Jim Reeves has a column up today, looking at where the Rangers are in the month of September and what they need to do the rest of the way to get ready for 2007. Reeves ends his column with this:
Here's my list in order of importance:
- Re-sign Gary Matthews Jr. Now that the Rangers have found someone who can play center in a difficult ballpark, don't let him get away.
- With a decision coming up this off-season on Rod Barajas, Gerald Laird should be playing at least five times a week.
- Consider putting a weight clause in any offer made to Carlos Lee. He's not going to make a very effective left fielder at 275 pounds, and do the Rangers really want to pay $14-$15 million a year for a DH?
- Plan on trying to keep both Padilla and Eaton, but if they have to choose just one, make sure it's the right one. Unless Eaton has a huge September, that's probably Padilla.
- This spring the Rangers had Akinori Otsuka as a fallback position if Francisco Cordero went south (or to Milwaukee). Now install a backup plan for Aki by next spring. That means finding a steady, reliable eighth-inning setup guy who can close if Otsuka falters. Audition now.
- Play Nelson Cruz every day. Forget about Jerry Hairston Jr. and Eric Young, except as role players.
- Pitching. Pitching. Pitching. Fill four rotation slots with veteran starters next spring. Let the kids battle it out for the fifth spot.
Carlos Lee shouldn't be back next year, so the weight clause is irrelevant. But Nelson Cruz does need to be playing regularly, though.
I don't know how I feel about going into 2007 with four veteran starters...I guess if you can get two more solid guys, maybe Padilla and someone like Jeff Suppan, then get a cheap veteran like Kip Wells on a minor league deal or a cheap one year deal, so you aren't bound to him, may be the way to go. But I figure that, with the guys this team has available, the #4 and #5 slots should be able to be filled from within.
T.R. Sullivan, meanwhile, has some notes, on the catching situation, and includes this little reminder that Buck loves him some Barajas:
Showalter was raving about catcher Rod Barajas and two pitches he blocked in the dirt in the ninth inning on Thursday, a pair of sliders thrown by reliever Akinori Otsuka. Said Showalter said, "He's one of the best blockers in baseball. He's the best I've ever had."
Sullivan also says that Scott Feldman has been recalled, and the Rangers are pushing him to drop his appeal of his suspension and serve the suspension now. The concern is that any appeal may not be heard until the end of the season, and Feldman may then have to serve the suspension next year. Obviously, it is a lot better for the team that he serve the suspension now, rather than in April.
Richard Durrett has some quotes from Jon Daniels, with Daniels saying he's very happy with how the young Ranger relievers have performed this year, which allows him to devote time, energy and payroll to adding rotation help this offseason. I'm glad to see that...I thought the Kyle Farnsworth flirtation this offseason was a mistake, and would much rather see the Rangers go with a bullpen made up of guys who are here and the odd minor league free agent than start handing out 3 year, $15 million deals to setup men.
Durrett also has an item with Daniels saying that Nelson Cruz will be getting more at bats the last month, and will compete for the right field job next season. With Cruz, Jason Botts, Victor Diaz, and Brad Wilkerson (who T.R. Sullivan says the Rangers are bringing back) all here, and with Daniels saying Cruz will be competing for the right field job, I wouldn't be surprised if the Rangers ended up just going with those four players for the corner outfield and DH slots next year.
Angel Verdejo has a piece on Ian Kinsler's rookie season, and how he's been adjusting to playing in the majors every day.
I like Ian Kinsler. I think he's going to be real, real good.