Thursday Newsletter time: Texas Rangers' pitching prospects heading to Arizona. Many will settle in for spring training.
Jack Leiter, Cole Winn and Owen White are among the arms expected in Surprise for an offseason mini-camp.
Most of the Texas Rangers’ top pitching prospects are expected this weekend in Arizona for a pitching mini-camp that will serve as a springboard into the 2022 season.
The hitters had a mini-camp last month. That camp gave the prospects face-time with new coaches Donnie Ecker, the offensive coordinator, and Tim Hyers, the hitting coach.
The pitching prospects will get face-time with pitching coaches Doug Mathis and Brendan Sagara, holdovers from last season. It’s also an excellent opportunity for the Rangers to get an offseason status report on their pitchers.
There’s a good chance that many of the pitchers will remain in Arizona until the season starts. Top prospect Jack Leiter isn’t planning to go back to New Jersey. Cole Winn, the reigning Rangers Minor League Pitcher of the Year, has been in Arizona all offseason but is planning to start throwing bullpen sessions at the Rangers’ complex in the near future.
Owen White, though, will return to North Carolina after the camp. He was the Pitcher of the Year in the Arizona Fall League and has probably had enough of Surprise, Ariz.
Besides, he got engaged Dec. 23 and probably has some wedding planning to do that he doesn’t know about yet.
Need for a draft lottery
The optimistic baseball fan is filled with some hope this morning with the owners and the players set to meet (via video) for the first time this year and for the first time about core economic developments since Dec. 1.
That meeting lasted seven minutes, and a lockout would be imposed shortly after the collective bargaining agreement expired at 11 p.m. CDT. All the positive momentum built by the flurry of free-agent signings was stopped, and now no baseball news is bad news.
One of the central issues for the players is that teams stop tanking. Four teams in 2021, including the 102-loss Rangers, lost more than 100 games. Another lost 97. Five more lost at least 87 games.
Teams shed payroll, either before the season or at the trade deadline.
Players want more teams to be competitive, thus driving up demand for their services and driving up their salaries. The average player salary has fallen the past two seasons.
One idea that has been floated is a minimum payroll, which sounds nice but isn’t feasible for some teams simply because of market size. A better idea is to restructure the draft, and a lottery would accomplish that.
The lottery can’t be as large as to include all teams that miss the postseason. A 91-win team like the Seattle Mariners last season, for instance, should have no shot at winning the No. 1 pick. Even including all teams under .500 is too big, as there were 17 of those in 2021.
The lottery can’t be too small, because top-three or top-five picks can yield excellent prospects.
Let’s peg 87 losses as the magic number, meaning the size of the lottery could vary from year to year. And rather than dramatically tilting the odds of winning the No. 1 pick to the worst teams, create a formula that factors in losses, season-ending payrolls and market size to give the best of the worst a better chance to take home the No. 1 pick.
Here’s a catch: Do a lottery for the second round, too, but with all teams that had a losing record, and for the third round with all 30 teams.
The draft order would then revert to worst-picks-first after the third round.
Teams would be compelled to carry a somewhat competitive payroll to help with the formula. They would be less inclined to tank if they weren’t assured of bagging three top-80 players.
Too complicated? Baseball thrives on the complicated. Plus, it’ll give all the Ivy League-types something else to figure out.
The lockout is more than 40 days old, and the hope is it doesn’t reach 70. Even if it does, as has been the case for those 40-plus, the Newsletter will keep cranking. We’ve had some good stuff of late, in case you missed it.
The Sunday Read: Rangers jersey retirement candidates
Friday on the Farm: Sam Huff wants to be “the dude.”
Texas Rangers Baseball Podcast YouTube channel (subscribe for free)
Me when I walk out the door in the mornings, from now until June.