Tagged: Rangers

What’s a Pitching-Seeking GM To Do?

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Japanese
hurler Junichi
Tazawa
is about to announce he has signed with the Boston Red Sox. 

tazawa1.jpg

Although it’s not the first thing that comes
to mind, the Tazawa signing really shows just how large Daisuke Matsuzaka’s
presence is in Japan.  Tazawa chose the
Red Sox over the Texas Rangers who reportedly offered over one million dollars
more than Boston. 

Jon
Daniels
must be feeling pretty bad. 
He’s been criticized ever since Tom
Hicks
hired him four years ago, for not acquiring enough pitching.  And when Daniels has spent money it has for
the most part a bad investment. 

jon daniels.jpg

Kevin
Millwood
was a bust, although if he can pitch well into July of next year,
the Texas may be able to trade him for some prospects.  Vicente Padilla
hasn’t been that bad, but it still was a bad signing considering what the
Rangers thought Padilla would accomplish with them.  Daniels has also traded away young pitchers
like Armando
Galarraga
, John
Danks
and Chris
Young
(who was packaged with Adrian Gonzalez).    He also of course traded away Edinson
Volquez but that’s another story.  The
“Edinson Volquez or Josh Hamilton” argument will go on for a long time.

I
think Jon Daniels deserves to be criticized because he has made a lot of
obvious bad trades and signings but if you look closely, you’ll figure out
Daniels had a sort of “revelation” in the 2006-2007 offseason.  It seems all of Daniels moves before 2007 season
were bad, but suddenly he figured something out and has gone on to make
splendid deals like trading away Mark Teixeira and Eric Gagne (to the Red Sox).

Now
Daniels has “GM momentum” swinging his way, but he still can’t catch a break
with pitching.  It’s not uncommon for
players to accept a slightly lower salary to play for the team they prefer.  But in most cases it is a veteran player
looking to sign the last contract of their career before retiring.  That is why Tazawa is an outlier. He’s only
22 years old, and yet he is already basing his contract options on
preference.  I wonder how much extra money
Texas would have needed to offer to get Tazawa. 
In the end, the teams have to remember he is just a 22 year old pitcher
who has only spent one year in professional baseball.  

knuckkleballer.jpg

You
have to admit he is unique.  He asked the
teams of the NPB (Japan’s MLB equivalent) not to draft him so he could play for
Nippon Oil of an independent league in Japan (the same league female
side-arming knuckleballer Eri Yoshida plays for).  
Now Tazawa is like any other amateur player from Mexico, Venezuela, or
the Dominican Republic or any other country that is not eligible for the
draft.  I am not sure about the
independent league Tazawa played in, but the reports are that he is at least
ready for Double-A.  I know Theo Epstein
would not pay Tazawa so much ($6 mil) if he wasn’t as ready for the majors
than, lets’ say Michael Bowden. 

For
a 22 year-old to take a lesser contract to play for his preferred team is
gutsy, but then again, this is why he chose to skip the Nippon Baseball
draft.  He wanted to experience the MLB
without having a NBL
team involved
in the deal.  And there
is no better way to experience Major League Baseball than playing on one of
America’s most successful baseball franchises and having the opportunity to
play with his hero Dice-K and fellow countryman Hideki Okajima.  He’ll be able to experience being a part of
Red Sox Nation and soak in all of it’s glory: 

dice-k teletubby.jpg

I
still feel sorry Jon Daniels.  Even if Kaz Fukumori
had turned into the next Takashi Saito
or Kazuhiro
Sasaki
, Texas just didn’t have the extra goods to get Tazawa.  However, there is a silver lining.  Adding Tazawa to the pitching mix makes it
more likely Theo Epstein will be willing to deal prospects like Michael Bowden
or Nick Hagadone
(who is much further down the road) to the Rangers for Gerald Laird
or Jarrod
Saltalamacchia
.  Personally, if I was
the Red Sox I wouldn’t make a deal for a Rangers catcher because they can just
sign Toby Hall
and David Ross.  Boston fans may want a big name they already
know, but a combination of George
Kottaras
, Dusty
Brown
, Toby Hall, and David Ross is a solid, less expensive option.  If Kottatas or Brown can do what they did at
AAA this year, then the Red Sox have two starting-worthy catchers.  If they both struggle then the Red Sox can
turn to a combo of a platoon of David Ross, who had .793 OPS against righties,
and Toby Hall who had a .920 OPS against lefties.  There really is no need to spend a bunch of
money on a catcher when the Red Sox need to use most, if not all of their money
on Mark Teixeira because they are by far the best
and most likely fit for him
.  Plus,
judging from this,
the Red Sox won’t have much extra money to spend this off-season.

Jon
Daniels can console in the fact that he has put together a farm system that has
a bunch of big pitching prospects like Neftali Feliz,
Blave Beavan,
Kasey Kiker,
Michael Main,
and Derek
Holland
. The system also holds some lesser-name prospects like Tommy Hunter,
Kennil Gomez,
Michael
Ballard,
Beau
Jones
, and Doug
Mathis
who could develop into successful big league starters.

That’s
it for now, but I’d like to round out my entry by a little piece of trivia:

Which
player had these statistics in 2008 when you combine his minor league, major
league, and winter league numbers together?

G        AB      OBP       HR      RBI     SB      TB      SLG      OPS                                 149   556     .431        51      151      28     385    .692     1.123

1 game in Rookie Ball 

102 games in Triple-A

31 games in the Majors    

14 games in the Dominican Winter League

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The
answer?  This guy.

Justice!

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That’s right.  My man Nelson Cruz (pictured) finally
got the call.  If you don’t get what
I am talking about, then read the very last paragraph of this
entry.  Cruz has been the best hitter in
the minors above rookie ball.  Yes, I
admit Roberto
Lopez
and Jaff
Decker
have been better in their limited time. 

nelson cruz.jpg

Cruz was on fire before his injury (which only kept him out for a
week), and after he came back.  I know
I’ve said it before, but Cruz’s
numbers
are SICK.  1.123 OPS?  Why should I even be surprised he’s having
such a great season?  He did the exact
same thing with Oklahoma last year! 

 

But everything isn’t as
great as it appears.  Will Nelson
actually start?  The answer, at least so
far, is no.  The worst part is the
Rangers have a very good argument of why Cruz is not as good as Marlon Byrd or Brandon Boggs.  Boggs is playing great, taking a lot of
walks and hitting for occasional power, although the lack of pop is seriously
noticeable compared to Cruz’s. 


Boggs and Byrd are playing
very well with a combined .386 OBP and 3 home runs within the past ten
games. 


brandon boggs.jpg

Boggs (left) has been playing
continually better since getting called up in late April.  He has a .382 OBP with two homers the past
ten games.  But here’s something
interesting.  Look at Brandon
Boggs’ numbers
at AAA.  Then compare
those stats to Nelson
Cruz’s stats
at AAA.  If Boggs can
be a serviceable starting player in the majors, consider how great Cruz can
be.  Ever since Cruz started putting up
these numbers, he’s never gotten called back up, before now.  Remember, the numbers Cruz put up last year
at AAA, were after his time with Texas.

 

Now it’s time to talk
Marlon Byrd.  Byrd enjoyed a breakout
season last year after Kenny Lofton left, but struggled early this season.  Byrd had a .268 OBP on June 1st
with only one home run.  But after
slowly getting better in June, Byrd went on a tear in late July and early
August. 

marlon byrd.jpg

Obviously, Byrd couldn’t keep
it up, but still is playing well with a .390 OBP and six RBI in his last ten
games.  I really don’t think Byrd is a
starting player on a championship team.

 

I don’t mean to say I
think the Rangers could be a championship team, but just commenting on the type of
a player Byrd is.  I believe that’s a
good way of evaluating a player.  Think
about it this way: if a clone of that player played at every position, could
that team’s offense be good enough win the World Series?  Don’t take it literally.  Juan Uribe is a below average starting
player, yet he was the shortstop for the 2005 Chi Sox.  But, evaluation wise, it’s a good question
to ask yourself when determining how good a player is. 

 

For me, out of all the
players, the most interesting to watch the rest of the season will be Nelson
Cruz.  This call up could make or break
his entire career.  If he fails, he could
be considered one of the greatest Four-A players of all time.

 

How about a crazy
prediction?  Actually, not really
crazy.  This is my true prediction
for Nelson Cruz the rest of the year:

 

OBP     HR            RBI            SB            SLG            OPS

.348     5                9                1            .527            .875

 

Let’s see how close I will
be…

Notes, Trades, and Thoughts

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With the treading deadline coming, and rumors swirling, I’ve
just put together some trades that could make sense for both teams, or maybe
what a team should ask for a specific player on the block.  Take Brian
Fuentes for example.  I think the Rockies need to trade him.  
The Rox need pitching too much to beat out the D-Backs or Dodgers for the NL
West.  The Rays have so many young pitchers in their system, that’s a
great match for the Rockies and Rays to trade with each other.  

      The
Rays, seriously, are absolutely stocked with young pitching.  I know the
saying “you can never have enough pitching” but if the
Rays want another player, they can afford to give up a pitcher.  Brian
Fuentes can make any bullpen a lot better, and for the Rays, the boost would be
huge.  The Rays have SO many young starting pitchers: Scott Kazmir, Andy
Sonnanstine, Edwin Jackson, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, David Price,
Chris Mason, Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson, and Jacob McGee.   If the
Rays would never trade any of these pitchers, there would be some talented pitchers
not in the Rays rotation. 

     That where the Rockies come in.   If
Chris Mason wasn’t having such a bad year in Durham, I’d propose a Mason for
Fuentes trade, straight up.  But Mason’s value is greatly diminished, so I
think the Rockies should focus on Jeff Niemann(pictured).

niemann2.jpg

In no way am I saying
that Niemann is a better prospect than Wade Davis, David Price, Jeremy
Hellickson, or Jacob McGee, but all of the names I just mentioned are not worth
giving up for just Brian Fuentes.  Niemann seems right.  He’s a big
guy, 6’10, who has been hampered by injuries early in his career, but over the
past two seasons at AAA he’s been healthy.  He’s expendable for the Rays,
but would be considered a large part of the future of the Rockies
rotation.  I had Niemann down to make the Rays rotation this spring over
Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel.  Jackson has done a fairly good job this year, so
I’ve been proven wrong, but Niemann is probably ready for the Majors now.

 

OK, so here is the list of trades I would make if I were the
GM of the Rockies, Rays or Nationals.

 

Brian Fuentes for Jeff Niemann

Tim Redding     for        Nick Stavinhoa and Mitchell Boggs

            Or                                            Or

Odalis Perez                 Tyler Herron, Jaret Hoffpauier, and
James Rapoport

                                                            Or

                                                    Jess Todd

                                                            Or

                                    Skip Schumaker and Daryl Jones

(Many different combinations involving these Cardinal prospects could be used, but these combos seem evenly balanced.)                 

 

Christian Guzman for            James
McDonald

                                                Or

                        Victor Garate, and Ivan De Jesus

                                                Or

                        Adolfo Gonzalez, Chin-lung Hu, and
Eric Stults

 

 

It may be a stretch to say the Nationals could get McDonald
for letting the Dodgers rent Guzman for half a year. 

james mcdonald.jpg

McDonald(pictured) is the best Dodgers pitching prospect behind Clayton Kershaw,
and most likely will hold that title after this year.  But because the N.L. West is so open for any team to break out,
the Dodgers may feel they need Guzman (which they do), so if the Nationals
could capitalize on the N.L. West situation and get a pitcher like James
McDonald that would be huge for the Nats future.

   The Nationals also need some middle
infield prospects, so Hu, Gonzalez and De Jesus could be huge assets.  The only legitimate
middle infield prospect in the Nats system is Esmailyn “Smilin” Gonzalez and he
is 18 years old playing in rookie ball.  Who will play shortstop if Guzman goes?  Either Pete Orr(I’m fine with that), or Yurendell De Caster.  De Caster has been good in Columbus and deserves a first shot at the bigs.

 

Speaking of the Nationals, why do they have four catchers?
They just placed Wily Mo Pena on the DL, and reinstated Johnny Estrada to the
active roster.  That means they have
Jesus Flores, Wil Nieves, Paul Lo Duca, and Johnny Estrada: all catchers.  I’m fine with a team having three catchers
as long as one of them is can play other positions.  But four!?  I mean, Lo
Duca can play left, and first base, I suppose, but he plays below average in
all of those positions, including catcher. 
Estrada has no upside whatsoever in my mind.  He has no power, no speed and is a very below average
defender.  I have no idea why the
Nationals didn’t do the sensible thing and call up an outfielder, since they
just put one on the DL.  Just call up
Mike Daniel!  I already talked about the
whole situation in this post.  https://mlblogsdistrictboy.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/nelsoncruz-thumb-274×4111.jpgarchives/2008/07/the_nationals_report_part_2.html

 

On the Blanton deal, I like how Outman(awesome name!) and Cardenas look for
the future, but the Phillies really needed someone like Blanton in their
rotation and they finally realized that if you are going to be a
championship team, Adam Eaton isn’t in your rotation.   One question I have is about Josh Outman.  The Phillies were grooming him as a reliever
when the trade occurred. 

outman.jpg

 

I really don’t know why Outman(pictured above) stopped starting.  His career was progressing very smoothly and
he ended the season with a successful call-up to AA.  But after five starts in AA this year, the Phillies moved Outman to the
bullpen.  His five starts were good and
he didn’t have trouble giving Reading innings but I guess the Phillies thought
in the long run Outman would be better as a reliever.  I’ll just let you see the numbers for yourself.  I just don’t get it.  Here are Outman’s stats. 

 

How bout some more random thoughts?   How about the job Eric Stults
has done since being moved to the rotation? 
It shows that not everyone is better suited as a reliever. 

 

And lastly, a little chatter from the farm.  I have attended some minor league games
recently and David Hernandez of the Baysox looked dominant.  I’ll be keeping an eye on his career, but
the last minor leaguer who I followed after being impressed at a game hasn’t been
doing so well, Rodolfo Encarnacion.

 

Collin Cowgill has cooled down since being promoted to Class
A South Bend(ARI) and Mike Loree(SF) has, for one start, not been pitching like
Superman.  Loree truly was incredible
and now matter what he does in his career, he already is guaranteed as the
topic for a “Cracked Bats” article in seventy years.   Whenever I talk about the minors in general I have to give a
shout-out to my favorite MILB team.   GO
SPIKES!

I know this was a really messy blog topic-wise but hey, that what the title said – “Notes, Thoughts, and Trades”

 

P.S.      Doesn’t seem
like a crime that Terry Tiffee, Brian Myrow(now a back-up in SD), John Lindsey, and Nelson Cruz are
still in AAA?  Especially Nelson
Cruz. 
Those are SICK, SICK, SICK
numbers.  Oh please Jon Daniels, trade
him to a team that isn’t stocked with outfielders.  Anywhere.  San Diego.  Perfect. 
Cruz to San Diego for some pitcher. 
Jeez I don’t know maybe Enrique Gonzalez?   It probably won’t happen. 
Silly me.  I’m just a dumb kid
who thought Texas could use some pitching….

Stuck in Oklahoma”

nelsoncruz.jpg