Miguel Ojeda signed, hopefully the first in a sequence of moves this offseason...
And to touch on something some other folks addressed in the thread about Ojeda last night (and that I've argued about with others for over two years now), I'm not calling Gerald Laird an All-Star caliber catcher, the next Johnny Bench, or anything like that.
I've got some concerns about his durability, and I don't think he'll hit for a full season the way he did for most of 2006.
However, I also think that, given his price, his likely production, his upside, and his defensive abilities, keeping him and letting Rod Barajas walk is a no-brainer. And I think that if your concerns about Laird are grave enough that you really think it is necessary to keep Barajas around as a multi-million dollar insurance policy, then you'd be better off trading Laird -- who probably is the 3rd or 4th most valuable commodity the Rangers have, among positional players in their organization, and who would bring an awfully good return if the Rangers wanted to deal him -- and making Barajas your starter.
The Chicago Daily Herald mentions that the ChiSox have been talking trade with the Rangers, which isn't exactly a newsflash. But in the Chicago Tribune, Phil Rogers has some really interesting things to say on the topic:
While one Mets executive discounted reports of their interest in Javier Vazquez (a favorite of general manager Omar Minaya from their time together in Montreal), the rumors of a possible White Sox-Mets trade persist. Ditto possibilities for the Sox and the Rangers, who are interested in Vazquez and Mark Buehrle. There's the making for a monster deal between these teams, with Sox center fielder Brian Anderson and Rangers reliever Akinori Otsuka among the names in play. The White Sox like pitching prospects John Danks and Nick Masset, and the Rangers reportedly would part with the previously untouchable Danks to land a starter they could control through 2008.
2008 is the key date there, of course...I think the Rangers have made the decision that they have a two year window, and want to make sure if they burn any trade chips, it will be for someone who will be around both this year and next year.
And I think the emergence of Eric Hurley may make, in the minds of the front office, John Danks a little more expendable. The way the stock of Edinson Volquez and Thomas Diamond has tumbled over the last year may also be a reminder to Jon Daniels about how quickly a hot commodity can turn cold. In retrospect, of course, dealing one or both of those guys in the 2005-06 offseason probably would have been a wise move.
The Denver Post mentions Texas as a possible trade partner for the Rockies in the Jason Jennings auction.
The Philadelphia Daily News mentions the possibility of a deal between Philly and Texas involving Aaron Rowand and a Ranger reliever.
Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck says that the Orioles aren't expected to win the bidding for Carlos Lee, which would be good news for the Rangers. Lee needs to go to Houston.
The Houston Chronicle, meanwhile, reports that the Astros have made formal offers to both Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee. Personally, of those two, I see Lee signing first...I think he'll strike a deal with Houston fairly quick, while Soriano is going to be more willing to let things play out, and let a team get desperate and up its bid.
Evan Grant says today that the Rangers have laid some groundwork for some possible deals, talking to Colorado, the ChiSox, and Detroit about starting pitching, and getting in on the Barry Zito hunt. Grant also suggests that the Rangers will be getting into more serious talks with the Braves, who are potentially looking to move Tim Hudson or Horacio Ramirez in a deal for relief help.
Kat O'Brien reports in the S-T that Vicente Padilla's agent says that the Rangers are coming on as strong, or stronger, than anyone, while talking up the possibility of Padilla staying in Texas.
That sends up a red flag, to me...when an agent starts talking about interested a team is in his player, I tend to suspect that that is the agent trying to get more interest from other teams.
And a little teaser...I expect, either today or sometime early next week, to have a Q&A up on LSB with a national baseball writer, who will be offering his thoughts on the Rangers...
So keep an eye out for that...