Category Archives: Jason Botts

To Torii or Not to Torii? That (Seems to Be) The Question

After a couple of days of posting rest after the deadline, it’s time to start watching our Young Rangers team develop, refocusing on Tom Hicks’ failed ownership and looking toward the future.

As T.R. Sullivan posted earlier this week, “The number one question surrounding the Rangers for 2008 is if Torii Hunter will be their centerfielder. That’s No. 1.”

So let’s start there.

I’ve thought for a while, that the Rangers should sign Torii in the off-season. Other than pitching, a near consistent need of the Rangers’ has been a CF who can play defense and contribute offensively. According to Wikipedia, “ESPN called Hunter a “daily web gem,” referring to ESPN’s nightly highlight reel. He has won six consecutive Gold Glove Awards for his defensive prowess.” And his production has been consistently around a .270avg/.800 ops (with a bit of a power surge over that in the past two seasons). Plus, he lives in The Colony and is a decent guy.

But now, I’m not so sure.

I don’t like signing guys after they have career years, which is what Torii seems to be having (although after a hot start in April-May, he’s actually been hitting under his career averages).

Second, he’s just old enough to be concerned about whether he’ll be a real contributor when the Rangers window for contention (’09-’12) is open. It can be done (remember that Lofton guy who just left here). But it’s rare for a guy to perform at or above career numbers at 35+ (Torri turns 35 in 2010).

Third, the Rangers are missing a long-term leadoff hitter, and that could also be addressed with a CF free agent. Hunter is more a fit in the middle of the order.

Fourth, with Teixeira gone, the Rangers need a clean-up hitter or better protection for Botts if he proves he can hit cleanup. I don’t think Torri is the answer there.

Fifth, there are a lot of CF free agents this winter, including Corey Patterson, who is 4 years younger, would cost less, plays Gold Glove- caliber D, (UPDATE: suggesting Patterson could lead off was a big oversight on my part. He could be a contributor, but definitely not a lead-off hitter.) could lead-off and steals bases like crazy (which would allegedly fit Washington’s style), and is Lefty whose numbers (which are just a notch under Torii’s) would almost certainly get a boost in the Ballpark and with Rudy Jaramillo’s tuteledge. Plus, we just picked up a promising CF in Left-handed hitting 27-yo David Murphy who should be a September call-up.

So while I’m not ready to say signing Torri would be a mistake. I am backing off my previous position that he should definitely be a Ranger next season and taking a wait-and-see approach.

Besides, I agree with the T.R.’s suggestion that the top question about the Rangers, “really should be … if the Rangers will have the discipline and patience to follow through with what they’ve started…” and see how their young talent can develop. (At least I agree with that on the offensive side of the equation – pitching, I’m not so sure).

Why Plug Botts Straight into the Clean-up Spot? And Go Cruz!

Botts may have been cleaning up in Oklahoma, but why in the world would Washington put him in the 4 spot in his 2007 debut in the majors? Your first game up is pressure enough. Throwing him into the cleanup role straight away is ridiculous.  And it’s showing as so far tonight, he’s clearly pressing and is 0-4 with 2 stikeouts and 7 LOB against Cleveland.

Meanwhile, Nelson Cruz is hitting well again tonight. It’s nice to see that, and I have a feeling he may just be around to stay this time.

Botts to Start in Cleveland Tonight

Big thank you to Scrub Brush League bloggers Tom Riggs & Rob Allen who caught a great scoop today, posted it on their blog and then quickly shared it in a post here on Rangers or Robbers:

“Here’s a scoop:
At 11:00am this morning, Rob (of the podcast) was at DFW airport and ran into Jon Daniels AND Jason Botts. Both are headed to Cleveland, where Botts will join the line-up tonight. When Rob asked him who was being sent down, JD said he’d make that decision when he got to Cleveland.
Rob and I want to believe that JD (thinks) our little podcast operation is “big time” and just didn’t want to say yet. But, since he doesn’t know us from Adam, it’s likely that he’s still making up his mind.
We posted the news on our website, but YOU are the first person we told!”

Well it’s about time Botts gets the call! And unbelievably, JD has now done two things right this week – the Gagne trade and finally calling Botts up. And in two consecutive days for that matter. He’s on a roll!

Also interesting to know he’s going to Cleveland. I suspect he’s also going up to greet several of his newly acquired players now that he can step away from his phones with the trade deadline passed.

Meanwhile, I bet Hicks is too busy licking his chops over how to invest the millions of dollars in 2007 salary they just dumped to bother with a trip on his private jet to meet Salty, Gabbard and go up and say hi to his team.  Anyone doubt that Jerry Jones or Mark Cuban would be in Cleveland tonight under such circumstances? I bet Hicks is running around while peeing his pants in the recently excavated land for Glory Park. Someone grab a camera and get a picture of that gloriful sight tonight!

Trade Rumor of Interest: Dontrelle Willis May Be Avalilable!

For years, I’ve been saying that the Rangers should make the Marlins an offer they can’t refuse for Dontrelle Willis.  At only 25, Dontrelle is THE premiere young-but-developed lefty in the game today.  The Rangers need a lefty. In his column today, Ken Rosenthal mentions that now that Mark Buehrle is off the market, the D-Train’s value hasn’t been higher in some time, which could open the Marlins’ ears to trade offers.

The same was said last season.  And I have to believe that if Little Jon DanielsHart had put a package together out of some combination of John Danks, Fransisco Cordero, Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench, Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner, Willis would be a Texas Ranger right now.  Instead, we have McCarthy and Cruz left from deals that sent those guys packing.  Wouldn’t you gladly take Willis for as many as four from that list and not have McCarthy or Cruz? 

Before you accuse me of using hindsight that’s 20/20 – I said this last year, in repeated posts on T.R Sullivan’s blog and elsewhere.  When the Rangers didn’t try and the Marlins pulled back from shopping Willis, I suggested the Rangers turn their eye toward acquiring the next-best, developed young attainable lefty – Mark Buerhle (who they had and missed a chance to get).

It’s rare to get a second chance.  If the Marlins’ door is even slightly cracked open, Hicks and Daniels ought to kick it in with whatever it takes.  They should go “All In” if they have to.

Seriously, if it takes sending the entire Oklahoma Red Hawks roster to the Marlins to get Willis, that’s what the Rangers should do.  I truly believe that they’d be more successful over the next 5-7 years with Willis (assuming they resign Dontrelle after 2009 and he stays healthy for most of that time) than they would be with all of the prospects they have at AAA (maybe 3-5 of whom will ever make any meaningful contribution to the Rangers).

OK, that’s nuts, and I am exaggerating to make a point.  But if it took packaging Hurley, Rupe and Botts – I’d do it in a heartbeat.  Botts would be the hardest to let go of, but the Rangers don’t seem to want to bring him up anyways.  Hurley and Rupe – they’re still prospects.  We have NO idea what will become of them, but history shows the odds are stacked against them ever developing their full potential as Rangers or in The Ballpark.  A bird in the hand is worth two prospects in the bush leagues – easily. 

In fact, that offer may not be enough for the Marlins.  OK.  We’ll throw in Tex (we’ll pay 30% of his salary next season) and the Marlins’ choice of Cruz, Tejeda or Kasey Kiker but they have to throw in Mike Jacobs.

Many say Willis is over-rated.  He does need to do better against righties, but he would immediately be the Rangers’ ace… head and shoulders better than any pitcher they’ve had this millenium.  He’d make the entire rotation better by pushing Millwood to #2, lowering the need to sign a free agent this winter from a top-of-the-rotation guy to a mid-rotation winner, while McCarthy, Loe, Padilla, Volquez, Wright, Wood and Mendoza compete for the last two spots.

What a Win! But Please Save it for Later in the Season!

Great walk-off win tonight!  But can we save that stuff for August and September? 

Hicks and Daniels may get confused by improved performance and decide to keep trying this season when the Rangers have no chance to make the post-season, every reason to trade Teixeira (who was openly talking today about talking to Baltimore after next year where he’d love to play since he grew up an Orioles fan) and no chance to be a championship caliber team unless they do a major overhaul.

Don’t I want my team to win?  YES! 

But after 27 years as a Rangers fan, I want to finally see them be a championship contender. 

Hicks and DanielsHart get confused too easily, especially when Hicks sees a chance to sell more tickets and add to his $,$$$,$$$,$$$ (10 figures there for a reason). 

More highly exciting wins like tonight and next thing we know, Hicks will have Little Jon trading Botts and Hurley for a 30+ year-old outfielder who’ll be a free agent in the winter just to help Jeff Cogen convince casual fans that they “could use some baseball” and sell more tickets to their charade, saying, “we’re excited by how we’ve been playing, by how this Young team has responded, and think we’re primed to make a late season run, especially when Tex, Kinsler, Blalock and Padilla return.” 

Scary, because I can actually hear that coming out of Hicks’ mouth as they introduce Shawn Green as the next “final piece” to take the Rangers to the playoffs while Botts and Hurley go start great careers as Mets.

And the casual Rangers fans would buy more tickets because… hey the Rangers are “in it.”  And this town – especially the phony, see-and-be-seen crowd predominantly from the Dallas side of the Metroplex – can jump on or off a bandwagon faster than the North Texas Tollway Authority sucks money out of your bank account on the Tollway, 121 or George Bush.

Meanwhile, us true, long-time Rangers fans watch another season tank away while the club is drained of talent.  And those bandwagonners that Hicks milks to fatten his wallet could care less because they’ll be paying full price to go see a pre-season Cowboys game.

Don’t I want to see my team win?  NO!  Not yet.

Relaford? What? Are We Trying to Pump Up His Trade Value? Where’s Botts?

Why in the world are the Rangers giving major league at bats to Desi Relaford? Desi was delegated to the minors after ’05.  His MLB AVG hasn’t seen the sunny side of .250 but three times in his career. Why in the world is he playing for the Rangers in Kinsler’s absence?

Why not stick Catalonotto or Hairston at 2B for couple weeks and finally get Botts up here? 

Has Jason Botts broken some laws or pissed off Jon Daniels in some way we’re unaware of? He’s hitting .320 with a .970 OPS and a 15-game hitting streak for the AAA Oklahoma Red Hawks while leading the Pacific Coast League in doubles.  What more can he do at that level?  What don’t we know that is keeping him in Oklahoma?

Meanwhile, Relaford was only hitting .257 with 2 stolen bases in 63 games for the Red Hawks.  Relaford may be the only remaining, healthy guy in the Rangers’ organization whose defensive play is close to MLB caliber at 2B, but team defense should be the last worry of a team that needs to rebuild.  Meanwhile, if say, Cat were able to show that he still has a little something at 2B, doesn’t his trade value go up as a solid utility man for a contender?

This is a scary sign that the Rangers front office is actually trying to win instead of develop players… unless Little Jon DanielsHart thinks some team in contention is looking for a career .244 hitter as that final piece that will put them into the World Series.

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.