We tend to think of keepers for the team's lineup as core players. Over the past five years, that list of players has varied from two guys to as many as six. I've been thinking there is such a thing as "tiers" of core players.
The second tier is made up of those who are not lineup fixtures, are either solid prospects or those who have only had a limited shot but demonstrated they can help the team work. Ideally, the first core are kept with the goal of winning a division or beyond. The second tier core would be those who are counted on to make the team better over time.
That cascade should be kept working, at all levels in the minors as well as the MLB team.
Just for grits and shins, here's a view of the Rangers' two tiers (presently) and a status assessment for each (IMHO). Discuss? Counter?
1st Tier Core
Michael YOung (may need to go to 3B at some point)
Mark Teixeira (may nave to be traded for MLB assets/new 2nd tier players if $$ is issue)
Gary Matthews Jr (expendable if Wells comes here)
Kevin Millwood (durable, smart, valuable, stays)
Gerald Laird (best at position, and there should be replacements in the pipeline when he makes free agency)
2nd Tier Core
Nelson Cruz (can prove he is a keeper)
Freddy Guzman (only if enough clout is in the lineup to make his game changing skills a value added factor)
Jason Botts (one-two years to prove he is the DH)
Ian Kinsler (already proven, keep him)
John Danks (not ready for prime time, will be prime time when he arrives)
Eric Hurley (see Danks and add a year)
Joaquin Arias (OK, too young still to bet big stakes on, but if he's Ronny Cedeno not Soriano and not Cristian Guzman, I"m happy)
Everyone else can and should be converted to 'best asset'. Note, best asset includes keeping him a Ranger if he's worth more here than in trade. I'm worried about the 'no compensation for FA's lost' stuff, since Padilla, Eaton, and for that matter GMJ might be worth more here than the 2007 replacements, but are not really suited for long term deals. Well, Padilla might be. I'm biased, I like him probably more than most do.