THE NEWBERG REPORT — APRIL 8, 2006
I’m less concerned about the fact that Texas has the worst winning percentage in the American League than I am about what I can imagine might be going on in the room.
I hope the players aren’t as frustrated as I am. No, check that. I’m sure they’re more frustrated than I am — I just hope they don’t let it affect them on the field. The core members of this team are still young, and my fear is that some of them could start to press, especially offensively. It’s a recipe for bad things.
Frankly, this is the first instance since David Dellucci was traded that I’m thinking he’ll be missed. Not so much between the lines — he was an integral contributor here but I make that trade 10 times out of 10 — but rather as a stabilizing veteran influence, a mentor.
(Instead, he’s got the chance to spread some wisdom in the Philadelphia locker room, as the Phillies are winless in four. Dellucci has pinch-hit in each Philadelphia game. He has a double in four trips.)
Stated another way: I don’t think the absence of Dellucci has anything to do with the 1-4 start. I just hope not having him around doesn’t make bouncing back from this a bigger challenge.
Rudy Jaramillo is surely missed, too, if not as a mechanic then as a counselor.
We’re one time through the rotation, but it’s not time to panic (which I have to keep reminding myself). Not for you or me, or for anyone wearing the uniform.
But that doesn’t mean the roster should be left alone, and Jon Daniels has already made a change. R.A. Dickey had a miserable night in the opener of the Detroit series, and the combination of his massive ineffectiveness and the tax he put on the back of the bullpen on Thursday prompted Daniels to option him to Oklahoma in order to get a fresh arm up. Righthander Rick Bauer was purchased — procedurally, only a pitcher not on the 40-man roster was eligible to be added — and he was predictably used to relieve lefthander John Koronka last night, as Koronka isn’t yet stretched out enough to get the ball to the key members of the pen.
As disappointing as Dickey’s start was, his quotes afterwards were a little surprising, especially coming from someone who has historically said all the right things, all the time. He was far more appropriate yesterday after the news that he’d been sent down to AAA.
Koronka was not too bad last night, giving up four runs on six hits and no walks in five innings, striking out one. Two of the runs came in a second inning marred by a windblown double to right that gets caught 99 times out of 100 and a dribbler to third that Hank Blalock lost in the transfer.
Bauer surrendered only one run on four hits and a walk over the ensuing three innings, fanning two, but he threw strikes only 60 percent of the time.
Robinson Tejeda started the RedHawks’ opener on Thursday, giving up four runs (three earned) in three innings, yielding six hits and four walks while striking out four. Not terribly good.
Last night, John Rheinecker took the hill for Oklahoma and wasn’t any better, getting tagged for five runs on 10 hits in 4.1 frames, fanning three.
For what it’s worth, Juan Dominguez started last night for AAA Sacramento and had a very rough time. In 2.2 innings, he gave up six runs on six hits (including two homers), four walks, a hit batsman, a wild pitch, and a balk. He got two of his eight outs on strikes, another two on the ground, and four in the air.
Frisco aces Thomas Diamond (two runs on two hits and four walks in two Thursday frames, fanning two) and John Danks (five runs on eight hits and a walk in four Friday innings, striking out four) had disappointing season debuts.
On the pitching rehab front, C.J. Wilson was touching 94 in his inning of work with Frisco on Thursday, and Brian Anderson, Josh Rupe, Frankie Francisco, and Ryan Bukvich are all throwing. The Rangers released righthander Nick Regilio, who hadn’t pitched since late June due to elbow tendinitis. He could take a coaching position with the organization.
Ian Kinsler is off to a fantastic start. So is Adrian Gonzalez in San Diego. And Ryan Klesko is about to have shoulder surgery, meaning the Gonzalez era in San Diego is basically underway.
Alfonso Soriano, on the other hand, was removed from the game by Washington manager Frank Robinson on Wednesday for not running out a pop-up.
Chris Young gave up four runs in 5.1 innings last night in his Padres debut. He allowed only four hits (though two were home runs) and one walk, punching out seven.
Mark DeRosa left Thursday’s game with a high ankle strain, sustained while chasing a foul ball. He thinks he’ll be able to avoid the disabled list.
Is it a good sign, in a way, that Eric Hurley registered only one strikeout in his 4.2-inning Bakersfield debut last night? He gave up five hits and one walk, yielding four runs — but all were unearned, coming after a Mike Nickeas throwing error with two outs in the Rancho Cucamonga fifth.
Oklahoma infielder-outfielder Drew Meyer and Frisco outfielders Jake Blalock and Kevin Mahar are off to terrific starts at the plate.
RedHawks righthander John Hudgins punched out four Memphis hitters (three swinging) in two perfect innings of relief last night, throwing 18 strikes out of 23 deliveries.
If you’re not on the Newberg Report mailing list yet, you should be. Mike Hindman is in mid-season form with his daily minor league recaps.
The Rangers re-signed designated hitter Erubiel Durazo (whom they had released a week and a half ago) to a minor league contract. He can’t be brought up to Texas, under any circumstances, prior to May 15, since he was released prior to Opening Day. (Same with John Wasdin.) Should Phil Nevin play his way into a release of his own, Durazo and Jason Botts could form a very good platoon at DH.
Interestingly, May 15 is not only the first day Durazo can be called up — the Rangers have reportedly also given him the right to ask for his release if they don’t bring him up on that date.
Oklahoma righthander Jose Silva is serving a 15-game minor league suspension, reportedly for testing positive for a banned substance more than two years ago.
Texas signed catcher Reese Creswell, a Perryton, Texas product who was drafted in the 10th round by the Phillies in 2004. He has reported to extended.
Minor league catcher Jon Higashi retired, and righthander Juan Pascual was released.
Outfielder Andrew Wishy is set to sign with the North Shore Spirit of the independent CanAm League, and lefthander Craig Frydendall signed with the Fullerton Flyers of the independent Golden Baseball League.
San Diego acquired righthander Chris Jaile from Seattle. San Francisco signed righthander Brandon Villafuerte. St. Louis signed righthander Gary Hogan.
St. Louis released outfielder Ramon Nivar. Washington released outfielder Ruben Mateo and righthander Billy Sylvester. Milwaukee released outfielder Jason Romano and lefthander Wilfredo Rodriguez. Pittsburgh released lefthander Derrick Van Dusen. The Mets gave righthander Ryan Dittfurth a spring training look but then let him go.
Kevin Millwood goes tonight for Texas. I’m more interested in seeing him step up to get this thing turned around than I am in seeing him improve on his own Opening Day effort. These last two Tigers games are probably a little important than the sixth and seventh games of the season should be.