Thread count.

According to Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, Ben Sheets has
reportedly asked the Mets for two guaranteed seasons for something in the
neighborhood of $18 million, with a third-year option.  Verducci thinks that New
York, on the other hand, is thinking more along the lines of the
one-year, $5 million, heavily incentivized deal Boston gave Brad Penny.  Big gap.

 

At this point, if Texas were to sign Sheets (or any other Type A free
agent), the second-round pick the club would forfeit would sit at number 56 -
and it could end up being as late as pick number 69.  The players that Texas has chosen in that range this decade
include Robbie Ross, Johnny Whittleman, K.C. Herren, Jason Bourgeois, and Randy
Truselo. 

 

Marlon Byrd, the Rangers’ lone remaining arbitration-eligible, has
submitted an arbitration figure of $3.6 million, while the club has submitted a
$2.7 million figure.  Expect a settlement
of $3.15 or $3.2 million, maybe with some plate appearance incentives that
would kick it to the latter number, or slightly higher.

 

C.J. Wilson’s deal is for $1.85 million, with incentives tacked on.

 

Detroit avoided arbitration with Gerald Laird by settling for $2.8 million. 

 

Brandon McCarthy, who stands 6’7″, has reportedly increased his weight
(intentionally) from 195 pounds to 220 pounds, thanks to a daily 7,000-calorie
diet.  He says he’s healthy.

 

Thomas Diamond proclaimed his health as well.

 

In his 2009 Baseball Prospect Book, which should be released soon, John
Sickels has the following Rangers among his top 50 hitting prospects and top 50
pitching prospects in the game:

 

Top 50 Hitting Prospects

 

10.  Justin Smoak, 1B (only one
first baseman [Boston's Lars Anderson] is ranked higher; Cincinnati’s Yonder
Alonso, drafted four spots before Smoak in June, was number 30 on Sickels’s
list; catcher Jason Castro, chosen immediately before Smoak on Draft Day, is
nowhere to be found – in fact, there’s not one Houston Astro on either top 50
list)

 

11.  Elvis Andrus, SS (number one
shortstop in the rankings)

 

39.  Taylor Teagarden, C (number
six catcher)

 

42.  Max Ramirez, C-1B (I’ll say it
again; I have Ramirez as number eight overall in the Rangers system – but there
are probably several organization’s for whom he’d be number one)

 

48.  Julio Borbon, OF

 

Top 50 Pitching Prospects

 

2.  Neftali Feliz, RHP (behind
October hero David Price)

 

12. Derek Holland, LHP (Sickels has Oakland
righthander Trevor Cahill and lefthander Brett Anderson 4th and 6th)

 

32. Michael Main, RHP

 

Ramirez is one of six catchers assigned to Venezuela’s provisional roster for
the World Baseball Classic.  The other
five (Dioner Navarro, Ramon Hernandez, Humberto Quintero, Henry Blanco, and
Pablo Sandoval [who like Ramirez is more of a bat and could figure in at an
infield corner for the Giants]) all have more big league experience than
Ramirez, who I’d just assume see in Rangers camp from start to finish.

 

Particularly if Texas
trades Hank Blalock, as Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune suggests is still
something the club is trying to do. 
Should that happen, Ramirez could figure in as the Rangers’ designated
hitter, perhaps in a shared arrangement at the outset with Frank Catalanotto
(who, incidentally, is the only other Rangers player on a provisional WBC
roster, slated to join Team Italy
as he did in 2006).

 

Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that Florida continues to show interest in Ramirez
as a catcher, particularly now that its effort to sign Gregg Zaun fell short.

 

Texas signed veteran catcher Adam Melhuse to a minor league deal for the
second straight January (after trading for him in June 2007).  He’ll likely mentor Ramirez behind the plate
at AAA, though if Texas were to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Melhuse could find
himself as Taylor Teagarden’s backup in Arlington.

 

According to Baseball America, Texas released outfielder Victor Barrios,
who didn’t play in 2008 after a solid 2006 rookie season in the Arizona League
and a disappointing 2007 in the Northwest League.  BA also reports the minor league signing of a
righthander named Aaron Thompson.  It’s
not the lefthander that the Marlins took in the first round in 2005 out of a Houston high school.  I have no idea who it is.

 

The
Rangers released details about individual-game ticket prices, national
television appearances,
and the promotional schedule for 2009.  You can find it all here: http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090120&content_id=3751657&vkey=news_tex&fext=.jsp&c_id=tex
 

 

You can
now listen to the latest episode of Rangers Podcast in Arlington at http://rangerspodcast.blogspot.com
or at http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=277027197.
  Evan Grant
of the
Dallas Morning News joined host Ted Price,
Adam Morris, and myself for a little over an hour of Rangers talk.

 

I should have details for you today or tomorrow about Saturday’s player
autograph schedule at FanFest.

 

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

 

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