Mailbag: How will Diaz fare in 2007?

Mailbag: How will Diaz fare in 2007?

Joni Mitchell, Terrell Owens and Foster's Beer, they are all a part of this week's mailbag. Hey, we don't ask the questions, we just answer as many as we can. But there's always Monday Morning Manager at Postcards from Elysian Fields if you want to make sure your rants and opinions get heard.

Victor Diaz was picked up last year in a relatively quiet move. I know he was pretty highly touted in the Mets system and have wondered why he's not getting more play here as a designated hitter or fourth outfielder. I personally think he has a lot of potential with his defense, speed and hitting ability. Make no mistake, I'm not putting him in the All-Star Game, yet. What do you think about Diaz?
-- Roy A., Aledo, Texas

Diaz, who came from the New York Mets, hit .224 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs in 103 games and 379 at-bats at Triple-A Norfolk in 2006 before being traded to the Rangers on Aug. 30. That was his worst season as a professional. Prior to that, he split time between Triple-A and the Mets in 2005.

While with the Mets in 2005, he hit .257 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs in 280 at-bats, which is about a half-season. Double those numbers and he hits .257 with 24 home runs and 76 RBIs, plus 81 runs scored, 34 doubles, six triples, 12 stolen bases, 60 walks and 160 strikeouts.

Overall, that's not a bad season for essentially a first-year player with the exception of the strikeouts, which are pretty high.

Overall, Diaz, in parts of three seasons over 2004-06, has 342 Major League at-bats, hitting .260 with 49 runs scored, 21 doubles, three triples, 15 home runs and 48 RBIs. He has walked 31 times and struck out 102 times. He has a .324 on-base percentage and a .471 slugging percentage.

In Mark Teixeira's first 342 Major League at-bats, he hit .257 with 40 runs scored, 16 doubles, three triples, 17 home runs and 53 RBIs. He walked 33 times while striking out 76. His on-base percentage was .340, but with the same .471 slugging percentage.

The difference in on-base percentage: Teixeira was hit 11 times within his first 342 at-bats, while Diaz was hit three times.

Manny Ramirez?

In his first 343 Major League at-bats, he hit .254 with 56 runs scored, 23 doubles, no triples, 19 home runs, 65 RBIs, 44 walks and 80 strikeouts. He had a .335 on-base percentage and a .487 slugging percentage.

It should be pointed out that Diaz was a year or two older than Teixeira and Ramirez in compiling his first 342 at-bats. He also played in Shea Stadium and in the National League.

The point is, this guy is definitely worth watching in Spring Training. He's not just some fourth outfielder hoping to win a job as a defensive replacement, pinch-runner or platoon player. He has some definite offensive skills that could flourish with some work with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo while playing at Ameriquest Field in Arlington.

Is he going to be as good as Ramirez or Teixeira? Obviously unlikely. Few are.

But you are very perceptive. The acquisition of Diaz at the end of August went largely unnoticed and he has received way too little attention in the offseason.

He might be the next offensive player that has a breakthrough season with the Rangers.

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It may be a relief for the Rangers that Tim Salmon has retired, but there still is "Ranger Killer" Vlad Guerrero. Who are some other players who have dominated the Rangers, and how has Brandon McCarthy faired against "Vlad the Impaler?"
-- Ron R., Long Beach, Calif.

Guerrero is 2-for-6 with a home run against McCarthy. Three American League players currently have on-base slugging percentages over 1.000 against the Rangers: Troy Glaus, Jason Giambi and Magglio Ordonez.

A little off the subject, but I just took a walk around the ballpark. They have made a new parking entrance that leads into the Dr. Pepper Youth Park. The Rangers aren't going to bulldoze the little park are they?
-- Pamela O., Arlington

I have not heard that they will and see no reason why they should. That would be stupid and short-sighted.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of kids have played there and have warm feelings toward the place. Thousands more will play there in the future, if they utilize the place properly, and this is a sport that definitely needs to do a better job of marketing to the younger generations.

How many cars are they going to park there compared to the marketing potential of the "little park." This is a franchise than once built youth ballparks all over the Metroplex, why tear this one down, especially since they know it could only lead to another big public relations hit?

To quote Joni Mitchell:
A big hotel, a boutique,
And a swinging hot spot.
Don't it always go to show
You'll never know what you got till it's gone?
They paved paradise, they put up a parking lot.

What exactly did the Rangers gain from the Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench and Francisco Cordero trade? Nelson Cruz? Do you believe the Rangers are satisfied with where they are now? I didn't mind shipping out the slumping Nix or the overpriced Cordero, but Mench hurt.
-- John S., Kerrville, Texas

In compensation for Carlos Lee signing with the Houston Astros, the Rangers get the 17th overall pick of the draft, plus another "sandwich" pick between the first and second rounds.

Roy Halladay was once taken by the Toronto Blue Jays. So too was Brad Lidge and Jeromy Burnitz. The best player ever taken with the 17th overall pick may have been Gary Matthews Sr. way back in 1968.

But I'm willing to wage large amounts of money, most baseball fans have never heard of the large majority of players taken with the 17th overall pick in the draft going back to 1965. The Rangers have had the 17th overall twice and took a pitcher: Jim Gideon in 1975 and Jerry Don Gleaton in 1979.

They obviously need to get something out of those two draft picks, but they really need Cruz to develop into an everyday right fielder.

Do you think the Rangers should still go out and get a No. 3, 4 or 5 pitcher for their rotation, such as Mark Redman, Jeff Weaver, Tomo Ohka, Ramon Ortiz or even Aaron Sele?
-- Kyle J., Crandall, Texas

Let's not get heavy into numbers again. Let's keep this superficial.

According to, Ohka has a 162-game average of 9-11 with a 4.04 ERA. Redman is 11-13 with a 4.65 ERA over every 162 games of his career, while Weaver is 11-13 with a 4.58 ERA and Ortiz is 12-12 with a 4.85 ERA.

As far as Rangers pitchers, Kameron Loe is 9-9 with a 4.58 ERA and John Koronka is 10-11 with a 5.89 ERA.

Loe and Koronka are young and just getting started in their careers. Those other guys, besides looking for millions of dollars, are well into their careers. It's hardly likely that they're going to suddenly develop into something extraordinary at this point.

My vote? Go with what you have.

I've heard the bloggers say, generally, that the Rangers brass are depending on a return to health for Brad Wilkerson. I'm not convinced in any way, shape or form that we should depend upon him -- even in excellent health -- especially since he not only swung and missed with astonishing regularity, but took strike three even more and was nothing in the clutch. Why is his return to health going to make any difference at all?
-- Robby A., Fort Worth, Texas

According to, Wilkerson has averaged 559 at-bats over every 162 games played in his career.

In those 559 at-bats, he is averaging .257 with 92 runs scored, 35 doubles, five triples, 21 home runs, 67 RBIs and 90 walks. His on-base percentage is .358 and his slugging percentage is .448. He also averages 167 strikeouts.

The strikeouts are high and the slugging percentage is a little low, especially for an American League corner outfielder. But it was also compiled mostly while playing in the National League. Some of those other numbers are pretty good.

He had a bad year for the Rangers in 2006. A bad year. But, before last season, he was a pretty good player. He was not Alfonso Soriano. It was not a good trade, although there were financial considerations.

The point is, if Wilkerson is healthy, the Rangers have reason to believe he could be good player for them.

I have thought of a grand trade. The Rangers should send Teixeira and Joaquin Arias to the Devil Rays for Rocco Baldelli, Edwin Jackson and Joel Guzman, plus appropriate throw-ins. Then spin Guzman, Jason Botts/Nate Gold and A.J. Murray to the Blue Jays for Lyle Overbay. Finally, pack Daniel Haigwood, John Rheinecker and Wilkerson to Arizona for Doug Davis, whom we never should have let go in the first place.
-- Charles C., Burleson, Texas

I have heard of players to be named later and future considerations, but never "appropriate throw-ins." Gut feeling? Tampa Bay says yes, but Toronto -- trying to win this year -- says no and Arizona says no.

I ask this only because the Cowboys have no interesting questions. Why not trade Terrell Owens for a first-round pick in the next draft?
-- Wade T., Puerto Vallerta, Mexico

I only answer Cowboys questions in person. Have a margarita waiting when I arrive.

I have been a Rangers fan for many years, but this team has the poorest potential for any I've seen. Only two quality starting pitchers, no outfield that can hit .300 and a backup catcher. I think it may be time to go back to my Cardinals.
-- Bill F., Williston, S.D.

Understood. Let us all know how Kip Wells fares as the Cardinals' No. 2 starter.

Who do you think the National League opponent against the Rangers will be in the 2007 World Series?
-- Rick T., Fort Worth, Texas

The 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers and it could be the greatest Strat-o-Matic World Series in history.

Hey mate, I was just looking through the free-agent market to see who is still left and I saw an old Texan in there: Chan Ho Park. I was thinking, if the Rangers are still looking for a strong starting pitcher they might consider offering him something. Maybe?
-- Brenden L., Australia

Mate, quit drinking Foster's when you're out there wandering through the free-agent market.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.