We are a fantasy baseball league whose draft is scheduled for April 23. That's a little late, even for us. But given the spate of players going on the DL...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Rangers Outlook

from Baseball Prospectus: My man Soriano is primed for a huge year -- because he burned me last year and ohyes I won't be fooled twice. But I will be fooled twice because I won't buy him and he'll be great.

Texas Rangers
Farewell to Rusty: He hasn't played since 2002, so the fact that the Rangers declined to offer arbitration to Rusty Greer, letting him leave as a free agent, wasn't that surprising; the fact that Greer hopes to play elsewhere in 2005 is what caught our eye. His absence over the past few seasons makes it easy to forget that Greer was a damn fine player before injuries took their toll:
AGE YEAR EQA EQR VORP
-------------------------
25 1994 .314 73 28.0
26 1995 .274 66 18.7
27 1996 .310 96 63.4
28 1997 .317 112 73.2
29 1998 .293 96 45.4
30 1999 .303 98 51.9
31 2000 .284 59 22.1
32 2001 .272 35 9.6
33 2002 .260 24 4.9
Greer was relatively healthy most of his career until 2000, and then the bottom fell out: plantar fasciitis, shoulder trouble, a pinched nerve in his hip, a severe rotator cuff tear...he went through it all. Meanwhile, Texas went through a rogue's gallery of left fielders, searching in vain for the production they had counted on from Greer:
Texas batters as LF, 2002-2004
BATTER YEAR PA AVG OBP SLG MLVR VORP
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
David Dellucci 2004 306 0.234 0.327 0.408 -0.125 8.6
Kevin Mench 2002 196 0.251 0.316 0.486 -0.011 9.6
Shane Spencer 2003 175 0.242 0.326 0.353 -0.17 2.9
Kevin Mench 2004 163 0.237 0.282 0.395 -0.217 1.9
Eric Young 2004 159 0.331 0.384 0.414 0.046 9.6
Carl Everett 2003 132 0.318 0.417 0.573 0.310 15.1
Kevin Mench 2003 126 0.298 0.357 0.430 0.018 6.4
Frank Catalanotto 2002 92 0.333 0.435 0.573 0.344 10.1
Gabe Kapler 2002 91 0.293 0.308 0.329 -0.200 1.2
Todd Hollandsworth 2002 80 0.290 0.350 0.391 -0.050 3.3
Carl Everett 2002 78 0.279 0.359 0.441 0.021 3.7
Ruben Sierra 2003 70 0.250 0.314 0.328 -0.217 0.6
Jason Jones 2003 49 0.233 0.306 0.419 -0.127 1.3
Jermaine Clark 2003 42 0.216 0.286 0.270 -0.358 -0.9
Mark Teixeira 2003 41 0.294 0.415 0.706 0.447 6.3
Chad Allen 2004 39 0.243 0.231 0.324 -0.398 -1.0
Jason Romano 2002 28 0.200 0.250 0.320 -0.360 -0.4
Mike Lamb 2002 27 0.261 0.370 0.391 -0.034 1.3
Jason Hart 2002 15 0.286 0.333 0.500 0.060 1.4
Ryan Ludwick 2003 13 0.231 0.231 0.308 -0.403 -0.4
Donnie Sadler 2003 12 0.111 0.333 0.111 -0.475 -1.3
Laynce Nix 2003 12 0.333 0.333 0.583 0.222 1.4
Marcus Thames 2003 9 0.125 0.222 0.500 -0.238 0.1
Todd Greene 2002 4 0.250 0.250 1.000 0.564 0.6
Gary Matthews Jr. 2004 3 0.667 0.667 0.667 1.249 1.1
Mike Lamb 2003 3 0.500 0.667 0.500 0.737 1.4
Brian Jordan 2004 1 0.000 0.000 0.000 -1.312 -0.7
Ryan Ludwick 2002 1 1.000 1.000 2.000 4.712 3.7
Herb Perry 2002 1 0.000 0.000 0.000 -1.253 -0.7
That's an ugly list, just as you'd expect when Kevin Mench is near the top of it. It's been so hard for Texas to find left-field production, in fact, that the Rangers offered David Dellucci arbitration in hopes of keeping his quasi-productive bat in-house.
In fact, the outfield is a big offensive problem for the Rangers. in 2004, the team's outfielders combined to hit .264/.325/.450 while playing half their games in the offensive wonderland that is Ameriquest Field in Arlington. This is the sort of thing that should be keeping John Hart up nights. We've talked before about the Rangers inability to recognize that offense is the team's weakness; here's another example.
The Rangers have been rumored to be talking to Jermaine Dye, late of the Oakland A's, to try and provide some offense. A lot was made of Dye's comeback in 2004, but by the end of the year, he was hitting .265/.329/.464 and had a VORP of 23.3. That's an upgrade, but not nearly as much as they need.
Wherefore Art Thou, Alfonso?: Alfonso Soriano was the Rangers' fourth most valuable player by VORP in '04, posting a 39.9 mark; that was enough to lead all AL second basemen in VORP as well. He was the MVP of the All-Star Game. As a reward, he's been the subject of trade rumors all winter.
Soriano is arbitration-eligible, and stands to grab a deal in the $8-10 million a year range, according to most estimates. That's more than Texas wants to spend on him, but they seem to be out of options. The offers the team has received for Soriano have all been lowballing Texas, and the Rangers' pursuit of Todd Walker as a replacement ended when Walker re-signed with the Cubs for one year and $2.5 million.
The Rangers would love to move Soriano to the outfield, where he would likely be less of a defensive liability and help boost the outfield's production. But Soriano is adamant about staying at second, and as things stand now, he's going to stay put, both at his position, and in Texas.

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