Sunday before the winter meetings, and some interesting stuff out there today...
The thing that really jumps out at me is that Bill Madden absolutely tears into Jon Daniels and Tom Hicks:
Of course, it wouldn't be the winter meetings without the overwhelming presence of Scott (Avenging Agent) Boras. In and around negotiating Matsuzaka's contract with the Red Sox (and trying to find a way to get past the Sox's insistence the $51 million posting money be included as part of the annual average value even if it doesn't go to the pitcher), Boras will be shopping the premier free agent pitcher on the market, Barry Zito. And it was probably an ominous sign for the Mets (who have been insisting privately Boras is over-pricing Zito as a $15 million-per-year No. 1 starter) that Texas owner Tom Hicks met with the superagent about the curveballing lefty on Thursday. Hicks has a long history of coming under Boras' Svengali-like influence and grossly overpaying for his clients (see: A-Rod and Chan Ho Park). So look for him to once again blow the market open on Zito, especially since the Rangers desperately need to do something positive for their fan base to offset all the damage done to the franchise by Hicks' hand-picked "child prodigy" GM, Jon Daniels.
This is what happens when you place the fortunes of your ballclub in the hands of a 28-year-old baseball neophyte with no experience in scouting or player evaluation, whose primary area of expertise is supposedly budget management. In the two significant trades of his tenure, Daniels was fleeced - by Towers, who extracted Gonzalez, 28-year-old righty Chris Young (11-5, 3.46 this past season) and useful No. 4 outfielder Terrmel Sledge for righty Adam Eaton; and by the Milwaukee Brewers' Doug Melvin, who sent him Carlos Lee in July for outfielders Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix and closer Francisco Cordero. In both cases, the players Daniels got were in their walk years and did just that. In other words, by failing to adhere to the old Gene Michael adage "you can't give up quality talent for unsigned players," Daniels gave away six good players and now has nothing to show for it. But then Hicks long ago earned his niche as the dumbest owner in baseball and we can surely expect him to hold his own in this dumb and dumber baseball winter.
Wow. Not sure how Daniels got so crosswise with Madden, and my feelings on the San Diego trade are well known...but I think the fact that Madden incorrectly claims that the Rangers now have nothing to show for those deals reveals how little attention he's really paying...
Evan Grant has a piece up on the Winter Meetings, saying that the Rangers payroll will likely be between $75-85 million, and noting that, after arbitration cases and guys already contract are accounted for, the Rangers should have about $25-30 million to spend on three starting pitchers. My guess is that the Rangers are going to limit themselves to two starting pitchers, with the #5 starter spot being filled from within, probably by Josh Rupe.
Richard Durrett touches on the Rangers' efforts to sign Mike Piazza, saying that the Rangers would be looking at him as a backup catcher and DH, and that Piazza is going to require something like $5-8 million per year, possibly for two years.
I'd rather have a one year deal on Piazza, but the reality is, if he comes in on a two year deal and has a solid season, you can flip him after 2007 if you want.
The Chicago Daily Herald reports that the Indians aren't interested in moving Jake Westbrook, a guy the Rangers have long been interested in.