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, January 12, 2005

BP on Rangers

Texas Rangers
Take It Easy: As we creep up on five weeks to go until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, the question has to be asked: What the hell is going on with the Texas Rangers? In an offseason marked mostly by inaction and continuing rumors about Alfonso Soriano, the Rangers have been very quiet on the free-agent market.
Player POS Former Team Date Signed Contract
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Brocail, Doug RP TEX 11/11/04 One-year contract, $1 million
Alexander, Manny 2B TEX 11/19/04 Minor league contract
German, Esteban 2B OAK 11/19/04 Minor league contract
Standridge, Jason RP TB 11/19/04 Minor league contract
Wasdin, John RP TEX 11/19/04 Minor league contract
Machado, Robert C BAL 11/30/04 Minor league contract
Alomar, Sandy C CWS 12/08/04 One-year contract, $550,000
Hidalgo, Richard OF NYM 12/10/04 One-year contract, $5 million
Colbrunn, Greg 1B ARI 12/17/04 Minor league contract
Dellucci, David OF TEX 12/20/04 Two-year contract, $1.8 million
Zimmerman, Jeff RP TEX 12/21/04 Minor league contract
As far as they've gone, the Rangers have done well. Signing Richard Hidalgo for $5 million could be the steal of the offseason. In fact, in terms of the production expected by PECOTA for the money, Hidalgo's contract is the best value of the offseason (look for much, much more about this from Nate Silver in the near future). We've talked about the lack of production from the Rangers' outfield nearly every time we've looked at them, so you're probably sick of hearing about it; Hildago is a step in the right direction.
And as we noted in our discussion of the Beltran deal, keeping contracts short and cheap is a good strategy, as it gives a team flexibility. The Rangers have only signed up for five player-years and $8.3 million this offseason, which means that they've done a good job giving themselves options for the future.
But all the payroll flexibility in the world is meaningless if you don't use it to your advantage. It's the flip side of sitting out the bidding on huge free agent--you might find yourself with money in the bank and with no players worth spending it on.
The main rumor swirling around the Texas landscape is the Rangers making a run at Carlos Delgado, and perhaps trading Soriano to keep their budget in line. But Texas already has a slugging first baseman, one who just happened to lead the AL in VORP at the position last year. Here's the top three:
PLAYER TEAM POS PA AVG OBP SLG VORP
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Mark Teixeira TEX 1b 625 0.281 0.370 0.560 52.6
Paul Konerko CHA 1b 643 0.277 0.359 0.535 48.1
Carlos Delgado TOR 1b 551 0.269 0.372 0.535 41.4
Admittedly, this was a down year for Delgado, who had posted 60+ VORPs each of the previous three seasons. But he'll also turn 33 during the 2005 season, and it's hard to imagine that we haven't seen the best baseball of his career already.
Delgado is reportedly looking for $15 million or more a year, which should inspire every GM in the game to snicker. Given those demands, and Teixeira's emergence, it's hard to understand why the Rangers are even mentioned in connection with Delgado, except that they're like a shopper on the day after Christmas who got a big fat check from Grandma and can't wait to spend it.
We know it's hard to pass up signing a big free agent if you've got the cash. But if the Rangers pull the trigger on Delgado, it will blow away all of the good work that gave them the flexibility to make the move in the first place.

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