasons, while Guerrero has the 6th-best OPS+ among active players. Still, they both dove off a cliff prior to signing with Texas:

Hidalgo:
1999-2003: .277/.360/.511
2004: .239/.301/.444
2005: .221/.289/.416 (with Texas)

Vlad:
2004-2008: .323/.387/.557
2009: .295/.334/.460
2010: ???

(Incidentally, Hidalgo, who hasn’t played in the Majors since 2005, is only four months older than Guerrero and still attempting a comeback.)

2009 was Guerrero’s worst season since 1998. Once a fearsome hitter, capable runner, and rifle-armed outfielder, Guerrero has declined sharply of late, suddenly unable to play the field competently and occasionally looking lost at the plate. Per Fangraphs, 2009 was his first season since at least 2002 that didn’t produce favorable results against fastballs, and his ratio of homers to fly balls dipped precipitously. Guerrero’s skill set doesn’t (or didn’t) portend a rapid decline in production, but not everyone ages gracefully. Witness 2009 reclamation project Andruw Jones.

Guerrero definitely fills a hole at DH; he’s not pushing the next Edgar Martinez back to AAA. Prior to his signing, Texas’s optimal solution against lefties was David Murphy, either as DH himself or in the field while giving another outfielder a “half day off.? Versus lefties, against whom Murphy flails, Texas had… Max Ramirez? Brandon Boggs? A still-germinating Justin Smoak? A reserve infielder?

Bill James envisions a strong rebound for Guerrero (.305/.369/.508, not park-adjusted, I assume) while CHONE is more circumspect (.291/.334/.460) in projecting a repeat of 2009. There is also the non-zero probability that Guerrero is toast. Happily, Texas’s most advanced hitting prospects, Smoak and Ramirez, are precisely to type who could replace Guerrero at DH if they shine in AAA while he falters. Guerrero’s a worthy signing at a reasonable price, with a fair amount of upside and downside.

Texas also signed infielder KHALIL GREENE to a one-year contract for $750,000.

And Joaquin Arias’s wafer-thin chance at a Major League paycheck just evaporated. The Rangers previously re-upped with Esteban German and nabbed Joe Inglett off waivers from Toronto. Both reasonable maneuvers, but neither answered the question (except derisively, perhaps) of who would back up for Elvis Andrus.

The answer is Greene, who’s been chasing his very promising rookie campaign for five years. Over the years, he’s drawn few walks, his extreme fly-ball tendencies have swallowed his batting average whole, and UZR thinks ever more unkindly of his defense. Thus, instead of cashing in on his first winter as a free agent, he’s accepting a one-year deal for less than double the league minimum. Greene is due for improvement, I suppose, inasmuch as it’s really hard to hit just .217 on balls in play. He played some third in St. Louis and will probably spell Kinsler at second also.

Posted by Lucas at 12:45 PM

December 08, 2009

Transactions Are Go!

Texas acquired lefty reliever CLAY RAPADA from Detroit for future considerations.

Rapada is a low-slot slider specialist with a mid-to-high 80s fastball, which sounds very similar to the post-rotation A.J. Murray (who is a free agent). Unlike Murray, who showed no platoon split in 2009, Rapada has been very effective against lefties and mediocre or worse versus righties in the minors. In his brief MLB career, he’s walked or hit 15% of opposing batters.

Texas outrighted reliever WILLIE EYRE to AAA Oklahoma City.

The gentlemen in Brokeback Mountain have nothing on the unstable relationship between Texas and Eyre. In three years, he’s been outrighted twice, optioned thrice, spent parts of 2007 and 2009 seasons on the 60-day disabled list, and spent all of 2008 on the shelf. Yet he remains with Texas. He’s a good AAA insurance policy.

OF MARLON BYRD and catcher IVAN RODRIGUEZ declined Texas’s arbitration offers. Rodriguez signed with Washington for two years and $6 million.

Byrd’s departure was assured, Rodriguez’s less so. Last week, in assessing the risk of offering arbitration to Pudge, I wondered whether “a tandem of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Pudge… [is] really better than Salty and Teagarden. At best, a full year of Pudge maintains the status quo.? Given his age, I thought Pudge might accept a contract similar to last year’s $1.5 million to stay in Arlington in a role no smaller than prominent backup.

Little did I know that a GM would be willing to double that contract in salary and years. Pudge isn’t toast, not yet, but at this point he’s only league-average defensively, a poor hitter, and will only get worse over time. Offering him 1 year and $3 million is a little daffy but ultimately trivial. Offering 2 and $6 is an act of self-bamboozlement.

With the supplemental picks accrued by losing Byrd and Rodriguez, and having failed to sign 2009 first-rounder Matt Purke, Texas will have four of the top 50-or-so picks in the 2010 draft. Texas’s 40-man roster remains at 38.

Posted by Lucas at 09:19 AM

December 04, 2009

Mighty Joe Is A Ranger

Texas claimed UT JOE INGLETT off waivers.

Not a bad pickup. At the plate, Inglett’s a lefthanded version of Esteban German, someone with good contact skills and patience but little power (safely ignore the short-sample, desert-fueled .516 slugging percentage he posted in Las Vegas). Unlike German, Inglett’s not eligible for arbitration, though their difference in salaries would still be quite small, not enough to matter to even the cash-strapped Rangers.

On the downside, Dubbing Inglett a utility infielder is a stretch. He played center field as a senior in college but was converted to second base by Cleveland, which drafted him in the 8th round in 2000. His experience at short and third is very limited, even in the minors, and it appears that Toronto, across four seasons, never seriously considered giving him a chance to start or caddy at short in place of decent-glove no-bat John McDonald (who the Jays just re-upped for two years). And Toronto waived Inglett despite losing last year’s starting shortstop, Marco Scutaro. Keeping Inglett will likely require a sixth infielder.

Inglett increases the 40-man roster to 38.

Posted by Lucas at 06:14 PM

December 02, 2009

Byrd and Pudge Offered Arbitration

Texas offered arbitration to free agents C IVAN RODRIGUEZ and OF MARLON BYRD, and declined to arbitration to P JOAQUIN BENOIT, P EDDIE GUARDADO, CIF HANK BLALOCK, SS OMAR VIZQUEL, and OF ANDRUW JONES.

Byrd made $3 million in his final pre-emancipation arbitration season, up from $1.8 million in 2008. Byrd enjoyed Texas, and the Rangers would like him back, but this winter is epochal for him. Having risen from the minor-league free-agent scrap heap to become a valuable almost-everyday player, the 32-year-old has this one opportunity to make some serious money. He’s pretty close to an average outfielder (average, not replacement-level) in the field and at the plate. That’s worth at least two-and-$12, likely more, but the team that guarantees three-and-$24 will eventually suffer buyer’s remorse (though certainly not on the scale of Gary Matthews Jr.). Byrd hit .309/.375/.522 at home and .281/.328/.414 on the road as a Ranger. Despite the huge split, that road line is actually not bad, particularly for someone who spent most of 2009 in center field.

Rodriguez is an interesting case. Post-2006, the once-fearsome slugger has batted .269/.297/.401, and he’s league-average rather than league-best at shutting down opposing runners. Yes, that still has value, but not very much. There’s also the issue of how much the now-38 Pudge has left in his tank. Notwithstanding the pleasure of watching him retire as a Ranger, is a tandem of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Pudge (plus Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez in AAA) really better than Salty and Teagarden (plus Max and Kevin Richardson)? At best, a full year of Pudge maintains the status quo. Still, it’s a defensible decision. Having him around won’t hurt or cost much, and if he declines the offer, Texas gets a supplemental 1st-round pick.

Unfortunately, neither Vizquel nor Jones, who’ve already signed with the White Sox, cracked the Type B list. Otherwise, Texas could have offered them arbitration despite their signing and collected two easy supplemental 2nd-round picks.

I’ll deal with Blalock in a separate piece.

Posted by Lucas at 10:01 AM

November 20, 2009

40-Man Roster Additions

Texas added pitchers MICHAEL KIRKMAN and ZACH PHILLIPS to the 40-man roster.

Texas drafted Kirkman out of high school in 2005’s 5th round. After a solid debut, injuries and mechanical problems derailed Kirkman’s next two years:

75 innings
10.37 RA, 8.32 ERA
23% walk+hbp rate (!)
2.54 WHIP (!!)
.470 opposing on-base percentage (!!!)

Fortunately, being 6-3, left-handed and hard-throwing affords plenty of opportunities, and a healthier Kirkman pitched pretty well overall – brilliantly at times -- during 2008-2009. Promoted to AA Frisco this May, Kirkman’s peripherals backslid somewhat; his walk rate crept above 10% while his K rate dropped to 15%. That said, he also just turned 23 and pitched respectably down the stretch despite surpassing his previous career-high workload by a whopping 60 innings.

Phillips is a 23rd-round draft-and-follow signing from 2004 and struggled mightily in his introductions to low-A (in 2006) and high-A (2008). Repeating a level for the second time in three years, Phillips and his old-fashioned curve excelled upon conversion to relief and earned a midseason promotion to Frisco. Phillips’ control faltered near the end of his term in Bakersfield but returned in the season’s final month. He also struck out 23% of opposing batters, quite impressive for someone who doesn’t throw terribly hard.

To be blunt, Texas’s collection of Rule 5-eligibles is rather vanilla. As I mentioned in September, the three must-add players (Feliz, Andrus, Strop) had already reached the Majors, and the remainder include some intriguing names but none whose omission from the 40 would be a travesty. I couldn’t envision more than three additions (the other being Beau Jones).

The most interesting of those left behind, and to me the most likely to be swiped in the R5 draft, is Jones, the final piece of the Mark Teixeira trade. Another lefty, Jones was punitively demoted to Bakersfield after a disastrous June in Frisco. He utterly destroyed the Cal League (57 batters faced, 26 strikeouts, 10 baserunners) and was solid upon returning to Frisco. Jones has typically has taken a long time to acclimate to a new level, so jumping from AA to the Majors could be especially problematic.

Mike Ballard is another possibility. He’s certainly the most refined pitcher of the R5 group, but the curve-change specialist has yet to make an impact in AAA. Still just 20, the maddeningly inconsistent Fabio Castillo won’t be picked.

Chad Tracy again hit well after a slow start and finished with 26 homers in AA. Unfortunately, he’s practically a DH at this point, and his bat alone isn’t yet strong enough to warrant a Major League roster spot. At present, 3B John Whittleman and CF David Paisano are toolsy cases of arrested development, and COF Cristian Santana is the destitute man’s Mark Reynolds.

I don’t think Texas will lose anyone.

Posted by Lucas at 01:08 AM

October 22, 2009

Grilli, Richardson Outrighted

Texas waived pitcher JASON GRILLI and catcher KEVIN RICHARDSON and outrighted them to AAA.

Grilli held opponents to a .216 batting average but was walk-prone (12%), fly-prone, and allowed 12 of 21 hits for extra bases. He was entering his second year of arbitration, having signed for $800,000 last spring with Colorado to avoid an arbitration hearing. Given that he’d receive at least a million next year, Texas decided to cut bait. Grilli almost certainly won’t accept his assignment.

Richardson is a nice story, making the Majors as an undrafted free agent in his eighth year of pro ball. He doesn’t hit for average or draw too many walks but has some pop. Richardson was a six-year minor-league free agent last winter and chose to stay in Texas; he might do so again if extended an offer.

Texas now has 42 players on its 40-man roster if including players still on the 60-day Disabled List, or 35 if dropping all the free agents.

UPDATE on 29 October: Texas signed Richardson to a minor-league deal. And there was much rejoicing.

Posted by Lucas at 12:26 PM

January 01, 2009

Turnbow Signed

Texas signed reliever DERRICK TURNBOW to a minor-league contract.

Turnbow will receive $925,000 if he makes the team plus $325,000 in incentives. After doing little for Anaheim, he was selected off waivers by Milwaukee in October 2004 and proceeded to save 57 games over the next season-and-a-half. Since then, he's been pretty terrible. After a rough July 2006, Milwaukee relieved him off his closing duties by acquiring Francisco Cordero from Texas. Turnbow deserved better than the 4.63 ERA posted in '07, but in '08 he fell off a cliff. Turnbow was outrighted in May, went unclaimed, and toiled for AAA Nasville in order to retain his $3.2 million salary.

Here's Turnbow's line since July 1, 2006, including the minors:

IP
H
HR
BB
SO
HB
WP
113
102
10
122
141
11
22

AVG
OBP
SLG
BB+HBP %
SO %
.239
.412
.364
23.4%
24.8%

Yes, Turnbow has walked or hit nearly one of every four batters faced during the past two-and-a-half years. Last year's rate was 36%. He also largely abandoned his breaking pitch (83% FB) and lost nearly three MPH off the velocity displayed during his heyday. That said, Turnbow may still be useful if he can pull his freebie rate out of the stratosphere. He generates plenty of ground balls and pop-ups (career .274 BABIP, .348 slugging percentage). Not a bad signing as long as his evaluators are clear-eyed and cold-blooded in assessing whether he has anything to offer.

Posted by Lucas at 06:14 PM

December 24, 2008

Who's Winning The Hamilton Volquez Trade

A few days before Christmas 2007, Texas traded Edinson Volquez, its most advanced pitching prospect, and reliever Danny Ray Herrera to Cincinnati for outfielder Josh Hamilton. My thoughts at the time:

I uneasily endorse this trade. That is to say, my anxiety about Volquez becoming a quality rotation figure is slightly higher than about Hamilton washing out. It’s a risky play for both teams. Texas just traded its third young and promising starter in three years, but Hamilton could become the best centerfielder in franchise history.

Hamilton and Volquez both had tremendous seasons. Hamilton led Texas in Win Shares and ranked 12th in all of baseball, and Volquez led the Cincinnati pitching corps. Even Herrera made his MLB debut, and though he didn’t earn any Win Shares, he did pitch much better than his unsightly 7.36 ERA.

As I’ve done previously, here’s an evaluation of the trade in terms of Win Shares and Wins Above Replacement:

Players
Win Shares
WARP
Hamilton
27
9.4
TEX Total
27
9.4
Volquez
17
7.3
Herrera
0
0.1
CIN Total
17
7.4
TEX Advantage
10
2.0

So, Texas enjoyed a net gain of about two to three wins (10 Win Shares = 3.3 wins). Victory, Texas!

Not so fast.

Because it’s winter and I have nothing better to do, I’ve explored how Texas would have performed had the trade not occurred. I did so by rationing Hamilton’s plate appearances to other Rangers, then stealing innings from other Ranger pitchers to account for the presence of Volquez. Then, I evaluated the gain or loss in value.

This is, of course, a fictional exercise. To keep the number of assumptions manageable, I’m only using players who actually took the field for Texas last season. Had the Hamilton-Volquez deal not consummated, Texas might have traded Volquez for a different outfielder, or for another pitcher, or kept him.

Hamilton Versus His Replacements

Hamilton entered 2008 with several questions, the least of which was the legitimacy of his’07 performance. More problematic were his health and former lifestyle. Hamilton completely quashed those doubts as a Ranger. Though he wore down a bit in the second half, he missed only six games all season and amassed 704 plate appearances.

I've assigned his 704 PAs to ten other players. Unless noted, all the performances in the extra PAs are simply extrapolated from real-life performances:

  • 200 to Nelson Cruz – Texas calls him up in July. I can’t fathom him equaling his actual 2008 line (.330/.421/.609) for another 200 appearances, so I averaged his 2008 performance with his career line (.251/.312/.431), giving him a still robust .291/.367/.520.

  • 114 to John Mayberry – Texas calls him up in August. I chopped 30 points off his AAA batting average, 40 from OBP, and 60 from slugging, giving him a line of .233/.276/.414. That seems reasonable. (Why 114 PAs? I needed someone to have a strange number so that all the players equaled Hamilton’s 704 appearances.)

  • 100 to Frank Catalanotto – Grudgingly, Texas hopes that Cat can revive his former .300-hitting semi-glory.

  • 100 to Brandon Boggs – Boggs receives a more generous opportunity.

  • 50 to German Duran – Duran played 30 innings of outfield this season. He gets another 100 or so minus Hamilton.

  • 50 to Jason Ellison – Ick. Someone has to spot Byrd in center after Murphy’s injury.

  • 10 to each of Marlon Byrd, Milton Bradley, Max Ramirez, and Jason Botts – Bradley plays injured slightly more often, Byrd gets less rest, and Botts and Ramirez enjoy a smidgeon of additional DH time.
In or Out? Player
PA
AVG
OBP
SLG
SB
CS
OUT Josh Hamilton 704 .304 .371 .530
9
1
IN Nelson Cruz 200 .291 .367 .520
5
2
IN John Mayberry 114 .233 .276 .414
2
1
IN Brandon Boggs 100 .226 .333 .399
1
1
IN Frank Catalanotto 100 .274 .342 .399
1
1
IN German Duran 50 .231 .275 .350
0
0
IN Jason Eliison 50 .231 .286 .231
0
0
IN Jason Botts 10 .158 .304 .395
0
0
IN Marlon Byrd 10 .298 .380 .462
0
0
IN Max Ramirez 10 .217 .345 .370
0
0
IN Milton Bradley 10 .321 .436 .563
0
0
IN TOTAL 704 .256 .329 .423
9
5

Hamilton batted .304/.371/.530 with nine stolen bases and one caught stealing. Driven mostly by Cruz, Hamilton’s ten replacements hit .256/.329/.423 with eight SB and four CS. That’s quite respectable, good for an OPS+ of 96, and above replacement level for an outfielder (even a corner). In terms of team-wide performance, losing Hamilton costs .006 in average, .005 in OBP, .012 in slugging, and one stolen base, and adds three caught stealing.

Translating that to a loss of runs can be calculated numerous ways, but I have my own formula based on a regression model that I’ve been using for fantasy baseball for several years:

Runs Scored Per Game = -4.87 + ( 25.58 * Average ) + ( 20.12 * OBP ) + ( 9.82 * Slugging ) + ( 0.26 * [ { SB – CS – CS } / Games ] )

(Note: The independent variables aren’t really independent, of course. Batting average is a significant subset of both OBP and slugging. Nevertheless, the model is quite robust in terms of several statistical tests. It’s impure, but it works.)

Rangers Offense AVG OBP SLG SB CS Runs / Game Total Runs
With Hamilton .283 .354 .462 81 25 5.61 909
Without Hamilton .277 .349 .450 81 29 5.41 876

My model predicts the Rangers would score 909 runs in 2008 (compared to the 901 they actually scored) with Hamilton. Without him, the prediction falls to 876, a loss of 33 runs, or about three wins.

I also attempted to estimate the effect of no Hamilton in the outfield. Advanced statistical systems rated him a poor centerfielder (where he spent most of the season) but an excellent right fielder. Replacing him with a combination of Byrd, Murphy and Boggs apparently benefits Texas by several runs, but they’re partially counteracted by having Catalanotto in left more often. Frankly, there’s too much noise in the ratings (Murphy is brilliant in right but terrible in left?) to reach a comfortable statistical conclusion about Hamilton’s absence. On the whole, I can’t imagine Texas faring better defensively without him. Call it a zero sum.

Volquez Versus His Replacements

How would Edinson Volquez have fared in Texas in 2008? First, not having Dusty Baker as manager reduce his 196 innings. That workload isn’t outrageous in and of itself; Volquez tossed 179 between Texas and the minors in 2007. On the other hand, he threw at least 110 pitches in 14 starts, one more than the entire Rangers rotation. Opinions vary on whether Baker warrants his reputation as an old-school arm slagger. Regardless, I believe Texas would have proceeded with more caution. Let’s say he throws 185 for Texas.

Second, Volquez would have allowed more runs. Texas plays in a tougher league and park, has an inferior defense, and, frankly, doesn’t have a strong history of developing starting pitching. So, to Volquez’s 82 runs allowed I multiplied the following factors:

1.03 for league
1.04 for park
1.02 for defense (Texas’s proportion of unearned runs versus Cincinnati’s. Texas and Cincinnati allowed similar hit rates on balls in play.)
1.10 for (lack of) development
0.94 for fewer innings pitched (185 versus 196)

Voila! Volquez allows 93 runs in 185 innings (4.52 Run Average) instead of 82 in 196 (3.76 RA). That seems reasonable.

I’ve also guesstimated the 185 innings that other pitchers wouldn’t have thrown. I suspect Texas still would have acquired Jason Jennings, providing an opening rotation of Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Volquez, Jennings, and Kason Gabbard, with Luis Mendoza biding his time in AAA. Here are the inning deductions:

  • 36 from Scott Feldman – Volquez’s presence delays Feldman’s debut and allows Texas to manage his workload better. Recall that Feldman started the season in AA to stretch out his arm in a benign environment but made only two starts before joining the Rangers.

  • 36 from Dustin Nippert (half his total) – Arguably, Texas doesn’t trade for Nippert with Volquez in tow, but I think not. If you can get a potentially salvageable big-league pitcher for a hard-throwing but erratic A-ball reliever (Jose Marte), you do it. That said, with Volquez around, Texas wearies of Nippert or hides him on the DL longer.

  • 32 from Luis Mendoza (half his total) – Mendoza doesn’t make the starting rotation or join Texas in April. He also gets less leeway (one would hope).

  • 28 from Sidney Ponson (half his total) –Notably, one-third of Ponson’s runs were unearned. He deserved worse than his 3.88 ERA..

  • 21 from Matt Harrison (one-quarter his total) – Harrison gets a little more AAA seasoning

  • 11 from Doug Mathis (half his total) – Mathis gets a briefer look.

  • 11 from Tommy Hunter (all) – Hunter doesn’t make the Majors in 2008.

  • 10 from Josh Rupe – Fewer fires to extinguish.

I’ve simply used each pitcher’s 2008 Run Average to estimate the number of runs allowed in those 185 innings versus Volquez:

In or Out? Player
IP
R
IN Edinson Volquez 185 93
OUT Scott Feldman 36 25
OUT Dustin Nippert 36 26
OUT Luis Mendoza 32 37
OUT Sidney Ponson 28 18
OUT Matt Harrison 21 14
OUT Doug Mathis 11 10
OUT Tommy Hunter 11 20
OUT Josh Rupe 10 6
OUT TOTAL 185 156
DIFFERENCE 63

The difference between Volquez and his replacements is an enormous 63 runs, about six wins.

Conclusions

Purely heads-up, Hamilton was worth two to three wins more than Volquez in 2008. In consideration of their alternatives, Hamilton was worth about three wins to Texas, but trading Volquez cost six wins. You might quibble with how I apportioned the replacements for Hamilton and Volquez, but the basic premise is clear. Hamilton displaced a group of hitters who performed at or above replacement level, while the Rangers who pitched Volquez’s allotted innings were well below replacement level. Though several pitchers on that list could improve substantially in 2009 and beyond, in 2008 they were a motley bunch. (It's also worth noting that some of Hamilton's heads-up advantage is due to Volquez's awful batting -- .098/.098/.098 with a 51% strikeout rate.)

The easy (and arguably legitimate) conclusion is that Texas foolishly traded pitching, a perpetual need, for hitting, which Texas has possessed in abundance. However, I don’t believe the Rangers expected the offense to be so good in 2008, nor the pitching so terrible. I certainly didn’t, though I did predict a 77-win season. They saw Hamilton as a huge upgrade, which of course he was, and more likely than Volquez to provide consistent value, which remains to be seen.

Interestingly, for a team that had a surfeit of quality outfielders for several years, the Reds have some gaping holes to fill. Gone are Hamilton, Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey (who batted a tepid .245/.355/.432), Ryan Freel, and even Corey Patterson, Cincinnati’s hilarious idea of a replacement for Hamilton. They do have Jay Bruce, but can Chris Dickerson continue to hit better in the Majors than in AAA? Who’s the 3rd outfielder? On September 21st in front of 22,000 mortified fans, Cincinnati’s starting outfield consisted of Jolbert Cabrera, Patterson, and Jerry Hairston Jr.

I think both teams would make this trade again. Cincinnati got an ace-worthy season from a player earning the league minimum. Texas benefited from its best season by an outfielder since Juan Gonzalez in 1999, a Home Run Derby performance that will be remembered for decades, and an amazing and genuine human-interest story.

Posted by Lucas at 01:36 PM

December 12, 2008

Return for Littleton Revealed

Texas received reliever BEAU VAUGHAN in return for reliever WES LITTLETON.

Vaughan is 27 and has faced a grand total of 49 batters above AA. That pretty much covers it.

He has a solid SO rate (25% during 2006-2008) and excels at keeping the ball in the park. Lefties hit .400 against him when they make contact and have a 13% walk rate. Maybe he can become a ROOGY.

Texas allegedly will get another player if Littleton makes Boston's active roster.

UPDATE: Originally typed "Beau Mills" instead of "Beau Vaughan." Don't I wish.

Posted by Lucas at 04:09 PM

December 10, 2008

One Man And His Five Tools Depart

Texas traded GERALD LAIRD to Detroit for pitchers GUILLERMO MOSCOSO and CARLOS MELO.

Through a combination of bad luck and his very averageness, Laird never enjoyed much job security. Anointed the #1 catcher entering 2004, Laird suffered an injury in mid-May that shelved him for two months. Rod Barajas assumed his role and, amazingly, didn’t surrender it until late in 2006. Then, in July 2007, Texas traded for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Entering his second year of arbitration after earning $1.6 million in 2008, Laird will earn about $7-8 million over the next two years. That’s a fair price for his services, but Texas should be able to replace him or even surpass him with some combination of Salty, Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez, all minimum-wage employees.

Baseball America recently ranked Moscoso 10th in Detroit’s (weak) minor-league system and fifth among pitchers. He’s a mess of contradictions. Good news: BA claimed he has the most upside of any starter in Detroit’s system outside of Rick Porcello and Casey Crosby. He fanned a gigantic 37% of opposing batters upon promotion to AA versus a 6% walk rate. His heater isn’t terribly fast but has great movement. Bad news: He just turned 25. His offspeed stuff is bland. Shoulder problems have limited him to no more than 91 innings in any season (excluding winter ball).

That description says “reliever? to me, though Texas intends to keep him in a starting role for the time being. Off the top of my head, I’d say he ranks somewhere in the high teens to lower twenties in Texas.

Melo is the “lottery ticket? (as described by Adam Morris), a 17-year-old Dominican who can touch 96. He signed at the same time as Texas’s increasingly heralded Martin Perez. He could be special… if he can climb six levels of minor-league ball.

Laird is worth about three wins per season compared to an entire season of, say, Sal Fasano or Guillermo Quiroz. He ranked 17th among catchers in Win Shares in 2008, 18th in 2007. As I said, Texas can replace his production, but whether the trade acquisition will ever be worth three wins in a season is another matter. Detroit took on the salary, while Texas absorbed the risk. This isn’t a bad trade, but I‘d hoped for a little better. There’s a pretty good chance its epitaph will be “Laird for nothing.?

Posted by Lucas at 03:45 PM

December 02, 2008

Transaction Rundown

Texas offered salary arbitration to OF MILTON BRADLEY and declined to offer to SP JASON JENNINGS, RP JAMEY WRIGHT, and IF RAMON VAZQUEZ.

Market conditions led to a surprising number of marquee free agents relinquished without arbitration offers. Texas decided to extend an offer to Bradley and will receive a supplemental 1st-round pick if he declines, which is probable. If the economic situation degrades further by the weekend, exacerbating the budget constraints suddenly affecting numerous franchises (or giving teams cover to constrain their budgets, if you’re cynically inclined), Bradley might change his mind.

That’s a mixed blessing. A one-year deal would suit Texas just fine. Bradley unquestionably improves the team, even if he doesn’t repeat his 2008. On the other hand, his presence in the outfield would relegate a potentially start-worthy outfielder (other than Josh Hamilton) to a bench role. If he’s mostly a DH, Texas might be compelled to say “oh Hank Blalock won’t you try third base again pretty please? or to play Blalock at first and Davis at third, neither of which serves the goal of improving Texas’s dreadful ’08 defense.

Not to mention further marginalizing Frank Catalanotto. Anyway…

Texas might pursue Jennings on a minor-league deal. Super, as long as he doesn’t get an out clause that precedes mid-May or so. If he insists on an Opening Day Or Split contract, there’s no point.

Vazquez will attempt to persuade some team that he’s swiped a jar of Rudy Jaramillo’s magic pixie dust; that is, he’s the next Mark Derosa, not the next Gary Matthews. Vazquez had a career line of .251/.319/.343 prior to 2008, so good luck with that.

Wright deserves mention in regard to the other transaction:

Texas traded reliever WES LITTLETON to Boston for future considerations (cash or up to two players to be named later).

Opponents hit .339/.411/.464 against Wright after July 1st. He was permitted to face 379 batters in 2008 while Wes Littleton burned his last option. Not that Littleton is The Answer, but still…

Posted by Lucas at 12:51 AM

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
Age
Batters Faced
FIP
Opposing Line
HR%
BB%
SO%
GB%
Littleton 26 423 4.67
.239/.317/.349
2.1% 8.7% 13.0% 60%
Eyre 30 582 5.13
.299/.372/.472
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 01:20 PM

November 19, 2008

40 Man Roster Thoughts

The Rangers have three open spots on their 40-man roster, which is not to say that they can’t add four players or more. That would require clearing space via trade or waivers. Here’s my probabilities and thoughts on who Texas might add:

100%: Jose Vallejo. Book it. No thoughts necessary.

90%: John Mayberry. A year ago, I wrote that 2008 would be a watershed year for Mayberry, but little was actually resolved. Instead, he provided another year of good power offset by a vanilla batting average and walk rate. Mayberry has a 313 OBP above A-ball and turns 25 next month. Still, he’s shown enough to make the 40, and he’ll be nabbed in the Rule 5 draft if left off.

50%: Pedro Strop. Ironically, his stress fracture could make him more likely to be a Rule 5 selection, as the drafting team could stash him on the 15-day or 60-day disabled list next spring and buy some free evaluation time. Texas revealed its high opinion of Strop with a $90,000 contract, far above standard minor-league pay (mostly store-brand bologna and Diet Slice).

50%: Omar Poveda. The toughest decision, in my opinion, in terms of estimating the risk of him being swiped in the Rule 5 draft. Poveda just turned 22 and has yet to pitch in AA, not exactly a prime candidate for a Major League staff. On the other hand, he’s a legitimate prospect (albeit not in Texas’s top ten) and posted a 2.73 ERA and 24% strikeout rate in his last nine starts. A team that selected him in the Rule 5 draft would be doing so in the understanding that he’s essentially dead weight on the 2009 active roster. Texas could also leave him off the 40 and trade him before the Rule 5 draft, thus making the decision someone else’s problem.

10%: John Bannister. Bannister is throwing harder than ever and showed improved control after a move to the bullpen. Frankly, I’m having difficulty assessing the likelihood of him being added to Texas’s 40 or being a Rule 5 selection. My gut tells me neither is likely. Given the players I’ve already mentioned, Bannister’s addition could spell waivers for someone like Kam Loe, Wes Littleton, or perhaps Dustin Nippert. Is Bannister more likely to help a Major League roster than any of them?

5%: Willie Eyre. Since he’s in the AFL, I assume he’s already signed a 2009 minor-league contract with Texas. The Rangers thought enough of Eyre to sign him to a contract after 2007 despite an injury that shelved him for most of this year, so I suppose they would prefer not to lose him. That said, losing him would be only a mild aggravation, not a disaster. Pass.

5%: Ben Harrison. Harrison rebounded nicely from an injury-plagued 2007 and is raking in Venezuela. He’s already 27, which dims his long-term outlook greatly but wouldn’t terribly bother a team needing outfield depth.

5%: Michael Schlact. I can’t see Texas or any other team reserving a 40-man roster spot for him right now. In terms of his potential to establish a Major League career, I think he’s better off if this whole process bypasses him.

Some other Rule 5-eligibles: C/IF Emerson Frostad, 1B Ian Gac, RP Kea Kometani, OF Steve Murphy, C Kevin Richardson.

My call: Vallejo, Mayberry, and Strop. We’ll see how that compares to Jamey’s 40-Man Roster Conundrum when his book drops.

Posted by Lucas at 02:36 PM

August 16, 2008

Texas Rangers Eligible for Rule 5 Draft

Note: Players in italics can declare free agency

Drafted:
Fox, Adam (IF)
Frostad, Emerson (C/3)
Gac, Ian (1B)
Gold, Nate (1B)
Harrison, Ben (OF)
Herren, KC (OF)
Kometani, Kea (P)
Mayberry, John (OF)
Mehl, Truan (OF)
Meyer, Drew (IF)
Murphy, Steve (OF)
Rogers, Kyle (P)
Schlact, Michael (P)

Trade or Minor-League Rule 5 Acquisitions:
Cruz, Nelson (OF)
Gradoville, Tim (C)

Hamilton, Clayton (P)
Majewski, Dustin (OF)
Restko, J.T. (1/O)

Non-Drafted Free Agents:
Bannister, John (P)
Benjamin, Casey (IF)
Diaz, JB (P)
Dominguez, Carlos (C)
Giles, Josh (P)
Gomez, Mauro (1B)
Poveda, Omar (P)
Richardson, Kevin (C)
Rowe, Steve (P)
Santana, Julio (P)

Soto, Eleno (P)
Vallejo, Jose (2B)

Minor-League Free Agents (ALL can declare free agency):
Batista, Kendy (P)
Calero, Kiko (P)
Diaz, Joselo (P)
Eyre, Willie (P)
Flores, Adalberto (P)
Gonzalez, Alfredo (P)
Gordon, Brian (P)
Hodges, Trey (P)
Lee, Derek (P)
Maeda, Yukinaga (P)
Parker, Zach (P)
Pickett, Justin (C)
Puffer, Brandon (P)
Ragsdale, Corey (P)
Ramirez, Elizardo (P)
Roberts, Ryan (IF)
Trzesniak, Nick (C)
White, Bill (P)

Posted by Lucas at 11:21 AM

May 21, 2008

Loe Up, German Out

Texas recalled pitcher KAMERON LOE from AAA and designated pitcher FRANKLYN GERMAN for assignment.

An odd move, if not a consequential one. I wasn’t a big fan of German’s procurement of a roster spot, and he hasn’t pitched as well as his 2.08 ERA would suggest. That said, he’s been an adequate back-end to the bullpen. Also, I thought the point of a seven-man bullpen was to avoid the need for roster shuffling like this. Despite last night's blowout, Texas has five relievers capable of pitching tonight.

Loe hadn’t distinguished himself in AAA. He’s pitched a little better than his 5.14 ERA indicates, but aside from a nice 6.5% walk rate, his peripherals are ordinary. Frankly, I think Loe himself would be a candidate for assignment if the Rangers needed room on the 40-man roster (they don’t).

Posted by Lucas at 06:40 PM

May 14, 2008

Win Win

Posted by Lucas at 01:52 AM

April 30, 2008

Botts DFA'ed, Shelton and Boggs Up, Blalock DL'ed

Texas designated 1B/OF/DH JASON BOTTS for assignment, purchased the contract of 1B CHRIS SHELTON, placed 3B HANK BLALOCK on the 15-day DL, and recalled OF BRANDON BOGGS from AAA Oklahoma.

In terms of wins and losses in 2008 , it makes little difference whether Ben Broussard, Jason Botts, or Chris Shelton starts at first. Broussard was certain to be subadequate , Shelton had a stellar April 2005 and modest success at other times, and Jason Botts had yet to capitalize on the potential shown in his tremendous AAA performances. None is/was likely to be an above-average 1B in 2008. All that said, some semblance of a plan regarding these guys might have helped. This chain of events sure seems haphazard:

Nov 18, 2007 – Texas inquires about Broussard, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Dec 5 – Shelton acquired for Freddy Guzman.

Dec 13 – Broussard acquired for Tug Hulett. Broussard is arbitration-eligible.

Jan 5, 2008 – Broussard gets $3.85 million in a pre-arb agreement.

Jan 14 – Shelton DFA’ed to make room for Kaz Fukumori. He clears and is assigned to AAA.

Mar 4 – Ron Washington declares Broussard an everyday player. Enthusiasm is not a plan!

Mar 25 – Botts makes the active roster without unanimity and despite no apparent role. I suggest he’ll be encased in carbonite at the end of the bench.

Mar 31 – Broussard starts against lefty Eric Bedard on Opening Day, batting 9th. No Rangers 1B had ever batted 9th on the first day of the season. Through April 29th, Broussard has batted 9th in 16 of his 21 starts.

Apr 10 – Botts makes his first start in the team’s ninth game. He has one plate appearance in the first eight games.

Apr 19 – Botts makes his third start. Texas has faced four lefties; Broussard faced the first two and Botts the next two. On the 21st, Ron Washington acknowledges that Botts will play more often after a meeting with Jon Daniels.

Apr 29 – Botts is designated for assignment after nine starts and 38 plate appearances. Shelton added to 40-man roster, active roster, and starting lineup.

Also: good for Boggs.

Posted by Lucas at 12:19 AM

April 04, 2008

Cruz Clears

Outfielder NELSON CRUZ cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA Oklahoma.

When 30 teams collectively say you’re not worthy of even a bench spot in the Majors, you might finally decide your batting won’t suffice. I thought Cruz would gain that insight when optioned last summer, but no such luck. It may not matter now. Cruz could win the rate-stat Triple Crown in the PCL.

Posted by Lucas at 08:02 AM

March 31, 2008

Final Transactions

Texas purchased the contracts of pitchers FRANKLYN GERMAN and JAMEY WRIGHT and catcher ADAM MELHUSE, optioned reliever WES LITTLETON to AAA Oklahoma, and designated pitcher ROBINSON TEJEDA and outfielder NELSON CRUZ for assignment.

Dustin Nippert’s arrival sealed Tejeda’s fate, but Tejeda also lost out to non-roster invites Wright and German. Here’s an interesting comparison:

--
Pitcher A
Pitcher B
MLB Career
ERA+ 95 92
HR% 2.5% 2.8%
BB% 11.1% 12.4%
SO% 11.9% 15.7%
08 Spring
IP
8.2
8.2
H
13
7
HR
0
1
BB
3
3
SO
5
8

Pitcher A has walked far too many people and doesn’t miss enough bats. Opponents batted .320/.370/.340 against him this spring.

Pitcher B is even wilder than Pitcher A but at least has produced a league-average K rate. He surrendered a .260/.309/.460 line in March.

“A? is Wright, “B? Tejeda. Aside from the homer that inflated his opposing slugging percentage, Tejeda pitched more effectively this spring and has comparable (if uninspiring) Major League results. Yet it was Wright who once again, for reasons not completely clear to me, secured a job in mid-March. Here’s one reason: despite the extra hits allowed, Wright pulled down a 3.11 ERA compared to Tejeda’s 6.23. Wright spread out the damage, Tejeda allowed baserunners in ugly clumps.

I don’t think it matters much whether Wright or Tejeda is mopping up. But I would point out that Wright’s 3.62 ERA was the result of some seemingly unrepeatable splits. Wright was terrible out of the gate (opponents batted .391/.475/.478 when leading off an inning) but brilliant with runners in scoring position (.188/.284/.325). He also walked more batters than he struck out. A more typical distribution of baserunners should push his ERA into the fives. Again, that doesn’t hurt much if he’s only pitching in blowouts. Still, I don’t think Tejeda’s any worse than Wright, and there’s still a small chance he might improve.

Jason Botts won the battle with Cruz and Kevin Mench, for which his reward will be encasement in carbonite at the end of Ron Washington’s bench. I maintain that Botts’s willingness to adjust indicates a possibility of success against Major League pitching, while Cruz’s stubborn “grip and rip? philosophy (even after demotion to AAA last summer) shows he’s topped out. Botts needs 197 MLB appearances to catch Cruz on the Tryout-o-meter.

German supposedly cured his wildness this spring, yet he ended up walking five of 39 batters faced (12.8%, actually substantially lower than his awful career rate of 16.4%).

Melhuse has adequate defensive skills (though nailing basestealers isn’t among them) and hasn’t hit a lick since 2004. He’s absolutely unsuitable as a fill-in if Laird gets hurt.

Posted by Lucas at 12:33 PM

March 28, 2008

Nippert Obtained

Texas traded minor-league reliever JOSE MARTE to Arizona for pitcher DUSTIN NIPPERT.

In 2007, Arizona was 80-46 in games in which Nippert didn’t appear, so clearly, the answer is to limit him to about five innings all year. Anyway…

The soon-to-be 27-year-old had a 5.56 ERA in 45 innings, but his opposing line was a tolerable .267/.327/.417. That indicates some ugly baserunner-clumping, and sure enough, Nippert allowed 30% of his season’s 30 runs in two consecutive appearances. His minor-league stats are all over the place, though he’s maintained a fine strikeout rate. Is he an improvement over Robinson Tejeda? Maybe. Probably won’t make much difference one way or the other. Both players are out of options.

Marte is big, hard thrower. Only two years younger than Nippert, he has yet to clear A ball. In 2007, he struck out 27% of opposing batters… and walked 17%. Neither Jamey Newberg nor I ranked him among Texas’s top 72 prospects.

Posted by Lucas at 10:04 PM

February 08, 2008

TEXAS RANGERS 40-MAN TREE

ACQUIRED IN TRADE

JOAQUIN ARIAS
---- Alex Rodriguez (Major League free agent, signed 2001)

BEN BROUSSARD
---- Tug Hulett (14th round, 2004)

NELSON CRUZ
---- Francisco Cordero
-------- Juan Gonzalez (undrafted free agent, signed 1986)
-------- Danny Patterson (47th round, 1989)
-------- Gregg Zaun (traded for no one, 1998)
---- Kevin Mench (4th round, 1999)
---- Laynce Nix (4th round, 2000)

FRANK FRANCISCO
---- Carl Everett
-------- Darren Oliver (3rd round, 1988)

KASON GABBARD
---- Eric Gagne (Major League free agent, signed 2007)

MATT HARRISON
---- Mark Teixeira (1st round, 2001)
---- Ron Mahay (minor-league free agent, signed 2003)

JOSH HAMILTON
---- Danny Ray Herrera (45th round, 2006)
---- Edinson Volquez (undrafted free agent, 2001)

GERALD LAIRD
---- Carlos Pena (1st round, 1998)
---- Mike Venafro (29th round, 1995)

BRANDON MCCARTHY
---- John Danks (1st round, 2003)
---- Nick Masset (8 th round, 2000)

LUIS MENDOZA
---- Bryan Corey (minor-league free agent, 2006)

DAVID MURPHY
---- Eric Gagne (Major League free agent, signed 2007)

VICENTE PADILLA
---- Ricardo Rodriguez
-------- Ryan Ludwick
------------ Carlos Pena (1st round, 1998)
------------ Mike Venafro (29th round, 1995)

MAX RAMIREZ
---- Kenny Lofton (Major League free agent, signed 2007)

JOHN RHEINECKER
---- Juan Dominguez (undrafted free agent, signed 1999)

JOSH RUPE
---- Carl Everett
-------- Darren Oliver (3rd round, 1988)

JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA
---- Mark Teixeira (1st round, 2001)
---- Ron Mahay (minor-league free agent, signed 2003)

ROBINSON TEJEDA
---- David Dellucci (minor-league free agent, signed 2004)

MICHAEL YOUNG
---- Esteban Loaiza
-------- Warren Morris (5th round,1996)
-------- Todd Van Poppel (minor league free agent, signed 1997)

RANGER LIFERS

OMAR BELTRE (undrafted free agent, 2000)
BRANDON BOGGS (4th round, 2004)
JULIO BORBON (1st round supplemental, 2007)
JOAQUIN BENOIT (undrafted free agent, signed 1996)
THOMAS DIAMOND (1st round, 2004)
HANK BLALOCK (3rd round, 1999)
JASON BOTTS (46th round, 1999)
SCOTT FELDMAN (30th round, 2003)
IAN KINSLER (17th round, 2003)
WES LITTLETON (4th round, 2003)
KAMERON LOE (20th round, 2001)
TRAVIS METCALF (11th round, 2004)
A.J. MURRAY (19th round, 2000)
C.J. WILSON (5th round, 2001)

FREE AGENTS

MILTON BRADLEY (Major League free agent, signed 2008)
MARLON BYRD (Major League free agent, signed 2007)
FRANK CATALANOTTO (Major League free agent, signed 2007)
KAZ FUKUMORI (Major League free agent, signed 2008)
EDDIE GUARDADO (Major League free agent, signed 2008)
JASON JENNINGS (Major League free agent, signed 2008)
WARNER MADRIGAL (Major League free agent, signed 2008)
KEVIN MILLWOOD (Major League free agent, signed 2006)
RAMON VAZQUEZ (minor-league free agent, signed 2007)

OTHER ACQUISITIONS

ALEXI OGANDO (minor-league Rule 5 pickup, 2005)

Note: Year of signing = season to which signing first applies. For example, Milton Bradley is listed as "signed 2008" though he signed in December 2007)

Posted by Lucas at 02:16 AM

February 05, 2008

Galarraga Traded

Texas traded pitcher ARMANDO GALARRAGA to Detroit for outfielder MICHAEL HERNANDEZ.

The good news is Hernandez hit 20 homers and slugged .469 in 116 games for high-A Lakeland last year. That’s legitimate power – the Florida State League smothers hitters, and Lakeland’s home park depresses homers even relative to the league. The bad news is he has a career OBP of .320 and has spent an alarming number of games at DH.

In truth, the genuine good news is that when he’s eventually released, it won’t be newsworthy enough for even an agate-type mention in the local papers. Thus, the A-Rod saga is effectively over, personnel-wise, as far as Texas is concerned. Said saga will likely be Tom Hicks’s epitaph in baseball unless the Rangers do some serious damage in the next few years.

Update: Duh. Joaquin Arias is still around. Penalty box for me.

Posted by Lucas at 12:35 PM

January 26, 2008

Galarraga DFA'ed

Texas designated pitcher ARMANDO GALARRAGA for assignment.

Disappointing, but dismissal of any of the potential candidates – Galarraga, Scott Feldman, Robinson Tejeda, perhaps Josh Rupe or John Rheinecker – would have left a bitter taste. Galarraga’s is slightly more bitter because he represents the vestige of and final hope for payback from the Alfonso Soriano trade.

Galarraga rebounded from a dismal, injury-plagued 2006 and seemed to have an outside shot at a bullpen role. He still has an option left, so the chance of clearing waivers is quite small. For the first time since mid-December, it seems, Texas’s 40’man roster is not in limbo.

I’m going to walk out on a thin limb and say that Robinson Tejeda makes the rotation.

Posted by Lucas at 03:55 PM

January 12, 2008

Wright, Melhuse Signed

Texas signed pitcher JAMEY WRIGHT and catcher ADAM MELHUSE to minor-league contracts.

Both moves appears harmless, but I’m a worrywart, as these aren’t truly “no-risk? signings. The risk is that they could make the team based on their Proven Veteran-ness, and play terribly.

I assume they’ll have clauses allowing them to leave by April if they aren’t on the active roster. Both can play their way to Arlington with a hot spring. Sounds implausible, but Jamey Wright did just that in 2007. A couple of solid outings and management was talking about how hard it would be to lose him. Really! Jamey Wright, who’d been released or denied arbitration ten times in thirteen years.

Wright did in fact pitch adequately last year, but the foundation of his success was awfully shaky. He allowed a .475 OBP to the first batter of an inning and was third in percentage of double-play situations permitted among all pitchers with 60 innings. A high percentage is common among good relievers, but Wright rarely entered with men on base. He inherited only six runners all season. On the upside, he induced a double play once per 20 batters faced and permitted a miniscule lie of 188/.287/.325 with runners in scoring position, but it’s hard to believe either is sustainable.

So, Wright spent much of 2007 pitching himself into and out of double-play situations. In the long run, that’s trouble. There are exceptions, but in general the pitchers with the highest percentage of double-play situations were pretty lousy (MLB leader: Vicente Padilla). 2007 seems like a one-shot deal, particularly for a pitcher who walked more batters than he struck out for the fifth time.

As for the other guy, Melhuse last posted a .300 OBP in 2004, was never much defensively, and turns 36 in a couple of months. Ron Washington extolled Melhuse’s leadership ability when first acquired in 2007. Meaning, there’s a chance Melhuse could lead his way to 150 plate appearances with a line of .220/.260/.300.

Having an insurance backup catcher is necessary, of course. I just have a hard time believing Melhuse is the best option.

I’m probably making way too much of this, but I haven’t written much lately.

Posted by Lucas at 12:31 PM

Guardado Signed

Texas signed reliever EDDIE GUARDADO to a one-year contract.

Eddie says:

I love closing. Pitching the seventh and eighth inning is great, but there is something about the ninth that's unbelievable…. If C.J. is the closer, I'm still going to be there. I'm going to be ready to pitch whether it's the eighth or ninth inning.

Or the sixth. Guardado turned 37 last fall. Even if he recovers fully from Tommy John surgery, he may not have a full tank. Texas will discover how full, then use him accordingly (I hope). At the least, he’s almost assuredly a LOOGY upgrade over John Rheinecker, which is good news to everyone but Rheinecker.

Posted by Lucas at 12:29 PM

White Released

Texas waived reliever BILL WHITE.

White strikes out a ton of hitters and walks nearly as many. He shouldn’t be too upset at getting released; Texas did give him his union card and lock in respectable pay for the rest of his career. He might re-sign a minor-league deal.

Posted by Lucas at 12:28 PM

December 22, 2007

Hamilton For Volquez

Texas traded pitchers EDINSON VOLQUEZ and DANNY RAY HERRERA to Cincinnati for outfielder JOSH HAMILTON.

Jon Daniels loves the Christmas surprise. On December 20, 2005, Texas consummated the infamous Eaton/Otsuka-for-Young/Gonzalez deal. On December 23, 2006, the Rangers completed the notorious (but not infamous) McCarthy-for-Danks trade. Now this.

I uneasily endorse this trade. That is to say, my anxiety about Volquez becoming a quality rotation figure is slightly higher than about Hamilton washing out. It’s a risky play for both teams. Texas just traded its third young and promising starter in three years, but Hamilton could become the best centerfielder in franchise history.

More thoughts later…

Posted by Lucas at 01:13 AM

December 13, 2007

Broussard Acquired

Texas traded infielder TIM HULETT JR. to Seattle for 1B BEN BROUSSARD.

So why bother trading a quasi-prospect like Hulett if Texas isn’t competing in 2008? Well, that sort of thinking can become too reductive; Texas does have to field a team next year. Broussard has a Major League bat, albeit a limited one, and could provide twenty homers as the fat side of a 1B platoon with Chris Shelton for $4.5 million or so (the righty Shelton has a reverse split but still surpasses Broussard against lefties). Fond as I am of Hulett, he projects as a 5th infielder on his best day and 6th on the rest.

It’s a nice little trade, though one that drives home the organization’s honest but depressingly modest expectations for next season. It also firmly situates Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate (in Oklahoma, if not Texas) and preemptively quashes Nate Gold’s Spring Training dreams of breaking camp with the big boys.

Posted by Lucas at 08:25 AM

Otsuka Non-Tendered

Texas declined to offer a contract to reliever AKINORI OTSUKA. Texas offered contracts to catcher GERALD LAIRD and outfielder MARLON BYRD.

Just when you thought the Young/Gonzalez trade couldn’t look any worse…

The months-long mystery of “How badly hurt is Otsuka?? deepened in the worst possible way (short of Tommy John surgery). Apparently he’s healthy but still not throwing off a mound, and Texas didn’t want to commit $5 million to a 35-year-old question mark. Texas probably wanted (and still wants) to sign him to an incentive-based deal unworkable under arbitration-based minimum salary rules.

I can’t review the available information and claim that Texas made a mistake. But that doesn’t make me any happier. Incidentally, I don’t think the non-tender had anything to do with Otsuka’s recommendation that Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome sign with San Diego.

2008 just got a little more depressing.

Posted by Lucas at 08:24 AM

Gorneault DFA'ed

Texas designated outfielder NICK GORNEAULT for assignment.

Pass.

Posted by Lucas at 08:13 AM

December 09, 2007

Bradley Signs

Texas signed outfielder MILTON BRADLEY to a one-year contract for $5 million plus incentives, pending a physical.

A worthwhile dice roll. Bradley has serious on-base skills (never below .350 during 2003-2007 and a 114 OBP+ during that span) and some pop (110 SLG+ during the same period). The 29-year-old has also qualified for the batting title only once, been traded three times in-season, and will be joining his sixth team in eight years. Indeed, Oakland designated him for assignment in June before shifting him to San Diego.

Bradley’s played a strong majority of his career in center but is probably suited to a corner at this point, particularly since he’ll be coming off ACL surgery.

Posted by Lucas at 11:22 AM

December 05, 2007

Freddy Guzman Traded

Texas traded outfielder FREDDY GUZMAN to Detroit for a player to be named later.

I can’t find a transaction post on my site from when Texas acquired him for OF/1B Vince Sinisi and pitcher John Hudgins in May 2006. Here’s what I wrote for ESPN:

Texas recently acquired outfielder Freddy Guzman from San Diego for a couple of minor leaguers. The Rangers will send him to AAA initially but may ask him to replace backup outfielder Adrian Brown before long. Guzman has decent on-base skills, zero power, and ferocious speed: 166 steals versus 30 caught in 249 minor-league games. Guzman might provide a little help in AL-only leagues if a Ranger starting outfielder suffers an injury. Keep his name if the back of your head. A true center fielder by trade, Guzman’s arrival would appear to dump water on the smoking embers of Laynce Nix’s fantasy value.

I remember favoring the trade. Guzman appeared to be a solid 4th OF candidate while Sinisi and Hudgins had stalled.

Guzman continued to post decent numbers in Oklahoma but never did anything to force a serious look on the MLB roster. He’s out of options and had little chance of making the ’08 squad even with lackluster competition in the outfield. Sinisi, meanwhile, has re-established his credentials as a 4th OF prospect, and Hudgins pitched in the Arizona Fall League (and was pummeled) after a lost year following Tommy John surgery.

With 39 players on its roster, Texas can participate in the Rule 5 draft.

Posted by Lucas at 05:55 PM

November 21, 2007

Vazquez Signs

Texas signed infielder RAMON VAZQUEZ to a one-year contract for $810,000. Vazquez was arbitration-eligible.

Last year, Vazquez was a fifth infielder who started 85 games and had 345 appearances subbing for various injured infielders, mostly Hank Blalock. Ideally, he’s a sixth infielder regardless of whether infielders #1-#5 are healthy, and not a terrible signing as long as he’s limited to 25 starts and/or 150 plate appearances from the bottom of the order. And if Texas pulls a “sign and cut? a la John Wasdin and Rick Bauer, well, who cares.

Posted by Lucas at 05:29 PM

November 19, 2007

Texas Rule-5 Eligibles

Pitchers
Kevin Altman (2003 draft)
John Bannister (2002 free agent)
Kendy Batista (2008 free agent)
Bear Bay (2002 draft pick by Cubs)
Jesse Ingram (2004 draft)
Jose Marte (2004 free agent)
Brandon Puffer (2008 free agent)
Julio Santana (2002 free agent)
Scott Shoemaker (2004 fee agent)
Steven Rowe (2002 free agent)

Catchers

Kevin Richardson (2002 free agent)

Infielders

Casey Benjamin (2003 free agent)
Jim Fasano (2004 draft)
Adam Fox (2003 draft)
Emerson Frostad (2003 draft)
Micah Furtado (2003 draft)
Ian Gac (2003 draft)
Nate Gold (2002 draft)
Mauro Gomez (2003 free agent)
Tug Hulett (2004 draft)
Drew Meyer (2002 draft)
Ryan Roberts (2008 free agent)
Freddie Thon (2004 draft)

Outfielders
Ben Harrison (2004 draft)
Keven Mahar (2004 free agent)

Posted by Lucas at 08:56 PM

40-man Roster Additions

Texas added pitchers THOMAS DIAMOND and MATT HARRISON, catcher MAX RAMIREZ, outfielder BRANDON BOGGS to the 40-man roster.

No surprises. Teams might sniff reliever Jesse Ingram, utlility infielder Tug Hulett, or perhaps 1B Nate Gold, but I doubt anyone will take the bait.

For a list of Rule-5 eligibles, look up.

Reviewing the Rundown archives, I see that four years ago, Texas added pitchers EDWIN MORENO and NICK REGILIO, 1B ADRIAN GONZALEZ, and 2B JASON BOURGEOIS. That didn’t work out so well.

Texas also designated outfielder VICTOR DIAZ for assignment.

Texas appears to think less of Diaz than Freddy Guzman or Nick Gorneault. Ouch. I don’t know about that, but, sad to say, his loss won’t affect the team’s short or long-term outlook.

The 40-man is full.

Posted by Lucas at 08:55 PM

October 15, 2007

Reinstatements and Deletions

Texas reinstated pitchers WILLIE EYRE and AKINORI OTSUKA and infielder JOAQUIN ARIAS from the 60-day Disabled List. Texas also designated pitchers EYRE and MIKE WOOD, catcher CHRIS STEWART, and outfielder KEVIN MAHAR for assignment.

Having been designated previously, Wood could and did elect free agency. He might latch on somewhere as a passable middle reliever. Most likely, he’ll be an insurance policy. The other three return to the minors and will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft. None will be selected.

The 40-man roster now contains exactly 40 players. Jerry Hairston, Sammy Sosa, Brad Wilkerson and Jamey Wright will presumably depart via free agency, and Brandon Boggs, Thomas Diamond, Matt Harrison, and Max Ramirez have a sporting chance of replacing them. Thus, any free-agent acquisitions will demand additional cuts or trades.

Bill White and Freddy Guzman strike me as the next targets for designation. Guzman would probably be a tolerable 5th outfielder (particularly as a pinch-runner/defensive replacement for Jason Botts and similarly equipped outfielders), but… meh, it’s Freddy Guzman.

Posted by Lucas at 11:46 PM

September 07, 2007

Rule 5 Eligibles and Six-Year Minor-League Free Agents

I’ve tried my best to be thorough, but I’m not going to mislead you by saying these lists are authoritative.

RULE FIVE ELIGIBLES

In essence, players who signed in 2004 and were at least 19 years old and all other players who signed in 2003 or earlier are eligible for the Rule 5 draft. The rules are more complex, but I don’t want to crush your spirit with a full explanation.

Players already on the 40-man roster aren’t eligible. This list excludes potential minor-league free agents (see below).

Pitchers

Kevin Altman (2003 draft)
John Bannister (2002 free agent)
Bear Bay (2002 draft pick by Cubs)
Thomas Diamond (2004 draft)
Matt Harrison (2003 draft pick by Braves)
Jesse Ingram (2004 draft)
Julio Santana (2002 free agent)
Scott Shoemaker (2004 fee agent)
Steven Rowe (2002 free agent)

Catchers

Max Ramirez (2002 free agent)
Kevin Richardson (2002 free agent)

Infielders

Casey Benjamin (2003 free agent)
Jim Fasano (2004 draft)
Adam Fox (2003 draft)
Emerson Frostad (2003 draft)
Micah Furtado (2003 draft)
Ian Gac (2003 draft)
Nate Gold (2002 draft)
Mauro Gomez (2003 free agent)
Luke Grayson (2002 draft)
Tug Hulett (2004 draft)
Drew Meyer (2002 draft)
Freddie Thon (2004 draft)

Outfielders

Brandon Boggs (2004 draft)
Ben Harrison (2004 draft)

SIX-YEAR MINOR-LEAGUE FREE AGENTS

The “six? in “six-year free agent? refers to annual contract renewals, not seasons, so players who signed in 2002 and are completing their sixth seasons (Nate Gold, for example) aren’t eligible.

Pitchers

Ezequiel Astacio
Chris Baker
Michael Bumstead
Bruce Chen
Ken Chenard
Francisco Cruceta
Franklyn German
Jose Jaimes

Derek Lee
Jose Marte
Brandon Puffer
Scott Rice
Alfredo Simon
Jorge Vasquez
Randy Williams

Catchers

Salomon Manriquez

Infielders

Dave Matranga
Desi Relaford

Outfielders

Anthony Webster
Kevin West

OTHER POTENTIAL FREE AGENTS

Players who have been previously released can become free agents irrespective of the service time requirement. These players appear to fit that criterion.

SP Kendy Batista
RP Ryan Knippschild
C Reese Creswell

Posted by Lucas at 04:56 PM

August 16, 2007

Updates

40-man, org chart and draft list updated.

Posted by Lucas at 01:57 PM

August 15, 2007

McCarthy Out, Padilla Back

Texas activated pitcher VICENTE PADILLA from the 15-day Disabled List and placed pitcher BRANDON MCCARTHY on the same.

Apparently, McCarthy’s been battling pain for almost three months, but the injury, a stress fracture in his right shoulder blade, wasn’t discovered until Tuesday. Originally presumed to be a season-ending, he might miss only a couple of weeks and make a small handful of September starts.

Padilla was uniformly dreadful in his rehab outings but pitched well against Kansas City. Go figure.

Posted by Lucas at 11:56 PM

August 04, 2007

Other Transactions

Texas recalled reliever A.J. MURRAY from AAA Oklahoma and designated infielder DESI RELAFORD for assignment.

Texas recalled outfielder JASON BOTTS and reliever WES LITTLETON from AAA Oklahoma and optioned 3B TRAVIS METCALF and reliever SCOTT FELDMAN to AAA.

I’m not especially optimistic that Jason Botts will succeed in the Majors *, but he most definitely deserves an opportunity. If he fails, so be it. Better to find out now than wait until next March and have his future decided by 60 at-bats against a grab-bag of pitchers loosening their arms.

* Not to say I’m pessimistic, either. Somewhere in between.

Posted by Lucas at 11:17 AM

Thoughts On The Gagne Trade

Texas traded reliever ERIC GAGNE to Boston for pitcher KASON GABBARD, outfielder DAVID MURPHY, and outfielder ENGEL BELTRE.

Pretend that Texas led the AL West in late July and needed an ace reliever for the stretch run. Also pretend that Texas had a surfeit of starting pitching (use all your imagination). If Texas traded Kam Loe, Kevin Mahar, and Cristian Santana for Eric Gagne, how would you feel? (Maybe not a great comparison – Texas really doesn’t have an analog for Beltre -- but I think I’m in range. Your mileage may vary.) I’d miss Loe a bit, and I’d worry about Santana. But on the whole, I’d be happy with the GM.

As a fan on the receiving end of the prospects, I’m a bit underwhelmed. No, Gagne couldn’t hope to bring Teixeira’s bounty, but even if the Red Sox collapse, what are the odds that they miss any of these players?

Gabbard’s a ground-ball specialist and a lefty, two prized attributes in Arlington, but his 3.65 ERA in 67 Major-League innings rests on an unsustainable .265 BABIP. Indeed, his brief MLB career contradicts his run through the minors, which has consisted mostly of harsh beatings whenever he advanced a level followed by eventual, moderate success. He’s also already undergone four elbow surgeries. I worry that he’ll eventually reside in that Tweener Zone occupied by Mike Wood, John Rheinecker, John Koronka, and the like.

Maybe Gabbard evolves into a decent #4 starter. I hope so. Regardless, this statement…

Gabbard, who has a 1.12 WHIP and has held opponents to a .196 batting average this season, immediately becomes the Rangers' best young starting pitcher. Put him at the front of a line that includes Kam Loe, Brandon McCarthy and Eric Hurley.

…tells you all you need to know about the Dallas Morning News’s Tim MacMahon.

Outfielder David Murphy has yet to justify his 17th-overall selection in the 2003 draft. Murphy spent three years at Baylor, has never been young for his level, and has a career minor-league line of .273/.343/.407. He’s never slugged better than .447 or achieved 15 homers in a season. His OBP, while acceptable, won’t mitigate the lack of power. He appears to add a fourth outfielder to an organization already swimming in them.

The wild card, very wild, is Beltre, a 17-year-old outfielder fresh out of the Dominican Republic. Beltre received the tenth-highest International signing bonus in 2006 ($75,000 above Texas’s Emmanuel Solis) and is among the most highly regarded of that class. Baseball America described him as “loaded with tools? and possessing a “huge ceiling? but also “raw? and “years away from the Majors.? An 0-13 skid dropped him to .208/.310/.400 in the Gulf Coast League. To the tiny extent that rookie-level stats have meaning, he’s shown good power (five homers in 137 appearances), adequate patience (8% walk rate) and a scarifying strikeout rate (30%). Beltre’s the one to watch in this deal.

Finally, I’m astonished that the Yankees didn’t top Boston’s offer.

Posted by Lucas at 11:11 AM

July 27, 2007

Lofton Traded

Texas has traded outfielder KENNY LOFTON to Cleveland for catcher MAX RAMIREZ. Texas also recalled outfielder NELSON CRUZ from AAA Oklahoma.

A nice return for two months of a 40-year-old outfielder. Lofton fulfilled his role perfectly, which was to produce at a respectable rate for a good team or serve as worthy trade bait for a bad one.

Ramirez has a career minor-league line of .306/.407/.494, though he’s never been young at any level. He’s currently hitting .303/.418/.505 in the high-A Carolina League, which is significantly less hitter-friendly than the Cal League he’ll join. Good contact, great eye, decent power… and dubious defensive skills. There’s question of whether he can get by as a catcher, and he’d make an awfully short first baseman (5-11).

He’s not on the 40-man roster now but must be added this winter or face the Rule 5 draft. He’ll be added.

To my mild surprise, Cruz gets another shot. He destroyed Triple-A pitching, as is his wont, but only a few days ago his manager noted that he still chases too many bad pitches. I’m skeptical.

Posted by Lucas at 06:38 PM

July 14, 2007

Teixeira Back, Diaz Down

Texas activated 1B MARK TEIXEIRA from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned outfielder VICTOR DIAZ to AAA Oklahoma.

See below.

Posted by Lucas at 10:39 AM

July 10, 2007

Koronka Gone

Cleveland claimed pitcher JOHN KORONKA off waivers.

I saw Koronka pitch in Round Rock last August. Aside from a Jason Hirsh start, his performance was the most impressive I saw that year at the Dell Diamond. In seven innings he allowed two runs, walked one, and struck out twelve. He exhibited confidence, pinpoint control, and a revelatory changeup. The Express hitters guessed wrong most of the night and swung at air repeatedly. Texas called him up again, whereupon he reverted to his nibbling worst.

Cub Town’s Derek Smart nailed it back in 2005:

Congratulations to John Koronka on his first Major League victory, although in the interest of full disclosure, I found his outing less than inspiring. His early success looked to have more to do with the Dodgers' lack of familiarity than with any great show of competence on Koronka's part, and it showed the second time through the order as the Dodgers started to get after him more consistently.

His fastball was sans giddyap, and his breaking pitches didn't have the sharp bite of effectiveness. The change-up was his most effective pitch, although it wasn't the sort of ball that gives hitters fits. It was a solid turn, good enough to keep the team in the game, which is the most anyone could hope for, but it wasn't the type of work that would give me confidence enough to request a return visit.

Koronka's is the sort of stuff that is destined to be overmatched with prolonged Major League exposure, and barring abject need, it's a game that he and the Cubs should refrain from questioning, put in their pocket, and walk away from post-haste.

Posted by Lucas at 10:05 AM

July 08, 2007

Tejeda Down, Littleton Up

Texas optioned pitcher ROBINSON TEJEDA to AAA Oklahoma and recalled reliever WES LITTLETON from AAA.

A temporary move until Texas needs Tejeda to start again. He's been awful all season.

Posted by Lucas at 06:58 PM

July 02, 2007

McCarthy Up, Kinsler Out

Texas activated pitcher BRANDON MCCARTHY from the Disabled List and placed 2B IAN KINSLER on the 15-day Disabled List.

Someday soon the Rangers lineup may include Jamey Wright, Ramon Vazquez and Desi Relaford. And I will weep quietly.

Posted by Lucas at 10:42 PM

July 01, 2007

Desimania!

Texas added infielder DESI RELAFORD to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Texas optioned reliever SCOTT FELDMAN to AAA. The Rangers also designated pitcher JOHN KORONKA for assignment.

With ten nominal outfielders on the roster, I expected Freddy Guzman to get the boot. However, a dealing Mike Wood and healthy John Rheinecker have supplanted Koronka in terms of filling the emergency starter role.

The active roster now contains Relaford, Ramon Vazquez, and Jerry Hairston. Good times. Relaford can play everywhere but can’t hit anywhere.

Posted by Lucas at 12:49 PM

June 26, 2007

Padilla Down, Feldman Up

Texas placed pitcher VICENTE PADILLA on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled reliever SCOTT FELDMAN from AAA Oklahoma.

Padilla's been hurt all year, apparently. Lovely.

Posted by Lucas at 12:37 AM

June 17, 2007

Wright Activated, Litteton Optioned

On Saturday, Texas activated pitcher JAMEY WRIGHT from the Disabled List, optioned reliever WES LITTLETON to AAA, and activated pitcher JOSH RUPE before transferring him to the 60-day Disabled List.

Save us, Mike Matheny!

Posted by Lucas at 11:44 AM

June 15, 2007

Mahay Returns, Feldman Down

Texas activated reliever RON MAHAY from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned reliever SCOTT FELDMAN to AAA.

Mahay hadn’t pitched very well in rehab. He has a 3.86 ERA in the Majors… and a 1.65 WHIP… and 15 walks in 16 innings pitched.

Posted by Lucas at 06:34 PM

June 14, 2007

McCarthy Down, Loe Up

Texas placed pitcher BRANDON MCCARTHY on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled pitcher KAMERON LOE from AAA.

I hope all that time Loe spent in Oklahoma working on his offspeed pitches will pay off.

Posted by Lucas at 12:54 PM

June 09, 2007

Melhuse Acquired

Texas has acquired catcher ADAM MELHUSE from Oakland for cash considerations and has optioned catcher CHRIS STEWART to AAA.

Jason Kendall is the worst hitter in baseball even when accounting for his starting position, and now Oakland’s backup is a true-rookie 23-year-old who was hitting.280/.351/.365 in AAA. Kendall, as before, will rest less often than any catcher in baseball despite his spectacular inadequacy (.197 with a 4% walk rate and an isolated power of .010).

Melhuse won’t supplant Laird but will play more often than Stewart, who started 11 games in 10 weeks. He had a couple of good hitting seasons in 2003-2004 but hasn’t done much since. As reported in the DMN, he’ll “tutor and push? Laird.

Melhuse will be arbitration-eligible after the season.

Posted by Lucas at 11:43 PM

Teixeira Hurt, Loe Down, Wilkerson and Metcalf Up

Texas has placed 1B MARK TEIXEIRA on the 15-day Disabled List and optioned pitcher KAMERON LOE to AAA Oklahoma. Texas has activated outfielder BRAD WILKERSON from the DL and recalled 3B TRAVIS METCALF from AA.

Strained quad. Teixeira hasn’t missed a game since May 20, 2004. He’s batting .302/.405/.554; other Rangers non-pitchers were batting .248/.313/.413 coming into Saturday’s game. That’s an OPS+ of 88.

Demoting Loe to Triple-A is actually a vote of confidence. Texas really wants to see if he came become a viable starting pitcher, so he’ll work on his offspeed stuff in Oklahoma.

Ron Washington says Travis Metcalf will play, not sit. We’ll see. Ramon Vasquez has predictably cooled off (.197/.237/.222 in his last two weeks) after a stellar first few days, so Metcalf might not represent much of a dropoff.

Posted by Lucas at 11:20 PM

June 08, 2007

Hairston Up, Rheino Down

Texas activated utility guy JERRY HAIRSTON from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned pitcher JOHN RHEINECKER to AAA.

Noted for the record. Not having Hairston and Kata on the same roster is progress. Tiny progress, but progress.

Posted by Lucas at 01:04 AM

June 05, 2007

Hairston and Rheino Up, Cruz Down, Kata Out

Texas activated infielder JERRY HAIRSTON from the 15-day Disabled List and pitcher JOHN RHEINECKER from the 60-day DL. Texas optioned outfielder NELSON CRUZ to AAA Oklahoma and designated utility guy MATT KATA for assignment.

Welcome to the end of Nelson Cruz’s Major League career. Well, not the end, but as a soon-to-be 27-year old who failed a pretty lengthy trial stretching back to last August, he’s almost certainly done as a regular. Sure, there’s talk about him “making adjustments? and whatnot in Oklahoma, but really, he’s done.

That said, I still think the quasi-blockbuster Lee/Cruz for Cordero/Mench/Nix trade holds up. Cordero has pitched brilliantly, of course, but Mench is basically an expensive ($3.4 million) and ineffective (.285/.285/.417; 1 walk all season!) platoon outfielder, and Nix was dead as a prospect before the trade. With this trade, Texas tried, and failed, to make a run for the postseason last year but didn’t get burned too badly in the process. That’s a tolerable outcome.

As for Kata, here’s what I wrote on April 1st: “The surprise, in terms of incoming expectations, is Byrd, who only needed to beat out NRI Matt Kata for a roster spot and could not. Byrd would have made a fine fifth outfielder and 25th man.? And on May 27th, “Byrd ought to make one of Jerry Hairston or Matt Kata superfluous.? So I guess it worked out in the long run. Props to Kata for the hot spring that earned him two months of an MLB salary. The question is why Texas thought that hot spring was more indicative of his future than his career MLB line of .248/.308/.392 in 550 PAs or his line of .286/.325/.430 in 900 AAA appearances.

Posted by Lucas at 06:50 PM

June 01, 2007

Millwood Returns

Texas has activated pitcher KEVIN MILLWOOD from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned pitcher JOHN KORONKA to AAA.

Ideally, Millwood's stay on the active roster will last longer than an hour.

Posted by Lucas at 06:37 PM

May 31, 2007

Transaction

Texas optioned pitcher MIKE WOOD to AAA and recalled pitcher JOHN KORONKA from AAA.

Happened Wednesday. Just posting for the record.

Posted by Lucas at 11:46 PM

May 28, 2007

Wood Up, Feldman Down

Texas has recalled pitcher MIKE WOOD from AAA Oklahoma and optioned reliever SCOTT FELDMAN to AAA.

Wood is up for one of his spot starts. I’d guess that presently DL-ed Ron Mahay will replace him in a day or so. Oklahoma has only three true starting pitchers at the moment: John Koronka, Alfredo Simon (who has an 8.37 ERA) and rehabbing John Rheinecker.

I know Texas wouldn’t promote Eric Hurley from AA purely on that basis, but he sure seems ready to handle the challenge.

Posted by Lucas at 12:21 PM

May 27, 2007

Byrd Up, Mahar Down, Ojeda Out

Texas added outfielder MARLON BYRD to the 40-man and active rosters, optioned outfielder KEVIN MAHAR to AAA Oklahoma, and designated catcher MIGUEL OJEDA for assignment.

Back on April 1st I wrote that “Byrd would have made a fine fifth outfielder and 25th man.? Eight weeks later, he will. Byrd ought to make one of Jerry Hairston or Matt Kata superfluous, but he may not possess the precise combination of positional versatility and weak hitting that Texas demands in a bench player. He almost certainly won’t accept another outright assignment.

I know Ojeda has been designated previously, but I don’t know if he’s been outrighted. He’s had a long and peripatetic career that’s hard to follow. So, I can’t say whether or not he must accept an outright assignment.

Posted by Lucas at 11:27 AM

May 20, 2007

Koronka Down, Littleton Up

Texas recalled reliever WES LITTLETON from AAA Oklahoma and optioned pitcher JOHN KORONKA to AAA.

Koronka performed as hoped, chewing up six innings without too much damage. Littleton ought to be a full-time member of the pen, but we’ll see.

Posted by Lucas at 09:43 PM

May 19, 2007

Koronka Up, Hairston Hurt

Texas placed utility guy JERRY HAIRSTON JR. on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled pitcher JOHN KORONKA from AAA Oklahoma.

Probably a one-shot start for Koronka. He's ranged between respectable and awful in AAA.

Posted by Lucas at 05:44 PM

Blalock Out

Texas placed 3B HANK BLALOCK on the 60-day Disabled List and added 3B TRAVIS METCALF to the 40-man and active rosters.

Blalock suffers the same malady that felled Kenny Rogers suffered in 2001. Metcalf already has the glove rep; in 2007 his bat has returned after taking off ’06. Still, he’s never played above AA and wasn’t that highly regarded, and third isn’t where teams trade offense for defense.

The character litmus test will be whether anyone in the organization uses the rash of injuries as cover for the team’s performance.

Posted by Lucas at 12:01 PM

May 17, 2007

Another Exciting Transaction

Texas added infielder RAMON VAZQUEZ to the 40-man roster and active roster, optioned reliever A.J. MURRAY to AAA Oklahoma, and transferred shortstop JOAQUIN ARIAS to the 60-day Disabled List.

Vazquez was hitting .258/.375/.409 in AAA, not that it matters.

Posted by Lucas at 11:52 PM

Roster Moves: Mahar Debuts

Texas added outfielder KEVIN MAHAR to the 40-man roster and active roster, placed outfielder BRAD WILKERSON on the 15-day Disabled List, and transferred pitcher JOHN RHEINECKER to the 60-day Disabled List.

Yesterday, I had the following conversation with a Newberg Report reader via email:

Reader: Have you heard about Kevin Mahar joining Texas in Orlando?

Me: What?!? You must be thinking of Marlon Byrd. What’s your source?

Reader: Kevin’s dad.

That’s a good source. Ten minutes later Mahar’s promotion appeared on the wire.

Posted by Lucas at 09:56 AM

May 15, 2007

Roster Moves: Murray Debuts

Texas placed pitchers KEVIN MILLWOOD and RON MAHAY on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled pitchers SCOTT FELDMAN and A.J. MURRAY.

Murray makes his big-league debut, a little under seven years after being the 574th player selected in the 2000 draft. Other MLB players from the infamous ’00 draft are Tyrell Godwin (cup of coffee with Washington in ’05), Laynce Nix, Nick Masset and Edwin Encarnacion.

Interesting that the Rangers didn’t recall a starter and that both relievers are lefties. Presumably Texas will make another move near the end of the week.

UPDATE: Feldman isn't a lefty. Just a righty with a weird delivery.

Posted by Lucas at 02:54 PM

May 14, 2007

Millwood Returns

Texas activated pitcher KEVIN MILLWOOD from the Disabled List and optioned pitcher MIKE WOOD to AAA Oklahoma.

After I commented on a message board that Wood looked “ordinary? in a Triple-A start, he held the Yankees to two runs in 6.1 innings with an effective sinker. In two subsequent starts he only aspired to ordinary, giving up ten runs in eight innings. Those three games effectively summarize his ability to help a Major League team.

Posted by Lucas at 12:18 PM

April 23, 2007

Francisco Up, Gagne Disabled

Texas recalled reliever FRANK FRANCISCO from AAA Oklahoma and placed reliever ERIC GAGNE on the 15-day Disabled List.

In case you’re not on the Newberg report mailing list, here’s what I said about Francisco after his Friday night appearance against Round Rock:

Frank Francisco pitched the last two innings for Oklahoma. Quite simply, he exists on a much higher level than any of the game’s other pitchers. Tonight, he used a fastball that ran between 92-95, an upper-eighties splitter, and a slow curve. Francisco’s first pitch of the game was a 94 MPH fastball that rose beyond Quiroz’s glove and hit the screen. He flashed a big smile as he received another ball. Then, he struck out the side in order.

In the ninth, Francisco very nearly blew the game. He had Josh Anderson down 0-2 but buried his fourth consecutive splitter in Anderson’s posterior. Anderson stole second entirely off Francisco, who then walked Eric Bruntlett and Hunter Pence to load the bases with none out. Brooks Conrad generously popped out on a 1-0 pitch. Eric Munson worked his count to 3-2, but Francisco crushed him with a low, hard fastball. Francisco completed the dramatic win by striking out Danny Klassen on three consecutive fastballs.

Francisco has faced 23 batters in AAA. 14 have struck out. Four made other outs. Three walked. One was hit by a pitch, and I think one reached on an error. Which is to say, opponents are hitting .000/.130/.000 against him. Control may be an issue, but he’s cooking with serious gas again.

Posted by Lucas at 06:08 PM

April 22, 2007

Chen Gone

Texas added reliever WILLIE EYRE to the 40-man roster and purchased his contract from AAA Oklahoma. Texas also designated reliever BRUCE CHEN for assignment.

Eyre has 7.1 scoreless innings and eight strikeouts in AAA. His 2006 MLB debut season was unimpressive.

Posted by Lucas at 12:01 PM

April 10, 2007

Wright Up, Wood Down, Haigwood Out

Texas added pitcher JAMEY WRIGHT to the 40-man roster and purchased his contract from AA Frisco. Texas also optioned reliever MIKE WOOD to AAA Oklahoma and designated pitcher DANIEL HAIGWOOD for assignment.

Bleah.

Haigwood probably won’t ever become a useful MLB pitcher, but he at least has potential, whereas Wood is the very definition of a spare arm. Put another way, losing Haigwood on waivers would hurt just a little, while losing Wood would not even register.

Wood only made the Opening Day roster because Texas didn’t need a fifth starter for a week and Gagne needed a longer warmup, yet Texas is keeping the 27-year-old on the 40 in favor of the 23-year-old Haigwood.

Posted by Lucas at 06:20 PM

April 01, 2007

Transactions For Opening Day

Texas designated for assignment pitcher EZEQUIEL ASTACIO, catcher GUILLERMO QUIROZ, and outfielder MARLON BYRD.

Astacio had the thinnest of opportunities to make the roster and pitched poorly. Quiroz was out of options but probably would have been waived anyway, as four catchers are an awfully tight fit on a 40-man roster. The surprise, in terms of incoming expectations, is Byrd, who only needed to beat out NRI Matt Kata for a roster spot and could not. Byrd would have made a fine fifth outfielder and 25th man.

Texas has placed reliever ERIC GAGNE on the 15-day Disabled List.

Ostensibly this move is precautionary, simply to insure Gagne gets enough innings prior to pitching in a real game. Frankly, I’m a little worried. Maybe needlessly, but there it is.

Texas has purchased the contracts of relievers BRUCE CHEN and MIKE WOOD, super-duper utility guy JERRY HAIRSTON JR., utility guy MATT KATA, and outfielder SAMMY SOSA. All are new additions to the 40-man roster.

With Gagne disabled and fifth starter Jamey Wright not needed for a little while, both Chen and Wood get to fly to Anaheim. If Chen pitched well, I wonder if management might give him or Kam Loe the back end of the rotation and sheepishly tell Wright, “Ummm, I know we promised you a roster spot and everything, but… well… no.?

As for Kata, his spring was inspirational and all that, but what exactly does he bring to the table? Is there anything he does better than Hairston, which is to say, is he not completely superfluous? Okay, he does hit for a little more power, but he and his .392 career slugging percentage aren’t going to be pinch hitting for anyone. Why not keep Jason Botts instead? Botts is one-dimensional, but that dimension would be awfully handy whenever the opposition inserts a lefty reliever to face Kenny Lofton or Frank Catalanotto (or, dare I say it, Hank Blalock). Use Botts as a designated pinch-hitter, then use Hairston, Cruz or Wilkerson (or whoever’s on the bench that night) as a defensive replacement.

Posted by Lucas at 01:23 AM

March 29, 2007

Transaction Roundup

Texas released reliever RICK BAUER.

The Rangers couldn’t find a trade partner for Bauer, so away he goes. In just four weeks, Bauer slid from valued reliever and trade bait to unemployed. He’ll find a job somewhere.

Texas placed shortstop JOAQUIN ARIAS and pitcher JOHN RHEINECKER on the 15-day Disabled List.

Rheinecker never got out of the trainer’s room long enough to take a crack at the fifth starter job. He’ll join Oklahoma’s rotation when healthy. Likewise, Arias’s meager hope for a roster spot was ended by injury, in this case, an infected thumb.

Texas optioned relievers FRANK FRANCISCO and WES LITTLETON and outfielder JASON BOTTS to AAA Oklahoma.

Both Francisco and Littleton had roster positions waiting for them, but terrible springs left the door open for the likes of Bruce Chen and Mike Wood. I’d guess that Littleton gets first dibs on a bullpen opening.

Texas has removed FRANCISCO CRUCETA from the 40-man roster and outrighted him to AAA Oklahoma.

Cruceta cleared waivers. He’ll join the AAA bullpen and fall in line behind several others in the potential call-up order.

Posted by Lucas at 11:56 PM

March 26, 2007

Astacio in, Bauer Out

Texas claimed EZEQUIEL ASTACIO off waivers from Houston and placed pitcher ALEXI OGANDO on the restricted list.

One of three heralded minor-league prospects acquired from Philly for Billy Wagner, Zeke has yet to fulfill his potential. Occasionally very good, often very hittable, Astacio’s main problem is a catastrophic 2.5 homers allowed per nine innings. That’s one per sixteen batters faced. Astacio has no options remaining, so, like Houston, the Rangers must attempt to pass him through waivers if they want him in AAA. Perhaps he’s more likely to squeeze through at the end of the month when many teams will be facing difficult roster decisions. Now 27, he’s just a pitcher instead of a prospect, but he’s not a terrible insurance policy for the rotation.

Ogando and Omar Beltre will once again terrorize the Dominican Summer League.

Texas designated reliever RICK BAUER for assignment and added infielder ADAM FOX to the 40-man roster.

Huh? Like John Wasdin in ‘06, Bauer signed a Major League contract in the offseason, only to be released before the season begins. Going into Spring Training, he was the Ranger Most Likely To Be Traded To A Team Ready To Overpay For Relief Help, but his atrocious spring snuffed whatever hope Texas had of converting him into a real prospect or reasonable facsimile. Now, apparently, Texas will pay him not to pitch in Arlington. This is one of those roster moves that probably won’t have any positive or negative effect on the team. That said, it’s an odd decision. Despite his middling track record and awful spring, Bauer was a useful reliever last season.

As to why Texas added a 25-year-old who spent most of last year in high-A instead of, say, Sammy Sosa, it’s just a temporary situation. Per Jamey Newberg, Fox recently became a father and is held in high personal regard in the system, so Texas is buying him a few days in the MLB pension plan and a union card. When Texas puts Sosa, Jerry Hairston, or someone else on the 40, Fox will clear waivers with ease and probably join Frisco.

Posted by Lucas at 11:48 PM

March 19, 2007

"Transaction"

The Texas Rangers announced the cessation of its relationship with Ameriquest Mortgage Company. Its stadium will now be known as “Rangers Ballpark In Arlington? instead of “Ameriquest Field.?

As a fan, I can accept corporate sponsorship of stadiums, but I was never thrilled about the Rangers associating with the nation’s top sub-prime lender. Not that sub-prime lending is inherently unethical, despite its reputation. Folks with bad credit need loans, too. No, the problem is that when the naming deal was announced, Ameriquest was already under investigation by several state attorneys general for overcharges and other predatory lending practices. The investigation expanded to 49 states plus the District of Columbia, and in early 2006 Ameriquest agreed to a $335 million settlement. The company had also paid fines for prior transgressions.

To be sure, any renaming would have caused a little anguish because it eliminated the real sponsors of the stadium, the citizens of Arlington. Allying with a good corporate citizen with local ties would have eased the pain. Naming the stadium after a SoCal-based company of dubious standing did the opposite.

Now, with the sub-prime mortgage market in tatters and several lenders going belly-up, Ameriquest probably wishes paying the settlement was its only problem. Whatever its future, I’m glad its affiliation with the Rangers has ended. Despite a Ranger press release to the contrary, I expect another sponsorship before long, hopefully a more palatable one.

Incidentally, Ameriquest’s founder and majority owner of its holding company is Roland Arnall. Arnall has been the most successful fundraiser for President George Bush since 2002. In 2006, after the announcement of the $335 million settlement, he was appointed the US ambassador to The Netherlands.

Posted by Lucas at 07:07 PM

March 08, 2007

On Young

Note: I was in Las Vegas when Texas signed Young, so here's a belated review.

Texas signed shortstop MICHAEL YOUNG to a five-year extension beginning in 2009. Young will earn $80 million, $15 million is deferred. Details are lacking.

A huge roll of the dice on the part of Texas. Young will be only two weeks shy of his 37th birthday by the time this contact ends (or actually be 37 if Texas makes the ALCS). Some thoughts:

Age

Young will turn 32 before his new contract commences. Here’s a list of starting shortstops in 2006 who were Age 32 or older:

Omar Vizquel (39)
Royce Clayton (36)
Craig Counsell (35)
Derek Jeter (32)

That’s it. Two others were 31, another five were 30, and the other nineteen were under 30 (including Young).

In 2007, probably only eight regular shortstops will be older than Young: Vizquel, Jeter, Orlando Cabrera, David Eckstein, Carlos Guillen, Miguel Tejada, Julio Lugo, and Edgar Renteria. That’s as of today, not in two years when Young’s extension begins. By the time that happens, Young might already be among the five oldest shortstops in the Majors.

What became of 2002’s collection of aged starting shortstops? 2002 featured seven who were 32 or older and another four of 30-31 years of age:

Shortstop
Age
What Became of Him
Barry Larkin
38
Retired after two more seasons. Could still hit respectably
Mike Bordick
36
Out of baseball after one more season
Omar Vizquel
35
Still starting and getting on base, averaged 151 games during last three years
Royce Clayton
32
Still starting, but on six different team in five years. Replacement-level hitter in 2002 and today
Shane Halter
32
Out of baseball after two more seasons
Tony Womack
32
Intermittent starter from 2003-2005; on the fringes of employment in 2006 and 2007
Jose Hernandez
32
Still playing but has declined from regular to super-utility player to ordinary sub to infrequent sub and pinch-hitter
Chris Gomez
31
Mostly a utility player and most often a 1B; only 110 games at short during 2003-2006
Andy Fox
31
Retired after two more seasons of minimal play
Rich Aurilia
30
Mostly a super-utility player who spends most of time at 1B and 3B, now a starter at 1B; bat improved during 2005-2006
Rey Ordonez
30
Had two seasons of dwindling play; not retired but no MLB appearances since 2004

Six of the eleven players are retired or effectively out of Major League Baseball. Two others are bench players. One is now a regular first basemen, and two are still starting at short (though I’m skeptical of Clayton’s immediate future).

Now, I’m not suggesting that Michael Young won’t last at shortstop because of the case histories of Chris Gomez and Shane Halter. But this exercise clearly indicates that shortstop is a young man’s position. Young has been exceptionally durable, and I expect him to remain at short longer than most of his peers. Near the end of his term, though, he may have to move to third or left, where his bat probably will be a liability.

Money

Did the Rangers pay too much? Of course they did. But this contract doesn’t seem too far out of line with other deals inked this winter. Young’s contract wedges nicely between former Rangers Carlos Lee (6 years, $100 million) and Gary Matthews (5 years, $50 million). Give a choice between the three, I’d take Young and his contract.

Deferment

Reportedly, $15 million of the $80 million total is deferred. To my knowledge, the specifics weren’t publicized, but let’s assume $3 million is deferred in each of Young’s five extension seasons with deferred payments to begin the year after the extension ends. Thus, Young would receive $13 million during 2009-2013 and $3 million from 2014 through 2018. What do those deferments mean relative to a straightforward five-year contract at $16 million per season?

In terms of present value, not much. Using a discount rate of 6% (equivalent to a “safe” rate of return), deferring $3 million per season for five year lowers the present value of the contract from $69.2 million to $67.5 million, a difference of just $1.7 million. Upping the discount rate to 8% (equivalent to salary inflation) results in a savings of $2.2 million.

The real savings come from the retention of his current contract. Texas will pay Young only $3.5 million in 2007, his last arbitration-eligible year, and $5 million in 2008, his first free-agency year.

Assuming my guesses are within reason, I’d say the deferred payments make the deal more palatable for the Rangers but will have, at best, a small effect on their payroll structure and (in)ability to sign players during Young’s extension.

Defense

This is something I’ve been saving for my boffo article on Hank Blalock that I’ve been promising for many months, but I’ll print it here instead. For years, Baseball Prospectus rated Young as a bad defensive shortstop and Hank Blalock an average third baseman. Suddenly, in 2006, Young became Ozzie Smith and Blalock became Butch Hobson. You think I’m joking? I am not:

Baseball Prospectus “Rate2” Defensive Stat *

Michael Young, 2002-2005:
Michael Young, 2006:
Ozzie Smith, career:
90
113
112
Hank Blalock, 2002-2005:
Hank Blalock, 2006:
Butch Hobson, career:
99
87
87

* Rate2 is an indexed statistic measuring how many runs a player saves or costs a team defensively. 100 is average. Young’s 113 in 2006 indicates he saved Texas 13 runs per 100 games played. Scores outside the 90-110 range are rare.

My stat-free, visual opinion is that Young is an average defensive shortstop, neither as bad as previously rated by BP nor as fantabulous as rated in 2006. He’s no elite, but I certainly see no reason for a position switch in the near future. But again, age is a killer. Texas has locked up Young through 2013, but they haven’t locked up a shortstop for that long.

Teixeira

I don’t recall Teixeira ever indicating that he’d prefer to stay in Texas. He’s here only because Texas drafted him, and after 2008, he’ll sign with the team that offers the best combination of money and potential to win a championship. Retaining Young will have only a minimal effect on Teixeira’s decision.

I don’t mean that as a criticism. He wants to work for a winner and get paid as much as possible. Don’t we all?

Conclusion

Is it okay to remain ambivalent about this deal? To an extent, it is an attempt to defy Time, and Time never loses (except to Julio Franco and Elizabeth Hurley).

Texas desperately needs to make some noise during Young’s most productive years because the downside of this deal is almost too depressing to contemplate. Imagine a Ranger club that hovers around .500 for three or four more seasons, then falters with Young’s inevitable decline. At that point we’re looking at fourteen years (2000-2013) of mediocrity or worse.

On the other hand, I think that Young, more than anyone in baseball (and I do mean anyone), has the work ethic to make this deal pay off for Texas. Given how far he’s surpassed the expectations of almost everyone (me included), presuming that he’ll decline precipitously would be foolish. Who’s to say Young can’t emulate Omar Vizquel and Barry Larkin, blithely hitting well and playing shortstop into his late thirties?

I hope so.

Posted by Lucas at 06:07 PM

February 09, 2007

Transactions

Texas signed pitchers OMAR BELTRE, SCOTT FELDMAN, A.J. MURRAY, ALEXI OGANDO, JOSH RUPE, ROBINSON TEJEDA, and EDINSON VOLQUEZ, catcher CHRIS STEWART, infielder JOAQUIN ARIAS, and outfielder FREDDY GUZMAN to one-year contracts at or near the MLB minimum of $380,000.

All have splits that pay considerably less for time spent in the minors. Click the 40-Man Roster link at upper right for the details.

Posted by Lucas at 06:34 PM

January 16, 2007

All Arb-Eligible Players Signed

Texas signed outfielder BRAD WILKERSON to a one-year deal for $4.35 million, reliever AKINORI OTSUKA to a one-year deal for $3.00 million, and reliever RICK BAUER to a one-year deal for $735,000, avoiding arbitration with all three.

Reasonable contracts for all three given the strictures of arbitration. A player taking a pay cut in arbitration is as rare as a unicorn, so even Wilkerson gets a 12% raise after his lost 2006. Jon Daniels has absorbed his predecessor’s loathing of arbitration hearings.

Texas now has 14 players signed for a sum of $69.265 million, ignoring incentives.

Posted by Lucas at 04:42 PM

January 15, 2007

Benoit Signed

Texas signed reliever JOAQUIN BENOIT to a one-year contract for $1.05 million, thus avoiding arbitration.

Benoit gets a fairly modest raise over last year’s base of $750,000. He held opposing batters to a nice line of .224/.314/.310 overall (roughly speaking, he turned everyone into Brandon Fahey or Matt Treanor) and stranded 34 of 44 runners, a better rate than all but Wes Littleton. He also posted an uninspiring 4.86 ERA and has no lock on a roster spot. All pitchers melt down on occasion, but some of Benoit’s were painfully memorable, including allowing three runs in That Game and permitting a bases-clearing lead-losing triple to Adam Everett just three days later.

Benoit had one of the flakiest set of splits I’ve ever seen:

None on -- .240/.327/.340
Runner on first only -- .110/.217/.110
Runners in scoring position -- .298/.374/.381

Yes, with only a runner on first, Benoit’s opposing batters went 8-for-73, all singles, with 10 walks and 30 strikeouts.

Posted by Lucas at 11:51 PM

January 12, 2007

Meyer DFA'ed To Make Room For Trade Acquisition

Texas traded pitcher JOHNNY LUJAN to the Chicago White Sox for catcher CHRIS STEWART. Stewart joins the 40-man roster, and Texas has designated infielder DREW MEYER for assignment.

Stewart was Chicago’s 12th rounder in 2001. He’ll start in AAA with a chance to back up Gerald Laird in Texas. Stewart batted pretty well in AA as a 23-year-old (.286/.341/.460) but backslid to .265/.314/.393 in AAA last year. Lujan is two years younger and hit a big wall in high-A Bakersfield last year after gliding through lower levels in 2004-2005. So Texas gets the sure thing, albeit a drab one, in exchange for a longshot.

To clear space for their shiny new fourth catcher, the Rangers designated the tenth-overall pick on the 2002 draft. Drew Meyer depended heavily on a high batting average in college and has yet to develop much patience or power in five years in the minors. He never posted better than a .789 OPS except during a brief return to the Rookie League in 2004.

I loathe the “We drafted X when we could’ve have Y!? game because no team survives it. The best GMs on the planet routinely pass up future studs. However, I would note that the subsequent seven picks were Jeremy Hermida, Joe Saunders, Khalil Greene, Russ Adams, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher and Cole Hamels. On the other hand, Picks 1, 3 and 5 were Bryan Bullington, Chris Gruler and Clint Everts. It’s a tough racket, the draft.

Posted by Lucas at 07:03 PM

January 06, 2007

Hairston Signed

Texas signed utility guy JERRY HAIRSTON JR. to a minor-league contract.

After my initial reaction (“Aaaaa!?) subsided, I decided this deal makes sense. Hairston, while by no means a good hitter, isn’t nearly as bad as last season’s display. He can play anywhere but catcher and probably can reach base near the league-average rate. As long as the new skipper doesn’t fall into the trap of believing Hairston’s is anyone’s platoon mate or a top-flight defensive specialist, all is well.

It’s a hard fall for a player who competed for starting 2B with the Cubs last March, and, to my knowledge, was seeking a full-time job this winter. Hairston is only 30 and made $2.3 million last year. Now, instead of getting DeRosa money, he’s an NRI.

Posted by Lucas at 12:51 PM

December 28, 2006

Quiroz signed

Texas signed catcher GUILLERMO QUIROZ to a Major League contract and added him to the 40-man roster.

Once a well-regarded prospect, Quiroz has toiled for eight years with only 98 MLB plate appearances to his credit. He peaked statistically in 2003, batting .282/.372/.518 for AA New Haven (Toronto system), and has bounced between AAA and the Majors ever since. He did hit .304/.359/.428 for AAA Tacoma last year, and as a 25-year-old, may yet mature into a decent MLB backup. Anything that might improve upon Miguel Ojeda would be most welcome. With his signing, Texas has filled its 40-man roster.

The Rangers also signed pitcher Mike Wood to a minor deal after waiving him a few weeks ago. They also signed former Twin reliever Willie Eyre, who should spend most or all of 2007 regaling the Redhawk faithful with his presence.

Posted by Lucas at 09:49 PM

December 23, 2006

Gigantic Trade

Texas has traded pitchers JOHN DANKS, NICK MASSET and JACOB RASNER to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher BRANDON MCCARTHY and outfielder DAVID PAISANO.

And here I am, doing Christmas with the in-laws (XM radio! Two bottles of wine!), blithely assuming MLB would be taking the weekend off, caught totally off-guard.

Ultra-quick first impression: I'm not sure I agree, but I understand. And Jon Daniels has a huge pair.

Posted by Lucas at 11:30 PM

December 13, 2006

Arbitration

Texas tendered contracts to arbitration-eligible pitchers RICK BAUER, JOAQUIN BENOIT and AKINORI OTSUKA and outfielder Brad Wilkerson. Texas did not offer a contract to pitcher MIKE WOOD.

I hadn’t given any thought to Wood being eligible for arbitration. Otherwise, no unexpected moves.

Posted by Lucas at 12:46 PM

December 12, 2006

Gagne Signed

Texas signed reliever ERIC GAGNE to a one-year contract for $6 million with (allegedly) $5 million in incentives.

The ultimate high-risk high-reward signing. Gagne has pitched in only sixteen games over the past two years, missing time with nerve-replacement surgery on his elbow and disc surgery on his back. So why drop no fewer than $6 million on a two-year hospital resident, particularly when the bullpen is already a team strength? Here’s why:

Hitters Against Gagne by Plate Appearance, 2002-2006:

Strikeout 38.7%
Out in play 36.8%
Single 10.8%
Walk 6.2%
Double 2.9%
Homer 1.5%
Hit by pitch 1.1%
Sac bunt 1.1%
Sac fly 0.4%
Reached on error 0.3%
Triple 0.2%

Opponents have batted .169/.229/.254 against him during the past five years. He had a WARP of over ten in 2003, an absolutely outrageous number for a relief pitcher. If he returns most of the way to his prior form, he could be worth five to seven wins. Gagne’s presence also makes a trade of Aki Otsuka (packaged for starting pitching, presumably) more likely.

Posted by Lucas at 06:14 PM

December 11, 2006

Lofton Signs

Texas signed outfielder KENNY LOFTON to a one-year contract for $6 million.

Texas badly needed a sure thing in the outfield. The team already had far-from-proven Nelson Cruz in right and arb-eligible, shoulder-impaired Brad Wilkerson (or Frank Catalanotto) in left. Adding Fast Freddy Guzman or Marlon Byrd in center was too much to bear.

So, Texas gets a leadoff hitter and center fielder. Lofton doesn’t walk quite as often as in his prime but still reaches base at a respectable clip, and he’s stolen 54 bases versus only eight caught during the past two years. Defensively, he’s only adequate, though he probably won’t represent too much of a decline from the departed Gary Matthews, who mostly built his reputation on highlight plays.

For these services, Lofton receives his biggest paycheck since 2001. Let the good times roll!

Posted by Lucas at 10:26 PM

December 08, 2006

Byrd Sighting

Texas signed outfielder MARLON BYRD to a one-year contract.

Is it a Major League contract? Is he on the 40? Don’t know.

After a splendiferous rookie campaign in 2003, Byrd has since hit .238/.306/.345 in 850 plate appearances. He’s hit well in AAA (.300/.372/.496) during the same span, but at age 29 seems an unlikely candidate for resurgence. Then again, he might be the boffo sequel to From Waiver Bait To Multi-Millionaire: The Gary Matthews Jr. Story by Rudy Jaramillo. Also, I might discover gold in the creek in my backyard.

Byrd is probably 2007’s version of Adrian Brown, but I wouldn’t describe his signing as low-risk high-reward. There’s a chance he could attain 200 plate appearances and suck, which would make him the 2007 version of Doug Glanville.

Posted by Lucas at 08:10 PM

December 04, 2006

Padilla Signs

Texas signed pitcher VICENTE PADILLA to a three-year contract for approximately $33 million with a fourth-year option for $12 million.

Three and $18 would have seemed appropriate only three months ago, but this ain’t your daddy’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Given the $19 million bestowed on reliever Dannys Baez and $24 million on perpetual mediocrity Adam Eaton, Padillla’s signing doesn’t shock the conscience.

It also refills a gigantic hole in a rotation that temporarily featured Robinson Tejeda as its #2 starter. In 2006, he rebounded from two injury-plagued seasons and career highs in strikeouts, strikeout rate, batters faced, and wins. Statistically, he doesn’t do anything exceptionally well but also does nothing badly. While he’s had issues both on and off the field, Ranger management presumably is satisfied with his demeanor and long-term outlook.

200 annual innings of what should be slightly above league-average performance is a godsend to this team. Congrats to Daniels and company for closing the deal.

Posted by Lucas at 11:45 PM

December 01, 2006

Arbitration

Texas offered arbitration to pitcher VICENTE PADILLA and did not offer arbitration to catcher ROD BARAJAS or outfielder ERIC YOUNG.

Texas would have offered to Barajas had he signed with Toronto. Once he and the Jays departed on bad terms, the Rangers couldn’t risk that he’d hang around and earn a raise just to caddy for Gerald Laird.

Texas has four other arb-eligible players under their control – Rick Bauer, Joaquin Benoit, Aki Otsuka and Brad Wilkerson – and must decide on them by the 12th, if I’m reading the rules correctly.

Posted by Lucas at 11:02 PM

November 20, 2006

Two added to Forty

Texas added pitchers A.J. MURRAY and ALEXI OGANDO to the 40-man roster.

Murray is a 19th-round pick from 2000 who spent most of the last three years in the trainer’s room. The Rangers have been very patient with him and must have liked what they saw during his stint in the Arizona Fall League. I’d guess that they start him in AA with a quick promotion to AAA upon quality performance. He’s yet to turn 25.

Texas nabbed Ogando in the 2005 minor-league Rule 5 draft. Like Omar Beltre, he hasn’t pitched in the US since 2004 because of visa problems.

Posted by Lucas at 08:49 PM

Little Cat Comes Home

Texas signed OF FRANK CATALANOTTO to a three-year contract for about $13 million with a fourth-year club option.

Catalanotto returns to Texas after four years in the Great White North. Little Cat has a career line of .297/.362/.454, and last year he drew a career-best 52 walks. Texas can place him atop the lineup if new manager Ron Washington can tolerate modest speed at leadoff. Unfortunately, he doesn’t hit lefties, batting .221/.287/.331 against them during his four years in Toronto. He hits over .300 with mostly doubles power against righties.

Though considered a utility player, Cat honestly doesn’t have much utility in the field. The Dallas Morning News suggested he could fill in at second, but he hasn’t played there since 2002. From 2004-2006 he played 253 games in left field and one in right. That’s it. He’s not replacing Mark DeRosa.

Texas surrenders its first-round pick in 2007 by signing Type-A free agent Catalanotto. That’s a heavy price, but the Rangers aren’t done with the free-agent market and almost assuredly will sign another, similarly ranked player. With the many holes they needed to fill this offseason, losing that pick was a foregone conclusion.

Posted by Lucas at 08:41 AM

November 17, 2006

Ojeda Signs

Texas signed catcher MIGUEL OJEDA to a one-year contract for $430,000, $300,000 of which is guaranteed.

Last winter, Texas threw some guaranteed money at John Wasdin and waived him anyway. Ojeda might receive the same fate. I agree with Rod Barajas’s departure, but that’s not to say that Ojeda inspires confidence even as a backup.

Ojeda signed with the Pirates in 1993 but spent all but a smidgen of 1995-2002 in Mexico. He’s a career .240/.308/.380 minor-league hitter and not considered better than adequate defensively. Should Gerald Laird falter, the Rangers cannot abide 80+ games of Ojeda’s bat. I hope they sign another catcher, and by that I don’t mean Ken Huckaby.

Posted by Lucas at 01:23 AM

November 07, 2006

Texas Retains Mahay

Texas picked up the team option on reliever RON MAHAY.

Mahay’s had an odd tenure in Texas. After a couple of nice seasons, the Rangers signed him to a two-year contract with a team option for a third. Nine months later, they designated him for assignment and dumped him to AAA. The following April they re-instituted him on the 40 and active rosters, whereupon he pitched successfully, if not as well as during 2003-2004.

Mahay will earn $1.2 million next season and becomes a free agent afterwards. Already 35 and never more than a middle reliever, he won’t have suitors dumping wheelbarrows of cash at his feet next November, but he stands a good chance of earning very respectable money for another couple of years. More power to him.

Posted by Lucas at 12:57 AM

November 06, 2006

Texas Has A Manager

Texas hired Ron Washington as manager.

This managerial appointment was bound to be uncontroversial. Given the set of personality characteristics that distinguished Buck Showalter’s dismissal, the replacement was destined to be less authoritarian, more affable, more communicative, more a “player’s manager.? Ron’s not just your boss, he’s your pal, but he’s also no pushover. Who wouldn’t want to play for him?

I exaggerate, but you understand. After several years of machinations (never proven but always suspected) and increasingly bad vibes in the Ranger clubhouse and front office, Washington is a deep gulp of fresh air.

Can he manage? Beats me. Assessing experienced managers is tough enough, much less new hires. Informed fans can evaluate players reasonably well with numerical data and GMs with analyses of trades, free-agent signings, etc. Conversely, a fan’s assessment of a manager usually has to be personality-driven because managerial performance doesn’t translate to an easy number like ERA. Sure, managers can show their ineptness with ludicrous batting orders and pitching changes, but few are truly incompetent in those respects. At the moment, we have very little on which to base our opinions.

That said, Athletics players hold him in extremely high regard, their fans seem disappointed in his departure, and I would very much like for Texas to win a World Series at some point during my corporeal residence on Earth. So count me on board.

Posted by Lucas at 11:55 PM

October 12, 2006

Waiver Claims

Texas claimed pitcher FRANCISCO CRUCETA off waivers from Seattle and pitcher MIKE WOOD off waivers from Kansas City. Texas also designated utility guy JERRY HAIRSTON for assignment.

Despite my admonition, the Rangers made a roster move while I was out of town (in Beaumont, the crown jewel of southeast Texas).

Learn everything you’d ever want to know about Cruceta here. Also, USS Mariner is displeased. Sounds good to me. While Cruceta looks like a failed prospect that might yet pan out, Wood already looks played out. With 293 MLB innings, mostly during 2004-2005 when Kaufmann Stadium favored pitchers, Wood has produced a vanilla walk rate (3.3 per nine IP), a subpar homer rate (1 per 7.3 IP), and a grim strikeout rate (4.8 per nine IP). Feels like a Spring Training roster cut to me.

I guess the Nevin trade was a bust because we couldn’t resign Hairston. But seriously, folks...

Posted by Lucas at 12:34 PM

October 04, 2006

Showalter Fired

Texas fired manager Buck Showalter.

I haven’t written much about Showalter because I’m ambivalent about him. I agree that Showalter had to go, and I won’t miss him. Having said that, I have no doubt that he tried his best to make the team a winner and that he believed he could lead capably into the future. He refused to resign, and rightly so.

I doubt I’d enjoy working for him, but that’s an issue of personality, not managerial competence. Most people (and I can’t say I’m excluding myself) judge a manager based on personality because that’s all they have to go on. Sure, there are wins and losses, but that’s mostly the domain of the players. Grading managers objectively is a difficult task with nebulous results. Only those on the far end of the curve (say, Earl Weaver and Larry Bowa) are easily assessed.

Showalter’s dismissal actually did hinge on personality. Tom Hicks (and it is ultimately Hicks’s decision despite his public handoff to Jon Daniels) didn’t fire him because he started Rod Barajas too often. In today’s press conference Daniels expressed the need for a “fresh perspective,? usually an empty phrase but appropriate in this case. Not for the first time, Showalter’s personality didn’t mesh with the players. He consistently ranked among the least-liked managers according to secret ballots of players. Though a friendly relationship between manager and players certainly isn’t requisite to winning, too much dislike and mistrust can poison a clubhouse (or any working environment).

Tom Hicks may have wanted to retain Showalter, but Hicks himself paved the way for Showalter’s firing with his ill-advised interview questioning the character of the players. After the predictable backlash from the players, media and fans, the present situation could not stand. Someone had to go in order to relieve the tension. Should Hicks and Daniels have dismantled the team to save the manager? Of course not. Even on the assumption that Showalter is a great manager and doesn’t deserve firing, it’s far easier and sensible to replace him rather than the players.

Far more difficult is the task of replacing the team’s the biggest problem, its owner. As pointed out by Ed Coffin, frequent commenter at Lone Star Ball and Jamey Newberg’s message board, Tom Hicks is a deal broker, not an executive. It’s not that he has no plan. In fact, he’s had many plans, each diligently followed for a couple of years or so, whereupon an entirely new and often diametrically opposing plan takes its place.

In eight seasons of ownership, Hicks has employed three general managers and will soon hire his fourth manager. After 2001, Hicks replaced Doug Melvin with John Hart and simultaneously hired Grady Fuson with the understanding that Fuson would assume GM duties after a three-year “internship.? Two years and nine months later, Hicks dismissed Fuson. After Texas unexpectedly won 89 games in 2004, only the second winning season during Hicks’s tenure, he signed Hart to a rolling two-year extension and Showalter to a three-year extension with a club option. Nine months later, Hicks reassigned Hart. One year and nine months later, he fired Showalter before his extension began. Mull that one over. Hicks signed Showalter to a guaranteed three-year, $6 million contract when the existing contract still had two years remaining, and Showalter will receive that money without managing a single game.

Wait, there’s more. Hicks signed Alex Rodriguez to a ten-year, $252 million contract. Rodriguez lasted three years. During the next nineteen years the Rangers will pay him $87 million (plus interest) to play for the Yankees and to hone his golf skills after he retires. On a broader level, he instigated a period of frivolous spending followed by extreme parsimony. Accounting errors during 2001-2002 continue to haunt the team.

Replacing Showalter was necessary, but it doesn’t necessarily improve the team. I hope that in two years I’m discussing a Rangers playoff game and not the next Two Year Plan.

Posted by Lucas at 06:52 PM

September 08, 2006

September Call-Up Roundup

Between September 1 and September 8, Texas recalled pitchers SCOTT FELDMAN, JOHN RHEINECKER, and NICK MASSET from AAA Oklahoma, pitcher FRANK FRANCISCO from short-season Spokane, and shortstop JOAQUIN ARIAS from AAA Oklahoma. Texas also purchased the contract of catcher MIGUEL OJEDA and transferred outfielder BRAD WILKERSON to the 60-day Disabled List.

Francisco will see his first MLB action since September of 2004, when a thrown chair and Tommy John surgery suspended his career. The surprise is Arias, who batted a meager .268/.296/.361 in AAA as a (mostly) 21-year-old. I wouldn’t expect more than a couple of token appearances from him.

Posted by Lucas at 06:05 PM

August 30, 2006

Hyzdu Outrighted

Texas designated outfielder ADAM HYZDU for assignment and outrighted him to AAA Oklahoma.

Rotoworld expressed amazement that Hyzdu stayed on the roster for so long. Hyzdu didn’t survive on merit, rather on Texas’s lack of additional trades or need for another roster spot. Now, the Rangers need his spot, as they have traded 2004 fifth-rounder Mike Nickeas for New York Mets outfielder Victor Diaz. The Mets themselves designated Diaz last week, but Texas probably will add him to the roster and bring him to Arlington on September 1.

Diaz has cratered this year (.223/.275/.334 in AAA Norfolk) after showing promise in the Majors last year (.257/.329/.468). Still, he doesn’t turn 25 until December.

Posted by Lucas at 04:56 PM

August 25, 2006

Eric Young Rejoins Rangers

Texas purchased the contract of utility guy ERIC YOUNG and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Texas optioned pitcher NICK MASSET to AAA.

It’s nice to have Young back, in theory. In practice, maybe not so much. Young does have the warm ‘n’ fuzzy memories of 2004 attached to his name, but he also has the exact same skill set and handedness as Jerry Hairston plus nine additional years of wear and tear. What, honestly, does he bring to a team with its playoff hopes hanging by a thread? I think the Eric Young Farewell Tour is a terrific idea. I just didn’t expect it to begin a week before rosters expanded.

Posted by Lucas at 05:28 PM

August 21, 2006

Transactions A Go Go!

On Saturday the 19th, Texas recalled pitcher ROBINSON TEJEDA from AAA Oklahoma and optioned outfielder FREDDY GUZMAN to AAA.

On Sunday the 20th, Texas recalled pitcher JOHN KORONKA from AAA Oklahoma and optioned pitcher SCOTT FELDMAN to AAA.

On Monday the 21st, Texas recalled pitcher NICK MASSET from AAA Oklahoma and optioned pitcher JOHN KORONKA to AAA.

Nobody said maintaining a fourteen-man pitching staff would be easy. Of the two Redhawks called for duty last weekend, I would have expected more from Koronka. In contrast to his recent plate-nibbling that led to excessive free passes, his one AAA effort featured sharpness, efficiency, and a wicked changeup that fooled many a Round Rock Express batter (Expresser? Expression?). Tejeda, on the other hand, offered a superficially brilliant performance (two walks, ten Ks) that, in my opinion, relied too much on pure heat and papered over too many high-pitch at-bats (98 pitches in just five innings).

Sure enough, against the big boys Tejeda excelled while Koronka inexplicably reverted to nibbling. Watching him try, and try, and try to squeak a third strike by a batter has become a gloomy experience. As for Tejeda, simply being league-average would greatly assist the Rangers’ quest for a fourth division championship and provide a partial answer to the question of who joins Kevin Millwood in the 2007 rotation.

Posted by Lucas at 06:02 PM

August 17, 2006

Wilkerson DL'ed, Out For Season

Yesterday, Texas placed outfielder BRAD WILKERSON on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled outfielder FREDDY GUZMAN from AAA Oklahoma.

Well it wasn’t supposed to work out that way. The keystone of the Alfonso Soriano trade batted a meager .222/.306/.422 and gave up on his sore shoulder with six weeks remaining. I loved the trade at the time. There are worse ways to embarrass myself, I suppose.

In his first twenty games, Wilkerson struck out in an ungodly 40% of his plate appearances (34 of 85) and often seemed utterly helpless at the plate. No, strikeouts don’t normally hurt more than any other type of out, but Wilkerson certainly didn’t endear himself to fans with his frequent whiffing despite leading the team in homers for much of the season. Only in May (.293/.414/.598) did he avoid dragging down the offense.

Texas management now faces the uncomfortable decision of whether to offer Wilkerson arbitration. He earned $3.9 million this season. My guess is that the Rangers cut bait.

Posted by Lucas at 05:35 PM

August 15, 2006

Wells DL'ed, Feldman Recalled

Texas placed pitcher KIP WELLS on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled reliever SCOTT FELDMAN from AAA.

Sprained ankle. Wells may not achieve even the modest goal of bettering the performance of John Rheinecker.

Posted by Lucas at 07:20 PM

August 11, 2006

EY rejoins Rangers

Texas signed outfielder ERIC YOUNG to a minor-league contract.

Eh, why not. On the field, Young offers scant value beyond his ability to play numerous positions, a skill that both Mark DeRosa and Jerry Hairston provide with superior quality. At this stage of his career, Young doesn’t hit lefties especially well and is beyond hope against righties.

Still, his Ranger teammates loved him back in the salad days of ’04, and perhaps come September’s roster expansion he can dispense some advice, encouragement and peaceful vibes to a clubhouse in need of them. That’s worth a little something and costs essentially nothing. Texas has an open spot on the 40, and it’s not as if Young would be preventing Adam Hyzdu from achieving his destiny. If Texas’s faint playoff hopes evaporate, the Rangers can give him a few starts as a pleasant coda to a nice career.

Posted by Lucas at 11:59 PM

August 07, 2006

Volquez Recalled

Texas recalled pitcher EDINSON VOLQUEZ from AAA Oklahoma and optioned pitcher JOHN KORONKA to AAA.

Here we go! The 22-year-old takes over for ailing Kip Wells in the most important game of the season (to date). Here’s why Volquez will mow down the A’s.

9.7 strikeouts per nine innings in AAA.
One homer allowed per 13 innings.
.208 opponents’ batting average (86 hits in 120.2 innings)

Here’s why he’ll get slaughtered:

5.4 walks allowed per nine innings.
5.7 walks per nine in July.
Ordinary .242/.367/.426 line against righties.

Posted by Lucas at 08:59 PM

August 04, 2006

Loe Optioned

Texas activated pitcher KAMERON LOE from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned him to AAA Oklahoma. Pitcher JOHN WASDIN refused assignment to AAA and has been released.

Loe isn’t getting his rotation job back with Adam Eaton and Kip Wells on the roster, so the Rangers have dropped him off in Oklahoma to get acclimated to the bullpen. Wasdin lasted nearly three years in Texas and occasionally pitched well. He’ll have another job within the week.

Amazingly, Texas hasn’t a single player on the Major League disabled list. Frankie Francisco, Edinson Volquez and Jason Botts reside on minor-league DLs at the moment.

Posted by Lucas at 08:56 AM

August 02, 2006

Feldman Up and Down, Wells In, Rheinecker Out

On Tuesday, Texas recalled reliever SCOTT FELDMAN from AAA Oklahoma and optioned pitcher JOHN RHEINECKER to AAA. On Wednesday, Texas activated pitcher KIP WELLS and optioned FELDMAN.

I hope Texas lets the players keep their frequent flyer miles.

Posted by Lucas at 11:18 PM

July 31, 2006

Wasdin DFA'ed (again)

Texas designated pitcher JOHN WASDIN for assignment.

Wasdin enjoyed a run of surprising adequacy last year, but in 2006 he regressed to his replacement-level mean. He has withstood numerous DFAs without a claim, and he’ll likely ply his trade for Oklahoma within a few days.

Posted by Lucas at 11:58 PM

Texas acquires Stairs, Wells (Kip, not Vernon)

Texas traded minor-league pitcher JOSELO DIAZ to Kansas City for outfielder MATT STAIRS.

Stairs has a zesty career line of .273/.367/.501 against righties but hasn’t actually slugged .500 since 2003. This season, he’s a more vanilla .264/.361/.447. He obviously improves the roster, and yet I wonder how much he’ll actually help. Mark DeRosa has backslid rapidly during July but probably will continue to start every day because… well, because he’s Mark DeRosa. Thus, Stairs would supplant Brad Wilkerson, who despite his struggles isn’t that much worse than Stairs against righties (.240/.327/.471). Likewise, if Texas continues to bench Hank Blalock against tough lefties, Stairs seems a bit superfluous. Considering how infrequently Buck Showalter employs his bench, does having two quality lefty bats mean anything?

I don’t dislike the trade. I just think its impact is very marginal.

Texas traded minor-league pitcher JESSE CHAVEZ to Pittsburgh for pitcher KIP WELLS.

Wells missed almost three months while recovering from shoulder surgery. In seven starts he has an ERA of 6.69, a WHIP of 1.76, and 2.6 fewer strikeouts per nine innings than his pre-’06 career. Though he’s allowed only four runs in his last three starts, he’s allowed permitted 30 baserunners in those 19.2 innings. Frankly, he hasn’t pitched well since 2003. Nevertheless, ousting John Rheinecker for Wells certainly improves the rotation.

Neither Chavez nor Diaz ranked among John Sickels’s pre-season Top 20 Ranger prospects. DVD-H remains intact. (That's Danks-Volquez-Diamond Hurley for you non-Ranger fanatics.)

Posted by Lucas at 06:20 PM

Last Week's Non-Carlos Transactions

Last week I was out of town every day but Thursday. For the sake of completeness…

On July 25, Texas activated pitcher ADAM EATON from the 60-day Disabled List and added him to the active roster. Texas designated pitcher BRYAN COREY for assignment.

On July 30, Texas traded pitcher BRYAN COREY to Boston for minor-league pitcher LUIS MENDOZA. Texas also acquired catcher MIGUEL OJEDA for cash.

Barring another deal, Eaton serves as Texas’s Big Trading-Deadline Pitching Acquisition. He’s not even above-average, of course, but perhaps with some luck he can imitate Jason Schmidt for a couple of months.

I was a bit surprised Texas chose to DFA Corey instead of optioning Rheinecker or C.J. Wilson, but it probably doesn’t matter. The 22-year-old Mendoza pitched well in high-A but has struggled in AA (67 hits allowed in 43 innings). Ojeda is a stopgap in case Texas trades Barajas.

Posted by Lucas at 12:10 PM

July 28, 2006

Carlos Lee A Ranger, Mench and CoCo join Brew Crew

Texas has traded outfielder KEVIN MENCH, outfielder LAYNCE NIX, reliever FRANCISCO CORDERO, and minor-league pitcher JULIAN CORDERO to Milwaukee for outfielder CARLOS LEE and outfielder NELSON CRUZ.

In short, I like it. Yes, Lee will be a free agent and almost certainly will find himself in another uniform next season, but so will the players Texas relinquished. Now 28, Mench appears to have topped out as merely average outfielder. He does have two arbitration years remaining, but neither will be cheap since he makes $2.8 million already. Nix is three years younger but has stalled in AAA. Perhaps Texas wrecked his career in 2003 by calling him up from AA as a 22-year-old despite his unspectacular stats, but that’s a philosophical discussion for another time. Cordero had probably pitched himself out of next year’s team option.

The wildcard is Cruz, who is three months older than Nix and a bit old for a prospect. Still, he’s batted .302/.380/.525 for AAA Toledo with good patience and a terrible strikeout rate.

I’m revising the organization depth chart, so no update of that for a few days.

Posted by Lucas at 02:03 PM

July 13, 2006

Guzman Up, Botts Down

Texas optioned outfielder JASON BOTTS to AAA Oklahoma and recalled outfielder FREDDY GUZMAN from AAA.

Given that Botts wasn’t starting and Buck Showalter apparently is legally proscribed from using a pinch hitter, Guzman makes better use of the 25th spot on the roster.

Posted by Lucas at 03:09 PM

July 04, 2006

Littleton Up, Guzman Down

Yesterday, Texas recalled reliever WES LITTLETON from AAA Oklahoma and optioned outfielder FREDDY GUZMAN to AAA.

In a mild surprise, Guzman hung around for three games beyond the end of Texas’s tour through NL parks. Guzman had no value beyond pinch running because Gary Matthews occupies his natural position, and Buck Showalter avoids pinch hitting like the plague. Littleton didn’t make an appearance in his first stint with the club.

Posted by Lucas at 07:24 PM

July 01, 2006

Wasdin Up, Masset Down

Texas activated pitcher JOHN WASDIN from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned pitcher NICK MASSET to AAA Oklahoma.

The Rangers need a starter for Saturday’s game. Masset got a fly out from Kevin Frandsen to retire his first MLB hitter.

Enjoy your Fourth.

Posted by Lucas at 01:06 PM

June 29, 2006

Castro Traded for Haigwood

Texas traded reliever FABIO CASTRO to Philadelphia for pitcher DANIEL HAIGWOOD. Texas also activated pitcher JOSH RUPE from the 60-day Disabled List, optioned him to AAA, and released infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL.

A nice return for the DFA’ed Castro. Haigwood was one of the chips traded to Philly for Jim Thome. This season he has a 3.86 ERA, 3.54 ERA, 85 strikeouts and 42 walks in 84 innings for AA Reading. He turns 23 in November.

McDougall might have made a decent bench player, but we’ll probably never know now.

In other news, the Rangers lost again, and Sleater-Kinney have broken up.

It’s been better.

Posted by Lucas at 07:17 PM

June 26, 2006

Tejeda Up and Down, Masset Up, Castro Out

I'm running late...

On Saturday, Texas recalled pitcher ROBINSON TEJEDA from AAA Oklahoma and designated relief pitcher FABIO CASTRO for assignment.

Odds are that Texas won’t regret losing Castro, the first pick of the offseason Rule 5 draft, but it’s an irritating move nonetheless because of the rationales offered.

One, Buck Showalter noted that “there are some things to like about [Castro]… but we’re also trying to win a division. It’s a tough call.?

In spending tens of millions for Kevin Millwood, trading for Adam Eaton and Brad Wilkerson and Aki Otsuka, trading away Alfonso Soriano and Chris Young, and so on, the Rangers quite obviously have been “trying to win a division? since last November. If holding on to a not-ready-for-prime-time Rule 5 pick contradicts that goal, why bother drafting him? Alternately, why not give Castro a legitimate chance to show whether he belonged and then cut bait in May if need be, rather than let him rot on the bench and remain an enigma in late June?

Two, per MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, reliever Bryan Corey’s “performance was one of the reasons why the Rangers were willing to let go of Rule 5 pitcher Fabio Castro.? Texas would have had to send Corey through waivers to get him back to Oklahoma. Showalter said, “With the state of pitching in baseball, we could have lost Bryan,? who would have been exposed to waivers had Texas tried to send him back to AAA.

Really? Bryan Corey? The 32-year-old with only four more big-league innings than the 21-year-old Castro? Now, I’m rooting for him; the Bryan Corey Story is an example of what makes baseball more interesting than any other sport. But will Texas keep him when Adam Eaton, Frankie Francisco, John Wasdin and perhaps Josh Rupe claim their places on the active roster?

On Sunday, Texas recalled pitcher NICK MASSET from AAA Oklahoma and optioned pitcher ROBINSON TEJEDA to AAA.

Three cheers for Masset, who pitched himself off the 40-man roster in 2005 but revitalized his career this season.

Posted by Lucas at 09:49 PM

June 20, 2006

Loe DL'ed, Guzman Recalled

Texas placed pitcher KAMERON LOE on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled outfielder FREDDY GUZMAN from AAA Oklahoma.

Loe doesn’t strike anyone out, so he lives and dies on the basis of homers allowed (over which he has substantial control) and his hit rate on balls in play (over which he has little). Last year, Loe allowed one homer per 56 batters faced and had a quite lucky .271 average on balls in play. This year, one homer per 36 batters and an unlucky .328 average when the ball stayed in the park. Somewhere in the middle is a pitcher with a borderline-acceptable ERA of 5.00.

Guzman came to Texas from San Diego in exchange for minor-leaguers John Hudgins and Vince Sinisi and was batting .278/.378/.346 in Oklahoma. Guzman should be limited to pinch-running duties but might get an at-bat or two during Texas’s upcoming jaunt through NL parks. He can dream of more without undue illegitimacy; after all, ostensible 25th man and non-hitter Jerry Hairston has inexplicably started five of the last ten games, two more than Jason Botts.

Posted by Lucas at 01:07 PM

June 16, 2006

Wasdin Out, Castro In

Texas placed pitcher JOHN WASDIN on the 15-day Disabled List and activated reliever FABIO CASTRO from the Disabled List.

Wasdin bruised his hand fielding a comebacker. Texas stashed Rule 5 selection Castro on the DL with a minutely strained groin six weeks ago and has been trying to avoid having to place him on waivers ever since. With twelve other pitchers on the roster, Texas can hide him more easily while he accrues the mandatory service time.

Posted by Lucas at 07:20 PM

June 09, 2006

Corey Purchased, Alfonseca Booted

Texas purchased the contract of reliever BRYAN COREY and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Texas also designated reliever ANTONIO ALFONSECA for assignment.

What? Texas discarded El Pulpo just two days after activating from the DL, in favor of a 32-year-old with five MLB innings to his credit. Corey has pitched extraordinarily well between Frisco and Oklahoma: a 1.39 ERA, eight walks and 35 strikeouts in 32 innings. His career ERA in AAA going into this season was 4.48 with generally shrug-worthy peripherals. He credits a slight mechanical change for his sudden improvement.

Alfonseca was allowing baserunners at an alarming rate, but Corey’s odds of a better performance are pretty thin. On the other hand, hey, why not? A disaster would result in perhaps five innings of terrible pitching followed by his own designation and the return of Wes Littleton or the rehabbing Frankie Francisco. It’s a weird transaction but ultimately of minimal risk.

Posted by Lucas at 05:46 PM

June 07, 2006

Alfonseca Returns, Jimenez Departs

Texas activated reliever ANTONIO ALFONSECA from the Disabled List and designated infielder D’ANGELO JIMENEZ for assignment.

In 2010, Texas will routinely carry sixteen pitchers and the minimum nine hitters.

I’m no fan of an eight-man bullpen because having one means apportioning innings to the twelfth and thirteenth best pitchers on the team in the interest of keeping everyone fresh. On the other hand, Texas rarely platoons, pinch-hits or pinch-runs, so being the last man on the Ranger bench means a nice per-diem and endless hours of boredom.

Anyway, the Rangers didn’t need Jimenez once Hairston arrives, and should the need arise later, they’ll call for Drew Meyer.

Posted by Lucas at 12:36 AM

June 01, 2006

Wasdin!

Texas purchased the contract of pitcher JOHN WASDIN from AAA Oklahoma and optioned reliever C.J. WILSON to AAA.

The Rangers signed Wasdin to a Major League deal in the offseason, only to dump him a few days before the start of the season. Wasdin has pitched very well in AAA (2.17 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) and dominated righthanded batters (.177/.238/.269). Last year’s pleasantly surprising middle relief was borne largely from a low .277 average on balls in play; he remains an extreme flyball pitcher who will give up the titanic blast. Still, he’s not a bad guy to have around for chewing up the middle innings.

Posted by Lucas at 07:02 PM

May 31, 2006

Nevin Traded

Texas traded DH PHIL NEVIN to the Chicago Cubs for utility guy JERRY HAIRSTON JR..

Hairston earns $2.3 million annually this season to Nevin’s $10 million plus, and Texas has emptied a cash-filled dumptruck onto Wrigley Field to consummate the deal.

Nevin batted .204/.287/.382 as a Ranger. He could have continued to provide a useful lefty bat, but his public pouting upon being benched last year probably hastened his exit. It didn’t matter much last September with the Rangers virtually eliminated from postseason play, but now, with the team in first place and two-thirds of the season remaining, his disposition matters. “Marginally useful? plus “potentially troublesome? does not equal “helps team win division.?

Hairston presumably makes D’Angelo Jimenez superfluous. He can play second, short and any outfield spot. He’d offered respectable on-base skills until this season.

Finally, when Texas releases Hairston or declines to offer arbitration at season’s end, the Chan Ho Park saga will reach its merciful end.

Posted by Lucas at 05:09 PM

May 25, 2006

Kinsler Returns, Brown Out

Texas activated 2B IAN KINSLER from the 15-day Disabled List and designated OF ADRIAN BROWN for assignment.

Kinsler returns from an involuntary six-week vacation stemming from a thumb-first slide into second base. The question is what to do with Mark Derosa’s nifty Michael Young impersonation (.338/.407/.600). Yes, Derosa can sub at any other infield spot, but Blalock, Young and Teixeira would rather fight than sit. Likewise, he doesn’t make a quality substitute for Kevin Mench since both specialize in bashing lefties.

Brown’s departure leaves Texas without a top notch backup in center or speedy pinch-runner. If or when the Rangers decide to promote new outfielder Freddy Guzman, candidates for dismissal include D’Angelo Jimenez and recently semi-demoted Phil Nevin.

Posted by Lucas at 06:30 PM

May 23, 2006

Botts Up, Meyer Down, Nevin...?

Texas recalled 1B/OF JASON BOTTS from AAA Oklahoma and sent IF DREW MEYER to AAA.

Botts batted .318/.373/.615 in his second tour of duty in AAA. The ten homers in forty games speak to his potential, as does striking out once per 3.4 at-bats. Botts turns 26 in a couple of months and needs to exploit this opportunity lest he receive the Adrian Gonzalez treatment. As you may recall, Gonzalez hit lights-out during Spring Training in 2005 and earned a roster spot, only to play sparingly and hit poorly in a two-week trial, whereupon he was dumped back into the minors. Botts’ situation isn’t a perfect analogy, but there is the fear that Texas could settle too soon for the dull certainty of Nevin’s underachievement rather than ride out a slow start by Botts.

Since the start of 2005, Nevin has 596 plate appearances and a line of .234/.299/.388, roughly comparable to the immortal Neifi Perez. This season, Nevin has all but twelve of the team’s cleanup plate appearances and all but five from the DH slot. To what end?

Phil Nevin, 2006
OBP+
SLG+
OPS+
Relative to the AL
96
92
88
Relative to other DHs
95
85
80
Relative to other cleanup hitters
88
78
66

Texas has received better cleanup production than only two teams (Kansas City and Seattle) and better DH production than three (KC, Los Angeles, and Minnesota). Nevin’s 2006 performance thus far should strike a familiar chord for Ranger fans:

Player
Line
Phil Nevin (2006)
.226/.324/.409
Brad Fullmer (2004)
.233/.310/.442
Andres Galaragga (2001)
.235/.310/.424
Ken Caminiti (2001)
.232/.318/.432

Only the 40-year-old Galaragga had any gas left in the tank after leaving Texas, lasting another three reasonably productive years.

Posted by Lucas at 06:23 PM

May 19, 2006

Tejeda Up, Alfonseca Hurt

Texas placed reliever ANTONIO ALFONSECA on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled pitcher ROBINSON TEJEDA from AAA Oklahoma.

El Pulpo has a sore tentacle.

Posted by Lucas at 06:51 PM

May 13, 2006

Shouse Traded

Texas traded reliever BRIAN SHOUSE to Milwaukee for infielder ENRIQUE CRUZ and a player to be named.

The Rangers had designated Shouse a few days ago. He provided two excellent seasons during 2003-2004, then faded. Homers signaled his downfall: he allowed only four in 105 innings during ’03-’04, eight in 57 innings since.

Cruz was a Rule 5 selection in 2003 as a 21-year-old. He survived the full season, sort of, getting all of 76 plate appearances and batting .085/.145/.099 with 30 strikeouts. Playing in AAA for the first time, he was batting .261/.320/.377. He’s shown slightly increased power and decreased patience while slowly moving up the ladder. Doesn’t appear to be more than a 25th man at the Major League level.

Posted by Lucas at 03:50 PM

May 08, 2006

Feldman Up, Tejeda Down, Shouse Out

Texas recalled reliever SCOTT FELDMAN from AAA Oklahoma, optioned starting pitcher ROBINSON TEJEDA to AAA, and designated reliever BRIAN SHOUSE for assignment.

Feldman had pitched well enough in his prior stints on the active roster, but the optionless status of many other Ranger relievers made him the default choice to demote. Rather than keep him in AAA, Texas opted for the more difficult decision of waiving the rehabilitating Brian Shouse. Shouse is a pure LOOGY who nonetheless had faced righties half the time and wasn’t retiring lefties at the necessary rate (.400/.400/.600 in ten plate appearances). Statistically, one can’t infer anything from such a small sample, but Texas seemingly has decided that Feldman (or, more likely, fellow lefty C.J. Wilson) is better suited to terminate Major League hitters.

Posted by Lucas at 11:29 PM

April 30, 2006

DeRosa Returns

Texas activated infielder MARK DEROSA from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned outfielder ADAM HYZDU to AAA Oklahoma.

50,000,000 DeRosa fans can't be wrong.

Posted by Lucas at 08:35 PM

April 22, 2006

Rheinekcer Up, Shouse DL'ed.

Texas placed reliever BRIAN SHOUSE on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled pitcher JOHN RHEINECKER from AAA Oklahoma.

Texas wins the battle with Oakland over which traded pitcher would join the active roster first. Rheinecker has a bizarre line in AAA so far: ten Ks and only one walk in 15+ innings, but also 26 hits allowed and a 5.87 ERA. The hits aren’t necessarily just a function of luck. In 541 AA-AAA innings, Rheinecker’s opponents have batted a robust .325 on balls in play. He’ll start Saturday night against a salty Tampa Bay offense.

Shouse has a strained right calf and an opposing batters’ line of .316/.350/.632.

Posted by Lucas at 06:18 PM

April 21, 2006

Nix Optioned

Texas optioned outfielder LAYNCE NIX to AAA Oklahoma, added outfielder ADAM HYZDU to the 40-man and active rosters, and moved pitcher JOSH RUPE from the 15-day to the 60-day Disabled List.

Healthy, yes, but no more productive. After a late spring surge and Gary Matthews’s injury propelled Nix to a starting role, he opened the season with a line of .094/.118/.125, drew zero walks and struck out seventeen times in his 34 plate appearances. While just about anyone could hit that poorly in that short a span, Nix has a depressing affinity for these cold streaks. He now possesses a career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.6 to 1 as a Major Leaguer.

Nix has walked a spiffy once per 9.8 plate appearances in the minors. Perhaps a long stretch in AAA will promote better pitch selection. He won’t turn 26 until the fall and had only 87 games of experience above A ball (all in AA) when Texas promoted him to Arlington.

Not that it’s anyone’s fault per se, but in three short weeks Texas mutated from a team with “too many outfielders? to having Adrian Brown and Adam Hyzdu on the active roster. Whee.

Posted by Lucas at 11:23 PM

April 19, 2006

Transactions

Texas placed infielder MARK DEROSA on the 15-day Disabled List, added infielder DREW MEYER to the 40-man and active rosters, and moved pitcher ADAM EATON from the 15-day to the 60-day Disabled List.

Grady Fuson’s first pick and most notorious draft pick makes his big-league debut. The tenth pick of 2002, Meyer didn’t merit a spot on the 40-man roster last fall or a selection in the Rule 5 draft last winter. His career AA-AAA line of .281/.339/.363 shows far too much reliance on batting average for offensive value; he walks once every thirteen plate appearances and has five homers in 843 at-bats. Meyer doesn’t turn 25 until August and can play practically anywhere but catcher, so he has more upside than, say, 27-year-old Marshall McDougall. Perhaps he’ll get what has eluded McDougall: the opportunity to mature into a genuinely useful utility player.

Texas moved Eaton to the 60-day DL to accommodate Meyer.

Posted by Lucas at 11:30 PM

April 15, 2006

Transaction

Texas activated pitcher C.J. WILSON from the Disabled List and optioned pitcher SCOTT FELDMAN to AAA Oklahoma.

The Rangers already had two lefties in the pen, but Brian Shouse is a LOOGY poster boy while Fabio Castro hasn’t merited use in anything approaching a high leverage situation. Wilson potentially gives Texas a lefty who can chew a whole inning or two in the middle of a close game. Potentially.

Among the logical candidates for demotion, only Feldman had options. Indeed, this option is just his first, so it’s not as if Texas is burning one needlessly. Feldman hasn’t even acquired 100 innings in professional baseball. He'll cope.

Posted by Lucas at 12:55 AM

April 13, 2006

Transactions

Texas placed 2B IAN KINSLER on the 15-day Disabled List.

Ugh. Kinsler’s ill-fated slide will cost him three weeks. He suffered “only? a dislocated thumb and ligament strain; a torn ligament would have given him a three-month vacation. Buck Showalter will give most of the starts to Mark DeRosa over D’Angelo Jimenez even though DeRosa doesn’t hit righties.

Texas activated OF GARY MATTHEWS JR. from the 15-day Disabled List.

Matthews takes Kinsler’s place on the roster and Brad Wilkerson’s at the top of the lineup. Per Showalter:

Comparatively speaking, he’s as good a candidate as we have. He’s a guy you could potentially put there and leave alone.

I couldn’t agree more. After all, Matthews did go one-for-five last night, and the leadoff spot is the ideal location for someone with a career OBP of .327. Likewise, Wilkerson’s career OBP of .365 in 2,700 plate appearances is utterly nullified by his awful week-and-a-half as a Ranger.

Incidentally, I went three-for-three for my softball team last week. Comparatively speaking, I think there’s a pretty good chance I will never make another out. Ever.

Texas activated infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned him to AAA Oklahoma.

Even with Kinsler’s injury, Texas doesn’t need poor McDougall.

Posted by Lucas at 11:33 AM

April 07, 2006

Transaction

Texas optioned pitcher R.A. DICKEY to AAA Oklahoma, purchased the contract of pitcher RICK BAUER and added him to the active roster.

The Rangers have an organizational policy imposing a demotion for any pitcher who allows in excess of 2,000 linear feet of home runs in one game. Bauer epitomizes mediocrity but ought to provide modest improvement on Dickey’s opponent slugging percentage of 1.500. Bauer’s promotion pushes the 40-man roster to its limit. Both Dickey and Bauer have an unusual physical attribute: Dickey, as you probably know, lacks a forearm ligament, while Bauer possesses neither jaw nor chin.

Texas also re-signed DH Erubiel Durazo.

Posted by Lucas at 06:06 PM

April 02, 2006

Transactions

Texas placed pitcher ADAM EATON and outfielder GARY MATTHEWS JR. on the 15-day Disabled List.

Eaton will undergo surgery on his injured middle finger in a few days. Surgery or no, he is looking at three months on the shelf. Matthews never played in Spring Training because of sore ribs but should begin a rehab assignment next week. Upon his return to Arlington, he'll man center field against lefties and spot Brad Wilkerson and Kevin Mench on the corners.

Posted by Lucas at 03:19 AM

Transactions

Texas purchased the contracts of reliever ANTONIO ALFONSECA, infielder D’ANGELO JIMENEZ, and outfielder ADRIAN BROWN.

Texas designated reliever ERASMO RAMIREZ for assignement.

And the Rangers fill out the back end of their roster. Alfonseca will attempt to provide league-average middle relief. The 28-year-old Jimenez probably will rot on the bench in an attempt to resurrect his career. He falls behind Kinsler and DeRosa on the depth chart at second base, and Blalock and Young rest about once every three months. Brown, likewise, should play very infrequently even though he comes to Arlington as the fourth outfielder. Texas needs him for the time being because of the trade of Dellucci and injury to Gary Matthews.

The decision to DFA Ramirez is interesting but not unexpected. Ramirez had no more options, and his slow/slower/slowest repertoire didn’t inspire much confidence despite his left-handedness and an opposing batter line of .256/.297/.382. Ramirez also has a pronounced reverse split: .622 OPS versus righties and .761 against lefties. I’d bet someone claims him.

By my count, Texas currently has 41 players on the 40-man roster. They had 38 going into Thursday, lost Dominguez but gained Koronka and Rheinecker to gain one, then added the three noted above and designated Ramirez. Assuming I’m correct, the Rangers probably have bumped one of their disabled to the 60-day list.

UPDATE: Forgot that Texas outrighted reliever Jon Leicester. 40 on the roster.

Posted by Lucas at 02:21 AM

April 01, 2006

Trade

Texas traded outfielder DAVID DELLUCCI for Philadelphia for pitcher ROBINSON TEJEDA and outfielder JAKE BLALOCK.

Apparently the Ranger braintrust looked askance at throwing newly acquired John Koronka onto the mound for the fifth game of the season. Despite concerns about Brad Wilkerson’s shoulder, Laynce Nix’s ability to hit MLB pitching, and Gary Matthews’s hamstring, Texas decided to cash in on Dellucci’s fine 2005 and affordability ($900,000 salary) to upgrade the pitching. Since Philly has Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu as outfield corners and no need for a DH, Dellucci will recede to the status of seldom-used fourth outfielder.

Tejeda turned 24 a few days ago. As a rookie last season, Tejeda lucked into his 3.57 ERA. He walked or hit 16% of the batters he faced and allowed only a .260 average on balls in play. On the other hand, he struck out just under 20% of his opponents and permitted only five homers and a meager .329 slugging percentage. In 2004, as a 22-year-old in AA, he offered promising peripherals (3.5 walks and 8.0 Ks per nine innings) except for Wasdin-esque homer per five innings. With his arrival, John Koronka’s tenure as the fifth starter lasts all of two days. I peg Tejeda for an ERA of 4.80 and a WHIP of 1.50 in Texas.

Blalock is Hank’s kid brother. He batted .279/.359/.388 as a 21-year-old for high-A Clearwater last year. He may begin ’06 in AA Frisco.

Posted by Lucas at 11:59 PM

March 31, 2006

Transactions

Texas placed pitchers FRANK FRANCISCO, JOSH RUPE, and C.J. WILSON, and infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL on the 15-day Disabled List.

Adam Eaton and Gary Matthews will join them soon. Francisco is still recovering from last year’s Tommy John surgery.

Posted by Lucas at 11:19 PM

March 30, 2006

Trade

Texas traded pitcher JUAN DOMINGUEZ to Oakland for infielder FREDDIE BYNUM and pitcher JOHN RHEINECKER.

Texas trade infielder FREDDIE BYNUM to Chicago (NL) for pitcher JOHN KORONKA.

Depressing, even if Dominguez flops as an Athletic. He represents yet another homegrown arm that won’t blossom for Texas. I was skeptical that he would ever develop into more than a league-average pitcher, but guys like that currently have much greater marginal value for Texas than, say, Oakland. One more vanilla league-average starter could have delivered a division title to Texas in 2004. The possibility of Dominguez growing into his talent in Oakland is a waking nightmare. Somehow, in the space of three months, “the team with no pitching? traded Juan Dominguez and Chris Young, both of whom are under 27 and have better-than-league-average ERAs.

Texas immediately flipped Bynum for Koronka, who has eight years experience and 920 professional innings of which 905 have accrued in the minors. He also has a career minor-league RA of 5.17 and an ERA of 4.39. Texas drafted him as a Rule 5 pick from Cincinnati back in 2003 but surrendered him before the start of the season. Koronka spent most of the last two years in AAA; let’s compare him to Mystery Pitcher X:

AAA, 2004-2005
IP
RA
ERA
HR%
BB%
SO%
John Koronka
289
4.70
4.29
2.5%
9%
17%
Mystery Pitcher X
177
4.37
4.06
2.8%
6%
19%

Mystery Pitcher X allowed a few more homers but otherwise pitched marginally better than Koronka. Given these numbers and a rather unpalatable decision to make, you’d probably select Mr. X.

X is John Wasdin.

Koronka excelled in the Arizona Fall League as a reliever and, unlike Wasdin, impressed this spring, but Texas intends to return him to the rotation. Wasdin might do better. As mentioned by Newbergreport.com’s Mike Hindman, so might A.J. Murray. Dig around the Ranger farm system and find your own example.

Oakland selected Rheinecker as a supplemental first rounder in 2001. He doesn’t strike out many batters either but does have a minor-league ERA of 3.79 while pitching in several hitter-friendly leagues (California, Texas, Pacific Coast) and is more reluctant to allow walks and homers than Koronka. Still, he’s a pretty marginal prospect.

Posted by Lucas at 11:16 PM

March 27, 2006

Transaction

Texas has waived pitcher JOHN WASDIN.

Let’s review the $600,000 contract to which Texas signed Wasdin last November:

This contract recalls the $1 million bestowed upon Doug Brocail last year and the two years given to Herbert Perry after 2001; it’s really more a reward for a previous season’s unexpected adequacy.

This time, Texas didn’t even grant Wasdin the chance to disappoint. Wasdin pitched atrociously enough this spring (26 baserunners in 10.2 innings) to obliterate the misty water-colored memory of 2005’s satisfactory performance. Frankly, it was hard to envision him having a season-long, vital role for a ballclub that purports to contend for a division title.. On the other hand, he’s not the worst guy in the world to recall for a few innings in an emergency. Texas may resign him to a minor-league deal (he won’t be claimed).

Interestingly, Texas already had one open spot on the 40-nan roster.

Posted by Lucas at 11:40 PM

Transaction

Texas released designated hitter ERUBIEL DURAZO.

Durazo entered camp with a chance to claim a partial share of the DH role, but he didn’t hit and didn’t play much because of his presence on the WBC’s Mexican squad. By implication, Texas has granted Phil Nevin full-time DH status and in fact plan to bat him cleanup. Nevin himself hasn’t hit well this spring after an early homer barrage. If he can’t recapture his old glory, Mark Teixeira might surpass last year’s five intentional walks by the end of April.

Posted by Lucas at 11:39 PM

March 13, 2006

Transaction

Texas sent pitcher CLINT BRANNON to Chicago (NL) as the player-to-be-named in the trade for pitcher JON LEICESTER.

The Rangers drafted Brannon in the 34th round of the 2004 draft. He shredded the short-season Northwest League, then gave an okay performance in a level hop to the high-A hitter-friendly California League. Leicester for Brannon seems reasonable.

Posted by Lucas at 06:30 PM

February 25, 2006

Transactions

Texas signed pitchers FRANK FRANCISCO and JON LEICESTER and outfielder LAYNCE NIX to one-year contracts.

$345,260 for Nix, $332,100 for Leiscester, $331,500 for Francisco. Texas has everyone on the 40-man roster signed.

Posted by Lucas at 12:31 PM

February 23, 2006

Transactions

Texas signed pitchers R.A DICKEY and KAMERON LOE and infielder JOAQUIN ARIAS to one-year contracts.

$380,000 for Dickey, $348,770 for Loe and the minimum for Arias.

Posted by Lucas at 11:31 PM

February 22, 2006

Transaction

Texas signed DH ERUBIEL DURAZO to a minor-league contract.

A nice pickup. Durazo averaged .290/.385/.477 in Oakland during 2003-2004, his only two years of healthy and full-time play. Elbow tendonitis and eventual Tommy John surgery wrecked his 2005 campaign. He’ll make half a million if he makes the team. He hits lefties adequately but probably would be the “right? half of a DH platoon with Nevin if both are still on the squad come April. As to where Jason Botts fits in all this… he doesn’t.

Posted by Lucas at 11:30 PM

February 16, 2006

Transactions

Texas signed pitcher C.J. WILSON, catcher GERALD LAIRD and outfielder JASON BOTTS to one-year contracts.

Terms undisclosed. Botts probably gets the minimum, the other two very slight bumps.

Posted by Lucas at 06:57 PM

February 10, 2006

Transactions

Texas signed pitchers OMAR BELTRE, FABIO CASTRO, JUAN DOMINGUEZ, SCOTT FELDMAN, WES LITTLETON, JOSH RUPE, and EDISON VOLQUEZ, and infielders AAROM BALDIRIS and MARSHALL MCDOUGALL to one-year contracts.

All will earn the $327,000 minimum or very close to it, though the salaries of Dominguez, Littleton and McDougall are not available at the moment. The Star Telegram article doesn’t say so, but these contracts almost certainly are prorated for time spent on the Major League roster. Which is to say, most of them won’t really make $300+.

Posted by Lucas at 11:59 PM

February 03, 2006

Transaction

Texas signed outfielder KEVIN MENCH to a one-year contract for $2.8 million, avoiding arbitration.

As happened last year, Mench and Texas couldn't agree to a long-term deal. Still, a nice payday for Mench, who was arbitration-eligible for the first time.

Posted by Lucas at 01:38 PM

January 28, 2006

Transactions

Texas signed pitcher VICENTE PADILLA to a one-year contract for $4.4 million, avoiding arbitration. They also signed outfielder GARY MATTHEWS JR. to a one-year contract for $2,387,500, avoiding arbitration. Reliever ANTONIO ALFONSECA signed a minor-league contract.

Padilla received slightly under the midpoint of his $4.8 million request and the team’s $4.1 million offer. Matthews had asked for $3 million and was offered one million less. Pretty amazing for a guy in his seventh organization, thrice waived, once released.

Alfonseca has an erratic track record in performance and status, having declined from well-paid closer to well-paid setup man to mop-up man to NRI in three short years. He doesn’t strike out a great many batters. He does keep the ball in the park and on the ground. Alfonseca’s a nice addition relative to the loopy dollars being handed out to just above-average relievers, but where he fits among all the other right-handed bullpen options in a mystery.

Posted by Lucas at 11:42 PM

January 20, 2006

Transaction

Texas claimed IF Aarom Baldiris off waivers from New York (NL).

Yes, it’s “Aarom.? Baldiris just turned 23 and spent 2005 in the AA Eastern League, batting .275/.341/.416. He has a decent batting eye and showed previously unseen power (career-best 35 doubles and eleven homers) last year but lost thirty points of batting average moving up a level. He has only one option remaining, to my knowledge.

Posted by Lucas at 05:28 PM

January 17, 2006

Transaction

Texas signed pitcher ADAM EATON to a one-year contract for $4.65 million, avoiding arbitration.

Nice money for a pitcher with a career ERA+ of 92. An improved showing in his contract year is vital to the team’s chances to contend. The Rangers do love his arm.

Chris Young will make $500,000 this season.

Posted by Lucas at 01:12 PM

Transaction

Texas signed outfielder BRAD WILKERSON to a one-year contract for $3.9 million.

A modest raise for Wilkerson, who made $3.05 million in his first arbitration year as a Senator. The Texas salary commitment for 2006 just passed $50 million, with four more arb-eligible players and a host of indentured servants yet to sign.

Posted by Lucas at 11:05 AM

Transaction

Texas signed 1B MARK TEIXEIRA to a two-year deal for $15.4 million, avoiding his first two years of arbitration.

Tex will earn $6 million this year and $8.4 million in 2007. He’ll have one more arbitration season. Rangers who stand to become free agents after 2008 and their ages in 2009:

Mark Teixeira (29)
Hank Blalock (28)
Michael Young (32)
Kevin Mench (31)
Joaquin Benoit (31)
Brian Shouse (40)

Posted by Lucas at 10:15 AM

January 16, 2006

Transaction

Texas signed catcher ROD BARAJAS to a one-year deal for $3.2 million, avoiding arbitration.

Barajas vaults from low-rent minor-league free agent to $1.85 million to $3.2 million in two years, thus raising US aggregate inflation-adjusted wages by 0.2% all by himself. Though he ranked only 15 th in VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) among MLB catchers, he provided strong defense, which VORP doesn’t measure. Perhaps he doesn’t deserve quite that much, but Texas loathes the (usually) needless acrimony of arbitration as much as any team in baseball.

The real fun begins after the season, when Barajas can become a free agent. Will someone guarantee his current salary or more for three-plus seasons?.

Posted by Lucas at 10:38 PM

January 11, 2006

Transaction

Texas signed pitcher JOAQUIN BENOIT to a one-year deal for $750,000.

Benoit was arbitration-eligible for the first time and made the minimum last year. A reasonable deal.

Posted by Lucas at 11:59 PM

January 03, 2006

Transaction

Texas signed reliever JOSELO DIAZ to a minor-league contract.

Upside: Allowed only 173 hits and 11 homers in 257 minor-league innings while striking out 292. Downside: Has allowed more walks (195) than hits.

(backdated entry)

Posted by Lucas at 11:18 PM

Transaction

Texas signed pitcher BRIAN ANDERSON to a minor-league contract.

Anderson had Tommy John surgery last July and won’t help Texas until midseason assuming Texas requires his assistance. He had trundled along as an adequate innings-eater until 2004-2005, during which he posted a 5.80 ERA and struck out fewer than four batters per nine innings. Bleaker still, he surrendered forty homers in 197 innings in the AL’s least homer-friendly park. With a healthier arm, perhaps Anderson can fill in as an acceptable #5 starter come August.

(backdated entry)

Posted by Lucas at 10:46 PM

December 30, 2005

More on Millwood

Per the Startlegram’s Jim Reeves, Kevin Millwood’s contract:

2006: $6.0 million
2007: $7.5 million
2008: $8.5 million
2009: $11.0 million
2010: $12.0 million, which vests if Millwood pitched 540 innings during 2007-2009, or 360 innings during 2008-2009, or 180 innings in 2009. Texas has the option to keep him for $12.0 million even if he doesn’t reach those standards.

Millwood also receives a $15 million signing bonus paid over an “extended period.?

Cleveland did offer arbitration to Millwood, a "Type B" free agent, so Texas will forfeit a second-round draft pick next June. Texas won’t receive any extra picks since they declined to offer arbitration to their only rated free agent, Kenny Rogers.

Posted by Lucas at 08:01 AM

December 26, 2005

Rangers Ink Millwood

Texas signed free-agent pitcher KEVIN MILLWOOD to a four-year contract with a vesting fifth year.

Specific terms aren’t available at the moment. Millwood reportedly will receive $11-$12 million per season, and the fifth season vests upon pitching a certain number of innings. Thus, Texas will pay him somewhere between $44-$60 million depending on his health and performance. Millwood also reportedly received a partial no-trade clause.

Did the Rangers dive back into the free-agent pitcher pool or perform a belly flop? Certainly, Texas will enjoy the benefit of his services more than almost any other team, as his innings would have gone to replacement-level (or worse) pitchers. He easily assumes the mantle of #1 starter on this squad and propels it to contender status in a division with no overwhelming favorite. Millwood strikes out plenty of batters (7.39 per nine IP) and keeps the ball in the park despite a dubious 1.01 ground/fly ratio. Pitching on the road or in hitter-friendly environments doesn’t faze him. He has an ERA of 3.97 in 45 innings at Coors Field, 2.30 in 27 innings in Houston, 3.00 in one six-inning start in Arlington.

On the other hand, Millwood’s record is sometimes excellent but usually just barely above average. Over his eight full seasons, Millwood’s seasonal ERA+ from best to worst runs as follows: 162, 143 (last year), 127, 104, 103, 102, 100, 90. Also, Millwood has missed at least a few starts in three of the last five seasons. In 2001 he made only 21 starts because of an inflamed labrum. He started only 25 games in 2004 because of elbow tendonitis, and last year he missed three starts with a strained groin. I wouldn’t suggest that Millwood is only an average pitcher or is injury-prone, but he carries significant risks both in performance and health.

Here’s how Millwood’s last three years translate to Arlington using an identical number of batters faced and one-year park factors. The CERA in the table stands for Component ERA, a Bill James invention that predicts ERA based on peripheral stats (my formula varies slightly from his).

Team
Year
IP
H
ER
HR
BB
SO
ERA
ERA+
WHIP
CERA
CERA+
PHI 2003 222 210 99 19 68 169 4.01 103 1.25 3.37 122
TEX 2003 217 227
98*
23 67 148
-
-
1.35 4.05 122
PHI 2004 141 155 76 14 51 125 4.85 90 1.46 4.62 94
TEX 2004 137 164
82*
14 54 118
-
-
1.59 5.39 94
CLE 2005 192 182 61 20 52 146 2.86 143 1.22 3.42 120
TEX 2005 190 188
81*
24 51 143
-
-
1.26 3.84 117
* Earned runs allowed for Texas based on CERA

Is he worth four-to-five years and up to $60 million? Probably no pitcher deserves a five-year deal. The risk of a career-ending or career-altering injury is just too high. However, given that the market has resumed mimicking the late 1990’s stock market after a two-year hiatus (Chan Ho Park = JDS Uniphase), I’m going to swallow hard and say that Texas made a good signing. Though Millwood’s contract is similar to Park’s, Millwood shows none of the emotional fragility or road-related performance troubles that cast doubt on the Park signing.

The Rangers aren’t the division favorite, but any conversation about the favorites should include them.

Posted by Lucas at 11:59 PM

December 21, 2005

Transaction

Texas non-tendered pitcher NICK REGILIO.

Regilio wasn’t within ten miles of arbitration-eligibility so I’m not sure why the verb is “non-tender? instead of “outright.? In any case, I suppose he has to pass through waivers (or already has). Wherever he ends up, he is expected to miss most of 2006 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The 40-man roster stands at 37 players.

UPDATE: Regilio signed a minor-league deal with Texas.

Posted by Lucas at 10:27 AM

December 20, 2005

Arbitration for Everyone

Texas offered arbitration to pitchers JOAQUIN BENOIT and VICENTE PADILLA, catcher ROD BARAJAS, first baseman MARK TEIXEIRA, and outfielders GARY MATTHEWS JR., KEVIN MENCH and BRAD WILKERSON.

No surprises. Benoit, Teixeira and Mench are eligible for the first time. Adam Eaton will also go through the arbitration process.

Posted by Lucas at 11:53 PM

Ugh.

Texas traded pitcher CHRIS YOUNG, first baseman ADRIAN GONZALEZ, and outfielder TERRMEL SLEDGE for pitcher ADAM EATON, reliever AKINORI OTSUKA and catcher BILLY KILLIAN.

At best a lateral move in the short run, possibly a terrible move in the long run. Both Eaton and Otsuka are free agents after 2006, Eaton will earn in excess of $4 million, and he almost certainly won’t resign with Texas. Meanwhile, Young, Gonzalez and Sledge are company property and inexpensive for the next several years.

Two weeks ago with rumours bounding, Eaton expressed mixed feelings about pitching in Arlington: “It's not conducive to my style of pitching; I'm a fly-ball pitcher. If I was to stay there, it'd have to be for crazy money. Granted, that is an offense that's going to put up some runs. You could take a Coors Field approach to the game." Texas isn’t Coors Field, but the well-spoken Eaton nailed the disconnection between his pitching style and The Ballpark. Petco Park and its predecessor kill fly balls, whereas The Ballpark propels them into the ionosphere.

Eaton has a career ERA of 4.56 and a WHIP of 1.40 outside San Diego, so what would he look like in Ranger blue? I’ve translated his last three seasons based on one-year park factors and assuming he’d face the same number of batters. The CERA in the table stands for Component ERA, a Bill James invention that predicts ERA based on peripheral stats (my formula varies slightly from his). The stats with San Diego are Eaton's actual numbers, the stats with Texas are translations:

Team
Year
IP
H
ER
HR
BB
SO
ERA
ERA+
CERA
CERA+
WHIP
SDG 2003
183
173
83
20
68
146
4.08
97
3.83
103
1.32
TEX 2003
178
187
94
25
69
134
---
---
4.77
104
1.43
SDG 2004
199
204
102
28
52
153
4.61
87
3.99
101
1.28
TEX 2004
193
220
106
35
54
144
---
---
4.95
102
1.42
SDG 2005
129
140
61
14
44
100
4.27
90
4.53
85
1.43
TEX 2005
126
150
75
19
41
86
---
---
5.34
84
1.51

As a Ranger, Eaton might have posted ERAs between 4.77 and 5.34 during the last three years. Moving from Petco to The Ballpark adds about 0.90 to his ERA. He would have allowed 40 additional baserunners including 17 additional home runs in Texas. During the last five years Eaton never finished with an above-average ERA+ in a park tailored to his skill set, so why would he do so in The Ballpark? After the Park fiasco, I’m assuming Ranger management isn’t so daft as to ignore park factors. So, what gives? Does management believe Eaton’s present performance level justifies the trade, or do they believe that in Ranger hands he’ll progress to the status of a #1 or #2 starter? Either supposition makes me queasy.

San Diego led off the NLDS against St. Louis with Jake Peavy, Pedro Astacio and Woody Williams. Eaton would have pitched Game Four had the Pads not been swept, but what does it say when rampant mediocrities like Astacio and Williams rank higher than him on the pecking order?

As for the starting pitcher moving the other way, Chris Young is a year younger than Eaton and signed for $1.1 million over the next two years followed by three years of arbitration-eligibility. Young struggled as summer waxed but still finished his rookie season with a WARP of 4.8, better than Eaton’s career-high of 4.6. As to how Young’s 2004-2005 translate to Petco Park:

Team
Year
IP
H
ER
HR
BB
SO
ERA
ERA+
CERA
CERA+
WHIP
TEX 2004
36
36
19
7
10
27
4.71
107
3.80
133
1.27
SDG 2004
37
33
12
6
10
29
---
---
2.96
135
1.14
TEX 2005
165
162
78
19
45
137
4.26
105
3.66
123
1.26
SDG 2005
168
150
57
14
48
159
---
---
3.05
126
1.18

Yes, the extreme difference in parks makes direct comparisons troublesome, but, come next July, if Eaton has a 4.75 ERA and Young’s hovers in the low threes, Ranger fans will howl. And they should.

Adrian Gonzalez has yet to display his talents to full advantage in the Majors, but his Age-23 season in pitcher-friendly Oklahoma (.338/.399/.561) indicates he warrants a full-time job. Gonzalez arrived in 2003 with Ryan Snare and Will Smith in exchange for Ugueth Urbina. Texas surprisingly gave him a part-time DH role to start the season but seemed to sour on him within just two weeks, and he spent most of the next four months in AAA. He didn’t hit well upon his return, though he remained the top hitting prospect in the system going into the offseason. With plenty of 1B/DH types around, his departure was virtually guaranteed. It’s a shame Texas didn’t get more for him.

Otsuka keeps the ball on the ground and won’t suffer as much damage moving to Arlington. He struggled with his control last year and allowed a frightful 6.92 ERA on the road. For whatever reason, most of the damage came in a few games at Bank One Ballpark (six appearances, four losses, 1.1 innings pitched, 11 runs allowed). He had a 2.02 ERA everywhere else. Otsuka represents a substantial addition to the bullpen at a considerable discount ($1.75 million) from the crazy-money teams are throwing at middle relievers. I’m pretty sure he’s a free agent after next year.

I know squat about Billy Killian beyond his strong Irish heritage. San Diego drafted him out of high school 72nd overall in 2004, and Baseball America rated him the Pads’ #14 prospect. He spent most of 2005 in extended Spring Training. I suppose Texas will stick him in short-season Spokane or low-A Clinton.

Terrmel Sledge, we hardly knew ye. Sledge is a pot sweetener, perhaps not good enough for everyday play but definitely a solid fourth outfielder. I’d hoped to see what he could do in Texas, but no matter. His departure pales in comparison to his teammates.

Posted by Lucas at 08:20 PM

December 19, 2005

Transaction

Texas sent pitcher RICARDO RODRIGUEZ to Philadelphia to complete the trade for Vicente Padilla.

The Rangers acquired Rodriguez along with Shane Spencer from Cleveland in 2003 for outfielder Ryan Ludwick. For a week in July 2004, Rodriguez made the trade look pretty one-sided with a three-hit, two-walk shutout (of the Tribe, no less) followed by a scored six-and-one-third versus Toronto. During a less impressive start against Anaheim, he took a line shot off his elbow and missed the last two months of the season. Rodriguez pitched himself back to AAA the next spring, and though he rejoined the Rangers as Ryan Drese’s replacement, he didn’t pitch well and wound up disabled again by August. He departs Texas with five wins, fourteen starts and three relief appearances, a 4.41 ERA in 84 innings, 29 walks and 39 strikeouts.

The 40-man roster has one opening.

Posted by Lucas at 05:28 PM

December 16, 2005

Transaction

Texas signed infielder D’ANGELO JIMENEZ to a minor-league contract.

Interesting. Cincinnati stunningly jettisoned Jimenez last May after 35 dreadful games (.229/.319/.295) although he was only 27 and also had an arbitration-induced salary of $2.8 million. Jimenez proceeded to hit .278/.401/.422 for AA (yes, AA) Chattanooga.

Jimenez is three years younger than Mark DeRosa and has a superior OBP+ (105 vs. 95) and SLG+ (90 vs. 88). They rate similarly with the glove. What Jimenez currently lacks is a 40-man roster spot and a guaranteed contract, but that situation ought to change between now and April. At this point, I think Ian Kinsler will have to destroy Spring Training pitchers to make the squad because Texas probably won’t have room for him, Kinsler and Jimenez. Texas could do worse than to have Jimenez manning second base for a while, assuming his 2005 was an anomaly, and let Kinsler get some seasoning in Oklahoma. In 2004, Jimenez had a better WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player) than Alfonso Soriano. No kidding.

Posted by Lucas at 10:57 PM

December 14, 2005

Transaction: Shouse and DeRosa Sign

Texas signed reliever BRIAN SHOUSE to a one-year contract for $725,000 and utility guy MARK DEROSA to a one-year deal for $675,000.

Shouse is 37 and earned his first arbitration-induced raise. His ERA leapt from 2.23 in 2004 to 5.23 last year, though his performance wasn’t that much worse. He did allow seven homers compared to three the previous year and didn’t induce as many grounders. Shouse breezes against lefties, while righties chew him up:

OPS of Lefties vs Shouse, 2003-2005: .501, .555, .628
OPS of Righties vs Shouse, 2003-2005: .916, .807, .924

DeRosa provides excellent depth, able to play anywhere but catcher and center field. For the moment, he and Ian Kinsler enter next spring as competitors for the second base job. Kinsler had a solid first season in pitcher-friendly Oklahoma --.274/.348/.464 – but not one that screams “ready to face Roy Halladay.? If DeRosa wins the starting role, his presence negates much of gain from trading Soriano for Wilkerson. (That assumes Wilkerson is a better player than Soriano. I am willing to make that assumption.) Put another way, a team constructed such that Mark DeRosa keeps someone else on the bench is not a team destined for postseason play. In a perfect world, DeRosa provides value by spelling Hank Blalock and David Dellucci against tough lefties.

Posted by Lucas at 02:54 PM

December 12, 2005

Transaction

Texas acquired pitcher VICENTE PADILLA for a played to be named.

Padilla entered baseball as a reliever for Buck Showalter’s Diamondbacks in 1999. In 2000, he was shipped with three others to Philadelphia for Curt Schilling. The Phils converted him to starter in 2001, and during the next two years he tossed 415 innings with an ERA+ of 115. In October 2003, Pasilla survived a car crash that killed his driver. He pitched a less effective 262 innings during 2004-2005 due to tendonitis of the triceps and biceps. Padilla offers respectable peripherals across the board and a solid (though declining) ground/fly ratio. The arbitration-eligible Padilla earned $3.2 million in 2005 and didn’t pitch terribly, so Texas will dispense $4-5 million for his services. He ought to break camp as part of the rotation.

Obviously, the quality of this deal hinges on who the Rangers surrendered. Because of his rather large impending payday for 2006 and free agency afterwards, I don’t expect that Texas lost too much.

Posted by Lucas at 06:57 PM

December 09, 2005

Transaction

Texas signed pitcher JAYSON DUROCHER and JOSE SILVA to minor-league contracts.

Durocher has wandered around Organized Baseball for twelve years and has 55 Major-League innings to his credit. Montreal selected him in the ninth round of the 1993 draft. The White Sox swiped him in the 1996 Rule 5 draft but returned him just before the 1997 season began. He spent 2000 with San Diego (AA, AAA) , 2001 with Texas (AA, AAA), and in 2002 posted some fine numbers as a rookie with Milwaukee: 1.88 ERA, 48 baserunners and 44 strikeouts in 48 innings. Various injuries ruined his 2003, and he didn’t pitch at all in 2004-2005 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Durocher is 31.

Silva hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2002 and spent 2005 in Mexico. He has a career ERA of 5.41 (83 ERA+) split among 53 starts and 101 relief appearances. He sports adequate control and strikeouts and a lousy hit rate. Silva turns 32 in a few days.

Posted by Lucas at 06:40 PM

December 08, 2005

Transaction

Texas traded IF Esteban German to Kansas City for reliever Fabio Castro, who was selected from Chicago (AL) with the first pick in the Rule 5 draft.

Texas continues its quest to acquire every prospect in the White Sox system. Castro doesn’t turn 21 until next month and has never pitched above high-A, but Texas must add him to the 40-man roster and keep him on the active roster all season or run him through waivers. The lefty has struck out over a batter per inning in his career and has terrific hit and homer rates that compensate for his mediocre control. Texas has plenty of backup-infielder types, so no loss there.

The Texas 40-man roster is full.

UPDATE: No, it isn't. German was on the 40. The roster has 39 players.

Posted by Lucas at 11:50 AM

December 07, 2005

Transaction: Soriano Traded

Texas has traded 2B ALFONSO SORIANO to the Washington Nationals for OF BRAD WILKERSON, OF TEREMEL SLEDGE, and pitcher ARMANDO GALARRAGA.

Hello, Jon Daniels!

Montreal picked Wilkerson 33rd overall in the 1998 and he debuted in 2001. He is two years younger than Soriano and has a career line of .256/.365/.452, an OBP+ of 107 and an SLG+ of 104. Wilkerson hit only eleven homers in 2005 after popping a career-high 32 the year before. He didn’t miss many games in ’05 but did suffer from a variety of minor ailments that may have sapped his power. Wilkerson plays the corner outfield positions well and can hold down center field. He enters his second year of arbitration eligibility and made a hair over $3 million in 2005.

Sledge is two months older than Wilkerson but has played only one full, healthy season in the Majors. He batted .269/.336/.462 for Montreal in 2004, then missed most of last year with hamstring and shoulder injuries. Arguably, Sledge has the talent to start, but where he fits among Wilkerson, Mench, Dellucci, Matthews, Nix and Boots remains to be seen. Both he and David Dellucci bat lefthanded, so they don’t make a conventional platoon.

Baseball America rated the soon-to-be 24-year-old Galarraga Washington’s #5 prospect one month ago. Galarraga dominated the high-A Carolina League for half a season, then posted a 5.19 ERA with adequate peripherals for AA Harrisburg. Washington just placed him on their 40-man roster in October, so Texas has ample time to groom him.

So, what will Texas do with its suddenly crowded outfield? They now have seven outfielders with ML experience. Are they prepared to enter 2006 with Ian Kinsler at second? Will they need to clear room on a 40-man roster that now has 39 players? Daniels probably has more deals to make. The Soriano trade gives him about $5 million extra spending money.

The departed Soriano finds himself without a position for the moment, as Washington already employs Jose Vidro, though Vidro does have lingering knee problems. Frank Robinson might have to sweet-talk Fonzie into an outfield spot.

Posted by Lucas at 11:59 PM

Transactions: No Arbitration For Anyone

Texas declined to offer arbitration to pitchers Kenny Rogers, Doug Brocail and Steve Karsay, catcher Sandy Alomar, 1B Greg Colbrunn, and OF Richard Hidalgo.

No surprises except for perhaps Rogers. Apparently, his contract prohibited an arbitration offer, raising the question of why it was ever speculated.

Posted by Lucas at 07:41 PM

Transaction: Wasdin Stays

Texas signed pitcher JOHN WASDIN to a one-year contract for $600,000.

Wasdin enjoyed a career renaissance in 2005, pitching very well in relief and improving his peripherals across the board. This contract recalls the $1 million bestowed upon Doug Brocail last year and the two years given to Herbert Perry after 2001; it’s really more a reward for a previous season’s unexpected adequacy. The free-agent pool will be filled to overflowing with pitchers of Wasdin-like ability after tonight’s arbitration deadline, but Texas evidently wanted the sure thing.

There’s no denying Wasdin’s improvement in 2005. As for 2006, well, cross your fingers. Wasdin didn’t do anything in pitcher-friendly Oklahoma to earn last year’s promotion other than wear his veteran’s badge and draw breath. He remains a flyball pitcher in a stadium that propels them to Grand Prairie, and his low .276 average on balls in play carries the strong scent of good luck, not skill.

If Texas intends to use Wasdin as a longman and team mop, fine. Nothing terribly wrong with having him on a team that will almost certainly carry twelve pitchers. He might allow Texas to save the bullpen and convert some early-inning 5-2 deficits into 8-7 victories. However, if Texas expects him to start or set up capably, they’re bound for disappointment, as are all of us.

Posted by Lucas at 05:36 PM

November 18, 2005

40-Man Roster Additions

Texas added 2B Ian Kinsler, SS Joaquin Arias, and pitchers Wes Littleton and Omar Beltre to the 40-man roster.

Texas drafted the 23-year-old Kinsler as a shortstop in the 17th round in 2003. Kinsler has jumped a level each year in the minors; last year he batted .274/.348/.464 with 23 homers and 19 steals at AAA Oklahoma. Right now he’s blocked by Alfonso Soriano and probably will repeat in AAA unless Texas moves Fonzie.

Arias came to Texas along with Soriano for some guy named Alex Rodriguez. Statistically, he hasn’t displayed too much with the bat besides a lofty batting average, but one can’t complain about someone who batted .315/.335/.423 in AA as a 20-year-old. 2006 guess: starting in AA with a promotion to AAA upon quality results.

23-year-old Littleton posted an ERA of 4.15 with mostly mediocre peripherals in high-A in 2004. Promoted to AA and converted to full-time relief in 2005, he lowered his ERA only to 3.97 but improved both his strikeout and walk rates. I think Texas will push him up to AAA to begin the season.

The wild card is Beltre, whose visa problems trapped him in the Dominican Republic throughout 2005. Beltre electrified the California League in 2004 as a reliever, tossing up a 2.45 ERA with 47 Ks and just one home allowed in 59 innings. On the downside, he’s now 24 and has yet to play beyond high-A. I suppose he’ll start 2006 in AA assuming the authorities permit his return to American soil.

Texas opted not to add 2002 first-rounder Drew Meyer (UT), 2003 second-rounder Vince Sinisi (OF), 2003 third-rounder John Hudgins (P), and former 40 members Nick Masset (P) and Ruddy Yan (OF).

Posted by Lucas at 07:06 PM

Transaction

Texas acquired reliever Jon Leicester for a Player To Be Named Later or cash. Texas also signed pitchers Jesse Carlson and Kevin Walker to minor-league contracts.

The 26-year-old Leicester pitched pretty well as a rookie reliever for the Cubs in 2004 (3.89 ERA, 7.6 K/9, but also seven homers in 43 innings). In 2005, Chicago banished him to Iowa after a rough start, where he struggled as a swingman. Leicester has rarely shown good control in the minors, though he did begin striking out hitters at a dandy pace once he turned 24. He’ll get a chance to start the season in Arlington. He’s on the 40-man roster.

Carlson is 24 and is now on his fourth organization. He floundered in his first attempt in AA in 2004 and likewise struggled in AAA for Toronto the following season. The Jays demoted him to AA, where he pitched magnificently (1.83 ERA, two homers, five walks and 42 strikeouts in 42 innings). Carlson has an ERA of 2.81 and K rate of 10.1 per nine innings in the minor leagues, all in relief. I’d guess that Texas will start him in AA with a quick promotion to AAA if he shows results.

The aptly named Walker has six years of MLB experience, most of it coming in his rookie season in 2001. He has a terrific hit rate of just 7.5 per nine innings and an 8.5 K/9 ratio. Alas, hitters don’t need to swing the bat much against a pitcher who allows 5.6 walks per nine innings. Walker’s walk rate in the minors registers at a far more reasonable 3.3 per nine. He looks like AAA filler.

Posted by Lucas at 12:04 AM

November 12, 2005

Transaction

Back on Wednesday while I was sleeping, Texas signed pitcher Rick Bauer and outfielder Adrian Brown to minor-league contracts.

Nice little pickups for Oklahoma. Bauer turns 29 in January and has a career ERA of 4.58 (ERA+ of 97) in 240 innings with Baltimore. He has a fine ground/fly ratio of 1.50, though that has translated into keeping the ball in the park. Bauer is mediocre, to be sure, but he nicely fills the role of fallback long reliever in case someone gets hurt or can’t keep his ERA under six.

Brown looks like Jason Conti’s replacement. He has a line of .260/.328/.344 in eight part-time seasons with Pittsburgh, Boston and Kansas City. He spent the entirety of 2005 in AAA Omaha and batted .273/.361/.401. Decent average, good patience, minimal power.

Posted by Lucas at 12:06 PM

November 03, 2005

Transaction

Texas signed OF Adam Hyzdu, C Jamie Burke, C Nick Trzesniak, P Shane Bazzell, and P Chris Baker to minor-league contracts.

Hyzdu has the most MLB experience. San Francisco drafted him 15th overall in 1990, but he didn’t make his big-league debut until 2000 with Pittsburgh, by then his fifth organization. Hyzdu has some pop (18.6 AB/HR) and a good walk rate that partially compensates for a career batting average of .229. Now 34, he’ll probably fill the Chad Allen role, an AAA outfielder to provide temporary help if someone gets hurt.

Burke drank several cups of coffee with Anaheim and the White Sox, and in 2004 he stayed long enough to bat .333/.386/.408 in 57 games. The catching equivalent of Hyzdu, probably. Trzesniak (there’s a fun word to type) also is a former first-rounder, 51st overall by San Diego in 1999. The 25-year-old batted .380/.430/.519 in 24 games in AAA Portland, but the rest of his minor-league career is underwhelming offensively.

Bazzell is a six-year free agent who decided to return to Texas. He spent 2005 as a swingman in Frisco. Baker joins Texas after seven years in the Toronto system, mostly as a starter, and never with better than a 4.33 ERA in three seasons in AAA.

Posted by Lucas at 12:42 PM

October 25, 2005

Six-Year Minor-League Free Agents

Eighteen of them:

Pitchers: Shane Bazzell, Jason Boyd, Tim Crabtree, Rosman Garcia, Chris Jaile, Willy Lebron, Christopher Marini, Hector Mercado, Agustin Montero, Wilfredo Rodriguez, Matthew Roney, Enger Veras, Jeff Zimmerman.

Catchers: Brian Esposito.

Infielders: Jason Hart, Chris Richard, Seth Taylor.

Outfielders: Jason Conti.

Posted by Lucas at 04:32 PM

October 17, 2005

Transaction

Texas outrighted pitchers CARLOS ALMANZAR and RYAN BUKVICH to AAA Oklahoma, removing them from the 40-man roster. Almanzar elected to take free agency. Texas also signed outfielder RUDDY YAN to a minor-league contract.

Almanzar’s depressing 2005 with Texas comes to an end. Almanzar lost his mother and brother in April, underwent season-ending surgery a few weeks later, and recently tested positive for steroids. He must serve a ten-game suspension for his next employer.

Both Almanzar and Bukvich were on the 60-day Disabled List, so the roster holds steady with 36 players and two others on the 60-day DL (Greg Colbrunn and Nick Regilio). Yan was once on the 40-man roster.

Posted by Lucas at 08:05 AM

October 11, 2005

Transaction

Texas removed pitcher JUSTIN THOMPSON from the 40-man roster. Thompson declined a minor-league assignment and elected free agency.

Thompson arrived in Texas a 26-year-old with 36 wins and 647 Major-League innings. After six years, he leaves with 36 wins and 648.2 innings. More to come in a separate entry.

The 40-man roster currently has 36 players plus four on the 60-day Disabled List.

Posted by Lucas at 08:36 AM

October 07, 2005

Transaction

Texas outrighted pitchers KEVIN GRYBOSKI and MICHAEL TEJERA to AAA Oklahoma, removing them from the 40-man roster.

Jon Daniels begins his tenure as GM with a little housecleaning. Gryboski fared terribly in Texas after being acquired from Atlanta for demi-prospect pitcher Matt Lorenzo.

Posted by Lucas at 02:48 PM

September 30, 2005

Transaction

Texas signed pitchers Derek Lee, Lou Pote, Matt Riley, and Cory Vance and infielder Jace Brewer to minor-league contracts for 2006.

The Rangers get a head start on filling out their minor-league rosters. Riley has the most upside, or perhaps “had;? he underwent Tommy John surgery for the second time in June and shouldn’t contribute much to the organization in 2006. Former Colorado prospect Vance last made the news in June 2004, when Texas dropped the injured pitcher from the 40-man roster. Brewer is a handy utility guy who bounced around between AAA Oklahoma and AA Frisco.

Posted by Lucas at 11:56 AM

September 12, 2005

Transaction

Texas recalled pitchers R.A. DICKEY and JOSH RUPE and outfielder JASON BOTTS from AAA Oklahoma. Texas also added infielder ESTEBAN GERMAN to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA and moved pitcher NICK REGILIO from the 15-day Disabled List to the 60-Day DL.

Oklahoma’s season ended yesterday with a first-round playoff loss to Nashville. Dickey will start on Tuesday and Rupe might also get a start or two. Botts reportedly doesn’t have the tools to play anywhere on the field, but I hope that Texas will at least let him take the place of Mark DeRosa or Phil Nevin against lefthanders.

I suppose German’s recall is reward for being a good organizational soldier. He certainly has nowhere to play, what with the infield cast in stone and DeRosa and Marshall McDougall already hanging around. German did have a fine season and might receive consideration for a bench spot in 2006, but that won’t translate into at-bats during 2005.

Texas has punted the issue of whether Ian Kinsler is ready for Major League ball. Check back in ’06.

Posted by Lucas at 11:23 PM

September 05, 2005

Transaction

Texas recalled reliever C.J. WILSON and infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL from AA Frisco.

Both have been recalled and optioned several times this season. Wilson will pitch in long relief, McDougall will sit at the end of the bench.

Posted by Lucas at 08:59 AM

September 01, 2005

Transaction

Texas recalled catcher GERALD LAIRD from AAA Oklahoma.

The Rangers lifted Laird despite Oklahoma fighting for a division title. For now, I'll guess Rod Barajas and Laird will play equally often with Alomar starting much less frequently.

Posted by Lucas at 06:16 PM

August 31, 2005

Transaction

Texas recalled reliever SCOTT FELDMAN from AA Frisco and optioned infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL to AAA Oklahoma.

With the 31st being the deadline to set postseason rosters, Texas decided to go with an extra pitcher.

But seriously folks, Texas needed an extra reliever after Tuesday's doubleheader, and McDougall wasn't playing anyway.

Posted by Lucas at 06:12 PM

August 30, 2005

Transaction

Texas added pitcher EDISON VOLQUEZ to the 40-man and active rosters and optioned pitcher C.J. WILSON to AA Frisco.

Volquez turned 22 last month and began the season at high-A Bakersfield. Volquez had a 4.19 ERA and 12 BB / 77 SO ratio in 67 innings there, then a 4.14 ERA with 17 walks and 49 strikeouts in AA Frisco. On the whole, he didn’t dominate at either level though at times he pitched very well. Texas had to add him at the end of the season anyway, so Texas decided to see what he can do now. My guess: not much. Volquez is “only? a very good prospect, not King Felix’s older brother. As long as he doesn’t get shelled, I’ll be happy.

Wilson pitched well and won the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. He’ll rejoin the team when Frisco’s season ends in a few days.

Texas now has a full 40-man roster.

Posted by Lucas at 08:30 PM

August 27, 2005

Transaction

Texas recalled reliever ERASMO RAMIREZ from AAA Oklahoma and optioned pitcher JUSTIN THOMPSON to AAA.

Texas probably will bring back Thompson in September. He allowed a homer in each of his two appearances.

Posted by Lucas at 11:06 PM

August 20, 2005

A Quick Look at the 2006 Financials

Signed for 2006:
Phil Nevin: $10.00 million
Alex Rodriguez: $6.00 (not on team)
Francisco Cordero: $4.00
Hank Blalock: $3.00
Michael Young: $3.00
Ron Mahay: $1.10 (not on 40-man roster)
David Dellucci: $0.90
Chris Young: $0.50
TOTAL: $28.50 million

Arbitration Eligible (2005 salary):
Alfonso Soriano: $7.50 million
Mark Teixeira: $2.50
Rod Barajas: $1.80
Carlos Almanzar: $1.10
Gary Matthews: $1.10
Kevin Gryboski: $0.88
Mark DeRosa *: $0.50
Brian Shouse: $0.40
Kevin Mench: $0.35
Joaquin Benoit: $0.32
Justin Thompson *: $0.32
Total 2005 salaries: $15.67 million

* I think they’re eligible, but unsure.

Indentured Servants:
Ryan Bukvich
R.A. Dickey
Juan Dominguez
Scott Feldman
Frank Francisco
Kameron Loe
Erasmo Ramirez
Nick Regilio
Ricardo Rodriguez
Josh Rupe
Michael Tejera
C.J. Wilson
Gerald Laird
Adrian Gonzalez
Marshall McDougall
Jason Botts
Laynce Nix

Free Agents (2005 salary):
Richard Hidalgo: $4.50 million
Kenny Rogers: $3.50
Doug Brocail: $1.00
Greg Colbrunn: $0.65
Sandy Alomar: $0.55
Steve Karsay: $0.32
John Wasdin: $0.32
Total 2005 salaries: $10.84 million

Posted by Lucas at 01:35 PM

August 18, 2005

Transaction

Texas optioned reliever SCOTT FELDMAN to AA Frisco and recalled 1B ADRIAN GONZALEZ from AAA Oklahoma.

Assuming Texas retrieved Gonzalez to play, Phil Nevin will have plenty of time on his hands. Texas can prevent Feldman from having an option burned if they recall him within twenty days (the Juan Dominguez gambit). Otherwise, Feldman will lose an option just for spending two games in the Majors, and pitching in none, for a team with no hope for 2005. Frisco’s regular season ends in seventeen days.

Posted by Lucas at 02:52 PM

August 16, 2005

Transaction

Texas had added relievers JUSTIN THOMPSON and SCOTT FELDMAN to the 40-man roster and recalled them from AAA and AA, respectively. Texas also optioned reliever KEVIN GRYBOSKI to AAA and designated swingman JAMES BALDWIN for assignment.

The transactional equivalent of the fifth stage of grief. The Rangers could have made these moves weeks ago with no appreciable effect on their situation, but grabbing a former All-Star off waivers and trading a demi-prospect for a reliever denotes bold activity, while calling up mildly effective relievers from your own farm system conveys weakness and torpor. Now, Texas has commenced with learning who might contribute to the team in 2006.

Nabbing Baldwin off waivers from Baltimore had some merit. Texas needed someone who could chew several innings in relief and start in an emergency. He didn’t pitch any worse than Doug Brocail or Steve Karsay.

The Kevin Gryboski era seemingly concludes with a thud. Gryboski doesn’t provide much but at least should have been an upgrade on C.J. Wilson, whom he replaced. In fact, Wilson rejoined the team ten days later and Gryboski has pitched worse, a difficult and dubious achievement. Management must now glumly hope that Atlanta can’t make a pitcher out of Matt Lorenzo.

Texas acquired then-26-year-old Justin Thompson in 1999 as part of the Juan Gonzalez deal. A variety of arm troubles has prevented him from pitching in the Majors since August of 1999. To their credit, Texas has shown incredible patience with him. To his credit, he’s continued to sign minor-league contracts with Texas. Thompson counteracts an average strikeout rate with excellent control and an ability to keep the ball in the yard. Whatever happens on the mound, he deserves all the credit in the world for his perseverance. I hope he succeeds.

Feldman becomes the first Ranger draft pick from 2003 to join the 40 and the active roster. He has a pretty 2.54 ERA in 57 innings at AA Frisco, but the peripherals are not all sunshine and lollipops. Feldman has allowed only one homer per nineteen innings pitched. He also has a rather bland 23 BB / 37 SO ratio, and much of his success derives from a .227 average on balls in play, a trend he can’t hope to continue in Arlington.

Posted by Lucas at 04:12 PM

August 13, 2005

Transaction

Texas recalled starter JUAN DOMINGUEZ from AAA and probably optioned pitcher C.J. WILSON to AA.

Dominguez is in New York to start Staurday's game. Haven't heard who Texas sent down, but I can't imagine anyone other than Wilson.

Update: My imagination has run away with me. Erasmo Ramirez makes the lonely drive back to Oklahoma and Wilson stays.

So... the bullpen is a wreck. Ramirez has an ERA of 5.40 and hasn't pitched in two days. Wilson threw 62 pitches last night and has an ERA of just under 9.00 (though he threw well last night). Wilson probably can't pitch for at least two days. Regardless, Texas kept Wilson and dumped Ramirez.

This must be one of those Zen riddles I'm not meant to understand.

Update 2: Wilson will start next Thursday in Cleveland. I wish him the best.

Posted by Lucas at 12:30 PM

August 10, 2005

Transaction

An arbitrator has reinstated starter KENNY ROGERS and converted his $50,000 fine to a charitable contribution.

At issue was procedure and precendent. Normally, MLB veep Bob Watson metes out punishment and someone one hears appeals. In this case, Bud Selig himself determined the punishement and ruled on the appeal.

I thought Rogers deserved thirty days, and nothing has occurred to change my mind. I understand the reasoning behind the reduction, but the arbitrator's addtional ruling is galling: Rogers can file a grievance against MLB if he fails to reach some of his performance incentives because of the suspension.

Posted by Lucas at 07:22 AM

August 09, 2005

Transaction

Texas placed starter RICARDO RODRIGUEZ on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled reliever ERASMO RAMIREZ from AAA.

Rodriguez has an arm contusion from a comebacker in his last start.

I will be joining the Ranger rotation and expect to pitch on Saturday.

Posted by Lucas at 11:20 PM

August 07, 2005

Transaction

Texas placed outfielder RICHARD HIDALGO on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL from AAA. Texas also signed formerly pretty good starter AARON SELE to a minor-league deal and assigned him to AAA.

Not that I don’t mind McDougall getting some Major-League per diem, but his arrival in place of Hidalgo leaves Texas with only three true outfielders, one of whom (Delucci) is less than 100%. Mark DeRosa had all of 57 career outfield innings to his credit before he started in right field on Friday, and Phil Nevin has 29 games of outfield experience during this decade. Against lefties, one among DeRosa, Nevin or the lefty-challenged Dellucci must man the outfield. Additionally, another will DH against lefties unless Texas actually will permit McDougall to swing a bat on occasion.

Dare I say it, recalling Chad Allen might have made some sense. Texas, however, released Allen (for disciplinary reasons?!)when they signed Aaron Sele. I mentioned in my recent C.J. Wilson screed that acquiring even a replacement-level starter would improve the Ranger rotation at this point. Enter Sele, who almost can’t help but pitch better than Wilson.

Posted by Lucas at 02:13 AM

August 05, 2005

Transaction

Texas designated reliever RON MAHAY for assignment, added reliever STEVE KARSAY to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AA Frisco.

Texas grabbed Mahay off a scrap heap in 2004 and got two excellent years and one month from him. Mahay lost his prowess in May and has yet to recover it, allowing 23 earned runs in 24 innings during the last four months. He missed a couple of weeks with a sore groin, and he might have some other ailment(s) causing him trouble. Since Texas owes him $1 million in 2006 (the local dailies say $1.1), I doubt anyone will claim him. Perhaps he can recapture his magic in AAA and push for a roster spot next spring.

Karsay has thrown well in AA after a rough June. With the team’s postseason changes approaching life-support status, Texas might as well find out if he has anything to offer to a big-league club.

Posted by Lucas at 08:11 AM

July 31, 2005

Transaction

Texas recalled pitcher C.J. WILSON from AA Frisco and oprtioned 1B ADRIAN GONZALEZ to AAA Oklahoma.

Texas needed a pitcher to replace Rogers (Wilson qualifies, barely), and Gonzalez wasn't going to play with the addition of Phil Nevin. On any given day, the Ranger bench will consist of Sandy Alomar, Mark DeRosa and either David Dellucci or Phil Nevin.

Posted by Lucas at 01:30 PM

July 29, 2005

Transaction!

Pending MLB approval, Texas has traded pitcher CHAN HO PARK to San Diego for C/1B/OF PHIL NEVIN.

Good. More to come tomorrow.

Posted by Lucas at 11:53 PM

July 23, 2005

Transaction

Texas added pitcher JAMES BALDWIN to the active roster, recalled 1B ADRIAN GONZALEZ from AAA Oklahoma, and optioned pitcher ERASMO RAMIREZ and infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL to AAA.

Gonzalez's presence gives Texas some positional flexibility, namely allowing David Dellucci to play some outfield while one of Gary Matthews or Richard Hidalgo sits. It also gives Texas a very belated opportunity to showcase Gonzalez for a trade.

Laynce Nix is out for the season with a torn labrum.

Posted by Lucas at 09:08 AM

July 21, 2005

Acquisitions

Texas acquired reliever KEVIN GRYBOSKI from Atlanta for pitcher MATT LORENZO. Texas also claimed pitcher JAMES BALDWIN off waivers from Baltimore and optioned pitcher C.J. WILSON to AA Frisco.

Both moves fill a need, though neither is the type that engenders an expectation of gaining ground in the standings. Baldwin pitched well in relief for the Orioles this season. Unfortunately, on the whole he shouts mediocrity with his ERA+ of 91, flyball tendencies and grim home run ratio (1 per 6.5 innings). With Texas, he’ll join the rotation while Rogers enjoys his forced vacation.

Gryboski walks as many as he strikes out but survives with an extreme groundball rate and the ability to keep the ball in the park. Certainly, he’s a giant upgrade over C.J. Wilson, who simply has no business being on a Major-league roster right now. Texas drafted Lorenzo in the 5th round of the 2003 draft. He struggled mightily in AA and in June was sent back to High-A, where he posted a 4.02 ERA with uninspiring peripherals. Atlanta surely sees potential in him if they’re willing to trade a reliever in the middle of a division race.

Posted by Lucas at 10:16 PM

July 20, 2005

Transaction

Texas placed catcher GERALD LAIRD on the minor-league Disabled List.

Laird had to leave the previous game in the first inning. I don't know why.

Texas also released pitcher Ryan Snare, part of the swag for Ugueth Urbina in 2003. The 26-year-old pitched well for AAA Oklahoma the rest of the season but has gotten progressively worse results. Snare had a 6.38 ERA and allowed 108 baserunners in 60 innings this season. He was a second-round pick, 63rd overall, in the 2000 draft.

Posted by Lucas at 03:41 PM

July 19, 2005

Transaction

Texas optioned outfielder JASON BOTTS to AAA Oklahoma and recalled pitcher C.J. WILSON from AA Frisco.

Even Moonlight Graham got to take the field. C.J. Wilson will shore up a tired bullpen, at least on a theoretical level.

Posted by Lucas at 05:16 PM

July 16, 2005

Botts Up, Nix Out

Texas placed outfielder LAYNCE NIX on the 15-day Disabled List with a sore shoulder and recalled outfielder JASON BOTTS from AAA Oklahoma.

The 1,375th player taken in the 1999 Amateur Draft joins the Rangers. Botts has batted .296/.387/.550 for Oklahoma, including 17 homers and a 45 BB / 95 SO ratio in 393 plate appearances. That Texas recalled him over Chad Allen would indicate that they intend to give him some playing time, but Adrian Gonzalez once fancied himself a regular, too.. Starting a rookie in the middle of a division race has its downside, but arguably no more so than starting Gary Matthews and Richard Hidalgo every day.

Nix hurt his shoulder diving for a looper on Thursday. He might miss the minimum or close to it.

Posted by Lucas at 09:33 PM

July 14, 2005

Transaction

Texas optioned reliever JUAN DOMINGUEZ to AAA Oklahoma and recalled reliever ERASMO RAMIREZ.

The Eraser returns. Texas might stretch out Dominguez in anticipation of him starting while Kenny Rogers has to stand in the corner.

Update: Dominguez flew to the Dominican Republic instead of Oklahoma City and has been placed on the restricted list. Now, rather than stretch him out as a starter, Texas might stretch him out on a rack.

Update: He showed up.

Posted by Lucas at 11:05 PM

July 07, 2005

Transaction

Texas recalled infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL from AAA Oklahoma and optioned pitcher C.J. WILSON to AA Frisco.

Wilson goes back to Frisco, where he never should have left. In a perfect world, McDougall would get a chance to prove that he has a future as a Major-League utility player. Unfortunately, with Laynce Nix batting against lefties for the time being, McDougall probably won’t see even an occasional DH start.

Posted by Lucas at 12:45 PM

June 30, 2005

Transaction

Texas apparently designated pitcher RYAN WING for assignment within the last few days, and the Chicago White Sox claimed him on waivers.

Wing had a 6.93 ERA, 36 walks and 33 strikeouts in eleven starts plus a relief appearance for high-A Bakersfield. The 23-year-old was the 71st pick of the 2001 draft and is now a proud member of the Winston-Salem Warthogs.

Performance issues aside, I don't know what compelled Texas to waive him now. By my count, the Rangers had only 37 players on the 40-man roster and could free additional space by placing Frank Francisco or Greg Colbrunn on the 60-day DL.

Posted by Lucas at 06:07 PM

June 28, 2005

Transaction

Texas activated pitcher JOAQUIN BENOIT from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned catcher GERALD LAIRD to AAA.

Barajas healed quickly and limited Laird's tenure to one day. Texas badly needs Benoit to shore up a depleted and shaky pen.

Posted by Lucas at 07:44 PM

June 27, 2005

Laird recalled

Texas recalled catcher GERALD LAIRD from AAA Oklahoma and optioned infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL to AAA.

Laird gets a belated callup after Rod Barajas tweaked a back muscle. Texas hasn't placed Barajas on the DL, so Laird's stay might be brief.

McDougall didn't get a chance to make an impression in his first visit to Major League baseball, but there's no reason to think he couldn't do what Mark DeRosa does. In the short run, unless Texas wants to start lefty-challenged Laynce Nix or David Dellucci against Jarrod Washburn and his ilk, they might have to start DeRosa at DH. God, that's depressing.

Posted by Lucas at 11:20 PM

June 24, 2005

Transaction

Texas reinstated reliever RON MAHAY from the 15-day Disabled List and designated reliever JASON STANDRIDGE for assignment.

Standridge pitched worse healthy than Mahay did injured.

Posted by Lucas at 08:37 PM

June 17, 2005

Astacio DFA'ed

Texas designated pitcher PEDRO ASTACIO for assignment, added pitcher JASON STANDRIDGE to the 40-man roster and recalled Standridge from AAA.

After surviving the first two months of the season with their original five starters, the Rangers have dismissed two of them in two weeks. Astacio provided three excellent starts to begin the season, then allowed 13 homers in only 43 innings. Astacio did receive less run support than any other starter (3.8 per game).

Standridge could have walked had Texas not called him up, but I can’t fathom other teams having great interest in a guy with a 4.50 ERA and over four walks per nine innings.in AAA. For the moment, C.J. Wilson, who had a 6.99 ERA in AA, will take Astacio’s rotation spot. I assume that Texas will keep John Wasdin rested and ready to pitch several innings when Wilson starts.

Texas signed three agents of significance from other teams over the winter: Astacio, Greg Colbrunn and Richard Hidalgo. (Mark DeRosa and Sandy Alomar were and are not expected to be more than bench players.) Hidalgo is batting .227/.307/.454 and occasionally sits in favor of Gary Matthews. Colbrunn, to the surprise of absolutely no one, has suffered multiple injuries and probably will never swing a bat in Arlington. Now Astacio is gone.

Posted by Lucas at 04:23 PM

June 12, 2005

Transaction

Texas placed reliever JOAQUIN BENOIT on the 15-day disabled list and designated outfielder ANDRES TORRES for assignment. Texas recalled pitcher RICARDO RODRIGUEZ from AAA. Texas also added pitcher JOHN WASDIN to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA.

Benoit experienced elbow soreness, different and believed unrelated to the shoulder soreness that forced him onto the DL to start the season. Benoit becomes the seventh reliever to hit the DL, eighth if former 40-mate Matt Riley is included, and R.A. Dickey spent time there as well. Texas chose to recall the eminently replaceable Wasdin rather than Jason Standridge or long-suffering Justin Thompson. Ideally, Wasdin will not pitch in Texas for long.

Texas had intended to replace Torres with Rodriguez since Tuesday when they jettisoned Ryan Drese.

Posted by Lucas at 09:07 PM

June 11, 2005

Transaction

Texas added pitcher C.J. Wilson to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AA Frisco. Texas also recalled reliever JUAN DOMINGUEZ from AA. Texas optioned reliever MICHAEL TEJERA to AAA and placed reliever NICK REGILIO on the 15-day Disabled List.

After a relatively quiet two months, the Rangers are back on their transaction bender. Dominguez is a genuine talent with a questionable head who may finally stick with the big-league club. Wilson had pitched terribly in AA (6.99 ERA) but... well, I don't know why he's here, other than Tejera had pitched on three consecutive games. I assume Texas will retain him for a brief period and can outright him back to Frisco with little fear of a waiver claim.

Regilio has elbow soreness, and Tejera is fodder.

Posted by Lucas at 10:05 AM

June 10, 2005

Drese claimed

Washington claimed pitcher RYAN DRESE off waivers from Texas.

Washington concurrently traded Tomo Ohka to Milwaukee for Junior Spivey. Ohka is a fraud; like Drese, he has an miniscule strikeout rate but also has an incredibly lucky average of .215 on balls in play. Nonetheless, Ohka does have about three years worth of quality pitching to his credit, approximately 2.5 years more than Drese. Drese and Spivey combine to make as much as Ohka, so the perpetually cash-strapped, MLB-owned Nationals won't save any money this year and are on the hook for Drese's $1.7 million in 2006. Further, Spivey isn't much of an upgrade over Jamey Carroll and earns six times the salary. Washington probably could have acquired someone's Triple-A filler (for example, Texas's Esteban German) for a faux-prospect and a little cash, thus avoiding both Spivey's mediocrity and the issue of whether Drese can get anyone out.

As for Texas, the Rangers rid themselves of the suddenly onerous deal they bestowed upon Drese three months ago. On the upside, replacement Ricardo Rodriguez needs only to post a sub-6 ERA to improve on Drese's effort. On the downside, at the minimum they lost some depth. If Astacio or Park collapses or if Rogers or Young suffers an injury, Texas will have to throw an unprepared youngster into the fire or (gulp) dredge up John Wasdin.

Posted by Lucas at 02:27 PM

June 09, 2005

Transaction

Texas announced that pitcher NICK MASSET had cleared waivers and will remain in AA Frisco.

The Rangers never announced his designation, at least not to my knowledge. Masset joined the 40-man last November but has not pitched well in AA, allowing a 6.99 ERA and 95 hits in 64 innings. The 40-man roster has only 37 players.

Posted by Lucas at 01:34 PM

June 08, 2005

Ryan Drese designated for assignment

Texas designated pitcher RYAN DRESE for assignment, removing him from the 40-man and 25-man rosters. Texas also placed reliever RON MAHAY on the 15-day Disabled List. Texas recalled reliever NICK REGILIO from AAA and activated outfielder GARY MATTHEWS from the 15-day Disabled List.

Barely three months after he signed a two-year extension and two months after starting on Opening Day, Ryan Drese finds himself without a job. Drese had no remaining options and Texas apparently was unwilling to use him in relief, so the Rangers took the startling action of dismissing him. He has a 6.46 ERA and has allowed a line of .334/.390/.470.

Drese has been somewhat unlucky, allowing a .325 average on balls in play, but a more reasonable average would not compensate for allowing so many balls in play in the first place. Drese did keep the ball on the ground as he must, but his strikeout rate had fallen to an abysmal 2.6 per nine innings. Tack on his in-game scuffle with management darling Rod Barajas and two starts in which he killed the team with terrible glove work, and Drese had stunningly worn out his welcome.

Will anyone take the waiver bait? Since Drese will receive about $450,000 for the remainder of 2005 and $1.7 million in 2006,. I expect him to clear. I don’t believe he has quite enough service time to refuse a demotion, so he could be starting for Oklahoma City by the end of next week.

Ron Mahay's might really have a sore groin, but more to the point is his 8.38 ERA. Regilio joins the team for what I believe is his fourth option-and-recall sequence. Apparently, Texas saw enough in Matthews’s rehab appearance in AA to call him up, as they need another bench bat for NL play.

Posted by Lucas at 04:57 PM

June 07, 2005

Transaction

Texas added infielder MARSHALL MCDOUGALL to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA. Texas also designated outfielder CHAD ALLEN for assignment.

Allen had batted an empty .283 as the DH against lefties, and with Alfonso Soriano's hammy pull necessitating another infielder, Allen became expendable. He cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to AAA Oklahoma.

McDougall is a 26-year-old making his first appearance in the Majors. He can do anything but pitch and allegedly could catch a few innings in an emergency. He hit pretty well in AAA last year (.282/.349/.508) and very well this year (.320/.387/.542); arguably, he's a better backup infield solution than Mark DeRosa. Perhaps Texas will give him a chance that includes some DH at-bats against lefties.

Posted by Lucas at 02:02 PM

Transaction

Texas transferred reliever CARLOS ALMANZAR from the 15-day to the 60-day Disabled List.

Almanzar is out for the season. This move allows Texas to add a player to the 40-mnan roster without having to remove anyone. They probably will do the same with Frank Francisco later.

Posted by Lucas at 11:09 AM

June 06, 2005

Transaction

Texas optioned reliever NICK REGILIO to AAA Oklahoma. Texas added reliever MICHAEL TEJERA to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA.

Odd. The local dailies had suggested that Texas might forego a reliever during the week they'll spend in NL parks in order to fortify the bench, but instead they shooed off Regilio and recalled Tejera. Tejera has pitched well in AAA (2.55 ERA, two homers, seven walks, 17 strikeouts in 17 innings) and also had the right to declare free agency if he awakened to another day in AAA on June 14th. Regilio has pitched just well enough to back-end a bullpen but has options, unlike most of the Ranger pitchers.

If Alfonso Soriano's tweaked hamstring keeps him out of action and the Rangers make no other moves, Texas will effectively be playing with a three-man bench consisting of Andres Torres, another outfielder and the backup catcher. That's pretty grim.

UPDATE: Four-man bench, not three. Still...

Posted by Lucas at 05:35 PM

May 26, 2005

Transaction

Texas removed pitcher R.A. DICKEY from the 15-day Disabled List and optioned him to AAA Oklahoma.

Dickey has options, Benoit does not and has pitched pretty well lately. Dickey's perseverance is swell but he's just a rich man's John Wasdin. Even with Carlos Almanzar and Frank Francisco out, Dickey doesn't merit an increase in responsibilities.

Posted by Lucas at 11:06 AM

May 17, 2005

Transaction

Texas transferred pitcher RYAN BUKVICH from the 15-day to the 60-day Disabled List.

Bukvich recently had ligament replacement surgery and won't pitch in 2005. The 40-man roster drops to 39, and with Carlos Almanzar and Frank Francisco also out for the season, Texas has more wiggle room if needed.

Posted by Lucas at 10:14 AM

May 15, 2005

Transaction

Texas signed reliever STEVE KARSAY to a minor-league deal.

Karsay missed all of 2003 and most of 2004 because of shoulder surgery. This year, he hasn’t pitched well but the Yankees didn’t give him much of a chance by limiting him to six appearances in the team’s first 26 games. He’s thrown all of 12.2 Major-League innings since the end of 2002. Karsay will report to AA Frisco to show his readiness for big-league action. A small but nice move by Texas, and a wise decision by Karsay to recognize the opportunity.

Posted by Lucas at 12:25 AM

Transaction

Texas added outfielder ANDRES TORRES to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Texas also placed outfielder GARY MATTHEWS on the 15-day Disabled List.

Matthews pulled up lame running out a grounder and hits the DL, where he will visualize contemplate walking more often than his current rate of once per 39 plate appearances.

Torres has batted .302/.362/.381 in Oklahoma after receiving some consideration for a roster spot with a hot spring in the Cactus League. Torres has a line of .214/.264/.282 in 264 Major-League plate appearances, most of them for Detroit’s historically bad 2003 squad. The 27-year-old need to show improved patience and baserunning to reestablish himself in the Majors. For now, he should start in place of Laynce Nix against lefties and might see some pinch-running opportunities.

Posted by Lucas at 12:24 AM

May 06, 2005

Transaction

Texas designated pitcher MATT RILEY for assignment and recalled pitcher KAMERON LOE from AAA Oklahoma.

Riley allowed runs in five of his seven appearances, and in four of those appearances he allowed at least two runs. Last year, perhaps, Texas might have given him a bit more time to realize his potential. Now, with a bullpen in disarray and the Angels distancing themselves from the pack, the Rangers need results. Riley probably won’t clear waivers; some moribund franchise like Kansas City or Tampa Bay will give him another shot (which he deserves). Even so, discarding Ramon Nivar for him was a worthwhile endeavor.

Loe had a 5.08 ERA in five AAA starts, mainly the result of five homers allowed in just 28 innings. He has fanned 23 batters and walked ten. He’ll join Texas as a long reliever but has a chance to move into a rotation spot if someone gets hurt or Astacio continues his descent into hell.

As an aside, it’s refreshing to note how low John Wasdin appears to be on the depth chart. Nothing against him, but, well, you know. I think Texas would give starts to Loe, Ricardo Rodriguez, Juan Dominguez and possibly even John Hudgins before they allowed Wasdin to pitch in Arlington.

Posted by Lucas at 05:53 PM

May 01, 2005

Transaction

Texas placed reliever CARLOS ALMANZAR on the 15-day Disabled List and activated reliever JOAQUIN BENOIT from the DL.

Almanzar's placement on the DL is due to a sudden onset of elbow inflammation.

Posted by Lucas at 08:02 PM

April 23, 2005

Minor League Signings

Texas signed 3B BRANDON LARSON and pitcher JASON BOYD to minor-league contracts.

Cincinnati nabbed Larson as the 14th-overall selection of the 1997 draft. Though already 21 when drafted, Larson progressed rather slowly, not reaching AAA until late in 2000 at age 24. In 2002-2003, his age 26-27 season, he batted .331 and hit 45 homers in 152 AAA games. Unfortunately, he never transferred that prowess to the Majors, batting .179 and slugging .299 over four years of part-time play. Larson turns 28 in May and will join AA Frisco.

Boyd is a 32-year-old, well-travelled reliever who has a 5.74 ERA over five years with four different teams.

Posted by Lucas at 11:40 AM

April 20, 2005

Transaction

Texas recalled outfielder LAYNCE NIX from AAA and optioned 1B/DH ADRIAN GONZALEZ to AAA.

Adrian Gonzalez unexpectedly made the squad on the basis of 80-or-so terrific exhibition plate appearances. Now, he evidently merits a demotion based on 38 sluggish PAs. Likewise, Laynce Nix unexpectedly lost his job to a journeyman and got his first trip to Oklahoma after batting .197 during the spring, and now he rejoins the Rangers after batting .333 with three homers in ten games.

Is just two weeks of performance the real reason for the maneuver? I hope not. I can’t think of anything that’s occurred over this span that would alter my (or anybody’s) perception of the quality of either player. Anybody can start slow. Witness Mark Teixeira.

Am I too cynical when I say this transaction strikes me as a way to insure that David Dellucci gets his “fair? share of at-bats? With Gonzalez gone, he becomes the primary lefthanded DH.

Posted by Lucas at 05:39 PM

April 17, 2005

Transaction

Texas placed reliever RYAN BUKVICH on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled reliever NICK REGILIO from AAA.

Just announced. I didn't hear what ails Bukvich, and frankly, I don't care. He just doesn't look like a Major League pitcher to me. He throws very hard but in a random direction only vaguely toward home plate.

Regilio makes his third trip to Arlington in two weeks.

Posted by Lucas at 01:24 PM

April 15, 2005

Transaction

Texas activated pitcher CARLOS ALMANZAR from the bereavement list and optioned pitcher NICK REGILIO to AAA.

"Bereavement" is far too polite a word to describe what Almanzar is going through. Much to my surprise and initial dismay, Regilio pitched two innings in a close game the previous night, but he acquitted himself well.

Posted by Lucas at 04:10 PM

April 13, 2005

Transaction

Texas placed pitcher R.A. DICKEY on the 15-day Disabled List and recalled pitcher NICK REGILIO from AAA Oklahoma.

Dickey goes down with an arm strain that looked more serious when it occurred. He'll miss no fewer than three weeks. Regilio imploded in his one appearance and will be used only in case of emergency. He could return to AAA within the week when Carlos Almanzar returns.

Posted by Lucas at 12:40 PM

April 10, 2005

Transaction

Texas activated pitcher PEDRO ASTACTIO from the disabled list and optioned pitcher NICK REGILIO to AAA.

Expected. Neither Ryan Bukvich nor Matt Riley has an option, and Regilio lost an 8th inning lead and seemingly his composure in his only appearance of the season.

Posted by Lucas at 09:46 AM

April 07, 2005

Hughes to Nationals

Washington has claimed pitcher TRAVIS HUGHES off waivers from Texas.

I didn't expect anyone to take the bait. Hughes is almost 27 and has done little above AA. I wouldn't be surprised if the Nats themselves tried to pass him through waivers before long.

Posted by Lucas at 07:15 PM

April 03, 2005

2005 Opening Day Roster

C - Rod Barajas
C - Sandy Alomar
1B - Mark Teixeira
1B - Adrian Gonzalez
2B - Alfonso Soriano
3B - Hank Blalock
SS - Michael Young
IF - Mark DeRosa
OF - Richard Hidalgo
OF - Kevin Mench
OF - Gary Matthews
OF - David Dellucci
OF - Chad Allen

SP - Ryan Drese
SP - Kenny Rogers
SP - Chan Ho Park
SP - Chris Young
CL - Francisco Cordero
RP - Doug Brocail
RP - Ryan Bukvich
RP - R.A. Dickey
RP - Ron Mahay
RP - Matt Riley
RP - Nick Regilio
RP - Brian Shouse

The major development is that Texas decided against a CF platoon and optioned Nix to AAA, which he skipped on his way to the Majors in 2003. Matthews ascends to everyday status; always a solid defender, he has veered between adequacy and awfulness with the bat. Matthews played well last year, but frankly, he's not my idea of a centerfielder on a team contending for a division title.

Adrian Gonzalez made the squad and becomes the regular, but not everyday, designated hitter. The likewise-lefthanded Dellucci will get his share of at-bats there and sub in the outfield. Chad Allen beat out Andre "Triple" Torres for the final bench spot. He won't stay long.

The bullpen as currently configured is a shell of last year's dominant group. Francisco's injury and Almanzar's temporary absence pushes middle relievers into setup roles and dubious qualities into middle relief. Regilio earned a brief reprieve from Oklahoma because of Almanzar's situation. Both he and Bukvich should depart to AAA once Astacio and Almanzar return.

Posted by Lucas at 04:45 PM

Pre-Opening Day DL Entries

Texas placed pitchers PEDRO ASTACIO, JOAQUIN BENOIT, AND ERASMO RAMIREZ, and DH/1B GREG COLBRUNN on the 15-day Disable List. Placed pitcher CARLOS ALMANZAR on the Bereavement List.

Astacio has pitched only in minor-league exhibitions and should return in time to make his scheduled start in the rotation. Ramirez has suffered from an inflamed finger, while Colbrunn has been hampered by the same wrist soreness that ruined his previous two years. Texas faced the moderately unpleasant prospect of waiving the optionless Benoit. "Thanks" to his injury, they can defer that decision until the end of Benoit's rehab assignment.

Almanzar's mother died on the previous day, and he has departed for the Domican Republic. The absence of Frank Francisco and Almanzar places a disturbingly large burden on the shoulders of Doug Brocail. Raise your hand if you expected Nick Regilio, Matt Riley and Ryan Bukvich to make the Opening Day roster.

Posted by Lucas at 04:34 PM

Final Spring Training Additions and Subtractions

Added OF CHAD ALLEN and IF MARK DEROSA to the 40-man roster. Placed RP TRAVIS HUGHES and RP AGUSTIN MONTERO on waivers.

DeRosa was a given, Allen is a mild surprise. DeRosa didn't show much this spring, but Texas didn't quite take the bait on Ian Kinsler's superior performance. Kinsler will hone his craft in Oklahoma.

As composed in March, the team's only righthanded pinch-hitter of ostensible quality was Colbrunn. Allen will sit on the bench in his absence for now, then face waivers, go unclaimed, and get recalled upon the next injury. Repeat as necessary.

Montero is 27 and has shown negligible ability to retire hitters above AA. Why Texas placed him on the 40 with such haste last fall remains a mystery. Likewise, Hughes has topped out in AA. He strikes out plenty of batters but otherwise offers little of quality. He allowed eight walks and fourteen hits in 9.2 spring innings. 27 in May, he might hang around long enough to develop the control that would grant him some semi-usefulness to a big-league club.

Posted by Lucas at 03:56 PM

March 25, 2005

Transaction

Texas placed reliever FRANK FRANCISCO on the 15-day Disabled List.

Inevitable. Francisco hadn't pitched to a live batter all spring, and he felt renewed pain in his elbow after opening up a bit on Tuesday. The move will allow him to proceed with all due caution. He can rejoin the team as early as April 8.

Posted by Lucas at 08:47 AM

March 16, 2005

Transaction

Texas added DH GREG COLBRUNN to the 40-man roster. Texas also designated 2B JASON BOURGEOIS for assignement.

The Rangers had to add Colbrunn to the roster or he could declare free agency. He hasn't shown much so far in Spring Training other than health. The rest of the probable bench looks weak against righthanded pitchers, so they have no in-house alternative to Colbrunn right now.

As for Bourgeois, his tenure on the 40-man roster lasted all of sixteen months. Bourgeois has developed slowly, taking a full year or more at each level before breaking through. In a year-and-a-half at AA with 799 plate appearances, he has a line of .255/.313/.343. I'd guess the Rangers are hoping teams will look at that line and leave him alone. Bourgeois just turned 23 and has time to step up. If unclaimed, he'll probably return to AA.

Posted by Lucas at 10:46 AM

March 03, 2005

Contracts

Texas signed pitcher RYAN DRESE to a two-year contract with an option for 2007. Texas renewed the contract of OF LAYNCE NIX for the league minimum.

Drese's contract:
Signing bonus: $300,000
2005: $700,000
2006: $1,750,000
2007: Team option at $3,000,000 or $50,000 buyout.
Plus $500,000 in incentives

I'm a bit skeptical that Drese can repeat last year's success, but this is a reasonable contract. In a worst-case scenario with Drese flopping or getting hurt, Texas is on the hook for only $2,800,000.

As with last year, Nix refused the Rangers' token raise and was renewed at the league minimum. He'll get a $16,000 raise thanks to the CBA.

Posted by Lucas at 12:16 PM

March 02, 2005

Contract

Texas renewed OF KEVIN MENCH to a one-year contract for $345,000.

Per the Star Telegram, Mench has a four-year contract on the table for about $10 million. The sides couldn't work out a deal by last night's deadline, so he was renewed for an amount set by the team. Ryan Drese and Laynce Nix are in the same boat, though Texas hasn't offered Nix a long-term deal.

Posted by Lucas at 07:55 AM

March 01, 2005

Contracts

Texas signed pitchers BRIAN SHOUSE, JOAQUIN BENOIT, and RYAN BUKVICH and 1B ADRIAN GONZALEZ to one-year contracts.

Shouse gets $395,000, the others weren't disclosed. Amazingly, Shouse missed "Super 2" arbitration status because of a lost coin flip. Arbitration would have virtually assured a salary in the upper six digits. Texas is discussing a two-year deal. Shouse is a nice story but turns 37 in September (a month after me. Sigh...) and might not be the kind of guy at whom you throw two years of guaranteed money, even if the amount isn't huge.

Benoit probably received a token raise for his experience, Bukvich and Gonzalez probably the minimum.

Posted by Lucas at 12:45 AM

February 25, 2005

And Even More Signings

Texas signed pitchers R.A. DICKEY, JUAN DOMINGUEZ, and KAMERON LOE and 2B JASON BOURGEOIS to one-year contracts.

Dickey gets $372,500 in the Majors and $270,000 in the minors. The others get the minimum of $316,000 while in the Majors. With an option remaining and the improved bullpen, Dickey may spend part of the season in AAA.

Posted by Lucas at 09:17 AM

February 20, 2005

Chris Richard joins Rangers

Texas signed OF/DH Chris Richard to a minor-league contract.

Richard has a career line of .258/.324/.452 over four mostly abbreviated seasons. Shoulder problems ruined his last two years. He'll compete for a spot in AAA with a chance to play in Texas if half the team gets hurt.

Posted by Lucas at 03:29 PM

More signings

Texas signed pitchers FRANK FRANCISCO, AGUSTIN MONTERO and NICK REGILIO to one-year contracts.

Francisco will receive $321,500, the others $316,000 for time spent in the Majors.

Posted by Lucas at 03:24 PM

February 17, 2005

Three more signed

Texas signed reliever ERASMO RAMIREZ and starters NICK MASSET and JOSH RUPE to one-year contracts.

Terms weren't disclosed, but Masset and Rupe are new to the 40-man roster and almost centainly will earn the minimum should they reach the Majors this season. Ramirez probably received a token raise. 24 of the 40 players have contracts.

Posted by Lucas at 08:24 AM

February 16, 2005

Gonzalez signed

Texas signed Adrian Gonzalez to a one-year contract that will pay him $316,000 while in Texas and $76,000 in the minors.

Gonzalez appears to be a longshot to make the Opening Day roster, but he'll be on the short list of call-ups should a position player struggle or suffer an injury.

Posted by Lucas at 12:17 PM

February 15, 2005

Laird Signs

Texas signed catcher GERALD LAIRD to a one-year contract. Laird will earn $325,000 (pro-rated) in the Majors and $240,000 (pro-rated) in the minors.

Is Laird a Major League catcher? It's a legitimate question. Laird offered good defense and a power-bereft .300 average during the first six weeks of 2004. Upon his premature return from a serious thumb injury, he offered destitution, forcing the Rangers to start Rod Barajas almost every game. A Laird who could imitate his seasons in the high minors (.260/.340/.420) would be most welcome.

Rod Barajas and Sandy Alomar are known qualities. Barajas will hit .240 while popping one home run and drawing one walk every two weeks. At his advanced age, Alomar wouldn't be much different than Barajas as an everyday catcher, but with him you get the bonus of imminent breakdown.

Ranger management, for now, is saying that Laird isn't good enough to start over someone who will hit .240/.260/.390. Whether true or not, it's a disappointment.

Posted by Lucas at 12:22 PM

February 09, 2005

Contracts

Texas signed pitcher RYAN WING to a one-year contract for $316,000. UT MARK DEROSA signed a one-year deal for $500,000 plus incentives.

Wing's deal will be pro-rated for time spent on the ML roster. DeRosa is an NRI; his deal is contingent upon making the team. In addition to the base salary, he can earn $20,000 for reaching 200 plate appearances and $20,000 for each additional 25 PAs up to 425. So, if Hank Blalock retires in June, DeRosa might earn a full $700,000.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram also shed light on Pedro Astacio's complicated incentives:

$800,000 base
+50,000 for reaching 80 innings
+50,000 for each additional 10 innings up to 150
+100,000 for each additional ten innings from 160 to 210
+8,333 for each start of 10 through 18
+16,667 for each start of 19-24
+25,000 for each start of 25-27
+33,333 for each start of 28-33
+75,000 for everry 30 days on active roster
+ up to 350,000 in award bonuses

There will be a quiz tomorrow.

Posted by Lucas at 07:11 AM

February 06, 2005

Nivar signs for minimum

Texas signed 2B/OF RAMON NIVAR to a one-year contract for $316,000.

I assume the $316,000 applies only to time spent on the ML roster. Nivar was a decent prospect once. Now, his ceiling appears to be as a utility man.

Posted by Lucas at 01:25 PM

February 04, 2005

Bukvich Snared

Texas claimed pitcher RYAN BUKVICH off waivers from San Diego.

Until his 2002 call-up in Kansas City, Bukvich offered a Nolan Ryan-like performance; in 148 relief innings, all in relief, he put forth a 1.28 ERA and (on a per-nine-inning basis) a miserly 5.2 hits, a whopping 11.7 strikeouts... and a grisly 4.6 walks. At a higher level of competition, he seems to have become a random vector generator, walking 6.4 per nine innings while hitters have caught up to his fastball to an extent. In the Majors, Bukvich has 35 strikeouts and 35 walks in 42 innings.

Bukvich reminds of the Chris Rock routine. Rock talks about not wanting to end up the old guy at the club. "He's not old, just a little too old to be in a club." That's Bukvich, who turns 27 in May. He's not old, just a little too old to be a prospect.

The arrival of Bukvich and Astacio gives Texas a full 40-man roster for the moment. With the likely promotion of Greg Colbrunn and a yet-to-be-determined middle infielder, the Rangers have more shuffling to do.

Posted by Lucas at 06:47 PM

Rangers ink Astacio

Texas signed pitcher PEDRO ASTACIO to a one-year, Major-league contract and added him to the 40-man roster. Terms were not disclosed.

Astacio was asking for $700,000 up front and $1.3 million in incentives, quite a generous self-assessment considering his ERA+ of 77 during the last three years. What he will receive from Texas is not known at this time.

Even with a surgically repaired shoulder, Astacio probably represents a step up from John Wasdin in terms of an AAA insurance policy. Texas used sixteen starters last year; for him and almost any veteran in Oklahoma with a decent arm, the question isn't if they'll be called up, but how often. Astacio would be a fine NRI. Unfortunately, the Major-league contract essentially guarantees a spot in the rotation. My thinking was that a strong Spring Training from Juan Dominguez or Ricardo Rodriguez would get one of them a spot in the rotation. Now, Rogers, Drese, Park, and Astacio are in place and last spot is presumably Chris Young's to lose.

Not to seem overly pessimistic, but the rotation as a whole has a high risk of failure. Rogers pitched well last year but is 40. Drese pitched very well last year but has a very spotty track record. Young is promising but unproven, certainly no lock to provide 180 league-average innings. Chan Ho Park is Chan Ho Park. And Astacio has 45 awful ML innnings to his credit over the last two years. There is a chance, not a small one, that the rotation could approach 2003 in terms of historic ruination.

UPDATE: Astacio gets $800,000 for signing his name and up to $2.2 million in attendance and performance bonuses. Furthermore, John Hart proclaimed him a "quality guy," presumably in reference to his pitching ability and not his character. Astacio pleaded guilty to punching his estranged, pregnant wife in 1999 and temporarily faced deportation to the Dominican Republic.

Posted by Lucas at 05:57 PM

January 26, 2005

Rodriguez Signed!

Texas signed pitcher WILFREDO RODRIGUEZ to a minor-league deal.

Oh, that Rodriguez.

Rodriguez signed with Houston as a 17-year-old, tore up two levels of A ball in 1998-1999, struggled in AA in 2000, and received a cup of coffee in the Majors. Rodriguez, an apparent trivia buff, made the most of his brief tenure by allowing Barry Bonds his 70th homer of the season.

Rodriguez missed 2002-2003 with Tommy John surgery and pitched poorly in the Montreal system last year. The Fort Worth Startlegram reports evidence of quality pitching in the winter league.

Posted by Lucas at 11:29 AM

January 21, 2005

Moreno waived, claimed

Texas announced that Philadelphia has claimed pitcher EDWIN MORENO, who had been placed on waivers.

Moreno suffered throughout 2004, missing two months with a sore elbow and pitching poorly upon his return. Repeating at AA, he allowed almost fifteen baserunners per nine innings and his strikeout rate fell to an uncomfortably low 4.7 per nine.

Moreno's departure drops the roster to 38 players. Texas will need to add at least two before the season begins: a middle infielder to be determined plus one or both among Carlos Delgago (if he signs) and Greg Colbrunn.

Posted by Lucas at 03:51 PM

January 20, 2005

NRI granted to DeRosa

Texas signed infielder MARK DEROSA to a minor-league contract with an invite to Spring Training.

DeRosa will fight Manny Alexander, Marshall McDougall, Esteban German, and probably some others for the backup infielder spot. DeRosa has the advantage of hitting better than Alexander (not a rare asset, to be sure) and can play some outfield in a pinch. He has a pretty good chance to make the team.

Posted by Lucas at 06:10 PM

January 19, 2005

Almanzar signed

Texas signed reliever CARLOS ALMANZAR to a one-year, $1.1 million contract, avoiding arbitration.

As usual, John Hart avoids the potential for acrimony by signing all the arbitration-eligible players to contracts prior to the hearings. A wise practice in genenal, though the $1.8 million bestowed upon Rod Barajas still baffles me.

So, barring additional signings and trades, Texas looks to imitate the 2003 Angels, going into the season with a roster largely similar to the prior year. The '03 Angels fell very hard after their World Series victory. That isn't necessarily an indictment of the Rangers' relative inactivity, as the '02 Angels enjoyed good health and a covey of career years, while the '03 Angels enjoyed neither.

Posted by Lucas at 05:58 PM

January 18, 2005

Matthews Returns

Texas signed outfielder GARY MATTHEWS JR. to a one-year, $1.1 million contract, thereby avoiding arbitration.

Matthews will serve as 4th/5th outfielder and spot Laynce Nix in center against lefties. He displayed excellent defense and surprising power last year for Texas after being dismissed by Atlanta. A repeat of his .461 slugging percentage is unlikely, but even so, Matthews provides a good insurance policy if Nix can't pull his OBP above .300.

Posted by Lucas at 01:35 PM

January 17, 2005

Soriano signed

Texas signed 2B ALFONSO SORIANO to a one-year, $7,500,000 contract, avoiding arbitration.

Reasonable, given the circumstances. Soriano becomes the third highest paid player on the team, behind Chan Ho Park and Alex Rodriguez. While I'm not the president of the Fonzie Soriano Fan Club (or even a member), I do expect him to produce better in 2005. However, now that his cost is certain, Texas might pursue a trade more aggressively.

The Rangers now have fourteen players signed at a combined salary of just over $52 million. Matthews and Almanzar are arbitration-eligible, and the rest are subject to the whims of management. Assuming no other significant transactions, the team's Opening Day payroll (including A-Rod) ought to be in the range of $56-58 million, $29.5 million of which will fall into the hands of Park, Rodriguez and Soriano.

Posted by Lucas at 11:44 AM

January 13, 2005

Yan waived

Texas outrighted infielder RUDDY YAN to AAA Oklahoma and removed him from the 40-man roster.

The Rangers claimed Yan less than two months ago from the White Sox. It's unfair to say he was Ben Kozlowski's direct replacement, as Texas dropped and then lost Kozlowski six weeks before. That doesn't make the sequence of events any less mystifying.

Yan's departure drops the roster to 39, leaving room for another free-agent signing.

Posted by Lucas at 08:10 PM

January 08, 2005

Barajas gets paid

Texas signed catcher ROD BARAJAS to a one-year, $1.85 million contract.

Okayyyy...

Last year at this time, Barajas was a non-roster invitee on one of the worst teams in baseball. Now, he's a millionaire.

Barajas earned a 270% raise over last year's $500,000. More to the point, Texas gave him a 270% raise to avoid arbitration. Arbitration must be worse than death to John Hart.

From the beginning of the 2004 season through June 24th (an eighteen-inning marathon against Seattle), Rod Barajas saw the ball as never before, batting .284/.293/.627 and belting twelve homers in 134 at-bats. Yes, that's a .009 difference between his on-base percentage and batting average, courtesy of one walk and a couple of HBPs. Well, he was locked in.

That stretch represents about 15% of his career. In the other 85%, Barajas has batted .217/.259/.338 with 14 homers in 733 at-bats.

Defensively, Barajas is considered average, perhaps better than average. He would need to catch like a 25-year-old Pudge Rodriguez to offset his offensive inability, and he most certainly does not.

Barajas deserves much praise for his role in the Rangers' first-half surge that resulted in meaningful September baseball for the first time in five years. Unfortunately, as with Herbert Perry before, the Rangers appear to have paid him as a reward for previous performance, not for a realistic assessment of how he might play in 2005.

Revisiting the statistical breakdown, I'd say, at absolute best, there's a 15% chance Barajas hits well enough to justify his contract. More likely, he'll hit about .240/.270/.390 and combine with Sandy Alomar to provide the one of the worst-hitting catching tandems in baseball.

Posted by Lucas at 07:25 PM

January 05, 2005

Zim becomes free agent again, for the moment

Major League Baseball has rejected the minor-league contract reliever Jeff ZImmerman signed with Texas. Apparently, Texas signed him to the deal despite not offering him arbitration. That is a no-no.

Technically, Texas can't sign Zimmerman until May 1st, but they may ask the other clubs for permission to sign him when Spring Training starts. It's no lock, but I'd guess that Zim ends up in Texas when the dust settles.

Posted by Lucas at 01:47 AM

December 21, 2004

Zim returns

Texas signed reliever JEFF ZIMMERMAN to a minor-league deal.

The Rangers had non-tendered Zimmerman two weeks ago.

In mid-February 2002, Jeff Zimmerman signed a three-year, $10 million contract with the Rangers. By the end of March, he was on the disabled list with a sore elbow. His injury gave me, in my first year of writing a little fantasy column for ESPN, the opportunity to write several thousand words about John Rocker, Hideki Irabu, Anthony Telford, and a host of other would-be closers.

Zimmerman spent three seasons and the entire length of his contract on the DL. The nature of his non-tender/resigning prevents him from pitching in Texas before May 1, but his continuing rehab has him on a midseason return at best. At this point, he's unlikely ever to pitch in the Majors again, but I sincerely hope he does.

Posted by Lucas at 06:55 PM

Arbitration for everyone!

Texas tendered contracts to four arbitration-eligible players: reliever CARLOS ALMANZAR, catcher ROD BARAJAS, 2B ALFONSO SORIANO, and OF GARY MATTHEWS.

By my count, the 40-man roster is full. Texas cannot sign anyone to a Major League contract without waiving someone. Don't sign a long-term lease, Mr. Yan.

Last year, Almanzar, Barajas and Matthews made the minimum or close to it, so their 2005 salaries shouldn't increase to an excessive level. Barajas has the best chance to earn more than he's worth; arbitrators, like award voters, love those counting stats, and Barajas's shiny home run total will hide his dismal on-base percentage in the "courtroom." I would expect Hart to reach agreements with each player before a hearing occurs, and I'd hope that no one gets more than one year.

Soriano, on the other hand, made $5.4 million in 2004 (not $7.5 million as the Dallas Morning News has taken to misreporting) and, despite his lackluster season, stands to get somewhere in the $7-$8 million range in 2005. Despite the broad increase in free-agent salaries this offseason, Hart hasn't found a taker for Soriano's salary and skill set. Soriano's publicly stated refusal to play in the outfield doesn't help matters.

I was no fan of The Trade. I opined that, 1: Soriano's arbitration-driven salary increases and the huge amount of Rodriguez's contract eaten by Texas would consume most of the alleged "payroll flexibility," and 2: "payroll flexibility" was a euphemism for "lowering payroll indefinitely." Amazingly, at this point, I appear to be correct on both counts. I also considered the trade to be a very stark admission of organizational failure; Texas signed the best player in baseball to a historic contract, couldn't build a team around him, then traded him for a fraction of his value three years later and picked up a large chunk of his salary. Texas's 89-73 record in 2004 has contradicted that argument for now.

So what becomes of Soriano? I expected him to be gone by now, and I still don't think he lasts the 2005 season. A Spring Training trade is possible, or if Texas falters and finds themselves out of the playoff race by June, they'll take what they can get for him. It won't be much, as Soriano becomes a free agent after 2005.

Posted by Lucas at 09:48 AM

December 18, 2004

Dellucci Returns

Texas signed OF DAVID DELLUCCI to a two-year $1.8 million contract with a total of $700,000 in performance incentives.

Last August 29th, Dellucci displayed a startling line of .276/.370/.510. The rest of the way, he batted a terrifying .114/.225/.186 (that's 8-for-70 with two doubles and a homer). By season's end, Dellucci had an OPS+ of just 94, pretty respectable for Dellucci himself but sub-par for a platoon leftfielder getting most of the at-bats.

Dellucci is a fine fourth outfielder, and in that regard, the contract makes sense. If he ends up DH'ing against righties or starting frequently in left (and again robbing at-bats from Kevin Mench), he's simply below-average.

Posted by Lucas at 10:51 AM

December 17, 2004

Colbrunn signed

Texas signed 1B/DH GREG COLBRUNN to a minor-league contract with an invite to Spring Training. Colbrunn will earn $650,000 if a member of the Rangers.

At the turn of the decade, Colbrunn was Arizona's spot starter a first and arguably a better choice than Mark Grace. Injuries have limited him to under 100 plate appearances in the last two years combined. Wrist surgery ended his 2004 campaign in June.

Colbrunn has the reputation of someone who only hits lefties, but his splits aren't that pronounced (an advantage of eight points of batting average, a mere one point of OBP, and 42 points of slugging against lefties).

For now, Colbrunn doesn't require a roster spot. Assuming his wrist has healed enough that he can swing a bat properly, he probably will make the team as the wrong end of the DH platoon. In a perfect world, he'll get about 200 at-bats with a line of .280/.340/.480.

Posted by Lucas at 08:31 PM

December 14, 2004

Rule 5 Draft Results

After some handwringing over the fates of Erik Thompson, Juan Senreiso, Marshall McDougall, and Anthony Webster, Texas exited the Rule 5 draft unscathed. The Rangers also declined to select anyone.

In the minor-league edition of the draft, Texas selected reliever Juan Pascual from Baltimore and Tampa Bay 3B Vincent Harrison. Four Ranger minor-leaguers were selected: Rick Asadoorian, Jose Garcia, Edgar Gonzalez, and Cesar Herrara.

Posted by Lucas at 12:48 AM

December 10, 2004

Hidalgo signs

Texas signed OF RICHARD HIDALGO to a one-year, $4.5 million deal.

Considering that owners are again partying like it's 1999, Hidalgo's deal looks quite reasonable (Two and almost $20 for Steve Finley?). Hidalgo's OPS+ has skittered wildly between 89 and 142 over the last five years, without even Bret Saberhagen's every-other-year "consistency" to provide a forecast. At his worst, Hidalgo probably would hit only slightly better than David Dellucci, but Hidalgo also has the capability to punch out a line of .310/.370/.550 as he seeks another big payday.

Posted by Lucas at 12:38 AM

December 08, 2004

Texas exhumes catcher, signs to contract

The Rangers signed catcher SANDY ALOMAR, JR. to a one-year deal for $500,000.

While Ranger management didn't come out and say so, they apparently feel that Gerald Laird deserves punishment. Alomar's signing runs concurrent with GM John Hart banishing Laird to AAA three months before he reports to camp, saying that Laird would start the season in AAA and he "wouldn't be surprised if at some point Gerald is with [Texas]." Thus, Laird has already been deemed inferior to Rod Barajas, he of the .227/.265/.383 career line. (Texas may also trade for or sign another starting catcher.)

Laird did return to soon from his thumb injury, and, inarguably, his utter inability to catch on consecutive days or hit on any day placed too heavy a burden on Barajas's shoulders. On the other hand, who, if not Ranger management, permitted his return? Laird also damned himself by not playing in winter ball, a choice that previously brought managerial contempt upon Kevin Mench.

Laird isn't more than a decent catching prospect. He might become a poor man's Jim Sundberg, or he might have an itinerant, Randy Knorr-like career. Still, it is disheartening as a fan to know that Laird is preordained to don a Redhawks jersey in April.

As for Alomar, he's a famous name with a career that reasonably approximates Darrin Fletcher with shakier health (in fact, Fletcher is slightly younger). Last year, the 37-year-old Alomar batted .240/.298/.308 in limited action, and a repoted deal with Philadelphia collapsed after the team's physicians denied medical clearance. Does Texas expect Alomar to improve as a 38-year-old? I'll give him a 10% chance of being surprisingly adequate, a 40% chance of being very inadequate (and, with Barajas, making the Ranger catching corps among the three or four worst in baseball offensively), and a 50% chance of not lasting the season.

Posted by Lucas at 11:25 PM

December 07, 2004

Free-Agent Arbitration Deadline

Texas offered arbitration to OF DAVID DELLUCCI. Texas declined to offer arbitration to any other potential free agents including OF RUSTY GREER, OF BRIAN JORDAN, OF/2B ERIC YOUNG, 1B/DH BRAD FULLMER, 1B/3B HERBERT PERRY, reliever JAY POWELL, and reliever JEFF ZIMMERMAN.

Texas had no intention of offering arbitration to the handsomely paid, oft-injured Greer, but both sides had discussed a non-roster invite with the understanding that Greer would be given the chance at the DH job. With the Rangers courting folks such as Todd Walker to DH (a bad idea, but anyway), Greer decided to seek a greener pasture. Rumour has him signing with Minnesota, an odd choice given their plethora of contract-heavy starting OFs and plenty of OF/DH prospects in waiting.

Zimmerman may sign a minor-league deal. He wouldn't be able to pitch in the Majors until May 1, but his injury makes that a foregone conclusion.

Texas has offered Dellucci a two-year deal (though allegedly for less money than his other suitors), so they won't mind if he accepts arbitration.

Posted by Lucas at 09:18 PM

December 03, 2004

Tejera returns

Texas signed reliever MICHAEL TEJERA to a minor-league contract.

Texas claimed Tejera off waivers from Florida near the end of the 2004 season and waived Rosman Garcia. He is two years older than Garcia but had shown some success at the Major-League level, something that had eluded Garcia to that point. Tejera basically flopped as a Ranger and was waived and unclaimed after the season. He probably will relieve in Oklahoma and could join Texas with injuries to higher-ranked pitchers. Tejera is nothing special but makes for a nice insurance policy. There are worse guys to have around.

Posted by Lucas at 10:59 PM

December 01, 2004

Catcher signed

Texas signed catcher ROBERT MACHADO to a minor-league deal.

Machado is 2005's version of Ken Huckaby. Machado will play in AAA and join the Rangers if Barajas or Laird get hurt. Machado has hit well in the minors over the past few years but not well at all in the majors.

Posted by Lucas at 11:08 AM

November 20, 2004

Four added to 40-man

Texas added outfielder JASON BOTTS, pitcher JOSH RUPE, and pitcher NICK MASSET to the 40-man roster. Texas also signed pitcher AGUSTIN MONTERO to a minor-league contract, then added him to the 40-man roster.

Botts, who turned 24 in July, struggled in AA in 2003 but turned on the jets last season, batting .296/.401/.573 and walking more than once every eight times to the plate. He likewise shredded pitchers in the recently completed Arizona Fall League. He'll probably start in AAA next April, but if Texas enters Spring Training without an answer at DH, Botts could enter the equation. Botts is not known as a defensive wizard.

Rupe came to Texas as part of the Carl Everett trade. Injuries limited his 2004 campaign to 73 innings split among low-A, high-A adnd AA. Rupe cooks with gas but control is a real problem.

Masset he has pitched well but not especially so and has only ten innings above high-A in his career. John Sickles rated 36 prospects in last year's Scouting Notebook and Masset was not among them. He struck out only 114 batters in 210 innings over the last two years.

I must be missing something very basic because I really don't understand why former Dodger prospect Agustin Montero requires a position on the 40-man roster. Quality aside, he was not on LA's 40-man roster, so I don't know why he needed more than a non-roster invitation. Quality not aside, Montero has accomplished nothing above AA and turned 27 in August. Why protect him? I doubt another team would claim him in the Rule 5 draft, but if one did, would it matter?

What about who didn't make the cut?

I'm flabbergasted that pitcher Erik Thompson didn't make the roster, and I'd be amazed if he survived the Rule 5 draft. Thompson has done nothing but pitch well over the last three years, all at levels in which the typical player is older than him. In 288 innings over three years, Thompson has a 2.93 ERA, 231 strikeouts and a miniscule 36 walks. While he isn't expected to strike out as many batters at higher levels, his command is tremendous. Thompson did miss the last seven weeks of the season with a sore shoulder. Perhaps his shoulder is worse than reported. If not, the thought process of Ranger management confounds me. Travis Hughes and Ruddy Yan merit roster spots but Thompson doesn't? Incomprehensible, and an ill tiding for the future.

Juan Senreiso's non-promotion seems more justifiable. Senreiso turned 23 in August and mostly split the season between low-A Clinton, high-A Stockton with a cup of coffee (and a bagel) at AA Frisco. Previously underwhelming statistically, he batted .313/.371/.468 for the year with 28 steals and an improved BB/K ratio. Unfortunately, Senreiso flopped in the Arizona Fall League, batting a dire .189/.274/.289 in a league where teams average 6.5 runs per game. The Rangers are probably betting that nobody will spend a Rule 5 pick on him with that performance, and they're probably right. If so, Senreiso should start 2005 in AA.

Texas also left 2002 1st-round pick Drew Meyer on the table. Meyer missed significant time due to injury and struggled in AA. Meyer has a career minor-league line of .273/.323/.381 and has slowly devolved to fringe prospect status.

UPDATE: The local papers have suggested that Thompson's injury is worse than it appeared and that Thompson may not be ready for Opening Day. Jamey Newberg had mentioned that Thompson was throwing on the side in August, so I'd assumed his rehab was progressing well. Nevertheless, I'd rather see his name on the 40 than Ruddy Yan.

Posted by Lucas at 08:21 AM

November 19, 2004

Half of planet invited to Spring Training

Texas signed pitchers ROSMAN GARCIA, JOHN WASDIN, LOU POTE, AGUSTIN MONTERO, SHANE BAZZELL, VLAD NUNEZ, and JOSE VERAS, shortstop MANNY ALEXANDER, infielder ESTEBAN GERMAN, outfielders CHAD ALLEN, JASON CONTI, and ANDRES TORRES, and 1B JASON HART to minor-league contracts.

Alexander, Allen, Conti and Wasdin enter their second year of duty as UPS couriers on the well-worn route between Arlington and Oklahoma City. Allen could stick as a fifth outfielder depending on how the rest of the offseason shakes out; the others (I sincerely hope) will not clutter the active roster except in the most dire of circumstances.

The prettiest name on the list belongs to Nunez, who pitched quite well for the 01-02 Marlins before cratering in 2003 and enduring the shuttle between Denver and Colorado Springs last year. Nunez has a respectable chance to pitch in Texas and a decent chance to pitch well. Certainly worth the flyer.

Pote pitched reasonably well for Anaheim in 01-02, hopped to Japan in 2003, and returned in 2004, mostly for AAA Sacramento. Another passable guy to have in Oklahoma in case trouble erupts.

Torres possesses speed and on-base skills but has never displayed them on the big stage. He's not a terrible guy to have around but probably sits behind Allen and Conti in the pecking order of potential emergency call-ups.

Former prospect Hart endured a miserable twelve months which witnessed his removal from the 40-man roster and surgery for a non-malignant brain tumore. Hart has no chance to make the team but is at least playing baseball again.

Posted by Lucas at 07:57 PM

Yan claimed

Texas claimed infielder RUDDY YAN off waivers from the Chicago White Sox.

Yan was one of the players offered but declined in the Carl Everett trade of 2003 that delivered Frank Francisco, among others. Yan struggled as a 22-year-old in AA (.267/.315/.338) and has yet to hit for average above low-A and for power anywhere. He is blazingly fast, but like new teammate Ramon Nivar, he contradicts his best skill with his low OBP.

He's young and appears to have two options remaining, so he does have some time on his side, though the idea of him cluttering the 40-man roster is not appealing. As with Ryan Wing, his appearance begs the question of what makes him more valuable than the departed Ben Koslowski.

Posted by Lucas at 07:39 PM

Chris Young gets his

Texas signed pitcher Chris Young to a three-year, $1.5 million contract with a team option for a fourth year.

Three years for someone with 36 innings of MLB experience? Why? Well, the 6-10, 260-pound Young also played baseketball in college and allegedly had a guarantee of making the roster of the Sacramento Kings. Texas decided to lock Young up rather than risk his departure. Young had a lukewarm 4.71 ERA in seven late-season starts but showed moments of real promise and poise. He'll enter Spring Training as a favorite to make the rotation unless Texas signs two free-agent starters.

Posted by Lucas at 07:31 PM

November 18, 2004

Texas signs two Rays

Texas signed pitcher JASON STANDRIDGE and shortstop JACE BREWER to minor-league deals.

Standridge was Tampa Bay's first pick (31st overall) of the 1997 draft. He hasn't done much beyond the Sally League. Though he just turned 26 and has time to revive his career, his mediocre strikeout rates and occasional lapses in control bode ill. In brief tours of duty over four years, Standridge's performance at the major-league level has been uniformly awful -- 18 homers allowed in 68 innings and more walks than strikeouts. This year's struggles resulted in his removal from the 40-man roster in June. He probably will join the rotation in AAA, and his best shot with the Rangers would be as a long reliever. John Wasdin-like faux-competence in 2005 would be a step up for him, but again, he's just 26.

Brewer, a 5th-round pick in 2000, batted .252/.290/.386 in AA as a 25-year old in 2004. He plays mostly at short with some outfield, first and third thrown in. I'd guess he'll be a supersub for AA Frisco.

Posted by Lucas at 10:20 AM

November 12, 2004

Brocail Re-signs

Doug Brocail signed a one-year, $1 million contract for 2005.

A reasonable signing, though nothing over which to celebrate. Brocail looked dead at least year's All-Star break. Why was Texas holding on to a 37-year-old with a 7.45 ERA? Inexplicably, Brocail caught fire in the second half, allowing only a .224 average and no homers in 33 innings. He also pitched some high-leverage innings when Carlos Almanzar began to falter.

Brocail turns 38 in May, and three months of brilliance do not guarantee future results. Still, he's more likely to pitch well than Rosman Garcia or Travis Hughes, and if he doesn't, his salary doesn't sting too much.

Brocail clearly loves to pitch. Arm troubles limited him to a couple of minor-league innings in 2001 and none in 2002 and 2003. That he could suffer through three years of essentially no game action and then pitch effectively at age 37 is a testament to his dedication.

Posted by Lucas at 09:25 AM

October 29, 2004

Greer and Jordan Jettisoned

Texas declined the mutual options for the 2005 contracts of OF RUSTY GREER and OF BRIAN JORDAN.

Greer will receive a $600,000 buyout in lieu of an $8,000,000 salary. Jordan receives $125,000 instead of his 2005 salary of $4,000,000.

This season, Greer completed a three-year, $21.2 million contract having played in a total of 52 games, none since July 11, 2002. Numerous foot and shoulder injuries, caused in part by his all-out play, effectively derailed his promising career by age 31. He was a terrific player, hitting .320/.400/.500 during the Ranger heyday of 1996-1999 but not receiving much attention. In a fairer world, Greer would have scored and driven in over 1,000 runs and belted 200+ homers over his career. Greer's career on-base percentage of .387 ranks 20th among active players.

Greer will turn 36 next January and probably will return to Texas as a non-roster invitee. He remains active in the D/FW community.

Jordan will not return, and as he approaches age 38 with two consecutive injury-plagued seasons behind him, he'll do well just to receive an NRI. He batted a dire .222/.275/.363, and only a brief burst of adequacy in August pushed those numbers that "high." Jordan has had a solid career, but this may be the end of the line.

Posted by Lucas at 05:49 PM

October 11, 2004

Transaction

Designated starting pitcher MICKEY CALLAWAY for assignment.

Callaway was injured most of the season and didn't pitch well when healthy. His dismissal doesn't affect the 40-man roster as he was on the 60-day DL.

Posted by Lucas at 03:52 PM

October 08, 2004

Transaction

Designated starting pitcher BEN KOZLOWSKI for assignment. Announed that Kozlowski was claimed by Cincinnati. Announced that pitcher COLBY LEWIS was claimed by Detroit.

I don't know when Kozlowski was waived; the team made no annoucement until the waiver claim occurred. I do know that Joaquin Benoit, R.A. Dickey, and a host of lesser names still occupy space on the roster, so the loss of Kozlowski makes no sense unless his recovery is progressing much, much slower than expected. Koz is fifteen months past Tommy John surgery and seemed a safe bet for the AAA rotation in 2005. I believe he has one option remaining. Perhaps he never pans out, but he certainly deserves a roster spot more than many of the current occupants.

Posted by Lucas at 03:52 PM

October 07, 2004

Transaction

Designated starting pitcher COLBY LEWIS for assignment.

Lewis missed most of 2004 with a torn rotator cuff. Once one of the crown jewels of the Ranger system, Lewis pitched spectularly on occasion, wretchedly on others. He won't return before midseason 2005, and if the surgery takes some zip off his fastball, he may not have much to offer, as command was never his forte. Not entirely surprising, but nevertheless a depressing development in what once seemed to be a promising future for Lewis.

Posted by Lucas at 03:51 PM

October 06, 2004

Transaction

Claimed pitcher RYAN WING off waivers from Chiacgo (AL). Designated outfielder CHAD ALLEN, catcher KEN HUCKABY and pitcher MICHAEL TEJERA for assignment.

Ryan Wing was the White Sox 2nd round pick (71st overall) in 2001. The former Riverside Community College student pitched reasonably well in low-A in 2002 and high-A in 2003 (combined 3.37 ERA, 15 homers allowed in 269 IP, 7.29 K/9, but a questionable 4.3 BB/9). Wing missed all of 2004 with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder. Wing actually had an outside shot at the Sox rotation in Spring 2004, but he was optioned to AA and tendinitis in his throwing shoulder prevented him from pitching a single inning. He's lefthanded and won't turn 23 until next February, hence, he's a prospect. Chicago added him to their 40-man roster after 2003 and burned his first option in 2004. Texas might not keep him around depending on who among their own prospects they plan to protect this winter.

Allen played the role of organizational soldier perfectly, hitting the hell out of the ball in AAA while having three short, less successful stints for the Rangers. Texas has DFA'ed him four times in 2004. He has a decent chance to catch on as a fifth outfielder somewhere in 2005 and avoid having to carry his own luggage.

An injury to Gerald Laird earned Huckaby the right to rot on the Ranger bench for a while. At 33 and with a .140/.218/.200 line to his credit, Huckaby won't be more than AAA filler in 2005.

Tejera is a 27-year-old lefty who had shown some promise with Florida, and Texas was wise to claim him in September. Unfortunately, he pitched dreadfully for the Rangers (13.50 ERA, 24 baserunners in 9.1 IP) and will be looking at an NRI somewhere else next spring.

Posted by Lucas at 03:50 PM

September 29, 2004

Transaction

Agreed to a two-year contract extension with reliever RON MAHAY for two years and $1.7 million, plus a $150,000 signing bonus.

Only a few years ago, Texas was handing out $3 million annually to guys like Todd Van Poppel, Jay Powell, and Mark Petkovsek. Mahay had pitched well sporadically but bottmoed out in 2002 with an 8.59 ERA in limited action with the Cubs. Given a chance in the Rangers bedraggled pen in 2003, he responded with a 3.18 ERA and allowed opposing batters a tiny .612 OPS. Mahay has pitched just slightly worse this year compared to 2003 despite a lower ERA: a few more batters have reached base, a few more inherited runners have scored. While I think this new contract represents the maximum I'd want to pay him, it's reasonable, and if he suddenly forgets how to pitch his salary won't clog the payroll.

Posted by Lucas at 03:47 PM

September 24, 2004

Transaction

Announced that the Milwaukee Brewers claimed pitcher SAM NARRON off waivers from Texas.

Narron joins former Rangers Doug Davis, Victor Santos, Danny Kolb and Scott Podsednik on former Ranger GM Doug Melvin's Brewers. See the Septermber 19th entry for my opinion on the Narron DFA.

Posted by Lucas at 03:47 PM

September 22, 2004

Transaction

SEPTEMBER 22: Added pitcher TRAVIS HUGHES to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Designated pitcher RYAN SNARE for assignment.

The commentary for the previous transaction related to Sam Narron applies here. Texas wanted Hughes for bullpen support with the suspensions of Francisco and Almanzar (Brocail's will follow Almanzar), but even with them missing, the team has ten relievers in tow. So Texas risks losing Snare for a 26-year-old long reliever with 83 innings of AAA experience and who is certain not to pitch in a meaningful situation.

Hughes himself was DFA'ed after the 2003 season but remained with Texas. He pitched long relief in AA and AAA, and his peripherals in AAA were solid despite the 5.26 ERA. Texas may designate him again sometime after the season.

Posted by Lucas at 03:46 PM

September 19, 2004

Transaction

SEPTEMBER 19: Added pitcher KAMERON LOE and outfielder CHAD ALLEN to the 40-man roster and recalled them from AAA Oklahoma. Placed pitcher JUAN DOMINGUEZ on the 60-day disabled list. Designated pitcher SAM NARRON for assignment.

Back on July 31, when Texas optioned Narron to AAA after one start, I wrote: "Will Sam Narron become a capable Major Leaguer? Probably not, but in any case, Texas has added him to the roster and burned one of his options for nothing." Now, Texas has waived him for nothing. Again, Narron probably won't evolve into a worthwhile pitcher on the big-league level, and perhaps no team will claim him. Narron showed good command in his first season in AAA but was hittable (10.9 per nine IP) and featured a dismal strikeout rate (2.7 per nine). His pitches were slow as molasses in his ML debut. However, Narron is only 23 and had never pitched above high-A until this season. Might he evolve into a worthwhile pitcher? He might.

Texas has used ML transaction rules smartly and to its advantage all season, even cobbling together a functional starting rotation out of table scraps. This time, they waived a pitcher with at least some promise for a fifth outfielder because Gary Matthews and (to a lesser extent) Kevin Mench are hobbled. Yes, Alfonso Soriano is hurt, but Eric Young is a second baseman by trade, so does the active roster require the presence of both Andy Fox and Manny Alexander? Why not just waive one of them? Why not waive Ken Huckaby? It's not (potentially) losing Narron that worries me, it's the foreboding of equally short-sighted transactions involving players of far greater potential.

Dominguez only has a sore knee and wouldn't ordinarily merit being marooned on the 60-day DL, but with only two weeks left in the season and roster spots at an apparent premium, Texas will mothball him until 2005. Loe is a 23-year-old with much more promise than Narron. The 6'8" Loe struck out 7.5 per nine IP between AA and AAA and kept the ball in the park. Texas will use him in long relief.

Posted by Lucas at 03:45 PM

September 13, 2004

Transaction

SEPTEMBER 13: Activated pitcher JUAN DOMINGUEZ from the 60-day Disabled List. Placed 3B/DH HERBERT PERRY on the 60-day Disabled List. Recalled 1B ADRIAN GONZALEZ from AAA Oklahoma.

Was Perry hurt? Perry is always hurt, even if in the lineup. In 2002, Perry's performed an admirable rescue mission as the everyday third baseman (.276/.333/.480) after Hank Blalock proved not ready for prime time. The winter after his career season at age 32, GM John Hart threw two years and $3.5 million at him. That decision seemed quite obviously a reward for his 2002 season rather than an expectation of future performance, and unfortunately, Perry immediately became crippled with shoulder and knee injuries that limited him to all of 24 at-bats in 2003. This season, Perry began the year as the DH against lefties, but more injuries and solid play from Eric Young prevented him from fulfilling even that limited role. He won't be a Ranger in 2005, and his age and perpetual stream of injuries will leave him hard-pressed to make any squad. It's no fun to talk that way about a guy thirteen months younger than me, but there it is.

Dominguez takes a rotation slot from Chris Young, who will be shut down to rest his tiring arm. Gonzalez joins the team after Oklahoma's elimination from the PCL playoffs. His presence is surprisingly important. Texas doesn't have a decent lefty pinch-hitter; Andy Fox, of all people, pinch hit against Pedro Martinez nine games ago.

Posted by Lucas at 03:44 PM

September 10, 2004

Transaction

Claimed reliever MICHAEL TEJERA off waivers from Florida. Designated reliever ROSMAN GARCIA for assignment.

Garcia is just over two years younger than Tejera, but Texas wanted the lefty who has achieved at least modest success in the Majors. Tejera pitched 140 innings with a 4.45 ERA as a 25-year-old rookie (albeit in pitcher-happy Florida) and a 4.67 ERA mostly as a reliever the following year. In 2004, Tejera has a 3.97 ERA and 39/88 BB/SO ratio mostly as a starter. Garcia has never pitched well in Texas and has a 4.65 ERA and a 36/49 BB/SO ratio for AAA Oklahoma.

Posted by Lucas at 03:44 PM

September 07, 2004

Transaction

Activated pitcher JOAQUIN BENOIT from the 15-day Disabled List.

So Benoit hasn't thrown his last pitch as a Ranger, as I opined on August 24. But it's close.

Posted by Lucas at 03:43 PM

September 01, 2004

Transaction

Activated pitcher JEFF NELSON, pitcher ERASMO RAMIREZ, and 3B/DH HERBERT PERRY from the 15-day Disabled List. Added catcher KEN HUCKABY and infielder ANDY FOX to the 40-man roster and recalled them from AAA Oklahoma. Transferred pitcher MICKEY CALLAWAY from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.

Nelson could have returned sooner, but Texas wanted to wait until September 1 so that no one would have to leave to make room for Nelson. Huckaby and Fox are reinforcements. I suppose Huckaby allows for multiple pinch-hit attempts in the catcher's slot and Fox perhpas could pinch-run for someone, but that's the extent of their value. Callaway hits the 60-day DL for the second time in one season. He won't need surgery for his irritated rotator cuff but he definitely wasn't going to pitch again this year. Texas now has eight players on the 60-day Disabled List.

Posted by Lucas at 03:42 PM

August 27, 2004

Transaction

Added pitcher JOHN WASDIN to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Designated pitcher SCOTT ERICKSON for assignment.

I suppose he was worth a shot, but Erickson pitched miserably during his four-start tenure with Texas. With the minor-league seasons ending in a few days, Erickson won't have much of a chance to pitch again if he goes unclaimed. This could be the end of the line. Wasdin joines the roster for the third time and will try to do the five-inning three-run thing.

Posted by Lucas at 03:41 PM

August 26, 2004

Transaction

Activated pitcher CHAN HO PARK from the 60-day DL. Placed pitcher MICKEY CALLAWAY on the 15-day DL. Transferred pitcher JUAN DOMINGUEZ and 1B/DH BRAD FULLMER from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.

DL, DL, DL. Amazingly, Park's ERA is middle-of-the-pack among the 16 who have started a game for the Rangers this season. Park doesn't have to be good, he just needs to avoid disaster. Callaway has a sore shoulder and I wouldn't be surprised if he misses the rest of the season. Dominguez has a chance to return but had to be placed on the 60-day DL to make room for Park. Dominguez has already missed two months, so the move won't affect his return.

A balky knee has cut short Fullmer's '04 campaign. I really expected Fullmer to excel as a platoon DH in Arlington, and I advised fantasy owners to pick him up in the late rounds. Instead, Fullmer posted the worst rate stats of his career. He'll get an NRI somewhere in 2005.

Posted by Lucas at 03:40 PM

August 24, 2004

Transaction

Added pitcher CHRIS YOUNG to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Placed pitcher JOAQUIN BENOIT on the 15-day disabled list.

Texas received Young in the Einar Diaz trade. What did I have to say about that trade? Getting anything, anything at all, for Diaz makes for a fine trade... None of the prospects [Young or pitcher Justin Echols] has a strong chance of making the Majors. I'm glad to be wrong, though Young's appearance stems from the dire state of the rotation than his own efforts in AAA, strong though they've been. If Young can offer five innings and three runs allowed, Texas will take it. With Callaway hurt yet again and Erickson pitching to expectations (which is to say, poorly), they may have little choice but to keep him around.

As for Benoit, he might have thrown his last pitch as a Ranger. I believe he'll be arbitration-eligible next season, and while he won't get much of a raise, Texas might not want to pay it to someone with a career ERA of 5.76. Several tough 40-man roster decisions this winter for Texas won't help his cause.

Posted by Lucas at 03:39 PM

August 22, 2004

Transaction

Activated pitcher R.A. DICKEY from the 15-day DL. Place pitcher ERASMO RAMIREZ on the 15-day DL. Ramirez has soreness in his pitching shoulder.

The Ranger bullpen has improved immensely this year, but not because of either of these gentlemen.

Posted by Lucas at 03:38 PM

August 16, 2004

Transaction

Activated pitcher MICKEY CALLAWAY from the 60-day DL. Placed 3B/DH HERBERT PERRY on the 15-day DL. Tranferred pitcher RICARDO RODRIGUEZ from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.

Mickey Callaway's return bolsters an already strong Ranger rotation. Oh, not really. As with Regilio, Wasdin, Bacsik, Bierbrodt, and Jim Umbarger, Texas will pray for five non-catastrophic innings from Callway's surgically enhanced arm. So far in August, Texas has 50 innings of sub-2.00 ERA from the bullpen, 20 innings of 1.33 ERA from Ryan Drese, and a 6.44 ERA from the other starters. Perry's sore knee buys him a few more days of service time; Perry himself acknowledged he might be released.

Posted by Lucas at 03:37 PM

August 14, 2004

Transaction

Added IF MANNY ALEXANDER to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Designated pitcher MIKE BACSIK for assignment.

Perhpas Buck Showalter intends to give Michael Young a day off. Alexander is otherwise a nonperson who won't see the field unless one team is ahead by ten runs. Bacsik should clear waivers and rejoin Oklahoma for their last two weeks.

Posted by Lucas at 03:37 PM

August 12, 2004

Transaction

Recalled reliever ERASMO RAMIREZ from AAA Oklahoma. Optioned pitcher NICK REGILIO to AAA Oklahoma.

And on Monday, Texas will jettison either Ramirez or Rosman Garcia in favor of now-healthy Mickey Callaway. Regilio has promise but clearly was in the Majors out of necessity rather than him forcing the Rangers hand. Like Bacsik, Wasdin, Narron, Drese, etc., Regilio has combined moments of competence with cringe-inducing wildness.

Posted by Lucas at 03:36 PM

August 09, 2004

Transaction

Activated reliever DOUG BROCAIL from the 15-day Disabled List. Optioned reliever ROSMAN GARCIA to AAA Oklahoma.

Pass.

Posted by Lucas at 03:35 PM

August 08, 2004

Transaction

Recalled reliever ROSMAN GARCIA from AAA Oklahoma. Optioned pitcher RYAN SNARE to AAA Oklahoma.

I'm beginning to understand the real reason Chris Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus hates how the Rangers and other teams effectively expand the 25-man roster with constant rotation of marginal pitchers between AAA and the Majors. The rule-bending itself doesn't offend me -- the rule is at fault, not the team -- but writing about these frequent and basically meaningless transactions gets tiresome. Anyway, Snare at least got into one game before being kicked back down to Oklahoma.

Posted by Lucas at 03:34 PM

August 05, 2004

Transaction

Placed reliever JEFF NELSON on the 15-day disabled list. Recalled pitcher RYAN SNARE from AAA Oklahoma.

Nelson had bone chips removed from his elbow while on the DL, and after just two appearances he felt more soreness and returns to the shelf. Snare will hang around long enough this time to get an appearance. A pitching staff with Snare, Regilio and Bacsik does not inspire confidence.

Posted by Lucas at 03:34 PM

July 31, 2004

Transaction

Added pitcher MIKE BACSIK to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Optioned pitcher SAM NARRON to AAA Oklahoma. Acquired pitcher SCOTT ERICKSON from the New York Mets for cash and a player to be named later.

Will Sam Narron become a capable Major Leaguer? Probably not, but in any case, Texas has added him to the roster and burned one of his options for nothing. In his place, the pitching-desperate Rangers recalled Mike Bacsik, who has a 4.45 ERA in AAA, about half a run higher than Narron's. Bacsik has almost no chance of being claimed if designated and isn't a loss if claimed, so why waste Narron's option? Meanwhile, Texas also acquired Scott Erickson from the Mets. The 36-year-old pitched terribly in two starts for the Mets and offered a 4.50 ERA in 52 rehab innings in AAA. I don't know whether Texas will place him on the 40-man roster immediately.

Posted by Lucas at 03:33 PM

July 30, 2004

Transaction

Added pitcher SAM NARRON to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Placed pitcher R.A. DICKEY to the 15-day Disabled List.

Texas calls up Narron for his Major League debut against first-place Oakland and will pray that Narron can offer five innings with three runs allowed. Narron has a lukewarm 4.01 ERA in AAA; more problematic is his strikeout rate of three per nine inings. Narron throws slowly and relies on a changeup.

Posted by Lucas at 03:32 PM

July 29, 2004

Transaction

Signed reliever FRANCISCO CORDERO to a two-year extension with a team option for a third year.

Good. Francisco receives $3.75 million in 2005, $4 million in 2006, and potentially $5 million in 2007, all reasonable for a player evolving into a top-notch closer. Texas bought out his last arbitration year and at least one year of free agency. Someone might have paid more on the open market.

Posted by Lucas at 03:31 PM

July 26, 2004

Transaction

Placed designated hitter BRAD FULLMER and pitcher DOUG BROCAIL on the 15-day Disabled List. Designated pitcher JOHN WASDIN for assignment. Optioned reliever ROSMAN GARCIA to AAA Oklahoma. Activated 3B/DH HERBERT PERRY and pitcher JEFF NELSON from the Disabled List. Recalled reliever ERASMO RAMIREZ from AAA Oklahoma and took pitcher JOAQUIN BENOIT off the bereavement list.

Batting half his games in a hitter's heaven, Fullmer is having the worst season of his career in average, on-base percentage, and slugging. Fullmer has turned out to be the slightly richer man's Todd Greene, the richness being a decent walk rate. You want more from your cleanup hitter.

Posted by Lucas at 02:19 PM

July 23, 2004

Transaction

Placed pitcher RICARDO RODRIGUEZ on the 15-day Disabled List. Recalled pitcher ROSMAN GARCIA from AAA. Activated outfielder BRIAN JORDAN and catcher GERALD LAIRD from the Disabled List. Designated outfielder CHAD ALLEN and catcher DANNY ARDOIN for assignment.

A very tough loss for the Rangers. Rodriguez had pitched fabulously and seemed primed to give the Rangers a legitimate third starter, but Rob Quinlan's liner to Rodriguez's elbow dashes that hope. Rodriguez won't pitch again in 2004, leaving Rogers, Drese, and three gaping holes to carry on. Jordan hopes to improve on his .103 average. Whether he does or not, he'll probably play more than Kevin Mench.

Posted by Lucas at 02:17 PM

July 21, 2004

Transaction

Placed pitcher JOAQUIN BENOIT on bereavement leave. Recalled pitcher NICK REGILIO from AAA.

Benoit pitched his scheduled start after the death of his grandmother, then flew to the Dominican Republic. A rather shameless use of the the rules by the Rangers. Regilio will pitch in long relief for a few days.

Posted by Lucas at 02:16 PM

July 20, 2004

Transaction

Activated pitcher R.A. DICKEY from the Disabled List. Placed outfielder CHAD ALLEN on the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA. Designated outfielder JASON CONTI and infielder MANNY ALEXANDER for assignment.

Dickey returns to a long relief role, but he stands to rejoin the rotation should Wasdin or Benoit falter. Allen makes his third trip to Texas. Alexander was brought up to give a day of rest to Michael Young and Alfonso Soriano; having done so, he no longer serves a purpose.

Posted by Lucas at 02:15 PM

July 10, 2004

Transaction

JULY 10: Activated outfielder LAYNCE NIX from the 15-day Disabled List. Optioned pitcher NICK REGILIO to AAA Oklahoma.

Nick's coffee didn't even cool down before he was shipped back to Oklahoma.

Posted by Lucas at 02:08 PM

July 08, 2004

Transaction

Recalled pitcher NICK REGILIO from AAA Oklahoma. Designated pitcher NICK BIERBRODT for assignment.

Like the more famous Rick Ankiel, the once-promising Bierbrodt lost his ability to throw strikes suddenly and utterly in a Spring Training game against Texas two years ago. Later that year, he survived a gunshot to the chest in a South Carolina Hardee's. Texas gave him a chance this year and Bierbrodt pitched reasonably well, and Texas's makeshift rotation afforded him a quick return to the Bigs. Alas, Bierbrodt soon redeveloped control issues, culminating in a three-inning, seven walk start. Regilio will pitch in middle relief and fly back to Oklahoma once Nix, Dickey or Jordan returns.

Posted by Lucas at 02:07 PM

July 05, 2004

Transaction

Placed 1B/3B HERBERT PERRY on the 15-day Disabled List. Added infielder MANNY ALEXANDER to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma.

I'm surprised Perry lasted this long. Seemingly older than his 35 years and coming of knee and shoulder surgery, Perry looked dead in Spring Training. Instead, he played a passable lefty DH and very occasional corner infield. He becomes #13 on the DL with a strained calf. Alexander will get some Major League per-diem while watching Michael Young from the dugout. Not a bad arrangement. Alexander has no bat, leaving the Rangers without an obvious DH against lefties.

Posted by Lucas at 02:06 PM

June 27, 2004

Transaction

Placed pitcher R.A. DICKEY on the 15-day Disabled List. Recalled pitcher RICARDO RODRIGUEZ from AAA Oklahoma. Transferred reliever JAY POWELL from the 15-day to the 60-day Disabled List.

Dickey has only a minor pull in a back muscle, but the Rangers are being careful. Well, to be more accurate, the Rangers probably would have allowed Dickey to pitch through his soreness had he not been so ineffecftive lately. Dickey gets a few days to regroup, while Rodriguez joins the 25-man roster for the first time since last summer. Rodriguez will pitch middle relief for the moment; even modest results should have him replacing Bierbrodt, Benoit or Wasdin within two weeks. Powell is done for the season.

Posted by Lucas at 02:06 PM

June 25, 2004

Transaction

Transferred pitcher CHAN HO PARK from the 15-day Disabled List to the 60-day Disabled List.

Whatever.

Posted by Lucas at 02:05 PM

June 18, 2004

Transaction

Added pitcher JOHN WASDIN to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Placed pitcher JUAN DOMINGUEZ on the 15-day Disabled List. Designated pitcher CORY VANCE for assignment.

Dominguez joins the party with a sore back. The Ranger rotation currently consists of Kenny Rogers, Ryan Drese, Joaquin Benoit, Nick Bierbordt, and John Wasdin. Management says they don't want Chan Ho Park back until he reaches 90+ on the radar and hits his spots. Maybe this means his career is over. Vance is injured and probably will clear waivers.

Posted by Lucas at 02:03 PM

June 16, 2004

Transaction

Added pitcher NICK BIERBRODT to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Transferred pitcher JEFF NELSON from the 15-day to the 60-day Disabled List.

Bierbrodt pitched for Buck Showalter in the minors. He joins the rotation after just one start in AAA.

Posted by Lucas at 02:02 PM

June 14, 2004

Transaction

Placed outfielder LAYNCE NIX on the 15-day Disabled List. Added outfielder JASON CONTI to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma.

Nix lost a battle with an outfield wall and hits the DL with a sprained shoulder. Had he injured himself just one day sooner, Texas would have kept Chad Allen around.

Posted by Lucas at 02:01 PM

June 12, 2004

Transaction

Activated outfielder KEVIN MENCH from the 15-day Disabled List. Designated outfielder CHAD ALLEN for assignment.

Allen loses The Battle For The Fouth Outfielder Spot to Gary Matthews, who switch-hits and can play center.

Posted by Lucas at 02:00 PM

June 06, 2004

Transaction

Placed reliever JAY POWELL on the 15-day Disabled List. Took reliever DOUG BROCAIL off the Disabled List.

Powell was having a pretty solid year, the last of his contract earned via Tom Hicks' "We'll compete with the Yankees, monetarily, anyway" phase. The move was precautionary, but who knows what a "sore elbow" entails. Brocail gets one last chance to hang on to a 25-man roster spot.

Posted by Lucas at 01:59 PM

May 29, 2004

Transaction

MAY 29: Recalled pitcher JUAN DOMINGUEZ from AAA Oklahoma. Sent pitcher ROSMAN GARCIA to AAA Oklahoma.

Garcia gets three days of service time, Dominguez gets another chance to prove he's ready for the big time.

Posted by Lucas at 01:31 PM

May 26, 2004

Transaction

Placed pitcher CHAN HO PARK on the 15-day Disabled List. Recalled pitcher ROSMAN GARCIA from AAA Oklahoma.

Park hits the DL for the fifth time in three seasons, this time with a sore back, the same injury that ended his 2003 campaign. Park has a 5.80 ERA, pretty good for him, and would be fine overall if not for the thirteen homers allowed in just 49 innings. Juan Dominguez will take his place on Saturday; for now, Garcia serves as the eighth reliever. Garcia has pitched terribly in AAA but was already on the 40-man roster.

Posted by Lucas at 01:30 PM

May 25, 2004

Transaction

Placed outfielders KEVIN MENCH and BRIAN JORDAN on the 15-day Disabled List. Transferred catcher GERALD LAIRD from the 15-day to the 60-day Disabled List. Added outfielders CHAD ALLEN and GARY MATTHEWS JR. to the 40-man roster and recalled them from AAA Oklahoma.

Oy. Mench pulled an oblique muscle throwing out Alex Rodriguez at home plate, while Jordan really has never recovered from last year's knee injury. Jordan, batting .109 with no power, is no loss, but Mench had started nearly every game and was the only outfielder not in a platoon situation. Mench could return in the minimum time, Jordan may need surgery. Allen and Matthews have hit extremely well in AAA but their Major League accomplishments are modest. Texas' starting outfield on the 25th consisted of Allen, Eric Young and Matthews, and Laird can't return before late July regardless of health. Again, oy.

Posted by Lucas at 01:29 PM

May 22, 2004

Transaction

Placed catcher GERALD LAIRD on the 15-day Disabled List. Transferred pitcher COLBY LEWIS from the 15-day to the 60-day Disabled List. Added catcher KEN HUCKABY to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma.

A truly disheartening injury. Already known as a defensive whiz, Laird had proven a capable hitter in posting a line of .295/.369/.379 in parts of 2003 and 2004. A home plate collision with Ken Harvey tore a ligament in his catching thumb and will shelve him for three months. Huckaby hadn't hit a lick in AAA (.241/.289/.368) but got the nod over Danny Ardoin because of his game-calling and "extra coach" skills. Rod Barajas, signed as insurance prior to the season, becomes the primary catcher.

Posted by Lucas at 01:28 PM

May 13, 2004

Transaction

Announced pitcher COLBY LEWIS will undergo season-ending rotator cuff surgery.

An MRI had revealed "significant wear and tear" of the cuff. Pitchers don't normally recover from shoulder surgery as well as Tommy John (elbow ligament transplant) surgery. Pegged as someone with great stuff but little idea of how to use it, Lewis won't have much to work with if he loses any velocity.

Posted by Lucas at 01:28 PM

Transaction

Placed reliever JEFF NELSON on the 15-day Disabled List. Recalled pitcher BRIAN SHOUSE from rehab assignment in AAA.

Nelson had pitched inconsistently and generally worse as the season progressed. He went on the DL to have his knee scoped, then decided to have bone chips removed from his elbow while he was at it. The additional surgery will delay his return until August. Shouse pitched poorly in his lengthy rehab assignment (really more of a "how long can Texas keep him in AAA" assignment).

Posted by Lucas at 01:27 PM

May 12, 2004

Transaction

Placed reliever DOUG BROCAIL on the 15-day Disabled List. Added reliever FRANK FRANCISCO to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AA Tulsa.

Brocail becomes the second pitcher in two months to succumb to the need for an appendectomy. Rather than recall Brian Shouse, rehabbing in AAA, Texas decided to play the hot hand and added Francisco to the 40-man. Francisco, acquired with pitcher Josh Rupe and outfielder Anthony Webstrer for Carl Everett last summer, has dominated AA, allowing only seven hits and striking out 30 in 17.2 innings. He also has walked ten. Francisco was eligible but unclaimed in last winter's Rule 5 draft.

Posted by Lucas at 01:26 PM

April 28, 2004

Transaction

APRIL 28: Activated OF BRIAN JORDAN from the Disabled List. Added pitcher DOUG BROCAIL to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Designated pitcher JOHN WASDIN and OF CHAD ALLEN for assignment.

Brian Jordan returns from the first of what could be several trips to the DL. The 37-year-old has taken an awfully long time to get over his knee surgery, and he may not ever be 100%. Wasdin gets exposed to waivers after his emergency start. Not that losing him would destroy the organization, but rather than risk losing him to make just one start, why not let Ryan Snare start a game and leave Wasdin in AAA for when he's needed for a longer stretch? Texas had to put Brocail on the active roster by May 1 or he could declare free agency. Brocail was a decent reliever circa 1999; arm troubles limited him to a handful of innings over the last three years. Flipping Wasdin for Brocail leaves Texas without a true long man.

Posted by Lucas at 01:25 PM

April 25, 2004

Transaction

Added pitcher JOHN WASDIN to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Sent pitcher RYAN SNARE to AAA Oklahoma. Transferred pitcher MICKEY CALLAWAY from the 15-day to the 60-day Disabled List.

Snare enjoyed five days of Major League service time, including trips to and from glorious LAX, without having to throw a pitch. With Kenny Rogers down with the flu, Texas swallowed hard and added John Wasdin to the roster. Wasdin veritably defines the "4A" player, consistently excelling in the minors and never pitching well enough to hang on in the Majors. Callaway probably needs surgery, but even if he doesn't, forcing him off the squad until late July won't hurt anything. Three-fifths of the original starting rotation is on the DL; from his furnished apartment in Omaha, Glendon Rusch ponders what might have been.

Posted by Lucas at 01:24 PM

April 23, 2004

Transaction

APRIL 23: Added OF CHAD ALLEN to the 40-man roster and recalled him from AAA Oklahoma. Sent OF RAMON NIVAR to AAA Oklahoma. Transfered pitcher JEFF ZIMMERMAN from the 15-day to the 60-day Disabled List.

All moves that should have been made before Opening Day. Letting 24-year-old Nivar rot on the bench (18 plate appearances in 16 games) didn't help him or the team; Texas will let him play every day in AAA where he belongs for now. Letting Chad Allen rot on the bench hurts no one except Chad Allen, whose opinion of these matters isn't relevant. Allen tore up AAA pitching; he won't tear up anything in the bigs but also can''t do any worse than the .433 OPS Nivar proferred. Allen also could play 1B in an emergency. Zimmerman won't return before July, and if Texas has to outright Allen at that time, well, so what.

Posted by Lucas at 01:24 PM

April 20, 2004

Transaction

Placed pitcher COLBY LEWIS on the 15-day Disabled List, effective April 18th.. Recalled pitcher RYAN SNARE from AAA Oklahoma.

Lewis joins a crowded DL with a tight shoulder. Much like Teixeira, Lewis doesn't appear to be seriously hurt but does have an injury that can linger and worsen without a couple weeks rest. And like Adrian Gonzalez, Snare isn't ready for prime time but Texas needed to recall someone already on the 40-man roster to hold the fort until Brian Shouse returns in the next week or so.

Posted by Lucas at 01:23 PM

April 16, 2004

Transaction

Placed 1B MARK TEIXEIRA on the 15-day Disabled List effective April 13th. Recalled 1B ADRIAN GONZALEZ from AAA Oklahoma.

Teixeira goes down with the dreaded oblique pull. Having a pulled side muscle is a real problem for those who violently swing a bat, and the same injury felled Kevin Mench for nearly a month. For a team that used to be drowning in 1B/DH types, the replacement bin is remarkably bare now. Texas doesn't want to risk injury to Brad Fullmer, so perpetually sore Herbert Perry will start there with Adrian Gonzalez as a caddy. Gonzalez still hold the moniker of "prized prospect" but has yet to produce above AA. He'll return to the minors as soon as Teixeira returns.

Posted by Lucas at 01:22 PM

April 14, 2004

Transaction

Placed pitcher MICKEY CALLAWAY on the 15-day Disabled List. Recalled pitcher RYAN DRESE from AAA Oklahoma.

Callaway felt tightness in his forearm during the previous day's start. Drese gets another chance, possibly his last, to prove himself worthy of a Major League job. Drese will begin in long relief but may start in place of Callaway when the 5th starter slot comes up again.

Posted by Lucas at 01:22 PM

April 08, 2004

Transaction

Claimed pitcher CORY VANCE off waivers from Colorado.

Colorado had a roster crunch that forced some unpalatable decisions. Essentially, they gave up on the 24-year-old and 4th-round pick Vance to keep Denny Hocking. Vance struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings as Mark Teixeira's teammate with Georgia Tech in 2000. Then, he struck out 8.3 per nine in A, 6.8 per nine in AA, 5.5 per nine in AAA, and 3.8 per nine in limited play in the Majors. See a pattern? Vance hasn't done anything special above A-ball and probably won't ever pan out, but Texas had an extra roster spot and was wise to use it on him. He should join a pretty solid rotation in AAA Oklahoma.

Posted by Lucas at 01:21 PM

April 07, 2004

Transaction

Released outfielder JASON TYNER. Signed outfielder GARY MATTHEWS JR. to a minor-league contract.

The Jason Tyner Era comes to an ignominious close. Tyner actually occupied Texas's 40-man roster for a few weeks. Texas made a definitive upgrade in their outfield depth, as Matthews switch-hits and can play any outfield spot. Matthews is nothing special but does have a career OBP and slugging percentage above .300, which is more than can be said of Tyner.

Posted by Lucas at 12:50 PM

April 04, 2004

Transaction

Signed 2B/SS MICHAEL YOUNG to a 4-year, $10 million contract.

Texas buys out his arbitration years and retains an option for his first year of free agency. I'm skeptical that Young will hit as well as he did last year, but if he can hit .280/.330/.440 as a slick-fielding shortstop, he's worth the money.

Posted by Lucas at 12:09 PM

April 03, 2004

Transaction

Traded catcher EINAR DIAZ and pitcher JUSTIN ECHOLS for catcher JOSH MCKINLEY and pitcher CHRIS YOUNG.

Getting anything, anything at all, for Diaz makes for a fine trade. Texas will pay $2 million of Diaz's $2.5 million salary but avoids his $400,000 buyout next year. None of the prospects has a strong chance of making the Majors. Echols and Young have similar upsides. McKinley will start in AA.

Posted by Lucas at 12:08 PM

April 02, 2004

Transaction

Placed pitcher BRIAN SHOUSE on the 15-day Disabled List. Placed OF BRIAN JORDAN on the 15-day Disabled List.

Shouse has tendinitis in his throwing shoulder (for that matter, so do I, and it's no fun), while Jordan is still recovering from his knee surgery and related ailments. Jordan will miss at least two weeks, probably more. I liked his signing despite believing he'd miss some games. The problem with missing games now is that he needed a good start if Texas were to have any chance at all of flipping him for a Grade B prospect. As a result of these injuries, Ramon Nivar and Erasmo Ramirez get to open the season in Oakland instead of Oklahoma.

Posted by Lucas at 12:07 PM

April 01, 2004

Transaction

Placed OF RUSTY GREER on the 60-day Disabled List. Placed pitcher JEFF ZIMMERMAN on the 15-day Disabled List.

Greer hasn't played since June 2002 and won't play at all this season. Zimmerman's arm locked up yet again and he's looking at exploratory surgery. He won't be back until mid-season at best, and I don't count on him throwing a pitch this season. Texas will move him to the 60-day DL if they need another roster spot.

Posted by Lucas at 12:07 PM

March 29, 2004

Transaction

Added catcher ROD BARAJAS to the 40-man roster.

Under the terms of the contract, Texas had to add Barajas to the roster or cut him loose on the 29th. This move guarantees that Ken Huckaby won't be catching in Arlington but doesn't answer the real question of whether Texas plans to start Gerald Laird and dump Einar Diaz. Texas would love to find a taker for Diaz and his $2.5 million contract. Lotsa luck.

Posted by Lucas at 12:06 PM

March 28, 2004

Transaction

Returned pitcher CHRIS MABEUS to Oakland. Mabeus was a Rule 5 Draft selection.

Texas wanted to keep Mabeus but didn't have a home for him on the 25-man roster. Teams can work out trades to keep Rule 5 picks in the minors. Problem is, Oakland wanted Adrian Gonzalez. Bye, Chris.

Posted by Lucas at 12:05 PM

March 21, 2004

Transaction

Signed pitcher NICK BIERBRODT to a minor-league contract.

In March 2002, I was listening to a Spring Training game between the Rangers and Rays. Nick Bierbrodt started for Tampa Bay. Bierbrodt had been traded to Tampa in 2001 and showed enough stuff that he was a shoo-in for the 2002 rotation. Then, in the second inning, Bierbrodt simply forgot how to pitch. I can't remember the exact situation, but he did something to the effect of walking five or six guys, hitting one or two, and probably nailing the backstop a couple of times before being pulled. He pitched all of five innings that year... for low-A Charleston. He also was shot in a Hardee's drive-thru. He split 70 innings between AAA and the Majors last year but still has no control (5.7 walks per 9 innings). Bierbrodt has no chance of playing for Texas in the short run; the Rangers will give him all the time he needs to see if he can sort out his problems.

Posted by Lucas at 12:05 PM

February 19, 2004

Transaction

Signed reliever DOUG BROCAIL to a minor-league contract.

Another arm. Like fellow invitee Brad Clontz, Brocail hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2000

Posted by Lucas at 12:04 PM

February 17, 2004

Transaction

Signed 3B HANK BLALOCK to a five year contract for $15.2 million.

A fine deal, covering the entirety of his arbitration years.

Posted by Lucas at 12:03 PM

February 16, 2004

Transaction

Traded shortstop ALEX RODRIGUEZ and cash to the New York Yankees for 2B ALFONSO SORIANO and a player to be named later.

An absolute disaster, and as stark of admission of organization-wide failure as can be imagined. Placing Rodriguez on waivers might have made more sense. Had Texas merely swapped Rodriguez for Soriano straight up, they could have excused the deal as a pure salary dump. But remarkably, Texas will contribute $67 million to the $179 million due to Rodriguez. Texas will pay Rodriguez $3 million this season, $6 million in 2005 and 2006, $7 million in 2007, $8 million in 2008, $7 million in 2009, and $6 million in 2010. Also, Texas will pay the entirety of Rodriguez's remaining deferred salary of $24 million, the payments of which were pushed out five more years and at an annual rate of 1.75% compared to the 3% in the original deal.. Adding in the remaining $4 million of his signing bonus and the $12 million in deferred salary accrued from 2001-2003, the Rangers will pay Rodriguez $83 million spread over the next 22 years.

For all this, Texas gains the ever popular "financial flexibility," a term of art that means little without the wherewithal to use it properly. In 2003, this newfound flexibility is a moot point, as the time to sign worthwhile free agents has long since passed (unless Greg Maddux loses his marbles and decides that several summers in Arlington would be a fine way to close a career). This season, practically all of the savings not spent on Soriano will rest contentedly in Tom Hicks's wallet.

Alfonso Soriano is a tremendous player (if not a sabermetric darling) but doesn't remotely compare to Rodriguez, who should end up being one of the best two shortstops and perhaps one of the twenty-or-so best players in history. Soriano also earns $5.4 million this season, just over one-third of the A-Rod savings for 2004, and has two more arbitration-eligible seasons ahead. In 2006, Soriano alone could consume two-thirds of the flexibility that is supposed to make the Rangers "better, faster."

As for the PTBNL, New York has decimated its minor-league system over the last few years in its quest for the perfect team, so that player can't be more than a B-grade prospect.

Posted by Lucas at 12:02 PM

February 07, 2004

Transaction

Signed relievers BRAD CLONTZ and JORDAN ZIMMERMAN to minor-league contracts.

Clontz hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2000 but offered 55 solid innings and a 3.42 ERA for high-altitude Colorado Springs in 2003. Should one of the expected righty reliever suffer an injury or otherwise pitch poorly, Clontz might step in. According to the Baseball Cube, Jeff Zimmerman's younger brother has pitched the grand total of two-thirds of an inning during the last four years. Chronic shoulder problems have limited him to 124 professional innings over the last seven years. At best, he's organizational fodder.

Posted by Lucas at 12:01 PM

February 03, 2004

Transaction

Traded 3B/1B MIKE LAMB to the New York Yankees for pitcher JOSE GARCIA.

In a happy confluence of events, Aaron Boone's injury allowed Texas to acquire a decent pitching prospect for a player who had no future with the team. Mike Lamb isn't a bad player but never developed into a worthwhile starter. With hands of stone and offense too heavy dependent on raw batting average, he certainly wasn't going to challenge Hank Blalock. Now 28, Lamb looks to have topped out as a backup. Lamb will compete with Tyler Houston and Miguel Cairo for the starting 3B job in New York (barring further acquisitions by the Yankees), and he has a real chance at significant playing time. Jose Garcia is a 21-year-old Venezuluan who offered a 2.52 ERA, 37 walks and 104 Ks in 157 innings in A ball

Posted by Lucas at 11:59 AM

January 29, 2004

Transaction

Added CARLOS ALMANZAR to the 40-man roster. Designated 3B/1B MIKE LAMB for assignment, deleting him from the 40-man roster.

An oddly timed move. Almanzar has a decent chance of making the Opening Day roster, and Lamb was already a candidate for removal. But since Almanzar already was signed to a minor-league deal with an invite to Spring Training, why the Rangers made this move now is unclear. Texas may try to trade Lamb for a C-level prospect, and he could sub or provide insurance for several teams. UPDATE: A Japanese team had offered Almanzar a contract, so Texas had to grant him roster status or risk losing him.

Posted by Lucas at 11:55 AM

January 21, 2004

Transaction

Signed pitcher GLENDON RUSCH to a minor-league contract.

The 29-year-old Rusch will join a crowd of wannabes fighting for a spot in the Ranger rotation. Rusch has pitched poorly in five of his six Major League seasons and bottomed out (one hopes) with a 6.42 ERA last year for Milwaukee. Rusch was somewhat unlucky (stratospheric .381 average allowed on balls in play) and pitched better than his ERA would suggest, but that doesn't make him good or even adequate. With upwards of ten rotation candidates and several youngsters sure to hold down spots in the AAA rotation, Rusch probably faces his release in March unless he catches lightning in a bottle.

Posted by Lucas at 11:54 AM

January 16, 2004

Transaction

16 JAN 2004: Signed reliever FRANCISCO CORDERO to a one-year contract for $2 million, thus avoiding arbitration. Announced that pitcher TRAVIS HUGHES and OF JASON JONES had cleared waivers and were outrighted to AAA. Released RP REYNALDO GARCIA, who was then claimed by Boston.

Cordero obtains a 122% raise over his 2003 salary of $900,000. GM John Hart despises arbitration and avoids it whenever possible. Cordero's salary seems pretty close to what he'd get in arbitration, so Hart basically bought the team some cost certainty. Cordero has a 2.55 ERA during 2002-2003 and should earn his new and improved salary. Jones wasn't totally overmatched as a 26-year-old rookie but didn't hit well enough to solidify his status as a fourth or even a fifth outfielder. He still has a chance to carve out such a career, but he needs to hurry. The 29-year-old Garcia pitched poorly in the Majors, and Texas aparrently wants to spread the AAA innings to other players. Texas already had removed him from the 40-man roster.

Posted by Lucas at 11:53 AM

January 15, 2004

Transaction

Signed catcher ROD BARAJAS to a minor-league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

Ugh. Barajas is Todd Greene Lite, a catcher with just a little pop (11 dingers in 509 at-bats) undermined by negligible ability to walk or hit for average. Barajas does have a solid defensive reputation. If Gerald Laird doesn't prive he's ready for prime time, Barajas might actually make the active roster and appear in games. Again, ugh.

Posted by Lucas at 11:52 AM

January 11, 2004

Transaction

Signed starting pitcher KENNY ROGERS to a two-year contract for $6 million. Signed reliever JEFF NELSON to a one-year contract, terms undisclosed. Outrighted pitcher TRAVIS HUGHES and OF JASON JONES, removing them from the 40-man roster.

Bringing back Kenny Rogers isn't a bad idea in and of itself. I'd opined in an ESPN column that the Rangers needed an inning-eater because of the highly dubious collection of arms they had at the moment. But, sadly and predictably, the Rangers appear to have outbid themselves for Rogers' services. Rogers made only $2 million last year and didn't pitch well enough to deserve more. Would another team have granted two years as opposed to one and an option, and would another team have guaranteed $3 million in 2005 to a 41-year-old? Could Texas have foregone Rogers, Dellucci and Eric Young and used that combined money to keep John Thomson or sign Miguel Bautista? Maybe not, but in the end the Rangers appear to have used their scarce monetary resources inefficiently. Nelson sates the Rangers' desire for another righty in the pen. He won't post a sub-3.00 ERA but hasn't lost any velocity and ought to provide 50-or-so solid innings. Hughes was the easy choice for deletion from the roster: the 25-year-old has never pitched better than respectably above low-A and was hammered eleven AAA starts before sliding back to AA. I doubt he'll be claimed.

Posted by Lucas at 11:51 AM

January 05, 2004

Transaction

Signed 2B/OF ERIC YOUNG to a one-year contract for $1,000,000. Outrighted relief pitcher REYNALDO GARCIA, removing him from the 40-man roster, to make room for Young.

Like the Dellucci signing, only more so. Eric Young bats well enough to make a respectable fourth outfielder and can back up Michael Young at second. He also should make a fine pinch-hitter and runner. Unfortunately, Buck Showalter already has intimated that Young, a career .285/.360/.393 batter, could compete for the starting job in left field. Young did pop a career-high 15 homers in 2003, but he had never hit more than eight previously, and he hasn't posted an OBP above .338 since 2000. In a perfect world, Young's signing would indicate a successful acquisition of a fine bench player for a moderate salary. In reality, his signing may force the now 26-year-old Kevin Mench to rot in AAA. For that matter, if Laynce Nix falters, the "play for the future" Rangers conceivably could sport an outfield of 36-year-old Young, 30-year-old Dellucci, and 37-year-old Brian Jordan.

Posted by Lucas at 11:50 AM

December 29, 2003

Transaction

Signed OF DAVID DELLUCCI to a one-year contract for $775,000.

A harmless signing on the surface, but one that forebodes ill. Dellucci is a fine 5th outfielder and respectable 4th outfielder if not pressed into more frequent service. As an everyday player, especially as a corner outfielder, Dellucci drags down an offense. Outside of a magical 109 at-bats in 1999 when he batted .396, Dellucci is a lifetime .255/.326/.403 batter, mostly in the hitter-friendly Bank One Ballpark.

That said, Buck Showalter likes Dellucci. He also doesn't seem terribly fond of putative left fielder Kevin Mench. Showalter might be inclined to make left field a platoon. As the lefty, Dellucci would see the "right" end of the platoon. Showalter might also bench Mench or Laynce Nix if either struggles to start the season. Thus, Dellucci could achieve 400 or more plate appearances. He doesn't deserve that many

Posted by Lucas at 08:58 PM

December 27, 2003

Transaction

Signed OF BRIAN JORDAN to a one-year contact with a one-year option. Jordan will receive $1.25 million, plus $50,000 for reaching 400 plate appearances and $50,000 for every additional 50 PA's up to 600. The 2005 option is $4,000,000 or a $250,000 buyout.

Texas badly needed to sign a respectable ML outfielder, lest they wanted to sport a lineup of Mench/Nivar/Nix in 2004. Jordan is 37 and injury-prone but has sported an OPS+ of 110 or better in each of the last three years. If Jordan provides 450 at-bats with adequate production, he's a fantastic signing. If Texas flips him for a decent prospect in July, all the better. If he flops, Texas loses little money and risks nothing for the future.

Posted by Lucas at 08:56 PM

December 22, 2003

Transaction

Signed OF JASON TYNER and pitcher MIKE BACSIK to minor-league deals.

Texas had declined to offer a Major-League deal to Tyner two days before. Bacsik, 26, has a 6.22 career ERA in 81 innings spread over three seasons. Bacsik has never pitched better than respectably in AAA, posting a 3.24 ERA in 2001. Bacsik has a chance to join the AAA rotation with an outside shot at pitching for Texas if injuries or ineffectiveness thin out the ranks. His father pitcher for Texas during 1975-1997.

Posted by Lucas at 08:56 PM

December 20, 2003

Transaction

Declined to offer a contract to OF JASON TYNER, thereby removing him from the 40-man roster.

Texas signed Tyner only twelve days ago in a waiver claim from Tampa Bay (see below). Tyner was the only player on the roster not to receive an offer. There will be others as Texas signs additional free agents. Mickey Callaway, Travis Hughes: I'm thinking of you

Posted by Lucas at 08:55 PM

December 15, 2003

Transaction

Selected Oakland relief pitcher CHRIS MABEUS in the Major League Rule 5 Draft. Lost recently signed IF ANDY FOX to Montreal in the draft.

Mabeus was a 13th-round selection in 1999 from Lewis-Clark State. He pitched with modest success in two years of A-ball before turning it up a notch in 2003, posting a 2.75 ERA with 15 walks and 70 strikeouts in 62 innings split between A and AA. Mabeus had a 4.50 ERA in the 2003 Arizona Fall League. Mabeus will be 25 next spring and has barely a fair chance of sticking, in my opinion. As for Andy, we hardly knew ye. Fox had a solid shot of making the 25-man roster as a Donnie Sadler-type. The Rule 5 draft is normally littered with slowly developing career minor-leaguers, not thirtysomething vets, but Montreal must have seen him as a cheap backup to Cabrera and Vidro.

Posted by Lucas at 08:54 PM

December 10, 2003

Transaction

Signed free-agent 1B/DH BRAD FULLMER to a one-year deal, terms undisclosed.

Fullmer is exactly the kind of player the ostensibly cash-strapped Rangers should sign. He has a lifetime OPS+ of 113 and popped 32 homers Fullmer mashes righties (career .313/.398/.517) but can't hit lefties at all (.226/.270/.377) so will need a platoon mate.

Posted by Lucas at 08:53 PM

December 09, 2003

Transaction

Atlanta signed Ranger free-agent pitcher JOHN THOMSON to a two-year, $7 million deal.

The Rangers reportedly had offered two years for slightly less money. Thomson probably chose to pitch for the team with a much better chance of competing in 2004. While not a huge loss, Thomson does offer 200+ innings of league-average ERA, thus raising the question of who among the Rangers will replace those innings. Unfortunately, the answer might be the dreadful Brett Tomko. If Atlanta signs no one higher-ranked in the Elias ratings, Texas will receive Atlanta's first-round pick in the 2004 draft.

Posted by Lucas at 08:52 PM

December 08, 2003

Transaction

Claimed OF JASON TYNER off waivers from Tampa Bay.

Tyner has a career minor-league isolated power percentage of .050. In the Majors, it's .042. He also walks about one in every 23 plate appearances. Thus, Tyner needs to bat around .325 to be a useful ballplayer. He doesn't. Tyner has a career line of .257/.294/.299 in 245 Major League games. What Texas intends to do with a player who reaches base less often than Jason Conti or Ryan Christenson is anyone's guess.

Posted by Lucas at 08:52 PM

December 07, 2003

Transaction

Offered arbitration to pitcher JOHN THOMSON. Declined arbitration to 1B RAFAEL PALMEIRO, OF JUAN GONZALEZ and pitcher ISMAEL VALDES.

No surprises. GM John Hart despises arbitration but correctly offered it to Thomson, who won't break the Rangers' limited budget even if he wins the hearing. Texas never offered a contract to Valdes, and in fact had benched him during the last two weeks fo the season to start younger pitchers. Gonzalez was persona non grata after two expensive and injury-filled years. Finally, Texas could have used another season of Palmeiro but didn't want to commit much money or a long-term contract to a 39-year-old. Palmeiro leaves Texas with the team record for most games played, runs scored, and walks.

Posted by Lucas at 08:51 PM

December 04, 2003

Transaction

Signed reliever TODD WILLIAMS to a minor-league contract.

Williams obviously loves baseball. The soon-to-be 33-year-old has pitched grand total of 53 Major League innings in four seasons sprawled over a stretch of seven years. Williams had a career season of sorts in 2003, posting a 1.55 ERA in 70 innings for AAA Durham. Williams doesn't strike out many batters and hasn't done a thing on the big stage. An extreme long shot to contribute to Texas in 2004.

Posted by Lucas at 08:50 PM

November 26, 2003

Transaction

Signed outfielders CHAD ALLEN and JASON CONTI to minor-league contracts.

Allen and Conti will play the role of Ryan Christenson in 2004, AAA outfielders hoping that someone higher up gets hurt. Allen is a marginally better hitter but doesn't play center. He was once a solid prospect and batted .277/.330/.395 as a 24-year-old rookie in 1999. Alas, it remains the only year in which he qualified for the batting title. Allen has drifted among the Cleveland, Baltimore and Florida organizations the last two years. Conti didn't even hit AAA-pitching well in 2003, batting .248/.295/.364 for Indianapolis. Even with the outfield-depleted Rangers, neither is more than a fifth outfielder.

Posted by Lucas at 08:49 PM

November 20, 2003

Transaction

Added pitchers EDWIN MORENO and NICK REGILIO, 1B ADRIAN GONZALEZ, and 2B JASON BOURGEOIS to the 40-man roster.

Regilio was the Rangers' 2nd-round pick in 1999. All but Moreno played in the just-completed Arizona Fall League. Moreno is (I believe) an undrafted free-agent signing from the 1997-1998 period. He split between starting and relieving for AA Frisco in 2003 and went 6-5 with a 3.29 ERA. Regilio was the Rangers' 2nd-round pick in 1999. Regilio lost most of his 2003 to arm problems but sufficiently impressed Ranger management to warrant a roster spot. Adrian Gonzalez was Florida's #1 (and the #1 overall) pick in the 2000 draft. Florida soured on him when he rebounded slowly from a wrist injury and traded him with two others to Texas for Ugueth Urbina. Bourgeois was the Rangers' 2nd-round pick in 2000. Bourgeois ripped high-A pitching, then struggled in AA. A solid AFL season cemented a roster spot for the 21-year-old. Only Gonzalez has a chance to play Major League baseball in 2004.

Posted by Lucas at 08:49 PM

November 19, 2003

Transaction

Outrighted pitcher MARIO RAMOS and 1B/OF JASON HART, removing them from the 40-man roster. Ramos was claimed on waivers by Oakland.

In January 2002, the Rangers sent uber-prospect Carlos Pena and reliever Mike Venafro to Oakland for Ramos, Hart, outfielder Ryan Ludwick and catcher Gerald Laird. Ramos was the centerpiece of the deal, a lefty who excelled in AAA in 2001 and looked almost ready for the bigs. Instead, his 2002 campaign (3-8, 7.40 ERA) was so disastrous he found himself back in AA as a 26-year-old in 2003. Ramos did pitch well enough this season to earn a return to AAA and even three big-league starts, but he faltered again against stiffer competition. Hart has spent the last three seasons in AAA and got a cup of coffee with Texas late in the 2002 season. He's not much of an outfielder and couldn't squeeze his way onto a squad full of 1B/DH-types, and as a 26-year-old who batted a tepid .252/.325/.418 in AAA, his prospects are fading fast. Hart was out of options, meaning Texas would have had to keep him on the 25-man roster next season or run him through waivers.

Posted by Lucas at 08:48 PM

November 17, 2003

Transaction

Signed infielder ANDY FOX to a minor-league contract.

Fox actually has a good shot at making the team as its last man off the bench. Fox would fill the not-so-large shoes of Donnie Sadler as someone who can fill any position but catcher. Fox hits better than Sadler, though that's the ultimate damnation with faint praise (.677 career OPS for Fox compared to .551 for Sadler). And unlike the righty-hitting Sadler, the lefty Fox can't platoon for Blalock at third against tough lefties like Barry Zito. Overall, an acceptable signing assuming Fox doesn't surpass 100 at-bats or so.

Posted by Lucas at 08:47 PM

November 14, 2003

Transaction

Activated the following six players from the 60-day DL, reinstating them on the 40-man roster: pitchers CHAN HO PARK, JEFF ZIMMERMAN and RICARDO RODRIGUEZ, infielder HERBERT PERRY, and outfielders KEVIN MENCH and RUSTY GREER.

All procedural moves. Teams can't artificially expand their 40-man rosters by hiding players on the 60-day DL through the offseason. Greer won't play in 2004 but is under contract; Texas will stash him back onto the 60-day DL when the season starts

Posted by Lucas at 08:47 PM

November 13, 2003

Transaction

Signed catcher KEN HUCKABY to a minor-league contract.

Huckaby's claim to fame came in the first game of the 2003 season, when his knee collided with and dislocated Derek Jeter's shoulder on a play at third base. The former Toronto Blue Jay is known as a contact hitter and defensive catcher, polite ways of saying that's he's terrible at the plate. Huckaby has over 3,500 plate appearances in the minors, about 300 in the Majors. Presumably, the 32-year-old will catch in Oklahoma with a chance to play in Texas if someone gets hurt or if Laird falters.

Posted by Lucas at 08:46 PM

November 04, 2003

Transaction

Signed 2B/1B/OF DAVID NEWHAN to a minor-league contract.

In 2003, Newhan batted .348/.392/.471 for AAA Colorado Springs, which has roughly the same atmospheric pressure and humidity as the moon. Newhan is nominally a second baseman but played a fair amount of first and outfield. Newhan has an MLB line of .163/.247/.302 in 97 plate appearances from 1999-2001. He seems highly unlikely to make the big-league club. He might play second in Oklahoma if Texas decides to keep Jason Bourgeois in AA, or he could back up at several positions. Either way, Newhan is organizational filler, nothing more.

Posted by Lucas at 08:45 PM

October 27, 2003

Transaction

Signed pitchers ERIC SABEL and BILLY SYLVESTER to minor-league contracts.

Sabel and Sylvester will be organizational filler with chances to become the next Brian Shouse or Ron Mahay. 29-year-old Eric Sabel has pitched in relief for Arizona and Detroit. He has a 5.10 ERA in 60 career innings. Sabel pitched exclusively for AAA Tucson in 2003. Sylvester is a 27-year-old relief pitcher who has never appeared in an ML game. He has a career minor-league ERA of 3.49 and 440 strikeouts in 420 innings but also has 236 career walks. Sylvester has spent his entire career in the Atlanta organization after joining them as an undrafted free agent.

Posted by Lucas at 08:40 PM

October 21, 2003

Transaction

Signed pitcher JOHN WASDIN to a minor-league contract.

Wasdin will be 2004's version of Robert Ellis, a pitcher with a Major League resume for Texas to call up if three-fifths of the rotation collapses or gets hurt. He should pitch well enough to please the good people of Oklahoma City.

Posted by Lucas at 08:39 PM

October 17, 2003

Transaction

Signed relief pitcher RON MAHAY to a one-year contract for an undisclosed sum.

Mahay enjoyed a career season with Texas in 2003, hurling 45 innings with a 3.18 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. The lefty was originally drafted as an outfielder by the Red Sox in 1991 and converted to pitcher in 1996. Mahay allowed only a .248 average on balls put in play, very low for a Ranger pitcher. I don't expect him to repeat his 2003 campaign, but as long as he can keep his ERA below 4.50, he'll earn his salary, which I'd guess isn't too far above the minimum.

Posted by Lucas at 08:39 PM

October 15, 2003

Transaction

Outrighted outfielders SHANE SPENCER and MARCUS THAMES, removing them from the 40-man roster. Both cleared waivers and are free agents.

Spencer was acquired (with, more importantly, pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez) from Cleveland for Ryan Ludwick and batted a tepid .227/.329/.346 in 55 games with Texas. He was nothing more than a spot-filler in the depleted Ranger outfield and did nothing to warrant a return engagement. Thames was acquired from the Yankees for Ruben Sierra. His ceiling appears to be as a fifth outfielder. The Rangers might have interest in re-signing Thames to a minor-league deal. With these transactions, the Rangers have only three outfielders on their 40-man roster.

Posted by Lucas at 08:37 PM

October 09, 2003

Transaction

Released pitcher TONY MOUNCE.

The 28-year-old rookie had a 7.11 ERA and a 1-5 record in eleven starts. Mounce requested his release to pursue an opportunity in Japan. The Rangers would have outrighted him anyway. Mounce impressed in AAA but just didn't look the part of Major League pitcher to me. Eminently hittable.

Posted by Lucas at 08:36 PM

October 06, 2003

Transaction

Outrighted catcher TODD GREENE to Triple-A Oklahoma, removing him from the 40-man roster. Greene refused the assignment and became a free agent.

Einar Diaz and his ridiculous $2.5 million salary aren't going anywhere without the Rangers paying for him to play elsewhere in 2004, and Gerald Laird appears just about ready from prime time. Greene is somewhat mischaracterized as an offensive catcher. He's good for the occasional homer but doesn't hit for average and would rather take a bullet than a walk. He'll latch on somewhere and has an outside shot at returning to Texas.

Posted by Lucas at 08:35 PM

October 01, 2003

Transaction

Outrighted pitcher AARON FULTZ, 2B/OF JERMAINE CLARK, IF/OF DONNIE SADLER and OF RYAN CHRISTENSON to Triple-A Oklahoma, thus removing them from the 40-man roster. Each player declared free agency.

Fultz is the only surprise on this list, and not much of a surprise at that. He was enjoying his best season until injuring his shoulder on June 23 and missing three weeks. Fultz posted an ERA of 3.63 before the injury, 7.48 afterwards. He's nothing special, and even the pitching-starved Rangers should be able to find an adequate replacement from what should be a huge group of non-tendered players. Clark has a career .360 OBP in AAA but has not batted well in limited ML experience and has been waived three times in 2003. Sadler and Christenson are weak-hitting backups.

Posted by Lucas at 08:25 PM