December 2010


(* Trade Rumor Offerings To Chew On For Fun, Even Yuks)

Not to be confused with veteran reliever Todd Coffey, the TROT COFFEY is a mailing list-only update on various trade and free agent rumblings unearthed, if not hatched, by the media or player agents:

[Web post of this typically mailing-list-only feature today . . . . For future COFFEY reports, you need to sign up for the free mailing list.  There will be multiple COFFEY’s per day this week.]

?    Here we go.

?    Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated tweets this morning that the “buzz is [Cliff] Lee wants to stay with [the] Rangers.  But one competing GM said, ‘Steinbrenners aren’t going to get Lee get away this time.'”

?    Newsday’s Ken Davidoff writes: “I think this could go down very quickly: Offer from the Yankees, counter from the Rangers, counter from the Yankees, game over.”

?    ESPN’s Jayson Stark notes that, according to sources, neither New York nor Texas has made a formal offer to Lee yet, with one source suggesting the deal “will take three days at the Winter Meetings” to get done.  Stark handicaps things this way: “[A]sk yourself this: Do the Yankees EVER get outbid when they target a player like Lee?  Right.  Never.  So no wonder that team is so confident.”

?    Yankees GM Brian Cashman said this to a gaggle of reporters: “I flew into Arkansas especially to meet with Cliff Lee and his wife and his agent.  I did that very early in the process.  I was the first one out of the gates there.  So everybody knows I got ahead of everybody else.  But it’s their dance card.  They’re setting the pace of this thing.  I can only wait and respect the process they put themselves in.  It took them a long time, they fought through a lot of different cities to get to this point.  I’m hoping this will be the last city he ends up in, in New York.  We’ll see how it plays out.”

?    The Yankees GM and Rangers GM are very, very different.

?    Not a big surprise, but Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports confirms that Zack Greinke’s partial no-trade clause, which presently allows him to block deals to 15 teams, does not include Texas (or Atlanta or Cincinnati), but does include Toronto, who has emerged as an interested suitor.  Greinke, of course, can choose not to exercise the no-trade – probably for a cost.

?    Heyman likes Texas and Atlanta in the Greinke race.

?    According to one local report, while it would take a package of multiple high-end prospects for the Rangers to acquire Greinke, it’s possible that the greatest haggling point might be the inclusion of 17-year-old shortstop Jurickson Profar, whom the Rangers don’t want to part with.

?    Peter Gammons points out that with Boston completing the Adrian Gonzalez trade (and moving Kevin Youkilis to third base), and Oakland ducking out of talks with Adrian Beltre, the veteran third baseman is now “sitting on the Angels’ doorstep, if they so choose” to sign him.

?    All right.  The most important contest since Game Five is about to get underway.

?    Buckle up. 

Jon Daniels, Executive of the Year.

I haven’t seen an interview with him yet, and you can safely assume there won’t be a press conference centered around the honor, but whenever the time comes that Jon Daniels is asked to comment on having been recognized Friday as Baseball America’s 2010 Major League Executive of the Year, you can count on two things:

1.    He’ll probably start with something self-deprecating, like he did after waiting out the standing ovation to kick off his Q&A at Newberg Report Night this July by saying, “Hey, I’m still the guy who traded Adrian Gonzalez” (a distinction he shares with Larry Beinfest and, apparently sometime this weekend, Jed Hoyer).

2.    A comment along those lines is the only thing that would precede props from Daniels to his team of directors, advisors, scouts, coaches and instructors at all levels, medical and conditioning personnel, and players.

Two others deserve some props.  It’s not the popular thing to do these days to applaud John Hart or Tom Hicks.  But it was the former who reached out in 2002 to one of his many Cleveland protégés, Colorado GM Dan O’Dowd, looking for a bright young baseball operations prospect to add to his staff and then who mentored Daniels here, pushing him along the fast track that he recognized he belonged on.  

And it was the latter who saw enough in Daniels, when it was determined that Hart’s tenure would end, to entrust the leadership of his franchise to a man who was younger than all but two of the club’s starting nine.  Hicks was known during his ownership as someone who loved the big name, the splashiest splash, but he instead made the least attention-grabbing move he possibly could have in promoting Daniels, who had turned 28 six weeks earlier, unless the headline he sought was to have hired the youngest GM in baseball history.

It was a move without which, I’m confident in saying, the Rangers would not be American League champions today, nor as well positioned as they are to be major factors for the next several years.

I’m not sure there’s a GM in the league – particularly taking into account the team of scouting and development and advisory people he’s put together – that I would trade Jon Daniels for.

Prospects for a big couple weeks.

Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan apparently visited Cliff Lee in Arkansas a second time on Tuesday.  Probably not to beg him to accept the club’s offer of salary arbitration.

“It was a gesture we appreciated,” said Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker.

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe continue to suggest, according to sources, that Zack Greinke simply will not accept a trade to the Yankees.

And the impressive Greg Schaum of speculated last night that Texas is pressing hard – whether the club signs Lee or not – to trade for Zack Greinke (whose wife, Schaum notes, is a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader), and it’s his belief that a deal could look something like Greinke for Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, and either Jurickson Profar or Engel Beltre, with either Robbie Erlin or Roman Mendez (and perhaps Leury Garcia if the Royals were to choose Beltre rather than Profar) tacked on if the Royals were to add minor league lefthander Danny Duffy (a top prospect who briefly walked away from baseball for two months last spring) to the deal.

Given where things are and where they might be headed, it’s probably a good thing that Baseball America ran its Rangers Top 10 feature yesterday.  The makeup of the top of the Texas farm system could conceivably look a lot different in a week or two.

BA‘s top 10 Rangers prospects:

1.     Martin Perez, lhp
2.     Jurickson Profar, ss
3.     Tanner Scheppers, rhp
4.     Robbie Erlin, lhp
5.     Engel Beltre, of
6.     Michael Kirkman, lhp
7.     Mike Olt, 3b
8.     Luis Sardinas, ss
9.     Jake Skole, of
10.     Miguel De Los Santos, lhp

(For comparison’s sake, the first 10 of my Top 72 as they appear in the 2011 Bound Edition:

1.     Martin Perez, lhp
2.     Tanner Scheppers, rhp
3.     Jurickson Profar, ss
4.     Engel Beltre, of
5.     Robbie Erlin, lhp
6.     Michael Kirkman, lhp
7.     Luis Sardinas, ss
8.     Robbie Ross, lhp
9.     David Perez, rhp [BA had him at number 11]
10.     Wilmer Font, rhp)

BA projects this lineup for Texas in 2014, in the admittedly inconceivable event that no players get traded or acquired in the interim:

Catcher     Kellin Deglan
First Base     Mitch Moreland
Second Base     Jurickson Profar
Third Base     Mike Olt
Shortstop     Elvis Andrus
Left Field     Nelson Cruz
Center Field     Josh Hamilton
Right Field     Engel Beltre
DH        Ian Kinsler
No. 1 Starter     Martin Perez
No. 2 Starter     Tanner Scheppers
No. 3 Starter     Robbie Erlin
No. 4 Starter     C.J. Wilson
No. 5 Starter     Derek Holland
Closer         Neftali Feliz

BA‘s Best Tools in the Texas farm system:

Best Hitter for Average     Jurickson Profar
Best Power Hitter         Mike Olt
Best Strike-Zone Discipline     Chris McGuiness
Fastest Baserunner         Leury Garcia
Best Athlete             Jordan Akins
Best Fastball             Tanner Scheppers
Best Curveball         Tanner Scheppers
Best Slider             Michael Kirkman
Best Changeup         Miguel De Los Santos
Best Control             Robbie Erlin
Best Defensive Catcher     Jose Felix
Best Defensive Infielder     Jurickson Profar
Best Infield Arm         Leury Garcia
Best Defensive Outfielder     Engel Beltre
Best Outfield Arm         Engel Beltre

For what it’s worth, I put a similar feature in the Bound Edition, though instead of listing just one player per category, I have several in most of them, and instead of 15 categories, I go with 38, including some like best bat control, best life, best catcher arm, best outfield range, and best makeup.

Don’t count on Texas trading anybody away today, but the roster could very well get trimmed.  With this week’s signing of Yoshinori Tateyama and arbitration acceptance of Frankie Francisco, the 40-man roster is full, and space will eventually need to be cleared for a starter like Lee and a designated hitter, if not others.  One player whose spot is in immediate jeopardy is Dustin Nippert, as tonight is the deadline to tender contracts to players under team control, as he’s probably a player Texas isn’t inclined to go to arbitration with.  

Pre-arbitration players like Guillermo Moscoso, Clay Rapada, and Ryan Tucker could be on the bubble as well.

The news (Yorvit Torrealba, Tateyama, Francisco) has been trickling in, and there should be another trickle today as a little roster paring takes place.

But it’s starting to feel like there’s a little change in the wind and maybe, after another few sleeps, a possible news monsoon promising controlled havoc and awesomeness heading this way.

You ready?