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.