Category Archives: Vicente Padilla

Next Year’s Rotation Predictions?

With the free agent pitching market not looking too great this winter and the Rangers stacked with young arms that are predicted to break through, what will the Rangers rotation look like out of the gate next April?

Unless Laird is packaged with someone (Padilla? Loe? Rheinecker? Tejeda?) in a trade for a significant upgrade in pitching, I believe the Rangers will (and should) let their current arms play and sort themselves out for 2009 and beyond.

Millwood, McCarthy and Gabbard are the only sure bets I see for the rotation. I guess Padilla falls in there too considering his contract and the hope that this season’s performance can be chalked up to injury and a just an off year.

I still think Loe is the new Benoit. And I think he’ll have a great career in the bullpen. That would leave Volquez, Rheinecker, Tejeda and maybe Hurley (seems like I’m forgetting someone) vying for the 5th spot in the rotation.

How do you think it plays out? 

Should the Rangers Sign a Free Agent Pitcher This Winter, or Not?

(View this post at the soon-to-be new home for the Rangers or Robbers blog.)

Similar to early-season views on Torri Hunter, I and many others expected the Rangers sign a Free Agent starting pitcher this next Winter to add to the rotation for 2008. But with the upsides of failing fast now in full effect at the Ballpark, I’m not sure they should.

The earliest the Rangers window for being a true contender will open is 2009. So why not let all the young arms in the Rangers organization get every chance they can with as many innings as possible in the “Bigs” to become winning pitchers for ’09 and beyond?

Millwood and Padilla are the only pitchers (and 2 of only 5 Rangers total) under contract past this season. And, with one of the league’s 5 lowest team salaries after dumping Teixeira, Gagne, Lofton and Mahay’s salaries ($22.2 million annualized), the Rangers certainly have all the flexibility and tons of money available to rebuild their rotation and fill holes in their lineup and bench.

But the Rangers also have a large collection of highly touted prospect young arms. While I’m not at all confident in the Rangers’ ability to turn prospects into winning major league starters, the law of averages has to kick in sometime. Doesn’t it? I mean, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every so often.

So would it be better for the Rangers to let the remaining 3 spots in their rotation be filled by those prospects, instead of filling one with a free agent signing?  (Of course, Millwood and Padilla’s seasons make them less than surefire long-term locks for any rotation and they could be traded away, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

I include McCarthy and Gabbard on the Rangers’ prospects list, as they still haven’t completed a successful transition to the majors and are not bona fide winning starters. Then there’s Tejeda, Loe and Wood who’ve had plenty of chances to get some traction already (not to mention Rheinecker and Koronka – who’re about out of chances). Are they worth more time in the rotation to see what could happen? Or are they meant for the bullpen? And then there’s Volquez, Hurley, Rupe, Harrison, Galarraga and Mendoza coming up from the minors.

That’s at least 13 pitchers who are touted to have various levels of major league potential. At least two or three of them should become major league winners, right? Again, the law of averages has to work in the Rangers’ favor at some point, doesn’t it.

Plus, the list of pitchers who’ll be free agents this winter doesn’t look too exciting and looks pretty old (ages for next season in parentheses: source MLB Trade Rumors):

Carlos Zambrano (27)
Curt Schilling (41)
Jason Jennings (29)
Koji Uehara (33)
Freddy Garcia (32)
Kenny Rogers (43)
Jon Lieber (38)
Bartolo Colon (35)
Joe Kennedy (29)
Tomo Ohka (32)
John Thomson (34)
Kip Wells (31)
Wade Miller (31)
Livan Hernandez (33)*
Randy Wolf (31) – $9MM club option for ’08
Paul Byrd (37) – $8MM club option for ’08
Jeff Weaver (31)
Tom Glavine (42) – $9MM player option for ’08
Kris Benson (33) – $7.5MM club option for ’08
Jaret Wright (32)
David Wells (45)
Eric Milton (32)
Kyle Lohse (29)
Matt Clement (33)
Rodrigo Lopez (32)
Josh Fogg (31)
Byung-Hyun Kim (29)
Odalis Perez (31) – $9MM club option for ’08
Brett Tomko (35) – $4.5MM mutual option for ’08

If the Rangers can sign Carlos Zambrano, they should. He’s a true ace who could at 27 could anchor the Rangers’ rotation for years. But like so many aces before him, why would he come to the Ballpark and the Rangers? It would take crazy money for him to pass on the numerous great offers he’ll get from teams who will be contending for years to come.

So, short of a miracle signing of Zambrano, I think the Rangers best move may be to stick with the arms they have and see how these prospects play out. Then they’ll have the trade deadlines next season and the winter of ’08-’09 – when they’ll have a more clear picture of what they have in the guys they have – to shore up any holes in the rotation.

The problem there is that they’ll likely still have several large holes. But we’ve got time to wait and see.

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. 

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.

Robbers Evidence: Bye Bye Buehrle

In several previous posts, I’ve mentioned how Mark Buerhle could have already been a Ranger(https://rangersorrobbers.wordpress.com/2007/04/19/robbers-evidence-exhibit-a-revisited-no-buerhle-no-no/) and should be the free agent pitcher the Rangers sign this winter (https://rangersorrobbers.wordpress.com/2007/06/27/announcing-the-2008-texas-rangers-25-man-roster-2/).

Well, all that’s a pipe dream now as the White Sox resigned Mark Buehrle to a 4-year, $54 million contract

That narrows the field of starting pitchers the Rangers should consider signing this winter (Buehrle topped my list, and I think only Carlos Zambrano could be argued to be a better signing amongst the would-be class of winter free agents).

And without a single starter with a winning record or an ERA under 5.30 going into this week’s All-Star break, a shrinking free=agent pool increases the pressure on Ron Washington and pitching coach Mark Connor to develop at least one (if not two) of the young or trying-to-comeback Rangers pitchers into a contributing starter who can win more games than he loses (in order of liklihood at present:  Loe, McCarthy, Wright, Tejeda, Hurley, Wood, Koronka, Rheinecker, Rupe).  It also makes the return to form of Millwood and Padilla more important, because the caliber of free-agent starter the Rangers can sign this winter just went down unless they ink Zambrano, which I don’t think is likely nor do I think he’d be worth the price as he’s not a great fit for the Rangers or The Ballpark.  That probably means Millwood will be the Opening Day starter again, and he’s really a #2 at best.  Finally, it puts more importance on Jon DanielsHart and Hicks getting a trade done (and done well) with Teixeira – as Tex is the only chip they have left to acquire a pitcher with top-of-the-rotation talent (Chad Billingsly is looking really nice at this point – maybe too nice for the Dodgers to part with after going 1-0 in 2 July starts with a 2.25 era and 14 Ks in 12 IP). 

So congratulations to Buehrle and the White Sox, and to Tom Hicks, the Rangers front office and coaching staff and their pitchers aspiring to be worth a spot in a competitive major league rotation:  TIME TO GET ROLLING!

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.

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.