With Boston’s signing of free agent Takashi Saito, the Red Sox now have the following relievers on the roster: Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez, David Aardsma, Javier Lopez, Wes Littleton, Miguel Gonzalez, Devern Hansack, David Pauley, and Saito.
And the following starters:
Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, Brad Penny, John Smoltz, Justin Masterson, Clay Buchholz, and Michael Bowden.
Plus Junichi Tazawa and Nick Hagadone not too far off, not to mention reliever Daniel Bard.
Whether or not the crazy depth Boston has created with its off-season additions makes a trade for a Texas catcher more likely, it does make one thing less likely — that the Rangers will get a second player from the Red Sox to complete the late November Littleton trade. Most reports regarding that trade suggested that the second player to be named (in addition to reliever Beau Vaughan, who was conveyed to Texas after the Rule 5 Draft) was conditioned on Littleton making Boston’s Opening Day roster.
Saito had an injury-marred season with the Dodgers but did return to the mound in September, and has cleared Boston’s physical.
According to one local report, reliever Derrick Turnbow’s minor league deal with Texas has dual out clauses, permitting the righthander to ask for his release if not on the big league roster as of March 31, and again on May 1.
Team Mexico has invited Luis Mendoza to pitch in the World Baseball Classic. Probably not the best idea for Mendoza, who has to prove himself from scratch here, not only to a new pitching coach but to the organization as a whole.
The Rangers have signed outfielder Nathan Haynes to a minor league contract with an invite to big league spring training. The 29-year-old Haynes, taken 32nd overall in the 1997 draft by the A’s (seven slots before Texas chose Jason Romano), has bounced from the Oakland system to the Angels to the Giants, back to the Angels, and finally to the Rays. Haynes got big league looks with Los Angeles and Tampa Bay the last two seasons. Solid speed, no power, good defense, capable in all three outfield spots. This year’s Jason Ellison.
One interesting aspect of the rumblings that Joe Crede may be down to deciding between Texas and San Francisco is that, if the third baseman chooses the Rangers, it could prompt the Giants to reengage Texas about the idea of a Hank Blalock trade. Blalock would presumably play first base for San Francisco, with Pablo Sandoval sliding across the diamond to third.
Phil Rogers speculates in today’s Chicago Tribune that Bobby Valentine, whose contract in Japan expires in 2009 and reportedly won’t be extended, could be a candidate to return to Texas if a managerial need arises.
San Diego claimed righthander Virgil Vasquez, the Rangers’ seventh-round pick in 2000, off waivers from Boston.
New Rangers radio voice Dave Barnett did Mavericks play-by-play for seven seasons. The team’s results?
1981-82: 28-54 record
1982-83: 38-44 record
1983-84: 43-39 record, playoffs
1984-85: 44-38 record, playoffs
1985-86: 44-38 record, playoffs
1986-87: 55-27 record, playoffs
1987-88: 53-29 record, playoffs — one win away from the NBA Finals
(Dallas missed the playoffs the season after Barnett departed.)
Barnett then did Spurs games for nine seasons:
1988-89: 21-61 record
1989-90: 56-26 record, playoffs
1990-91: 55-27 record, playoffs
1991-92: 47-35 record, playoffs
1992-93: 49-33 record, playoffs
1993-94: 55-27 record, playoffs
1994-95: 62-20 record, playoffs
1995-96: 59-23 record, playoffs
(San Antonio missed the playoffs the season after Barnett departed.)
Barnett’s one season doing Rangers TV — 1990:
First half: 40-44 record (.476)
Second half: 43-35 record (.551)
From the October 8 Newberg Report:
“Coming into 2008, the top two farm systems in baseball, according to BA, belonged to Tampa Bay and Colorado. In 2007, Tampa Bay and Boston. In 2006, Arizona and the Dodgers. In 2005, the Angels and Dodgers. In 2004, Milwaukee and the Dodgers. Notice anything about those teams?”
Answer: All but Arizona made the playoffs this year, and the Diamondbacks made it to the National League Championship Series in 2007.
But there’s more.
We all know the Texas farm system was ranked number four by Baseball America last winter, after coming in at number 28 the previous year (the largest jump in the publication’s history). BA has all but confirmed in a number of columns and chat sessions over the last three months that Texas will be number one or number two when this off-season’s rankings come out (sometime this month).
Consider the following.
All nine organizations ranked number one by BA this decade have made the playoffs in short order, with an average timetable of two seasons after the honors.
Checking in with the 70 organizations who have ranked somewhere in the top 10 from 2001 to 2007, 62 have made the playoffs since.
The farm systems of six of the eight 2008 playoff teams were in BA’s top 10 at least once in the past three years.
Finally, in this decade, 17 organizations have landed in BA’s top 10 rankings in consecutive years, as we will learn within the month that Texas will have done. Of those 17, 16 went on to make the playoffs — 10 of them doing so within two years.
Top 10 rankings aren’t the end game here. But the correlation, and the trends, are unmistakable.