According to reports, the Rangers' fully loaded equipment truck began the long excursion towards Surprise on Tuesday morning. According to other reports, David Murphy -- who's coming off his worst season as a major leaguer -- believes he has improved at preparing for the season every year he's been in the majors. And according to even more reports, Craig Gentry wants to do whatever he can to help his team win. Aren't those interesting stories? Do you find yourself interested yet?
The correct answer is "well, they're more interesting than anything you've written lately." I'll accept that. Around this same time one year ago, and six months ago, and even three months ago, there wasn't a tremendous lot else going on that would interfere with my 'round-the-clock baseball absorption. Now? I kind of get why the longevity of the average baseball blogger doesn't tend to span more than a year or two, if that. Situations change, responsibilities mount, and priorities shift. I get it now, and I suppose I was fortunate in that I was able to keep up that everyday clip for as long as I did. I'm also going to keep aiming for that same clip, but, obviously, I haven't been able to maintain that over the last month and a half, and I wanted to make sure I acknowledged it and made it known that I wasn't beginning a slow fade into obscurity.
And if that explanation isn't sufficient, at least I can still counter with the argument that nothing really important outside of the Yu Darvish signing has happened in the last month and a half. Nothing of such importance is probably going to happen in the next 2-3 weeks, either, unless Neftali Feliz changes his mind again and decides he really doesn't like the idea of starting after all, or Michael Young decides to get an early jump on his demand-a-trade-every-two-years bit, or Roy Oswalt ...
... yeah, Oswalt. I don't feel like there's much else to say about this, or even that there should have been much to say in the first place, but the Oswalt-to-Texas scuttlebutt had some new life breathed into it Monday when Reds general manager Walt Jocketty speculated that Oswalt would "eventually" end up in Texas, and that the only major holdup at this point was the Rangers needing to lop some committed dollars off their over-budget payroll to accommodate Oswalt's asking price. The Rangers, meanwhile, have neither said nor done anything to tip their hand beyond flatly stating that they were "more than likely" done in the realm of off-season acquisitions. Convincing, aren't they?
The prevailing Oswalt-to-Texas theory now seems to include some combination of a payroll-paring Koji Uehara deal (which, I suppose, may end up being a foregone conclusion anyway), Nolan Ryan exerting his organizational influence to get ownership on board with tendering a viable offer, and Matt Harrison being punted to the bullpen or dealt to a pitching-starved organization. I've already made an extended case against the idea of Harrison getting the short end of the stick here, but I've been reminded in the last day or two why I'm also less than fond of the idea of sending Uehara out of here:
I know, I know -- reliever projections are notoriously unreliable because relievers themselves are notoriously unreliable. I get it. And then I dig a little deeper and notice that according to the overall ZiPS projection set, Uehara's forecasted 135 ERA+ ranks second among all AL West relievers (Mike Adams registers at 140). Nobody in the Angels' bullpen tops 115. The Athletics don't top 114. The Mariners don't top 109. The Rays don't top 124. The Tigers don't top 128. Outside of Boston's Daniel Bard (145) and New York's killer late-inning triumvirate of David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, and Mariano Rivera, you won't uncover much that's better on paper than Uehara, and you should feel reasonably confident in that unless his late-season struggles -- which spanned a grand total of 11 lousy innings -- totally convinced you that he'll never pitch well in Texas.
I get that the Rangers' hand may be forced here by a genuine, deep-seated unwillingness on Uehara's part to pitch somewhere other than Texas -- but if we're talking about a trade motivated primarily by a willingness to create some payroll room for Oswalt, consider me less than enthused. The whole Oswalt thing is less than enthusing, come to think of it, and I do still imagine that it's going to come and go without actualizing as a torrent of transactions and moving parts and confusion, but I suppose it can't be written off just yet.
Nor, for that matter, can I.