THE NEWBERG REPORT — MAY 24, 2006
On the day I turn 50, I hope the most emotional, memorable exchange I have isn’t with
someone who looks like Tim Tschida.
That was a lousy way for an umpire to allow a tie game to become untied.
Of course, Tschida isn’t the one who, to begin the eighth, walked the rookie hitting
eighth, allowed a sharp single to the number nine hitter, and walked the
.360-slugging leadoff hitter who had gone down swinging the previous two trips.
Francisco Rodriguez sure made Kevin Mench look a lot more like the guy who came into
the season as a .213/.270/.335 hitter in “close and late” situations than the
.421/.450/.579 guy he’d been in 2006. No chance.
Hank Blalock doubled three times, all to the opposite field. What a renaissance.
See that wince on his face after his ninth-inning slide into second? He probably
gets lifted for pinch-runner Adrian Brown anyway, given the situation, but hopefully
Blalock’s knee is fine.
While only one is true, it seems that every time the Rangers and Angels tee it up,
Vladimir Guerrero gets a hit and Michael Young goes deep.
Jason Botts was promoted to Texas on Tuesday, and this wasn’t your typical call-up.
Nobody got hurt, and nobody got traded. It comes down to this: Botts was hitting
.318/.373/.615 for Oklahoma, including .324/.387/.750 in May. Phil Nevin was hitting
.226/.324/.409 for the Rangers, including .145/.254/.177 in a homerless, four-RBI
Last year, when Botts was given a big league look, he was putting together an
impressive .286/.375/.522 AAA season, but for a number of reasons it was pretty clear
that Nevin was going to be the club’s fulltime 2006 DH coming out of camp. Among the
reasons that Botts was not even a candidate to platoon with Nevin was that, like
Nevin, he was historically a better hitter against left-handed pitching –
dramatically so in 2005.
But Botts has made considerable strides against righthanders this season. In 2005,
AAA righties held him to a .258/.351/.462 clip. This year he’s hit .314/.385/.647
against them. He’s still striking out more than you’d like (once every 3.44 at-bats
after once every 3.36 trips last year), but he’s hitting .319/.373/.615 overall this
season, and sits at .293/.375/.543 in 658 AAA at-bats.
Botts got the start last night and drew walks in the sixth and eighth. It’s going to
be interesting to see how much time he gets at the expense of Nevin, who was
reportedly not a very good clubhouse influence last summer once his regular playing
time subsided. Nevin’s very good April certainly helped Texas finish that month atop
the AL West, but it’s not April anymore, and Nevin hasn’t been producing at all
Would the Rangers conceivably run out a lineup in 2007 that includes three young
starters? Why not? Ian Kinsler and Gerald Laird are making strong cases that
they’re ready for fulltime duty. It’s time to see if the switch-hitting Botts is
ready. With his history of starting slowly at each new level before igniting in his
second year (though his 2005 acclimation period in AAA lasted about one month, rather
than a full season), and with Nevin’s struggles in May, there’s no reason not to run
Botts out there a good bit right now, to see what he’s got and, hopefully, to let him
fight through his adjustment period and get it out of the way.
Drew Meyer, who hadn’t played since getting one at-bat on May 9, was optioned to AAA
to make room for Botts.
Once Kinsler is ready (he’s now getting past a nagging hamstring, having fully
rehabbed the broken thumb), it will be interesting to see whether the next roster
move involves infielder D’Angelo Jimenez, who has six at-bats this month, or Brown,
who has had more opportunities but hasn’t done much with them. If Kinsler — who
doubled twice and homered last night for the RedHawks — regains his starting job,
Mark DeRosa will give Buck Showalter another outfield option, and for that reason
Brown may be deemed more expendable than Jimenez.
Truthfully, both could be gone once Texas decides to bring Freddy Guzman to
Righthander Antonio Alfonseca is throwing off the mound and could begin a rehab
assignment this week. Righthander Frankie Francisco and lefthander Brian Anderson,
both rehabbing after Tommy John surgery, were slated to pitch in extended yesterday.
The MRI of Frisco lefthander John Danks’s left arm revealed no torn ligaments or
other structural damage, and though he’ll miss one more start, that news couldn’t be
Meanwhile, Bakersfield righthander Eric Hurley has landed on the disabled list with a
sprained right wrist and Blaze reliever Johnny Lujan has been DL’d with right elbow
soreness. To replace them, righthander Matt Farnum was activated and lefthander Broc
Coffman, who had gone 3-1, 0.47 in a start and three relief appearances for Clinton,
Oklahoma infielder Aarom Baldiris was placed on the disabled list with a broken bone
in his right hand (Meyer will replace him at second base), and righthander R.A.
Dickey was DL’d with shoulder tendonitis. The rash of RedHawk injuries is almost too
bizarre to believe.
Righthander Michael Bumstead, who pitched in the San Diego and Seattle systems from
2001 until this spring, and infielder Dave Berg, who played in the big leagues from
1998 through 2004 with Florida and Toronto, join the RedHawks.
LumberKings catcher Billy Killian (.164/.215/.262) was reassigned to extended.
The Rangers signed a lefthander named Patrick Ford and sent him to extended.
Freak: Twenty-four-year-old Frisco second baseman Adam Morrissey is hitting
.449/.460/.694 in 49 RoughRider at-bats.
Clinton outfielder John Mayberry Jr. was chased from Monday’s game after being hit in
the head by a pitch, but he played on Tuesday.
The deadline to sign eligible draft-and-follows from the 2005 draft is next Tuesday.
The Yankees signed Erubiel Durazo and Jason Romano to minor league contracts.
The White Sox optioned righthander Agustin Montero to AAA Charlotte, and purchased
the contract of righty Jeff Nelson.
Lefthander Justin Thompson, after posting a 6.11 ERA in eight starts for AAA
Nashville in the Brewers system this spring, has retired. He’ll surely be coaching
Minnesota sold righthander Ryan Glynn to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of the
Japanese Pacific League.
If you go to the Newberg Report blog page on MLB.com, you can now view all of the
prospect video features I’ve recorded for use on the Jumbotron at Ameriquest Field,
including the two new ones that are being shown during the current homestand, on Wes
Littleton and Drew Meyer.
Just go to http://newberg.mlblogs.com/ and
scroll down the left side menu, where you will find links to the video for: Johnny
Whittleman, Botts, Nick Masset, Littleton, Meyer, Danks, Travis Metcalf, and Thomas
My latest “Going Deep” feature for MLB.com is http://rangersfarmreport.mlblogs.com/. Mike interviewed Rangers minor league pitching coordinator Rick Adair on the
topic of the philosophy and processes the organization employs in the development of
young pitchers. The article is brilliant stuff, the likes of which you won’t find
anywhere else on the Internet, on any organization.
You can read more from Jamey Newberg