Since Nothing Is Happening
By Eric Reining
When I became editor of Nolan Writin’ in October — a few months ago — I had no earthly idea how difficult it would be to produce 30 articles a month, which is requested (and expected), per the higher ups on The 14th Floor. As writers on Fansided, we’re also recommended not to curse, but that’s an extremely trying disposition to ask of me, so my sincerest of apologies if you’re ever even remotely offended by that sort of thing. Shit.
Anyway, I love the Rangers like anyone else, and I love to write, so it seemed like a fruitful match made in heaven. (You know, if you believe in that religious stuff.) During the regular season, there is something happening literally each of the week, whether it’s players going on the DL, Minor League call-ups, lineup adjustments, changes in the pitching staff, or, most obviously, the actual games that are being played. “Literally” is my least favorite word in the English language because of the propensity at which it’s misused, so just know when I use it, I mean it. It’s easy to write when you have things to write about. But the offseason? No, that’s not the right way to put it. This Offseason? Yeah, there’s not a whole gang to write about; shuffling through the media’s trite and using my perception to speculate only goes so far.
The Rangers are not a boring team. They excel at every level of the organization, from the big squad down to the rookie league team. They have a good Major League product, oodles of scintillating prospects, and a young, fun front office that rarely commits errors. So like I said, the Rangers aren’t a boring team, but I have a strange time convincing myself this hasn’t been one of the most boring off seasons, ever. It’s left everything to the imagination, and, well, the imagination can only go so far before it runs out of fresh material that can be transcribed onto these pages in front of you.
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Today it was reported that Kevin Towers — Arizona’s GM — again made an attempt at moving Justin Upton, this time to the Cubs. In return he asked for Chicago’s shortstop of the future, Starlin Castro, and logically Theo Epstein balked at the notion.
What I find curious about this whole ordeal is that, for the second time, Towers was in discussions with a team which Justin Upton possesses a no-trade clause with. To put matters simply, Upton has yet to enter the prime of his career, is under an extremely affordable contract, and would look good in any lineup. If Towers simply wanted to dump Upton, 29 other teams would be happy to have him; 25 of those organizations are eligible to acquire him without having to deal with the no-trade clause, so one can only infer that by making phantom trades with Seattle and Chicago (NL) — two-fourths (half) of Upton’s no-trade partners — that Arizona’s GM has a different end game in mind.
What could that end game be?
Publicly stating a willingness to move his most valuable player (twice in the last 6 months) has deteriorated Upton’s worth, so by having a deal in place for a robust package of high-upside prospects (Seattle), and going after an untouchable franchise cornerstone on the Cubs (Castro), Towers is attempting to resuscitate the ostensible value of his star outfielder.
If we’re talking about business, we’re really talking about leverage, which is what Kevin Towers is trying to regain.
Whenever trades are being discussed, there’s a major push-pull factor at play. This concept is most applicable to countries going to war, weighing the pros and cons of what they respectively stand to gain (and lose) through their participation.
If we look at the pushes and pulls as they relate to Kevin Towers’ leverage, we see, at least on the surface, that he’s lost more than he currently owns. I’ll indicate positive leverage with a (+) and leverage lost by (-) as we move through the timeline.
Trade Deadline 2012
Kevin Towers says outfielder Justin Upton is available for trade, doesn’t actually move him (-).
Towers trades OF Chris Young to Athletics for Cliff Pennington; on paper Oakland wins trade in landslide (-).
Towers says Upton is still available to be traded for, preferably for a SS (-).
Towers trades RHP Trevor Bauer in 3-team deal with CIN/CLE, nets SS prospect Didi Gregorius, making it apparent he no longer needs a shortstop. Bauer, a top-10 prospect; Gregorius, fringe top-100 prospect. So although the perception is that AZ lost the trade, he also no longer has to say he needs a SS. This adds (+) leverage for acquiring a SS, and (-) leverage for losing the trade (+) (-).
Arizona signs OF Cody Ross, giving AZ 5 outfielders (Upton/Kubel/Parra/Ross/Eaten) for 3 spots, making it necessary for Towers to move at least one of those players [much like the situation the Rangers are in with Andrus/Profar; you lose leverage when you’re dealing from a surplus] (-).
Towers has deal in place with Seattle for prime set of prospects; Upton exercises no-trade clause (+).
Reports say AZ spoke to the Cubs about moving Upton for Starlin Castro (+?).
So, as you can see, the minuses outweigh the plusses, particularly with respect to the Chris Young and Trevor Bauer trades, and the perceived notion that Towers wants to move Upton. Why should the Rangers have to pay the premium that neither Cincinnati nor Oakland had to pay, and, furthermore, why should Kevin Towers expect full value for Upton after twice publicly stating he wants to off him from Arizona?
Again, if we’re talking business, and the secrets of general managers that make it out into the open, it’s not a mistake. If the media gets their hands on information, it’s because the respective franchise wants them to get their hands on the information.
Anyway, before I tangent off into never-neverland and start handicapping my own baseball conspiracy theories, just know that it’s only because I had nothing better to write about.
You know, because it’s the offseason. Because nothing is happening.