Trading for a starting pitcher.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning
News wrote a fascinating lead in his weekly “Inside the Texas Rangers”
newsletter on Wednesday, suggesting that “[t]o get [a top-flight pitcher], you
are going to have to say goodbye to one of these guys: Chris Davis.  Neftali Feliz.  Engel Beltre.  Elvis Andrus.  No substitutions allowed.  And you may have to give up something else in addition
to one of those players to get said pitching.”

As I wrote late last night, I’d
inject Derek Holland’s name somewhere near the middle of that list, but
otherwise I think Grant is dead-on, as long as we’re talking about an All-Star
level, legitimate number one. 

I wrote a lengthy report on
why I think the Rangers could encounter some difficulty making an impact trade
because of their own prospect depth, and I won’t rehash all the points here (go
to http://newberg.mlblogs.com/archives/2008/06/why_this_could_be_a_tough_trad.html
if you want to revisit my train of thought). 
The basic point is that other teams will surely try to hold Texas up because of Davis
and Feliz and Holland
and Beltre and Andrus.  Even if a package
of Max Ramirez, Kasey Kiker, and Jose Vallejo should be enough to play ball for
a legitimate number two, whoever is on the other end of the line may never cede
the leverage it thinks it has, figuring that the Rangers are so desperate for
frontline starters that they’ll simply have
to
part with one of the top-tier guys.

The good thing here is that Texas is so deep that it
may not have to touch the top few names, as long as we’re not talking about
going out to get Scott Kazmir or Felix Hernandez.  The Cubs didn’t have to give up Josh Vitters
to get Rich Harden.  Philadelphia didn’t have to part with Carlos
Carrasco or Lou Marson to get Joe Blanton. 
At some point, an offer that includes a couple or few names from among Jarrod
Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, Matt Harrison, Warner Madrigal, David Murphy,
Michael Main, Blake Beavan, Neil Ramirez, Brandon Boggs, German Duran, Julio
Borbon, Martin Perez, Wilfredo Boscan, Cristian Santana, and John Mayberry Jr.,
as well as the aforementioned Max Ramirez, Kiker, and Vallejo – and that’s
certainly not an exhaustive list – should objectively top whatever Team X is
offering.

I just can’t see a scenario in
which Davis or Feliz or Holland could be moved.  Not unless someone like Kazmir or Hernandez
is on the table.  For someone like A.J.
Burnett, we should – should – be able
to work from the second list.

Grant also suggests today that
it might not be a bad idea to hold the line in negotiations with first-rounder
Justin Smoak, the switch-hitting first baseman whose window to sign shuts at 11
p.m. tomorrow night.  His theory is
presumably that Davis’s emergence has made the addition of Smoak less important,
and that the draft pick Texas would recoup if it didn’t sign Smoak (number 12
overall next June) could be used on a another first-rounder with a clearer path,
which would also offset the loss of a mid-first or mid-second (depending on
this year’s final standings) if the club were to sign a Type A free agent
starter.

That all makes sense.  But I disagree. 

There’s no telling what
players will be available at number 12 next June, but it’s not likely they’ll
have the upside of Smoak, who by all accounts should never have fallen to
number 11 two months ago.

And here’s the more critical point:
Milwaukee got
C.C. Sabathia last month because they had Matt LaPorta.

If he develops as expected, an
already signing-bonused Smoak will be more valuable as a trade chip than having
an extra pick at number 12 next summer would be. 

I sure would like to see Smoak
signed by tomorrow night, as well as second-rounder Robbie Ross, who told
reporters last week that he’s “about 85 percent sure” that he’ll sign rather
than attend the University of Kentucky. 

Among the Rangers’ later
unsigned picks, outfielder John Ruettiger (nephew of Dan Ruettiger of “Rudy”
fame) will apparently make good on his threat to go to Arizona State
rather than sign as the Rangers’ 35th-round pick.  No word yet on the state of negotiations with
Harold Martinez, Charlie Robertson, Jack Armstrong, or Ben Petralli.

A few more things, since I generally
don’t have time during the day to pump out a full-fledged report (but wanted to
get the above thoughts off my chest):

You have to check out the video
Q&A that Nolan Ryan did with Chuck Morgan that’s now posted on the Rangers’
official website at http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?mid=200808123295785&c_id=tex.  Two icons from Rangers history talk for 15
minutes about the club’s present and future. 
I hope we get more of this.

Also, I haven’t had the chance
to mention this, but I also thought the on-field interview that Fox Sports
Southwest did with Ramon Vazquez minutes before last Tuesday’s home game
against the Yankees was really cool.  That’s
the first time I can remember seeing something like that done, here or in any
other ballpark.  The circumstances have
to be right, but I hope to see more of that, too.

For what it’s worth, Peter Gammons
said in a Boston Globe chat session that he thinks Boston will come after Saltalamacchia or the
Angels’ Mike Napoli this winter. 

Let’s see: Josh Beckett and
Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester are locked up for multiple years.  Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, and Michael
Bowden can’t all fit in the rotation.  Catching
strength for pitching strength.  Works for
me.

Saltalamacchia, playing
through a fracture in his right foot, wants to play winter ball.  The Rangers would also reportedly like to get
Davis, Boggs, Duran, and Travis Metcalf some winter work.

Texas doesn’t have a healthy, available catcher
on the 40-man roster.  Gerald Laird is
dealing with upper back spasms, Ramirez is sidelined with a hip flexor injury,
and Teagarden is in Beijing playing for Team USA.

Frisco righthander Thomas
Diamond will have surgery to remove a bone spur from his ankle and will sit out
the rest of the season.

Korean 18-year-old righthander
Tae-Kyeong Ahn apparently signed for less than the $800,000 that Texas reportedly agreed
to pay him recently.  Jeff Wilson of the
Fort Worth Star-Telegram adds that Ahn might have to fulfill a two-year service
requirement with the Korean army before reporting to the United States
to pitch.

If you’re wondering why Texas
didn’t claim Paul Byrd off the revocable waiver wire to set up a potential
trade with the Indians, it’s because Byrd, whom the Red Sox ultimately traded
for, listed the Rangers as one of six teams in his no-trade clause.

Jim Reeves of the Star-Telegram
notes that Texas not only offered Laird to Florida last month for
righthander Chris Volstad, but apparently were also willing to add “a solid
prospect” to get a trade done.

The Rangers are staging their Alumni
Legacy Weekend starting tomorrow.  Bullet
points:

Friday, August 15: Dr Pepper
Rangers Alumni Legacy Luncheon (Arlington
Convention Center, 11:30
a.m.): Includes a roundtable discussion with Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan,
Ferguson Jenkins and Paul Molitor as well as Texas Rangers Hall of Fame members
Jim Sundberg, Charlie Hough, and John Wetteland.  Clay Council, Josh Hamilton’s Home Run Derby
pitcher, will also be on hand.

Rangers Alumni Legacy Game (Rangers
Ballpark, 5:30-6:15 p.m.): Former Rangers players will play against each other
prior to the Rangers-Rays game.

Saturday, August 16: Texas Rangers Alumni
Legacy Autographs (5:00-5:45 p.m.): Rangers alumni including the following are
scheduled to sign autographs on the main concourse: Mike Bacsik, Kevin Belcher,
Rich Billings, Mark Brandenburg, David Chalk, Tim Crabtree, Keith Creel, Odie
Davis, Ted Ford, Jim Gideon, Rusty Greer, Jose Guzman, Rich Hand, Don Harris,
Rick Henninger, Dave Hostetler, David Hulse, Jeff Kunkel, Frank Lucchesi, Mark
McLemore, Tommy Moore, Mike Munoz, Jim Norris, Claude Osteen, Ken Pape, Roger
Pavlik, Geno Petralli, Lenny Randle, Leon Roberts, Jeff Russell, Scott Sheldon,
Mike Simms, Dan Smith, Marty Stajduhar, Don Stanhouse, Bill Stein, Ken Suarez,
Jim Sundberg, Mickey Tettleton, Todd Van Poppel, Duane Walker, John Wetteland
and Matt Williams.

Texas Rangers Alumni Legacy
Ceremony (6:30 p.m.): The Rangers will honor Tom Grieve for his five decades of
service and Eric Nadel for 30 years of broadcasting in an on-field ceremony
before the Rangers-Rays game.  A plaque
will also be unveiled in dedication of the late Linda Kaye, a former team
photographer who passed away last year.  Rangers
Alumni Legacy members will also be on the field for the ceremony, and Clay
Council will throw out the first pitch.

In other ex-Ranger news, Milwaukee
purchased the contract of outfielder Laynce Nix (.284/.348/.539 for AAA
Nashville), and the Reno Silver Sox of the independent Golden League traded outfielder
Juan Senreiso to Sioux City for a player who will be named later (after this
season) as outfielder Chad Gabriel, plus future considerations. 

Love the indie leagues.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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