February 2009

Guardado close to signing.

According to at
least one local report, lefthander Eddie Guardado has agreed in principle to
return to the Rangers on a one-year, non-roster contract.  Final terms have yet to be ironed out,
reportedly, but the deal could be worth as much as $3 million if Guardado makes
the staff and hits all incentive thresholds. 
There is also talk of some level of no-trade protection.

 

There is mounting speculation
among national columnists that Ben Sheets’s medicals are worse than
anticipated, which is why he remains on the market.

 

What I fear at this
point is that Oakland, which has been quietly plucking veterans off the free
agency and trade markets (Jason Giambi, Russ Springer, Michael Wuertz, after
the big Matt Holliday splash), goes out and offers Sheets a one-year deal, very
heavy on incentives, with the idea that he can help bring along the young A’s
rotation, and, if healthy, not only boost Oakland’s chances to win this year in
a division whose margin at the top has arguably narrowed, but also give Billy
Beane a significant July trade chip or two first-rounders in 2010, more than making
up for the 2009 second-round pick he’d be forfeiting to sign the righthander.

 

Hoping to have the Newberg
Report Q&A ready to roll out tomorrow.

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

Roster inertia.

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When I put the Bound Edition together every year, I
start off each month of daily reports with a title page that includes a
snapshot of what the 40-man roster looked like on the first of that month. 

 

When I stuck today’s roster into the draft for next
year’s book a few minutes ago, I checked it against the roster as it appeared
on January 1st.  It’s
identical.

 

I then compared today’s roster to the December 1st
roster.  The only changes: Gerald Laird
out, Guillermo Moscoso in, Doug Mathis off the roster (having been
non-tendered) but still coming to camp on a non-roster invite.

 

Now, that shouldn’t be interpreted as Texas planning to go into 2009 with the same
club it finished 2008 with.  There have
been veterans signed to minor league contracts, most notably Omar Vizquel and
Derrick Turnbow, an opened opportunity for non-roster shortstop Elvis Andrus to
win the starting shortstop job in March, returns from injury by Ian Kinsler,
David Murphy, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C.J. Wilson, and Brandon McCarthy (but the
losses of Joaquin Benoit and Eric Hurley), and roster openings left by the
departures of Milton Bradley, Jamey Wright, and Ramon Vazquez.

 

And of course, the Rangers may not be through shaping
the roster, not as long as Ben Sheets remains unemployed, and not until enough
of the other 50 or more free agents on the market find homes and shift some
teams to the trade market that was forecast three months ago, if not for this
unprecedented industry stalemate, to be unusually active.

 

Strange winter. 

 

One thing not strange about this off-season for the
Rangers is that, after coming to terms with outfielder Marlon Byrd on Friday
night, the club won’t go to arbitration with any of its eligibles.  In the 11-year life of the Newberg Report, Texas
has had one arbitration hearing: on February 19, 2000, a three-man panel found
that the Rangers’ $3.5 million offer (submitted by general manager Doug Melvin
and his assistant Dan O’Brien Jr.) was more appropriate than Lee Stevens’s $4.7
million submission.  The Rangers’ last
arbitration hearing before that was when the club defeated 24-year-old catcher
Ivan Rodriguez in 1996, going into what would be the franchise’s first playoff
season.

 

Byrd will make $3.06 million in 2009, having settled
with the club after submitted figures of $2.7 million and $3.6 million were
divulged.  The 31-year-old will donate a
portion of his salary to the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, as will this
winter’s other three arbitration-eligibles who signed, Wilson and McCarthy and
Frankie Francisco.

 

According to Jim Reeves in today’s Fort Worth
Star-Telegram
, the Rangers could move Josh Hamilton to right field
this spring to reduce wear on his body, leaving center field to Byrd or Nelson
Cruz.  It’s a move that has been talked about
ever since Hamilton
joined the Rangers, but this is the first mention I’ve seen of a wholesale
transition being considered before the arrival of Julio Borbon.

 

Reeves wrote a solid column yesterday on Ian Kinsler’s
role in helping Michael Young work through his own position switch issues.  Reeves added today that Young also leaned on
Byrd and Hank Blalock.

 

The Red Sox signed Jason Varitek, which has prompted a
lot of writers to decide this kills Boston’s
interest in one of the Rangers’ young catchers. 
OK, I guess.

 

The MLB.com story that, based on the Collective
Bargaining Agreement, the Yankees have reached their allotted quota of Type A
or Type B free agent signings by adding C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark
Teixeira is wrong.  Still, the signing of
Andy Pettitte (added to the presence of Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain)
surely takes New York
out of the Sheets hunt.

 

Baseball America‘s top 31 Rangers prospects:

 

1. Neftali Feliz, RHP

2. Derek Holland, LHP   

3. Justin Smoak, 1B

4. Elvis Andrus, SS 

5. Martin Perez, LHP   

6. Taylor Teagarden, C   

7. Engel Beltre, OF

8. Michael Main, RHP   

9. Julio Borbon, OF  

10. Max Ramirez, C-1B  

11. Wilfredo Boscan, RHP

12. Blake Beavan, RHP

13. Eric Hurley, RHP

14. Warner Madrigal, RHP

15. Neil Ramirez, RHP

16. Joe Wieland, RHP

17. Tommy Hunter, RHP

18. Jose Vallejo, IF

19. Kasey Kiker, LHP

20. Wilmer Font, RHP

21. Kennil Gomez, RHP

22. Tim Murphy, LHP

23. Guillermo Moscoso, RHP

24. Omar Poveda, RHP

25. Robbie Ross, LHP

26. Greg Golson, OF

27. Joaquin Arias, IF

28. Thomas Diamond, RHP

29. Clark Murphy, 1B

30. John Bannister, RHP

31. Mitch Moreland, 1B-OF-LHP

 

The top 31 names on my list from November (before
Moscoso and Golson arrived; also, I didn’t consider Madrigal since he’s no
longer a major league rookie):

 

1. Derek Holland, LHP

2. Neftali Feliz, RHP

3. Justin Smoak, 1B

4. Michael Main, RHP

5. Elvis Andrus, SS

6. Taylor Teagarden, C

7. Martin Perez, LHP

8. Max Ramirez, C

9. Engel Beltre, OF

10. Blake Beavan, RHP

11. Julio Borbon, OF

12. Neil Ramirez, RHP

13. Wilfredo Boscan, RHP

14. Eric Hurley, RHP

15. Kasey Kiker, LHP

16. Wilmer Font, RHP

17. Omar Poveda, RHP

18. Jose Vallejo, IF

19. Tommy Hunter, RHP

20. Joe Wieland, RHP

21. Mitch Moreland, 1B-OF-LHP

22. Tim Murphy, LHP

23. Kennil Gomez, RHP

24. Robbie Ross, LHP

25. Doug Mathis, RHP

26. Fabio Castillo, RHP

27. Cristian Santana, OF

28. Carlos Pimentel, RHP

29. Clark Murphy, 1B

30. Thomas Diamond, RHP

31. John Mayberry Jr., OF

 

Taking Mayberry off the list, I’d probably have Moscoso
in there before Golson, but it’s close. 
Infielder Marcus Lemon was my number 32.

 

Grant Schiller’s excellent interview with Mathis: http://texasrangerstrades.blogspot.com/
 

 

The Rangers watched righthander Kris Benson throw but,
according to one of the remaining beat reporters in town, are not interested in
the free agent.

 

Florida signed righthander Kiko Calero to
a minor league contract.

 

San Francisco hired Will
Clark as a front office special assistant. 
He’ll represent the Giants at community events, attend spring training
with the club in Scottsdale,
and occasionally visit one of the organization’s minor league affiliates during
the season to give young, brash Giants prospects The Nuschler Look.

 

Infielder Joey Hooft retired from the Joliet
Jackhammers of the independent Northern League.

 

Toronto hired Perry Minasian to serve as
a major league scout.  The Jays also
signed outfielder Todd Donovan to a minor league deal.  Toronto
is the 30-year-old’s seventh organization. 
Texas
was his fifth.

 

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus said in a chat
session of University
of Texas outfielder Kevin
Keyes: “His tools are just out of this world as he’s a massive guy with a ton
of athleticism.  Definite first-round
potential and he still has two years to put some things together before teams
start picking in 2010.”  The Rangers
selected Keyes in the 26th round of the 2007 draft out of Austin Connally
High School.

 

Sometime this week I’ll publish my answers to your
questions in our first Rangers Prospect Q&A.  Thanks for your excellent questions.

 

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

 

 

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