Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wrote a fascinating lead in his weekly "Inside the Texas Rangers" newsletter on Wednesday, suggesting that "[t]o get [a top-flight pitcher], you are going to have to say goodbye to one of these guys: Chris Davis. Neftali Feliz. Engel Beltre. Elvis Andrus. No substitutions allowed. And you may have to give up something else in addition to one of those players to get said pitching."
As I wrote late last night, I'd inject Derek Holland's name somewhere near the middle of that list, but otherwise I think Grant is dead-on, as long as we're talking about an All-Star level, legitimate number one.
I wrote a lengthy report on why I think the Rangers could encounter some difficulty making an impact trade because of their own prospect depth, and I won't rehash all the points here (go to http://newberg.mlblogs.com/archives/2008/06/why_this_could_be_a_tough_trad.html if you want to revisit my train of thought). The basic point is that other teams will surely try to hold Texas up because of Davis and Feliz and Holland and Beltre and Andrus. Even if a package of Max Ramirez, Kasey Kiker, and Jose Vallejo should be enough to play ball for a legitimate number two, whoever is on the other end of the line may never cede the leverage it thinks it has, figuring that the Rangers are so desperate for frontline starters that they'll simply have to part with one of the top-tier guys.
The good thing here is that Texas is so deep that it may not have to touch the top few names, as long as we're not talking about going out to get Scott Kazmir or Felix Hernandez. The Cubs didn't have to give up Josh Vitters to get Rich Harden. Philadelphia didn't have to part with Carlos Carrasco or Lou Marson to get Joe Blanton. At some point, an offer that includes a couple or few names from among Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, Matt Harrison, Warner Madrigal, David Murphy, Michael Main, Blake Beavan, Neil Ramirez, Brandon Boggs, German Duran, Julio Borbon, Martin Perez, Wilfredo Boscan, Cristian Santana, and John Mayberry Jr., as well as the aforementioned Max Ramirez, Kiker, and Vallejo - and that's certainly not an exhaustive list - should objectively top whatever Team X is offering.
I just can't see a scenario in which Davis or Feliz or Holland could be moved. Not unless someone like Kazmir or Hernandez is on the table. For someone like A.J. Burnett, we should - should - be able to work from the second list.
Grant also suggests today that it might not be a bad idea to hold the line in negotiations with first-rounder Justin Smoak, the switch-hitting first baseman whose window to sign shuts at 11 p.m. tomorrow night. His theory is presumably that Davis's emergence has made the addition of Smoak less important, and that the draft pick Texas would recoup if it didn't sign Smoak (number 12 overall next June) could be used on a another first-rounder with a clearer path, which would also offset the loss of a mid-first or mid-second (depending on this year's final standings) if the club were to sign a Type A free agent starter.
That all makes sense. But I disagree.
There's no telling what players will be available at number 12 next June, but it's not likely they'll have the upside of Smoak, who by all accounts should never have fallen to number 11 two months ago.
And here's the more critical point: Milwaukee got C.C. Sabathia last month because they had Matt LaPorta.
If he develops as expected, an already signing-bonused Smoak will be more valuable as a trade chip than having an extra pick at number 12 next summer would be.
I sure would like to see Smoak signed by tomorrow night, as well as second-rounder Robbie Ross, who told reporters last week that he's "about 85 percent sure" that he'll sign rather than attend the University of Kentucky.
Among the Rangers' later unsigned picks, outfielder John Ruettiger (nephew of Dan Ruettiger of "Rudy" fame) will apparently make good on his threat to go to Arizona State rather than sign as the Rangers' 35th-round pick. No word yet on the state of negotiations with Harold Martinez, Charlie Robertson, Jack Armstrong, or Ben Petralli.
A few more things, since I generally don't have time during the day to pump out a full-fledged report (but wanted to get the above thoughts off my chest):
You have to check out the video Q&A that Nolan Ryan did with Chuck Morgan that's now posted on the Rangers' official website at http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?mid=200808123295785&c_id=tex. Two icons from Rangers history talk for 15 minutes about the club's present and future. I hope we get more of this.
Also, I haven't had the chance to mention this, but I also thought the on-field interview that Fox Sports Southwest did with Ramon Vazquez minutes before last Tuesday's home game against the Yankees was really cool. That's the first time I can remember seeing something like that done, here or in any other ballpark. The circumstances have to be right, but I hope to see more of that, too.
For what it's worth, Peter Gammons said in a Boston Globe chat session that he thinks Boston will come after Saltalamacchia or the Angels' Mike Napoli this winter.
Let's see: Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester are locked up for multiple years. Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, and Michael Bowden can't all fit in the rotation. Catching strength for pitching strength. Works for me.
Saltalamacchia, playing through a fracture in his right foot, wants to play winter ball. The Rangers would also reportedly like to get Davis, Boggs, Duran, and Travis Metcalf some winter work.
Texas doesn't have a healthy, available catcher on the 40-man roster. Gerald Laird is dealing with upper back spasms, Ramirez is sidelined with a hip flexor injury, and Teagarden is in Beijing playing for Team USA.
Frisco righthander Thomas Diamond will have surgery to remove a bone spur from his ankle and will sit out the rest of the season.
Korean 18-year-old righthander Tae-Kyeong Ahn apparently signed for less than the $800,000 that Texas reportedly agreed to pay him recently. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram adds that Ahn might have to fulfill a two-year service requirement with the Korean army before reporting to the United States to pitch.
If you're wondering why Texas didn't claim Paul Byrd off the revocable waiver wire to set up a potential trade with the Indians, it's because Byrd, whom the Red Sox ultimately traded for, listed the Rangers as one of six teams in his no-trade clause.
Jim Reeves of the Star-Telegram notes that Texas not only offered Laird to Florida last month for righthander Chris Volstad, but apparently were also willing to add "a solid prospect" to get a trade done.
The Rangers are staging their Alumni Legacy Weekend starting tomorrow. Bullet points:
Friday, August 15: Dr Pepper Rangers Alumni Legacy Luncheon (Arlington Convention Center, 11:30 a.m.): Includes a roundtable discussion with Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Ferguson Jenkins and Paul Molitor as well as Texas Rangers Hall of Fame members Jim Sundberg, Charlie Hough, and John Wetteland. Clay Council, Josh Hamilton's Home Run Derby pitcher, will also be on hand.
Rangers Alumni Legacy Game (Rangers Ballpark, 5:30-6:15 p.m.): Former Rangers players will play against each other prior to the Rangers-Rays game.
Saturday, August 16: Texas Rangers Alumni Legacy Autographs (5:00-5:45 p.m.): Rangers alumni including the following are scheduled to sign autographs on the main concourse: Mike Bacsik, Kevin Belcher, Rich Billings, Mark Brandenburg, David Chalk, Tim Crabtree, Keith Creel, Odie Davis, Ted Ford, Jim Gideon, Rusty Greer, Jose Guzman, Rich Hand, Don Harris, Rick Henninger, Dave Hostetler, David Hulse, Jeff Kunkel, Frank Lucchesi, Mark McLemore, Tommy Moore, Mike Munoz, Jim Norris, Claude Osteen, Ken Pape, Roger Pavlik, Geno Petralli, Lenny Randle, Leon Roberts, Jeff Russell, Scott Sheldon, Mike Simms, Dan Smith, Marty Stajduhar, Don Stanhouse, Bill Stein, Ken Suarez, Jim Sundberg, Mickey Tettleton, Todd Van Poppel, Duane Walker, John Wetteland and Matt Williams.
Texas Rangers Alumni Legacy Ceremony (6:30 p.m.): The Rangers will honor Tom Grieve for his five decades of service and Eric Nadel for 30 years of broadcasting in an on-field ceremony before the Rangers-Rays game. A plaque will also be unveiled in dedication of the late Linda Kaye, a former team photographer who passed away last year. Rangers Alumni Legacy members will also be on the field for the ceremony, and Clay Council will throw out the first pitch.
In other ex-Ranger news, Milwaukee purchased the contract of outfielder Laynce Nix (.284/.348/.539 for AAA Nashville), and the Reno Silver Sox of the independent Golden League traded outfielder Juan Senreiso to Sioux City for a player who will be named later (after this season) as outfielder Chad Gabriel, plus future considerations.
Love the indie leagues.
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