Category Archives: T.R. Sullivan

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?”

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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.

Scary Signs about the Rangers Getting Confused & Teixeira Needs to Get Back Fast!

I like Mark Teixeira – a lot.  He’s one of my son’s favorite players – and mine.  But I’m starting to wonder if he and/or the Rangers front office are purposefully taking their time to get him back into the lineup now – not July 13th after the All-Star break.

According to T.R. Sullivan’s report on Tuesday, Tex will be starting a rehab assignment soon.  Is it me, or are they lollygagging his return?  I thought only Juan Gonzalez (in his whiney-baby years) took this long to come back from a simple leg muscle strain. 

As teams will want to see that Tex is recovered fully before they trade for him, the Rangers are cutting things close.  A July 13 return gives Teixeira only 18 game opportunities to prove what he’s got after this injury – which was reportedly minor and he was supposed to be back by now.  Also, I fear the slow return may signal to other teams that Tex did more damage to his left quad than was advertised.  As teams like the Dodgers, Tigers and others look prime to consider a deal for Teixeira, all this can’t be helping his trade value.  And the longer wait could mean some teams start looking in other directions they may never have checked if Tex was back and healthy and producing.  So Tex – if you want to help the team and your career, get back fast.

In the meantime, this statement from Ron Washington also troubled me:

“We want to make sure when (Teixeira) does come back we can have him for the rest of the year, not just one day,” manager Ron Washington said.

I HOPE that is a cover statement to alleve some of the concerns I mentioned above while also positioning that we want to keep Tex unless someone makes a great offer.  But the Rangers have rarely shown that kind of savvy under Tom Hicks or Little Jon DanielsHart.

I’m starting to fear that Ron’s comment is reflective of the organization’s true feelings.  Which would be purely STUPID.  Why would they keep Tex this year?  So maybe they finish 28 instead of 35 games out of first place?  And then they have him for one last uncompetitive season in ’08 before he WALKS AS A FREE AGENT.  That would be assinine when the Rangers could trade him now and likely get a major-league ready starter plus a firstbaseman and/or maybe a prospect or three.

Unless Hicks is willing to about double the team’s salary next season through 3-4 significant free agent signings (yeah – I’m not holding my breath on that one – not even when Hicks will be more interested in winning next season because it would draw more traffic through Where’s The Glory Park and help him lease and sell holdings in his income property before the more attractive Cowboys development is ready), trading Tex is the best opportunity the Rangers have to restructure the team to not just be competitive but to possibly, finally become Championship contenders in the final years of the decade.

Waiting shows wavering.  Wavering scares me.  The only possible upside is if wavering persuades other GMs that they’ll need to aim high to “pry” Teixeira away from the Rangers.

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.

Robbers Evidence: Millwood Was “Good” (Enough) Today

The on-line and post-game coverage of today’s Rangers victory, and Ron Washington’s post-game comments, say a lot.  I guess it proves Einstein right again in that “all things are relative.”  Because reading and hearing reports of Millwood’s performance today, and listening to Washington, you’d think a good pitcher was on the mound for the Rangers today.

Not judging by this line: 

 Kevin Millwood Texas Rangers Bad Pitching 6.17.07

Did Millwood show signs of improvement?  Yes.  Finally!

Did he seem to get better after allowing the 8 of the Reds’ first 14 batters to reach base?  Yes.

But remember, this was the Reds – the “Rangers” of the NL – their record is only a half game better than the Rangers, and their team pitching and offense are rank similarly within MLB. 

So, when a team’s “#1” starter makes it through 6 innings with 4 earned runs (that’s a 6.00 era for the day) against the second-worst team in baseball and the manager responds with words like (as reported by T.R.):

  • “He was on a mission, and he accomplished the mission,” manager Ron Washington said.
  • “He was good,” Washington said.
  • “That’s the old Millwood, bend but don’t break,” Washington said. “It’s nice to see him get that rush going. He found out he still has it. From there, he kept on working.

… well, that’s a sure sign that you don’t have a good team.