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Saturday a.m. things

Ah, Rangers news on a Saturday morning...nice, nice...

Evan Grant says that the Ian Kinsler contract talks are making progress. Kinsler's agent expressed optimism that a 5 year deal, with an option for year 6, could be reached, which would allow the Rangers to buy out out Kinsler's first year of free agency (two years, if the option is exercised). Grant says the deal would be in the low-20s, and would exceed $30 million if the option were exercised.

Seems likes a reasonable amount, and it would be nice to get this out of the way.

Grant also has a piece up on Kevin Mench's return. Grant says the Rangers have made it clear he's not in the running for a starting job, and that Jason Botts or Nelson Cruz have a leg up on the backup outfielder job because they are out of options.

There seems to be a sense that getting Mench back together with Rudy Jaramillo will help him get his swing back, and Mench acknowledges that he's going to be in the minors to start the year, and seems to have accepted that.

Jim Reeves has a column up on Jon Daniels, with some interesting quotes:

"The biggest error in judgment I've made was over-evaluating how close we were," he said Friday, sitting in a golf cart under a gray Arizona sky, watching the Rangers' first workout of the spring. "I stepped on the gas and we weren't ready for it."

* * *

If his team can accomplish two things, Daniels said, then 2008 can be a success no matter what the won-loss column says.

"If we play quality baseball, like we did from June on last year, our brand of baseball, that's No. 1," Daniels said. "Second, for the long-term health of the organization, it's critical that we get some of our young big leaguers over the hump and that we're able to accelerate the development of our most talented young players, so that they become the next wave and they're on the cusp of helping us."

Others around baseball have heaped accolades on the Rangers for turning around their farm system. With so little to brag about, the Rangers' publicity machine has made sure everyone knows that they jumped from 28th to 4th in Baseball America's rankings of minor league systems, the most dramatic jump since the inside baseball publication began those rankings.

But for Daniels, that's not good enough, nor should it be.

"One of the things I really want to get across to these guys, last year was not really a successful year for the organization because we're measured by what we do at the major league level," Daniels said.

"That said, from an organizational building process, there were a lot of good things going on beneath the surface that are starting to get recognized."

What Daniels doesn't want is for his people to become complacent. The job still isn't finished and never will be.

"One year of having a well-regarded farm system doesn't mean spit at the end of the day," he said. "It's about getting those players to the big leagues and having them become winning pieces. That's production.

"What we just did is the first step. Now it has to be non-stop. We have to be relentless in talent acquisition at the minor league level and then take the next step with very successful development. We have to challenge these guys and get them to the big leagues."

Jeff Wilson has an item up on Gerald Laird and the Rangers' catching depth.

T.R. Sullivan has some notes up on the Rangers website, which includes this from Laird:

Catcher Gerald Laird is limited by a sprained ankle but still went through blocking drills and said, "You see me blocking balls? They can't hold me down. I told the doctor, 'they don't make them like me anymore.'".

I find Laird amusing.

The S-T also has some notes up, including German Duran's top 5 Fort Worth restaurants, and a mention from a Ranger official about watching Josh Hamilton take B.P.

A bit troubling is the news (which I hadn't heard before) that Hamilton suffered a "minor fracture" to his left middle finger while playing catch last month. That's not going to help his reputation for being injury prone.

Evan Grant has some bloggy notes, with a lot of Nolan Ryan stuff, discussion of Scott Feldman's struggles, and his thoughts on the Marlon Byrd situation:

The Cubs are still snooping around on Marlon Byrd. The Rangers aren't going to part with Byrd unless they get a package that includes a pitcher and which they deem is a clear "overpay" on Chicago's part. One thing the Rangers don't want to undervalue is Byrd's place in the clubhouse balance.

But if that's the case, it's better for the Rangers to act quickly and decisively in whatever decision they make. If they are going to trade Byrd, better to move him sooner rather than later so that you don't have a shock to the clubhouse chemistry as happened when David Dellucci was traded on the cusp of the 2006 season. If they aren't going to trade Byrd, then it's important for him to know that he's going to be a part of this club and allow him to continue expanding his leadership abilities. A player in limbo doesn't do anybody any good.