Kauf Drops: 24 Hours of Movement

by Todd K | Posted on Monday, July 30th, 2012

Josh Beckett - New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

Image: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

By Todd Kaufmann

Sr Columnist

tkaufmann@sportspagedallas.com

The trade deadline is a little more than 24 hours away and, instead of talking to you like you’re hearing me for the first time, let’s go over some of the rumors that you want to talk about. No sense of rambling on like I normally do.

Josh Beckett – Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports wrote earlier this morning that the Red Sox made contact with the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers about their interest.

The Braves, as far as I’m concerned, still seem to be waiting on an answer from Ryan Dempster no matter how many times they might tell people, “we’re moving on.” If that were true they would have landed James Shields already.

As for the Rangers, there’s no way Beckett becomes a member of the Rangers. Sure, he might waive his 10-and-5 no trade rights (10 years in the league, 5 years with the same team) to come to Rangers Ballpark, but I just don’t believe Texas is all that interested in bringing him here. He has almost $40 million and two years left on his deal. Boston says they will eat most of that to trade him but don’t expect Texas to jump on it.

Rangers’ beat writer. T.R. Sullivan, says the team isn’t “running away” from the idea of adding Josh Beckett while Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets the Rangers people he’s talked to aren’t excited about the Beckett speculation.

Hunter Pence – The Phillies are going to be sellers and could start that process some time Monday. Of the players they want to deal, outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence seem to be at the top of the list.

Pence is a native of Ft Worth, Texas and a graduate of University of Texas at Arlington so he would be, “coming home,” essentially.

However, while Pence has been at the top of my list for the last few weeks in terms of right-handed bats I’d like to see Texas acquire, his numbers have slowly begun to decline. He hasn’t had the kind of season we usually see from him so maybe the interest from Texas, or anyone else, might be declining as well.

Josh Willingham – For those of you who have followed along with all of my articles and columns, and tweets for that matter, you know I’ve talked at length about Minnesota Twins’ outfielder, Josh Willingham.

A few weeks ago, a few articles made their way out of Minnesota saying there was no way the Twins trade Willingham. He had a team friendly contract with two more years and $14 million remaining on the three year deal he signed with the team prior to the 2012 season.

Here’s why Willingham could jump to the top of my list and it has everything to do with the guy I just mentioned before him. According to reports, Pence could end up with the San Francisco Giants. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says the Giants are denying a deal is done but it sounds like the two sides are close.

Willingham has 25 or more home runs in each of the last two seasons, finishing 2011 with 29 and currently at 27 so far in 2012.

He’s not a guy that’s going to hit .300 but a guy who will hit .270 to .280 with 20 or more home runs every year is a guy I will absolutely be interested in bringing to Texas, especially with him being under contract for two more years.

Sure he’s 33 years old but he’s a guy you can put in the DH role, allowing the Rangers to keep David Murphy in left field and Nelson Cruz in right.

Cliff Lee – No matter how many times beat writers from different cities try to kill this rumor it keeps coming up. No more so true than right here in Texas.

When a report came out that Texas had scouts at a game where Cliff Lee was starting, social media networks went absolutely crazy.

Jeff Passan was on with Shan Sheriff and RJ Choppy of 105.3 FM The Fan here in Dallas/Ft Worth and he told them, “Cliff Lee is not available right now,” though did admit that he might become available at some point. Meaning not this trade deadline but maybe the Phillies have conversations about him during the off season.

While the Phillies will look to sell off a few of their pieces, don’t expect any of those to be Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee.

Besides, are Ranger fans really ready to give up Mike Olt, Martin Perez, and two or three other prospects plus most of Lee’s contract just to bring him back? Not to mention having him at ages 35, 36 and 37?

Paul Maholm – This name might be out of left field and a name I haven’t talked about before now.

No, he’s not a guy that I’d go out and get as the Rangers number one starter. There’s absolutely no chance of that. But a guy that can be the number four or number five guy in the rotation and give them solid starts down the stretch.

I’m not a fan of bringing Alexi Ogando out of the bullpen and putting him in the starting rotation. Sure he had one good half of baseball last season as a starter but we saw what happened when he started to flame out. But there has to be a reason Texas is looking at acquiring Jonathan Broxton from the Kansas City Royals.

The reason I like Maholm is because of the numbers he’s put up over his last six starts, not to mention the return to land him won’t be nearly as expensive as a Josh Johnson or James Shields will be.

Over his last 44 innings, Maholm has given up just five earned runs to go along with 32 strikeouts over that same amount of time.

Say what you want about NL pitchers having or not having success in the American League, I still think he can come in here and give the Rangers a boost from the back end of the rotation.

Justin Morneau – This has been a guy that’s been linked to Texas for at least the last few months but he’s not a guy I’ve ever been real high on.

Morneau has a ton of injury concerns, playing in only 69 games last season and 81 games the season before that. If you’re concerned about Josh Hamilton being injury prone, this is definitely not the guy for Texas.

Yes he can play 1st base and probably be, at least defensively, better than Michael Young has been at that position. But the concerns are far too much for me to take a chance on him at this point.

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