Category Archives: Minnesota Twins

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).

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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. 

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.)