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"Beckett deal for Texas' Blalock near"


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Posted on Sun, Nov. 20, 2005

Beckett deal for Texas' Blalock near

 

Sources said the Marlins are close to sending pitcher Josh Beckett to the Rangers for third baseman Hank Blalock and a prospect. If it falls through, Florida, which is trying to cut payroll, has other suitors.

 

BY CLARK SPENCER

cspencer@herald.com

 

 

Josh Beckett never would have won the deciding Game 6 of the 2003 World Series at Yankee Stadium if not for Texas Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock. Now, in an odd twist of fate, those two players might end up swapping jerseys as part of a simmering deal that also would result in the departure of longtime third baseman Mike Lowell from the Marlins.

 

The Marlins, who are looking to shed payroll and have been shopping many of their most prominent players in order to satisfy that goal, have a deal on the table with the Rangers that would send Beckett and Lowell to Texas in exchange for Blalock and one of two top pitching prospects, either John Danks or Thomas Diamond.

 

Sources said the deal, though not final, is close. Although the Rangers are balking at parting with either Danks or Diamond, both former first-round draft picks, they are thought to be working on a separate trade with a third team for a pitcher who would then be sent to the Marlins to complete the deal.

 

If a trade with Texas can't be worked out, the Marlins likely would turn their attention to as many as a half-dozen other teams, including the Boston Red Sox. The Marlins reportedly have proposed sending Beckett to the Red Sox in exchange for shortstop Hanley Ramirez and a pitching prospect.

 

''It's kind of a surreal feeling,'' said Beckett, a Texan who was the Marlins' first-round draft pick in 1999 and MVP of the 2003 World Series. ``I'm happy [playing for the Marlins], but if it's time to make a change, it's time to make a change. There's nothing I can do about it.''

 

MONEY MATTERS

 

If the deal with the Rangers goes through, it would result in substantial payroll relief for the Marlins, who have been unsuccessful in repeated bids to build a new stadium.

 

Florida finished with the third-lowest attendance in the majors last season despite a franchise-record $65 million roster that was in the thick of the National League wild-card race until late September.

 

Sources said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has become increasingly frustrated with the lack of public support and is scaling back to offset the team's lack of revenue.

 

Attempts to reach Loria and general manager Admin Beinfest were unsuccessful. Marlins president David Samson declined comment.

 

The Marlins have been trying to unload Lowell, a three-time All-Star whose offensive production declined sharply last season, since last July. Lowell is due to make $9 million each of the next two seasons, a salary the Marlins wish to wipe from their books. They have told the Rangers that if they want Beckett, they also must take Lowell.

 

Sources said the deal was constructed at the owners' meetings in Milwaukee last week when Loria got together with Rangers owner Tom Hicks.

 

Beckett, who won 15 games for the Marlins last season, is eligible for arbitration and can expect to make about $4 million in 2006.

 

Blalock is in the midst of a multiyear contract in which he's scheduled to earn $13.7 million over the next three seasons: $3 million in 2006, $4.75 million in 2007, and $5.95 million in 2008.

 

Blalock, who swings left-handed and is a strong defensive player, has averaged 29 home runs over the past three seasons. His game-winning home run off Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne in the 2003 All-Star Game gave the American League home-field advantage in that year's World Series, ultimately leading to Beckett starting Game 6 in New York rather than South Florida.

 

But there's no guarantee Blalock would start at third for the Marlins if they obtain him from the Rangers, or even that he would stick with the club. Considering Miguel Cabrera stands poised and willing to start at third base, the Marlins could trade Blalock or shift him to first base if they succeed in trading Carlos Delgado, who is also being marketed by the Marlins. Center fielder Juan Pierre and catcher Paul Lo Duca also have come up in trade discussions.

 

DIFFERENT LOOK

 

The Marlins aren't expected to re-sign free agent outfielder Juan Encarnacion and could lose shortstop Alex Gonzalez, closer Todd Jones and outfielder Jeff Conine through free agency. The Marlins already have bid good riddance to A.J. Burnett, the free agent pitcher who is commanding strong interest on the winter market.

 

When the Marlins open spring training in February, it's conceivable they could be left with as few as four members from their '03 World Series roster: Cabrera, Cy Young Award runner-up Dontrelle Willis, second baseman Luis Castillo and pinch-hitter Lenny Harris.

 

If they deal Beckett and don't acquire a pitcher with major-league experience, the Marlins could be left with a rotation headed by Willis and a group of relatively unseasoned starters such as Jason Vargas, Josh Johnson and Scott Olsen.

 

Beckett said he's not so sure he wants to return to a gutted club that has no chance to contend.

 

''It's tragic. It really is,'' Beckett said.

 

``I don't want to go backward. Some of me hopes it's not true.''

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This is what I dont get. The Rangers dont want to give up Danks or Diamond.

 

 

So what do they expect, us to just get raped with no lube instead of with just a little lube? Damn Hicks must be more idiotic than I thought if he truly is brokering this deal.

 

Is it any wonder this franchise has never won a playoff game?

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This is what I dont get. The Rangers dont want to give up Danks or Diamond.

 

 

So what do they expect, us to just get raped with no lube instead of with just a little lube? Damn Hicks must be more idiotic than I thought if he truly is brokering this deal.

 

Is it any wonder this franchise has never won a playoff game?

 

 

 

Yeah, I know what you're saying.

 

 

On another note, it seems like Beckett is sad about this. To be honest, I will be sad to see him go. I really like him. He's cocky, but he's got fire and passion. How can you dislike someone with fire and passion? He's got the heart of a champion... hell, he IS a champion. Good luck to him if he leaves the Marlins. I'll keep rooting for him as long as he's not pitching against the Marlins.

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