For those interested in the current state of the new website, we've streamlined the entire process of joining BBTiA by improving the Login page and introducing a new Registration page, which makes it incredibly simple to sign up for a new user account.
Additionally, we've rolled out a new Prospect Map page -- made possible through the technological miracle that is Google Maps -- that will, in time, feature placemarks and biographical data for many of the Texas Rangers' prospects and graphically portray just how diverse this farm system truly is.
● Mike Hindman of the Dallas Morning News seems moderately pleased, if not deliriously overjoyed, by yesterday's John Mayberry-for-Greg Golson swap, correctly suggesting that athletic, defensively adept outfielders with even a flicker of power are usually attractive trade chips and implying that the loss of Mayberry shouldn't sting too much in the long run:
Progress in the rebuilding of Mayberry's swing -- to the extent there has been any -- has been halting at best. I told someone earlier this year that the only good things I could say about Mayberry were that he had a good arm and could run into a fastball every now and again. His effort in right field (how do I say this?) often left a lot to be desired.
Presented here with the intention of furthering your baseball edification is a video of Golson going deep for the Reading Phillies against Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League in a 7-3 victory on April 13th:
[Direct link available here.]
● ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote yesterday that the Rangers were one of six teams "actively looking" for a closer if "the right short-term fit" was available, and went on to indicate that Texas was one of at least a dozen teams that had expressed some degree of interest in free-agent outfielder Raul Ibanez (assuming that the Rangers fail to re-sign Milton Bradley), who hit a quality .293/.358/.479 (124 OPS+ and .296 EqA) with 23 home runs in 707 plate appearances and played a full 162 games for the division-rival Mariners during his age-36 season in 2008, but who is also an atrocious left fielder defensively, collectively making 43 fewer plays than the league-average left fielder over the last two seasons according to the defensive plus/minus system and faring rather badly in David Pinto's Probabilistic Model of Range.
One anonymous general manager quoted by FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal predicts that Ibanez will receive a three-year deal worth between $8 million and $12 million per season, presumably meaning he'll net at least $20 million guaranteed even if the market stalls out.
● Mike Plugh of Baseball Prospectus has returned after a long hiatus to offer some musings on this winter's Japanese talent market, and he evidently isn't a big fan of 22-year-old right-hander Junichi Tazawa, who is known to be a player of interest to the Rangers:
He is a serviceable pitcher with a fair bit of upside; he has decent stuff. But if there's one thing that I've learned a little something about concerning Japanese players in my years following the game here, it's this: unless the player in question is one of his generation's great performers, it's unlikely that he'll make it in the major leagues.
Just look at recent experience. Matsuzaka looks like he has a fair shot at a Cy Young at some point. His peer, Hiroki Kuroda, was one of the top five or six pitchers of his generation in Japan, but looks like he'll wind up no better than a third starter in the majors. We all know what's happened to Kei Igawa, Hideki Irabu, Masato Yoshii, and Kazuhisa Ishii, to name an unhappy few. Tazawa has done nothing to remotely put himself in even this latter class, but he's nevertheless seeking a guaranteed deal with your club. I'm glad it's not my money.
● Baseball America's Kary Booher has written a worthwhile primer for those who are not intimately familiar with the Rule 5 Draft process.
● Finally, right-hander Vicente Padilla has been named the Rangers' 2008 Pitcher of the Year by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Skipper Ron Washington is the first-ever managerial recipient of the Harold McKinney Good Guy Award, and outfielder David Murphy has been selected to the Topps All-Rookie Team.
Padilla and Washington will be honored at the Sluggers of the West Awards Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Friday, January 23rd at Eddie Deen's Ranch in Dallas.