While the first leg of an exhaustive three-day collaboration between the Texas Rangers' front office (a group which comprised the likes of club president Nolan Ryan, general manager Jon Daniels and assistant general manager Thad Levine) and the scouting department (headed by director Ron Hopkins and his vast army of personnel) drew to a close in Surprise, Arizona on Monday, a bit of unexpected excitement broke out in my neck of the woods.
Really, really unexpected excitement, particularly given that the month of October is already a week old:
Apologies for having to cut this one short.
? In his latest MLB.com mailbag, T.R. Sullivan appears to intimate that Matt Harrison has procured the inside track on the third starter spot going into next spring, with Scott Feldman and Brandon McCarthy currently projecting as the fourth and fifth starters, respectively, and a smorgasbord of less certain arms (including Dustin Nippert, Kason Gabbard, Luis Mendoza, Eric Hurley and even Thomas Diamond) lining up at the rear.
Should we make anything out of the assertion that McCarthy might have to fight tooth and nail to retain his job? Probably not. If Brandon's completely healthy and mechanically sound come next spring, it's hard to imagine him failing to outright beat the field - and if he's not, he should probably be in Oklahoma City working out the kinks anyway.
? According to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, the Rangers made a "big offer" for Kansas City Royals right-hander Zach Greinke before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline that was obviously rebuffed.
? Taylor Teagarden (.319/.396/.809 and six home runs in 53 plate appearances) represented one of the three finalists for the American League's September Rookie of the Month Award alongside Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, but failed to top the flawless 4-0 record and 2.63 ERA compiled over 24 innings by Cleveland Indians southpaw Scott Lewis.
On a related note, Callis's composite USA Baseball top prospects list (encompassing both Olympic team members and draft-eligible junior team members) features Teagarden in the six-hole, one slot ahead of Georgia prep outfielder Donovan Tate - the "top prep position prospect for 2009."
? Aside from some additional ruminations on the still-polarizing Danks/McCarthy swap (which Lone Star Ball's Adam Morris elaborated upon in great detail on Monday), ESPN.com's Keith Law issued this assessment of left-handed phenom Derek Holland:
Of course, anyone bemoaning the lack of a good young lefty in Texas' rotation won't have long to complain, with Derek Holland banging on the door. Holland wasn't even on Texas' radar until they saw him at the junior college World Series a few weeks before the 2006 draft, leading them to take him in the 25th round as a draft-and-follow.
His velocity was gradually improving, from 86-90 mph before they drafted him to 88-91 the following spring to 90-93 after they signed him in May of 2007 and sent him to Spokane. This year, he started touching 95 in A-ball, then after his promotion to Double-A his fastball was sitting 93-95 and touching 98, retaining its natural bore and cut. (At this rate, he'll be throwing 107-110 by 2012.)
Holland is more than just velocity, showing outstanding fastball command, working to both sides of the plate, and boasting an above-average changeup; his slider is still a work in progress, but has made substantial strides since he signed with Texas.
Holland is so polished and has been so dominant that he might appear in the majors by mid-2009, but that just puts him in the vanguard of the strongest and deepest crop of pitching prospects of any organization in the game, something that is to the credit not just of general manager Jon Daniels but his amateur and international scouting staffs as well.
? Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press wrote on Sunday that the Tigers could pursue one of the Rangers' three shortstops (Elvis Andrus, Joaquin Arias or Michael Young) as a replacement for the departing Edgar Renteria, who hit just .270/.317/.382 in 547 plate appearances for Detroit in 2008 and will not have his $11 million club option for 2009 picked up. Arias has evidently invoked some interest on the part of the Tigers in the past.
An unsettled backstop situation in the Motor City, triggered primarily by the trade deadline departure of Ivan Rodriguez, might also compel general manager Dave Dombrowski to inquire on one of the Rangers' four prized catchers. I'm not entirely certain what a package consisting of Arias, Gerald Laird and an additional piece or two could fetch, but Jeremy Bonderman and Zach Miner are both sort of intriguing if you squint and tilt your head to the side a bit.
And, of course, the quality of the return is proportional to the quality of the inputs. Well, most of the time anyway.
? Industry publication Baseball America bestowed upon the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders the prestigious title of Minor League Team of the Year on Monday. According to Jamey Newberg, the Spokane Indians were deemed the short-season A-ball team of the year, and skipper Tim Hulett was recognized as the short-season A-ball manager of the year.
? Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports that minor leaguers Joselo Diaz, Ryan Roberts and Jason Ellison have been granted free agency.
? And finally, when the Surprise Rafters engage the Peoria Javelinas in Arizona Fall League action at 1:35 p.m. CST this afternoon, they'll be reinforced by Fall Instructional League participant Justin Smoak - a late "taxi squad" addition that will initially be eligible to play exclusively on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Time for Round Two of October Thunder.