DALLAS -- An early front-runner for busiest man at the winter meetings is Tim Purpura, the Texas Rangers' new senior director of player development.
Purpura has been at the Hilton Anatole since Saturday when he resigned from his post as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Minor League Baseball.
On Sunday, he met with the Rangers' brain trust to start to get a feel for how the organization is run and the talent they have in the farm system he will oversee.
His first impression: Loads of talent on the field and in the front office.
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"Just seeing the brain power in that room today, it was really impressive," Purpura said. "And not only the brain power but the passion. It was interesting to see, and it's got me really psyched up."
Player development is a passion for Purpura, who was the Astros' farm director from 1997-2004 before becoming general manager in 2005. The Rangers had become a passion of sorts as well the past few years as some familiar faces landed in the organization.
The list starts with team president Nolan Ryan and also includes bench coach Jackie Moore and pitching coach Mike Maddux. Purpura got to know them all because of the Astros' association with Round Rock.
Following them helped him become a fan of the Rangers and acquire some familiarity with the organization that hired him Friday. His crash course started Sunday.
"It was really a productive day," Purpura said.
Center of attention
The Rangers will have at least four players in big-league spring training who can man center field, yet the position rates as their most unsettled this off-season.
They prefer Josh Hamilton in left; Craig Gentry would be a platoon player; Julio Borbon has started on Opening Day the past two years; and Leonys Martin could be the center fielder of the future.
General manager Jon Daniels said that it is unlikely the Rangers will acquire a big-name center fielder this off-season, but they might look for another player such as Endy Chavez.
"I wouldn't rule out bringing in additional people for that spot, but it's not a big priority," Daniels said.
The Rangers have scouted Cuban defector Yoennis Cespedes, but don't want to shell out $30 million to $40 million to sign him. Besides, they prefer Martin, who they signed in May to a five-year, $15 million contract eight months after he defected from Cuba.
Cespedes likely is a corner outfielder in the majors, and the Rangers believe Martin has a swing better suited for the major leagues and is able to impact a game in more ways.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760