Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way from the outset: according to an Associated Press report published Thursday afternoon, Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren is adamant that he will not trade his club's top prospects to obtain Jake Peavy from the San Diego Padres.
Thinly veiled posturing? Perhaps. But let the rampant, impetuous trade speculation begin.
● From Mike Hindman's absolutely superb Dallas Morning News interview with Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels:
MJH: Are you proactively looking to make a deal for a young established starter a year or two away from free agency such as someone like Greinke, Cain, Nolasco, etc.? And if so, do you think there is any way to make a deal for a guy like that without putting Feliz, Holland, Main or Perez in the return package?
JD: Yes. We've got some targets in that area but those guys don't come available too often. Can we make a deal without including one of those guys? Don't know. Depends on the club and who they're interested in, but I have a hard time imagining that we would trade any of those guys.
What convenient timing. Daniels' subtle intimation that the club's top-tier prospects do, in essence, border as untouchable should come as quite a relief to those that believe the Rangers would be playing with fire if they dealt a high-powered package of prospects in exchange for a top-tier starting pitcher in the vein of Greinke or Nolasco or Peavy.
Read the whole thing. You'll be a better Rangers fan for it.
● Texas announced the rehiring of veteran public relations guru John Blake on Thursday, a 20-year employee of the organization whose brutal "honesty" allegedly prompted former Rangers manager Buck Showalter to have him run out of town in 2004.
Blake had served as the vice president of media relations for the Red Sox since April 2006, wielding responsibility for the organization's publicity efforts and overseeing the club's media services and photography areas. Before his untimely dismissal from the Rangers four years prior, Blake had served in such capacities as the team's media relations director, vice president of public relations and senior vice president of communications; his second stint with the organization will begin with the title of executive vice president of communications, a role which comprises the supervision of the club's communication efforts in the media, community-player relations, publications and broadcasting.
On Wednesday evening, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram pinpointed club president Nolan Ryan as the driving force behind Blake's return to the Rangers. A good sign, to be certain.
● ESPN.com's Keith Law evidently does not buy into the line of thought that Peavy will command an exorbitant price in the trade market this off-season, and is additionally skeptical of his level of productivity going forward:
The team acquiring Peavy would get something similar to what Arizona got financially in Haren -- three years of control at below-market prices -- but they're not getting the same pitcher on the field. Peavy missed time this year with elbow trouble after notching a career high in innings in 2007. When he did pitch, his strikeout rate was down, his walk rate was up, and his home run rate was back up after being exceptionally low in 2007. His velocity was about normal, sitting 92-93 mph on the four-seamer, a few miles per hour below that on the two-seamer, but his slider didn't have the same bite. He uses the slider often, which isn't good for the elbow, and without that as a primary weapon, he's not going to be as effective.
Peavy has also benefited tremendously from his home environment. Petco Park is one of the toughest places in baseball to hit a home run, good news for pitchers like Peavy who don't keep the ball on the ground. In fact, Peavy has allowed far more home runs (81) in his career on the road than he has at home (47), despite throwing 95 more innings at home. And that's before we consider the soft competition that he's faced, between the National League and the weak offenses in the NL West.
Dangerous. Very dangerous. And I'm not going to relent from repeating it, either.
● Industry publication Baseball America has recognized the Rangers' 2008 amateur draft class as the best in all of baseball, beating out the Royals, Giants, Twins and Red Sox.
First baseman Justin Smoak was deemed the draft's second-best power hitter (flanked on the higher side by Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez, and on the lower side by Kansas City's Eric Hosmer), while right-hander Joe Wieland's electric professional debut (5-1, 1.44 ERA, 8 BB, 44 K in 43.2 IP for the rookie-level Arizona Rangers) was appraised as the fourth best in the draft class behind San Diego's Jaff Decker, Kansas City's Mike Montgomery, and Minnesota's Aaron Hicks.
Baseball America's draft report card for the Rangers (as well as the rest of the AL West) drops next Monday.
● From SI.com's Jon Heyman: "The Phillies, Yankees, Blue Jays, Mets, Orioles and Rangers are all seen as potential suitors for [Manny] Ramirez."
Really? Seen by whom, dare I ask? How exactly would a four-, five- or six-year pact (with an average annual value in excess of $20 million, mind you) for a 36-year-old designated hitter help this team in either the short-term or the long-term scope of things?
Ludicrous, baseless conjecture at its finest.
● And finally, for what it's worth, Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker cites a report from Japanese sports newspaper Sanspo that suggests the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Central League are planning to "aggressively pursue" Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz this off-season.
Take that, along with any rumors you may hear of Peavy forwarding his mail to zip code 76001, with a huge grain of salt.