Tuesday, August 28, 2007

So, What did I miss?

It's been over a month since I posted anything and I think I'm gonna do a Peter King style scattershooting about baseball.

5 Things I Think about baseball.
1. I think the Rangers made three excellent trades at the deadline. I'm sure that doesn't surprise anyone who reads this blog with any regularity (all three of you). Jon Daniels turned a 40 year old outfielder (Kenny Lofton) into a catcher better known as a hitter(Max Ramirez). Eric Gagne netted two solid players and another minor leaguer with big upside in 17 year old Engel Beltre. In the biggest trade, Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay brought 5 players, each of whom have upside led by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. In this trade as well, the Rangers ended up a couple of players several years away. So, including this years draft, the Rangers have added a great deal of young talent. Talents that may not arrive for a couple years, but this sets the Rangers up long term. Before this year, they had a middle of the road farm system with little big time, superstar talent. But now Elvis Andrus is compared to Jose Reyes and Beltre to Barry Bonds (seriously, I've seen this written.) Are all these guys gonna make it for the Rangers? No, injuries and trades and just flat out stinking can happen anytime, but the more good players you have, the more likely you are to have some work out.

2. I think, no, I know Mark Teixeira was not going to resign with Texas, no way, no how and it's not totally his fault (or his agent's). I watched his first game with the Braves and I had rarely seen that kind of happiness when he was with the Rangers. Then he kinda goes scorched earth throwing the Ranger organization under the bus. Ok, Mark, we get it. Your happy to be out of Texas. As a fan, it's frustrating for the one who was your best player so anxious to get out of town. Unfortunately, Texas has been mismanaged for the last 8 years or so and the blame should be laid at owner, Tom Hicks. I've said this before. Only a philosophy change can bring about winning at the Ballpark. Hopefully JD can have the leeway he needs to do it. I think he can. The moves he made over this season in the trades and the draft have set up this team for strong future. I hope he has the chance to see it through.

3. I think 30-3 is what makes baseball so darn interesting. You realize that the same team that scored 30 runs last week, got no hit earlier in the year and the two previous games had struck out 30 times and scored 2 runs. In the five games since that game, the Rangers have scored 25 runs. The craziest stat to me is that in a game where the winning team scored 30 runs, Wes Littleton came in in the 7th inning ahead 14-3 and got the SAVE. In football, you can take a knee. In basketball, you can dribble out the clock. But in baseball, you gotta get the 27th out and until you do, the game isn't over. I'll tell you this though. As fan, and I'm sure as a player, you'd rather be on this side of history instead of the other.

4. I think I'm ready for Barry Bonds to crawl under a rock and go away. I was on vacation in Florida when he broke Hank Aaron's record. I watched it on the hotel television. It was pretty cool to see it live, but I didn't feel a whole lot of emotion. Basically I'm just glad it's over. I missed the McGwire/ Sosa chase in 1998 because I was living in Kazakhstan and I wasn't really that sad. I sorta feel the same way now. Meh.

5. I think the Astros are gonna be bad for a while. They aren't great this year and their farm system makes the Ranger system look awesome and overloaded with talent. They fired their manager and GM yesterday, but I don't think it's really gonna help. It won't be long before the Astros are Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, and a bunch of spares. They've had a great run with a World Series appearance, but they are in store for a bit of a dry spell.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Empty promises

Shortly after Mark Teixeira was traded to the Atlanta Braves, Tom Hicks let it leak that Teixeira had turned down an eight year, $140 million contract to remain a Ranger. Now Teixeira is under fire in Dallas, specifically from Gil LeBreton of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, for being less than honest when he said Texas ran its business like a small market club.

Why? How does the Rangers offer prove that they are not small market in the way the organization is run? Teixeira thinks he can get more elsewhere. Whether he eventually does is beside the point. In his mind, Hicks low-balled him.

But I don’t think that his specific contract is all he meant with the small market comment. I think he was really talking about expectations and excuses, as in the low expectations for success and the excuses make for it. Dallas is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, and yet the Rangers have a very modest payroll. Yeah, they bid for Matsuzaka, but they made a low offer that they knew didn’t have a chance. They have done the same with free agents. When you offer $100 for the Ferrari on the showroom floor, you aren’t really trying.

The player who has proven to be hypocritical has been Eric Gagné, who also turned down a contract, this time four years, $36 million. The difference? Gagné had said all season that he hoped to remain a Ranger. Given the chance to accept a very fair four year offer for a pitcher who still hasn’t answered all his injury concerns, however, he chose to go elsewhere. I don’t fault him for the choice—who wouldn’t rather play for the first place Boston Red Sox than the last place Rangers? I just wish he had been honest about his wishes all season, or at least kept quiet about it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, your Texas Traders

The day that Rangers fans have been waiting for all season finally arrived. No, not the day they reached .500—we know better than to expect that. No, of course, I am talking about the trade deadline, and the big sayonara to Mark Teixeira. (I keep trying to come up with a clever way to mix ‘toxic’ into his name but haven’t figured out how to do it yet. Guess that is some Braves blogger’s problem now.)

So did the Rangers get a good deal? It appears so, but prospect-laden trades are always difficult to call, particularly if some of the players involved are in Single A. It’ll be years before some of these guys hit the majors, if ever. That makes for nice obscure trivia questions, but doesn’t do much for fans today.

Given Daniels’s record in big time trades, there was cause to worry. While he has done well in picking up rehab cases (see Sosa and Gagne), he has been on the short end of just about every trade he has made. But when he managed to swap Tex for the top three prospects in the Braves system plus a couple others, it doesn’t look too shabby. Hey, the Braves can stock talent—getting their top three prospects is saying something.

And flipping Gagne was a bonus. It appears the returning players aren’t of the same caliber as those acquired in the Tex deal, but getting anything for Gagne is a good deal. He didn’t have a meaningful future in Texas, so getting a few Boston flyers who might have a future here holds potential. The same is true for the Lofton trade. I am disappointed the Sosa is still in town, but I suppose he is the kind of player who could clear waivers and still be involved in a deal further down the road.

Jonboy, I know we’ve had our differences, but it seems you done good with this one—just don’t let it go to your head.

Listen to Norm Hitzges's take on the trade here.