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The Rangers advanced to their second consecutive World Series last night. Today, Buster Olney of ESPN.com breaks down some of the crucial moves Texas made — and didn't make — that helped them return to the Fall Classic. More on that and a couple other items of note out of the AL and NL West …
- Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com feels that while the Rangers proved they didn't need Cliff Lee to win the American League pennant, they would not have done so had they traded Michael Young last offseason.
- The Rockies will move their Rookie level affiliate from Casper, WY to Grand Junction, CO, writes William Browning of the Casper Star-Tribune.
- The Rangers considered acquiring starters such as Zack Greinke and Matt Garza when Lee walked in free agency, writes Olney, but because the Rangers were stocked with young power arms, they decided to address other needs. Instead, they acquired players in Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli who were seemingly undervalued by their former organizations. Beltre, after the Red Sox moved on from him quickly by acquiring Adrian Gonzalez and moving Kevin Youkilis to third, nearly signed with the Angels but felt he had a better chance to win with the Rangers.
- Though it appears unlikely the Athletics will gain approval to build a new stadium in a different nearby city, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle wonders whether they'd be able to build a new stadium at the site of the Oakland Coliseum. The NFL's Raiders, with whom the A's share the Coliseum, may relocate to a shared stadium with the 49ers in Santa Clara, which would leave the A's as sole tenants of their current digs, so they wouldn't have to consider any other team's needs.
- Mark Ellis provided some stability at second base when the Rockies acquired him this season, but the key stone has persisted as a unanswered question throughout Colorado's existence, writes Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post. Ellis, an impending free agent, "figures to return" to the Rox in 2012, according to Armstrong.
- Elsewhere in Armstrong's piece, he writes that the Rockies will "dive into the offseason trade market in hopes of landing a quality starting pitcher." Three prospects whom other teams might seek are outfielder Tim Wheeler, infielder Nolan Arenado and pitcher Chad Bettis.
At least one division series per league is going to a full five games this year, with the first elimination game taking place in the Bronx tomorrow night. Here are some links to read in the meantime…
- A's GM Billy Beane and MLB.com's Peter Gammons reflect on the decision Beane made in 2002, when he nearly joined the Red Sox before realizing he wanted to remain in Oakland. Gammons compares Beane to Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, who is at a similar career crossroads now that Boston missed the playoffs and the Cubs are interested in him as their next GM.
- The Angels are also looking for a new general manager and former GM Jim Bowden compiles a list of candidates at ESPN.com. Kim Ng of MLB, Jason McLeod of the Padres and Bill Geivett of the Rockies are among the names on Bowden's list (MLBTR's list of GM Candidates offers some more candidates to consider).
- Though the Rangers wanted Cliff Lee last offseason, they have many reasons to celebrate the near-miss, Jon Paul Morosi writes at FOX Sports. Texas signed Adrian Beltre, whose three-homer game sent them back to the ALCS, instead.
- Jim Margalus of South Side Sox looks back at Mark Buehrle's last contract and determines that it was a good one for the White Sox because the left-hander didn't really age.
- Carlos Zambrano knows his future with the Cubs is undetermined until they hire a GM, but he says he is talking with new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen on a near-daily basis, according to Ormúz Jesús Sojo of Líder en Deportes (translation via MLBTR's Nick Collias).
- Check out Rumores de Béisbol for all of the latest rumors in Spanish.
The Rangers’ front office has recovered from some blunders (trading Adrian Gonzalez, for example) to become a group known for its shrewd decision making, Jon Heyman writes at SI.com. GM Jon Daniels and assistants such as Thad Levine and A.J. Preller had a successful offseason, acquiring Mike Napoli in a trade and signing Adrian Beltre away from the Angels, who play 45 minutes from the third baseman’s home. Here’s the latest from Heyman:
- The Rangers are pleased with Beltre so far, according to president Nolan Ryan. "He's done what we'd hoped he do,'' Ryan said. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs recently made the case that Beltre has solidified his place as one of the best players in baseball.
- One Rangers person says the odds are “40-60” that the Rangers will be able to re-sign C.J. Wilson after the season.
- Yesterday I examined the moves that led to the Rangers’ second consecutive ALCS appearance.
- Buck Showalter, who has flown to Texas, appears to be deciding between the Orioles’ GM job and their manager job, according to Heyman.
- Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo may not be a fit as Boston’s next manager, according to Heyman. However, GM Theo Epstein will consider candidates with limited MLB managing experience.
Both the Angels (86 vs. 80) and Dodgers (81 vs. 80) have already improved on last year's win totals with one game to play. Here's a look back at a couple moves that shaped the Angels' season and a look ahead to the Dodgers' offseason…
- Adrian Beltre, who lives 30 minutes from Angel Stadium, begged the Angels to sign him last offseason, according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network (on Twitter). Instead, he signed a five-year deal with the AL West Champion Rangers and has a .296/.332/.563 line with 32 home runs. It won't be surprising if the Angels are on the lookout for third base help this offseason.
- Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times explains that there's reason to consider the Vernon Wells-Mike Napoli trade one of the worst deals in Angels history. Wells is expensive and has struggled offensively, Napoli has had the best offensive season of his career and the Angels finished second to the Rangers. Manager Mike Scioscia says we should give the deal some time before calling it a poor one for Los Angeles.
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times that he understands Los Angeles is a star-driven city and will consider the best players out there this winter, even if they cost $100MM or more. Still, Colletti says he's "very conscious" of the Dodgers' drop in attendance.
Some links from the left coast…
- Adrian Beltre told Scott Miller of CBS Sports that he signed with the Rangers instead of the Angels because he felt Texas gave him "the best chance to put a ring on [his] finger." The third baseman wouldn't elaborate on the talks he had with the Halos before signing.
- ESPN's Keith Law hears that the Diamondbacks love Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen, a projected first round pick (Twitter link). Arizona holds the third and seventh overall picks in this year's draft, and Hultzen owns a 62:4 K:BB ratio in 34 1/3 innings this spring.
- Dan Hayes of The North County Times tweets that new Padre Pat Neshek isn't guaranteed to make the team because he still has a minor league option remaining.
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post (via Twitter) could see the Rockies checking in on Michael Young now that the Rangers are reportedly willing to eat half of the veteran's salary.
- Renck also tweets that if Chone Figgins were made available, Colorado would be interested in him as a player but disinterested overall because of his hefty contract. Figgins is entering year two of a four-year deal worth $36MM, plus a vesting 2014 option for $9MM.
In today's notes column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo writes about the Orioles' rebuilding process, which included renovations to the team's Spring Training and minor league facilities. "There was no magic formula," said president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. "We're not doing anything that hasn't been done before. The Orioles I grew up with did it with scouting and player development, and we're doing it the same way now."
Here are the rest of Cafardo's rumors…
- Both Yankees and Red Sox executives spoke out against revenue sharing last week, but no one wants a salary cap and the player's union won't allow one anyway.
- The early signs are good for Jake Peavy, who is coming back from a detached lat muscle. One scout called Peavy "trade bait for sure" if he's healthy and the White Sox slip out of contention. "Though teams may come after Mark [Buehrle] first."
- John Boggs, agent for Adrian Gonzalez, has not talked to the Red Sox about an extension since December, though something may be set up soon. Boggs will not be in Florida until the third week of March.
- The Brewers don't want to bring in someone like Bengie Molina in the wake of Jonathan Lucroy's broken finger because they know their young backstop will be back in a few weeks.
- When the Red Sox drew the line at four years and $52MM for Adrian Beltre, one of their fears was his potential to get hurt given his all-out approach. Beltre suffered a calf strain recently and may be out for up to a month.
A's GM Billy Beane appeared on the "Athletics After Dark" podcast to discuss his team's winter moves, including a few that weren't made. Here are some of the highlights…
On his overall satisfaction with Oakland's offseason…
- "It was probably the busiest offseason we've all had since I've been here and we think it's very, very productive."
- "When it's all said and done we're very pleased with how the winter shaped up. We improved the offense which we set out to do, and we did it without taking away from a very good defensive team that we had last year. We were able to improve the pitching which I don't think was necessarily something we set out to do other than maybe looking at the fifth starter spot….While we did need to address the offense, the pitchers that were available were going to help us give up less runs, so in turn we wouldn't have to score as many runs, which is a non-linear way of approaching the issue."
- "We're always optimistic and I think we're also realistic, too. Quite frankly, I've got a very, very good relationship with [Scott Boras] and I really enjoy dealing with him. He's probably one of the best, if not the best, representatives out there."
- "Scott was honest with us from the outset of the winter about what he wanted. It took a while, but [he] ultimately achieved that, and that was beyond our means. I had no problem with the way the thing played out except for the fact that [Beltre] went to one of our rivals and I think significantly improved [the Rangers]."
- "Usually you go into the free agent period thinking a player might cost you a certain amount, and in many and most cases, it ends up being more than what you thought it was originally going to be."
Quick notes from the game's only four-team division…
- Derek Holland told Anthony Andro of The Dallas Morning News that he didn't even know his name popped up in recent trade talks with the Rays."I didn't even hear the Matt Garza stuff," he said. "You have to sit back and just let it go. It's just talk. You don't know if it's going to happen or not. I just try to not worry about those things."
- ESPN's Buster Olney heard that the Athletics' final offer to Adrian Beltre was $76.8MM spread over six guaranteed years (Insider req'd). Beltre took five years and $80MM guaranteed from the Rangers, though a sixth year vesting option could put another $16MM in his pocket.
In today's blog post at ESPN (Insider req'd), Buster Olney solicited the opinions of various talent evaluators about yesterday's Matt Garza trade. The general consensus is that the Cubs made the move with the idea of contending in 2011 while the Rays made the move geared towards reloading for the future, somewhat acknowledging that the upcoming season "will be very difficult."
Here are the rest of Olney's rumors…
- Two sources tell Buster that the Angels' final offer to Adrian Beltre was $77MM guaranteed, or $3MM less than the guarantee he got from Texas.
- Carlos Delgado wants to come back, but it'll be very tough to do so when the free agent market features plenty of healthier DH-types.
- The Yankees are seeking a capable back-of-the-rotation innings-eater, but there are very few pitchers that fit that description available.
Adrian Beltre turned down offers from the A's and Angels before signing with the Rangers. It turns out that one of those offers was larger than initially thought. According to Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com, the A's offered the third baseman a six-year, $76MM deal, not a $64MM deal as we'd heard before. Peter Gammons first reported that the A's had offered $76MM (Twitter link). The Rangers outbid both of their AL West rivals, as the Angels reportedly offered a $70MM deal.
The 2016 option in Beltre's contract is complex, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains. Beltre needs 600 plate apperances with the Rangers in 2015 or 1,200 plate appearances in 2014-15 for the $16MM option to vest in 2016. If the option vests and Beltre's on the disabled list at the end of the 2015 season and a mutually agreed upon doctor determines that he's unable to play at a normal level by the spring of 2016, the team can defer $12MM of the third baseman's 2016 salary at 1% interest (Twitter links).