December 2010

Casting Webb.

I wrote 2,714 words about the signing of Rich Harden last year, two weeks before the holidays.

I then wrote 129 words about the signing of Colby Lewis, two weeks after the holidays.

It’s fun to think we’ve got it all figured out.  But there’s no way that even the most optimistic on Lewis – and I’m including the baseball people who committed to the acquisition – could have dreamed up the end to his 2010 season (3-1, 2.37 in his final five regular season starts, and then 3-0, 1.71 in four playoff starts), which were as money as the final minute-thirty of “Let Down.”  Or that the most skeptical on a presumably healthy Harden could have expected that big a bag of letdown.

It’s probably safe to plan in your mind for Brandon Webb to deliver less than Lewis did in 2010, and more than Harden, but as for which needle he’ll push toward, beats me.  

Is he the guy who, from 2005 through 2008, averaged nearly 18 wins (best in the game) against just nine losses, posted a 3.23 ERA, coaxed three times as many groundouts as flyouts (best in the game), and carried the heaviest load in baseball, logging 232 innings a year with one of the deadliest sinkers of his generation?  

Or the guy who pitched the first four innings of the Diamondbacks’ season in 2009 but none since, due to shoulder surgery – performed 16 months ago by Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister?

Again, almost certainly neither, but somewhere comfortably in between.

Is he Cliff Lee?  Of course not.  You might even argue that in 2006, when Webb won the NL Cy Young, or in 2007 and 2008, when he was twice the runner-up, he wasn’t the dominant force that Lee was for Texas, or that Philadelphia will pay Lee to be for the next five or six years.

But Texas isn’t into Webb for $120 or $135 million.

Is he Zack Greinke?  Well, no.  At 31, he’s four years older than Greinke, is a greater health risk, and never had a season as great as Greinke’s 2009.  

But the Rangers didn’t have to give up Derek Holland or Tommy Hunter or Martin Perez or Tanner Scheppers or Robbie Erlin or Engel Beltre or Jurickson Profar, let alone four or five of them, to get Webb.

Don’t misunderstand me: I wanted Cliff Lee to stay.  (So did Texas.)  I’ve been neurotically relentless for nearly three years about getting Zack Greinke.  (So has Texas.)  I’m not pretending that Brandon Webb is their equivalent (even though I proposed back in February that Texas offer Justin Smoak, Wilmer Font, and Kasey Kiker to the Diamondbacks for a healthy Webb at trade deadline time).

But I’m on record as being thankful that Texas didn’t give up the dollars and years for Lee or the players for Greinke that it apparently would have taken to get one of them here.  

The upside would have been greater with Lee or Greinke.  But so would the downside, in terms of the lasting impact of the cost.  

The thing about adding Webb, in spite of his pedigree, that differs greatly from adding Lee or Greinke is that it feels like the hunt for a number one probably continues.  Easier said than done (as the pursuit of Lee and Greinke has shown), but Webb isn’t someone being counted on to front the rotation.  If they have a press conference this week announcing Webb’s signing, less will be said about his place in the starting five than there was a year ago at Harden’s presser.

There’s a cool thing about this that I’m going to have to get used to.  It used to be assumed that, to sell a coveted free agent pitcher on coming to Texas, the recruitment had to include things like “lifestyle” . . . “great offense” . . . “Nolan Ryan wore this uniform” . . . “year-round golf” . . . or, “We’ll give you $65 million, Chan Ho.”   Now?  There’s Mike Maddux.  There, 75 feet over your right shoulder, is Elvis Andrus.  There, in Webb’s case, is Dr. Meister.

And of course, there’s that fact, which in some instances like this one I find I still have to remind myself, that the Rangers are the reigning American League champions.  

Not a terrible selling point.  

Fellow playoff teams New York and Cincinnati were apparently in on Webb, as were the Cubs and Nationals.  He wanted to be in Texas.

We don’t know the terms of the contract yet, and Webb will have to pass a physical before anything’s official.  (Remember that, in February 2009, the Rangers had agreed to terms on a two-year deal with Ben Sheets before a failed physical killed it.)  

And even if Webb clears that hurdle and signs what is expected to be a one-year major league deal (without a club option for a second season, which benefits Webb), there’s going to be the matter of where his velocity is (he reportedly sat mid-80s in a Fall Instructional League appearance in October, roughly five mph short of his pre-injury levels), where his command is, where his game is.

Shoulder surgeries are scary, trickier to come back from than elbows.  Chris Carpenter came back strong.  So did Colby Lewis and Joaquin Benoit and Curt Schilling and Jimmy Key and Orlando Hernandez and Orel Hershiser and Bret Saberhagen and a young Roger Clemens.  But you don’t have to go back a full generation for a much deeper list, detailing those who were never the same.

If the heavy sinker comes back, it’s obvious that Webb – who has allowed fewer home runs per nine innings (0.63) than any active starter with 850 career innings – could put up tremendous numbers in Texas.  And of course, it must be said that if that were to happen, he could be among the top free agent starting pitchers on the market a year from now (as could C.J. Wilson).  The Rangers in that case would theoretically have in their favor the success that Webb experienced here, and his familiarity with teammates and the Ballpark and the community, and so on.  They thought they had that with Lee, too.

But first things first: There’s a physical to pass, a contract to announce (and two players to be removed from the 40-man roster, to make room for Webb and Arthur Rhodes), and six weeks in Surprise for Webb to reestablish himself.  And then a big league season, if all goes well, in which he maybe takes the ball every fifth day, piling up double play grounders and innings pitched from the back half of the rotation, surpassing cautiously optimistic yet moderate expectations the way Colby Lewis in his own comeback season a year earlier.

Bottom line for me, I guess, is that I’m fine with this move, however it ends up, and I’m glad it wasn’t the Angels or A’s that Webb chose.

As long as we don’t view this impulsively and expect Webb to come in here and take on the responsibilities that would have been expected of Cliff Lee or Zack Greinke, this one has a chance to pay off in its own way.

And if it doesn’t?  The Rangers will be prepared to move on, without much negative impact.  They’re far better able to survive a bad contract than they were at this time a year ago, and even then I’d say they had a pretty nice season despite the wasted commitment to Rich Harden, a pitcher who for various reasons was being counted on to carry a heavier load than Brandon Webb is now.

Those are my thoughts, at least, in a zippy 1,282 words.

Texas signs Arthur Rhodes.

Starting pitchers Cliff Lee, Hisashi Iwakuma, Jon Garland, Brandon Webb, Zack Greinke, Jorge De La Rosa, Josh Johnson, Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Carl Pavano, Jeff Francis, Andrew Miller, Matt Garza, Joe Blanton, and Ricky Nolasco.
 
Relievers Kerry Wood, Rafael Soriano, Mark Prior, Bobby Jenks, Yoshinori Tateyama, Heath Bell, and Jonathan Papelbon.

Catchers Victor Martinez, John Buck, A.J. Pierzynski, Ramon Hernandez, Miguel Olivo, Bengie Molina, Russell Martin, Matt Treanor, Yorvit Torrealba, Welington Castillo, and Robinson Chirinos.

Infielders Paul Konerko, Lance Berkman, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, and Adrian Beltre.

Outfielders Carl Crawford and Carlos Beltran.

Designated hitters Adam Dunn, Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordonez, Hideki Matsui, Jim Thome, Troy Glaus, Marcus Thames, and Manny Ramirez.

That’s four dozen players who have been mentioned in the TROT COFFEY offerings in the four dozen days since the season ended, having been tied to the Rangers to one degree or another by local or national writers weighing in on free agent possibilities and trade rumors.

Know who’s missing?  Arthur Lee Rhodes.

How long before Edinson Volquez and Danny Ray Herrera for Josh Hamilton did we hear that Texas was in on Hamilton?

A few hours.

Even though we later found out that talks with the Reds spanned more than a month, and as many as 15 player combinations.

Bad for stove temperatures.

Good for doing business.

Rhodes, who turned 41 two days after Texas earned its first World Series berth, will enter his 20th big league season in the spring, and has been one of the game’s most effective left-handed relievers since Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2007 season.  In 2008 (Seattle and Florida), 2009 (Cincinnati), and 2010 (Cincinnati), the Waco native scattered 37 earned runs (2.32 ERA) on 103 hits (.204/.280/.292 slash) and 47 unintentional walks in 143.2 innings, fanning 138.  In those three years he’s surrendered an average of only 10 extra-base hits per season.  Only 17 of the 100 baserunners he inherited scored.  Only six players stole successfully. 

At the conclusion of his record-setting 33 consecutive scoreless appearances last year (30 innings, 13 hits, 10 walks, 28 strikeouts), Rhodes had an ERA of 0.28.

He was actually better against right-handed hitters (.182/.289/.245) in 2010 than against lefties (.214/.230/.393).  That’s generally not the case with Rhodes, but at the same time he’s not just a left-on-left specialist.

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reports that the one-year deal with a vesting option for 2012 (usually set up to lock in as long as he handles a healthy workload in the first year) will pay Rhodes “about $8 million” if he pitches that second year.  He’s a Type A free agent, but since the Reds didn’t offer him arbitration, he doesn’t cost Texas a draft pick. 

A bullpen with Rhodes and Darren Oliver from the left side (neither needing to be worked as hard as Oliver was last year – Rhodes hasn’t exceeded 55 innings since 2002, while Oliver hasn’t had a season with that light a workload in the same span), complementing Neftali Feliz, Frankie Francisco, Alexi Ogando, and Darren O’Day from the right side, has a chance to be really good.  Among others competing for spots will be Mark Lowe, Tateyama, Clay Rapada, Pedro Strop, and Mason Tobin, and possibly Tanner Scheppers, and the list goes on from there.

Even if Feliz or Ogando isn’t transitioned to the rotation, as we saw in October, you can never have enough bullpen depth.  Every inning that the reliable Rhodes gets lessens the responsibility and the load on someone else. 

What the Rhodes signing could mean for Matt Harrison and Michael Kirkman (assume that Derek Holland wins a rotation spot), each of whom has minor league options, is impossible to say for now.  This staff isn’t yet complete.

And it’s damn near impossible to draw a bead on how Texas is going to go about completing the staff. 

While it might be less entertaining not to be able to sift through days and weeks of rumors pegging the Rangers as finalists to acquire this pitcher or that one, giving us all kinds of time to dream on how things might shape up, I’ll take the surprise instead, and the competitive advantage that might come along with it.

 

Bag dump.

Lots of little stuff to get to, so let’s just dump out the bag . . . .

Take a look sometime at the state of third base across the league.  It’s not pretty.  When I was a kid, third base was a glamour position, maybe the one spot on the field that was chock-full of plus defenders who could carry a lineup offensively, too.  There are still those who fit the mold (particularly in the AL East), but there are also plenty of teams running year-to-year stopgaps out there, with not a lot barreling in from the farm.

The point is this: Everyone, including Michael Young, knows that at some point before Young’s contract (2009-13) expires, he will move off of the hot corner.  Maybe to first base, maybe even to second (with Ian Kinsler switching places?), possibly to DH with defensive spot starts at several positions scattered in.  

The more difficult question, thornier than “Where?,” is “When?”

I don’t know whether all the media banter about Adrian Beltre and Texas is cooked up by Scott Boras, or maybe even allowed by the Rangers to circulate in order to force the Angels to spend uncomfortably to sign the 31-year-old (they’ve already pulled their five-year, $70 million offer off the table, supposedly, though they’re apparently not closing the door).  But I leave room for the possibility that there’s something there, perhaps less because the organization isn’t willing to go another year with Young at third base (where he at least seemed to get better as the 2010 season progressed) than because the market analysis (which I haven’t done myself) points to Beltre being the most sensible available option over the next couple years.

One of the things that makes Young a great leader for this team is also going to make this issue a tricky one.  He’s fiercely proud, obstinately so, unaffected – if not motivated – by criticism.  Just like his move off of shortstop, his move off of third base will be received as a criticism, even though even he’d admit that Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre are roughly unrivaled as defenders.  It won’t be an easy conversation, whether it’s this winter or next, or the one after that.

The timing of the conversation, and the transition, may depend, more than anything, on the “Who?,” namely, what player might be asked to take over at third base, and when that player might be available.

Norm Hitzges suggested on the radio yesterday that Texas and Brandon Webb might have been closing in on a deal but that the Rangers put those talks on hold because of the possibility of a “major trade.”  No more specifics than that.  Randy Galloway adds this morning in print that Jon Daniels seemed optimistic about something yesterday, which “maybe said something about the Rangers being almost ready to pop something substantial someday soon.”

We’ve talked about this a bunch: I do like that Texas operates quietly.  I like it a lot.

A thought: If Texas trades for a frontline starter, it wouldn’t be surprising for Derek Holland or Tommy Hunter to be in the deal . . . in which case you might still want to sign someone like Webb.  Or Jeff Francis.  Not sure it’s an either-or.

As for Webb, a pitcher who could be a tremendous fit here if he’s healthy, some reports suggest the Cubs are backing off a bit while the Nationals remain in the mix, while other stories say pretty much the opposite.  

The Royals’ haul for Zack Greinke might pan out well, but I’d have this nagging concern if I were a Royals fan that it has a “trade for need” feel, and that new Kansas City skipper Ned Yost is more familiar with Milwaukee’s young players than any other club’s, and that the Royals’ ask was reportedly lower for interested National League teams than it was for AL suitors.  

Irrational, maybe, but there’s something about that deal that feels like Kansas City sort of “settled,” limiting itself by more than just the partial no-trade clause it agreed to include in Greinke’s contract.  I’m fully prepared to retract that if Jake Odorizzi and Alcides Escobar turn into Greinke and Andrus, as some dream, if Lorenzo Cain is truly blooming late, if Jeremy Jeffress has it screwed on straight and turns into a late-inning force.  But for now it seems a little underwhelming.

Fascinating: The Royals apparently have no player under contract past 2011.  Obviously dozens of players under team control, but no player is on a multi-year deal past this season.

I haven’t done the research, but here’s an interesting note from Rich Levine of Boston’s CSNNE.com: For now, there are now eight Cy Young winners pitching the NL.  And just two in the AL.  

Righthander Seth McClung signed a minor league deal with Texas that will pay $700,000 if he makes the big league roster, with another $700,000 in incentives.  The 29-year-old didn’t pitch in 2010 after failing to make the Marlins staff out of spring training.

Texas also gave minor league deals to outfielder Endy Chavez and infielder Brian Barden.  McClung, Chavez, and Barden got invites to big league camp, joining righthander Ryan Tucker, catcher Kevin Cash, infielder Esteban German, and outfielder Doug Deeds in that regard.

The Rangers signed righthander Yhency Brazoban to a minor league deal, with no big league invite.  The 30-year-old, after five big league seasons with the Dodgers, started the 2010 season in the Mexican League and finished the year in AAA with the Mets.  

Texas also signed outfielder Hirotoshi Onaka, a 22-year-old out of International Pacific University in Japan, and released lefthander Michael Ballard and catcher Chris Gradoville.

Texas signed Andrus’s older brother Erold to a minor league deal.  The 26-year-old outfielder, who came up in the Yankees system and spent a couple years in the Rays organization, played independent league ball with the Florence Freedom (Frontier League), York Revolution (Atlantic League), and Tijuana Cimarrones (Golden Baseball League) in 2009 and 2010.

The Rangers also gave minor league deals to lefthanders Zach Jackson (rumored to be part of Milwaukee’s July 2007 offer to Texas, along with Tony Gwynn Jr., for Eric Gagné before the Rangers sent the reliever to Boston for David Murphy, Engel Beltre, and Kason Gabbard) and Kevin Gunderson (nephew of former Rangers reliever Eric Gunderson), as well as righthander Derek Hankins, infielder Omar Quintanilla, and outfielder Salvador Sanchez.

Texas signed Dominican shortstop Alberto Triunfel, a Boras client and the younger brother of Seattle prospect Carlos Triunfel, for a reported $300,000.  

It doesn’t seem right to me that Rich Harden (Oakland) got the same one-year, $1.5 million guarantee that Kerry Wood (Cubs) got.  Wood reportedly turned down far more money to return to Chicago.

Joaquin Arias cleared league-wide waivers, and the Royals outrighted him to AAA.

In Japan, Chan Ho Park signed a one-year deal with the Orix Buffaloes, and Kelvin Jimenez signed with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Corner infielder Matt Brown (Minnesota) and lefthander Mike Hinckley (Toronto) signed minor league deals.

Washington named Randy Knorr manager at AAA Syracuse.  Boston named Arnie Beyeler manager at AAA Pawtucket, Bruce Crabbe manager at High A Salem, and Dick Such pitching coach at Low A Greenville.  Pittsburgh named Gary Green its minor league infield coordinator.  The White Sox named Gary Ward hitting coach at High A Winston-Salem.  Colorado named Joey Eischen pitching coach at Low A Asheville.  The Cubs named Barbaro Garbey hitting coach at High A Daytona, Jeff Fassero pitching coach at Low A Peoria, Desi Wilson hitting coach at Short-Season A Boise, and Jason Dubois hitting coach at the club’s rookie-level Arizona League club.

The Windy City Thunderbolts of the independent Frontier Lea
gue traded righthander Jared Locke to the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Can-Am League (for outfielder Jeff Grose).

The Round Rock Express and Frisco RoughRiders will play each other in exhibition games on April 3 (in Frisco) and April 5 (in Round Rock).  

Here are Scott Lucas’s photographs from last Thursday’s book release party at Sherlock’s.  And Scott’s updated organizational depth chart.

Grant Schiller’s writeup of the event is here.

Done with the dump.  Based on suggestions from the local media, maybe the next report will pack a little more punch.

Royals trade Zack Greinke. And not to Texas.

Nobody’s been as insane about trading for Zack Greinke the last two and a half years as I’ve been.  Love everything about that guy, other than the one thing nobody really knows the answer to, the thing that Milwaukee is now counting on – Greinke raising his game (or at least sustaining it) when the spotlight burns brightest.  

I’m not happy that Greinke’s second team isn’t Texas, but there’s a parallel between his escaping the Rangers’ grasp and Cliff Lee doing the same nearly a week earlier.

We know more about the Rangers’ efforts to land Lee, and how close they apparently came to getting it done, than we do about their involvement with Greinke, who was traded this weekend, along with shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, to Milwaukee for shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain, righthander Jake Odorizzi, and a player to be named later, believed to be righthander Jeremy Jeffress.  But circumstantially, we can draw similar conclusions.

Texas was heavily in on Lee, reportedly agreeing at one point to extend itself financially to a level that many of us were concerned was dangerous, if not untenable, and ultimately declining to go yet another step (converting year seven from a vesting option to a guarantee) to close the deal.

We’re aware of the Rangers’ long-standing interest in Greinke, and of a number of reports over the last month that had them at the forefront of the teams positioned to match up with Kansas City.  But the nature of the talks between the teams was described, among others, by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, who wrote just before the Winter Meetings (when Lee was still on the market):

To obtain Greinke, the Rangers will need to satisfy the Royals with a compelling trade offer, a process that’s off to a slow start.  The Rangers have floated multiple proposals for Greinke, but are “not even close” to meeting the Royals’ demands, sources say.  In fact, some with the Rangers believe the Royals’ asking price is so high, they won’t trade Greinke at all.

Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star echoed the sentiment two days later:

The early buzz at the Winter Meetings suggests the Royals are already wearying at what they perceive as low-ball offers from the Texas Rangers for pitcher Zack Greinke.  The reverse view, not surprisingly, is the Rangers contend the Royals are asking for the moon – a charge the Royals don’t deny and insist is unlikely to change.

In that story, Dutton suggested that the Royals “want[ed] two impact prospects, with one preferably being a pitcher” and “another player or two capable of supporting roles on a major-league club.”  Among Kansas City’s targets, according to Dutton, were “shortstop Jurickson Profar, outfielder Engel Beltre and one or more of the Rangers’ talented young pitchers.”

That story was representative of all kinds of submissions during the Winter Meetings and since, with Profar’s and Beltre’s names popping up repeatedly, along with those of Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Martin Perez, and Tanner Scheppers.  

And just like six years and $138 million, or seven years and $161 million, the idea of even half of Profar and Beltre and Holland and Hunter and Perez and Scheppers going to Kansas City for Greinke began to make me nervous.  

I wanted Lee, but not at any cost.  

And I wanted Greinke, but not at any cost, either.

Back on November 17, I guessed it might take something like this: (1) Holland; (2) Perez; and (3-4) either Profar and Craig Gentry, or Leury Garcia and Beltre, for Greinke and out-of-options backup outfielder Gregor Blanco.

I wasn’t suggesting I’d make that deal.

Greg Schaum of RoyalsProspects.com speculated on December 2 that the Royals’ ask could look something like Greinke and minor league lefthander Danny Duffy for Holland, Hunter, either Profar or Beltre, either Robbie Erlin or Roman Mendez, and Garcia (if the Royals chose Beltre rather than Profar).

There was also word that the Blue Jays, who would have had to overcome inclusion on Greinke’s partial no-trade list (as did Milwaukee), were told they’d have to give up righthander Kyle Drabek and outfielder Travis Snider – and more.

If you’re in the camp that believes the Royals were reportedly asking for more from Texas and Toronto than they accepted from the Brewers, an arguable point though one up for debate (Keith Law of ESPN wrote that “[w]hat Kansas City got back is bulk, and fit, but not impact” and that “[t]here’s no single anchor prospect in this deal, a player who’d be a top-15 pick in a draft or who’d be a top-5 prospect in the Royals’ stacked system”), consider this from Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports on Sunday:

Don’t think it’s fair to criticize Rangers for not getting Greinke.  [Kansas City GM] Dayton Moore was very motivated to move him to NL.

The Royals got a deal done with Milwaukee.  They were apparently on the doorstep of a deal with Washington before Greinke said he’d veto the trade.  But as far as the American League clubs most prominently in on the righthander were concerned, the charges were in place that the Royals tacitly acknowledged – that they were “asking for the moon.”

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, asked what he believed a Rangers package equivalent to Milwaukee’s would have looked like, said Elvis Andrus, Scheppers, Julio Borbon, and Perez.  Ben Badler of Baseball America went with the same quartet other than the pitching prospect, matching Odorizzi with Erlin rather than Perez.   Some have suggested that, based on skill set, Beltre may be a better comp for Cain than Borbon is.

If those two well-respected writers are right about how those Brewers and Rangers players are viewed in the league, then the decision whether to match Milwaukee was pretty easy.

Downgrade the shortstop from Andrus (who is a more valuable player than Escobar) to Profar (who isn’t), and it still would have been a lot to give up.

And probably not enough.

Here’s the other thing, aside from the AL-NL issue that Morosi believes was a factor.  Look at what the Royals got, not only in terms of ceiling and projection but also where they are in terms of development stages.

Escobar is an everyday big leaguer with five more years of service before he can be a free agent.

Cain established himself in the second half as an everyday big leaguer, with six more years of service before free agency.

Jeffress, if he’s in fact the player to be named, debuted in September, giving him six more years of service before free agency.

Odorizzi is three years away from the big leagues, give or take.

Kansas City had baseball’s strongest farm system before the Greinke trade.  The club’s five best prospects by most accounts – first baseman Eric Hosmer, catcher Wil Myers, third baseman Mike Moustakas, and lefthanders John Lamb and Mike Montgomery – are probably between a year and two years away from arriving (with the possible exception of Moustakas, who is closer).  

The Royals are positioned well to make some noise in about three years, and there might have been one potential problem adding Perez and Beltre, for instance, two players on the same timetable as Hosmer, Myers, Lamb, and Montgomery.  Argue if you’d like that Perez and Beltre are an equivalent pair to Odorizzi and Cain, but Cain being ahead of the two Rangers kids in terms of service and Odorizzi being behind them theoretically tips the scales.  While it’s certainly not a primary factor when evaluating warring trade offers, if you can help it you don’t want to have to imagine Hosmer, Myers, Lamb, Montgomery, Perez, and Beltre all hitting arbitration at the same time, or free agency.

And that’s to say nothing of the concept of breaking in more than a couple key young players int
o prominent roles in a given year.

But again, there are indications that Texas would have had to part with more than Milwaukee did to get a deal done.  Whatever you think about a Perez-Profar-Scheppers-Borbon package, recognize from all that’s been reported, if it’s accurate, that Kansas City wanted – and got – big league talent in the deal (players that manager Ned Yost is familiar with from his days with the Brewers).  Maybe the Royals love Profar and love Beltre, whose beta is greater in each case than Escobar and Cain, but I’m just not sure the Royals were all about ceiling in this deal.  For the most part, yes, but they said all along they wanted some big leaguers in the deal, and they stuck with that.  

As Rangers fans we focused on the idea that Kansas City wanted pitching, center field, and middle infield help in any Greinke deal, and liked to think of ourselves as an ideal match.  But there was also the part about wanting players who could step in right now, and aside from Borbon – who regressed in 2010 after a 2009 summer debut that looked remarkably like Cain’s 2010 summer – Texas couldn’t match up on experienced position players, unless Andrus (who was signed and developed by Atlanta while Moore was there) were included.  Mitch Moreland fits the service time category the Royals wanted, but not the position profile.

Speaking of which, tack Holland or Hunter onto the deal, or Alexi Ogando, and how do you feel about it?

Making signature, blockbuster trades takes guts, but so does saying no to a deal that doesn’t work, and with both Cliff Lee and Zack Greinke, based on what we’ve been led to believe, it appears that Jon Daniels had the fortitude to resist going where he knew he didn’t really want to go.

Though Kansas City might have made that a pretty easy call.

(Quick aside: To make room on the 40-man roster, having removed two roster members while adding three, the Royals have designated infielder Joaquin Arias for assignment.)

Time will tell whether the Royals made the right decision by choosing the Brewers package over whatever Texas or others were offering, and whether the Rangers made the right choice by refusing whatever Kansas City’s final ask was.  Sometimes going after the player or players who are closer to helping is the right call (partly because it eliminates some risk).  Often, though, going the safer route leads to regret, something I wonder if Seattle might not encounter once Jesus Montero arrives.  

On the other side, I haven’t seen one story questioning what the Brewers gave up to land Greinke, teaming him up with Yovanni Gallardo and the recently acquired Shaun Marcum to create a formidable top three, all under control for at least the next two seasons.

If you think what the Brewers paid to get Greinke could depress the expectations of the Rays and Indians as they test Matt Garza’s and Fausto Carmona’s market value, think again.  Those two just got more difficult to pry loose.

Look, we all want Texas to make an impact move.  It’s not as if the team is sitting back and watching everyone else get to work.  It takes two sides to sign a free agent, two side to make a trade.  And even those opportunities can disappear quickly (example: Florida locked up righthander Ricky Nolasco, a conceivable Rangers target, for three years and $27 million last night).

There are two months left until spring training, and seven months until the trade deadline, and Texas still has both money and prospects to make things happen.  Not much has changed with anyone in the AL West, and this team was better than everyone else in the division last year with this group, before Lee arrived.

That’s not to say that the Rangers should be locked into the status quo, or that it’s aiming to do that, but we’ve all seen this team and other teams spend money unwisely or spend prospects unwisely, and when Texas does either one of those things, that will be the time to be miffed.  

The idea is not to win the winter, or to make a big splash (as some new ownership groups are inclined to do), but to make the team better and more likely to win baseball games, not just today but in the bigger picture, and while I’m as eager as anyone to see how the Rangers go about doing that, and disappointed that neither Cliff Lee nor Zack Greinke will be part of it, I’m not nearly as disappointed as I’d be if Texas had burdened its ability financially to keep the core together long-term or had gutted its farm system, hindering its ability to get better down the road in another way, just as important as the first.

Josh. (No, not that one.)

It was pretty lousy news for the Yankees when Cliff Lee ignored all that was behooved and upset the preordained order of things by spurning Mother Nature and signing with one of the other 29 teams.

While maybe less devastating, it was still disappointing for the Rangers to learn that Lee took a less lucrative package from Philadelphia than the one they’d apparently offered, and that he cited as an overriding factor how much he loved playing with the Phillies in what was actually a shorter amount of time than he’d had in Texas, when that was a dynamic the Rangers believed was in their favor as Lee neared a decision, presumably between New York and Texas.

But the level of frustration that the Yankees and Rangers probably grappled with should be nothing like what the National League must feel, now that Lee joins a ridiculous rotation that will have most teams facing a legitimate ace more often than not in any given series.  Lee is under team control through 2016.  Roy Halladay, through 2014.  Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, through 2012. 

It’s particularly thorny for the NL East, whose Wild Card odds are impacted by the misfortune of having to fight through an imbalanced schedule that has Philadelphia popping up 18 times a year. 

It’s probably not going to be any fun to be in Philadelphia’s division in 2011 or 2012 or 2013 or 2014. 

Right, Florida?

You know Josh Johnson is leaving after 2013.  He may not command a Cliff Lee deal, not quite at least, but he’ll be 29 that winter and will get a nine-figure deal.  Johnson is 33-12, 2.94 the last three seasons (454 strikeouts and 124 unintentional walks in 480 innings, .241/.296/.342 opponents’ slash).  The rest of the Marlins are four games under .500 in that three-year span.

Johnson’s $3.75 million salary last year was a crazy bargain.  His $7.75 million in 2011 is an awesome deal, too.  But that $13.75 million in both 2012 and 2013, while not nearly what Johnson is worth, is going to be a heck of a chunk.  That new stadium in 2012 will fill up, but will the same thing happen in year two for the building, especially if the Marlins aren’t sniffing contention?

Johnson is from Oklahoma.

That four-year, $39 million contract you gave him a year ago – which was then the second largest ever given to a pitcher eligible for arbitration for the second time – doesn’t have a no-trade clause.  (That could be a bad thing, actually.)

The Phillies added Cliff Lee.  You guys lost Dan Uggla.

You’re not going to win a division while Johnson is still around.  After that, who knows?  The Phillies will be an old team at that point (they’re getting there now), though Ruben Amaro Jr. has proven that he’ll shake things up and will probably find a way to turn the roster over to keep the club in contention.

But you have no chance in the East while Johnson is still a Marlin. 

And that month he missed to end the season, shut down with shoulder inflammation and a back strain?  Are you worried about that at all?

Kansas City is holding Texas up for Zack Greinke.  Tampa Bay holds everyone up for any of its players, and the ask on Matt Garza is surely more than it should be.  Cleveland probably wants too much for Fausto Carmona, peddling the 2007/2010 version (32-22, 3.41) while dismissing the 2006/2008/2009 guy (14-29, 5.78).

But you’re entitled to ask for the player packages that the Royals, Rays, and Indians will demand.  Johnson warrants it. 

Get him out of the National League.  Revitalize the top of your farm system, accelerate the process, pull off your Teixeira deal.  You have the one pitcher in the game, assuming Seattle maintains its resolve, worthy of that sort of haul.

The stories this week say you “have no intention of trading” Johnson. 

I see what you did there.  Clever.

Do the right thing, Florida. 

It would behoove you.

Thank you, Cliff Lee.

Thanks, Cliff.

Thanks for the four greatest sports months of my life.  Thanks for the greatness, the dominant precision, the artistry.  The way you pitched, the way you competed.  The occasional transcendence. 

Thanks for October 6.  And for October 12, and the Don Draper cool of that march toward Bengie Molina and everything that happened in the three hours that led up to it.

Thanks for October 18.  Man, thank you for that. 

Thanks for doing your part to make a playoff team a World Series team.  Maybe more than once.

Sure do appreciate you not signing with New York.  A lot.

I wasn’t surprised when I read last night that you called Jon Daniels yourself to tell him you were signing with Philadelphia.  I was entertained that you had your agent call Brian Cashman to deliver the same message.

I wanted you back in Texas, but the years and dollars that the bidding had gone to scared me.  Still wanted you here, but when the offers got as crazy as they did, I found myself more preoccupied with you not ending up with the Yankees.  

Even though it behooved you to sign with them.

So much of what was reported this last month, in this age of 140 characters or less, as fast as you can, was wrong, including the perceptions that Lee would carry the Union torch and ultimately chase the biggest deal, that New York wasn’t going to allow Lee to get away, that the fact that his mother doesn’t fly and that he absolutely loved his time here was going to win the day.

Everyone with a public opinion, even the ones banging their fists on the table, was wrong.  Lee – who reportedly wanted so badly to return to Philadelphia that he instigated the talks with the Phillies – caught everyone looking at strike three.

Emotionally, it does suck that Texas reportedly offered the most lucrative contract* and that, despite every indication that Lee loved his Texas teammates and despite proximity and lifestyle and tax laws and the strength and promise of the team around him and December hunts with Tommy Hunter while everyone else was on the edge of their Winter Meetings seats, it wasn’t enough.

[* Rumored best offers: Texas apparently offered six years at $23 million annually (some deferred), with a seventh year option – a vesting option – at the same amount, for a possible total of $161 million (Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, who called Texas the “high bidders”; Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated on the “huge, huge deferrals”); New York’s equivalent proposal was reportedly for a similar and possibly slightly less valuable six-year package ($22 million or $23 million per year) and a seventh-year player option for $16 million, for a possible total of $148 or $154 million (Jerry Crasnick and Buster Olney of ESPN, Heyman); Philadelphia offered five years at $21.5 million annually, with an “easily reachable” vesting option at $27.5 million that the club can buy out for $12.5 million, making the package a guaranteed $120 million over five years that could end up being $135 million over six years (Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, and Crasnick on the “easily reachable” part)]

But unemotionally?  (And sorta emotionally?)  I don’t blame Lee at all, and really I’m not all that torn up.  The biggest sports moments in my lifetime have been adrenaline rushes and kicks in the gut.  This one was really different, has an oddly surprising calm to it.  Hearing that Lee chose Philadelphia, that Lee didn’t choose Texas and didn’t choose New York, struck me as good news.  I would have never expected that reaction (and, despite the fear over the financial commitment, would have never had the same reaction if he chose pinstripes).

I’m not trying to rationalize this.  I realized two days ago, as we’ve talked about, that it was starting to feel more important to me to see the Yankees not get Lee than for Texas to sign him to what many of us – and I bet some of the Rangers’ decision-makers – knew deep down was a bad baseball contract.  I’m content with this, until we see what the Rangers do next.

I look forward to the New York columns that blast Lee for defying what was preordained – and that examine what might look very different today (and what might have looked very different in October and November) had the Yankees agreed in early July to part with infielder Eduardo Nunez or righthander Ivan Nova.

That part of this story will never stop entertaining me.

What’s Plan B for New York?  Pay Andy Pettitte’s price not to retire, but then what?  Zack Greinke apparently prefers not to pitch in New York (and has the partial no-trade clause to make sure it doesn’t happen), and the Yankees reportedly share doubts about that fit.  Would Tampa Bay trade Matt Garza in the division?  Would New York trade Jesus Montero in the division?  There’s a good reason we’ve seen stories that the Yankees have placed calls about Francisco Liriano, John Danks, and others on that tier.

And now there’s word that Boston is about to trade for Joe Blanton, helping the Phillies afford Lee and further making this less than the happiest Yankees winter ever.

But I don’t care about New York’s Plan B.

As for Texas’s, we all know the Rangers aren’t caught unprepared by this, and truthfully there’s an argument to made that no player that Texas truly targeted this winter, aside from Lee, has gone off the free agent market yet or been traded elsewhere.  Greinke and Garza will be the popular names in every story you read, but know this: It will take considerably more to get either one than it took Texas (or Seattle or Philadelphia) to trade for Lee.  Kansas City and Tampa Bay are sitting in great spots right now, holding the two best young available pitchers on the market, at affordable contracts and multiple years of control, neither needing to trade its guy.

You can bet the Rangers will make absolutely sure that Florida, in spite of being a year away from opening its new stadium, wouldn’t consider taking advantage of the situation and trading Josh Johnson.

And you can also bet that the idea of testing Neftali Feliz as a starter will draw intensified scrutiny now, and that the free agent relief pitcher market could begin now to take on more importance here.

Whoever Plan B is, will he be as good as Lee?  Probably not, but we’ll see.  Some think Greinke, in particular, will produce more over the next five years than Lee.  Far more unknowns with Greinke, though.

Will Texas be able to replenish the prospects traded?  Probably not fully, but we’ll see.  Texas gets Philadelphia’s first-round pick (number 33 overall) in this June’s draft, which promises a deeper crop than last year’s, plus a supplemental first-rounder.  Remember that Tanner Scheppers was a supplemental first, and this ownership group certainly won’t be afraid to take big-dollar risks in the draft.

Will Plan B leave Texas more money to address other needs, now or in July?  Yes.

Will Plan B come off the books himself in two years, maybe three?  If so, then we go get the next young ace.

The point of that is there’s less financial risk in Greinke or Garza, even if neither is Cliff Lee when it comes to level of trust, particularly in the biggest games.  The bigger risk is in the young players it will take to get either of them, but the Rangers are in a good position to at least have a tough call to make, having built one of the game’s richest farm systems.

Put it this way: The Plan B effort is much more of a scramble for New York than it is for Texas.

This was one helluva effort by the Rangers.  I’m dying to know, if this team wasn’t as aggressive as it was in the last few days, whether it wou
ld have ended this way.  Maybe the Lee contract would have been a bad outcome ultimately, but if the Rangers didn’t revive their place in this on Thursday, with that third flight to Arkansas, would Lee have signed then with New York?  Or would the Phillies have stepped in then rather than Monday?

Don’t know, but I know that I love how aggressive the Rangers are.

I love Cliff Lee.  There’s never been a pitcher quite like him in Texas, and there’s never been a season in Texas anything like 2010, which without Lee would have ended sooner.  The Rangers’ opportunistic move to get Lee in July, and his part in the four months that followed to give us that season, will stand forever among the greatest rewards I’ve had as a sports fan.  Forever.

For that, Cliff, no matter what happens from here on out for you or for Texas, let me just say, once again:

Thank you.

Choose.

The year Cliff Lee was his daughter Maci’s age, back in second grade, I had a choice of my own to make.  

I was a senior in high school.  For an eternity I’d gone to the schools I was supposed to, like we all do.  But finally it was my turn to choose.  And I had the chance to go to the college I’d wanted to go to for a long time.

It wasn’t as close to home as UT – which felt like a plus —  and definitely had more of a prestigious air about it.  Was it a better school?  Was it a better school for me?  Those seemed like unimportant questions from the moment I was accepted until the time came to make my decision.  All through that time, though I hadn’t accepted anywhere yet, I was all but sure I was headed out of state, sort of allured by the “Who wouldn’t want to go there?” mindset (and what would have been a better chance of walking onto a college baseball team).

I’m still not exactly sure why, but I woke up one morning in March and changed my mind.  I chose the University of Texas.  I was opting for the more familiar school over the more prestigious one, though not for that reason.  Then again, I couldn’t pin down the reason.  It just felt like the right call.

And I’ve never regretted it.

What I wish for you today, Cliff, is a nap and a eureka moment.  No matter what you decide, it’s going to be the right choice for you.  And you’ll know it.  And you’ll be damned glad you decided, once and for all.

True enough, millions of people will be glad you made up your mind.  I’m here to tell you that you will be, too, maybe more so than you realize right now.

End this.  Start the next thing.  It’s Time.

Book release party: Autograph guests.

12/11/10

 

9 . . . 8 . . . 7 . . . ?

 

No news yet on Cliff Lee, or even credible speculation,
but the relative silence and absence of volleys delivered through the media today
has created this eerie, if groundless, sense that closure could be close.

 

Hope so, at least.

 

I’m sort of at the point at which it feels more
important to me for New York not to get Lee than for the Rangers to land him.

 

But I still want him here.

 

Anyway, I can now tell you this:

 

Our guest list may not be complete, but joining us Thursday
night at the Newberg Report Book Release Party at Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub
& Grill in Arlington (254 Lincoln Square, a few blocks west of Rangers
Ballpark) will be Derek Holland, Tanner
Scheppers,
and Matt Thompson. 

 

Derek is flying in from out of state just for the event, as
is Tanner (the Rangers’ number two prospect by my rankings), while Matt (number
15 on my list, up from number 44 a year ago), the Burleson native and Arlington
high school product, will be making his first Rangers-related autograph
appearance, coming off a Class A season in which he struck out 130 and issued
only 22 unintentional walks in 129.1 innings for Hickory. 

 

The Rangers will be on hand selling the 2010 season DVD
“It’s Time: The Incredible Season of the 2010 American League Champion Texas
Rangers,” which will be released to the public on Tuesday.  That and a Bound Edition – primo holiday
gift.

 

The party goes from 6:00-9:00 p.m. and ESPN 103.3 FM will be
broadcasting live.   

 

As
always, admission to the December 16 party is free – but the “cost” for getting
autographs from our guests is the purchase of a 2011 Bound Edition, which you can pay for now (choose
the option on the right side if you want to preorder for party pickup) or buy at
the party itself.  (The guys will sign your baseballs, bats, cards, etc.,
too — but you have to have the book to get autographs.)  Limit two
autographs per player.

 

Stay
tuned for news on any additions to the party roster – or the big league roster.

 

Sweat.

No news overnight, but in the past day there’s been a bunch of interesting comments from national and New York writers that I thought might be worth sharing.

A big league executive told Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus: “The numbers have gotten to a point where Cliff Lee is a bad contract for either the Rangers or the Yankees.”

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated notes that Chuck Greenberg “took an almost unprecedented step of calling a press conference call Thursday night to express optimism that Lee would still stay, but unless the Rangers up their offer yet again, just about everyone else in baseball will be surprised to see Lee remain with Texas.”

Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, in my opinion as reliable and unmelodramatic as any of the New York beat writers, paints a slightly different picture, at least in the halls of 1 E. 161st Street:

“When Yankees bigwigs huddled in early November, they brought in their own information, speculating how much Texas would bid on Lee and expressing confidence they could top it. They offered this one caveat: If Rangers money men Ray Davis and Bob Simpson dipped into their own pockets to fund the agreement, all bets were off.

“Well, Davis accompanied Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg and assistant general manager Thad Levine to Lee’s home Thursday.  If Davis isn’t reaching into his reserves, he’s at least presenting the appearance that he might be.
                                                              *    *    *
“I can’t remember ever sensing this mood with the Yankees.  They’ve raised the stakes so much on every season now, what with their new ballpark and the accompanying prices, that this Lee pursuit feels like it’s do-or-die.

“I still think this ends with Lee agreeing to join the Yankees.  But if Lee does choose Texas, it’ll be fascinating to see what plan the Yankees design to recover.
                                                              *    *    *
“The Yankees have nowhere else to turn, and Lee does.  There is tension in the Bronx.  Very shortly, it will change to either relief or full-blown panic.”

But this one might be my favorite, from outspoken Yankees Senior VP Hank Steinbrenner, as told to the Associated Press regarding Lee and shared by Mark Feinsand (New York Daily News):

“For somebody of that stature, it would certainly behoove him to be a Yankee.”

A couple thoughts:

1.    Behoove?  Really?
2.    It’s that exact mindset, that attitude, that turbo-off-putting self-importance, that makes me hunger for that organization’s failure.

Feinsand adds: “As Lee drags the process into the weekend despite the Yankees’ robust offer, the feeling among industry sources is that the lefty might be pondering a return to Texas for less money.  ‘If it was all about the money, he wouldn’t have much of a decision to make,’ one source said.”

I can’t wait until this ends.  Like most others have said, both possible outcomes have a strange win-win (and lose-lose) feeling to them, as crazy as the winning proposal will end up being, but I’m ready for an announcement, one way or the other.

And I’ve got to admit, as juvenile as it might be, at this point one peripheral reason I’m hoping this ends up with Lee staying in Texas is just to see how Hank Steinbrenner and some of the beat writers and columnists in that market react.  

This thing about trading Jurickson Profar.

I got a bunch of emails yesterday, on the heels of the local report that 17-year-old shortstop Jurickson Profar might be a sticking point in trade talks between the Rangers and Royals for Zack Greinke, asking a variation of this question:  

Why would the Rangers balk at including Profar in a trade for Greinke since we already have Elvis Andrus at shortstop?

There are lots of possible reasons.

1. The AG Principle: What if Andrus were to leave as a free agent after the 2014 season (when Profar will be 21)?  What if becomes clear in 2013 that that’s where things are headed, as it had become in 2007 with Mark Teixeira, whom Texas knew it would lose after the 2008 season?  Whether the Rangers hadn’t anticipated that when they traded Adrian Gonzalez after the 2005 season (as Teixeira was just entering his arbitration years) – or perhaps they doubted that Gonzalez’s power would develop – the fact that the right field experiment had failed (just as Teixeira’s had the year before) meant the club had two young first basemen, one of whom was already a superstar, and the other was traded, poorly.  

You don’t trade Profar strictly because Andrus is here, just as it would have been wise not to trade Gonzalez just because Teixeira was here.

2. The Haf Principle: But what if you’re convinced that Andrus will never leave and won’t need to move off of shortstop for many years, and that Profar, best case, is not nearly the player Andrus is?  Trade him, fine.  But trade him well.  Travis Hafner may have had no long-term place in Texas, with Teixeira ready to break into the big leagues just after Hafner had debuted himself, but the two-day sequence that saw the Rangers trade Hafner and Aaron Myette to Cleveland for Einar Diaz and Ryan Drese, and then cut Ivan Rodriguez loose by not offering him arbitration, begged in short order for a do-over.  

Now, that’s not to suggest trading for Greinke would be akin to dealing for He Whose Hair Is Played With Afire.  Let me invoke a different Rangers trade scenario, one that never came to fruition: the 2008 off-season dance between Texas and Boston during which everyone was sure that the Rangers and Red Sox would eventually come to their senses and find some sort of match with Gerald Laird, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and Max Ramirez lined up on one side, and Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, Daniel Bard, Michael Bowden, and Nick Hagadone on the other.

Maybe there was equal value to be found somewhere in that mix, as far as Boston was concerned.  Maybe the Rangers felt Hafner’s defensive limitations and below-average speed were such that getting a starting catcher, plus an edge in the pitcher tradeoff, was reasonably good value.  But Boston had bigger plans for those assets, which enabled them half a season later to trade for Victor Martinez.

If Profar is not the key player in this deal – even if he’s a sticking point, he’s not going to be the centerpiece – maybe there’s something to be said for waiting until he can front a deal, not close one.  Say, if Florida decides in 2012, after opening its new stadium, that Josh Johnson is a lock to leave after 2013?  Hanley Ramirez (assuming he’s even still a shortstop) will be a free agent after the 2014 season, when, again, Profar will just be 21.  Trading Johnson could very well put a high-end shortstop prospect (along with young pitching) atop Florida’s wish list – much like when the Marlins traded Josh Beckett to get Ramirez (and pitching) himself.

What if Chris Tillman figures it out and Baltimore knows it won’t be able to keep both him and Brian Matusz when their free agency winters coincide?  The Orioles were reportedly one of the only teams, along with Texas, that preferred Profar as a shortstop rather than on the mound as an amateur (though everyone’s probably coming around on that issue now).

What if Luke Hochevar or Mike Montgomery or John Lamb or Aaron Crow starts to turn into what baseball people think they might, and Profar can key a deal for one of them in a couple years, rather than fit in as the third piece in a deal now?

Evan Longoria.  Carlos Santana.  Andrew McCutchen.  Pick whatever name you’d like.

Sometimes you hold a player not because he’s untouchable, but because there could be a better use for him down the road.

3. The Kins Principle: What if you (and by you, I mean the organization’s decision-makers) actually think Profar is overhyped a bit right now, that his ceiling is lower than popular belief (or at least one other team’s assessment) has it, that there’s an opportunity to sell high?  Thanks to Larry Walker’s no-trade clause, we don’t have a really ugly story to tell here, because Ian Kinsler and Erik Thompson for Walker at the trade deadline in 2004 never happened.

The point is this: Someone whose opinion counted here thought that Kinsler, in his first full pro season, despite hitting .400 for two months with Low A Clinton and sitting at .313 with AA Frisco seven weeks after his two-level promotion with off-the-charts bat speed, was worth trading (along with Thompson) for a year and two months of the 37-year-old Walker.  In other words, that Kinsler wasn’t going to develop into the player he’s become.

Think Tom Grieve had chances to trade Pudge?  Texas played .551 ball after the Break in 1990.  Had never sniffed the post-season.  Had a relatively young nucleus (Palmeiro, Sierra, Incaviglia, Franco in his prime, Juan Gonzalez just arriving) and young starters Kevin Brown and Bobby Witt (17 wins) paired with the still-effective Nolan Ryan and Charlie Hough, plus a young Kenny Rogers heading up the bullpen.  I bet Grieve that winter could have traded Pudge, coming off his age 18 season in High Class A, a season in which he dazzled defensively but once again didn’t hit a lot (.287/.316/.377), for someone like Cubs starter Mike Bielecki, or a half dozen other Bielecki’s around the league, and on paper been better in 1991, certainly stronger candidates for a first-time playoff berth that year than without a deal.  

No matter what the evaluations were, it’s likely nobody in Rangers management believed at that time that Pudge was going to be the best catcher of his era, maybe more.  The Rangers brass under-envisioned Kinsler at age 22.

This could also be called the Danks Principle.  Gotta be careful about underestimating your own player.  

4. The Misdirection: OK, but let’s say Texas is really, really convinced that Kansas City values Profar more than he’s really worth, and because of that the club is willing to put him in a deal to get Greinke.  Maybe the play is to refuse to put him in the trade at first, but acquiesce later in order to get the Royals to retreat a bit on the rest of the ask.  “If you take Profar, you can’t have Perez or Scheppers or Erlin.”  Make them back off the level of pitching prospect they’re insisting on in order to get Profar.

May not work.  But maybe that’s part of the play.

5. The Moreland Principle: Sitting down?  What if Texas thinks Profar might be as good as Andrus?  Or better?  It’s hard to imagine right now, but if you think back to what was being said about the 18-year-old Andrus when Atlanta willingly traded him to the Rangers, there are similarities to what’s being said about the 17-year-old Profar now.  Tools, makeup, maturity, production against older competition, fastness of track.  Is it out of the question?  If nothing else, Profar could always slide over to second (just as Kinsler did) and break into the big leagues that way.

Maybe Profar is this club’s next second baseman.

Or its next shortstop.

That’s where none of us is really qualified to weigh in on whether Texas should include
Profar in a trade with the Royals.  If you trust your team’s scouts and advisors and GM, now’s the time to call upon that trust, and rely on them to make the right decision.  Scouts are the reason Kansas City must want the kid so badly, and why the Rangers are apparently reluctant to include him in the deal, even if it were to bring a number one starter back.

But the point of all this is that there could be a number of reasons Texas may not want to trade Profar, at least not now, even if his path to the big leagues is blocked, if he stays with this organization, by the best young position player on the team.

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