THE NEWBERG REPORT — APRIL 21, 2006
Two pitching lines:
IP H R ER BB K P-STRK
Vicente Padilla 7.0 3 1 1 3 7 98-59
IP H R ER BB K P-STRK
Ricardo Rodriguez 4.0 3 1 1 1 2 60-35
Padilla’s line was last night’s, his fourth start of the season, the third to qualify as a “quality start,” and probably his best effort yet.
Rodriguez’s line was Wednesday afternoon’s, and it was his first appearance of the season, for anyone. He started AAA Richmond’s game against Buffalo, having signed with the Braves on Sunday.
After what happened on Wednesday, Texas needed what it got out of Padilla, even if the second tier of the bullpen squandered the lead he entrusted to it.
And after what happened on Wednesday, Texas really needed what it got out of Francisco Cordero. Twelve pitches, eight strikes. Greater reliance on his fastball. Three up, three down. And nothing approaching a browbeaten look in his eyes.
I loved what Gary Matthews Jr. did to Joel Pineiro (single and homer), George Sherrill (double), Eddie Guardado (huge walk), and, without a doubt, Mariners second baseman Jose Lopez. Love the swagger.
Padilla was big, Matthews was big, Phil Nevin and Michael Young and Kevin Mench were big. But make no mistake: Nothing was as crucial as how Cordero performed, in the short term and from a big picture standpoint. He’s been close to a given for so long that we take for granted that the ninth inning has been a non-issue, but the way his 2006 season had begun, the ninth inning had essentially become the Rangers’ biggest issue.
The most troubling aspect of Cordero’s Wednesday night meltdown was a disturbing over-reliance on his slider, the pitch that Oscar Acosta refined in 2002 when he spent two and a half months as the Rangers’ pitching coach and helped turn Cordero into a big league closer. Acosta was killed in a car accident on a highway outside of Santo Domingo – Cordero’s Dominican Republic hometown – on Wednesday. He was there to work with some of the players whom he would have managed with the Yankees’ Gulf Coast League club this summer. There are some 18-year-olds who were probably going to show up in Florida with better sliders in June than they have now.
But the main reason Cordero’s slider is so good because a hitter can’t sit on it when the righthander is pumping high-90s fastballs at the knees. But Cordero allowed hitters to sit on the slider on Wednesday, and the results were disastrous. Much, much better last night.
Meanwhile, Seattle’s closer (Eddie Guardado) walked in the decisive run last night. Oakland’s closer (Huston Street) is hurt, and his temporary replacement (Justin Duchscherer) walked in the decisive run yesterday. And LAAA’s closer (Francisco Rodriguez), who has had his own health questions, has surrendered runs in four of his seven appearances. Closer inconsistency is one of the main reasons that nobody is running away with the AL West, and that Texas, despite a bad first week, sits one game out of the division lead.
Texas may work Josh Rupe in relief as he rehabilitates his shoulder, not only to get his arm back in shape but possibly also with an eye toward having him reinforce the Rangers bullpen, rather than the rotation.
To make room for Drew Meyer on the 40-man roster, Texas moved righthander Adam Eaton from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list.
Texas sent future considerations to Colorado for journeyman infielder-outfielder Derek Wathan, who was needed to reinforce the RedHawks’ depleted roster.
Clinton outfielder John Mayberry Jr. recorded his first two hits of the season last night, contributing a fourth-inning double and an eighth-inning home run in a 5-4 loss to Lansing.
The Rangers placed righthander Jose Silva and catcher Jose Sanchez Jr. on the restricted list.
Mike McCall will step down from his post as president of the Frisco RoughRiders at the end of the season. Scott Sonju (son of former Dallas Mavericks general manager Norm Sonju) will assume the title of president and GM, while Brent Stehlik will be COO.
John Koronka looks exactly like Jim Harbaugh. If you’re on my mailing list, you got the email version of this report and could see what I’m talking about.
The independent Sioux Falls Canaries (American Association) signed righthander Mark Roberts. The independent Long Island Ducks (Atlantic League) signed righthander Pat Mahomes and catcher Brad King.
Baseball America projects University of Houston righthander Brad Lincoln to be one of the first four picks in the June draft, suggesting he’s under consideration from the teams owning each of those selections (Kansas City, Colorado, Tampa Bay, and Pittsburgh). The Rangers selected Lincoln out of Brazoswood High School in the 28th round of the 2003 draft but couldn’t lure him from his commitment to pitch for the Cougars.
The Rangers are back in town. In fact, they’re probably just getting off a plane about now. Time to do some damage to the Devil Rays and A’s, both of whom have closer issues right now.
Over the next six days, hopefully Francisco Cordero can make it clear that the Rangers don’t have one of their own.