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New T.R. mailbag up, and Rocco Baldelli, Texas Ranger?

T.R. Sullivan has a new mailbag piece up...

Some thoughts on the 2008 Rangers (he thinks Gerald Laird and one of the pitchers could be packaged for an impact centerfielder) and some grousing on how it "bothers" him, the way the Rangers are treating Sammy Sosa now, sitting him rather than letting him play every day...

Sullivan says Sosa has "exceeded expectations as a player" this year. I've asked this time and time again, and never gotten a good answer...if Sosa has "exceeded expectations" with his .246/.308/.450 line, then why in the hell was he handed the starting DH job from Opening Day? If the Rangers thought he'd put up worse than a 758 OPS, why was he hitting 5th from day 1?

The answer, of course, is that he hasn't exceeded expectations...he's not been good, and that's a small part of why the Rangers have sucked this year. And I continue not to understand why people are acting like a washed-up former slugger, a guy who is one of the poster boys for the steroid controversy and who was out of baseball entirely last year, is entitled to a starting job with a last place Rangers team that is in rebuilding mode. Particularly given that the Rangers can't even give him away right now.

Anyway...turning to the other item:

"Prediction: Gabbard and Volquez in the rotation and Rheinecker and Loe in the bullpen. Also it wouldn't be a surprise if one of those guys joins Laird in a package for either a better starter or an impact outfielder."

As it happens, I had just read a chat session with Joe Sheehan, where he made a comment that got me thinking:

jlarsen (DRays Bay): With Melvin "BJ" Upton Jr. fitting well in at CF, what should the Rays try to shop Rocco for in the offseason?

Joe Sheehan: I don't see any young catchers worth going after, so the Rays should continue to stockpile pitching if they move Baldelli.

Here's the problem: how much trade value does a guy with 500 ABs in three years have? The Rays may have to find a place for him so that he can prove he can still play.

The D-Rays have no place for Baldelli, who was a rising star before a torn ACL, Tommy John surgery, and other injuries felled him. When healthy, he's been a very good defensive centerfielder who can provide power and speed in the middle of the order. He's under team control through 2011, with his contract providing club options of $6 million 2009, $8 million for 2010, and $9 million for 2011. And he doesn't turn 26 until September.

So could the Rangers make a deal for Baldelli, who would be a perfect fit in center for the Rangers (assuming, of course, the team can keep him healthy)?

In talking about someone like Baldelli, speculating on the package required to acquire him is very difficult...his injury situation and the logjam the D-Rays have diminishes his value, but he's a guy who looked like he was going to be what Grady Sizemore is right now a few years ago.

The D-Rays need a young catcher and need young pitching, particularly in the bullpen. The Rangers have Gerald Laird and some young pitchers they could deal. Would Laird and, say, Kam Loe get it done? Probably not.

Laird and Kason Gabbard? Maybe.

What if you added Joaquin Benoit to one of those packages? Does that get it done?

What if you offered Laird, Loe and Matt Harrison?

I don't know. It is really hard to judge what would be a fair offer from the D-Rays standpoint.

But I'd much rather have Baldelli than, say, Torii Hunter.

And if you are looking for a team that has an impact outfielder to deal and could use Laird and some of the Rangers young arms, Tampa seems like the perfect fit.