As the July 31st trade deadline approaches, the Texas Rangers seem to be at a stand still. The Rangers currently stand 5.5 games out in the wild card race, and double that in the AL west behind the Angels. While this year isn't the make or break year for this Rangers squad, we here at DallasDedicated believe that all it would take to get a legitimate push for a playoff spot is a step towards improved pitching. Texas has the firepower and confidence to outscore their opponents, but pitching continues to be the Achilles heel of this baseball team. Don't sweat it though, DallasDedicated is here to give Rangers GM Jon Daniels all the tools he needs to pull off a major deal.
Despite what critics have said, Daniels has done a pretty good job in putting this Rangers team together. We all knew Mark Teixeira was not going to return to this team coming into this season, so before last season's trade deadline Daniels dealt him to Atlanta for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Same with Eric Gagne, who was dealt to Boston for David Murphy. Then Daniels traded the veteran Kenny Lofton for young Max Ramirez, who has been a gem this season when Laird was put on the disabled list. All those deals have paid off, but the pitching problems were once again ignored. The trade deadline is about 4 days away, and it's time to make some changes...
On the Rangers trading block:
Daniels says that they are not trying to get short term improvement that is a long-term risk. (remember Carlos Lee? Sammy Sosa?) That is a smart decision, which is why Daniels is wanting to especially get some young pitching. So who are the Rangers willing to say goodbye to?
Hank Blalock: Major League sources said there has been "medium interest" in Blalock, mostly from the Dodgers, Twins and Giants. All three teams are looking for a third baseman, and Blalock has shown since coming off the disabled list that he can still handle the position defensively. Let me be the first to say: Michael Young will be the Rangers third basemen next season. I have been saying for years that trading Blalock for a rotational pitcher would be a wise bet. Blalock has had trouble staying healthy, and our backups at third base can fill the void for the remainder of this season. Trading Hank to the Twins could get us a starter and a solid reliever.
DallasDedicated's Deal: Trade Hank Blalock and Eric Hurley to Minnesota Twins for Kevin Slowey
and Francisco Liriano. Slowey is the 4th man in the Twins rotation, a Texas native, and has had a pretty strong season. Liriano has a dreadful 11.32 ERA in the majors, but has had three straight strong outings in the minors. He could be the possible 8th inning pitcher if Guardado is dealt, who is rumored to be pursued by the Cardinals.
Gerald Laird or Jarrod Saltalamacchia: The Yankees are looking for a catcher and have asked about both Laird and Saltalamacchia. The Rangers have an abundance at the backstop position, so dealing one of them wouldn't be a problem. Texas has their eyes on some young pitching, and here's the deal that should be sought after...
DD's Deal: Trade Gerald Laird, Vicente Padilla and Eddie Guardado to New York Yankees for Phil Hughes.
While Texas would essentially be giving up two pitchers for one, Hughes is more affordable, younger and with more upside. Hughes is ever-improving and could be the number 2 on a pitching rotation by next year. Plus, moving Padilla's $11 million contract off the books for 2009 gives the Rangers a lot more money to pursue a big-time free agent such as CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets. Guardado has pitched well this year, but he is a free agent this off season and nobody knows if he will be back or not.
Marlon Byrd: The Newark-Star Ledger reported that the Mets sent a scout to a recent Rangers game to scout Byrd and Milton Bradley. The Rangers have repeatedly assured that Bradley is in no way a trade assett, so I don't see him leaving our team. Byrd is a very likeable guy, but the Rangers have too many outfielders and need to move one. Plus, AAA outfielder Nelson Cruz is tearing up the minors and is MLB ready to join the Rangers. So what could the Rangers get for Marlon Byrd? It's hard to tell, but mlbtraderumors.com says that the Mets are shopping starting pitcher Oliver Perez. JACKPOT!
DD's Deal: Trade Marlon Byrd to New York Mets for Oliver Perez
I'm not sure if Byrd is enough to entice the Mets to give Texas Perez, but switching Bradley for Byrd would definitely do the trick. Milton Bradley has slowly become one Arlington favorite, but his contract is up after this season. Frank Catalanotto might also be the ex-factor for a deal with New York. Any combination of these players could land this pitcher, who is currently third on the Mets rotation. Can you imagine getting him? Playoffs here we come!
Attention Jon Daniels! If you listen to DallasDedicated, fortune and playoff wins await you in the future. A weak pitching rotation becomes powerful, and no players traded away is cause for regret. Padilla would be the best player you give up, but saving 11 million dollars will dry those tears. So go make these deals happen...you can thank me later!
Next time on DallasDedicated: Patrick and I will give you our final thoughts on the Mavs summer league, which ended last week. There are roster spots left and we know what the Mavs should do. Stay tuned!