One Part Ninja, One Part Neo
By Mike Luna
A few days ago Jon Heyman (of CBS) reported that Robbie Ross was almost traded to the Mets last year as part of a deal for Carlos Beltran. New York liked San Francisco’s offer more, so it fell through. Ross has proven effective in several high leverage situations this season and is currently the only lefty reliever at Ron Washington’s disposal.
I, for one, am happy he’s around. You can never have too much pitching and the more weapons the better.
This morning I read an article by Bob Nightengale (of USA Today) where he outlined the 5 worst contracts in baseball right now. (You can find it here.)
The news about Ross and the USA Today article got me thinking about deals that Jon Daniels and the Rangers have almost made over the years. Deals that seemed like good ideas at the time, but would (probably) have hurt the team in the long run.
Here are a few that I came up with off the top of my head…
1) Ian Kinsler (2004) — Back then Kinsler was a hotshot shortstop in AA who was getting a lot of attention nationwide. In July of that year he was almost sent to Colorado for Larry Walker, a 37-year-old right fielder on the back-end of a decent career. The deal fell through when Walker invoked his no-trade clause.
2) Barry Zito (2006) — Zito was one of the most highly sought after free agent pitchers in recent memory. He won a Cy Young Award in 2002 and had posted great numbers for seven years in Oakland. The Rangers were in on him and even asked C.J. Wilson to help recruit (they’re both left-handed and both from California, so I guess it seemed like they could be friends). Zito would eventually sign with the Giants and his numbers would promptly fall off the table. His ERA would spike a whole run, even though he had moved to the National League where it’s supposed to be easier to pitch.
3) Daisuke Matsuzaka (2006) — The Rangers bid on Dice-K and his so-called “gyroball” in the winter of 2006. The Red Sox ultimately won the bidding and signed him for over $50-milllion. The significance here is that, if Texas had signed the mediocre and oft injured Matsuzaka, they likely wouldn’t have bid on and signed Yu Darvish. They may not even have wanted to try after getting burned on another “can’t miss” Japanese pitcher.
4) Mark Teixeira (2007) — I don’t like Mark Teixeira. I don’t like his face or his cocky attitude or the fact that he was always too good for Texas. That being said, I’m glad that he turned down an offer from the Rangers for 8-years at $140-million. He recently seems to be in decline and worth nowhere near the money that was on the table. Two weeks after rejecting the offer he was traded to Atlanta for Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, & Matt Harrison. Had he signed, he’d be under contract through 2015.
5) Manny Ramirez (2010) — Ramirez was actually almost part of an A-Rod trade back in 2004, but it didn’t work out. In 2010 he had burned all of his bridges in LA and the Dodgers put him on waivers. Texas seemed to want a piece of him and I worried at the time that Ramirez’s “Manny Being Manny” would prove too much of a distraction for even this tight-knit clubhouse. Thankfully the White Sox got him first and we never had to deal with it.
Other notable non-deals…
- Josh Beckett could have been a Ranger in 2006, but Jon Daniels hesitated and Beckett went to the Red Sox. The guy can still pitch, so it may not have been all bad, but he’s recently made headlines for stuff that has nothing to do with pitching. We may feel better about this one in the long run.
- Nelson Cruz was designated for assignment in 2008 and had to clear waivers. Any team could have had him, but he was never claimed.
- The Rays wanted Texas to include Mitch Moreland in a deal for Matt Garza two winters ago. The Rangers opted to keep Moreland, who (I think) is still a valuable piece of the puzzle.
- Derek Holland was named in several big trades that ultimately fizzled. He’s still very capable of his Jekyll/Hyde routine, but he’s also a solid young arm that has value and recently signed a fairly team-friendly deal.
- Michael Young demanded to be traded after Texas signed Adrian Beltre to play 3rd base last year. No deal could ever be made and Young stuck around. He posted one of the best offensive seasons of his career and helped take the club back to the World Series. He also provided leadership ‘n stuff.
General managers are often judged by the deals that they make, but sometimes it’s better to dodge a bullet than pull the trigger. No doubt JD is a smart and talented GM, but he’s gotten lucky a couple of times along the way.
You kind of have to be lucky.
Press on, Rangers fans.
(Leave a comment or find me on Twitter @BleacherSeatsTX. As always, thanks to Baseball Reference for their invaluable resources.)