Marc Normandin over at Beyond the Box Score is moderating divisional roundtable discussions with each of the SBNation bloggers. Today, we're putting up the Rangers roundtable (which you can find after the jump), which features myself, Jeff over at Lookout Landing, Blez at Athletic's Nation, and The Rev at Halo's Heaven. The roundtables for the other A.L. West teams will be up on each team's site on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week, and I'll link those as they come up...
Marc Normandin: Texas had a good deal of turnover this season, much of it going unnoticed. They added a few players via trade and free agency, and lost a few key pieces from 2005 as well. What are your favorite and least favorite moves of the offseason.
Jeff Sullivan: Nevermind the Millwood contract; my favorite move absolutely has to be the Soriano trade. Soriano was (is) famously overpaid and overrated, a total product of the ballpark who played some of the worst defense in the league. That the Rangers were able to bring in so much value in return -- including a Brad Wilkerson who should be due for a big bounce back season -- speaks volumes about Jon Daniels' ability to steer this organization in the right direction. On the flip side, I wasn't wild about the Chris Young trade. I could go to some length, but I won't. I just didn't understand it at the time, and I still don't today.
Blez: If you look at Eaton's numbers in that cavernous ballpark, that should explain itself. Texas made several smart moves this offseason. But ultimately, I have to agree with Jeff in that Wilkerson was an excellent addition and getting rid of Soriano was a plus. He's showing his true colors now in Washington. I also love Wilkerson. As for their worst move, it was losing Kenny Rogers. I understand why that move had to be made, but Rogers figured out how to pitch in that nightmare ballpark when few others have. Plus, Rogers gave the A's fits for years. Millwood is a good addition, if he can stay healthy and stay out of too big a spike in ERA pitching so many games in Arlington. But Eaton will be eaten alive there.
The Rev: The Millwood signing is a plus, not a huge plus, but something - and Clearchannel Hanks has got the pockets for it, no matter his whining, so all over a good (not great) thing. Ditching Soriano was a plus, especially considering who they got. Wilkerson is bound to have a monster year in that park - look at him in RFK and you can imagine he wakes up in the middle of the night happy to be a Ranger. Cannot figure out why they ditched Chris Young - Would have thought SD would have just as eagerly accepted a good bat for Eaton. Have to disagree on Kenny Rogers - it is that Steve Finley-like gamble with his age now. They were smart to put the dough somewhere else. As far as palace intrigue goes, the Hershiser departure is vexing for a Rangers fan, if it indicates Showalter's stranglehold on power... that is a negative. The Rangers improved - enough for the division - No, but a few things could break their way toward a wild card hunt.
Adam J. Morris: For the past three years, I had been very down on the Rangers. For the last two years, I've been highly disappointed with the direction they were going, particularly the ARod trade and the Palace Coup led by Buck and Orel that resulted in Grady Fuson being shown the door. However, that's all changed since Jon Daniels took over as G.M. In fact, I'll go so far to suggest that if there's a team that has the potential to be this year's ChiSox, it is TX. Running down the moves...loved, loved, loved the Soriano trade, for the reasons already mentioned. I think there's a good chance Wilkerson gets re-upped on a multi-year deal either mid-season or after 2006. Really liked the Padilla, Leicester and Castro trades. Liked the Millwood signing, but didn't love it...thought it was overspending, but the Rangers had to do it to get a guy like that here. And because of the deferred money, the present value of the contract is really 4 years, $42 million with a vesting option, not the 5 years, $60 million it is usually reported at. 4 years, $42 million is a lot more reasonable than 5 years, $60 million. Hated the San Diego trade...if it had just been Gonzalez and Sledge for Otsuka and that catcher, Killian, I wouldn't have cared for it. But the Eaton/Young swap was a clear loss for Texas. Someone in the organization -- probably Dom Chiti, Hart's hatchet man who was running the player development system, and who is now the bullpen coach -- fell in love with Eaton, and the Rangers decided they had to have him. The argument for making the deal is that 1) Eaton had put it all together before his injury, and 2) Young doesn't work deep enough into games to be effective. But even before the injury that sidelined Eaton in June, Chris Young had a better ERA than Eaton did. And Eaton and Young each averaged the exact same number of pitches per inning. Bad trade...but even with that, still an excellent offseason for the Rangers. And while I mocked Daniels for saying the team would be "creative and aggressive," they actually were, in a good way... The Padilla pickup was outstanding, they got Leicester when the Cubs were caught in a 40 man roster crunch, and they were creative in getting the #1 Rule 5 pick to get Castro. Daniels is thinking outside of the box, and being...well, aggressive and creative in working to improve this team. I give him a B+ for the offseason, and am very optimistic about the team's future with him at the helm.
Marc Normandin: Detail what you think is in store for Rangers top pitching prospects John Danks, Thomas Diamond, and Eric Hurley in 2006 and beyond.
Jeff: I'm going to be honest, there's no way I can answer that question in a few sentences. If it helps at all, I'd rank them Danks>Hurley>Diamond. I like the way Danks was able to hold his own at a young age in AA. Nevermind the ugly ERA; he posted strong K, BB, and GB rates against tougher competition. Never having seen him in person, I can't comment on his mechanics, but his peripherals are good enough to suggest that he'll be effective, provided he can avoid a breakdown.
Adam: Danks is the one most likely to be great as a Ranger. Diamond is the one most likely to be good as a Ranger, although he may end up as a closer. Hurley is the one most likely to be traded this summer, when they have to package him with Joaquin Arias to get a rightfielder at the trade deadline.
Jeff: Where do you fit in Volquez?
Adam: Volquez, I'm not as sold on as some other folks are. 4+ ERA in the Cal League and Texas League last year, although his peripherals are decent. knock on him is that he throws too many strikes...leaves pitches over the plate.
Blez: Do any of them make an impact this year?
Adam: Diamond is the most likely...could be in the pen pretty quick. They are all behind Josh Rupe if a starter goes down, and probably Brian Anderson, once he gets healthy. Hurley will only have an impact this season via a trade. Volquez could be up in the second half as a starter, although I'd be surprised. Danks won't be here before September, if then. If I had to guess, the one most likely to have an impact on the field in the majors this year is Diamond, as a setup man
Jeff: That Carl Everett trade is still paying dividends. I imagine Danks is a pretty good candidate for a September audition. Although I don't know what'd happen if Texas is in the race.
Marc: How do you see David Dellucci performing after his excellent 2005 season? Brad Wilkerson, after his letdown of a 2005 campaign?
Jeff: Even if Wilkerson doesn't improve - which, given his age and wrist last year, is unlikely - he's a left-handed bat who's going to get a lot of help from those Ameriquest wind gusts in RF. He has to be considered an excellent candidate to have a breakout season, even if most of his gains are superficial. As for Dellucci, he seems to be making a comfortable transition into a guy with old player skills. I don't think he's going to slug .500 again, but he should get on base enough to keep from becoming a liability. Would make for half of a great platoon with Mench, although Mench is too young to fit with that kind of role.
Blez: Dellucci's second half OBP slipped to .317 and his slugging also went down. But I think he could also be an excellent platoon-type player, but Mench is continuing to get better, in my opinion. As for Wilkerson, I already gushed enough over their acquisition of him to let you know what I think of his potential offensive return.
The Rev: I think Wilkerson is going to rake and be a key part of that offense. Maybe the best offseason pickup - the best in this division. Delucci's # 10 similar batter is Wilkerson, and at 32, David ain't done. The park, of course, helps.
Adam: Dellucci, I think, had a fluky first half of last year, then came back to earth...Wilkerson and Mench are the two givens in the outfield, and then you have Nevin, Durazo, Dellucci, Matthews, and Nix vying for playing time with the other outfield corner and DH. I wouldn't be surprised to see either Dellucci or Matthews dealt at the end of spring training...particularly since, for the time being, the Rangers appear committed to Nevin at DH. If Dellucci sticks, he'll be a solid 4th outfielder and maybe a platoon DH...if Nevin flames out and they don't keep Durazo, I expect Dellucci to split the DH ABs with Jason Botts the second half of the season. Wilkerson, I think, along with Hank Blalock and Kam Loe (cue Jeff), is one of the most important pieces of the team this year. If those three have solid seasons, I think the Rangers are vying for the playoffs. Wilkerson, if he stays healthy and plays center (which is still up in the air -- Buck hasn't decided if he'll be in CF or RF), will be the best all-around CF the Rangers have ever had. He'll probably hit leadoff, walk, hit for power, be the poor man's Bobby Abreu, and score 120 runs... And to go off on a tangent, folks don't know about Kim Loe, but he's a real, real nice pitcher that Grady Fuson got in the 20th round in 2002, and I expect him to be the 2nd-best pitcher in the rotation this year. And just to finish...Blalock is key because he has to get back to where he was in 2003-04, or the Rangers are still one bat short. People are already writing him off, forgetting that he's just turned 25...he's younger than Dallas McPherson, whom a DFW sports talk show host was saying would be a star this past week...