SCATTERSHOOTING

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

GENERAL MANAGERS’ MEETINGS:

The General Managers’ meetings are taking place this week in Milwaukee.  One General Manager that did NOT attend is the Rangers’ Jon Daniels.  His wife gave birth to the couple’s third child last Saturday, so Daniels sent Assistant GM Thad Levine and Director of Baseball Operations Matt Vinnola in his place.  Nolan Ryan also arrived later in the week.

Usually little happens at these meetings in terms of actual trades and free agent signings.  However, the activity at these meetings is often the first step toward finalizing such transactions next month.  GM’s get a feel from meeting with agents as to where the market is going for their clients in which the team may have interest, and they also get a feel as to who might be available on the trade market.

C. J. Wilson is reported to be vacationing in Japan, but his agent (Bob Garver) has been extremely active this week.  He has made contact with more than a half-dozen teams and is scheduling visits for Wilson upon his return from the far East.  The news starved media is reporting almost every sighting of Garver, who also represents another free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt.  Speculation from there runs amuk.  The known players for his services besides the Rangers at a minimum include the Angels, with whom Wilson is scheduled to visit next week, and the Marlins.  Garver is also trying to get the Yankees into the mix. 

One report surfaced this Wednesday that Wilson is seeking a contract comparable to the one Cliff Lee received a year ago, roughly six years at $120 million.  As a comparable, Lee was 32 years old a year ago and his record for the two previous seasons was 26-22 with a 3.20 ERA.  Wilson is more than a year younger as he turns 31 tomorrow, and his record over the past two seasons is 31-15 with a 3.14 ERA.  He has a case, and in any event, the poor post season showing not withstanding, his departure would be a significant loss for the Rangers. 

PERSONNEL:

Farm Director Scott Servais has already departed to become Assistant to the General Manager with the Angels.  This is a significant loss to the team that has a farm system rated among the upper echelon of Major League baseball.  Texas has graduated a significant number of players to the Major Leagues in recent years, including Elvis Andrus, Mitch Moreland, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison.  That’s two starting position players, two starting pitchers and last year’s closer.  That’s a significant influx of talent for the Major League team, and they are not the only ones.

On top of sending players to Arlington, the system has had the prospects available to trade for meaningful pieces to the puzzle over the past two seasons as the Rangers went to the World Series.  Jeff Francoeur, Cliff Lee, Benji Molina, Mike Adams and Mike Gonzalez are the more significant additions, but by no means the only additions that made a material contribution to the success of the Rangers.

Servais’s departure is doubly damaging, as he not only left, but he also joined a division rival.  No successor as been named as yet.

Texas apparently dodged a bullit with Pitching Coach Mike Maddux.  Maddux has been here three seasons, and the Ranger staff has turned in the three lowest ERA’s of all the seasons since moving into the Ballpark In Arlington in 1994.  Obviously, he has made a difference.  The Red Sox and Cubs requested and received permission to interview Maddux for their vacant managerial positions.  Maddux initially agreed to both interviews, but later withdrew from consideration by Boston.  Dale Sveum has now been named manager of the Cubs, so the likelihood is that Maddux will still be the Rangers’ pitching coach next year.

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