Ring tone sounds (“Canary in a Coal Mine” by the Police). Ruben picks up his phone.
“R.A.J. here, yo. Who dis?”
“Jon! What up, Broseph?!? Thanks for calling back! Cole pitched yesterday.”
“Yeah, man. I know. Whatcha got, Ruben?”
“He was really good and now I want a lot more for him.”
“Ruben, you didn’t say you’d take less after those two eggs he laid the two times before.”
“We’ve gone down this path, and you know what we’ll give up and what we won’t.”
“Deal with us or don’t. We both need to move on.”
“All the writers are saying you guys are the frontrunners!”
“I think I need to ask Pat and Andy that.”
“Have I what?”
“One of those writers, Ken Something, said he has sources telling him there’s ‘momentum building toward [a] Hamels trade’ and that ‘offers have improved since [the] no-hitter’ and that ‘teams [are] asking for less money [and] offering better players.’ Like how I added those bracket-y things?”
“I have a good idea where that source came from, Ruben.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Chief.”
“Why’d you call, Ruben?”
“Dodgers! Cubs! Giants! Yankees! Red Sox!”
“What if Friedman is targeting a reunion with Price? Would cost less since he’s a rental, plus I bet they think they can extend him in the winter. Stark says they’re the favorites along with us on Cole — this makes more sense for us because we’re more focused on the long term that LA is. They’re in on rental pitchers we’d never consider. They’re also interested in Gallardo and he’d cost exponentially less in prospects.”
“Gallardo has had a couple rough ones lately.”
“As did Cole, before yesterday.”
“What if Maddon is pushing for Price? Or Shields?”
“No-trade clause. Red Sox, too.”
“And the Yankees can’t give you what you want, especially if Severino and Judge and Bird are off the table.”
“Hey, Boss, there’s a local writer here in Philly, Jim Salisbury or something, who just wrote: ‘For beleaguered general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who did not accompany the team to Chicago, Christmas came on July 25.’ A couple things about that, Dude, just so you don’t get the wrong idea . . . . ”
“First, who’s he calling a B Leaguer? I played in THE BIGS, man.”
“Second, I didn’t understand the Christmas thing, but Pat told someone at the Hall of Fame ceremonies that Cole’s ‘price just went up’ after his no-hitter. Did you know Cole threw a no-hitter?”
“Anyway, I asked Andy what that meant and he said that’s what the Christmas thing was about. I have no idea what he’s talking about but I wanted to make sure you knew I don’t really think yesterday was Christmas.”
“OK, man. Gotcha.”
“Trade for Cole, Jon. [sobs] Get him out of the National League, Jon.”
“Well, I can help you out there, but you gotta help me, too.”
“I know he hasn’t pitched well lately — I saw his ERA is 8.22 over his last three starts . . . ”
“Yeah, well . . . ”
“I know he’ll bounce back, Jon. He’s a good pitcher. He’s good at pitching.”
“He’s nails in the post-season!”
“And I know he threw 129 pitches yesterday, but know what he did last time he followed up a 120-pitch effort?”
“Not sure. Was hoping you could tell me.”
“There are websites, Ruben.”
“What does 7-4-0-0-1-12 mean, Boss?”
“Is that what he did after his last 120-pitch game?”
“Last year he hit 120 pitches four times. The totals for the four starts after those: 29.2-19-4-4-5-35. I don’t think that’s terrible.”
“Nomar Mazara homered yesterday, Jon.”
“Give him to me!!”
“Don’t think so, Ruben. But what’s the whole deal? Money too.”
“You think I’m gonna tell you that?!?”
“That’s how this works.”
“The writers in your town are saying the deal would have to include Mazara or Alfaro.”
“Is that true?”
“You think I’m gonna tell you that?!?”
“Jeff Passan says the ‘industry sentiment has Rangers as favorites for Cole Hamels. Long-term motivation, prospects to swing a deal, and Hamels can’t block trade.’ How about that?”
“It’s sort of up to you, Ruben.”
“That Salisbury dude says you guys are in the lead on this. So does Danny Knobler.”
“Again, Ruben . . . . ”
“Johnny Cueto is off the market — one less pitcher I gotta compete with!”
“And one less team that the Dodgers, Cubs, Giants, Yankees, and Red Sox have to compete with to get their guy.”
“See what the Reds got for Cueto?”
“Yep. Solid haul.”
“I’m offering a better package.”
“As you should.”
“As I have.”
“And that Ken guy wrote that Houston had a scout at Cole’s game yesterday, too. He said the Astros are ‘staying on [the] periphery, knowing that not many teams can offer what [the] Phillies want.’ Houston, too, Jon — they’re in!”
“One, no-trade clause. Two, circle back on the last part of Rosenthal’s comment. That’s my leverage, not yours.”
[A different voice is heard. Quiet. Almost a whisper.]
“Hey, man. Nice job yesterday.”
“Get me out of here, Jon.”
“We’re trying to line up, Cole. Up to your bosses if it works out.”
“Get me out of here, Jon. Play the X.”
“Looking at it, man.”
“I want to play with Yu, man.”
“That would be the idea. Hear ya.”
“My next start is Friday. The trade deadline expires a few hours before it. Get me out of here.”
“We want you here, man. If it makes sense.”
“Ruben is twirling my moustache. Get me out of here. And make Ruben stop twirling my moustache.”
“Working on it.”
[scampering metal cleats heard, at diminishing volumes]
“Jon, still there?”
“Never left, Ruben.”
“Back atcha in a bit — got a couple national writers to go feed first!”
“I’ll be here.”
This will only interest you if you have a son who will be an 11U ballplayer this fall and next spring, or know of one.
For everyone else, I’ll have a TROT COFFEY rumor dump out later this morning, or possibly around lunchtime.
** Dallas Pelicans 11U (AAA/Majors) Fall 2015 Tryouts **
The Dallas Pelicans 11U (AAA/Majors) Select tournament team is conducting tryouts on a private workout basis to complete our roster for the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 seasons. (A public tryout may follow soon if the roster is not completed by way of the private workouts.) If your son (DOB 5/1/04 – 4/30/05) is a frontline ballplayer interested in an opportunity to join our team, please contact Jamey Newberg at JNewberg@vilolaw.com or GJSneaker@sbcglobal.net or 214-392-3968.
In our two years of existence, the Pelicans have played strictly tournament ball at the AAA and Majors levels, winning 70 games and losing only 25. In 2014, we finished the season taking second place in the 76-team AAYBA World Series, which featured teams from Texas and neighboring states. In 2015, we took third place in the same World Series, this time featuring 62 teams.
We have had tremendous success in our two years of play and are looking to build on that. We have our own dedicated facilities at Richardson High School and one of the finest head coaches in North Texas, Mike Tovar, the varsity head coach at RHS. Coach Tovar has 30 years of coaching experience, and his mission as far as select baseball is concerned is to develop our players, starting at this age, into impact high school players, if not more, capable of playing multiple positions. Our pitching coach, Chris Callicutt, pitched four years of college ball and has been a tremendous addition to the Pelicans this past year.
The Pelicans pride ourselves on putting our uniform on good kids from good families, athletes with strong baseball IQ and character and a willingness to work and grow as baseball players and teammates. (Allowances are made for multi-sport athletes who are playing other sports in the fall.) Emphasis is on learning to compete and to play the game right and with respect. Your son will be challenged to reach the next level, constantly.
Once again, for more information regarding our program or philosophy, or questions regarding tryouts, please contact Jamey Newberg at JNewberg@vilolaw.com or GJSneaker@sbcglobal.net or 214-392-3968. Thanks.
Dallas Pelicans-Tovar 11U
It was July 16, 2010, and it was one of those moments in Rangers history that we’ll never forget.
A month short of a decade earlier, on August 16, 2000, there was another landmark Rangers moment that may not have the staying power but will stick with me forever.
Last night we were treated, sort of, to both.
The odds of a Shin-Soo Choo cycle, objectively speaking, shouldn’t be as long as they were for the comically slow Bengie Molina, whose 13-year career included six triples (Choo has 24 in 11 seasons), but the way Choo has been going at the plate, extra-base hits and multi-hit games of any sort have felt like longshots lately, and with Choo due to lead off the ninth, needing just the three-bagger, and Delino DeShields slated to hit fourth in the frame, lacking just a home run for his own cycle, I know which of the two I had greater hopes for.
Brian Sikorski threw seven scoreless innings against the juggernaut Yankees in what was the smallish right-handed journeyman’s big league debut, a feat he wouldn’t come close to replicating in any of his remaining four big league starts, though I haven’t taken the time to check in on any of the 10 seasons he spent pitching in Japan.
Matt Harrison dealing six scoreless at Coors Field isn’t the same thing, of course, on any number of levels, but the odds of him ever pitching again after what he’s gone through medically, and then putting up a string of zeroes like that in just his second start back, in that ballpark with that stuff, couldn’t have been much more predictable a year ago, or probably even a week ago, than what Sikorski did in his 26-year-old debut.
The rumor artillery has the Rangers very much in on Cole Hamels (with the Dodgers, Cubs, and Astros most notably in the mix), listening concomitantly on Yovani Gallardo, and “drawing significant interest” (according to Fox Sports columnist Ken Rosenthal) in Mitch Moreland, though they “aren’t motivated to trade him [and] likely would want at least a young starting pitcher” in return.
But, man, a Bengie and a Sikorski on the same night? Very cool distraction.
Evan Grant (Dallas Morning News) thinks the Phillies, for Hamels, would be willing to take two of Nomar Mazara, Jorge Alfaro, and Chi Chi Gonzalez, plus “something below it.”
Two front office members and three scouts were asked by Baseball Prospectus’s Christopher Crawford which corner outfielder prospect in baseball they would take to start a franchise with.
Four of the five said Mazara (the fifth had him as his runner-up).
I would like to trade for Hamels and his 2016, 2017, 2018, and possibly 2019 seasons. Give me a starting five of Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, and maybe Chi Chi Gonzalez, maybe Jake Thompson, maybe Nick Martinez, maybe Jerad Eickhoff, maybe Alec Asher.
Maybe Matt Harrison.
I want Hamels for those three or four seasons, and I want Nomar Mazara playing behind him and hitting in support.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I think Texas can put together a package for Hamels that doesn’t include Mazara and doesn’t include Gonzalez and doesn’t include Rougned Odor or Joey Gallo and would still be painful for another team to beat.
But yeah, maybe I’m crazy.
But I doubt as crazy as a Bengie and a Sikorski on the same night.
I stretched out, motionless, in the pool, having given up on Dallas Keuchel and Will Little’s masterpiece two runs shy of its final, and as I settled in towards the second nap of the day, I thought.
I thought about advancing the ball in a couple of the cases I’m handling, and advancing the ball with our select baseball team. I thought about what I wanted to write next. About Pluto. About dinner.
And about what Yovani Gallardo might have been thinking about.
It was a third straight lackluster effort for the 29-year-old, following a run of eight starts (0.88 ERA, .169/.236/.186 opponents’ slash) in which few other than Zack Greinke were better, and it comes at a time when the Rangers are trying to right themselves against an important baseball clock and when Gallardo has to be thinking about that clock himself.
Whether the righthander wants to be here in 2016 or not, he would stand to benefit from spending the end of this season elsewhere — as long as he pitches well (though that’s true whether he remains a Ranger or not) — because if he’s traded, it eliminates the possibility that he can be tendered a qualifying offer this winter and as a result it opens up his market. Teams eyeing the crop of free agent starters this off-season will factor in which of them will cost them a first- or second-round pick, and which won’t.
Gallardo becomes more valuable if the team he finishes the season with can’t attach a draft pick to his price tag by tendering an offer. And if he doesn’t pitch for the same team all year, a qualifying offer is prohibited.
He can always come back — if he and the Rangers both want that — whether he finishes 2015 here or somewhere else.
Gallardo’s next start, presumably Saturday in Anaheim, is big. It’s big because Texas has a week and a half to figure some important things out, and because Gallardo has a chance to impact the biggest contract of his career, the latter of which may actually not be true but I bet it’s something he ponders as he lays in a pool, thinking.
Six great weeks aren’t erased by one mediocre start, or three, but the reality is there’s a snapshot box that, right or wrong, scouts and GM’s do tend to check off — Matt Garza was on a 5-0, 1.24 (.210/.264/.302) run over six starts when the Cubs got C.J. Edwards, Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm, and Mike Olt for him two years ago — and it does tend to drive teams wanting to believe they’re getting a guy who’s locked in.
Gallardo hasn’t pitched in the post-season in four years and I’m sure, like any veteran staring at 30, getting back there is near the top of the list of his baseball priorities. He might welcome a trade over the next 11 days because it would theoretically thrust him more decisively into a pennant race. He might welcome a trade because it would make him more marketable this winter, as long as he does his job on the mound in the meantime.
The one thing Gallardo can control before the season ends, to a point, is how he performs. He’ll get his next chance this weekend against the Angels (who, as far as I can tell, is one of only two teams he’s never faced), and then once more against the Yankees in Arlington before the Rangers’ best chance to move him, if that’s their objective, hits its procedural deadline.
There’s no guarantee these next two Gallardo starts will come in a Texas uniform, of course. But he’s probably not the first choice in this market for contending teams hunting arms, and even if he’s Door Number Two or Three for someone out there, those teams will probably want to see him in Anaheim, at least, while they work the phones on pitchers like Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir and maybe even David Price and James Shields.
Interesting week and a half ahead. For the team and its best pitcher.
Apologies for being so absent lately.
I’ve seen a whole lot of baseball these last eight days — most of it spectacularly good, with a dose of awful sprinkled in that’s easily washed off — and I should be back now to my semi-normal (that is, predictably erratic) perch at a keyboard, as one of big league baseball’s most meaningful calendar circles approaches.
I want to congratulate the 10 boys who have grown so much in the game of baseball under the guidance of Coach Mike Tovar and Coach Chris “Chilli” Callicutt, learning about technique and about approach, and about character and integrity, all of which persists in different forms, and will continue to pay off between the lines, and in so many other ways whenever it is that each of them is done suiting up, and one day finds himself teaching his own kids.
The Dallas Pelicans just finished going 7-1 in the AAYBA 10U World Series, earning the number one seed in the Platinum Division out of 62 teams coming out of pool play, and ultimately taking third place overall. The team scored 52 runs and allowed 12 in those eight games, but there were other awesome moments this week that happened when the scoreboards were turned off, moments of character-building and understanding what it means to respect the game and how to handle when others don’t, that will endure far longer than any of those numbers.
Hats off to Mike.
And hats off to Jeff Banister.
I don’t know if last night’s ninth inning galvanizes this Rangers team, or if over the next week an unwanted reality settles in further and the club ends up moving veterans for prospects in the kind of deal(s) that are aimed primarily improving a season other than 2015, but it further galvanized my own certainty that Texas has the right leading man.
I wanted to title this entry “The Spirit of 7 to 6,” after watching Rougie stepping up and Banny stepping in, but I also wanted to explain for a second why I’ve been away.
This is another of those reports that I know will mean more to me in five years or 15 than it does to almost all of you this minute. I know.
But I woke up this morning thinking about baseball — not unusual — and the thing I wanted to say about the two teams I care most about is this:
Give me Mike Tovar.
And give me Jeff Banister.
So the National League has won three of the last 19 All-Star Games.
Two of which were in 2010 and 2011.
Because of course.
Just 25 days ago, the Rangers were half a game out of a Wild Card spot, having won games started by Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale, with Adrian Beltre nearing activation, and Josh Hamilton and Delino DeShields and Matt Harrison and Martin Perez not far behind.
Since then: A 5-15 record, a 5.5-game deficit in the race to be the road team in the Wild Card game, five teams to pass to get there, and an All-Star Break during which we’re talking about selling in a couple weeks, a feeling of sports-gloom that might have been freeze-dried at the moment of one of the worst defensive displays this team has provided in a long time.
Things can reverse quickly — they did in the last 25 days — but front offices aren’t afforded the luxury of that kind of patience in mid-July. There are 17 days left before impact trades get a lot more difficult. Teams deciding whether to sell are laying groundwork now to execute on that, even if fortunes begin to change and they end up choosing a different direction.
Padres GM A.J. Preller said something interesting to the San Diego media last week, at a time when his club was a few games further from a playoff spot than Texas was: “I think it’s that type of year where you’re evaluating and the focus is on being prepared for the next three weeks and being prepared for different scenarios. It’s not a record thing from our standpoint, but what the value is on the market, if we think there’s going to be good deals, whether that’s adding to the club or changing the look of the club a little bit, that’s what this time of year is for. We’re still in the process of evaluating that.”
This is not to suggest that the Padres are in the same immediate or big-picture situation as Texas is — they are not — and it’s not to suggest that Preller and Daniels see things the same way just because they operated in the same war rooms here for years, but there’s a point there that must be factored in.
Those Bleacher Report lists and Sunday notes columns drive traffic, but to label teams as “buyers” or “sellers” this time of year is something that reporters and bloggers are generally quicker to do than general managers.
That is, there’s no reason Texas couldn’t trade Wandy Rodriguez for a second-tier prospect even if it was on a 15-5 run right now and marching toward the playoffs, rather than the opposite.
And, flagging as the club is right now, it can’t be ruled out that the Rangers attempt to package four prospects for Cole Hamels, even if the mirror tells baseball operations this isn’t the year for the club on the field.
Just a week ago, Scott Miller (Bleacher Report) predicted, based on “sources familiar with the Phillies’ thinking,” that the Dodgers were most likely to land Hamels, followed by the Rangers, and then the Yankees. All three teams are outside the lefthander’s limited no-trade protection, thus unimpeded from making a trade, at least procedurally.
As for the other hurdle — the cost — who knows? Ruben Amaro Jr. has to get this trade right, assuming he’s even calling the shots now that Andy MacPhail has arrived.
Before the 2008 season MacPhail, then Baltimore’s GM, traded 28-year-old left-handed starter Erik Bedard, coming off a top 5 Cy Young finish, to Seattle. In return, he got 22-year-old outfielder Adam Jones, who’d had Mariners cups of coffee in 2006 and 2007; blue chip minor league prospect Chris Tillman, who at age 19 was ready for AA; set-up reliever George Sherrill, who would close games for the Orioles for two seasons; and two other prospects.
Baltimore has gotten six All-Star Games out of Jones and one out of Tillman, and got one out of Sherrill before flipping him for prospects a year and a half later.
Bedard, beset by shoulder injuries, pitched three half-seasons for Seattle over four years. But that’s beside the point.
The Phillies have to do better with Hamels than the Orioles did with Bedard, and they probably will — as long as they decide once and for all to move him.
But looking at Bedard’s February 2008 market isn’t really fair or instructive, because landscapes change in terms of the value of prospects and player control. (Hamels is under contract for 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, with a 2019 club option that could vest.) In a sense, there’s never been a player like Hamels, at his age and his track record with his controllability and the amount of dollars the Phillies might have to kick in to get the players they want.
Still, market parameters get set, and while February 2008 is ancient baseball trade history, last July isn’t, and it might be worth looking at what starting pitchers fetched in trade a year ago.
The Cubs traded righthanders Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and Dan Straily (a terrible A’s deal out-terribled only by their Josh Donaldson trade with Toronto four months later).
(Oakland moved Samardzija a month after dealing Donaldson, sending the righthander to the White Sox for Marcus Semien and three lessers. The Cubs signed Hammel back in the winter, with the A’s getting no compensation since he’d been with them for less than a complete season.)
Boston traded lefthander Jon Lester (and corner bat Jonny Gomes) to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes.
Boston also traded righthander Jake Peavy to San Francisco for lefthander Edwin Escobar and righthander Heath Hembree.
Boston also traded righthander John Lackey, along with lefthander Corey Littrell, to St. Louis for righthander Joe Kelly and corner bat Allen Craig, but the money in that deal (especially Lackey’s and Craig’s) makes that one almost useless as precedent.
The Rays traded lefthander David Price in a three-team deal with Detroit and Seattle that netted them lefthander Drew Smyly and infielders Willy Adames and Nick Franklin.
Arizona traded righthander Brandon McCarthy to the Yankees for lefthander Vidal Nuno.
Cleveland traded righthander Justin Masterson to St. Louis for outfielder James Ramsey.
Oakland traded lefthander Tommy Milone to Minnesota for outfielder Sam Fuld.
Houston traded righthander Jarred Cosart, infielder Kike Hernandez, and outfielder Austin Wates to Miami for outfielder Jake Marisnick, third baseman Colin Moran, high-end pitching prospect Francis Martes, and the competitive balance draft pick the Astros would use to take outfielder Daz Cameron last month.
Boston traded lefty Andrew Miller to Baltimore for impressive young southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez.
San Diego shipped righties Huston Street and Trevor Gott to the Angels, who somehow got the deal done by casting off four basically ordinary minor leaguers to the Padres.
Texas traded righty Joakim Soria to Detroit for righthanders Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel (the latter of whom the Rangers used to get Yovani Gallardo later from Milwaukee), and righty Jason Frasor to Kansas City for righty Spencer Patton.
What does the above tell us about Hamels’s market? Is he worth parting with Nomar Mazara and Jorge Alfaro, which Jon Heyman (CBS Sports) suggests Philadelphia has asked for? Has Nick Williams’s season — including an insanely hot July (.440/.481/.640 and an eye-opening Futures Game showing) — don’t discount that, as silly-small as the samples are — enabled Texas to market him on Mazara’s tier, or close enough to it to change the conversation?
Could Texas go in the other direction and see if Gallardo can attract a package like the one the A’s gave up for Samardzija and Hammel, or the one the Marlins gave up for Cosart? Gallardo’s situation isn’t really similar to Samardzija/Hammel or Cosart — or Hamels — but he’s pitching extremely well and eating innings, and in July that’s worth a lot to a contender. His value has to be more right now than the Knebel-Luis Sardinas-Marcos Diplan package Texas gave up to get him, and more than the supplemental first-round pick the club could get by not trading him and tendering a qualifying offer this winter, should he sign somewhere else.
And if the Rangers trade Gallardo, they could sign him right back in the winter without losing a draft pick, just as the Cubs did with Hammel last winter.
Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports) suggests trading Gallardo while also acquiring Hamels can’t be ruled out.
Look at what McCarthy was doing at the time the Diamondbacks moved him for Nuno. Could Texas get something useful for Rodriguez, who’s been very good away from Arlington and who pitched a pretty good game at home on Friday?
Where does James Shields fit in all of this?
Jon Daniels told reporters that he’s looking for a right-handed bat and help in the bullpen right now, both of which make clear sense.
But it also makes sense, this time of year, to look hard at trades involving starting pitchers, whether you’ve got one or two to move or a couple you’ve got your eyes on picking up.
Over the last few weeks, the prospects for 2015 have grown dimmer in Arlington, presumably forcing the Rangers to think about shopping frontline pitching rather than adding it. We’re at the point on the calendar when decisions along those lines need to be made.
But the lines aren’t as bright as they might seem, and as the evaluation process moves forward, give the Rangers’ needs in the short term and long, and where their excesses are, the question this July is probably less whether Texas is a buyer or seller, and more whether this is a year in which the club could be both, and impactfully so.
Except for Beasley.
And Sam Ryan.
This may be safe for work, but probably not your equilibrium. Click at your own peril.
If Emily Jones, Anthony Andro, and Jeff Wilson are in charge of anything you care about, you’re in good shape.
Congrats to the entire Do It for Durrett team. Awesome event last night.
Good people doing good.
It was five years ago today.
Talks between the Mariners and Yankees hit a snag, with Seattle making some sort of reference to the medicals on AA second baseman David Adams’s ankle that DeAndre Jordan would have approved of, and Texas swooped in and made Justin Smoak available once and for all, shipping the first baseman along with righthander Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke and AA second baseman Matt Lawson to Seattle for Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe.
Five years ago today.
So much Rangers history since.
Including an ALDS clincher that year — the Rangers’ first ever — at Tampa Bay, ending with Cliff marching toward Bengie as the final ball in play catapulted in the direction of Elvis’s glove.
And another ALDS clincher one year later, again at Tampa Bay, a game pitting Matt Harrison against Rays righthander Jeremy Hellickson. Adrian Beltre had three hits — all home runs — while Andrus, Josh Hamilton, and Mitch Moreland went a combined 0 for 10. The Rangers knocked Hellickson out after four innings, and won, 4-3.
Harrison and Hellickson, this time with Arizona, faced off again last night. Beltre had another three hits. Hellickson was again chased after just four frames. Andrus, Hamilton, and Moreland went 2 for 11, and the Rangers once again scratched out four runs, collecting nearly twice as many hits (11) as they had in the ALDS clincher in 2011 (6).
But this time, Hellickson’s team scored seven runs — every one of them with two outs — and sent Texas to its eighth straight home loss, one short of a franchise worst, set in 1990, and fifth straight loss overall, one short of its longest streak this season.
Slow clap, Matt Harrison. One more strike to nine-hole hitter (and the most morally upright Aggie mentioned in this report) Cliff Pennington in the second inning, and that’s a completely different game, and maybe we’re not talking about losing streaks at all this morning.
Slow clap, Matt. Awesome to see you back on the mound.
I wish we were celebrating the fifth anniversary of Cliff today by talking about a 2015 variant. About which top prospect the Rangers will ultimately relent on to get a game-changing deal done and boost the odds of taking this summer’s run deep into the fall. About, perhaps, one of Cliff’s current left-handed teammates.
I suppose we can’t rule out Texas and Philadelphia getting together on a Cole Hamels deal this month. The Rangers have to be on the Phillies’ short list, for various reasons, and trading for Hamels would feed the Yu Darvish window, making it different from the 2010 Cliff deal, which guaranteed only three months of service that happily turned into four.
But it’s a longshot, and this morning, I’m thinking more about three months of Yovani Gallardo that could turn into four, with hopes that there’s a team other than Texas out there huddling up today, perhaps preparing to sit on Gallardo’s start against San Diego this Sunday afternoon — when we will hopefully no longer be discussing home losing streaks — or even swooping in before then. Texas acquired Cliff five years ago on his day to start, and the next day he was pitching in a Rangers uniform.
A home loss, incidentally.
Should the Rangers opt to move Gallardo, they will get more for him than the Sardinas-Knebel-Diplan package they gave up to get him from Milwaukee six months ago. And more than the value of the supplemental first-round pick they’d receive if he were to finish the season here, turn down a one-year qualifying offer, and leave this winter — because there’s no reason for Texas to move him for less value than that, and teams understand that.
Even if the Rangers trade Gallardo, they can always resign him in the winter if that’s part of the bigger plan (though I sort of doubt it), and there would be no draft pick forfeiture since he will have played less than a full season with the team he’s leaving. Texas isn’t out of the race, but it seems reasonable to assume that an honest assessment of the team and the standings could point to a decision to sell this month, starting with Gallardo.
The Rangers will get more for Gallardo than they gave the Brewers.
And they will get more for him than they gave the Mariners for Cliff.
My short-term hope is for Wandy, Colby, and Yo to help Texas snap a couple ugly streaks and win a series against San Diego at home, with the offense getting the chance to face three righthanders.
As far as the bigger picture is concerned, I’m hoping there’s a team out there thinking about swooping.
This one’s not about Matt Harrison, whose big league debut was seven years ago today but whose start in Arlington tonight may be nearly as huge emotionally, or about Martin Perez, who went a crisp 6-7-2-2-0-6 last night in a rehab start for Round Rock and whose march is steady.
It’s not about Robbie Ray, whose 7.2 innings last night against Texas were a career high. At least not specifically.
But it is about lefties.
Prince Fielder. Shin-Soo Choo. Mitch Moreland.
Leonys Martin. Rougned Odor.
Joey Gallo. Nomar Mazara. Nick Williams.
They won’t all be here in 2017.
Well, Fielder will be.
Choo is under contract to be, but it’s starting to seem more likely than not that by then he’ll be elsewhere.
Moreland will be a 31-year-old free agent when the 2016 season ends.
Martin will likely have two remaining arbitration-eligible seasons, and he’ll be 29 when the 2017 season begins.
Odor: We’ll get to him in a minute.
Hamilton will be under contract for something in the neighborhood of $26 million in 2017, about $2 million of which Texas will be responsible for. He’ll be almost 36. Be my guest if you feel you have a bead on whether he’s still playing baseball two years from now.
Gallo (who will be 23), Mazara (21), and Williams (23) will be ready.
Baseball Prospectus rolled its mid-season Top 50 Prospects list out on Monday, pegging Gallo and Mazara at 5th and 6th in all of baseball, with Williams coming in at 21. They’re the 3rd, 4th, and 12th best position players in the minor leagues, according to BP.
Baseball America’s own mid-season list, published yesterday, has Gallo at number 3 and Mazara at number 34, with Williams missing the group of 50 but earning mention as a “helium” player whose “significantly better plate discipline” has redefined his profile, which until 2015 had been marked by “blazingly fast hands and [a] loose left-handed swing” but a distaste for working counts and waiting on his pitch.
They won’t all be here, either, and it’s not because Jon Daniels has an itchy trigger finger.
It’s because you just can’t be that left-handed as a team. The danger of that has shown itself in ugly fashion lately, as the Rangers (according to the folks on the radio postgame show last night) are hitting .197 against southpaws over the last 40 games.
You can look to Jorge Alfaro and see where he ultimately fits, and perhaps Lewis Brinson and Ryan Cordell as well. You can’t write Ryan Rua off, of course, and perhaps Michael Choice’s recent resurgence is meaningful. Leodys Taveras is years away at best, even if Andy Ibanez (signed out of Cuba for a reported $1.6 million yesterday) is closer. There are right-handed-hitting options to put up on the 2017 whiteboard.
But the Rangers, heavily left-handed at the big league level (and susceptible to left-handed pitching), are heavily left-handed at the top of their minor league hitting depth as well.
Odor brings something I strongly feel Texas needs long term — but unless you believe he’s the most valuable asset in baseball, it makes no sense to refuse to consider what he’s worth in trade. (Because of the intangibles, my sense is he’s probably worth more to the Rangers than he would be on the trade market, but I could be wrong.)
Gallo brings something this club (and most clubs) need as well, majestic power that plays, but he’s not the best player in baseball and not its number one property. Gotta listen. Don’t have to act. But gotta listen.
Martin’s defense is one of my favorite things about this team, but the other side of his game is maddening, especially since it doesn’t appear that it’s improved over the years, and in fact may have gone in the other direction. Do you sacrifice his center field weaponry for someone with a better offensive approach? Have to consider it.
BP obviously likes Mazara and Williams a ton. A ton. Do you try and find the teams out there who see one or both the way Baseball Prospectus does — as two of the absolutely elite young hitters in the game — and see how you might line up with those teams to redefine your own?
Does it make sense not to check?
Jon Daniels will check.
Almost certainly, he already has.
Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports) believes the Rangers could trade Choo this winter, though it would probably require them to “include significant cash, attach prospects, take back expensive talent, [or] all of the above.” There are reasons to explore that idea even if the lineup weren’t so left-handed and even if Choo (.854 OPS against right-handed pitching, .471 against lefties) weren’t the poster boy for the imbalanced production.
Man, I wish Texas was somehow able to get in on November’s Josh Donaldson trade.
Or the next one of that sort, whoever it involves.
There’s no telling whether another young, extremely controllable, MVP-level right-handed hitter will be made available this month or (more likely) this winter.
And there’s no telling which of the Rangers’ top assets, many of whom — perhaps too many from one standpoint — hit from the left side, will be made available on this end, though I suspect in the right scenario none of them would be untouchable.
The idea of this team becoming even more left-handed going forward just doesn’t work.
Look at those nine names at the front of this report. They won’t all be here in two years.
Some of them may not be in five months.
There’s a reallocation that needs to happen, and a really healthy farm system serves more than one very important purpose.