Well, I'm back from Durango, and in one piece. What I learned from my attempts to ski this past week is, just because you were good at something when you were 8 years old doesn't mean you'll be good at it almost 30 years later. I don't think I've ever felt so old and out of shape in my life...
Many thanks to zywica for filling in while I was gone...and if you haven't already, make sure you check out his piece last night on the Rangers' pitching situation, which I think is about as good a breakdown of where the staff stands as you'll see...
I see the A's continued their teardown. The Kotsay trade is interesting...and I'm not sure what to think about the return. Joey Devine got a grade B from John Sickels, who had him as the #5 prospect in the Braves system, but he didn't crack BA's Braves top 10 list, and Bill Ballew called him a "situational reliever" who can't get lefties out enough to be a closer.
If Kotsay is healthy after back surgery, then the Braves got a very good defensive centerfielder who can hit a little. If he's not...well, then, they are paying $2 million (the A's are apparently picking up the other $5 million plus owed to Kotsay) and giving up a relief prospect for nothing much.
There apparently is some discussion out there that the Cubs are interested in Marlon Byrd. If the Cubs would give up anything decent for him, I'd be willing to give Byrd up...
I know there's a lot of Byrd love out there, and people who want to see him play every day, but he was out-hit by Nelson Cruz in the second half of last season, put up just a 710 OPS on the road, and even in his "breakout" 2007 season put up just a .275 EQA, which isn't anything special for a left fielder (and, realistically, he's not good enough defensively to play center every day).
Byrd's line drive rate was lower in 2007 than his career average, with his walk rate being lower and his strikeout rate being higher than it has been over the course of his career. And despite that, he posted a .370 BABIP...the best of his career, 40 points better than his career average, and completely unsustainable.
If Byrd had had a BABIP of .320 last year -- about what would be expected, given his line drive rate -- he'd have put up about a 725 OPS in 2007, and we wouldn't be having a discussion about whether he should be a starter (or whether he'd be worth flipping to the Cubs for a prospect).
And you know what's interesting? In the second half of last season, Byrd had a BABIP of .316, and an OPS of 726. In other words, exactly would you'd expect from Byrd, given his line drive rate last season.
The second half Byrd is the real Marlon Byrd...a guy who has some value as a bench player, and could maybe be put into a platoon role with someone like Frankie the Cat, but not a regular.
Given that the Rangers have David Murphy and Brandon Boggs already around who profile as 4th outfielder types, and a 40 man roster crunch (with two spots needing to be cleared if Jason Jennings ends up signing a major league deal), if you can get a decent prospect from the Cubs for Byrd, I say you pull the trigger.
You can either keep Nelson Cruz around to split time with Cat, or else, if Milton Bradley isn't going to be ready to play the field every day, let David Murphy be your right fielder, Bradley your DH, and have Jason Botts and Cat platoon in left field until Bradley is ready to go.
Evan Grant has a blog entry up with #14 on his prospect list, Matt Harrison. I think that Grant (and some Rangers fans) are underrating him a bit, because he is a guy who hasn't been in the system long, and did little after being acquired (at least, prior to the AFL).
Looking around, John Sickels has Harrison ranked 5th, and Kevin Goldstein has Harrison ranked 9th (as does Scott Lucas and Jamey Newberg, while z has him 11th, as does the LSB community. And remember, Harrison was in BA's top 100 last year, as well...