Since the Winter meetings have started in Vegas, I’ve seen a lot of names tossed around connected to the Rangers. I’ll weigh in (like you were really waiting to hear what I’d say anyway) with some thoughts on these.
First off, I’m seriously glad we haven’t heard the phrase “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” more. That’s another one of those phrases that’s worked its way into the American lexicon that needs to go away. That out of the way, here’s what I think of:
Kerry Wood: There was a bunch of talk about Kerry Wood coming here. I know early on his career he was one of those guys you’d give up the farm to get here. Local boy playing for the Rangers would make for a great feel good story. He’s turned it around lately as a closer. I would have liked if he came here for the touchy feely aspects (I did like the Jason Jennings sign for the same reason). However, if he came here, he’d be the defacto closer, pushing CJ and Frankie backwards in the innings slots. Still, I don’t think the world would have ended had he come here. Reports today say he’s signing with the Indians anyway, so it doesn’t really matter, I suppose.
Randy Johnson: This is probably a Nolan Ryan thing. Bet you that if he wasn’t the team president, this wouldn’t be an option. I keep thinking about that famed meeting between Johnson & Nolan back in Seattle ages ago where supposedly Ryan turned around Johnson. If he came here it would be for a back end of the rotation guy as well as the famed “mentor” tag. This wouldn’t make me jump up and down with excitement if it happened, but I probably wouldn’t be too mad about it either. Depended on money, I suppose as to what my level of excitement would be. We’ve heard that we can’t make certain moves without doing things like moving Blalock for salary room, so if we sign him to $8 million, I’m not buying the “move salary” excuse for anyone else.
Ben Sheets: The obvious connection here is our new pitching coach, Mike Maddux. Maddux being Sheets’ pitching coach in Milwaukee for awhile. There’s also the local story going on here, as Sheets is from this area. This probably would be an OK signing, but again – contract. I would love a kick the tires contract, but that’s unlikely to happen. Keep him on the field, and he’d probably be pretty decent. But that’s the kicker, keeping him on the field. We’ve taken a lot of fliers on guys in recent years who couldn’t stay on the field (Jason Jennings, Adam Eaton, and of course the king of this department, Justin Thompson). I’m indifferent towards this idea, but at the same time realizing it could work.
Gary Sheffield: Haven’t we been down this path before with Carl Everett, Milton Bradley, and to a lesser extent, John Rocker? Of all these “tempramental, but could work if the stars align” players we’ve signed or looked at over the years, Sheffield excites me the least. He’s way on the decline, and I would go nuts watching that bat waggle 162 games. Ugh. Pass. Hope this doesn’t happen.
Eddie Guardado: I wrote this last summer when we traded Eddie to the Twins, I wrote the following about the move..
Eddie Guardado was traded to the Twins today, his original organization. Eddie was one of those guys that when we first signed him back in January, I thought “What the heck are we doing?” Turned out Eddie was a great guy, pitched pretty well, if not spectacular, and had a fire in him that you wished more guys had. Still, we’re not going anywhere, and if he can help the Twins, I wish him well.
I still agree with that. He was a great move for us last year. If he can do the same thing in 2009, I wouldn’t mind having him here at all. I’d be behind this move. Speaking of Eddie, whatever happened to Mark Hamburger (the guy we got from the Twins for Eddie)? I can’t recall hearing his name uttered since the trade, tell you the truth.
GOING THE OTHER WAY:
Hank Blalock: I still think he’s going to be moved before the season starts. I can’t give you facts, or a reliable link. It’s just a gut feeling. My unscientific, and unlinking rambling says that it’s the Giants.
Michael Young: When I saw the reports that we were “quietly shopping” Michael Young, I did actually utter “what?” at my computer screen. Mostly because I couldn’t see us moving him this soon after signing that huge extension. The only moving I see him do is to third base (or back to second). It’s not one of those blind fan things like “You can’t trade him! I love Michael!!!!!!!”. It’s more a “who would want that contract”, and it’s not like he’s a bad player, either.
Jarrod Saltamacchia: With Laird off to the Motor City, I have a hard time seeing that we’ll move one of our remaining guys now. The current situation is a split (I think) between Salty and Teagarden, with Ramirez in AAA. If we moved Salty, it had better be for a big return – meaning something major league ready, as it would leave our catching team as Teargden and Ramirez, and feeling suddenly thin again pretty quickly after being too deep. There’s talks that Florida wants Salty, but the Rangers aren’t interested unless we include 22-year-old right-hander Chris Volstad. There’s also talk that the Marlins are kicking the tires on Pudge again.