A few random thoughts I've had on the proposed trade...
- While -- as I've said before -- I don't know that I like the trade itself, I definitely like what the Rangers are trying to do here. In a weak free agent market, if you have money to spend, spending it by taking on a bad contract in order to also get a quality young player is better than overpaying for A.J. Burnett or someone like that. This is the approach I was urging the Rangers to try to take last season, when the market appeared overpriced and not too good. This is the type of move the Rangers need to be looking at to get pitching talent in here, and I'm glad to see Jon Daniels being, in his words, creative and aggressive in trying to get this done.
- Having had some time to think about this, I think giving up Danks or Diamond in this deal is overpaying. Dan Cahill, in a comment on one of the other assorted B/B trade threads, said that he thinks that the difference in value between Beckett and Blalock isn't all that great, and assuming that albatross Lowell contract should be enough to make the trade fair. I think he's right -- Blalock for Beckett and Lowell would be a fair trade. Giving up Diamond or Danks would be overpaying. The question becomes, though...is the Rangers' need for a potential ace great enough that it is worth it to them to overpay to get the deal done? And is Beckett, given his durability issues, a safe enough bet to make him worth overpaying for?
- Another aspect of this deal that I think has been somewhat overlooked is what Mike Lowell brings to the table defensively. The Rangers have a poor infield defense right now, mainly due to Young and Soriano, but also in part because Blalock is, by most measures, anywhere from bad to average defensively. I've been talking with Jeff Sullivan at Lookout Landing about the notion of building a team of complimentary parts, and one of the things that Jeff has expressed, as an outsider, is the opinion that the Rangers should be getting high-strikeout flyball pitchers, rather than groundball pitchers, because their infield defense hurts the groundball pitchers more than TBIA is going to hurt the flyball pitchers. While I disagree with him on that issue, there's no question that the Rangers' much-sought-after groundball pitchers are going to benefit more from a strong infield defense than your average group of pitchers. If we end up with Lowell replacing Blalock, and Ian Kinsler replacing Alfonso Soriano, the Rangers suddenly have strong defense at three of the four infield positions, which should make the groundball staff that much more effective.
- The character of players has come up frequently this offseason -- Kenny Rogers not coming back because he'd be a distraction, Hank Blalock reportedly clashing with Buck, Milton Bradley reportedly being too much of a headcase to bring in, Juan Dominguez being too flaky to count on for the rotation -- but one of the things I haven't seen mentioned is that Josh Beckett doesn't exactly have a reputation for being another Michael Young in the clubhouse. Beckett came under criticism last October for calling the official scorer to complain about a hit he thought should have been an error, and was supposedly instrumental in getting former pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal fired after the 2004 season. Coming up through the Marlins system, there were some knocks on him about his maturity level, and he's got a reputation for being emotional, brash, cocky, hard-headed. That isn't something that I, personally, would care much about one way or the other, but given who the Rangers' manager is, and the types of players he tends to butt heads with, this could potentially be a problem.