I promised a pic of Rusty at his induction into the Rangers Hall of Fame. As it so happens, once I downloaded them they were all pretty fuzzy (expensive camera <> good cameraman), and probably not worth looking at. I’ll try and pick one tomorrow and upload it, but don’t expect much.
By coincidence, I was taking a look at the Braves today to see how Tex was doing, and happened to see that David Justice is being inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame tomorrow (Friday). Justice happens to be my all-time favorite ballplayer, my interest in baseball began in his rookie year, when he was named Rookie Of The Year, and I followed his career ever since. For a few years I thought I was a Braves fan, but when he was traded to Cleveland I discovered I was a Justice fan, because I lost interest in the Braves and began following the Indians. By that time I moved to Texas and became a Rangers fan full-time, which is fortunate because otherwise I might have been forced to become a Yankees fan or Oakland fan when he went to those teams. I did see him play in Arlington a few times, my memory is not exactly clear but I’m pretty sure we saw him in all three of those uniforms. I have a few hundred Justice baseball cards, and continue to add to my collection of Justice stuff, even though he’s been retired for years. Never a Baseball Hall of Famer, but certainly deserves the Braves Hall, just like Rusty deserves the Rangers Hall. So naturally I’m pretty darn pleased to have seen Rusty inducted last week, and to know about Justice this week.
I was looking to see how Tex was doing out of curiosity, because I keep hearing his name pop up. In 14 games in Atlanta, he has 5 home runs and 15 RBI, and is generally doing pretty well. Mahay has allowed just one run in 8 innings, so the Braves have to be pleased with their immediate return on the trade, even though they’ve only gone 8-6 and are still hanging about 3 games back of the Mets. I’d like to see Tex do well, I think. Not as much as I wanted Pudge to win the World Series with the Marlins, but still pretty much. Like I said, too soon to judge the trade, but there are already rumblings about Salty’s lack of hitting so far. You have to remember he’s still only 22, and has a lot of upside, and we’re only two weeks into this thing. Give it a couple of years and see how it turns out. I still think the Rangers will end up with the better end of the deal in the long run.
Speaking of the trades, Gagne has been stinking up the joint in Boston, and while they’re also 8-6 since he’s been there, the Yankees are closing, gaining 1.5 games in those two weeks to sit 5.5 back today. Gagne’s ERA is 12.60 in 5 innings, and it just reminds me of earlier in the year, when he had to come into a game in the 8th, and didn’t know what to do, and his comments about wanting to be a closer. There are a lot of cases where guys have been moved into the closer’s role and fallen apart, but I bet there aren’t too many where they’ve moved out of that role and not kept up. You have to have a certain mentality to close, I guess Gagne’s mentality is too much that way so he can’t handle not closing. It will be interesting to see how he fares the rest of the way. Also interesting is all that talk about bringing him back next year, would we want to do that now that CJ has the job, or do we keep faith in CJ and forget about Gagne?
One of the things I’ve been meaning to do is look back at the long run of a trade, specifically Carlos Pena. In the olden days, A-Rod used him as one of the reasons for coming to Arlington (the 253rd millionth reason, I guess), saying that the Rangers had big young prospects like Pena. Not long after, the Rangers dealt him to Oakland with Mike Venafro, for Gerald Laird, Ryan Ludwick, Jason Hart and Mario Ramos. At the time Pena was a top prospect, and it felt like a loss in the immediate aftermath. Ramos was rumored to be good, but the others were just run of the mill prospects.
In the end, they all played in the majors, although Hart and Ramos just got a cup of coffee each and were effectively worthless. Ludwick would get little time in Arlington and then go on to Cleveland and now St Louis, where he’s proving to be right around an average ballplayer, and since he’s only 28 could turn out to have a fairly long, fairly average career. Venafro bounced around, but has only had 68 major league innings in 6 years, so he was effectively worth little after the trade. Ultimately Pena would go here, there and everywhere, having gone from Texas to Oakland to Detroit for a few years to a minor league stint with the Yankees to a short time in Boston and now with the Devil Rays. He’s also only 29, and has definitely been above average wherever he’s been (career OPS+ of 114), but he hasn’t really had the opportunity to keep a job anywhere. His career Runs Created is 325, of which just 16 were with Oakland.
The Rangers of course got Laird as the big chip, and he’s the only player still with the team he was traded to back in 2002. He’s also been a backup for years, in fact this year is now the most he’s played in a single season. His career RC is 94. Rumors are all around that Salty is going to take the catching job, and Laird will be traded (the Cubs keep coming up in those rumors).
Back in the day that trade was huge, comparable to the Tex trade this year for size although it was all prospects. The difference being they were all high level prospects (none of the players coming from Oakland had played in the majors, Pena had just a few games with Texas, and although Venafro had three years in the Rangers bullpen he hadn’t set the world on fire, he was probably the equivalent of Mahay in the Tex trade), whereas with Tex there were some major leaguers and some low level prospects traded. As I said Pena was considered a huge prospect, and although he’s been decent he certainly hasn’t set the world on fire. Laird has also been decent but less so. Whenever teams talk about trades they talk about win-win situations, and challenge trades. This was a challenge trade, basically saying we’ll take your prospects and you take ours, and see who works out. For Oakland they basically got nothing out of it, a year of little Venafro and half a year of Pena (although they did turn him into a big trade which mostly just lost them Bonderman). For the Rangers three of the players were gone in a year, but one is still hanging around trying to prove himself. You’d call it a loss-loss trade, I think, but that does a disservice to Gerald, so maybe you’d say it went about 60-40 in the Rangers favor.
Even after all this time, judging the outcome of the trade is difficult. To look back just two weeks and say that you’re waiting for the Tex trade to help the team is disingenuous at best, from the Rangers standpoint. I read a review of the Tex trade right after it happened, it said that the Braves will win the trade if they make the playoffs this year, but the Rangers will win if one or more of the prospects make the majors. Let’s revisit in about five years, which may be the timeline for some of those prospects to get here.