Jun 14, 2010, 6:05 PM EDT
Craig thinks the pieces are in places, but he doesn’t know what those pieces may be. So let’s speculate on some of the possibilities to be shipped from Texas to Houston in return for Roy Oswalt.
Too good to include:
Neftali Feliz (RHP – Age 22) – Feliz is 15-of-17 in save chances since replacing Frank Francisco in the closer’s role for the Rangers, and he’s been particularly good over the last six weeks, allowing runs in just two of 18 appearances. He has a ridiculous ceiling as a starting pitcher, as well, and he probably qualifies as one of the game’s 20 or 30 most valuable properties at the moment.
Justin Smoak (1B – Age 23) – Smoak has stepped up of late, hitting .317/.429/.537 so far in June to improve his overall line to .213/.328/.374 in 155 at-bats since he replaced Chris Davis as the Rangers’ first baseman. Since he’s contributing right now and he’s going to be a great bargain these next few years, the Rangers shouldn’t be willing to part with him.
Martin Perez (LHP – Age 19) – With a 5.32 ERA in 11 starts, Perez isn’t exactly dominating Texas League hitters. However, he just turned 19 a month ago and many of the guys he’s facing are three and four years older than he is. With a stellar fastball-curveball combination, he ranks as one of baseball’s best pitching prospects.
Tanner Scheppers (RHP – age 23) – Scheppers has missed some time of late with a hamstring injury, but he has a 1.32 ERA and a 48/10 K/BB ratio in 34 innings as a reliever between Double- and Triple-A. The big concern here is his history of shoulder problems. However, he currently appears poised to make the same kind of impact Feliz did last August. Also, t’d be problematic to deal him anyway. Since he signed late last year, he’s not eligible to be traded until mid-September.
More likely possibilities:
Michael Kirkland (LHP – Age 23) – If acquired, he’d be an obvious choice to step right into Oswalt’s rotation spot. The southpaw is 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He’s been rather wild this year, walking 38 in 65 1/3 innings, but he has a legitimate low-90s fastball and a four-pitch arsenal that could make him a No. 3 starter.
Robbie Ross (LHP – Age 20) – Ross is a bit on the small side and he doesn’t have much of a changeup yet, but with his fastball-slider combo, he should be able to avoid a move to the pen. He’s allowed just one homer while amassing a 2.12 ERA and a 52/16 K/BB ratio in 76 1/3 innings for low Single-A Hickory this season.
Chris Davis (1B-3B – Age 24) – Davis hasn’t come close to matching his success from his rookie year in 2008 (.285/.331/.549 in 295 games), but he’s still just 24 and he still has 35-homer power. The Astros could pick him up and shift him back to third base, where he’s adequate defensively if a bit error-prone. Let him and Chris Johnson battle it out for a spot in the team’s future plans.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C – Age 25) – The Astros have their catcher of the future in 2008 first-rounder Jason Castro, but Salty could be a perfect buy-low candidate. He’s shown plenty of offensive potential in the past, and he hasn’t hit his prime seasons yet. Freed from the responsibilities of catching, his career might take off as a first baseman or left fielder. The Astros certainly need some bats with upside, and while Salty’s stock is well down, he qualifies.
Alexi Ogando (RHP – Age 26) – The Rangers just added the hard-throwing Ogando to their pen after he opened the season with a 2.05 ERA and a 42/11 K/BB ratio in 30 2/3 innings between Double- and Triple-A. His age is practically irrelevant, since he was one of the Texas prospects to miss four seasons because of his involvement in a human trafficking ring. He has the potential to turn into a closer down the line.
My guess is that it will take two from second group and then maybe a lesser name or two to get a deal done. The Rangers shouldn’t have to part with anyone from the top group unless they want the Astros to eat some salary in a trade.
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