Posts Tagged ‘Texas Rangers’

The Five Best Free Agent Hitters Left On The Market

February 6, 2010

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than two weeks. Can you believe it!!! It seems like yesterday the World Series was being played.

Despite the fact that spring training starts in less than two weeks, there are still a lot of quality major league hitters who still have not found a home. Due to the economy, teams are trying to wait out players as much as possible (unless you are the Houston Astros, who gave $15 million to Brandon Lyon).

Everyone is looking for a bargain these days.

Here are the five best free agent hitters remaining on the market.

Hitters

1. Johnny Damon, OF. Damon hit .282 with 24 home runs, 36 doubles, 12 stolen bases, and .365 OBP in 143 games for the New York Yankees last year. Damon priced himself out of New York and now his options are limited.

Damon is a terrible defensive outfielder and his power numbers were just a product of playing in a ballpark perfectly suited to his swing. His agent Scott Boras is trying to get the Detroit Tigers to bite on Damon, but I see the Atlanta Braves as a darkhorse for his services.

2. Felipe Lopez, 2B. It’s pretty remarkable that a guy who is only 29-years-old and is coming off a season where he hit .310 with 9 home runs, a .383 OBP, and played outstanding defense (7.8 UZR) can’t find a job. That is the dilemma that Lopez is facing right now.

Lopez should find a home soon

You don’t hear too many teams in on his services, but this guy is too good not to have a starting job in the major leagues. The St. Louis Cardinals might be a landing spot for him, if they don’t feel comfortable with David Freese at third.

3. Hank Blalock, 1B/DH. Blalock hit .234 with 25 home runs and a .277 OBP in 123 games in 2009 for the Texas Rangers. The 123 games were the most Blalock played in since 2006.

Blalock can hit a home run, but other than that, he doesn’t do anything else particularly well. He doesn’t get on base, he is injury prone, he is not a good defensive player, and he faded in the second half last season.

He did hit 19 of his 25 home runs off of right-handed pitching, so maybe a team can use him like Mike Scioscia did 2003 All Star Game. That being a left-handed power hitter off the bench.

4. Russell Branyan, 1B/DH. Coming off of a career year, Branyan thought he would finally get paid. So far this has not been the case.

Branyan could end up with the Marlins

Branyan hit 31 home runs last year in just 116 games, but teams have been mostly scared off by Branyan’s back. A 34-year-old with a bad back and no track record prior to 2009 is not attractive to most teams.

I thought he would end up back with the Seattle Mariners at some point, but now it looks like the Florida Marlins might be interested in him.

5. Jermaine Dye, OF. Dye has finished in the top-15 in American League MVP voting two out of the last four years, but his market has been really quiet this winter.

Dye hit .250 last year with 27 home runs and a .340 OBP. Which isn’t the worst hitting line in the world. However, there are a couple of things working against Dye this offseason.

He is 36-years-old, he can’t field a lick anymore, and he is coming off a second half where he hit .179 with just seven home runs. His options are limited, so he might end up on a team as a fourth outfielder or DH-type player.

Tomorrow, I will cover the five best remaining pitchers on the free agent market.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Kris Benson On The Comeback Trail?

February 3, 2010

Is it me or does it seem like there is an unusual amount of pitchers trying to make a comeback this offseason? It seems like everyday we are are hearing about a pitcher who hasn’t pitched in a couple of years and is holding a workout for major league clubs.

This offseason, we have seen Ben Sheets, Derrick Turnbow, Noah Lowry, and others hold a workout in front of clubs and attempt to make a comeback. Now, we can add one more pitcher to the list of pitchers trying to make a comeback.

Benson is trying to make another comeback

According to John Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, Kris Benson is trying to make a comeback and a number of teams are monitoring his progress this offseason.

Morosi is hearing that the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, and Washington Nationals are the teams keeping track of where Benson is at this offseason. This should just tell you the state of pitching in the game of baseball today.

Benson hasn’t been an effective pitcher in the majors since 2006 and even then he wasn’t that good. In that year with the Baltimore Orioles, Benson finished with a 11-12 record with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP.

Benson pitched in the minors and had a cup of coffee with the Texas Rangers last year and was terrible. He gave up 33 hits in 22.1 innings and had a 8.46 ERA in eight games.

A pitcher like Benson is just living off the fact that he was the No.1 overall pick in the draft. But that was almost 14 years ago.

25-30 years ago, Benson wouldn’t even be given a second look. Now, because teams are so desperate to find pitching anywhere they can, scouts are hoping that someone like Benson has something left.

Pitching in baseball has become quantity instead of quality. It seems like now if a guy can just throw a baseball, a team will give him a look. It’s a problem that really doesn’t have an answer.

Until someone comes up with an answer on how to get more quality pitchers in the major leagues, guys like Benson will always been given a shot.

By the way, if you noticed I didn’t give the expected answer of “Well at least we will get to see Anna Benson again,” in regards to Benson’s comeback. I never really understood what the big deal was with her. She never did anything for me.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

MLB Network Announces Top-50 Prospects In Baseball

January 28, 2010

Last night, MLB.com announced their top-50 prospects in baseball through a special on the MLB Network. While there were few surprises on their list, there were a couple of players that caught my eye.

No. 8: Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates. When the Pirates promoted Andrew McCutchen to the major leagues last season, Alvarez became the jewel of the Pirates’ farm system. The Pirates really need Alvarez to become the player they think he can be.

No. 24: Tim Beckham, Tampa Bay Rays. Beckham was the No.1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. As a matter of fact, Alvarez was the No.2 pick in that draft.

The Rays took a chance on the less polished Beckham and he struggled somewhat in his first year of professional baseball. Beckham is only 19, so he has plenty of time to figure things out, but 2010 is a big year. The Rays could have drafted Buster Posey.

No. 28: Casey Kelly, Boston Red Sox. Kelly and the Red Sox organization were faced with a big decision in 2009. Where was Kelly going to play full-time moving forward? Shortstop or pitcher? Kelly is now a full-time pitcher and it was the right decision.

Kelly had a 2.05 ERA in 95 minor league innings last year. He could be in the Red Sox starting rotation by 2012.

No. 30: Yonder Alonso, Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are going to be faced with an interesting decision a year or two from now. Alonso is a first baseman and the Reds already have a star in waiting at first in Joey Votto.

Alonso isn’t as athletic as Votto, so I suspect Votto will be moved to the outfield. A broken bone in Alonso’s hand limited his power in 2009, but this guy can rake. Once he figures out how to hit lefties, he will be good to go.

No. 40: Drew Storen, Washington Nationals. Not only is Storen fun to follow on Twitter, but he is also on heck of pitcher. Stephen Strasburg is getting all the hype, but Storen isn’t far behind him.

Storen is being groomed at the Nationals’ closer of the future. He could be their closer by 2011.

The Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals led the way with four players in the top-50. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Chicago White Sox, New York Mets (Ike Davis could have been on this list), and St. Louis Cardinals were the only teams not to have a player in the top-50.

You can find MLB.com’s complete list of top-50 prospects here.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Oakland A’s Sign Ben Sheets

January 26, 2010

There were a lot of teams interested in Ben Sheets. Rumor had it there were at least 15 teams that watched Sheets workout at the University of Louisiana at Monroe last Tuesday.

I thought the Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, Texas Rangers, or maybe even the Seattle Mariners were his most likely landing spots. However, it was another team that swooped in and signed the 31-year-old right-hander.

Sheets is headed to Oakland

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Oakland A’s have signed Sheets to a one-year, $10 million contract. The deal will also include performances bonuses that can net Sheets an extra $2 million.

Well, I am going to have to admit I am a little surprised by the amount of money Sheets got, but I understand the signing for both parties.

For the A’s, this is the same move they pulled last year when they traded for Matt Holliday and signed Orlando Cabrera and Jason Giambi during the offseason. These moves weren’t made so the A’s can win the AL West, they were made so the A’s can get top prospects back.

The A’s are a young team right now and won’t be competing for the AL West crown in 2010. The A’s signed Sheets in hopes that he comes back next year healthy, so they can trade him for some top hitting or pitching prospects.

Pitchers hold more value at the trade deadline than hitters, so if Sheets stays healthy in 2010, then the A’s can get a significant return for him. If Sheets gets hurt again next year, then he is only on a one-year deal and the A’s aren’t stuck with a long-term disaster.

For Sheets, the A’s make sense for a couple of reasons.

For one, I don’t think any other team was willing to go to $10 million for one year of his services. That is a lot of money for a guy who has made 30 starts just once in the last five years and missed all of 2009.

Sheets took the most money offered and who can blame him? I would have done the same thing.

Secondly, pitching in Oakland is probably good for a pitcher trying to make a comeback. The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is a pitcher’s ballpark.

With its large foul territory and pitcher friendly dimensions, any pitcher wouldn’t mind pitching in that stadium. Also, the air at night in Oakland gets pretty heavy and a lot of home runs go to die, which helps. Sheets can make some mistakes in Oakland that won’t cost him like they would in let’s say Milwaukee or Texas.

Sheets will be entering his ninth season in the major leagues and has a career record of 86-83 with a 3.72 ERA and is a four-time All Star with the Brewers.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Texas Rangers Find A New Owner

January 26, 2010

Update

The sale of the Texas Rangers has been finalized. The group led by Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg has completed the initial step of purchasing controlling interest in the Rangers from owner Tom Hicks.

The official announcement was made on Saturday night.

Greenberg will serve as managing partner and CEO of what will be known as Rangers Baseball Express. Ryan will be a limited partner and remain club president.

Dallas businessman Ray Davis of Dallas and Bob Simpson of Fort Worth, who is chairman of XTO Energy, have been named co-chairmen of the board of Rangers Baseball Express.

The next step is to submit the agreement to Major League Baseball for review by the ownership committee and approval by 75 percent of club owners, as well as approval by the lending institutions.

Greenberg is hoping to have everything finalized by April of 2010.

Original Post

Texas Ranger fans got some very good news today.

According to the Dallas Morning News, a group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan have been selected by current owner Tom Hicks as the winner in the bidding process for the team.

Hicks made the decision on Tuesday, picking Greenberg over two other groups, one headed by former players agent Dennis Gilbert and another led by Houston businessman Jim Crane.

What this means is the Greenberg/Ryan group has 30 days to negotiate the sale of the team from Hicks before it goes to Major League Baseball for approval. Once it goes to Major League Baseball for approval, the ownership group must get approved by 75 percent of the owners in baseball.

Ranger fans are probably looking at a final sale to take place somewhere between the middle of January and April.

The first thing this ownership group should so is build a dome, so the Rangers won’t wilt in that ridiculous Texas heat like they do every summer. In all seriousness, this is a good day for the Rangers.

Greenberg made his money as a powerful sports attorney in Pittsburgh. As an attorney, he was instrumental in helping Mario Lemieux and Bernie Kosar become owners of sports franchises.

That is how good Greenberg is at his job–he help Kosar become an owner. Did anyone see him during ESPN’s 30 for 30 on the “U”?

He sounded like he has been smoking 10 packs of cigarettes a day for the past 10 years and he looked even worse. My lord. What happened to that guy?

The “U” was a fascinating piece by the way. It was really great stuff and a must watch.

But back to Greenberg and the story at hand.

Greenberg currently owns two minor league teams in South Carolina and Pennsylvania. He also owns the Greenberg Sports Group, which provides consulting, management, and marketing services across the country.

The Rangers now with Greenberg and Ryan have two baseball guys running the team. I think that is very important.

Hicks was never a baseball guy. Hicks is a business man, who just wanted more toys. The Rangers were a new toy to him and he really didn’t know to play with the toy the right way.

Nothing was more evident of that than the Alex Rodriguez signing.

There was probably nothing more frustrating to the Ranger players and their fans when they weren’t able to add to the payroll last year when their team was in contention.

Last year’s Rangers team was exceeding expectations and worked so hard the entire season and for GM Jon Daniels not be allowed to add payroll because Hicks was all of a sudden poor was sad.

I have no idea how much money Greenberg will put into this team, nor do I even know if this sale will even go through.

But if this sale does go through, the Rangers’ franchise will be better off tomorrow than they were yesterday.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Starting Rotation: American League West

January 20, 2010

Next up in the starting rotation series is the American League West. The West is a real interesting division in terms of starting rotations because there are so many young starting pitchers in this division.

This division is filled with pitchers in their mid-to-late 20’s. Pitchers like Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Jered Weaver, Brett Anderson make this division a nightmare for opposing batters.

Here are the starting rotations for each American League West team as presently constructed.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1. Jered Weaver, RHP

2. Joe Saunders, LHP

3. Ervin Santana, RHP

4. Scott Kazmir, LHP

5. Matt Palmer, RHP

Quick Take – This staff lost its No.1 starter in John Lackey, but has four pretty good starters to replace him. This is a big year for Weaver. He needs to step up and pitch to his potential for a full season. Kazmir was brought in to replace Lackey, so he needs to have a big year as well.

Texas Rangers

1. Scott Feldman, RHP

2. Rich Harden, RHP

3. Derek Holland, LHP

4. Tommy Hunter, RHP

5. Brandon McCarthy, RHP

Quick Take – This rotation is young, but has a ton of potential. Feldman is not your classic No.1 starter, but did go an impressive 17-8 last year with a 4.05 ERA and only gave up 178 hits in 189.2 IP. The Rangers need to find a way to keep Harden healthy, which is easier said than done.

Seattle Mariners

1. Felix Hernandez, RHP

2. Cliff Lee, LHP

3. Ian Snell, RHP

4. Ryan Rowland-Smith, LHP

5. Doug Fister, RHP

Quick Take – When Lee is your No.2 starter, then you have the makings of a very, very good starting rotation. With Lee and Hernandez at the top of the rotation, they could win 35-40 games just by themselves. However, I have my doubts about the rest of the rotation. I still think they need to sign another pitcher.

Oakland A’s

1. Brett Anderson, LHP

2. Trevor Cahill, RHP

3. Justin Duchscherer, RHP

4. Vin Mazzaro, RHP

5. Dallas Braden, LHP

Quick Take – This rotation is very, very young. It’s so young that I feel they need a veteran in that rotation to lead them. Anderson and Cahill have the most potential on this staff and one of them needs to show some strides in 2010. The staff will be helped out by the A’s defensive additions this offseason.

Tomorrow, I will switch gears and look at the National League starting rotations. I’ll start with the National League East and work my way around.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Starting Nine: American League West

January 13, 2010

The next division up in our Starting Nine series is the American League West. This division has undergone the most change from top to bottom this offseason, so it will be interesting to see which lineup looks the best headed into the season.

Here are the starting lineups as presently constructed for the American League West:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1. Erick Aybar, SS

2. Bobby Abreu, RF

3. Torii Hunter, CF

4. Kendry Morales, 1B

5. Hideki Matsui, DH

6. Howie Kendrick, 2B

7. Juan Rivera, LF

8. Brandon Wood, 3B

9. Mike Napoli, C

Quick Take – This lineup will miss Chone Figgins at the top of the lineup to an expect, but despite the Angels’ losses, this lineup is still pretty deep. Any lineup that has Napoli batting ninth should be able to score some runs.

Seattle Mariners

1. Ichiro, RF

2. Chone Figgins, 3B

3. Milton Bradley, LF

4. Jose Lopez, 2B

5. Ken Griffey Jr. DH

6. Franklin Gutierrez, CF

7. Casey Kotchman, 1B

8. Jack Wilson, SS

9. Rob Johnson, C

Quick Take – This lineup after the first four hitters is pretty bad. I don’t care how many runs you prevent in the field, you need to score runs to win. The Mariners need a better DH than Griffey Jr.

Texas Rangers

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. Michael Young, 3B

3. Josh Hamilton, LF

4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH

5. Nelson Cruz, RF

6. Chris Davis, 1B

7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

8. Elvis Andrus, SS

9. Julio Borbon, CF

Quick Take – I love this lineup. I like Borbon in the nine-hole acting like a second leadoff hitter at the bottom of the lineup. The key to this lineup will be health.

Oakland A’s

1. Coco Crisp, CF

2. Rajai Davis, LF

3. Ryan Sweeney, RF

4. Jack Cust, DH

5. Daric Barton, 1B

6. Kurt Suzuki, C

7. Eric Chavez, 3B

8. Mark Ellis, 2B

9. Cliff Pennington, SS

Quick Take – This is the worst in the American League (yes, worse than the Kansas City Royals) and perhaps the worst in baseball. There isn’t a guy in this lineup that would start on the Baltimore Orioles. Michael Taylor better make it to the A’s soon.

Tomorrow, I will dive into the National League and look at the National League East.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Rangers Sign Vladimir Guerrero, Add To Their Roster Of High-Risk, High-Reward Players

January 10, 2010

Since the beginning of the offseason, the Texas Rangers have been in search of a right-handed, DH type bat. They had a trade worked out with the Boston Red Sox for Mike Lowell, but that trade was nixed and they have looked at free agents like Jermaine Dye and Vladimir Guerrero.

Yesterday, they finally found their right-handed bat.

According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, the Rangers have signed former Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim DH/OF Vladimir Guerrero to a one-year, $5 million contract plus incentives.

Vlad will be impaling in Texas in 2010

Guerrero becomes the third former Angel to sign with a division rival this offseason. Guerrero will join Darren Oliver in Texas and Chone Figgins signed with the Seattle Mariners earlier in the offseason.

This is a pretty interesting move by the Rangers. If I had my choice between Guerrero or Dye, I would have chosen Dye. I just think at this point in their careers, Dye is the better option. But I have no idea what Dye was asking for or if he is still searching for a multi-year deal.

Vlad is a shell of his former-self at this point. He will be 35 in February, his OPS has dipped three years in a row, he runs like Mark Eaton towards the end of Eaton’s career, and he only played in 100 games last year.

I don’t think Vlad has much left in the tank. We all saw last year in the playoffs he couldn’t catch up to good fastballs and he can no longer hit the bad pitch out of the strike zone on a consistent basis like he used to.

Perhaps he can find the fountain of youth in Arlington, where a lot of hitters come alive playing in that hitter friendly ballpark. I would guess Vlad will hit fifth or sixth in the Rangers’ lineup and serve as their primary DH in 2010.

While the Rangers certainly do have a talented roster, they have collected too many high risk, high reward players for my liking. Just think about all the injury prone players they have on their roster.

Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rich Harden, Matt Harrison, Frank Francisco, and Guerrero. Those are a lot of players and star players to worry about over the course of a 162 game schedule.

We have seen in the past–especially last year–injuries taking there toll on the Rangers as the season progresses. 2010 looks to be more of the same for Texas.

Guerrero will be entering his 15th year in the major leagues and has a career .321 average with 407 home runs and won the MVP award in 2004 with the Angels.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Saltalamacchia Pulled From Winter Ball Game With Injury

January 9, 2010

Update

I just wanted to update a story I covered about a month ago.

Saltalamacchia met with Dr. Greg Pearl on Friday morning and has been cleared to begin baseball activities yet again. As a matter of fact, Saltalamacchia felt so good yesterday, he joined fellow Rangers Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, and Craig Gentry for some batting practice with hitting coach Clint Hurdle.

The reason for Saltalamacchia’s set back in December? He came back to early. A procedure like the one Saltalamacchia had requires 12 weeks of recovery time and he tried to come back in about seven weeks.

Saltalamacchia should be ready for spring training and good to go for Opening Day.

Original Post

According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, Texas Rangers’ catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was pulled from his winder ball game in the Dominican Republic Wednesday because he was experiencing tingling and numbness in his right arm.

Saltalamacchia will be examined by the Texas Rangers’ medical staff on Friday.

Saltalamacchia's arm is acting up again

This injury is nothing new for Saltalamacchia. Towards the end of last season, Saltalamacchia came down with thoracic outlet syndrome. That’s a condition in which a rib bone pushes against an artery or nerve in the shoulder, causing tingling and numbness in the arm.

Saltalamacchia had surgery for the condition in September.

Saltalamacchia came over to the Rangers in the Mark Teixeira trade in 2007 and to be honest, I feel he has been a little bit of a disappointment so far in a Rangers’ uniform.

In 2009, Saltalamacchia hit just .233 with a .290 OBP in 310 AB’s. He really hasn’t yet to emerge as the offensive player many thought he would be.

In all fairness to Saltalamacchia, he is still only 24-years-old, so there is still plenty of time for him to develop into an offensive threat.

You know what’s funny? At the end of the 2008 season, the Rangers had Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and Gerald Laird on the roster and everyone, including the Rangers thought they had a surplus of catching.

The Rangers sent Laird to the Detroit Tigers before the 2009 season. Then Saltalamacchia got hurt, so the Rangers needed a catcher.

The Rangers then went out and brought Ivan Rodriguez back to Texas. Now, if Saltalamacchia’s arm injuries persist, the Rangers might be forced to add another catcher this offseason.

This just proves there is no such thing as a surplus of anything in Major League Baseball. This is why I don’t think the Atlanta Braves should trade Javier Vazquez or Derek Lowe.

They’ll trade one of them and in July and then the Braves will be looking for a pitcher because someone else got hurt or is not living up to expectations. It’s inevitable.

If the Rangers don’t feel comfortable about Saltalamacchia’s arm, they could always bring back Rodriguez for the 2010 season.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Chicago Cubs Find Their Center Fielder, Sign Marlon Byrd

December 31, 2009

Center field as really been a black hole for the Chicago Cubs during the 2000’s.

They started off the decade with the legendary Damon Buford and over the last 10 years have had players like Gary Matthews Jr., Corey Patterson, Juan Pierre, Jacque Jones, Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson, Jim Edmonds, and Kosuke Fukudome patrol center field.

Either players they had playing center weren’t very good overall (Patterson), or not very good defensively (Soriano), or were a short-term solution (Edmonds). Today, the Cubs hope they have finally found a long-term solution to their center field problems–at least for the next three years.

According to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago, the Cubs have signed former Texas Ranger Marlon Byrd to a three-year, $15 million contract. Not a bad start to the new year for Byrd.

Byrd is the latest Cubs' CF

I hate sitting on the fence with these type of free agent deals, but I am very torn on this one. Half of me sees the positives to this deal and the other half sees the negatives.

As far as the positives go, I definitely see a few.

First and foremost, the contract is not an albatross. A three-year deal at essentially $5 million a year will not break the Cubs’ bank. What’s the harm in paying your starting center fielder $5 million a year?

Second, the signing of Byrd allows Fukudome to move to his natural position of right field. Fukudome looked out of place in center last year and this move will improve the Cubs’ outfield defense.

Byrd isn’t the best defensive center fielder in the world, but having him in center and Fukudome in right is an improvement over Fukudome in center and Milton Bradley in right.

Lastly, Byrd is coming off a career year with the Rangers in 2009. Byrd hit .298 with 20 home runs and played in a career high 146 games in 2009.If Byrd can produce those numbers with the Cubs, then this is a great deal for the Cubs.

And it’s with that last paragraph, where I start having my doubts about Byrd.

Haven’t we seen this act play out before us time and time again? A mediocre player has a career year in his free agency year, earns a nice contract, and then never lives up to that deal.

That scenario has been a time honored tradition in baseball for the last 25+ years.

Byrd’s only other year of significance in he majors was back in 2003 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He played in 135 games that year hitting .303 with seven home runs, a .784 OPS, and 11 stolen bases.

Since that year, Byrd has been a fringe starter/forth outfielder with the Phillies, Washington Nationals, and Rangers. Byrd never lived up to the hype that made him one of the Phillies’ top prospects in the early-2000’s.

Ironically for me, Byrd has a lot of former Cub Gary Matthews Jr. in him. Matthews too, was a fringe starter/forth outfielder for most his career, then had one great year with the Rangers in his free agency year, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed him to a huge contract.

Now Byrd’s contract isn’t nearly as bad as Matthews was, but the similarities are there.

Another concern I have about Byrd is his home and road splits. Last season in Texas, his home OPS was .873 and his road OPS was .740. That is a huge difference.

Byrd was the Cubs’ first big signing of the offseason and they will need a lot more than him to get where they need to be. I look at the Cubs’ roster as of today, and I feel it’s significantly worse than it was just two years ago.

Unless a lot of Cubs’ players have bounce back years in 2010, it looks like next year is going to be another frustrating one in Wrigleyville.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg