Playing nine innings while supposing it would be a bigger shock if David Ortiz didn’t want his contract extended, right? …
1. Now that’s the kind of out-of-the-blue trade that gets a baseball fan through the winter. The Wednesday night blockbuster that sent Prince Fielder from the Tigers to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler is not entirely a classic challenge trade — we like your guy better, you like ours, let’s trade ’em straight-up and see who wins the deal — because of the $30 million that Detroit is reportedly sending to Texas. But it’s close enough by modern standards, and there’s enough to debate here — Do Kinsler’s all-around skills offset his slippage at the plate? Will Fielder, whose 25 homers in 2013 were half of what he hit in 2006, get a surge in power from the short right-field porch in Arlington? — to keep us thinking and talking about baseball as we count down the endless days until pitchers and catchers report.
2. I love how it works for both teams in terms of lineup construction. Now the Tigers can stop pretending Miguel Cabrera was helping the team by playing third base and move him to first where he belongs, with promising Nick Castellanos taking over at third. And moving Kinsler opens up a spot in the lineup for super-prospect Jurickson Profar, who was in a holding pattern behind Elvis Andrus and Kinsler in the middle infield. Both teams fit together better now. Fun trade. Fascinating trade. Can’t wait to see who wins the challenge.
3. There’s one obvious way this deal directly impacts the Red Sox: By all logic, it takes the Rangers out of the running for Mike Napoli, which certainly is a good thing. The other pieces should fall into place once the Red Sox know his status. And then there’s the potential Giancarlo Stanton effect, which you’re probably sick of hearing about from me, so I’ll turn it over to reader Joe from New York, who asked this this morning.
Could this level the playing field a bit for the Sox in the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes? This deal tells me Texas is keeping, not trading, Profar. He is no longer going to be the centerpiece in a Ranger package going to Miami. One less team trying to reel in the Big Marlin?
I like the way you think, Joe. The Rangers have long seemed like the ideal landing spot for Stanton once the Marlins get around to trading him. This would seem to open the door a bit for the Red Sox, though the Rangers are pretty much capable of doing anything right now. Consider the following so-crazy-it-might-just-happen scenario …
4. Or, since we’re in the spirit of the moment and a deal that would have seemed like conjecture yesterday morning became real, why not imagine this blockbuster: The Rangers, who are going to be awash in cash and endless possibilities for a long time because of an insanely lucrative TV deal, send Profar and 3-4 other names found early in their section of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook to the Marlins for Stanton … and then sign Robinson Cano to a $200-million-plus deal to play second base for the next eight years? I’m not saying that will happen. But it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility, and this much I do believe for sure: Texas’s spending has only just begun.
5. He’s probably not a fit for the Red Sox even if/when they do lose Jacoby Ellsbury, but I’m starting to think Curtis Granderson could be someone’s free-agent bargain, at least in comparison to what Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo are likely to command. He was limited to just 61 games last season after suffering a broken forearm in February and then a knuckle in May, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of buzz about him right now. But this is a versatile, respected player who did lead the majors in home runs from 2011-12 with 84.
6. Had no idea until I was looking at Kinsler’s career comps list that John Valentin led the American League in baseball-reference’s version of Wins Above Replacement in 1995, ranking fifth in hitting value and first in defensive value. Mo Vaughn won the AL MVP award that season. Turns out he probably wasn’t even the MVP of his own team. Valentin, second to Aaron Hill on Kinsler’s comp list, did have a tremendous season in ’95, hitting 27 homers, 37 doubles, stealing 20 bases, and posting a .931 OPS while providing apparently excellent defense at shortstop.
7. The Rangers actually did lose a player this week when David Murphy signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Indians. Murphy is a solid defender who was outstanding at the plate in ’12 (.304/.380/.479, 15 homers) and not so good last year (.220/.282/.374, 13 homers). Not coincidentally, his batting average on balls in play two years ago was excellent (.333); in ’13, it suggests a long run of hard luck (.227). If his BABIP finds a happy medium this season, he’ll be a nice pickup for Cleveland. And of course, the center fielder on the most stacked Double A team I’ve ever seen already has at least a brief history with Terry Francona, having played 23 games for the Red Sox from 2006-07
8. My takeaway from the mesmerizing Alex Rodriguez/Mike Francesa interview. A-Rod’s acting skills have improved. His grasp of the truth remains spotty at best. And the motives of his p.r. team are almost comically transparent. At this point, outrage is a waste of time. Just enjoy the ridiculous show until it inevitably goes away.
9. As for today’s Completely Random Baseball Card:
Went with the Hostess card yesterday. It’s only right to follow up with the Kellogg’s today. My poor mom was badgered into buying a lot of stuff that wasn’t on the grocery list — Ring-Dings and Frosted Flakes especially — back in the day just so her boy could collect the box-bottom Butch Hobsons and vaguely 3-D Super Joe Charboneaus of the world.