Monday, January 28, 2008

Could Orioles be Key to Marlon Byrd deal?

The Baltimore Orioles are in serious talks with the Seattle Mariners about a trade that would send Erik Bedard to Seattle with future stud Adam Jones coming back to Baltimore, among others. Jon Heyman, of believes that if the Bedard to Seattle deal goes through the Orioles next move would likely be to deal Brian Roberts to the Cubs, possibly for Felix Pie and Sean Gallagher.

What does all this have to do with the Rangers? If Felix Pie is no longer a Cub, then CF becomes an even bigger position of need in Chicago. Their only internal option would be to move Kosuke Fukudome to CF and have Matt Murton and former Ranger Mark DeRosa man the corner OF spots. It is more likely they would pursue a CF, possibly dangling Murton, and let DeRosa get a lot of his at bats in LF and at SS. With Chicago already rumored to be interested in Byrd and Armando Galarraga hanging in limbo here in Arlington, it seems that if the dominoes start to fall there could be a move by the Rangers. We have already looked at the possible scenarios for a Byrd to Chicago move, but apparently Sean Gallagher would be out of the picture. This could leave the Rangers to go after Matt Murton, Sean Marshall, and a low level minor leaguer for Marlon Byrd and Armando Galarraga. The big key for the Rangers is that the other two deals (Bedard to Seattle, Roberts to Chicago) be done before Galarraga has to be placed on waivers.

After a lot of debate over the value of Byrd to the Cubs and the overall value of Matt Murton, if Felix Pie was moved it would leave Jon Daniels with the upper hand. Free agent options for the Cubs would have to center on Corey Patterson, who came up with the Cubs earlier in his career. For all Marlon Byrd isn't, he is a much more viable option in CF than Corey Patterson. The Cubs also have the veterans on board to be able to absorb a possible loss of both Sean Gallagher and Sean Marshall. However, it would mean placing a lot of trust in Jon Lieber, Ryan Dempster, and Jason Marquis to adequately hold down the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation all season. It would also mean the Cubs would have to hope that Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, and Rich Hill can stay relatively healthy as the Cubs would be void of some depth in the rotation (though they could conceivably have Armando Galarraga).

So, just for the sake of playing fantasy GM and assuming Bedard and Roberts are both dealt with enough time left for Galarraga to be part of a deal, here is a possible deal for the Rangers and Cubs to make.

-The two principal pieces for the Rangers would be Marlon Byrd and Armando Galarraga.
-The two principal pieces for the Cubs would be Matt Murton and Sean Marshall.
-The last part of the trade would be a prospect swap. This is where the Rangers would need to capitalize on the Cubs' potential need for a CF. The Rangers need some LHP depth added to the system with Matt Harrison getting lonely. Guys like Zach Phillips and Beau Jones have potential, but there is a need to add to the number of lefties. On this front, I see two potential targets for the Rangers. The first, and more feasible, would be James Russell. Russell was selected in the 2007 draft and so would have to be made available as a PTBNL since he cannot be traded yet. Russell has two things going for him aside from his pitching abilities. He is the son of former Rangers' closer, Jeff Russell. Secondly, he was drafted out of the University of Texas which would definitely make Tom Hicks happy. Russell is a big lefty, at 6'4" and projects as a guy who could start or pitch out of the bullpen. The Rangers would have to determine a low level minor leaguer to send back, possibly one of the 3 catchers on Spokane's roster not named Cristian Santana. If the Rangers were willing to up the level of the prospect they send to the Cubs, then a prime target would be AA LHP, Donald Veal. Veal is another big guy at 6'4" and 215 pounds. He is a former 2nd round pick who blew through both levels of single A and spent 2007 having an up and down year for the AA Tennessee Smokies. You can read a story about Veal here. Veal is a guy the Rangers would have to get creative to get and use a guy like Joaquin Arias along with someone who would satisfy a need for the Cubs like Wes Littleton or Scott Feldman. Someone call Hendry and tell him he needs Feldman.

For now, Jon Daniels and the rest of the Rangers front office will just have to wait for the Baltimore Orioles.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Armando Galarraga DFA'd

Okay, timeout. I am reading over this and realizing maybe I am overreacting. Galarraga is a 26 year old who hasn't had great minor league numbers and was a forgotten prospect until he showed up in Arlington. And the guy who took his 40-man spot, Jason Jennings, is only 29 (with more wear on his arm). Read through my first post and let me know if I have overreacted because I feel like maybe I have. Or maybe I just really don't see Scott Feldman ever helping this club, thereby making him the obvious choice in this whole thing.


Armando Galarraga was DFA'd yesterday to make room for Jason Jennings. If he does not clear waivers, then this sums up a recent string of events:

1.) Alex Rodriguez and Cash traded for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias
2.) Alfonso Soriano traded for Brad Wilkerson, Armando Galarraga, and Termell Sledge
3.) Sledge part of the trade we do not speak of
4.) Brad Wilkerson becomes FA...thank the good Lord
5.) Galarraga DFA'd

They now have ten days to trade, release, or put him on waivers. It could be they already have a deal involving Galarraga in place because that is the only good reason Scott Feldman is still in a Rangers uniform. Maybe we see a Byrd + Galarraga deal with the Cubs. There is no telling but if this is the totality of the move, then this JD backer will have to rethink his allegiances. I'm not saying Galarraga is a world beater, but he is a young starting pitcher with some ability. Of course, Galarraga could harmlessly pass through waivers a la Shelton, but that seems somewhat unlikely.

It's not so much Galarraga that is confusing people as it is the fact Scott Feldman is still here. Feldman's WHIP was just south of 2 last year. He has looked absolutely horrible more often than not and he is a player who is part of an already overcrowded bullpen. You could make an argument for Cruz as well with the outfield pretty full and his past performance. Same for Tejeda along the lines of past performances. But at least Tejeda and Cruz have talent that is clearly visible. Cruz can mash (when he actually connects with a ball) and has a cannon for a right arm. Tejeda has an arm that is above average and has shown flashes. Feldman just doesn't seem like all that much and is a guy with a better chance at clearing waivers than Galarraga anyway. Not to mention he even punches sidearm. Who punches sidearm?

This reeks of there being a deal in place for Galarraga already, and there's a good chance it's starting to smell in Chicago as well. Or perhaps the smell is emanating from the Rangers' front office because if this is a singular move then they are all full of it.

More on this as it develops.

(You like how I used a nice little journalistic phrase there at the end? I thought you might.)

*Just below this post AllThingsRangers covers Robert Earl Keen AND Brandon McCarthy in the SAME POST. If you can't believe it just keep reading and be amazed!*

armando galarraga photo courtesy of
scott feldman punching like a girl photo courtesy of

Breaking Down The 40-Man Roster Day 4

Robert Earl Keen put on a great show. I could have done without all of the Texas A&M references, but I guess a successful Aggie has to allow all the other ones to live vicariously through him. You know you liked that one Aggie alums. He did end his set by playing "The Road Goes on Forever" as usual and it was just as good this time as it has been the previous three times I've seen him. So, my apologies to B-Mac as I am sure he has been on edge since learning he was next up in line. But you can't honestly expect me to turn down a free Robert Earl Keen ticket, can you? Have no fear though, I abstained from all things (well most things) alcoholic so I could wake up early and pass this along to all you Rangers fans and especially you Brandon.

Brandon McCarthy
6'7" 200 lbs
Born: 07/07/1983
Opening Day Age: 25

2007 Statistics
Games Pitched: 23 (22 starts)
Innings Pitched: 101.2
Record: 5-10
ERA: 4.87
Strikeouts: 59

2008 Prognosis:
A few years ago, the Rangers had three "phenoms" stashed in the minor leagues. The "DVD" trio, as they would come to be called was a reason to be excited about the future of the Rangers' pitching staff. Fast forward and one is in a White Sox uniform, another in a Cincinnati Reds uniform, and the last is coming off of Tommy John surgery and will likely start the season at AAA Oklahoma. John Danks was the one traded to the White Sox, and Brandon McCarthy was the return. There were three other players in the deal, but these two could be forever linked. Danks was the pride of the system to the extent it was rumored the Rangers were unwilling to deal him in a proposed move for Josh Beckett. That could, like many other rumors, be nowhere near the truth but it is food for thought. Also of intrigue was the stated reason for moving Danks was McCarthy was a proven major league arm and Danks was still a year or two away. Well Danks went in and won a spot in the White Sox rotation right out of Spring Training which pretty much crushed that argument. So, with that out the window, the argument came down to numbers.

Last year played out differently than many hoped (both White Sox and Rangers fans) and the argument could have shifted to who was worse (same argument, but you get the gist of what's being said). Danks posted a 5.50 ERA in 26 starts, but looked promising in stretches. McCarthy tossed up a 4.87 ERA in 22 starts, but looked promising in stretches. McCarthy also looked injured in stretches, and in fact made several appearances on the Rangers' injury report. These are the injuries listed for McCarthy during the 2007 season.

Oct 1, 2007: Missed the last 9 games of the regular season (forearm injury).
Sep 24, 2007: Forearm injury, day-to-day.
Sep 11, 2007: Missed 27 games (shoulder injury).
Aug 15, 2007: Shoulder injury, 15-day DL (retroactive to Aug. 11th).
Jul 2, 2007: Missed 17 games (right finger injury).
Jun 14, 2007: Right finger injury, 15-day DL (retroactive to June 10th).
Jun 13, 2007: Right finger injury, day-to-day.
Jun 9, 2007: Missed 11 games (finger injury).
May 2, 2007: Finger injury, day-to-day.

The blister was an obvious problem and one that is pretty hard to avoid. The Rangers probably mishandled the finger injury as an earlier stint on the DL could have saved McCarthy some poor outings and some spot starts he missed. Hard to find fault though because a blister is just a finicky thing to handle, especially when a pitcher throws a lot of curveballs as McCarthy does. By all accounts, the shoulder and forearm injuries are not lingering, but time will tell whether injuries will be a recurring theme throughout McCarthy's career. He was never really able to get into any kind of a rhythm outside of a 4 game stretch and his season was really a wash, as is the trade to this point. At 6'7" and only 200 pounds (if that) it seems as though a full season of starting will continue to take it's toll on him. Whether he can ever be at or around 200 innings for a season is a question that the Rangers front office needs to answer.

Now for the good on B-Mac. This kid looked great for a stretch in 2007. He was the best pitcher on the staff (that's kind of a complement) for a three week period. He has the ability to throw three pitches for strikes consistently with his 2 seam and 4 seam fastballs and his curveball. He throws a changeup as well but not with the control of the other three. After seeing him pitch in 2007, he looks like he is a major league pitcher. If he can stave off injuries and perhaps add some bulk or at least get after it with a strength and conditioning coach, he has a chance to be a very solid starter. Also, if he can develop a solid changeup, he could easily win 14-17 games with adequate run support. He may not ever be a number one or two pitcher, but he would slot in wonderfully as a team's number 3 starter.

The bottom line on McCarthy is health and confidence. If he can stay healthy and get into a rhythm he has a chance to do some great things in 2008. My hope for his season is simply showing he can do it for the long haul. I have no doubt he can get it done in spurts, but that doesn't help anyone. The Rangers' starters have to get deeper into ball games this year and B-Mac is a big part of that. At just 25, he is a key cog in the Rangers' plans going forward and the team's success is predicated on McCarthy developing into a consistent starting pitcher.

The post on Jason Jennings will show up later today or sometime on Sunday. I like to keep 'em guessing, plus I heard Jennings doesn't read my blog anyway so I don't feel like I'll be disappointing anyone this time.

brandon mccarthy photos courtesy of
robert earl keen picture courtesy of texas_mustang

Friday, January 25, 2008

Robert Earl Keen Trumps Brandon McCarthy

I didn't feel so hot today but I was just about to tough it out and write the Brandon McCarthy post when I received an interesting offer. My buddy had an extra ticket to a Robert Earl Keen concert tonight at Billy Bob's in Fort Worth. Unfortunately for Brandon McCarthy, that means no post on him. To make up for it we'll either do a 2-for-1 tomorrow or a special Sunday post. I'm not sure yet, but it will all get worked out. So enjoy your weekend, grab a cold one, and throw on some Robert Earl.

"The Road goes on forever and the party never ends."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Shelton Clears Waivers and Spring Training Invites

Chris Shelton, whom the Rangers designated for assignment when they added Fukumori to the roster, has cleared waivers. The Rangers have out righted him to AAA Oklahoma and invited him to big league training camp. This means the Rangers can keep Shelton around as insurance at both 1B and DH.

Along with Shelton, here is a list of players who are not on the 40-man Roster but have received invites to big league camp:

SS Elvis Andrus
1B/3B Chris Davis
2B/SS/3B German Duran
1B Nate Gold
RHP Eric Hurley
RHP Paul Kometani
RF John Mayberry Jr.
C Chris Stewart
C Taylor Teagarden

"All Things Rangers" will take a more in depth look at some of these players in the near future. Make sure to check in tomorrow for the Brandon McCarthy post.

My Top 26 Rangers' Prospect Rankings 26-21

I have been working on this list for a long time now. Not quite as long as it's been since the Rangers went to the playoffs. Not quite as long as it's been since a homegrown starting pitcher has done anything of note at the major league level. Not quite as long as it's been since Juan Gonzalez, Pudge Rodriguez, Ruben Sierra, Dean Palmer, Kenny Rogers and Kevin Brown came bursting onto the scene. No, I haven't been working on it quite that long. But I've been working on it for a while.

It's always interesting to see someone's prospect rankings. Different people use different criteria. Some people favor how close a player is to the major league level. Some people are in love with power prospects, both on the mound and at the plate. Some people are impressed with physical prowess. Some people draw names out of a hat. There are just so many factors that play into trying to predict the unpredictable. But, for some reason, tons of people still try and do it. And, for now, I am one of those people.

So here is the first part of "All Things Rangers' 2008 Prospect Rankings"

26.) RHP Paul "Kea" Kometani: He went through AA at an advanced age last year, and his numbers don't look great at first glance. But, the key in his development was his move to the closer's role. Kometani flashed great poise out of the pen as the season wore on. His strong showing in the Winter Arizona Fall League helped reinforce what was seen in Frisco. At 25 years old, he should start the season at AAA Oklahoma and perhaps move into the pen for the big club late in the season.
Est. Arrival Time: 2009

25.) RF/1B John Mayberry, Jr.: Drafted in 2005 ahead of Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Garza, and Colby Rasmus, Mayberry, Jr. has disappointed thus far. He has shown that he has major league power potential, but his contact rate and plate discipline have not improved. He hit 30 home runs between Hi-A Bakersfield and AA Frisco last year. But he also compiled a .235 BA and a .311 OBP. Mayberry plays an acceptable RF but may benefit from a move to 1B depending on the organization's plans for Chris Davis. Mayberry's power alone will not carry him to the major leagues and this year will be a pivotal one for him. If all goes well, Mayberry will spend the last part of this season at AAA Oklahoma.
Est. Arrival Time: 2010

24.) RHP Josh Rupe: It doesn't seem like he should be a "prospect" anymore as he spent parts of 2005 and 2006 with the Rangers. But, an injury in 2007 kept him from continuing his progress and he comes into Spring Training as a bit of an enigma. Rupe was a candidate for the fifth starter in 2007, but the 2008 rotation looks to be tentatively set. Rupe has also pitched out of the pen for the Rangers. He has a shot to make the big club out of Spring Training with a solid showing. If he doesn't he will probably move to Oklahoma's bullpen and be one of the first call ups of the year for the Rangers.
Est. Arrival Time: 2008

23.) 3B John Whittleman: Some people have up and down seasons. John Whittleman had an up, then down 2007 season. He was tearing up MWL pitching for the first half of the season. He was getting on base nearly every game and stroking the ball to all fields. Then, he met what most people call "the wall." Whittleman's number's declined and he hit only .240 after his promotion to Hi-A Bakersfield. Whittleman will have two things to focus on this year. He has committed 34 errors in each of his first 2 full league seasons. And, his endurance waned at the end of last year. At 20 years of age, Whittleman has time to mature. He could finish the season at AA Frisco with a big year.
Est. Arrival Time: 2010

22.) RHP Luis Mendoza: What a gem of a deal the Bryan Corey trade is turning out to be. Jon Daniels and co. plucked this pitcher out of Boston's system and it has clearly worked in the Rangers' favor thus far. Mendoza started the season at AA Frisco and put together a 15-4 record before being called straight to Arlington. Mendoza then put on 6 strong performances for the big club and picked up his first major league win. Mendoza got better as the year went on and the wins piled up. At 24, he has matured into what you might call "a gamer." When he steps on the mound all he does is win. The Rangers hope he continues to "just win" and becomes a solid starter for the major league club. Mendoza will likely start the year in the Rangers' bullpen or the RedHawks rotation. It would probably be best for him to continue starting games and start the year at AAA. He will definitely be back in Arlington, barring injury, at some point in the 2008 season.
Est. Arrival Time: 2008

21.) RHP Tommy Hunter: Apparently the Rangers were looking for a middle linebacker when they selected Tommy Hunter from Alabama. Hunter is 6'3" and 255 pounds and put together a nice 17 inning run for Short Season Spokane. By all accounts, the Rangers envision Hunter as a future closer, or at least bullpen arm. He doesn't deal fire like you might think, but he is a smart pitcher likely to progress quickly through the Rangers system. Look for him to hit both levels of A ball this year as he continues to learn how to become a major league closer.
Est. Arrival Time: 2010

Look for numbers 20-16 sometime in the next few days.

tommy hunter photo courtesy of
luis mendoza and josh rupe photos courtesy of
all other photos courtesy of

Breaking Down The 40-Man Roster Day 3

It's amazing what a night of sleep and a bottle of Pepto Bismol can do. I'm not quite back to 100%, but I think I can manage to get this done. Consider me like Milton Bradley; I may not be able to go play the outfield just yet, but you can pencil me into the lineup at DH. So, as promised, here is today's 2-for-1.

CJ Wilson
6'1" 215 lbs
Born: 11/18/1980
Opening Day Age: 27

2007 Statistics

Games Pitched: 66
Innings Pitched: 68.1
Record: 2-1
ERA: 3.03
Strikeouts: 63
Saves: 12

2008 Prognosis:
At the age of 21, after conquering Rookie Ball and both levels of Single-A, CJ Wilson finished the 2002 season at Double-A Tulsa. He started 5 games and went 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA. At that time, Wilson looked destined to finish the 2003 season at Triple-A and break into the big leagues at some point during the 2004 season. His 2003 season wasn't quite what the Rangers or he had hoped for, and got even worse when he had Tommy John surgery on August 12, 2003. CJ returned in 2005 and was called up from Double-A Frisco and into the Rangers' starting rotation. As a starter, CJ struggled mightily. His ERA was astronomical and his future looked to be in doubt. But, a decision to keep CJ at the big league level and move him to the bullpen revived his career. In 18 games out of the Rangers' pen in 2005, CJ went 1-2 with a 2.73 ERA. After a decent 2006 campaign and a great 2007 season, CJ is now one of the focal points of that bullpen.

CJ goes into the season as the odds on favorite to win the vacant closer's job. He handled the bulk of that duty following the trade of Eric Gagne last season and his poise and attitude have led many to believe he will be the Rangers' closer for a long time. CJ is a captivating pitcher and person that has become a huge fan favorite in Arlington. There has been some sentiment among those fans that the Rangers should try CJ in the rotation again now that he has become a major league success. It is the same kind of discussion that has been heard in Boston regarding their young closer Jonathan Papelbon. At this point, however, it appears the rotation will be the fall back option for the Rangers and CJ. All signs indicate that CJ will be the closer as long as he performs well in that capacity. And hopefully, for the Rangers, that will be a long time.

CJ may also play a huge role for the Rangers in another capacity. Many Rangers fans have heard the stories on CJ and his personal philosophies. Wilson is a Taoist and adheres to what is known as a "Straight-Edge" way of life. You can read more about the lifestyle here. Basically, "Straight-Edge" means CJ doesn't indulge in alcohol, smoking, or drugs. Most fans have also heard the stories on new Ranger, Josh Hamilton. A big part of Hamilton's success in Cincinnati was due to the strong support system they had in place. In fact, it was such a big part the Rangers have since hired Johnny Narron who spent last year with the Reds organization helping Hamilton. Well, the Rangers may also have a key to Hamilton's new support system in place in the form of CJ Wilson. At the very least, it can't hurt for Hamilton to spend as much time as possible with CJ. And hopefully those two spend a long time together as key cogs for the Texas Rangers.

Check out CJ's blog by clicking the link on the sidebar, or just clicking here.

今それはテキサス・レンジャーズで最も新しい水差しの1 つ、前の日本リーグ水差しKazuo Fukumori に動く時間である。
(Translation: "Now it is time to move onto one of the Texas Rangers' newest pitchers, former Japanese League pitcher Kazuo Fukumori.")

Kazuo Fukumori
5'11" 170 lbs
Born: 08/04/1976
Opening Day Age: 31

2007 Statistics
Games Pitched: 34
Innings Pitched: 36
Record: 4-2
ERA: 4.75
Strikeouts: 33
Saves: 17
*all stats from 2007 season spent pitching in Japanese League*

2008 Prognosis:
Naturally, it is hard to project what to expect from Fukumori in 2008. He spent the latter half of last season rehabbing his elbow after having surgery to remove bone chips. Apparently, his elbow is not in as bad of shape as Akinori Otsuka's elbow. Otsuka was let go by the Rangers after the White Sox turned down a trade upon reviewing his medical records. It has since been reported that Otsuka will require Tommy John surgery. Fukumori's elbow condition is not nearly as serious and he should be ready to go for Spring Training. According to Rangers' GM Jon Daniels, "He only took four to six weeks off and was throwing again. It was a very minor procedure."

According to scouting reports, Fukumori features a fastball that comes in at anywhere from 86-90mph. It will be interesting to see exactly how accurate those velocity reports are in Spring Trainings, especially considering his elbow surgery. He also throws an average to below average curveball that he has had control problems with in the past. His go to pitch appears to be his forkball or split-finger, whichever one you want to call it. It is said to have great diving action and cause a lot of hitters to chase. There have also been reports that Fukumori has experimented with a knuckle-curveball to complement his other 3 pitches. The biggest concerns with Fukumori have been control and consistency. He sometimes elevates his fastball or gets lazy and flattens it out. He is also said to have trouble throwing his curveball for strikes when he needs to. His consistency has been a question mark as well. In the Japanese leagues he was either magnificent or terrible. Kaz will have to find some level of consistency if he wants to succeed with the Rangers.

Fukumori will likely be eased into the Rangers' pen and used in the 6th, 7th, and perhaps 8th innings. He hasn't thrown more than 63 innings in any of his previous 5 seasons, so the Rangers would be wise not to use him in a Willie Eyre mode. It is likely the Rangers will use Benoit and Wilson as their 8th and 9th inning combo as much as they can. This will allow Fukumori and Guardado to help handle the 6th and 7th innings based on the opponents lineup. It would be fantastic if Kazuo can pitch around 60 innings with an ERA at or below three. That kind of season would do wonders for the bullpen. The pen was a strength last year, but there is no component of a baseball team that shifts more on a year to year basis than the bullpen.

"What really stood out to us about Kaz is makeup," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We feel he has the right temperament, the right character to succeed. He's got the traits we look for, guys that want the ball, guys that are not afraid, guys that throw strikes and attack the zone."

Well if that is the case, then テキサスの氏へのFukumori 歓迎。(Translation: Welcome to Texas Mr. Fukumori.)

Tomorrow's breakdown post will feature SP Brandon McCarthy.

all photos courtesy of

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm Sorry CJ

Well, I spent the majority of the day hugging the toilet, sitting at the doctor's office, and hanging out at Walgreen's.
I just woke up from a drug induced coma and realized I had completely forsaken CJ Wilson. So tomorrow, it will be a 2-for-1. Both CJ and Kazuo Fukumori will get their moments in the sun. Also, we might have JD's responses to Tim Dierkes and perhaps a look at some minor leaguers. But, I'm not going to promise anything because I could be hanging out with the toilet again tomorrow.

photo courtesy of

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Questions For Jon Daniels

Tim Dierkes, author of "MLBTradeRumors" will be having a Q and A with Rangers GM Jon Daniels. He has asked for possible questions for JD from the readers. If you have a pressing question, head on over to the link below and pose your question.

Questions for JD at MLBTradeRumors

Breaking Down The 40-Man Roster Day 2

We continue with the roster breakdown with a look at our 2nd reliever. A strength of last year's club, the bullpen lost Eric Gagne, Akinori Otsuka, Ron Mahay, and Willie Eyre. The Rangers made two signings to help reinforce the pen and maintain the strength of the club. So here is a look at one of those two signings.

Eddie Guardado
6'0" 225 lbs
Born: 10/02/1970
Opening Day Age: 37

2007 Statistics
Games Pitched: 15
Innings Pitched: 13.2
Record: 0-0
ERA: 7.24
Strikeouts: 8

2008 Prognosis:
In 2003 the Rangers added a 32 year-old, left handed relief pitcher to their team. He was coming off a season in which he pitched 14.2 innings and compiled an 8.59 ERA. In four and a half seasons in Texas' bullpen, this pitcher threw 244 innings and compiled a 3.65 ERA. Ron Mahay (the pitcher just alluded to if you didn't know) was traded to the Atlanta Braves along with Mark Teixeira for 5 Braves prospects. He recently signed with the Kansas City Royals and will turn 37 in June of 2008. Over the same time period, Eddie Guardado has pitched 217.2 innings and compiled a 3.27 ERA. Eddie Guardado is not the same pitcher that saved 140 games for the Twins and Mariners from 2002-2005. However, he is a LHP who has limited lefties to a .631 OPS over the course of his career. He can be the LHP out of the bullpen the Rangers lost when they shipped Mahay out last year. He can also shoulder some of CJ WIlson's former duties should CJ win the closer's job. Guardado also has the ability to fill in as a closer in case of injury or poor performance. The signing of Guardado will also allow the Rangers to get another look at A.J. Murray in a SP role. Murray might have been forced to the pen if the Rangers were short a LHP. The Guardado signing will likely allow Murray to start the year at AAA and allow the Rangers to get a better idea of A.J.'s future role with the club. This seems like the classic "aging, injured veteran" signing that Rangers' fans have become accustomed to. However, this low risk move allows a number of other things to fall into place. There is also the chance Guardado becomes a trading chip a la Eric Gagne in 2007. At the very least "Everday" Eddie should be a good mentor for bullpen arms like CJ Wilson, Joaquin Benoit, and Japanese import Kazuo Fukumori. So welcome to the club Mr. Guardado and feel free to conjure up the 2002-2005 version of yourself at any time.

Tomorrow's "Breakdown" post will feature the one and only CJ Wilson.

photo courtesy of

Monday, January 21, 2008

Marlon Byrd Rumors

One of the few things Rangers' fans really got into last year was Marlon Byrd. He came to Spring Training a relative unknown following disappointing runs with the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals. After being assigned to AAA Oklahoma out of Spring Training, Marlon proceeded to tear up PCL pitching to the tune of a .983 OPS in 44 games. Byrd earned his call up to the Big Club on May 26, 2007 and wasted no time showing management and fans that he had no intentions of returning to Oklahoma. His hustle, clutch hitting, and last name made him an immediate fan favorite. It wasn't long before fans were flapping their arms like birds every time Marlon came to the plate. This Winter, Byrd agreed to a one year, $1.8 million contract for the 2008 season which allowed him and the Rangers to avoid arbitration.

Now the out of nowhere, fan favorite is the subject of trade rumors involving the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have already made their big off season splash with the signing of Japanese right fielder Kosuke Fukudome. It looked like they might make an even bigger splash when rumors circulated about a huge deal that would have netted the Cubs both Brian Roberts and Erik Bedard of the Baltimore Orioles. With that rumor seeming more and more unlikely, it now appears the Cubs have turned their attention to finding a platoon partner for Felix Pie in CF.

This is where the Rangers and Cubs become possible trading partners. Felix Pie, the Cubs 22 year old CF, struggles mightily against LHP (he hasn't done too great against RHP either in his brief Major League appearances). So, the Cubs are now searching high and low for someone who can platoon with Pie and fill the 4th OF role. Their in house options lack experience (Sam Fuld) and versatility (Matt Murton). Byrd's value lies in his right handed bat, his ability to play all 3 OF positions, and his career year in 2007. The Cubs have also had success with former Rangers coming off of career years with the ability to play multiple positions. Mark DeRosa has quickly become a fan favorite in the Windy City just as Marlon Byrd has in Arlington. But now for the most important question to Rangers fans.

What's in it for the Rangers?

Matt Murton: The 26 year old has decent OBP potential, but lacks the power you would like out of a corner outfield spot. He also is below average in RF and really his defense only plays in LF. A new luxury the Rangers have, however, is an above average offensive CF in Josh Hamilton which might have them willing to take on Murton despite his perceived lack of power.

Ryan Dempster, Jason Marquis: At this point, neither one of these guys is an upgrade in the bullpen or the rotation and it would seem they have no real value to the Rangers.

Sean Marshall, Sean Gallagher: Marshall, 25, is a LHP who might be intriguing as an option for one of the last two spots in the rotation that look like they will go to Brandon McCarthy and Kason Gabbard. He isn't going to blow anyone away, but he has good control and a 6'7" frame to work with. Gallagher, 22, is unlikely to be dealt by the Cubs in a move for Byrd alone. He could be stashed in Oklahoma by the Rangers and added to their stable of young arms. If either one of these guys is offered for Byrd alone, one would have to think Jon Daniels would waste no time getting the deal done.

Bottom Line:
There is a reason Marlon Byrd was so popular with the fans, players, and management in 2007. He plays the game the way it should be played. Marlon is a walking cliche in that he goes 110% all of the time. It would be a hard pill to swallow for fans and players alike, but it would also be a prime example of selling high. I, for one, would hang on to Byrd if Matt Murton was the only return. And Ryan Dempster or Jason Marquis would garner no interest for me. But if the Cubs were to offer Marshall or Gallagher, it would be near impossible to say no to. Both of these guys are young, capable arms the Rangers would be lucky to have. This should either get done or die down within the next week or two so now it's just a waiting game to see if JD can squeeze an arm away from Chicago.

marlon byrd photo courtesy of
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Breaking Down The 40-Man Roster Day 1

This is the beginning of the 40-man roster breakdown that will be taking place over the next few weeks. Some days may feature more than one player and players who are involved in trade rumors will be among the last posts. So, without further adieu let the breakdown begin.

Joaquin Benoit
6'3" 220 lbs
Born: 07/26/1977
Opening Day Age: 30

2007 Statistics
Games Pitched: 70
Innings Pitched: 82.0
Record: 7-4
ERA: 2.85
Strikeouts: 87

2008 Prognosis:
Benoit had the best year of his career in 2007 and finally carved out a niche with the Rangers. After years of high expectations and big disappointments, Benoit settled into a late inning role and thrived. At the end of October 2007, the Rangers inked Benoit to a two-year deal worth $6-million which will keep him in a Rangers uniform through 2009. The 2008 season figures to be an interesting one for Benoit. He will go into Spring Training as a candidate to fill the closer role along with Eddie Guardado, Kazuo Fukumori, and CJ Wilson. Though Wilson seems to be the frontrunner, Benoit showed he has the ability to close following the trade of Eric Gagne last year.

I particularly enjoyed watching Benoit this past year after all the ups and downs his career has seen. Joaquin consistently showed the "stuff" that once made him a big time prospect and that kept him around even when he wasn't succeeding. He has truly honed his skills and worked to become a frontline major league relief pitcher. Whether it be as a setup man or a closer, Benoit has found his home in the Rangers' bullpen.

Tomorrow's "Breakdown Post" will feature Eddie Guardado.

photos courtesy of