Category Archives: trade deadline.

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.

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!

For Those of Who Wanted the Rangers to Keep Teixeira…

… I hope today’s revelation that he recently turned down an 8-year $140 million offer finally has you waking out of the coma you’ve been in, dealing with your prolongued state of denial and taking off your Rangers-blue blinders.

Teixeira Looking Stupid

As I (and many others) have said since early this season, Teixeira was walking as a free agent after 2008. With the team out of contention with little hope to find contending form without a major rebuild, trading Tex now was the Rangers only option.

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 Traded to Braves in Wasted Opportunity for the Rangers

Looks like Little Jon DanielsHart was just schooled by yet another GM – Atlanta’s John Schuerholz – in a deal, apparently pending only physicals being passed, sending Teixeira AND Ron Mahay to the Braves for C/1B Jarrod (Salty) Saltalamacchia and 18-yo Venezuelan SS Elvis Andrus plus two players to be named later – both likely young, not-major-league-ready pitching prospects (one still rumored to be 21-yo AA Lefty pure prospect Matt Harrison).

If true, this is a massive failure on the part of the Rangers and Little Jon DanielsHart!  Unless the other player-to-be-named is a major-league ready arm (which is highly unlikely), this trade fails to address the Rangers top need – Starting Pitching that has at least begun a successful transition to the major leagues. That is a failure that may well doom the Rangers to mediocrity beyond next year and into the next decade.

Meanwhile, this is a GREAT trade for the Braves. They add a power bat to spark a lineup that needs more production and they improve their bullpen immediately with Mahay’s left-arm in their bullpen.

This deal is worse than the Chris Young trade.  At least with that trade, at the time it was made, we thought we’d get a good ready-to-contribute starter in Eaton (who could have known he’d pitch so few games for the Rangers) and a closer in Otsuka. Giving up Young was short-sighted. He’d have been a major contributor here, although not the phenom he’s become in a pitching-friendly park in the pitching-friendly NL. And at the time, Adrian Gonzalez was blocked by Tex, whom the Rangers then thought would be around a lot longer. So it took a season and a half to fully see how bad that trade sucked.

This trade sucks now. It will suck tomorrow. It will suck next year. And unless the Rangers luck out and one of these very young, need a lot of work pitching prospects become our team ace, it will suck 3 and 5 years from now.

What long-term need does this deal address for the Rangers? Last I checked, we have a great SS who’s locked-up through 2013. Salty won’t be the long-term answer behind the plate according to reports of his defense and game-calling abilities.

When you have the BEST big bat on the market at the trade deadline, you MUST do better than this. Look at what the Rangers gave up for Carlos Lee last year. I guess there just aren’t any owners/GMs who are as stupid as Hicks and Daniels.

This is another deal where you have to wonder who Daniels is working for: the Rangers or the other team? It’s his third major deal (after San Diego and Milwaukee) that will make the trading partner better and do little for the Rangers.

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.