Lots of little stuff to get to, so let's just dump out the bag . . . .
Take a look sometime at the state of third base across the league. It's not pretty. When I was a kid, third base was a glamour position, maybe the one spot on the field that was chock-full of plus defenders who could carry a lineup offensively, too. There are still those who fit the mold (particularly in the AL East), but there are also plenty of teams running year-to-year stopgaps out there, with not a lot barreling in from the farm.
The point is this: Everyone, including Michael Young, knows that at some point before Young's contract (2009-13) expires, he will move off of the hot corner. Maybe to first base, maybe even to second (with Ian Kinsler switching places?), possibly to DH with defensive spot starts at several positions scattered in.
The more difficult question, thornier than "Where?," is "When?"
I don't know whether all the media banter about Adrian Beltre and Texas is cooked up by Scott Boras, or maybe even allowed by the Rangers to circulate in order to force the Angels to spend uncomfortably to sign the 31-year-old (they've already pulled their five-year, $70 million offer off the table, supposedly, though they're apparently not closing the door). But I leave room for the possibility that there's something there, perhaps less because the organization isn't willing to go another year with Young at third base (where he at least seemed to get better as the 2010 season progressed) than because the market analysis (which I haven't done myself) points to Beltre being the most sensible available option over the next couple years.
One of the things that makes Young a great leader for this team is also going to make this issue a tricky one. He's fiercely proud, obstinately so, unaffected - if not motivated - by criticism. Just like his move off of shortstop, his move off of third base will be received as a criticism, even though even he'd admit that Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre are roughly unrivaled as defenders. It won't be an easy conversation, whether it's this winter or next, or the one after that.
The timing of the conversation, and the transition, may depend, more than anything, on the "Who?," namely, what player might be asked to take over at third base, and when that player might be available.
Norm Hitzges suggested on the radio yesterday that Texas and Brandon Webb might have been closing in on a deal but that the Rangers put those talks on hold because of the possibility of a "major trade." No more specifics than that. Randy Galloway adds this morning in print that Jon Daniels seemed optimistic about something yesterday, which "maybe said something about the Rangers being almost ready to pop something substantial someday soon."
We've talked about this a bunch: I do like that Texas operates quietly. I like it a lot.
A thought: If Texas trades for a frontline starter, it wouldn't be surprising for Derek Holland or Tommy Hunter to be in the deal . . . in which case you might still want to sign someone like Webb. Or Jeff Francis. Not sure it's an either-or.
As for Webb, a pitcher who could be a tremendous fit here if he's healthy, some reports suggest the Cubs are backing off a bit while the Nationals remain in the mix, while other stories say pretty much the opposite.
The Royals' haul for Zack Greinke might pan out well, but I'd have this nagging concern if I were a Royals fan that it has a "trade for need" feel, and that new Kansas City skipper Ned Yost is more familiar with Milwaukee's young players than any other club's, and that the Royals' ask was reportedly lower for interested National League teams than it was for AL suitors.
Irrational, maybe, but there's something about that deal that feels like Kansas City sort of "settled," limiting itself by more than just the partial no-trade clause it agreed to include in Greinke's contract. I'm fully prepared to retract that if Jake Odorizzi and Alcides Escobar turn into Greinke and Andrus, as some dream, if Lorenzo Cain is truly blooming late, if Jeremy Jeffress has it screwed on straight and turns into a late-inning force. But for now it seems a little underwhelming.
Fascinating: The Royals apparently have no player under contract past 2011. Obviously dozens of players under team control, but no player is on a multi-year deal past this season.
I haven't done the research, but here's an interesting note from Rich Levine of Boston's CSNNE.com: For now, there are now eight Cy Young winners pitching the NL. And just two in the AL.
Righthander Seth McClung signed a minor league deal with Texas that will pay $700,000 if he makes the big league roster, with another $700,000 in incentives. The 29-year-old didn't pitch in 2010 after failing to make the Marlins staff out of spring training.
Texas also gave minor league deals to outfielder Endy Chavez and infielder Brian Barden. McClung, Chavez, and Barden got invites to big league camp, joining righthander Ryan Tucker, catcher Kevin Cash, infielder Esteban German, and outfielder Doug Deeds in that regard.
The Rangers signed righthander Yhency Brazoban to a minor league deal, with no big league invite. The 30-year-old, after five big league seasons with the Dodgers, started the 2010 season in the Mexican League and finished the year in AAA with the Mets.
Texas also signed outfielder Hirotoshi Onaka, a 22-year-old out of International Pacific University in Japan, and released lefthander Michael Ballard and catcher Chris Gradoville.
Texas signed Andrus's older brother Erold to a minor league deal. The 26-year-old outfielder, who came up in the Yankees system and spent a couple years in the Rays organization, played independent league ball with the Florence Freedom (Frontier League), York Revolution (Atlantic League), and Tijuana Cimarrones (Golden Baseball League) in 2009 and 2010.
The Rangers also gave minor league deals to lefthanders Zach Jackson (rumored to be part of Milwaukee's July 2007 offer to Texas, along with Tony Gwynn Jr., for Eric Gagné before the Rangers sent the reliever to Boston for David Murphy, Engel Beltre, and Kason Gabbard) and Kevin Gunderson (nephew of former Rangers reliever Eric Gunderson), as well as righthander Derek Hankins, infielder Omar Quintanilla, and outfielder Salvador Sanchez.
Texas signed Dominican shortstop Alberto Triunfel, a Boras client and the younger brother of Seattle prospect Carlos Triunfel, for a reported $300,000.
It doesn't seem right to me that Rich Harden (Oakland) got the same one-year, $1.5 million guarantee that Kerry Wood (Cubs) got. Wood reportedly turned down far more money to return to Chicago.
Joaquin Arias cleared league-wide waivers, and the Royals outrighted him to AAA.
In Japan, Chan Ho Park signed a one-year deal with the Orix Buffaloes, and Kelvin Jimenez signed with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Corner infielder Matt Brown (Minnesota) and lefthander Mike Hinckley (Toronto) signed minor league deals.
Washington named Randy Knorr manager at AAA Syracuse. Boston named Arnie Beyeler manager at AAA Pawtucket, Bruce Crabbe manager at High A Salem, and Dick Such pitching coach at Low A Greenville. Pittsburgh named Gary Green its minor league infield coordinator. The White Sox named Gary Ward hitting coach at High A Winston-Salem. Colorado named Joey Eischen pitching coach at Low A Asheville. The Cubs named Barbaro Garbey hitting coach at High A Daytona, Jeff Fassero pitching coach at Low A Peoria, Desi Wilson hitting coach at Short-Season A Boise, and Jason Dubois hitting coach at the club's rookie-level Arizona League club.
The Windy City Thunderbolts of the independent Frontier League traded righthander Jared Locke to the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Can-Am League (for outfielder Jeff Grose).
The Round Rock Express and Frisco RoughRiders will play each other in exhibition games on April 3 (in Frisco) and April 5 (in Round Rock).
Here are Scott Lucas's photographs from last Thursday's book release party at Sherlock's: http://bit.ly/gaZkXd. And Scott's updated organizational depth chart: http://rangers.scottlucas.com/site/org.htm.
Grant Schiller's writeup of the event is here: http://texasrangerstrades.blogspot.com/2010/12/newberg-book-release-party.html.
Done with the dump. Based on suggestions from the local media, maybe the next report will pack a little more punch.