I know, I know...the conventional wisdom is that the Rangers need to get bullpen help, or need to get another starting pitcher, if they want to be serious contenders this year. We can't have Kam Loe and the Kronkster in the #3 and #4 slots, and the bullpen needs another arm between Joaquin Benoit and Akinori Otsuka late in games...the pitching staff is where everyone says the Rangers should make an addition, if they are going to go that way.
But as everyone knows by now, good pitching is hard to get during the year. Just ask the Mets, who gave up Justin Huber and Scott Kazmir to get Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano a couple of seasons ago. And there isn't that much out there for the taking, especially since Billy Beane isn't going to send Barry Zito to Texas.
You aren't going to get a #2 or #3 starter at the trade deadline, not without selling the farm, which the Rangers aren't likely to (and probably shouldn't) do. Instead, you're going to be getting one of those veteran innings-eaters, whose price is inflated because so many teams are going to be in the market to get one.
And when it comes right down to it, would you rather give up, say, Edinson Volquez or John Danks to get Mark Redman from the Royals, or Jason Botts to get Kyle Lohse from the Twins? Or would you rather roll with the front four the Rangers currently have, and see if Robinson Tejeda can get it together in the #5 slot, or if a healthy Josh Rupe or Adam Eaton or Brian Anderson can do the job?
And in terms of relievers...I think giving up significant assets for a reliever is silliness. Besides, unless the Rangers are going to release Francisco Cordero or Antonio Alfonseca, there's not really room in the pen for another arm anyway. The Rangers are already bouncing Scott Feldman between AAA and the majors, and have Wes Littleton tearing up the Texas League.
No, what the Rangers need to try to get is a high-OBP bat, a guy who can hit at the top of the order, has some speed, and can DH and play some at the corner outfield slots.
And as it happens, there's a guy like that on the market. One of the most underrated players in the game, a guy who will steal 30 bases a year, post a .400+ OBP, can play right or left field, and whose team is looking to dump him and the $30 million he's owed over the next two years.
That guy is Bobby Abreu. A legitimately great player, a guy who gets on base, has some pop, and can run. A guy who can DH, and spell Mench and Wilkerson in the corner outfield slots occasionally, or who can move into a corner outfield slot if Buck wants to rest GMJ and put Wilkerson or Mench in center. A guy who is a hell of a lot more productive than Phil Nevin, who would be an ideal leadoff hitter in front of Mike Young.
And the best part is, according to Buster Olney, he might not cost much more than picking up his salary:
General managers from other teams say Phillies GM Pat Gillick was extremely motivated in his effort to trade Abreu all winter -- mostly because of the $30 million still owed to Abreu for this year and for next year. There is a dramatic split among evaluators on how good of a player Abreu is: The New School Number Crunchers love Abreu for his incredible on-base percentage, prolonged at-bats and offensive production, while a lot of the Old School Scouts say he's worth much less than his numbers suggest, believing he doesn't play hard all the time and that his physical condition is regressing. An Old School scout asked of him recently, "Can't he just dive for a ball one time?"
Gillick acquired David Dellucci on the eve of the season, so he has options if he really wants to move Abreu, who is batting .264 with four homers and a .438 on-base percentage so far. If the Phillies are ready to deal the All-Star, the Yankees probably wouldn't have to give up much talent -- maybe a couple of Grade B prospects -- in order to get him, because of the size of his contract. The real value of the deal to Gillick may be the financial flexibility gained, as he considers ways of helping the team before the trade deadline.
A couple of grade B prospects, I'd be willing to give up to get Abreu. Give the Phillies, say, John Mayberry Jr. and Nick Masset. Or Joaquin Arias and Michael Schlact.
But Abreu solves several problems for the Rangers. And would be one of the best possible pickups the Rangers could make this season.