As of Monday night, the Texas Rangers are four-and-a-half games in front of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the race for the AL West crown, and don’t look to be slowing down any time soon.

What’s surprising about that is the fact that the Rangers currently have the fourth-lowest payroll in all of baseball, just in front of the Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, and Pittsburgh Pirates.

What has impressed me about this ball club is that it is doing all of this in the midst of the team going through bankruptcy proceedings.

However, general manager Jon Daniels has not ruled out the possibility of making a deal for a player whose contract ends at the end of the 2010 season. For that reason alone, the team could still have interest in Seattle left-hander Cliff Lee.

For those of you who didn’t see this before, Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report was asked, via Twitter, by David Cameron of what it would take to get a deal done to send Lee to Texas.

Newberg’s response?

“Martin Perez (Double-A left-hander), Chris Davis, and a lesser prospect.”


For those Ranger fans, or even Mariner fans, can you for even a second imagine the Mariners taking two minor leaguers and Chris Davis for Cliff Lee?

If I’m Seattle, I’m laughing Jon Daniels off the phone if he thinks that is all it’s going to take for the Mariners to send Lee to the American League West leaders.

Sure, the Mariners got Lee from Philadelphia for just about nothing, but they’re not going to take nothing to trade him.

While Cliff Lee will stay on the Rangers’ radar until official word comes from either team saying “there’s no interest,” another name that may make the rounds is Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton, the current owner of a 21-game hitting streak.

While it might sound absurd that the Rangers would even consider trading Hamilton, let’s stop for a second and think about this. As of right now, the Rangers may be able to hang on to the AL West crown IF the Angels don’t make a huge splash by adding the likes or pitchers Roy Oswalt or Cliff Lee, and first baseman Prince Fielder.

If the Angels do make a big splash—and it’s well known that the team will be looking for a power hitting first baseman at the deadline—the Rangers will have to do something to stay in front or they’ll risk missing the playoffs and hearing fans say, “See, we told you the team folds after the All-Star break.”

Right now, the Rangers are NOT World Series contenders.

Let’s assume the Rangers will have to face one of three teams if the season ended today: The New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, or the Minnesota Twins.

I don’t believe the Rangers have the pitching to deal with the New York offense and I don’t think the Rangers have the offense to deal with Boston’s pitching. As for Minnesota, that might be an even battle.

Now, with all that being said, if the Rangers want to win right now—this year—they have to make a deal and it’s going to take a big name player to get a big time piece in return.

One team that the Rangers have been trade partners with in the past is the San Diego Padres. What the two teams have in common this year is they both need what each other has.

The Rangers need another front line starter to not only get deep into the playoffs, but just hang on to the division title.

The Padres, on the other hand, need an outfielder that is going to bring them more production in the lineup. As of right now, Will Venable is starting to make a name for himself just the way he did last season—hitting timely home runs and providing solid defense.

If you pencil him in on an everyday basis like Bud Black is doing at this point, you still have the center field and left field positions as a platoon between Tony Gwynn, Jr., Scott Hairston, Chris Denorfia, and Aaron Cunningham.

Five players for two positions, assuming Venable will be the every day guy in right field, for now.

So, what do the Padres have that the Rangers need? Pitching.

What do the Rangers have that the Padres need? A power hitting outfielder that can start every day.

San Diego has depth at pitching—not only in the bullpen, but also in terms of starters. The Padres could get rid of some of that depth if it lands them a power hitting outfielder that can start.

Don’t think that Rangers’ interim owner Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels don’t remember what the Padres did to the Rangers a few years ago.

For those of you who don’t remember and want that wound to be opened a little further, the Padres have thanked the Rangers every day for Adrian Gonzalez, not to mention Chris Young.

If memory serves me, the Padres sent Akinori Otsuka and Adam Eaton to Texas for those two players in Young and Gonzalez (as well as Termmel Sledge), who have since become all-stars.

While I can’t imagine the Rangers being where they are right now at this point in the season without Hamilton’s production, I do have to wonder what kind of deal it would take for them to consider dealing him.

While it is in no way a done deal that the Rangers will trade Hamilton, I do think they have to think about it if they want a starter that’s going to help them hang on to the division lead as well as take them deep into the playoffs.

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