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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Where's Daniels' Pigeon Nerves?

Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels made a dicey move today, sending upper level pitching prospects John Danks and Nick Masset to the Chicago White Sox for righthander Brandon McCarthy.

This is the kind of move that either blows up in your face completely or serves as one's anointing for general manager of the year. Odds are, this move, facilitated by Daniels' fears Barry Zito could sign elsewhere, blows up on the Rangers.

McCarthy is a hard thrower who the White Sox had pegged this year for their rotation. He's the reason they traded Freddy Garcia. He, however, exhibits one of the same concerns as Zito: the long ball. The difference between Zito and McCarthy is that the Ballpark is much more forgiving to southpaws than righties. He's major league-ready. But is he Ballpark-ready?

As to the players the White Sox receive, this is too much to pay. This smacks of last year's Chris Young trade. That trade turned out ridiculous. Young became a key cog in the Padres' division wining rotation. And, forget Eaton's injury. He's now gone and Akinori Otsuka is back in a set up role with Eric Gagne's signing. Daniels got hosed.

John Danks was in the running with Eric Hurley for the Rangers' honor as top pitching prospect. He wasn't quite major league ready, but he was progressing well. After a step back a couple of seasons ago, Nick Masset had reestablished himself as a top prospect as well. The Rangers had yet to decide if he was a starter or their future closer. If those are the options, that pitcher's too valuable to be in a package. He should be the prospect that draws a couple of players in return. To be in a package with Danks for one player, excluding the lower level prospects the teams will swap, is a bad move.

So what leads Daniels down such paths. It's the inability to allow things to develop. He was nervous about Zito going somewhere else, so he jumped into action and partially abandoned the plan to develop more homegrown starting pitching. He was nervous about Otsuka being able to sustain his success in the closer role next season and signed Gagne and anointed him closer, making the Rangers believe Masset was expendable. Combined with today's trade, these will likely prove to be unsound moves.

But I will give it a chance to develop. After all, John Koronka and John Rheinecker proved me wrong about trading Juan Dominguez last offseason. I like McCarthy. At this time, he's more developed than Danks. I just don't believe he fits this club in this ballpark. And Masset may not have been needed as closer of the future with Gagne's signing. It will take some work to prove this a good deal, which I will gladly give after today.

But, if Zito and Mulder sign to pitch for Ron Washington and the Rangers, this all becomes a moot point, doesn't it?


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