Category Archives: Boston Red Sox

Texas Rangers Trade Deadline Review: Jon Daniels Earns D+

With a last minute, extra-credit submission in the form of the Gagne trade, Little Jon DanielsHart avoids immediate expulsion from school and pulls an F- up to a D+ for the summer trade semester. 

That’s still a failing grade overall, despite a great trade for Gagne. Why?

For a team that has always needed PITCHING but has never been able to develop pitching prospects or sign top free agent starters, it’s inexcusable that JD was not able to pry at least one MLB-ready pitcher who has at least begun a successful transition to the major leagues out of any of the contenders needing an extra bat when we were offering Teixeira – the PREMEIRE bat on the summer market who’s under contract through next season also. That’s even more inexcusable when he also coughed up Mahay along with Tex.

I can’t believe how many Rangers fans have bought into the Rangers’ public relations face-saving propaganda that getting the Braves #1, #2 and #3 prospects makes the Teixeira trade a good one. Garbage!

First, let’s review the definition of prospect:

Prospect (noun) – 1. the possibility of future success; 2. belief about the future (WordNet® 3.0 © 2006 Princeton University)

Thus, the guys we got in the deal have nothing but a possibility of success based on someone’s belief about their future performance. So we shipped off two known, highly valuable commodities for five big question marks! At least one known, as bankable as can be commodity should have been acquired in return. Unfortunately instead, only time will tell – and with these guys, time may range from this month to 4-5 years from now.

Second, consider the difficulty of forecasting prospects’ futures:

Prospects in baseball are particularly iffy. In basketball or football, it’s generally much easier to predict a prospect’s likelihood of making an impact (yes – there are plenty of exceptions). More than in other team sports, players at the major league baseball level are mostly distinguished by the mental aspects of the game – focus, concentration, pitcher-batter strategy, etc. This is particularly true where the two major aspects of the game – pitching and hitting – are concerned. There are just too many variables – again most of them mental, which are nearly impossible to predict – to developing potential and transitioning to the major league level.

Third, while we may have received the best prospects the Braves had, that doesn’t make them the right prospects for the Rangers rebuilding needs. 

1.   Salty – may be a good fit for the Rangers, especially if he can improve behind the plate. If the expectations for his future production are even 75% correct, then he’ll be a major upgrade over Laird, who should be moved to the bench or traded if Teagarden continues to progress.

2.  Elvis Andrus – an 18-yo SS who’s struggling at the plate at A Myrtle Beach. Again, last I checked, we have a great SS who’s locked-up through 2013 and a potential All-Star 2B in his second MLB season at only 25. If we want to find there replacements, I suggest the draft in – oh, maybe 2010 would be more appropriate.

3.  Matt Harrison – is a 21-yo nothing but prospect LHP at AA. He has potential, but again, when have the Rangers ever turned young pitching potential into a winner at the major-league level?

4.  Neftali Feliz – a 19-yo nothing but prospect RHP still in the rookie league.

5.  Beau Jones – a 21-yo LHP doing well, but only at Class A Rome.

On almost any other team, you might be able to bet with confidence that at least one of the three pitching prospects will become a winning starter within the next 2-4 years.  But not so with the Rangers.

That’s why JD HAD to get a pitcher who has at least begun a successful transition to the major leagues in return for Tex, much less Tex and Mahay.

The Lofton trade was also a disappointment. 

Lofton may be a 40-year-old rent-a-player to the Indians, but he will help the Indians down the stretch (on and off the field). I think his value to them is more than a Class-A catcher on whom the Braves already gave up last year to acquire Bob Wickman.  It’s a long, long road from being a Futures-Game Class A catcher to a big league contributor. 

The Gagne Trade May Have Saved Daniels’ Job – For Now 

Finally! JD got a pitcher who is well into a successful transition to the major leagues, plus one who’s a lefty from the AL in Kason Gabbard!

Gabbard has progressed well at every level, including his time in the majors. If he can keep his head straight in the unforgiving Ballpark and keep his stats within the same general range he’s been performing at, he will be a winning pitcher for several years to come. If he comes to Arlington and can improve at all – he’ll be the ace of our staff by ’09 at the latest. 

The two outfielders in the deal were also good pick-ups. Left-handed hitting 27-yo CF David Murphy could do very well in the Ballpark. He’s already had some limited success in the majors, and should be a September call up and ready to compete for a spot on the big club next season. 18-yo “5-tool” outfielder Engel Beltre is several years away, but is reportedly one heck of a prospect.  

In Sum 

Overall, the Rangers shipped off Teixeira, Gagne, Mahay and Lofton in return for: 

1 MLB-ready pitcher

2 Probably ready to break through position players (Salty and Murphy)

3 Very young, who knows what they’ll be position prospects (Andrus, Beltre and Ramirez)

3 Young, who knows what they’ll be pitching prospects (Harrison, Jones, Feliz). 

To give up that much highly-prized and sought-after talent and not have 2 MLB-ready pitchers in return is terrible.  

Salty and Murphy are strong maybe’s, but there are concerns about both of their games. And then there are six really big question marks?????? 

That leaves Gabbard as the only acquisition whose value can be close to accurately projected. 

As of today, that’s a terrible performance from Little Jon DanielsHart.

In time, if Gabbard lives up to expectation, if Salty becomes one of the leagues top producing catchers, if Murphy works out, if one of the three pitching prospects becomes a winner at the major-league level, then this could become a very good performance from Little Jon DanielsHart. But that’s too many “if’s” given all the Rangers had to offer. 

And after 27-years as a fan, there are too many reasons to be skeptical. Hanging on to hopes that so many “if’s” will pan out is just asking for more heartbreak, and I expect more from the General Manager.

Gagne to Red Sox for Kason Gabbard! Finally A Winning Trade from Jon Daniels!

Well, the tradeline passed a few hours ago, and word has it that Gagne has been dealt to the Boston Red Sox for Kason Gabbard and two other prospects.

JD gets an ‘A’ for this one! This is a great trade for the Rangers.

FINALLY, the Rangers get a pitcher who’s already well into the process of adjusting to the major-leagues! A 25-year-old lefty, Gabbard started 4 games last season (going 1-3 with a 3.51 era, 5.35 Ks/9 and a 1.55 whip) and 7 games this year (going 4-0 with a 3.73 era, 6.37 Ks/9 and a 1.12 whip). He could immediately become the Rangers #2 starter if he can keep those numbers from ballooning more than 20% in the Ballpark. He’s 3-0 in 5 July starts with a complete-game 3-hit, 1-walk shutout of KC (and in July, an era of 3.03, a remarkable 0.83 whip, and an improving ground-out ratio).

The two minor leaguers are reportedly 27-yo CF David Murphy and 18-yo “5-tool” outfielder Engel Beltre. Left-handed hitting Murphy has 24 MLB ABs between last year and this (.250 avg and .857 ops in those ABs) and is hitting .280 with a .769 ops in 400 ABs at AAA Pawtucket. He’ll certainly see time with the Rangers this season, and with a move to the Ballpark and into Rudy Jaramillo’s tuteledge, I like the odds of him making the Rangers outfield and becomming a productive hitter next season and beyond.  Beltre is several years away, but is reportedly one heck of a prospect. 

The trade solidifies the Red Sox’s bullpen and their status as the favorites to win the AL pennant (sorry Tigers fans – ya’ll should have done more). Red Sox games just became 7-inning affairs with Gagne and Pappelbon waiting to wrap things up.

Apparently, Gagne waived his veto power over a trade to Boston (which is a smart move on his part as he’ll almost certainly get a chance to play deep into the post-season and increase his value as a free agent in the winter). When the Rangers might just try to sign him back (or will likely pickup any of 7 high-octane closers likely to be on the free agent market).

So, you Rangers fans upset about us trading Gagne – you need to study up on the modern economics and workings of MLB. Gagne, no matter how much he said (and I happen to believe him) he liked Texas and wanted to stay here, is a Scott Boras client who will be a free agent this winter. Keeping him risked watching him walk with nothing but a couple of draft picks as compensation. Instead, we got a lefty SP, an all-but-ready-now lefty CF and a great 18-yo prospect. AND, we have as much (maybe a little bit better) chance as any other team to sign Gagne this winter or acquire another closer while C.J. Wilson moves into the set-up role.

As the dust settles on this and all the Rangers trades, look for a “Texas Rangers Trade Deadline Review” post tomorrow.

Then, it’s time to start enjoying a new era of Rangers baseball and get back to seeing what we can do to get Hicks out of the owners office.

Gagne Trade Next on the Rangers’ List of Things to Stink Up?

They’ve stunk up the AL West. They’ve stunk up a trade for Kenny Lofton. And they’ve somehow managed to really stink up the trade for Mark Teixeira. What’s next for Little Jon DanielsHart and Tom Hicks?

Eric Gagne, come on down! You’re the next Rangers trade chip on The Price is Wrong!

Talk has picked up surrounding Gagne with rumors involving the Yankees, Angels and Mets (three teams not on Gagne’s limited no-trade list) as well as the Red Sox and Indians (who are on the list) and the Dodgers and Mariners (whom no one seems to know if they’re on the list or not).

After Jon Daniels gave away Lofton and Teixeira for far less than any competent GM should have been able to get, the sharks are circiling. If I were a GM of a contending team with A or AA prospects, I’d be calling JD with all kinds of low-ball offers now (for Gagne, Benoit, Laird, Millwood, Wright) as he suddenly seems enamored with ultra-young prospects full of question marks. 

But they better strike fast, because Jon Daniels shouldn’t have a job for too much longer!

Teixeira to Go to the Braves (or Angels… or Diamondbacks… or Dodgers… or last minute entrant)?

Just more than 32 hours left until the non-waivers trade deadline at 3p EDT tomorrow, and it’s still anyone’s guess as to where Mark Teixeira will go and for whom in return.  Based on various reports across the Internet and TV, here’s how things look at this point (with the contenders listed from most to least likely to grab Teixeira):

1. Atlanta Braves (40% likely) – Local media in Atlanta are reporting the deal as all but done. The deal appears to be Catcher-Firstbaseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Matt Harrison. A sticking point is whether the Braves will also give up Elvis Andrus or Brent Lillibridge in addition to Salty without getting a mid-reliever (they’ve been asking for C.J. Wilson but would take less).

I’m not jazzed at all about this trade as rumored. It’s way too light on pitching in return. I’ve said it dozens of times, and I’ll say it dozens more unless I’m proven wrong. The Rangers can’t develop top-of-the-rotation pitching, they can’t get top free-agent pitchers to sign up to play in The Ballpark, so they’re only real hope to develop a rotation that is championship caliber is to TRADE FOR PITCHING. Teixeira is the last best hope on the radar for the Rangers to acquire stand-out pitching in a trade, and this deal doesn’t do that. 

Harrison is pure prospect. A 21-yo Lefty at AA with a losing record. That’s not going to get the Rangers the rotation they need by ’09, which should be their target for contending.

Salty is over-rated in my book. Sorry. He skipped AAA – in my view rushed to the majors to increase his trade value. He’s done alright in 47 games for the Braves, but he’s not blowing anyone away (.284 avg, .744 ops with 4 HRs). He may be pretty good some day, but that’s a gamble. And for Tex, the Rangers should get a sure thing, not a “we think maybe.” Plus, spelling the guy’s name is a chore!

Elvis is an 18-yo Venezuelan SS playing A ball – and not hitting all that well yet (.241 avg, .659 ops. with 3 HRs in 98 games). If the Rangers are wanting to find Young’s replacement for 2014, I suggest the draft in around 2010 is a more appropriate opportunity.  

Brent Lillibridge is 23 at AAA, but also a SS who’s hitting so far is mediocre (.283 avg., .757 ops with 5 HRs in 52 games).

If the trade goes down Tex for Salty and Harrison, I’d give it an F.  If it goes Tex for Salty, Harrison and Elvis or Lillibridge, it’s a D-. And if the Rangers throw in even Mahay (much less Benoit or Wilson) to get three of those guys, it’s a surefire job-losing F- for Daniels. 

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (30% likely) – I really hope this is the deal that Little Jon Daniels and Tom Hicks are holding out for.  Word has it that 26-yo Lefty SP Joe Saunders and 24-yo lefty 1b Casey Kotchman are already on the table. Compared to the Atlanta deal, just those two (who are major-league tested) represent a better deal that what the Braves are offering. Plus, there’s been rumors that the Angels may add a third prospect (names vary) to the deal.

Saunders is in his third partial season at the major-league level, and he’s a proven winner in the AL West whose improved every year (11-3 lifetime in the bigs, with a 4-0 record and 3.16 era in 7 starts this season). That would immediately put him ahead of everyone but Millwood on the Rangers starting rotation (and yes, I’m saying he’d be ahead of Padilla – right now). 

Kotchman is hitting well and judging by his road numbers and the fact that lefties love the Ballpark, his numbers would get a quick boost as a Ranger (currently hitting .300 with an .858 ops in 89 games).

Tex straight up for those two would be a B++ trade in my book, and if JD gets any other prospect worth anything at all added in, make it an A+!

3. Arizona Diamondbacks (20% likely) – late entrants whose name popped up publically for the first time just this Saturday, Arizona will have to poney up value fast. But what they may be offering is more cloudy than other teams’ probable offers. 

Grade if it happens: incomplete.  Still too many unknowns here, but things could get interesting.  Again, the pitching offered should be the key.

4. Not-Currently-Suspected Darkhorse (7% likely) –  the Yankees losing ways probably killed the chances of them or the Red Sox trading for Tex. But after a trouncing sweep this weekend by the Angels and Cleveland not cooling off, I still won’t be shocked if the Tigers make a last minute play. But since the Mets, Brewers, Cardinals, Phillies, Indians and Twins all have 1b well manned, that leaves only the Mariners as a current contender who could use Teixera’s services but haven’t been heard from. So a last-minute late entrant looks very unlikely.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers (3% likely) – a month ago, as Nomar was being moved to third, and Loney and Billinglsly were still human, this looked like the deal to do. But injuries to the Dodgers rotation have shifted there priorities, just as Loney’s performance has shifted there view of their needs while Billingsly has pitched himself into the untouchable range.

Updates to follow as more is learned. 

All Too Quiet on the Teixeira Front

Silent but deadly. Deadly silent.

Things that keep popping into mind as I trove the major league news sites and cable channels listening for any movement on the Teixeira front. 

Just a few days ago, you couldn’t read a single site or story about the trade deadline without Teixeira’s name in the first few paragraphs – if not the headline.

Now, there’s rumors that a deal with the Braves (a deal I didn’t like the sounds of) is falling apart. The Dodgers have bowed out of the race as they suddenly need pitching; I’ll always wonder if Billingsly and Loney was possible back in June before Tex got hurt(sure seemed like it when Nomar was moved to third). The Yankees and Red Sox seem to have backed away, as did the Tigers long ago. No news on the Angels.

Can Little Jon DanielsHart pull a rabit out of his hat? In my book, he needs to – or it should be his job.

And, what’s the latest on getting something for Gagne, Benoit or even Laird?  Too quiet. Much too quiet!

Scaring me. We’ve got to get a pitcher for Tex – and the time is now.

Rangers Trade Kenny Lofton to Cleveland for… Max Ramirez?

I was right, and I was wrong.

Turns out Kenny Lofton has indeed become the first Texas Ranger to be dealt.  I was right about that.

But my hopes that JD’s ability to spin up tremendous buzz about Teixeira was “a reflection on his maturation as a GM” seems to be wrong.

JD was just taken to school by Cleveland’s GM – Mark Shapiro.

Lofton may be a 40-year-old rent-a-player to the Indians, but I think his value to them is more than a Class-A catcher that the Braves already gave up on last year to acquire Bob Wickman. To be clear, Ramirez is good prospect.  But it’s a long, long road from being a Futures-Game Class A catcher to a big league contributor. Projecting Ramirez into the big leagues is a very cloudy calculation.  I do think the Rangers need to stock up at Catcher because I doubt even Rudy Jaramillo will be able to fix Laird, and the Rangers would be nuts to put all their stock in Teagarden is being THE answer. But this looks like very low return on Lofton.

With Lofton continuing his 16-year run as a top leadoff man this season and last, going to a team for which he is best known and adored by fans, where they’re trying to chase the power-house Tigers or a Wild Card birth, JD should have been able to get more in return. 

This does not bode well for our hopes that Little Jon DanielsHart (I’d stopped calling him that for a while because I thought he was earning it) will be able to make a bloackbuster deal for Tex (much less Gagne, Benoit or Mahay).

(One way this might make more sense is if JD is hoping that by pulling the trigger early with Cleveland – before they might have upped their offer – it will put more pressure on the Tigers, Angels, Yankees and Red Sox (who would each have to compete with the Indians either to get a playoff spot or in the playoffs) to get more serious about acquiring Tex to help hold off the Indians.  And maybe also pressure Seattle and Minnesota to think more about Gagne, Benoit or other Rangers who are available to help them in them chase the Indians for the Wild Card.  This move could have that kind of domino affect – especially if Shapiro and the Indians follow it with another move. If JD’s gotten that savvy, though, I’ll let him slap me across the face at home plate during the seventh inning stretch. Happily.)

Today’s Leader in the Teixeira Trade Sweepstakes: The (not sure where we’re from) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?

Still loving all the rumoring that’s flying around. Some idiot on ESPN said today he doesn’t think a Teixeira trade will happen before the deadline. Let’s hope my impression of his idiocy and the diminishing ineptitude of Jon Daniels are proven true in the next few days.

Today’s rumors that place the Angels in the lead baffle me.  Apparently the deal would be Tex for Kotchman, Santana and another major leaguer (maybe Joe Saunders?).  If the deal includes Saunders, I think the Rangers should do it in a hearbeat.  He’s a young left-handed arm who’s had success in the majors – in the AL no less.  Santana’s decline this season is disturbing; if the Angels haven’t been able to get him right, the odds are lower that the Rangers could.  Kotchman is no Tex (yet), but especially as a lefty, his numbers would improve in The Ballpark and his hot May (.435/.575/.363) including a 6-for-14 performance with 1 HR over 4 games against the Rangers in The Ballpark that month provided flashes of what could be. 

But why would the Angels make this move? The one reason that keeps leaping to mind is that they see a short two-year window for contending.  If so, grabbing Tex makes sense for them.  But with Colon on the DL (and clearly struggling with nagging injuries when he’s been on the field) and the Mariners chasing hard, can Lackey and Escobar and something from Weaver plus a big offensive spark from Tex paired with Vlad carry them to the post-season? I think so, but it’s going to be a tight a race unless the inconsistent Mariners have their wheels fall off. 

Once in the playoffs, the Angels should be feared, especially if they can nurse Colon along through the season and let him cut loose in the 3 spot in the post-season. With Lackey and Escobar pitching about as well as anyone in the league, the Angels could threaten Boston or Detroit, especially in a 5-game series. In a 7-game series, their offense may have to win at least one game for them, but with Vlad getting protection from Tex, I’d like those odds if I were an Angels fan.

But for the long-term, this deal would probably favor the Rangers.  Don’t see Tex (with Boras) signing long-term with the Angels.  But the problem with long-term is that there are so many variables.  At his current rate of decline, Santana could be stuck in the minors for the rest of his career, or he could rebound and become a key cog in the Rangers rotation.  Kotchman and Saunders are pretty solid bets to be very productive major-leaguers by 2009 (again, the first season the Rangers should be seriously eyeing for contention) and beyond, but you never know.  Injury, decline after a change of scenery, teams, ballparks, weather, time zones – you name it could dampen things. Same if these guys stay with the Angels.  I guess what I’m getting at is the more I think about it, the more it makes sense for the Angels.  They KNOW what they’ll get from Tex, and they KNOW what they need to do this season.  And although Detroit and Boston look hard to stop, the Angels could become that one team that seems to pop up every year that nobody wants to play.