Another unexpected move by the Rangers brass today, sending reliever Frank Francisco and some cash north of the border to the Blue Jays in exchange for Mike Napoli, making his stay with the Blue Jays all of four days after being dealt there by the Angels in the Vernon Wells deal. I wonder if Napoli even had a chance to talk to anyone in the Blue Jays front office before he was dealt again? Ah the life of a professional athlete.
Frankie Frank gave the Rangers some good years, but the fact Texas got to the World Series without their regular 8th inning set-up guy made him expendable. Many were surprised he accepted arbitration from the Rangers instead of testing the market, but I’m sure not in the mood to complain about that now.
When this deal was first announced, it both excited me and depressed me. Excited me to get another power bat in the line-up. Depressed me because, as primarily a catcher, that might mean the end of Matt Treanor’s days as a Ranger (I just sang his praises in my FanFest post a day ago).
I perked up a little, though, when I realized Napoli also can play some first base. Then it all made sense to me. The Rangers don’t have to give up Treanor and there is now incredible flexibility in the line-up.
As a righty, Napoli can platoon with the left-handed Moreland at first base. That means Michael Young won’t have to worry about learning how to play first. MY will still back up the other three infield positions while primarily serving as the Rangers DH.
Meanwhile, Treanor and Yorvit Torrealba will be the two main catchers. If, however, one of them goes down with an injury, now you have Napoli as the back-up catcher and eliminate the need for the Rangers to call up Taylor Teagarden, who inspires the confidence of approximately 0 Rangers fans, give or take 2.
If Treanor stays, the man on the bubble now is Andres Blanco, who proved a capable defensive back-up in 2010 on the infield and even became a decent hitter when he got some regular playing time during Ian Kinsler’s second DL stint. Barring injury, the offensive line-up is completely set before spring training even begins, with the only decision left being do you keep Blanco and Treanor, or waive one of them to open a slot for a 5th outfielder. Since Moreland also played outfield in 2010, I think the 2011 Opening Day line-up has already arrived in Arlington.
Unless there’s another trade. As many off-season surprises Jon Daniels has pulled out of his hat so far this off-season (Adrian Beltre, Arthur Rhodes, Napoli and Torrealba), I wouldn’t put it past him to have another ace up his sleeve.