Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Another Tuesday

I would be lying if I said this was a big sports morning. There isn’t much happening, but here is what we got to work with:

Revo on getting signing day done

Don't bother trying to pin Rangers general manager Jon Daniels down on what the organizational game plan is for next year. He doesn't know.


And before you blow a gasket wondering how the guy running a major league organization can't know his game plan for eight months down the road, put yourself in his shoes.

What do we really know about the Rangers for 2008 when you get right down to it? What can anyone know?

Not a whole heck of a lot.

Who's playing first base for your Rangers next season? Have any idea? I don't either, but I wouldn't count too heavily on the Rangers running out to find someone on the free-agent market. The biggest names at the position might be Brad Wilkerson and Scott Hatteberg.

Makes your heart just go pitty-pat, doesn't it?

Long-term, it's a little easier to see what the Rangers are trying to do, and that's why the next 24 hours will be very important for them.

Back in June, much of baseball seemed to be highly impressed with the Rangers' draft, especially their first five picks. But as of late Monday, three of those five, including No. 1 pick Blake Beavan, were still unsigned with Wednesday night's 10:59 p.m. deadline fast approaching.

Daniels was, in his own words, "cautiously optimistic" about getting deals done with pitchers Beavan (No. 17 overall) and Neil Ramirez (No. 44), maybe slightly less so with center fielder Julio Borbon (No. 35), because of the Scott Boras factor.
But it's a whole new baseball world out there this summer, with a new deadline, new rules and a whole set of new problems.

"It's a first-time thing for everybody, clubs, agents, players, even the commissioner's office," Daniels pointed out Monday. "The downside to an end-of-summer deadline is that it has urged players to wait until that point, and they've lost a whole summer of development.

"Instead of heading to instructional league next year, they could have already been set to advance a level."

A strong draft, plus the two recent trades with Atlanta (for Mark Teixeira) and Boston (Eric Gagné) have helped to replenish an under-nourished Rangers farm system. Four of the players who arrived in those two trades aren't even old enough yet to drink legally in most states. Three are still teenagers.

"As far as a long-term plan, what we're trying to do is develop a sustainable foundation of players where we can become one of the better scouting and development organizations in the game," Daniels said. "We want to establish a pipeline of talented young players, who when they arrive in the big leagues, can learn from Michael Young and players like that."

Problem is, Michael Young might be ready to qualify for an AARP membership by the time some of these kids arrive.

Most baseball experts believe Daniels did an excellent job of maximizing the deals for Teixeira and Gagné, but we may not see the results at The Ballpark in Arlington for another four or five years, if then.

Who holds the fort until the cavalry arrives is the real question now.

You could make a solid argument that six of the Rangers' 10 starters Sunday were Triple A players, and yes, that includes Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who will likely be the team's starting catcher next year.

But is Marlon Byrd ready to play every day in 2008? Nelson Cruz? Jason Botts?
"We're in an evaluation mode at the big league level right now," Daniels said.
And what does the rotation look like? Vicente Padilla can't get minor league hitters out. Kevin Millwood has had an awful year. Kam Loe and Brandon McCarthy have been hit and miss. Robinson Tejeda pitched his way back to Oklahoma.

That's why signing Beavan, the local kid from Irving, is so important. It's why this whole draft was a big deal and why Daniels' trades, even for teenagers, were important.

There has to be some hope somewhere for this organization.

Daniels likes to use Detroit as the model and that's fine.

"We want to be opportunistic when the right thing presents itself," he said. "You look at what Detroit's done, when one year they went strongly with youth, but immediately began bringing in pieces, signing Magglio Ordonez, bringing in Placido Polanco.

"They were developing guys like [Justin] Verlander but looking for the right winning pieces and layering them in."

Sounds good, but let's not forget that the Tigers' payroll was $95 million, compared with the Rangers' $68 million when this season began. It's much lower now with Tex and Gagné gone.

Evan’s 4 point plan for the Rangers future…

Here are four issues the Rangers must tackle over the coming months and years:

Payroll: Before the Rangers do anything, the club must decide whether it's willing to increase payroll and by how much. The Rangers began the season with a payroll of $68 million. That was the lowest in the AL West, according to figures reported by USA Today. Los Angeles and Seattle were both above $100 million; Oakland was at $79 million. The MLB average was $73 million.

Had the Rangers kept Teixeira, Gagne and Lofton, those three would have taken up more than $25 million in pay next season. As it is, the Rangers have less than $45 million committed for 2008 and only two potential free agents (Brad Wilkerson and Sammy Sosa). In other words, the Rangers could have about $30 million or so to spend before they reach the major league average.

Free-agent allocations: The Rangers' weaknesses in the majors and at the upper levels of the farm system are the lack of quality starting pitchers, center fielders and athletic corner outfielders.

If the Rangers choose to be big players in the free-agent market over the next couple of years, there are potential impact solutions available at all three spots. This winter will offer a strong crop of free-agent center fielders, starting with Andruw Jones and also including Prosper resident Hunter and Aaron Rowand. Left fielder Carl Crawford is scheduled to become available in 2010.

While the pitching pool will be thin, Zambrano is the kind of talent for whom the Rangers might be willing to expand their payroll beyond a comfortable level. Zambrano may very well stay in Chicago, but when Hicks wants to be persuasive, he can be very persuasive.

All it takes is lots of money. To sign both a top-notch center fielder and Zambrano would probably mean about a $35 million commitment for 2008 for the two players.
After 2008, lefty Johan Santana is free. If the Rangers' goal is to win in 2009, a rotation that starts with Zambrano and Santana would give them a legitimate start. Landing two current No. 1 starters would signify the commitment to attract elite free agents.

Catching: The Rangers must decide Saltalamacchia's best long-term role. The fact that he is going to get a long look behind the plate for the rest of the season indicates the club wouldn't have a problem with him unseating Gerald Laird for 2008.
But coming up behind Saltalamacchia are Taylor Teagarden and possibly Max Ramirez. It's conceivable one of them could be ready for the big leagues by 2009 or 2010. It's possible that could necessitate moving Saltalamacchia to first base in two or three years.

If so, are the Rangers better served by having him stick with first base and keeping Laird around as the regular catcher?

Starting pitching: The Rangers seem to have more talented arms in their system than in some time. The key is moving them through the system at the proper pace.

Signing pitchers such as Zambrano and Santana would allow the Rangers to more slowly move their prospects along. Eric Hurley wouldn't have to be rushed to the big leagues in 2008. He could instead break into the bottom of the rotation in 2009 and start a regular procession of young pitchers moving up the ladder.

By 2012, it's not hard to envision Hurley, Omar Poveda and Beavan, Matt Harrison or Kasey Kiker holding the final three spots in the rotation behind Zambrano and Santana.

That would be a nice infusion of homegrown talent and premium free agents, which is just what the Rangers are aiming for.

Emmitt’s debut sounds wonderful …Please someone get me this audio!

Okay, so we're watching ESPN's Monday Night Countdown, and the guys are talking about the rookies who'll make an impact in 2007.

New guy Keyshawn Johnson pegs Jets corner Darrelle Revis, prompting some good-natured guffaws from the other guys on the set who point out that Revis hasn't signed yet.

Then, Emmitt Smith gets a chance to share his views on the topic. And Emmitt selected running back Travis Henry of the Broncos.

There's a slight problem with Smith's theory, however. This isn't Henry's first season in the league.

It's his seventh.

Amazingly, no one corrected Smith's glaring error, and Smith himself didn't say something like, "I know he's not a rookie, but he's a rookie on the Broncos."

The key here is that these guys don't do these segments from the seat of their pants. Instead, they're planned and discussed and, to a certain extent,
rehearsed. So for Smith to get it so wrong, and for no one to say "boo" about it, makes us wonder whether the pounding that Smith took during his NFL career has already taken a toll on his brain, and whether the folks at ESPN either are afraid to set him straight -- or realize it wouldn't matter if they tried.

NY Times on Matt Schaub in Houston

In Houston, the Texans were aching for something more from their quarterback. David Carr was the first draft pick of the new franchise, but he proved to be a distant team member, inclined to go home to his family rather than spend extra time bonding with his teammates and studying film. For a young team desperate for leadership, Carr was a bad fit.

Schaub, who had gone through the adjustment pains of life in the N.F.L., was the right one. As soon as he was acquired, he began calling his teammates. He moved into a place five minutes from Reliant Stadium, and he routinely beats everyone else to work. Schaub said he had immersed himself so fully in the Texans that he had spent no time contemplating what might have been in Atlanta. “He solved a lot of problems for us,” Smith said.

Schaub is soft-spoken and modest, but he carries himself with a bit of swagger that has not gone unnoticed by his teammates. His command of the West Coast offense — the Texans run the same system he has played since college — means the ball is delivered even into tight spots at exactly the right time, allowing his teammates, like Johnson, to relax.

“They always say he hasn’t started that many games,” Johnson said. “When you see him, you’d think he has played in a lot more games.”

When I say the US Men’s National Team needs to play someone besides Panama and El Salvador, This is what I want. Sept 9 – USA v Brazil

The United States soccer team will play Brazil, the South American champion, in an exhibition game Sept. 9 in Chicago, replacing a match against Mexico that was called off because of financial problems.This will be the first game between Brazil and the United States since 2003, when the Brazilians won, 2-1, in overtime in the Gold Cup semifinals in Miami.

On National Madden Day, NHL 94 still reigns supreme

Here is the 94 Stars Roster, with their game ratings out of 100- I don’t think the Stars were the team to take in this game…

# Forwards Rating
9 Mike Modano* 82
15 Dave Gagner* 75
26 Russ Courtnall* 73
22 Ulf Dahlen 70
7 Neal Broten 69
20 Mike Craig 62
17 Mike McPhee 59
16 Brian Propp 55
41 Brent Gilchrist 55
10 Gaetan Duchesne 54
12 Stewart Gavin 47
27 Shane Churla 44
29 Trent Klatt 43

# Defensemen Rating
24 Mark Tinordi* 65
33 Tommy Sjodin* 57
6 Jim Johnson 54
2 Derian Hatcher 48
4 Richard Matvichuk 48
3 Craig Ludwig 44
5 Brad Berry 42
23 Mark Osiecki 41
39 Enrico Ciccone 38
# Goalies Rating
30 Jon Casey* 60
35 Darcy Wakaluk 48

Cowboys in Madden 08 not very realistic (No way they wear Blue at Texas Stadium)

Larry the Cable Guy before he was Larry the Cable Guy


Lance said...

Oh boy. Sounds like Emmitt Smith went to the Desmond Howard school of broadcasting...

DrewJ said...

Baseball drafts/signing are so anti-climatic. With so many prospects that may never make the show or even superstars you might not see for another 3 or 4 years, its hard to get excited.

And I'll see your NHL 94 and raise you a Sports Talk Baseball for Sega Genesis. That game was genius.

Jake said...

Emmitt making people's ears bleed, very much like making #99's in NHL '94. Wasn't the Joe Montana football game on that system? Greatness.

Ross said...

Rangers sign Zambrano, then Santana. Sounds good. Maybe after that we can get those Kobe for Dampier and Jet trade talks rolling again...

lrjoohay said...

Are those Z.Cavaricci's Larry is wearing?

TheDude said...

If I can break in to sports for a moment, check out Hindman's comments on the status of the Rangers payroll. Nice to see some well thought-out analysis instead of the same old "It's all Hicks' fault" or "When we gonna spend some money and get some pitching".

publius said...

Go check out phucksports.blogspot.com for some funny sports commentary.

It is very edgy.