Category Archives: Joquin Benoit

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. 

Who Played Their Last Game as A Ranger Today?

Things are picking up a bit on the Teixeira front (seperate post to follow).  Other than (hopefully) Teixeira, who else lost their final game as a Ranger this afternoon in Kansas City?

Eric Gagne? 

Reports still linger that Gagne may be shipped to the Yankees, but I haven’t seen anything of late about who the Rangers may get in return. The Yankees are not on Gagne’s list of team to which he can veto a trade, but he’s made it clear that he wants to remain a closer. Will his attitude get in the way of the Yankees coughing up something for him knowing that they won’t take Mariano Rivera out of the closer spot? A few other teams may still have interest. 

My belief he should get traded: 100%

Chances he actually gets traded: 40%. 

Joaquin Benoit?

Lots of teams want him, and I say they can have him. Been tired of his roller-coaster inconsistencies over the years. It’s time to cut bait and sell high. What’s being offered in return? Reports are sketchy. Some rumors say the Braves (still the apparent leaders in talks to acquire Teixeira) have also been asking.  Maybe Benoit goes to Atlanta in an uber-deal. If so, be prepared for him to succeed for several years and to be tempted to feel that we should have kept him. But don’t. We’re seeing the best he can do as a Ranger, and it would be down hill from here (at best).

My belief he should get traded: 100%

Chances he actually gets traded: 70%. 

C.J. Wilsom?

He;s another one the Braves are rumored to be angling for, but Little Jon Daniels Hart should be able to get something done without giving up C.J. He’s been a strong lefty out of the bullpen who’s improved significantly in each of the past 3 seasons. I don’t see him as a closer like some fans do, be he could be a heck of a set-up man for a long time.

My belief he should get traded: 10% (never say never – would have to blow my hair back with the return we get)

Chances he actually gets traded: 20%. 

Gerald Laird?

Rumor has it the Cubs may still be interested, and electing to take a catcher – A-baller Max Ramirez – for Kenny Lofton could be a small sign about what the Rangers are thinking.

My belief he should get traded: 50% (I don’t think he’s our long-term answer at C, but unless we’re offered something real juicy, he deserves the rest of this season and next with Rudy Jaramillo givng him every chance to be more consistent at the plate.)

Chances he actually gets traded: 20%. 

Others of note: 

Ron Mahay could also be subbed into a deal with the Braves, but while he’s older, than C.J. he’s still got good years left in him – enough to contribute when the Rangers could be ready to contend in ’09 and beyond. JD should hold onto him unless it’s a deal maker in another trade, but his name hasn’t been mentioned much lately.

Silence has fallen over Sammy Sosa, probably because he’s STUNK all July (.274/.359/.188) with only 2 HRs – if only he’d kept chugging away for a few more weeks, we might have gotten something decent for him.

Frank Catalanotto’s name was bantied about in some reputable spots a few weeks ago. That’s all gone quiet. It’s a shame. I met Frank during his first stint with the Rangers, and I like him. If he hadn’t been hurt this season, I think he’d be producing enough to garner interest from a contender, and return a couple good prospects if traded. But he’s just not up to par this year. He’s been showing signs of improvement, but likely not enough to generate value in return.

Just about a week ago, several teams were reportedly showing interest in Jamey Wright.  Validly so, as he’d been doing well. But two consecutive bad outings since (10 combined innings with 6 earned runs (another 2 unearned) and only 3ks against 11 hits and 10 walks) killed almost all chances that someone will take him. 

After starting the month on a tear that turned some heads and spawned some rumors, Whiffy Whifferson ($4.35 Million Man Brad Wilkerson) has 27ks to 17 hits for July and only one HR since the first week of July. I really don’t like to just rip on people, but when they’re making crazy money that makes no sense (unless he has compromising photos of Tim Hicks), this calls for an exception. I posted earlier that JD should take a bag of peanuts for Wilkerson if offered. At this point, he should take a piece of chewed gum scraped from the bottom of a bleacher seat in whatever team’s park that might be willing to part with that much for Whifferson. And JD should then have to chew the gum straight through an entire Rangers game as punishment for wasting that much money. Imagine what that could have done for kids in poverty! How does JD sleep at night? Or Whiffy for that matter. Man up and give some of the money back, dude.

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.)

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.

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.