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Mr. Melvin's Rangers

An ongoing joke these days goes that whenever the Brewers sign a free agent or pick up a player on waivers, there's some connection between that player and Doug Melvin's time as the GM of the Texas Rangers. The latest example of this connection can be found in the minor league contract given to outfielder Jason Bourgeois. Bourgeois was selected by the Rangers in the 2nd round of the 2000 draft while Melvin was GM and spent five seasons in the Texas system. After bouncing around the minors for a couple more years he finally got a taste of the majors with the White Sox last season. He's been signed to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

The Brewers have had Melvin-era Rangers contribute greatly since Melvin joined the Brewers after the 2002 season. Consider Gabe Kapler last year, Doug Davis, Dan Kolb, Francisco Cordero, and so on. So this begs the question, how many ex-Rangers has Doug Melvin picked up while in Milwaukee? Luckily, it's possible to use minor league rosters, draft reports, and other transactions information to put together a list.

Doug Melvin was hired as the General Manager of the Texas Rangers on October 10, 1994. He remained in that role until October 7, 2001. During that time he guided the team to three division championships, oversaw seven drafts, and was part of the massive Alex Rodriguez free agent signing. After spending much of the 2002 season with the Red Sox as a consultant, Melvin was hired as the 8th General Manager in Brewers history on September 25, 2002. I trust we're all sufficiently aware of his accomplishments in that role.

Of all the Rangers and Brewers to come and go under Melvin's leadership, it turns out only twenty-nine overlap. Of those, fifteen have played in the major leagues for the Brewers, no doubt increasing the perception of Melvin favoring Rangers re-treads. Here are the lucky twenty-nine, with those who reached the majors for Milwaukee in bold:

Name Position Years with Rangers Years with Brewers
Justin Backsmeyer RHP 1998-2001 2003
Jason Bourgeois 2B/OF 2000-2004 2009
Royce Clayton SS 1998-2000 2003
Jason Conti* OF 1998 2003
Francisco Cordero RHP 2000-2006 2006-2007
Tim Crabtree RHP 1998-2001 2003
Doug Davis LHP 1996-2003 2003-2006
R.A. Dickey RHP 1996-2006 2007
Richie Gardner RHP 2001 draft, did not sign 2008
Rick Helling RHP 1992-2001 2005-2006
Gabe Kapler OF 2000-2002 2008
Dan Kolb RHP 1995-2002 2003-2004, 2006
Mike Lamb 3B 1997-2003 2008
Chris Magruder OF 2001 2004-2005
David Manning LHP 1992-1998 2003
Ruben Mateo OF 1994-2001 2007
Kevin Mench OF 1999-2006 2006-2007
Chris Michalak* LHP 1998, 2001-2002 2004
Warren Morris RHP 1996-1998 2005
Laynce Nix OF 2000-2006 2006-2008
Scott Podsednik OF 1994-1995, 1998-2000 2003-2004
Andy Pratt LHP 1998-2001 2004-2006
Erasmo Ramirez LHP 2001-2006 2008
Reggie Rivard RHP 2000-2003 2004
Julio Santana RHP 1990-1998 2005
Scott Sheldon IF 1998-2001 2004
Junior Spivey* 2B 1998 2004-2005
Keith Stamler RHP 2000-2005 2005
Lee Stevens 1B 1996-1999 2003
Justin Thompson LHP 2000-2005 2006

* - Conti, Michalak, and Spivey spent 1998 playing for the Rangers' AA affiliate even though they were Diamondbacks prospects. Arizona, as an expansion team, did not have an AA affiliate that season.

Okay, so maybe Conti and Spivey shouldn't count because they weren't ever truly Rangers farmhands despite spending a season with the Texas staff. Ditto for Gardner since Melvin probably only got a cursory report on him after the draft. Still, though, it's quite a list of Melvin-era Rangers turned Brewers.

For those interested in how Melvin acquired these guys while in Texas, here's the breakdown:

  • Thirteen of the players listed were drafted or signed their first contract while Melvin was the Rangers GM.
  • Seven (Clayton, Cordero, Crabtree, Kapler, Magruder, Ramirez, and Thompson) were acquired via trade.
  • Four (Helling, Manning, Podsednik, and Santana) were already with the Rangers when he took over.
  • As mentioned, Conti and Spivey were really Arizona prospects who were loaned to the Rangers system.
  • Scott Sheldon and Lee Stevens were signed as free agents.
  • Chris Michalak was a waiver claim.

Since drafting players from your previous organization isn't possible, naturally you begin to focus more on other ways to acquire them. Here's how Doug Melvin acquired his ex-Rangers as Brewers GM:

  • A full nineteen of the twenty-nine players were signed as free agents.
  • Six (Conti, Cordero, Mench, Nix, Pratt, and Spivey) were picked up through trades.
  • Richie Gardner, Mike Lamb, and Scott Podsednik were waiver claims.
  • David Manning was a Rule 5 pick in 2003.

So there you have it. Over ten percent (15 of 144) of the players to appear in the majors with Milwaukee since 2003 spent time under Melvin in Texas. Jason Bourgeois will attempt to continue the tradition next year. Looking at the list of minor league free agents, I get the feeling he won't be alone...