Category Archives: Akinora Otsuka

Teixeira Traded to Braves in Wasted Opportunity for the Rangers

Looks like Little Jon DanielsHart was just schooled by yet another GM – Atlanta’s John Schuerholz – in a deal, apparently pending only physicals being passed, sending Teixeira AND Ron Mahay to the Braves for C/1B Jarrod (Salty) Saltalamacchia and 18-yo Venezuelan SS Elvis Andrus plus two players to be named later – both likely young, not-major-league-ready pitching prospects (one still rumored to be 21-yo AA Lefty pure prospect Matt Harrison).

If true, this is a massive failure on the part of the Rangers and Little Jon DanielsHart!  Unless the other player-to-be-named is a major-league ready arm (which is highly unlikely), this trade fails to address the Rangers top need – Starting Pitching that has at least begun a successful transition to the major leagues. That is a failure that may well doom the Rangers to mediocrity beyond next year and into the next decade.

Meanwhile, this is a GREAT trade for the Braves. They add a power bat to spark a lineup that needs more production and they improve their bullpen immediately with Mahay’s left-arm in their bullpen.

This deal is worse than the Chris Young trade.  At least with that trade, at the time it was made, we thought we’d get a good ready-to-contribute starter in Eaton (who could have known he’d pitch so few games for the Rangers) and a closer in Otsuka. Giving up Young was short-sighted. He’d have been a major contributor here, although not the phenom he’s become in a pitching-friendly park in the pitching-friendly NL. And at the time, Adrian Gonzalez was blocked by Tex, whom the Rangers then thought would be around a lot longer. So it took a season and a half to fully see how bad that trade sucked.

This trade sucks now. It will suck tomorrow. It will suck next year. And unless the Rangers luck out and one of these very young, need a lot of work pitching prospects become our team ace, it will suck 3 and 5 years from now.

What long-term need does this deal address for the Rangers? Last I checked, we have a great SS who’s locked-up through 2013. Salty won’t be the long-term answer behind the plate according to reports of his defense and game-calling abilities.

When you have the BEST big bat on the market at the trade deadline, you MUST do better than this. Look at what the Rangers gave up for Carlos Lee last year. I guess there just aren’t any owners/GMs who are as stupid as Hicks and Daniels.

This is another deal where you have to wonder who Daniels is working for: the Rangers or the other team? It’s his third major deal (after San Diego and Milwaukee) that will make the trading partner better and do little for the Rangers.

Flop or Flurry? Who Will Go First from Rangers?

Mark Teixeira. Eric Gagne. Akinora Otsuka. Kenny Lofton. Jamey Wright. Brad Wilkerson. Sammy Sosa. Joaquin Benoit. Jon Daniels. Tom Hicks.

Speculation has been made about each of the above going elsewhere be the July 31 trade deadline (OK, the last two are wishful speculation on my part – but I know you’re with me there).  But with only 11 days to go, much is left to be done. Will Hicks and Daniels flop again this trade season, or with more players on the block than any other team in baseball, will we see a flurry of trades could define the Rangers’ future?

Jamey Wright’s performance on Saturday may make or break some teams’ interest in him after an impressive streak (2-0 with a 1.38 era in July).  With few arms on the market, he could actually command some decent value – maybe a decent outfield prospect to join Marlon Byrd in the Rangers’ 2008 lawn guard?

Offers for Tex should be solidifying as I write.  But can Little Jon DanielsHart get the arm(s) the Rangers MUST get in return for Teixeira?

With Otsuka on the DL, teams are asking about Benoit. The Rangers have to decide if Joaquin can be this good as a middle reliever for at least 2-4 years since the Rangers should still be rebuilding next season but ready to compete in 2009. Or has he FINALLY peaked and thus should be dealt now?

Gagne should be gone in a week or so. There’s no reason to keep for the rest of the season when he’ll be a free agent in the winter (one of MANY closers who’ll be available) and several contenders are hurting for a closer. Factor in the injury risks, and trading Gagne ASAP is the smart decision. But can JD get anything in return?

Lofton is an oft-overlooked commodity. He’s a seasoned veteran who, at 40, is still putting up numbers that any contender would love to have (.309/.391/.447 with 20 SBs). He’d be a rent-a-player, which will decrease his value, but he should still command a mid-tier prospect or two.

Wilkerson is a mystery to me. Why is this guy still in the Major Leagues, and why are there rumors that some teams might want to acquire his services? He’s making $4.35 MILLION DOLLARS this year.  Why? He’s a career .249 hitter (with a career best avg of .268 in ’03) who is on pace to achieve twice as many strikeouts as hits by next season. If someone will offer the Rangers a bag of peanuts for Wilkerson, I think JD has to pull the trigger.  $4.35 MILLION for that? There’s conclusive proof that sports economics have gone crazy.

And, with a big “in your face” to all the nay-sayers, Sammy Sosa has played well enough to attract interest from some contenders – especially as a lefty-killer. But his miserable July could mute interest.

So, who goes first? 

My money is on Lofton. He’s the surest bet for the least sacrifice the Rangers have to offer. Gagne and Tex should command MUCH more, but getting a deal done for Kenny is a cleaner matter.

A Response to T.R. Report on Rangers Officials Situation Report Regarding Gagne and Otsuka Trade Possibilities

According to T.R. Sullivan’s blog post today:

“Rangers officials are saying there appears to be more interest in Akinori Otsuka and a greater need for setup relief than there is for Eric Gagne or a closer.”

If Jon Daniels can’t close a valuable deal for Gagne (that for a change benefits the Rangers more than the team he trades with), then he’s more in over his head than anyone thought!  First, how stupid is it to announce that there’s no interest in Gagne?  If you’re really shopping him, you don’t announce that there’s no demand. 

What’s more likely is that the above statement is bogus positioning for rationalizing why the Rangers may make a bad decision and resign Gagne, which has been discusseda lot  lately – especially since Gagne really seems to like it here.  But Daniels should be able to get some return value for trading Gagne, and when a team needs a lot of new pieces to become competitive, you trade a free agent who has value and get some of those pieces.  Then, if you want, turn around and bring Gagne back in the winter.

If I were GM, I’d go to Gagne right now and say:

“We’d like to resign you. But, don’t you want this team to be better if you stay?

So here’s the plan.

We’re getting good offers to trade you. Offers that will send guys here who can help this team be more competitive next season and beyond. So we have to do that.

But, we like guys with your attitude and ability. You fit with the team on and off the field. So we very much want to resign you in the offseason.

In the meantime, you get to go play for a contender for a few months – maybe make a run in the postseason. We get better. And if all works out, by the time you’re a Ranger again next Spring, we’re all better and happier.

And the team you leave in free agency gets two compensory draft picks in addition to whatever help you provide them down the stretch. So it’s a win-win-win for all three parties.

There’s no guarantees, but don’t you agree this would be an ideal way for things to go over the next 5 months?”

Latest Trade Rumor: Otsuka to Phillies for Michael Bourn

I’m not a fan of this one.  If it were Jason Bourne from the Bourne movies and books, you bet.  But while Michael Bourn  seems to be loaded with speed and potential, he doesn’t seem to be breaking out – it looks more like he’s flaming out.

For as long as – well, forever – the Rangers have needed two things. The first most people know about: STARTING PITCHING. That’s always stunk here. The other, especially since the opening of The Ballpark, has been a great defensive center fielder who could preferably also hit leadoff and steal some bags. The Rangers have had one or two such guys pass through or show brief flashes, but outside of pitching, this should have been a focus long ago (which is why I would have traded for the young Carlos Beltran when he was in KC (perhaps during that brief period when he lost his job to Johnny Damon) – and that’s not just hindsight being 20/20 as I said so at the time).

Anyway, the Rangers could and should do better for the return on talent and impact they get if they move Otsuka.

Robbers Evidence: Texas Rangers’ Midseason Report – The Best Season Since 1999!

With 81 games played and 81 to go, 2007 has been the best season for the Rangers since 1999.

“What?” you might ask.

Since 1999, the first full season of Tom Hicks’ ownership, the Rangers organization has been out of touch with reality. Every year under Hicks’ ownership and John Hart or Jon Daniels’ general management, the front office has acted as though the team was only one or two players away from returning the organization’s pinnacle era of late 90’s success under Doug Melvin and Johnny Oates. In the process they’ve robbed Rangers fans of having anything worth getting too excited about.

Despite four straight last place finishes followed by three consecutive 3rd place seasons in the least competitive division in baseball over the same time period, the Rangers kept bleeding talent out of the organization through short-sighted trades intended to help the club “win now” (or at least “sell tickets now”). But most rational people could see that the Rangers have been far from one or two players away from contending for, much less winning, a championship for the past seven season (and in reality, they’ve probably never been that close because of the consistent lack of pitching necessary to win in the playoffs – even when they did make the post-season). Continued through last season’s Carlos Lee trade, the delusional management approach – also fueled by Hick’s top priority of making money which has translated into trades to keep fans hopeful and buying tickets later into the season – has turned the Rangers into a joke.

By opening the season getting swept by the Angels and not seeing .500 since April 14th, reality has slapped all of Rangerdom in the face. Despite recent comments (which better just be posturing for trade negotiations) that he likes the way the Rangers are playing right now (which is certainly better but far from the performance of a contender), Tom Hicks and Jon Daniels will have to be “sellers” during this month’s pre-trade-deadline frenzy.

That alone will be a dramatic departure from the team’s approach. I can’t remember the last time the Rangers were heading into July ready to be sellers. Plus, they actually have some assets left that could fetch pieces of the puzzle for building a championship-caliber team.

Mark Teixeira should be traded and should return a ready-to-break-out major-league starting pitcher plus a prospect or two. Gagne, and maybe also Otsuka, are in high demand from talent-laden teams chasing a championship this season. Lofton and maybe Sosa should also return players who can contribute to the Rangers’ rebuilding efforts.

Without a horrible start to the season, Hicks and Daniels would undoubtedly have continued their delusional approach. Instead, maybe they’ll finally get their priorities straight – pitching first, hitting second=winning=excited fans=profits=more winning – and possibly Rangers’ fans best chance to finally have a championship-caliber team for the first time.

Then again, we are talking about Hicks and Daniels, so the odds are they will still find a way to get it wrong.

But in the meantime, here’s to the best Rangers’ season yet this millennium! 

Trade Rumors Heating Up for Gagne and Otsuka

Now that July is here, trade talks are turning much more serious, and Gagne and Otsuka have become the focal point for the Rangers while Teixeira’s on the mend.

I hope the Rangers keep Otsuka.  He’s got enough in the tank to remain an effective closer for several year – long enough to contribute more on the team than through a trade to the Rangers’ chances of becomming contenders in 2-3 seasons.

So let’s talk Gagne first, especially because he’s definitely going, and while he’d be a rent-a-player for team making a run down the stretch, he offers a bidder the added value will be 2 draft picks to wherever he goes when he walks as a free agent this winter.

According to T.R. Sullivan’s article last week, “…the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have shown the most interest in Gagne.”

Gagne, another Boras client, has a list of 12-teams the Rangers can trade him to without his prior consent.  The best I can gather is that the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets and Angels, are on that list. The other eight are being kept secret.  Who knows why. And, MLB Trade Rumors is revealing more every day about Gagne’s limited no-trade clause.

So far, only two teams match T.R.’s “interested” list and Gagne’s “allowable” list: the Yankees and Red Sox – the two teams everyone wants to have interested in the same guy because they’ll spend the money, have prospects and major-league ready talent to spare, and will bid up the price on each other.

But, what do the Rangers need that they can fill through a Gagne trade?

To turn the Rangers into a championship caliber team, the need (besides a new owner), starting pitching, a firstbaseman to replace Teixeira when he leaves, a center fielder, at least one corner outfielder (assuming out of Byrd, Cruz, Diaz and Botts the Rangers can produce one capable everyday starter in one of the corners and one bench/DH player) and an upgrade at catcher (pretty much in that order).

There will be a lot of free agent outfielders on the market this winter, and the Rangers will have plenty of money to sign a starter and an outfielder (preferably Torii Hunter to finally give the Rangers a bat and – as important – a glove out of center field – see the post and subsequent comments about next year’s team two posts below). So with Gagne, I think the Rangers should focus on a corner outfielder, a catcher or a firstbaseman – in that order.

Getting a major-league ready guy who can play and contribute every day at one of those three spots will make a significant impact for the team’s future. Additionally, by addressing one of those needs with Gagne, Little Jon DanielsHart should then be able to focus solely on starting pitching for the Teixeira trade.  And, a younger, lower paid outfielder from a Gagne trade also frees up cash for the free agent market.

Announcing the 2008 Texas Rangers 25-Man Roster!

Well, since tonight’s game was rained out and the 2007 season has long been over, I thought I’d finish a post I’ve been thinking about for a while. 

I doubt I’m the only Rangers fan looking ahead to what might be in the cards for Texas in 2008.  If I were GM – and bi-POD Tom Hicks was willing to quit his hypocracy and take some meds for his bi-polar owner disorder to put some smart money where his mouth is – then this is what the Rangers would look like in 2008 (how new additions got here explained in parentheses):

Starters:

  • C –  Adam Melhuse
  • 1b – James Loney (Teixeira Trade) or Nate Gold
  • 2b – Kinsler
  • SS – Young 
  • 3b – Blalock
  • LF – Cruz
  • CF – Torri Hunter (FA)
  • RF – Marlon Byrd
  • DH – Sosa???????

Bench:

  •    C – Laird
  •   U – Catalanotto
  • OF – Botts
  •  IF – Ramon Vazquez

Rotation:

  1. Mark Buerhle (Free Agent)
  2. Kevin Millwood
  3. Zack Miner or Chad Billingsley (Teixeira Trade)
  4. Padilla
  5. McCarthy or Loe

Bullpen

  • R – Vasquez
  • R – Mahay
  • R – Benoit
  • R – Eyre
  • R – Murray
  • SU – Wilson
  • CL – Otsuka

The bullpen looks to be shaping up well.  Otsuka will likely be gone, but I’d keep him unless the offers are too good to refuse (and would then sign one of several FAs that will be on the market this offseason).

The rotation is much better with Buerhle taking the top spot and Miner or Billingsley in the middle, putting Millwood at #2 and Padilla at #4, which are spots they’re more suited for.  Buerhle would be my big signing.  I know his velocity is down.  But we need a lefty, and he keeps reminding me of Kenny Rogers (with a better attitude).  The guy just knows how to pitch and win.  Is it a Championship caliber rotation – no.  But it’s a big step in the right direction.

The offense will be better.  I worry about no big bat to replace Teixeira, but if Hunter could repeat his current season, he’d make up for much of the lost production.  Also, Sosa is listed as a question mark.  He’d have to cut down on his K’s for me to keep him.  If he can’t do that, I’d sign an aging power bat to come in, provide some production, and be a veteran presence while contributing to a building sense for winning.  But knowing next year is a stepping stone toward real, sustainable competitiveness, I like the look of the order and the opportunity for some prospects to show if they can bust out.  If not, I’d chase a big signing after the ’08 season.

My expectation would be for this team to finish somewhere just north of .500.  But expectations for 2009 would be to contend in the West, win it in ’10 and make real runs into the playoffs from 2010 – 2012.

BTW, I also happen to think this is Hicks’ plan because it syncs with his business interests, but more on that another time.