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Valentine's Day stuff

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Evan Grant has a new newsletter out, that looks at some of the below-the-radar spring stories, and deals with the contenders for the 5th starter spot and what to expect from Ian Kinsler this season.

Grant also reports on Eric Gagne's throwing session yesterday:

New closer Eric Gagne called his first trip to the top of a pitcher's mound since surgery last July "great."

Gagne threw off a mound at his Scottsdale, Ariz., home Tuesday and had no issues. Gagne had back surgery last July after just two appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is expected to report to camp with the rest of the Rangers' pitchers and catchers Saturday and should not have any limitations this spring.

Gagne said this week that he expects to have a typical spring training. He plans to throw about 10 innings, which is typical for a closer.

Obviously, we are still going to have to cross our fingers and hope that actually happens...but it is good to see that Gagne should be on schedule with the rest of the pitchers, and isn't going to be held back.

Grant also reports that neither Michael Young nor Jon Daniels would speak on any contract talks yesterday, and that Young's agent didn't return a call on the issue. That seems to suggest, to me, that there may be something brewing here...I wouldn't be surprised if there's a deal announced by the end of the weekend...

Jan Hubbard reviews the major trades of the Jon Daniels era, and throws Buck Showalter under the bus on two of the worst ones -- the San Diego deal and the Fabio Castro trade:

Bottom line right now [on the San Diego trade]: Former manager Buck Showalter was convinced Young could not pitch in the August and September heat and pushed for the deal, but Daniels should not have listened. It is the worst trade of the Daniels era.

* * *

One deal Daniels doesn't like occurred June 29 , when the Rangers sent pitcher Fabio Castro to the Phillies for minor league pitcher Daniel Haigwood . Castro was a Rule 5 player and had to be kept on a major league roster or offered back to the White Sox. But Showalter did not have confidence in the 21-year-old left-hander and made it clear - to the organization and reporters - that he wasn't going to use Castro.

Castro threw only 8 1/3 innings with a 4.32 ERA for the Rangers. He had a 1.54 ERA in 23 1/3 innings for the Phillies.

"That trade kept me up nights before I made it and still does to some degree," Daniels said. "I am accountable for everything, but there are certain things in your control more than others. He wasn't contributing, and he didn't have many opportunities in what was a winnable division. I didn't want to hamstring the team any further.

"I'm not going to blame anyone, but, generally speaking, Rule 5 picks don't contribute much to teams that are contending. If we ever decide to carry one again, we'll commit to it and do it all year. I certainly learned something from that."

It is nice to see confirmation of what I suspected for some time, regarding those decisions and who was really pushing them -- particularly in regards to Castro. That much more reason to be glad Buck is gone.

That said, at the end of the day, Jon Daniels is the g.m., and it is up to him to make the ultimate decision. Hopefully, those two deals -- and how they've played out -- will be something he'll learn from.