I want to follow up on T.R. Sullivan's comment on Mark DeRosa in his mailbag today...
Sullivan, in ranking the Rangers' pending in free agents in the order of priority he thinks the Rangers have slotted them in, puts Mark DeRosa #2, behind only GMJ, and says this:
2. OF Mark DeRosa -- His versatility is too valuable to lose.
Here's what I don't get, though...why? Why is DeRosa's versatility too valuable to lose?
The Rangers are set in the middle infield...neither Michael Young nor Ian Kinsler are likely going to require a lot of days off, nor are they going to be pinch hit for, so whomever backs up the middle infield slots is not going to get a lot of playing time. Ditto first base, for obvious reasons.
Thus, DeRosa's versatility that is too valuable to lose is primarily his ability to play third base and the corner outfield slots.
Is that really that valuable? Russ Branyan has bounced from team to team of late, and he doesn't do anything besides play the corner infield and outfield spots, and hit (something, for what it is worth, he does better than DeRosa). Hell, we got Herb Perry for next to nothing to fill that very role a few years ago.
And does the ability to handle a corner outfield role really bring that much value to the team? The Rangers are seeking a big bat to replace Carlos Lee in a corner outfield slot, and appear committed to bringing Brad Wilkerson back. You also have Nelson Cruz and Jason Botts, who deserve (and should have) major league jobs for 2007. Plus there's Victor Diaz in the minors.
If the Rangers can land a Gary Sheffield, or a Barry Bonds, or even a Craig Wilson to fill that role, that leaves Wilkerson, Cruz and Botts for the other OF and DH slot. Is Mark DeRosa really going to get any playing time in that rotation? And if not, how valuable is that versatility, really?
In an ideal situation, I'd bring back DeRosa to platoon at third base with Hank Blalock, and to back up the other two infield slots. But Mark DeRosa is likely to get something along the lines of 3 years, $10 million as a free agent -- at least -- and that's too much to pay for a part-time player.
Wouldn't the Rangers be better off applying that money to another need, and going with a bench of Cruz, Guzman (to give them a true backup CF, assuming GMJ is re-signed), a backup catcher, and someone like D'Angelo Jimenez? The entire bench would cost about half of what DeRosa is going to get next season.
If the Rangers are bound and determined to move Hank Blalock, of course, then all bets are off...the Rangers, in that case, probably want to bring DeRosa back to man third base (although I have my doubts about whether he'd really represent an upgrade over Blalock over a full season).
But if the Rangers intend to use DeRosa in a utility and platoon role, as would seem likely, why commit the dollars it will necessitate to keep him around?