40-man roster decisions due today.

The Rangers, having reinstated Ian Kinsler and Kason Gabbard to the roster in the last few days (transferring them from the 60-day disabled list), now have 37 players on the 40-man roster.  Today is the deadline to supplement it with minor leaguers eligible for next month’s Rule 5 Draft.

In the 2009 Bound Edition, which comes out in about two weeks, I predict that Texas will add infielder Jose Vallejo, outfielder John Mayberry Jr., and righthanders Pedro Strop and John Bannister to the roster today.  But in 10 years of handicapping the annual 40-man roster conundrum, I’ve never had a more difficult time making this prediction.  It’s not going to be easy any more, not with the progress the organization has made in building prospect depth.

Vallejo is a lock.  Nobody else is, for various reasons that I’ve already discussed in this space (and lay out in more detail in the book).  It wouldn’t surprise me if Omar Poveda or Willie Eyre were to get a roster nod.  But there’s not room for six additions — and there’s not even room for four.

So it wouldn’t surprise me if one or two of the group including Gabbard, Luis Mendoza, Kameron Loe, and Wes Littleton — the latter two of whom are out of options — could find their own roster spots in jeopardy today.  All four could be outrighted if they clear waivers, but Mendoza could refuse an outright and take free agency since he’s been outrighted before.

We’ll know soon enough, and I’ll hit you with a flash when the moves are reported.

Boston’s trade of Coco Crisp to Kansas City for Ramon Ramirez should make a Red Sox trade with Texas more likely.  Understand that I’m not suggesting a Boston-Texas trade *will* go down, but it would seem that the odds are now better.  

The reason is that Ramirez joins a set-up crew that includes Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima, both of whom are proven in high-leverage relief situations.  That either relegates Justin Masterson to a middle relief role, which may be inadequate in terms of his value to the club, or increases his trade availability, or makes him a rotation candidate (as he was groomed to be on the farm).  

The problem with the third possibility is that Boston has Daisuke Matsuzaka under contract through 2012, Josh Beckett under contract through 2010 (assuming the club option is picked up), and Jon Lester under control through 2012, plus Tim Wakefield on a year-to-year option, and the Sox are rumored to be in on A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe as well.  Masterson may or may not figure in, but if his big league candidacy is now as a starter, then if he’s not someone Boston wants to trade, Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden ought to become a bit more available.

That doesn’t mean the Red Sox would trade any of those young pitchers for less than they would have a week ago.  But the trade for Ramirez ought to make one of those pitchers more likely to be moved, even if just slightly.

Ian Browne of MLB.com adds that the trade of Crisp has Boston looking for a fourth outfielder, preferably one who hits right-handed and can handle center field.  I doubt Texas would be interested in expanding a deal with Boston to include Marlon Byrd, but he sure would seem to fit what the Sox seek.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia has arrived in the Dominican Winter League and has played three straight nights for Escogido (the last two behind the plate), hitting .400/.500/.800 in 10 at-bats.  He homered, doubled, and walked two nights ago.

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated suggests new Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu could bring Mark Connor aboard as his pitching coach.  Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports notes that Rick Peterson, who coached in the White Sox system when Wakamatsu was a player, could be a fit.

Newsday’s Kat O’Brien writes that Texas is one of at least half a dozen teams that has expressed interest in Lowe.

According to Baseball America, Texas released 38-year-old righthander Yukinaga Maeda, who went 5-3, 4.55 in middle relief with Oklahoma this season.

The White Sox claimed righthander Kelvin Jimenez off waivers from Toronto, which had claimed the 28-year-old off waivers from St. Louis earlier this month.

Oakland named Marcus Jensen manager of its Arizona League entry.

Oklahoma City RedHawks manager Bobby Jones is the inaugural winner of the Mike Coolbaugh Award, which is given to an individual in minor league baseball that “has shown an outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game, and skill in mentoring young players.”  Coolbaugh passed away in July 2007 when struck by a line drive while coaching first base for the Tulsa Drillers.  Jones — who managed Coolbaugh in Tulsa in 1996 — will be presented with the award at the December 8-11 Winter Meetings.

The high bid on the Guitar Hero guitar controller signed by C.J. Wilson is at $425, and bidding closes at 5 p.m. on Friday.  Email me if you wish to bid.  Go here to check on the bid status: http://forum.newbergreport.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6830

Stay tuned for news on the Rangers’ roster changes later today.

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

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