Tag:AL West
Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:35 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 6:13 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Texas Rangers

Mark Teixeira

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

The Rangers are in an interesting position in the franchise's history -- no longer a middle-of-the-road team, the Rangers have turned themselves into one of the game's biggest players. The team has reached the last two World Series with a mixture of homegrown players (Ian Kinsler, C.J. Wilson, Alexi Ogando), savvy trades (sending Mark Teixeira to Atlanta for a haul that included Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz, plus the deal with the Reds getting Josh Hamilton) and big-ticket free-agents (Adrian Beltre). It's tough to argue with the results, as the Rangers have positioned themselves into becoming one of the top teams in baseball and don't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Lineup

1. Ian Kinsler, SS
2. Craig Gentry, CF
3. Mark Teixeira, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Travis Hafner, DH
6. Edwin Encarnacion, 2B
7. Laynce Nix, RF
8. John Mayberry, LF
9. Taylor Teagarden, C

Starting Rotation

1. C.J. Wilson
2. John Danks
3. Derek Holland
4. Colby Lewis
5. Ryan Dempster

Bullpen

Closer - Joaquin Benoit
Set up - Darren Oliver, Nick Masset, Scott Feldman, Jesse Chavez, Yoshinori Tateyama
Long - Tommy Hunter

Notable Bench Players

Ivan Rodriguez will be in discussion for the Hall of Fame when his career ends, but he's now a backup catcher and could be a good one. You have a pair of first baseen in Justin Smoak and Mitch Moreland who aren't going to strike fear into too many pitchers, as well as two outfielders probably better defensively or as pinch runners in Jason Bourgeois and Scott Podsednik.

What's Good?

The rotation is deep -- in addition to the five listed, you could also throw in R.A. Dickey, Aaron Harang and Edinson Volquez. And while there's no real shut-down closer, there are some very good bullpen arms, and the list above doesn't include Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Danny Herrera.

What's Not?

Besides Kinsler and Teixeira, the lineup is suspect. And the defense is worse. The outfield is kind of a hodgepodge, while the infield is a disaster with only Carlos Pena playing in his usual position. While Teixeira hasn't played third base since his rookie year in 2003, Kinsler has never played shortstop, nor has Encarnacion ever played second base -- but there just wasn't a whole lot of options. The outfield doesn't have the likes of Hamilton or Nelson Cruz to help out, either.

Comparison to real 2011

Would this team wind up in World Series? Not bloody likely. The pitching is fine and even maybe an slight upgrade to the team that won the American League pennant again in 2011, but that lineup is demonstratively worse. The Rangers were third in baseball in runs and second in OPS, and without Hamilton, Cruz, Mike Napoli, Michael Young and Beltre, this squad isn't going to do anything close to that. Teixeira is a good player -- and Pena could put up big homer numbers in that ballpark -- but those losses from the real squad are just too much to overcome. This team is maybe a .500 squad, at best, and that's only because of the depth in the pitching staff.

Next: St. Louis Cardinals

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 9:55 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 7:43 am
 

Blue Jays', Yankees' bids on Darvish reported

By Matt Snyder

Monday night, we found out the Rangers placed the highest bid on highly-coveted Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, a bid that was in excess of $51.7 million. Between the posting deadline and the revelation that the Rangers won, we heard a small handful of teams that were said to have placed a bid on Darvish: The Rangers, Blue Jays, Cubs and Yankees were the most named ballclubs. We know the Rangers' bid. Tuesday, we saw reports of two others.

Darvish to Texas
The Yankees put in a bid, but evidently not a very serious one. The bid by the Bronx Bombers was less than $20 million, according to ESPN New York. Many Chicago-area reporters have speculated the Cubs did something very similar. The bids basically say that they'd welcome Darvish with open arms if other teams didn't get nuts in the bidding, but had no intention of coughing up anywhere near $50 million-plus.

The Blue Jays were reportedly not in that camp. [UPDATE: CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has heard otherwise.]

The Jays reportedly posted over $50 million, according to TheStar.com, and if that was the case, they barely lost out on landing the rights to negotiating with Darvish.

“I understand the passion and the interest levels in our team,” Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said (TheStar.com). “I have people come up to me in the street every day. It’s on us to provide a winning product. That’s what you want, but we want to make sure it’s done the right way.”

It's interesting to note the Jays were reportedly fully prepared to spend over $100 million -- the player is certainly going to want something in the ballpark of the posting fee, after all -- in this case. Might it be a precursor to going hard after a certain slugging first baseman? We'll see ...

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 11:45 am
 

Wade re-joins Phillies, prepared for backlash

By Matt Snyder

Former Phillies and Astros general manager Ed Wade is back with the Phillies, this time in a scouting capacity. He will be a major- and minor-league scout while also helping with arbitration cases, the team announced Tuesday.

But that's not really why we're writing about it. No, this story is only interesting because of a quote from Wade.

"I'm prepared for the remarks that I only traded with the Phillies so [Phillies general manager] Ruben [Amaro, Jr.] would give me a job if I got fired," Wade said (Zachary Levine via Twitter).

Now that's funny. Does Wade listen to Houston sports talk radio or read message boards? Sure sounds like it.

Wade is close friends with Amaro -- in fact, Philly.com notes Wade is the Godfather to one of Amaro's daughters, but that hasn't been the problem for Astros fans. Wade has also traded Brad Lidge, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence to the Phillies over the past several seasons in three different trades, making it kind of a running joke amongst many baseball fans.

Hey, at least Wade is ready to take the flack.

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 11:15 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 7:31 am
 

Rangers have highest bid for Yu Darvish



By Matt Snyder


Yu Darvish could be headed to America very soon. The Texas Rangers have won the bidding for the Japanese phenom, Major League Baseball announced late Monday night. The Rangers did so with a bid of more than $51.7 million, sources told CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler (Jeff Passan of Yahoo first reported exactly $51.7 million). That money will be paid to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters once a contract -- independent of the posting fee -- is agreed upon with Darvish. The Rangers have 30 days to agree to terms with Darvish, otherwise they won't pay the posting fee and Darvish remains the property of the Fighters.

"We were pleased to learn that the Texas Rangers were the high-bidders for Yu Darvish," agent Arn Tellem said in a statement. "The Rangers are an extraordinary franchise in an exceptional city with equally exceptional fans. Yu is honored to be prized so highly and recognized as a once-in-a-generation pitcher. We look forward to getting negotiations underway."

Darvish to Texas
Darvish, a 25-year-old right-hander, has been the ace of the Fighters for five years. In those five seasons, Darvish is 76-28 with a sparkling 1.72 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. He's struck out 9.5 batters per nine innings and walked just 1.9 per nine. He's also thrown 50 complete games and 15 shutouts. In 2011, Darvish went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 276 strikeouts in 232 innings with 10 complete games and six shutouts.

Darvish may very well serve as the ace for the Rangers, though they seem to not really need titles on that rotation. Darvish will join Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison to form a pretty solid 1-5 rotation for the two-time defending AL champs.

Also, this means the Rangers can leave both Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman in the bullpen in front of eight-inning man Mike Adams and closer Joe Nathan, giving them a very formidable final four to close out games. Nothing is set in stone yet, as the Rangers could still elect to use Ogando in the rotation. They certainly have options.

Darvish actually has some family roots in America. His Iranian father attended high school in Massachusetts and played soccer at Eckard College in Florida, which is where he met Darvish's Japanese mother.

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 8:49 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 8:55 pm
 

Add the Nationals to list of Gio Gonzalez suitors



By Matt Snyder


A's starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez has been one of the hottest names swirling through trade rumors this offseason. It's not a rumor, it's reality, that he's on the block. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reported last week that the Tigers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rangers and Reds were among the suitors for Gonzalez. Oakland general manager Billy Beane is shooting for the stars, too, because Knobler reported that the A's asked the Marlins for blossoming slugger Mike Stanton. And now we can add the Nationals to the mix.

Hot Stove League
Knobler confirmed that Washington has talked about a swap for Gonzalez, after a report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports stated the Nats are "pushing hard" and talking about dealing four players for Gonzalez.

Also, with the Reds having acquired Mat Latos, you can cross them off the list of suitors. If the Rangers or Blue Jays land Japanese phenom Yu Darvish -- the two clubs are the reported favorites -- you can cross another name off the list. Still, it looks like the A's could end up being a big winner as things stand, with so many teams looking to add one more starter and a dearth of names available through a trade or free agency.

Gonzalez, a 26-year-old left-hander, was 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 202 innings last season. Good numbers, but he also led the AL with 91 walks and plays half his games in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the majors. Last season his home ERA was 2.70 and his road ERA was 3.62.

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Posted on: December 18, 2011 6:50 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 9:46 am
 

Reports: Orioles sign Endy Chavez

By Matt Snyder

The Baltimore Orioles have agreed to sign free agent outfielder Endy Chavez, several different outlets are reporting (MASN.com). The New York Daily News reports the deal is for one year.

Chavez, 33, hit .301/.323/.426 for the Rangers last season in limited duty (274 plate appearances). He also had 10 stolen bases. The Orioles will mark Chavez's seventh team in 11 seasons.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

New Baltimore general manager Dan Duquette had said earlier this offseason that a left-handed outfield bat was a need, as Felix Pie -- who has signed with the Indians -- just wasn't cutting it. Chavez is a lefty and a definite upgrade over Pie.

Chavez could even land some significant playing time for the O's. Obviously Nick Markakis and Adam Jones are firmly entrenched in right and center field, respectively, but Nolan Reimold is slotted as the left fielder. Reimold has good power, but inconsistency has plagued him the past two years. In fact, he didn't even make the team out of spring last year. He had a really good September, but who knows if that continues. With Chavez, the Orioles have a potential platoon-mate (Reimold is right-handed) or even insurance to take over. If Reimold does hit well all season and remain the starter, Chavez is a fine fourth outfielder.

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Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:26 am
Edited on: December 17, 2011 7:48 am
 

Swallows accept $2.5 million bid on OF Aoki

Norichika AokiBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Yakult Swallows have accepted a $2.5 million posting fee for outfielder Norichika Aoki, the team announced at a press conference on Saturday. Which team bid the $2.5 million on Aoki is not yet known. Whichever team it is will have 30 days to negotiate with Aoki, who will turn 30 next  month.

The three-time Central League batting champion hit just .292/.358/.360 in 2011, but was a career .336/.411/.472 in his first seven years. He is one of just four players to collect 200 hits in a season in Japan, joining Ichiro Suzuki, ALex Ramirez and Matt Murton.

"All I could do was wait, so I feel relieved now," Aoki said (via YakyuBaka.com). "I feel as if I am now one step closer to realizing my dream. I will allow my agent to handle the rest while I focus on my practices to make sure I am fully prepared." 

Yahoo's Jeff Passan tweets Aoki at $2.5 million is a bargain, calling him "Ichiro Lite, emphasis on Lite."

Aoki is a left-handed hitter, throwing right-handed. He won three Gold Gloves earlier in his career, but his throwing arm could limit him to left field in MLB.

Aoki appeared for Japan in both World Baseball Classics, earning All-Tournament honors in 2009, when he played left and batted third for Japan.

The Mets, Nationals and A's have all been rumored to be interested in Aoki.

Check out the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker to see all of the off-season's movements

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 11:50 pm
 

Hisashi Iwakuma drawing interest from 5 teams

Hisashi IwakumaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

While we all await official word on who won the Yu Darvish bidding, another Japanese pitcher is getting closer to picking his new team in Major League Baseball. Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is expected to make a decision sometime around the new year, Iwakuma's agent, Paul Cobbe told Daily Sports in Japan (via YakyuBaka.com).

The Athletics, Twins, Pirates and Nationals -- and another, unnamed west-coast team, are mentioned as teams with interested in Iwakuma.

Last year the A's won the bidding when the Rakuten Golden Eagles posted Iwakuma. However, the two sides couldn't come to an agreement after the thirty-day negotiating period. The A's reportedly won the bidding with a $19.1 million bid, but couldn't come to an agreement. At the time, it was believed Iwakuma was looking for something around $12 million per year, while the A's were offering no more than $5 million. After returning to Japan for 2011, Iwakuma became an international free agent and will be able to chose his team. He has also hired a new agent.

Iwakuma went 6-7 with a 2.42 ERA in 119 innings in 2011 for the fifth-place (of six teams) Golden Eagles, but had some shoulder problems. He struck out 90 batters and walked 19 in his 17 starts. He is 107-69 with a 3.25 ERA in his career. He won Japan's equivalent of the Cy Young Award and the Pacific League MVP in 2008, when he went 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA.

In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Iwakuma started the championship game over Darvish, who closed out the game. Iwakuma finished the tournament with a 1.35 ERA -- the lowest of any pitcher who threw more than 15 innings in the tournament -- and was named to the All-Tournament team.

While not the potential ace that Darvish is, Iwakuma could be a good option for a team in search of help in the middle or back of the rotation.

Iwakuma will turn 31 in April.

Below is a video that focuses on his ground ball rate.



Follow all of the Free Agent signings with the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com