A quick thought: If Tom Hicks' troubling stewardship of the Texas Rangers has truly pushed this fan base to the edge of its collective patience, then (1) this article, which hints at the possibility of a collapse in negotiations with the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan ownership group, combined with (2) Hicks proudly asserting during the owners' meetings on Wednesday that "you're not getting rid of us," probably isn't going to do wonders for public sentiment:
● The latest round of pre-season projections has dropped (this time, courtesy of the inimitable Tom Tango, creator of the Marcels player forecasting system), and, not surprisingly, Vladimir Guerrero is once again being projected as a .355 wOBA hitter -- nothing to sneeze at, of course, but nothing all that special from your designated hitter towards whom you'll be throwing no less than $5.5 million in 2010. Furthermore, any gains in value created by manager Ron Washington's (ill-conceived) plan to work Guerrero into the outfield picture are going to be offset by his poor defense ... but that's not the topic I wanted to quickly touch on.
You might have recently noticed a lot of references to the notion of "lineup protection" in the context of the Guerrero signing, with the general idea apparently being that his mere presence and nothing more will render his teammates better offensively. The fact that both players and coaches buy into this notion strongly implies that Guerrero is good for some sort of psychological boost, at the very least; conversely, multiple statistical studies into the effects of lineup protection have suggested that it is, at best, "overrated," and at worst virtually neglibible as far as actually putting runs on the board.
Maybe there's really something to it, and maybe it's all hyperbole, but even if lineup protection really does exist, let's not confuse Guerrero making the team better on his own merits with Guerrero making the team better by directly impacting the production of others.
● Lost amid the Guerrero-related excitement of this past weekend was the acquisition of free agent infielder Khalil Greene on a reported one-year, $750,000 contract, which should be nearing finalization now that he has passed his pre-signing physical. It's a decent little signing, one which might entail more risk if not for the fact that the 30-year-old Greene might do well just to smash his way beyond the 100-plate appearance marker.
Greene's career path is somewhat reminiscent of that of Hank Blalock, in the sense that he began his major league career on a strong offensive note and gradually went backwards, adding power but sacrificing batting average while generally faring below average defensively at shortstop. There might still be something left in the tank, but it's not something I would bet too heavily on; nevertheless, he makes more sense as a utilty infielder for a playoff-contending team than, say, Joe Inglett, since Elvis Andrus could probably use at least 10-15 games of rest and Greene is presumably a better defensive option than Inglett at shortstop.