ESPN’s poll on the trade deadline says the Braves and Red Sox both handily beat the Rangers in their trades. It also says only 11% think the Rangers “won” the trade deadline. Jayson Stark’s article pretty much says the same when reviewing each trade, but then says Jon Daniels gets an A for everything he did. Huh? Part of the problem is that if you ask the question “Who got the better of the deal, Braves or Rangers?”, more folks are going to put Braves, simply because they’re a more famous/better known team. Same with the Red Sox. If you had a third option, for “Both”, or “Neither”, I think you’d get a lot more votes for that. It’s simply the case that there must be a winner and a loser, instead of both teams being able to come out looking good.
So did the Rangers come out looking good today? On Friday I felt they did really well, getting a decent prospect for 40 year old rent-a-player Kenny Lofton. Yesterday I thought they did pretty good, getting four players for Tex, three of whom were the Braves’ top three prospects. Today that was amended slightly, because the Braves added another player to the list, Beau Jones, which makes it a little better for Texas. The only thing I know about Jones is what Baseball Prospectus said, that he’s got a lot of heat to his fastball, all he needs to do is learn how to throw it over the plate. So you’ve got to be fairly happy about the Tex deal from a Texas standpoint.
And then there’s Gagne. One of the first things I read about this deal was how the Rangers didn’t get anything good for him, and how the Red Sox were happy because they’d kept all their top prospects. Good point. Could they have gone for a little more quality and a little less quantity? Overall, are nine prospects worth four major leaguers? In the Gagne case, they appear to be hedging their bets, working along the lines of “put more fish in the barrel and you’re more likely to hit one”. If you’re not going to get a Buchholz, or Ellsbury, or something decent out of the Yankees, then is it smarter to play multiple choice instead? Time will tell. I like Kason Gabbard, for some reason I thought he’d thrown seven shutout innings against the Rangers in May, that was wishful thinking, because it was actually three runs in 5.2 innings, although he did get the win. In 66 career innings, he has given up 52 hits (good), 34 walks (not good), 44 strikeouts (decent), 3 home runs (good, especially at TBIA), and has a 3.65 ERA. Granted, that will go up at the Ballpark, especially once Mark Connor starts to ruin him, but he’s going to slot into the rotation, give us a number three or four starter for next year, and is another 25 year old yet to reach his potential. The other two players we got from Boston I don’t know, but for 30 innings of Gagne I think we got ourselves a pretty good player.
What surprised me was that Hicks came out today and said that on July 15 he had offered Tex an 8 year, 140 million dollar contract extension and was turned down. That is proof that Tex wanted out of town. The surprising part is that the offer was not leaked before the trade deadline. I think if it had been, it might have affected his trade status, because teams would have offered less knowing the Rangers had to deal him. But it also would have taken some of the heat off the Rangers, because the fans would have seen that and said “get rid of the bum”. I love Tex, but his mind was clearly elsewhere. I hope he doesn’t end up regretting it in a Juan Gonzalez kind of way, Gonzo turned down similar years and dollars from Detroit and then injured his career away.
Hicks also said they had been negotiating with Gagne, but couldn’t get together on years and dollars. With luck, we can work on him in the offseason, and bring him back next year, when we might be slightly more competitive. The fear is of moving up the timetable on winning, which is still at least three years away, and blowing money and players we shouldn’t be to try and win now.
Sosa is still a Ranger. I wonder if they will waive him right away, get him through waivers so they can trade him to anyone, or at least have someone claim him and get him off our hands. Hicks says they won’t release him, “I won’t do that to Sammy”, which tells you why he’s an owner, not a GM, and why he’s a bad owner too. Sometimes you have to cut the famous players, even the ones with poor reputations.
Interesting quotes from both Millwood and Michael Young, once again not wanting to be part of rebuilding. Could their trade time be coming soon? Don’t want to put the cart before the horse, but you’ve got to think that if you don’t do something good in another year, their complaints are going to increase as time goes by.
How do you explain a trade to a two year old? All season we’ve gotten Josh into the Rangers, so much so that he will tell you that Michael Young is his favorite player, Frank Catalanotto (or rather, Catalano in two year old language) is Mummy’s favorite, and Mark Teixeira (pronounced very well) is Daddy’s favorite. We tried to talk to him about it today, but I don’t think he got that Tex is gone. All he knows is that there are two teams in baseball, the Rangers and the Other Team, and telling him that Tex now plays for the other team didn’t work too well. Neither did telling him that Daddy needs a new favorite player, I think he was more upset by that than the idea that Tex is gone.
Speaking of, who is Daddy’s new favorite? We were talking about it, and I think I ended up saying McCarthy, although I don’t know if a pitcher should be favorite, since he doesn’t play every day. Laird, although he may be on the outs now that we have Salty. Salty could be it (I love the fact that he has “Salty” printed on his batting gloves), but you shouldn’t go for a guy you just met a day ago, even if you know he’ll be around for years (hmm, that’s advice for a lot of people, not just for a favorite ballplayer). Salty might be it in the future, but not right now. Maybe Nelson Cruz, who will be my favorite if he can keep up what he’s been doing the last few days. Maybe Marlon Byrd, if he’s here for more than a couple of months. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Maybe I just need to wait and see who pops out and surprises me. I do think I want a Saltalamacchia t-shirt though, just to see what those tiny letters look like, and to see people try and pronounce it. Kudos to the Rangers equipment manager for getting him a shirt to wear today when he showed up at the game. In fact, kudos to Salty for getting there, I know players have three days to report after a trade, so he looks eager to get on with things, not necessarily an expected situation for a guy traded from a pennant race to a last place team. I really wanted him to pinch hit tonight, when we had the bases loaded and Wilkerson coming up, but in hindsight that would have been a lot of pressure for him to face. Interestingly, Tex arrived in Atlanta mid-game too, but wasn’t needed there as the Braves pounded out a bunch of runs.
The Rangers actually played a game today, too, and ended up with a nice win. With all the attention firmly on trades, McCarthy went out and had a good start, his third game score of 60 this year, just behind his best of 61. He pitched 6.2 innings, the first time he’d gone over six all year. He walked three, which was a little too much, but he kept them down even with that, only giving up a solo home run. Nice work. And good by the bullpen too, especially CJ Wilson pitching four outs for his first save of the year. You know, Gagne only had one save of more than one inning all year.
So what’s next? For the Rangers there’s now nothing left in the season except to try and play well the rest of the way. There are no drafts or trade deadlines or anything like that out there. No chance of October baseball. Just time to get some players bedded in to the team, see who is worth keeping for next year and who is going to be gone. See what minor leaguers will be ready to step up. See if Gabbard can make the rotation better. See if Rheinecker can do the same. Work out what happens at catcher/ first base. Get Botts some playing time. Hopefully watch some more winning baseball, but not too much that we earn yet another season of mediocrity (and not too much that we end up getting to the 16th draft pick, meaning that we lose a first rounder if we sign a decent free agent). The Rangers had their first winning July since 2001, which is a sign of improvement, but we’re not working on now, we’re working on next April, getting out of the gate much better than this year and maybe contending with what we have, while sticking with JD’s one year plan in the bigs and five year plan in the minors. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Two plans to execute, always a good idea.