Why Rangers offer hope to Red Sox
|10.25.12 at 10:39 pm ET|
In the middle of the 2007 season, the Texas Rangers were drifting. A few years earlier, the team went 89-73 in 2004, falling short of the wild card but nonetheless displaying a young nucleus of infielders — players like Mark Teixeira and Michael Young — that seemed like it would allow the team to compete on a perennial basis in the AL West. But three years later, that wasn’t happening.
And so, the Rangers made a decisive move. They elected to rebuild, to move on from that core of power-hitting players to take the club in a new direction. And the most significant move proved extraordinary, laying the groundwork for the Rangers’ emergence as a force, a team that reached the playoffs in each of the last three years while getting to the World Series in both 2010 and 2011.
On July 31, 2007, the Rangers dealt Teixeira (along with reliever Ron Mahay) to the Braves for five prospects: Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Beau Jones. Andrus became an All-Star shortstop, Felix an All-Star closer, Harrison an All-Star starter and Saltalamacchia (after changing organizations) merited consideration as an All-Star catcher this year with a tremendous first half for the Red Sox.
Yet the significance of that deal extended beyond just the players who went to Texas. It was also reflected in the freedom that GM Jon Daniels and the Rangers organization had moving forward from that deal.
The memory of that franchise-altering deal came to Daniels when he saw the Red Sox complete their blockbuster deal with the Dodgers, sending Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to Los Angeles in exchange for first baseman James Loney and prospects Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus Jr.
“I do see some similarities there,” Daniels said of the two deals on WEEI’s Red Sox Hot Stove show on Thursday. “[The similarities were] not necessarily in the exact construction of the deal. Ours was kind of a more traditional buyer/seller scenario, trading the established big leaguer for prospects. In Boston’s deal, it was really unique. You don’t see that many like it.
“I called [Red Sox GM Ben Cherington], from my perspective, and congratulated him. The reason I say that is that when we made the Teixeira deal, it was really … a message internally in our organization and also to the fans that there was a very clear direction for where we wanted to go. Ours was a true rebuild situation — I’m not sure the Red Sox view it that way — but it gives you a lot of clarity. It gives you an identity. I certainly don’t want to speak for Ben and the guys over there, but from an outsider’s perspective, that’s certainly how it appears. It helps give an organization direction. It’s very clear what you’re trying to accomplish. It gives you a little bit of a clean slate. Obviously, they’ve got a ton of flexibility from that deal. It opens things up. You can look at doing a lot of different things when you’ve got flexibility.”
Daniels touched on a few additional topics of relevance to the Red Sox and the hot stove. Highlights are below. To listen to the interview, click here.
— On whether the Rangers expect to trade shortstop Elvis Andrus with Ian Kinsler under contract through 2017 and Jurickson Profar, considered the top prospect in the game, close to major league-ready: “I would hope not. We look at Elvis as a core guy. It’s easy to forget how young he is. We brought him up at 20 and he’s already been an All-Star a couple times and accomplished what he has. We look at him as a guy who we’d like to be here for a long time. We signed him to a three-year deal last year. I’d like to think that won’t be the last deal that he signs here with us. But we’ll have to see.”
— On what that means for Kinsler’s future with the Rangers: “I think what we’re going to do with him is have [manager Ron Washington] plan on penciling his name into the lineup a lot — another core player. We look at the situation, obviously we’re in a fortuitous spot there with Elvis, Ian, Profar coming, some of the other guys we’ve got in the infield. I think the dangerous thing is looking at it like a problem that needs to be solved. I think we’re looking at it as we’re in a really good spot. They’re all winning players at different points in their careers. There may be scenarios that we look at — there are scenarios that we look at — where they all play together. We try to get as many of these winning pieces on the field together. Then obviously there’s variations off that. Trading from that group, guys we look at as the core of our club, both now and in the future, I can’t completely rule it out. You’ve got to be open-minded as things present themselves. But that’s not where our head is.”
— On the challenge of finding power hitters on the market, something that the Rangers will attempt to accomplish if Josh Hamilton departs as a free agent — and something that the Red Sox may be looking to do: “It’s a challenge. It definitely is. Josh is a unique guy in the game, certainly a unique guy in the offseason, the marketplace. I think we’ve got to prepare for the possibility of the club being with him or without him. When a guy gets to free agency, the chance of coming back to the club — some guys do it; Paul Konerko did it, and it happens — but it’s pretty rare once a guy tests the market. Given that reality, we’ve looked into a lot of different things. I don’t think we can expect to replace Josh with one guy — what he brings, what he’s brought to the organization is so unique. There’s so few guys that do it. You’re seeing so many more guys getting locked up earlier, before free agency, that to your point, there just aren’t that many middle-of-the-order bats. I think power being down a little bit in the game right now, it is challenging to find. If we don’t re-sign Josh, and I’m still, I’m an optimist by nature, and hopeful that it works out, but if we don’t re-sign Josh here, I don’t think we’re going to approach it as trying to replace him, per se. We’re just going to try to build the best club we can.”
— On how close the Rangers came to dealing for Jacoby Ellsbury at the trade deadline: “I never really like to comment on reports that are out there, certainly on trades or things. … I can say, like a lot of teams, we explored a lot of different things to try to upgrade our club.”
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