Of Elvis Andrus, Mark Teixeira, and the draft.

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Coasting to a win like that has been nearly as rare this season
for Texas as Draft Day – the Rangers have only five wins of at least five runs,
including their last two victories – and while Texas 7, King Felix 1 probably
won’t even get as much local play as The Strasburg Debut, it showcased several
really positive things:


1.      Two
of the finest free agents signings anywhere in the league this winter: Colby
Lewis and Vladimir Guerrero.

2.      The
continuing coming into focus of Justin Smoak, at the plate and around the bag.

3.      A
game in which the manager was comfortably able to give Ian Kinsler and Michael
Young some late rest.

4.      The
best shortstop in the American League.


Elvis Andrus, whose defense I’d take over any other
shortstop in the league, whose offense I’d take over any other shortstop in the
league, and whose future I’d take over almost any other player in the league,
is not only younger than two of the five Rangers prospects who were named Low A
South Atlantic League All-Stars this week (outfielder Miguel Velazquez and
reliever Trevor Hurley, who were selected along with starters Robbie Ross,
Robbie Erlin, and Matt Thompson), but also younger than five of the players the
Rangers drafted yesterday.


Think about that.


He’s also two years younger than Frisco left-handed reliever
Beau Jones, who in 13.1 RoughRider innings has scattered six hits and one walk
while striking out 19, and coaxing more groundouts than flyouts. 


The Mark Teixeira Trade would have been just fine if it
produced Andrus alone.  Getting Neftali Feliz as well makes it a landmark
deal.  Toss in Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Atlanta’s top
pitching prospect and top position player prospect at the time, neither of whom
we really know about yet, and it’s closing in on Herschel Walker Trade


If Jones – reportedly added to the deal at the last minute
at Jon Daniels’s insistence, given a bout of Harrison shoulder soreness
following his AA start six days earlier – makes it to Arlington, giving Texas
five big leaguers out of five, including Andrus and Feliz, the trade becomes
even more extraordinary.


Maybe not 7-4-2-2-0-14 extraordinary, but any general
manager would have drafted Stephen Strasburg if they had the number one pick
last year.  I’m not sure how many front offices would have been able to
pull the Teixeira Trade off.


If the drafting on Monday of Jake Skole (first round) and on
Tuesday of high school outfielder Jordan Akins (third round), both two-sport
college commits, allows Texas to create even more of a budget surplus by
amortizing their signing bonuses out over five years, and if some of that
surplus can be used at trade deadline time, whether this team is out of
bankruptcy by that time or not, the chances are obviously better that this
season will extend beyond 162 games that count.


It’s going to take playoff baseball – winning playoff
baseball – for the Mark Teixeira Trade to share ground with the Herschel Walker


But that’s about all that separates them right now.


Last night’s excellent Rangers win included contributions
from several former first-round picks (Lewis, Smoak, Josh Hamilton, David
Murphy, and Julio Borbon), but there was also a former 17th-rounder
(Ian Kinsler) hitting third and an undrafted free agent (Darren O’Day) getting
the final three outs.


Whether Texas found another Kinsler in yesterday’s second through
30th rounds, or keeps another O’Day from sliding through the draft
altogether in today’s 31st through 50th, we won’t know
for a while. 


And though we’ve said it before, as much as I dig the
baseball draft, give me a year like this every time, when the draft is
incidental to what’s going on in Arlington.  I’m excited about Skole and
Kellin Deglan and Luke Jackson and Cody Buckel and Akins and Justin Grimm and
Zack Osborne, not to mention Garrett Buechele (18th round) and the
fascinating but likely unsignable Brian Ragira (30th round), who is
expected to matriculate from Arlington Martin to Stanford, but my mind is now
refocused on C.J. Wilson against Ian Snell, and Tommy Hunter against Ryan


Big thanks to Scott Lucas for his outstanding, instant news
flashes on each of the Rangers’ first eight draft picks Monday and Tuesday, and
to Eleanor Czajka for once again putting together a one-stop information store
for the entire Texas draft class on her
Minor Details blog
, where you can find player profiles, scouting video, and
industry evaluations on each of the Rangers’ 2010 picks.


The draft concludes today, after which work on getting the
majority of the club’s 53 picks signed and ready for short-season game action
gets underway. 


But in the meantime, there are two more at home against
Seattle, with the Angels and A’s each within a game of the division lead and
facing each other for two more themselves, after which Texas moves into a 15-game
stretch against the National League (Milwaukee, Florida, Houston, Pittsburgh,
Houston again), a real chance to fatten up against nothing but under-.500 clubs
while the Angels get the Dodgers and Rockies and the A’s get the Cardinals and
Reds over the same two and a half weeks.


I’ll be at the Ballpark these next two nights, watching a
former fifth-rounder and former supplemental first-rounder take the mound to
try and help nail down a series win over the Mariners, with an undrafted kid
from Venezuela doing his thing, as he does most nights, at shortstop and atop
the order, to make the Rangers’ future, tonight and next year and four years
from now, something worth investing in.





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(c) Jamey Newberg


Twitter  @newbergreport


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