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Thursday off-day stuff

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Stomach-punch loss yesterday. And what makes it worse is that we've got the off-day today, so there's a good 48 hours to dwell on the loss.

And I'm sure that it will start the cries of "Sell!!!" from some folks. Trade GMJ. Trade Padilla and Eaton. Trade Blalock and Cordero. Give up on 2006, build for the future.

I don't think the Rangers can do that, though, at least not right now.

Yes, this is a .500 team, a team that has looked thoroughly average all year. But the reality is, this is a .500 team that is currently a game-and-a-half back of first place, that has three games at home against the Royals this weekend while Oakland hosts Toronto and the Angels are at Boston.

I'd at least wait until Sunday night to evaluate where this team is, before deciding whether to buy or sell. And if the Rangers tank against Kansas City, Oakland or Anaheim kicks ass this weekend, and the Rangers are suddenly 4 back come Sunday night, then selling would make sense. And I'd be willing to bet that Jon Daniels has at least made inquiries about who would be interested in the Rangers' free agents to be if the Rangers decide to sell.

But the time to start trading off pieces is not now.

A few other things along these lines that I think are worth pointing out...

There seems to be a mentality among some Rangers fans that, if the Rangers can't go into the playoffs as the prohibitive favorites -- if they aren't going to "make some noise" in the playoffs -- then there's no point even getting there. Better to trade GMJ, Padilla, et al now for whatever you can get and build for the future than to make the playoffs and get swept.

But I think that's nonsense. I'm tired of this team finishing in third or fourth place every year. I'm tired of having an 89 win, third place team described as "magical," the highlight of the 21st century for Rangers fans. I'm tired of watching other teams play in October.

And for all the clamoring about how the Rangers would just get swept in the playoffs anyway...is that really realistic? If the Rangers were to win the West, they'd likely play Detroit, Chicago or Minnesota in the ALDS. While any of those teams would probably be favored, is it really inconceivable that the Rangers might win a 5 game set against one of those three teams? I'd peg the Rangers' chances at at least 40% in a five game series against one of those three teams...

It seems as if what happened in the playoffs against the Yankees in the late-90s has somehow warped the thinking of some Rangers fans, who have been so scarred by the team's embarrassing playoff performances that they don't even want the Rangers back in the playoffs if they aren't going to kick ass and take names.

But the reality is, selling with the team just a game or two back sends a horrible message, to the fans, to the Rangers players, and to potential free agents. It is saying that, even with the playoffs within striking distance, we are giving up, which isn't going to help attendance, this year or next year, isn't going to make players here want to stay here, and isn't going to make Texas more attractive for potential free agents. And if you are going to sell off pieces -- and in particular, Blalock and Cordero, who are under contract for next year -- you are going to have to go out in the free agency market and try to sign someone to replace them...so it isn't as if that last bit isn't an insignificant consideration.

In any case, making the playoffs, even if you aren't the favorite, is not a worthless goal. It helps build more of a winning tradition. It helps make the team more attractive to players, making players want to come here or stay here. And once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen...even if the Rangers only have a 1 in 10 chance of making the World Series if they get to the playoffs (and I think the odds would be a little better than that), that's better than the 0 in 10 chance they'd have if they don't make the playoffs at all.

Another thing to keep in mind is that July 31 isn't the drop dead date...my guess is that, come August 1, Daniels is going to have the Rangers' potential free agents -- GMJ, Padilla, Eaton, DeRosa, Hairston, and Barajas -- all on waivers, just like every other team in the league will. And yes, a couple of those guys could end up getting claimed, and thus won't be able to be traded. But I'd bet the majority of them clear waivers...so if the Rangers are falling out of the race come mid-August, they still will be able to move some guys to contenders, if the right deal comes along.

Which brings me to my last point...the idea that the Rangers are going to lose these players and get nothing in return if they don't trade them is likely false. The Rangers are probably going to try to re-sign GMJ and Padilla, and will most likely get a couple of first rounders (or a first and a second) for each of them if they can't re-sign them. DeRosa and Barajas are likely to bring draft choice compensation, as well, and while Eaton and Hairston aren't likely to generate any compensation, neither are they likely to bring much of a return if the Rangers tried to trade them on July 31 anyway.

So, the Rangers should not be sellers now. That may change in a few weeks, or even on Sunday. But the Rangers don't have to -- and shouldn't -- decide now. Yeah, if the Yankees wanted to give the Rangers Philip Hughes for GMJ right this moment, that would put Daniels in a quandry. But the reality is, that offer -- or a similar one -- isn't likely to be on the table. The best the Rangers could get for GMJ right now is probably something like Brian Anderson and Lance Broadway from the ChiSox. And the Rangers are better off sitting and waiting than pulling the trigger on that deal right now.

Evan Grant reports that Jon Daniels is still shopping, but says that nothing is imminent, although the Rangers remain very interested in Jake Westbrook, if he hits the market. But he also says what all of us, as fans, already know -- that the Rangers have to play better if they are going to make a playoff push.

Kat O'Brien has a piece on the Rangers' Latin American efforts, and their decision to focus less on the high-profile guys that are getting seven-figure bonuses, and instead go with a "quantity" approach. Given how young these players are -- most of them are sixteen when they sign -- that makes a lot of sense, to me.

T.R. Sullivan says that Mark DeRosa is "unfazed" by his current slump. DeRosa is now 4 for his last 40, with one of those 4 hits being an infield single that went all of about 20 feet, so I think there's some cause for concern. If neither DeRosa nor Wilkerson is going to hit, the Rangers are going to need to get Jason Botts back up here to DH on a regular basis.

Sullivan also says that the Rangers have outrighted Aarom Baldiris, dropping the 40 man roster to 39, and have signed 4th rounder Marcus Lemon.

He also reports that the BoSox are apparently interested in Bryan Corey, so the Rangers might be able to get something for him.