In creating a winning team, as the Rangers have, it’s not just who you have on the team, but who you DON’T have. One reason that the Rangers are in the ACLS in 2010 is because they had dumped a number of talented players that nevertheless could have hurt the team.

Some of the better trades were those of older players for younger talent with greater potential.

As Leslie Monteiro earlier pointed out, one of these deals was that of Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay for five people, of whom the current players are shortstop Elvis Andrus and reliever Neftali Feliz.

Although there are question marks about Jarrod Saltlalmacchia, the prospects, Beau Jones and Matt Harrison will provide additional value over time.

It is seldom that one player, even a star, is worth five reasonably good ones, and Teixeira, who has been “high maintenance” from his 2001 signing, was not the exception. Teixeira was a good enough player by himself, but wasn’t a leader or team player that inspired others.

The importance of leadership was illustrated by the long-forgotten Russo Japanese War of 1904-05 (largely a naval conflict in the Far East). In sinking a Russian battleship, the Japanese drowned a capable Admiral who was worth “five battleships.” (The Japanese had only four, which meant that the lucky sinking probably won them the war.)

Andrus and Feliz play key roles in an area in which the Rangers have traditionally been weak; defense. It’s true that Teixeira was a gold glover, but that just represented strength (at first base) where it wasn’t need so much.

The Rangers were losing too many games from the mound (especially late innings), and up the middle.

As “stuck” as Texas used to be for pitching, one of the pitchers NOT worth retaining was Vicente Padilla. He was a moody individual who pitched well at some times and not others.

As such, he was typically paid the upper end of the $5 to $10 million range through which his value varied from one year to the next, sometimes one month to the next (annualized).

Moreover, his demeanor on and off the field did not help Texas’ reputation as a well-run club, and the Rangers did well to let the Los Angeles Dodgers have him in 2009.

Another good dump was that of starter Kevin Millwood, whose annual ERA has been around 5.00 for most of the past half decade, making him a drag on the team, but which declined to the mid-3s in 2009.

Then he was traded for Chris Ray, who could put up a similar showing for less money, (and Ben Snyder). Ray was re-traded for veteran Bengie Molina, who plays a key defensive position, catcher.

The Rangers are fortunate in having a crop of emerging pitchers at one time; Colby Lewis, much improved from a two year stint in Japan, and Tommy Hunter, a talented second year hurler.

Even releasing Alex Rodriguez was no great loss. He is a slugger, but that is not exactly a scarce commodity on the offensively-constructed Rangers team. His replacement is All Star Michael Young, a very good player who is not quite the caliber of Rodriguez.

Fan Graphs values A-Rod as being worth $5 million a year more, just a bit more than one win. On the other hand, Rodriguez is being paid $15 million a year more than Young.

With the savings, the Rangers can purchase a great deal more than one win, for instance, by using it to hire (for the season), and possibly retain Cliff Lee.

And in trading for veteran Cliff Lee, the Rangers gave up not only Justin Smoak, but three prospects, including the ethically challenged Josh Lueke. Whether or not Lee stays, this deal would have done the Rangers a lot of good.

And Lee is someone that the Rangers should do the utmost to retain. For the first time in ages, the team had a respectable rotation with C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter, and other inserts such as reliever Scott Feldman and still-green Matt Harrison.

But having Lee at the head would make a pretty good rotation great. Not only is he a strong pitcher in his own right, but he has making a positive impact on Wilson, Hunter, and others.

With so many relative newcomers and or retreads on staff, having good leadership on the mound would probably do much more for the Rangers than for more most other teams. This IS a case where one player could impact several.


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