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Wednesday a.m. stuff

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Everyone in the A.L. West lost yesterday, so the Rangers remain just a half game out of first place. But they also have now lost 3 in a row, and a loss tonight would drop them back to .500.

Jennifer Floyd Engel writes on the Rangers efforts to upgrade, and says that Tom Hicks is apparently reading to loosen the purse strings:

Like if the Rangers trade for, say, Indians pitcher Jake Westbrook, he arrives with another year at $5 million due him. Daniels explained this may hamper them in trying to re-sign Eaton, Vicente Padilla, Gary Matthews Jr. and Mark DeRosa. Unless Hicks is willing to increase payroll this season and next.

What may surprise you, because so much has been made of his financial frugality, is Hicks is. Or says he is.

"We [added payroll] this year because it made sense [Millwood]. We will next year if the players that would make a difference are available," Hicks texted from his Blackberry while watching Tuesday's game from his seats with his latest Stars signees.

"Our payroll will go up significantly to keep what we have. Trust JD!"

Personally, I wouldn't lose any sleep if the Rangers didn't up their payroll to keep DeRosa or Eaton around past this season...but that's just me...

Engel also has this on the trade market:

Do not look for any bargains among the usual suspects of starter options -- Jason Schmidt, Freddy Garcia, Brett Myers or Jake Westbrook.

Even Myers, with his baggage, is likely to cost a Danks, and giving up Danks should not be an option.

Should. Not. Be.

Let me tell you right now...if the Rangers can get Brett Myers for John Danks, they should be all over that deal...

Kat O'Brien looks at the Rangers' push to be buyers at the trade deadline, and identifies the top guys:

The most intriguing candidates include the Indians' Westbrook, the Giants' Jason Schmidt, the White Sox's Freddy Garcia and the Phillies' Jon Lieber. All will be difficult to secure, if they are even on the market.

Lieber and Westbrook seem like the only realistic possibilities of that group, given that Chicago is going to want a big bat or relief help for Garcia, and San Fran is as much a contender as Texas is.

O'Brien also mentions Tomo Ohka -- even though the Brewers are, like Texas, probably more buyers than sellers -- and Livan Hernandez, who has been awful this year, and who has a big payday coming in 2007 that the Rangers would presumably have to assume.

O'Brien lists the guys that other teams are asking for as being Kevin Mench, Gerald Laird, John Danks, Edinson Volquez, and Joaquin Arias. Packaging Volquez and Arias in a deal, I could live with...

Jan Hubbard says that the Rangers' bats have been slumping since the Break, although he says the Rangers think they'll get them going again. I guess they have to think that way, although I'm beginning to have some serious concerns...I think Mark DeRosa is reverting to the historical Mark DeRosa, which is not a starting caliber outfielder, and I've resigned myself to the fact that Brad Wilkerson is going to need to have shoulder surgery before he starts playing like himself again.

The two of them could probably serve as a credible platoon at a corner outfield slot, with Kevin Mench in the other slot, but then that leaves a hole at DH, which the Rangers seem loathe to use Jason Botts to fill.

Evan Grant's latest DMN newsletter is up...he has some good stuff in there, including a response to a question from me about whether the Rangers rushing Laynce Nix impacted his development...

Gerry Fraley pontificates on Adam Eaton...you'll be surprised to know that he doesn't think much of the Rangers counting on him...

Bryan Corey was designated for assignment to make room for Adam Eaton...not surprisingly, although it is worth remembering that, one month ago yesterday, Buck Showalter said that Fabio Castro had to be axed because the Rangers couldn't risk losing Corey...