June 2006

THE NEWBERG REPORT: JUNE 30, 2006 ADDENDUM

The Rangers’ opponent has scored first in 10 of the last 11 games, including the past nine. That includes tonight’s very, very big win.

You could see it in the players’ eyes tonight, and in the dugout as Aki coaxed the 5-4 rollover to end it: This was more than just one of 162. Anything short of 6 of 9 during this pre-Break homestand is unsatisfactory, and getting that first one, especially against a pitcher like Roy Oswalt, is just huge.

Feeling fired up about baseball for the first time since the middle of the month.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 30, 2006

I’m on record. The fact that Fabio Castro is no longer Ranger property disappoints me. But I’ve also said that I was eager to see what Jon Daniels would be able to get for Castro, after having designated the Rule 5 pick for assignment on Saturday.

My initial, gut reactions to the news yesterday that Daniels had traded Castro to Philadelphia for AA lefthander Daniel Haigwood and cash:

1. You’d parlay a 28-year-old utility infielder like Esteban German for a pitching prospect like Haigwood every chance you got. (There were days when Texas would more likely be on the other end of a deal like that, e.g., Scott Eyre for Esteban Beltre.)

2. You’d trade a solid relief prospect for a solid starter prospect every time.

3. Haigwood seems to profile a little like John Koronka and John Rheinecker, lefthanders who will never be expected to be a number 1 or number 2 but who have a chance to be serviceable, and successful in Arlington.

In November, the White Sox traded Haigwood, their 16th-round pick in 2002, to the Phillies, along with center fielder Aaron Rowand and southpaw Gio Gonzalez, for Jim Thome.

(Which raises this question for the folks at Elias, Jayson Stark, and Jeff Evans: Has there ever been another pair of players traded for each other who, the year before, were teammates in a different organization altogether? Haigwood and Castro played together in the Chicago system in 2004 [with Low A Kannapolis] and in 2005 [with High A Winston-Salem].)

I’ll admit that I’ve never seen Haigwood pitch and can only, for now, go by what I read, but consider this: both he and Castro were Rule 5-eligible for the first time after the 2005 season. As we all know, Chicago chose not to add Castro to its 40-man roster, exposing him to the draft. The Sox, on the other hand, did add Haigwood to the roster (one week before trading him to the Phillies in the Thome deal).

And Philadelphia conceivably could have asked for Castro in the Thome trade, but opted for Haigwood — though it should be pointed out that, unless the Thome trade could have been made about a week earlier than it was, the Phillies would not have been able to add Castro to their 40-man roster upon obtaining him and thus would have lost him in the draft.

Haigwood, whose hometown of Pleasant Plains, Arkansas has a population that wouldn’t fill the Legends of the Game Museum auditorium, where we’ll kick off Newberg Report Night on Sunday, didn’t lose a high school game until his final appearance, having gone 43-0 beforehand (and not allowing an earned run as a senior until that final game). Baseball America projected him to go between the second and fifth round in 2002, but he lasted until the 16th round (due in part to what clubs thought was a firm commitment to the University of Arkansas), where the White Sox took him, 13 rounds after selecting Josh Rupe and one round before they chose Brandon McCarthy.

The 6’2″ southpaw was nearly as successful in the Chicago chain as he’d been in high school. In four seasons, he went 32-11, 3.36 with 333 strikeouts and 146 walks in 332 innings, all as a starter. He led the Arizona League in wins with eight in his first summer, and was second in ERA (2.28) and strikeouts (74 in 75 innings). He missed the 2003 season due to a torn ACL in his left knee.

In 2004, as Castro’s teammate, Haigwood went 10-4, 4.76 for Kannapolis, and in 2005, teamed up with Castro again, he went 8-2, 3.77 in 15 Winston-Salem starts before earning a promotion to AA Birmingham, where he was utterly dominant (but beware: the Barons play in an extreme pitchers’ park in what is essentially a pitchers’ league). In 11 Baron starts, Haigwood went 6-1, 1.74, scattering 39 hits (.170 opponents’ average) and 31 walks in 67.1 innings while punching out 76, which was the best strikeout rate of his career. No Southern League hitter took him deep. A plus changeup helped Haigwood, who also features a low-90s fastball and a two-seamer to go along with a sharp curve, handle right-handed hitters (.141 average) even better than lefties (.250).

Chicago placed Haigwood on its 40-man roster in November, a week before sending him to the Phillies in the Thome deal. Despite his brilliant two months of AA work in 2005 — only twice in his 11 starts did he give up more than one earned run — Philadelphia returned him to AA this season, assigning him to Reading in the Eastern League. He posted a 2.61 ERA in four April starts, saw it balloon to 5.28 in six May starts, and followed it with a 2.48 June, over five starts. Overall, Haigwood has gone 2-5, 3.54 this season, and once again, he had the unusual distinction while with Reading of being tougher on righties, who hit just .209 off him while lefthanders hit .283. He’ll likely remain in AA for now, sliding into the rotation at Frisco.

A little disturbing is the fact that Haigwood appears statistically to be a flyball pitcher, though, again, he’s done a relatively good job of keeping the ball in the yard. He’s also issued a walk for every two innings pitched this year, which will need to change.

Having been added to Chicago’s 40-man roster last winter and kept on the Phillies’ 40, Haigwood is on his first option this season — which of course is what most distinguishes his value to Texas from Castro’s: he can be sent to the farm. Haigwood will have two remaining options when the 2007 season begins.

Does Haigwood factor into the top echelon of Rangers pitching prospects, which includes John Danks, Edinson Volquez, Thomas Diamond, Eric Hurley, and Rupe? Probably not. But neither did Castro, who, though he’s 14 months younger than Haigwood, was handicapped from the standpoint that he had to be kept in the big leagues and thus wasn’t getting regular work. Castro will likely see more opportunities to get on the mound in Philadelphia, who likes his upside as an effective set-up man from the left side.

With Daniels in attendance, Volquez one-hit Round Rock over five scoreless innings on Tuesday, fanning six though he issued five walks. He’s been named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star Team.

Last night, Danks needed only 89 pitches to get through seven innings of his second AAA start, limiting the Express to two runs on three hits and three walks, fanning five. Both runs came in the fifth, on a two-run homer by Alan Zinter, the reigning real-life Crash Davis. In his two RedHawk starts, Danks is holding opponents to a .150 average.

Diamond fanned 12 in six innings for Frisco on Wednesday night, permitting one run on six hits and two walks.

Outfielder Anthony Webster still hasn’t been held hitless since his promotion to Oklahoma. The 23-year-old (.393/.433/.464) singled and doubled last night, extending his AAA hit streak to eight games.

Frankie Francisco has been placed on the Frisco disabled list with soreness in his pitching elbow.

Texas activated Rupe from the 60-day disabled list (necessary because his rehab work in Surprise reduced the maximum days on his rehab assignment by 10 days) and optioned him to Oklahoma. He had been working out of the Frisco bullpen.

Righthander Adam Eaton threw cut fastballs off a mound on Tuesday without pain. He’ll pitch a simulated game at Ameriquest Field on Sunday and, assuming no setbacks, he could start a rehab assignment with Frisco on Thursday.

To make room on the 40-man roster for both Haigwood and Rupe, the Rangers released infielder Marshall McDougall, who had managed only 14 AAA at-bats this season (his fourth as a Ranger) due primarily to a wrist injury.

First baseman Freddie Thon (.280/.308/.402) goes up from Clinton to Bakersfield, with first baseman Ian Gac (.188/.242/.346) making the opposite move. Gac homered in his first game back with the LumberKings last night.

San Diego has promoted righthander John Hudgins from AA Mobile (4-3, 2.79, 55 strikeouts and 16 walks in 51.2 innings) to AAA Portland.

The White Sox released outfielder Rob Sasser.

The New Jersey Jackals of the independent Can-Am League released outfielder Willy Espinal, who I suppose is the same guy who pitched in the Rangers farm system recently.

Looking forward to seeing more than 300 of you on Sunday.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 27, 2006

Robinson Tejeda’s stint with Texas, this time, lasted three innings. Three innings on Saturday that took a staggering 85 pitches to get through. Only 48 were strikes.

Tejeda faced 20 Rockies. Two took him deep. Two others smacked doubles, three others singled, three walked.

Tejeda even drilled his mound opponent, Josh Fogg, an 0-for-25 hitter.

These are not times that call for patience or pity, or for much leash. Tejeda was returned to Oklahoma after giving the Rangers very little to work with, and though the demotion was likely going to happen had he done anything short of throwing eight shutout innings, the difference now is that he probably falls behind two or three other candidates to spot-start for Texas anytime soon.

Is one of those candidates Nick Masset? Probably not, at least not yet. But at the same time, the purchase of Masset to give Texas an emergency arm between the Tejeda start and this weekend’s return of John Wasdin was no Robert Ellis move, no Alan Benes. If you heard Rangers officials talk this weekend about Masset, who is a big leaguer for the first time, he was the player the organization was most worried about losing in the Rule 5 Draft in December.

The 24-year-old is a groundball machine in a prototype pitcher’s frame, featuring a four-seam fastball that touches the mid-90s, an effective cut fastball, an improving change and solid curve, and one of the system’s dirtiest sinkers. He’s gone through more than his share of baseball highs and lows since Tommy John surgery as a high school senior turned him from a likely first-rounder into an eighth-round draft-and-follow, but the signs are pointing in the right direction for Masset right now, who was a strong candidate to be reinstated to the 40-man roster this winter even if he hadn’t been summoned to Texas during the season.

Masset, who was 2-2, 2.08 in eight Frisco starts, holding the Texas League to a .213 average with a sturdy 2.23 groundball-to-flyball ratio, was promoted to AAA for good in late May (he made a spot start for Oklahoma on May 11), and it’s been a rough month. In five RedHawk starts and one relief appearance, Masset is 1-4, 6.47. He’s not ready for a big league rotation, and he may not see one big league hitter this week before returning to Oklahoma City, but it’s been a second breakthrough season for the 2000 draftee, and it might not be a stretch to suggest that if Texas had to give up either Tejeda or Masset to complete a hypothetical deal, Tejeda might be the one the club would part with first. It would at least generate a conversation.

Most fans surely would have ranked the Rangers’ three end-of-camp pitching acquisitions, in terms of their chances to help in 2006, as Tejeda, then John Koronka, then John Rheinecker. Funny how that’s turned out.

This isn’t particularly promising: Texas had originally planned for Frankie Francisco to pitch on Friday night, which would have been his second straight day of work and perhaps the final hurdle before rejoining the big league bullpen on the club’s next homestand. Instead, he was held out due to what’s been described as minor muscle soreness in his elbow area, and he not only sat out on Friday, but has yet to return to the mound. Don’t count on him for the Astros series this weekend. I’ll be happy if we see him pitching anywhere by this weekend.

As for Josh Rupe, rehabbing at Frisco just as Francisco is, Rangers pitching coach Mark Connor told reporters not to expect him back in the major leagues before the All-Star Break.

Wasdin gave up one hit and no walks in a scoreless, five-inning rehab effort for Oklahoma on Sunday. He’s slated to start against Houston on Saturday.

Adam Eaton will try throwing curveballs for the first time today since finger surgery at the end of camp.

Redhawk third baseman Aarom Baldiris was activated off the disabled list this weekend, having missed five weeks with a broken bone in his right hand. He had a brief two-game rehab stint in Surprise, going 4 for 7 with a double and two walks.

John Danks made his AAA debut on Saturday, one-hitting New Orleans through five shutout innings before tiring in the sixth. He walked the leadoff hitter in the inning, committed an error when the next batter laid down a bunt in what was then a scoreless game, and then yielded two straight singles before exiting the game. In all, Danks was credited with three runs (two earned) on three hits and three walks in five-plus innings, fanning four Zephyrs.

Outfielder Anthony Webster, who was promoted to AAA at the same time as Danks, has started in all five RedHawk games since arriving in Oklahoma City, and has hit safely in each of them.

Tonight’s California/Carolina League All-Star Game features Bakersfield representatives Eric Hurley and Jesse Ingram. It might be Hurley’s last Class A act, or close to it.

Spokane catcher Chad Tracy, the Rangers’ third-round pick three weeks ago, went deep for the first time last night. In his first 18 pro at-bats, he’s hitting .389/.450/.667.

Clinton third baseman Johnny Whittleman (.215/.317/.310) hit his first professional home run on Saturday.

On the same day, 17-year-old righthander Fabio Castillo made his stateside debut for the Arizona League squad, blanking the Marlins on a single and two walks over three innings, punching out four. Fellow Dominican righthander Omar Beltre (0-1, 0.64) has now fired two gems in the Dominican Summer League, scattering eight hits and one walk in 14 frames, fanning 16. Castillo and Beltre, along with Edinson Volquez, are the highest-profile (and highest-priced) Latin American pitchers signed by the Rangers over the last six years.

Cool story on Arizona League lefthander Jared Locke. Make sure you check Mike Hindman’s farm report today.

Oakland signed infielder D’Angelo Jimenez to a minor league deal.

Quick Newberg Report mention on ESPN.com this weekend.

For the latest information on the toy drive for Newberg Report Night at Ameriquest Field this Sunday, go to http://www.mydataterrier.com/tos.aspx.

One extra prize for the toy drive raffle, donated by the great Grant Schiller: a baseball signed last night by Frisco RoughRiders Thomas Diamond, Travis Metcalf, Mike Nickeas, Nate Gold, Kevin Mahar, Jake Blalock, Jesse Chavez, Francisco, and Rupe.

If you still want to attend Sunday night’s game with us, there’s a few spots left. Email me at newbergreport@sbcglobal.net.

Looks like we might not get Roger Clemens that night, but we should get Kevin Millwood.

I’ll be on Kia Sports Talk tonight with host Brady Tinker on KFWD TV, channel 52, at 7:30 p.m.

To repeat Sunday night’s email about the Grand Opening of the Newberg Report eStore, these specials are good through July 15:

DISCOUNTS

2006 Bound Edition: discounted from $25 to $20
2005 Bound Edition: discounted from $20 to $15
2004 Bound Edition: discounted from $20 to $15
2002 Bound Edition: discounted from $15 to $12
2001 Bound Edition: discounted from $15 to $12
1999 Bound Edition: discounted from $10 to $7

Set of all six Bound Editions: discounted from $105 to $80

Newberg Report T-shirts: Take $2 off each shirt (regularly $15-$17)

BONUS

With every purchase of at least $50, you will receive a voucher good for two Upper Level tickets to any Sunday-Friday regular season home game at Ameriquest Field (excluding June 30, July 1, July 4 and July 24-26). [Limited to first 100 customers.]

Feel free to take the eStore for a spin. As always, you can make your purchases by check, or by credit card through PayPal.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 25, 2006: BREAKING DOWN THE CASTRO MOVE

I’ve already written 90 percent of Monday’s “Going Deep” article for TexasRangers.com, discussing the nature of Frankie Francisco’s rehab assignment and the reason the Rangers ended it after just 18 days (when pitchers are generally allowed 30) and then optioned the righthander to Frisco.

I’m not going to scrap it. So I’m going to save an explanation of what the Rangers have done with lefthander Fabio Castro and the consequences of the move for the following week’s article. It’s probably just as well; this story isn’t over yet.

With righthander Robinson Tejeda summoned from Oklahoma to make last night’s start in Colorado (replacing the injured Kameron Loe), Texas created roster space by making the somewhat surprising decision to designate Castro for assignment. The Rangers have 10 days within which to trade the Rule 5 pick or place him on league-wide waivers. If he’s placed on waivers, the worst team to claim him would inherit the constraints of Rule 5, having to keep him in the big leagues for the rest of 2006 in order to retain his rights past this season. If he were to clear waivers, Texas would be required to offer him back to the White Sox (from whom Kansas City selected him with the December draft’s top pick, promptly trading him to Texas for utility man Esteban German) for $25,000. But that won’t happen — there’s no chance Castro would clear waivers.

And I’d suggest there’s almost no chance that Texas ever places Castro on waivers in the first place. It’s a virtual lock that the 21-year-old will be traded.

Does this mean the Rangers didn’t value Castro’s upside? Of course it doesn’t. Obviously they liked him quite a bit, or they wouldn’t have made the trade for him, wouldn’t have devoted an Opening Day roster spot to him, wouldn’t have made it nearly half a season paying him the big league minimum to hold a spot in the Texas bullpen at times and to rehab a groin strain in Surprise, Frisco, and Oklahoma City at others.

But Jon Daniels decided that Texas, in a tight division race with Oakland, could no longer go forward with Castro as a permanent member of the relief corps, especially with a rotation that’s forcing the bullpen to work harder lately and with a number of fellow relievers pitching inconsistently. Add the fact that Frankie Francisco and Josh Rupe could be returning soon, and that Adam Eaton or a trade acquisition could move a current Rangers starter into the pen, and Castro’s hold on a job over the last three months was looking more and more tenuous, particularly assuming Texas is going to stay in the race.

He hasn’t been a disaster in his few opportunities with the Rangers; far from it. Opponents hit a measly .200/.351/.233 off him. He gave up four earned runs (4.32 ERA) in 8.1 innings, allowing six hits (five singles and one double) and fanning five, though he did issue seven walks. But this is a kid who had never pitched above Class A before April, and so command and consistency issues were to be expected. The Rangers just didn’t want to be the team to deal with those the rest of the summer.

Because there are sure to be several teams interested in giving a big league roster spot to Castro for what amounts to only half a season, Daniels should be able to generate a handful of trade offers for the small southpaw.

And I’d submit to you that the offers should be better now than they were in December, when German was the best offer the Royals got for him. The reason for that is no team was going to give up a useful veteran for Castro in December, because every team probably believed it had a chance to do something in 2006 (or at least had to act that way for the benefit of their ticket-buying public).

Today, the story is different. Teams out of the race or on the verge of it might have veterans that are not as meaningful to their big picture as Castro would be, and teams who have established strength and stability in their bullpen — even contenders — might see enough of a ceiling in Castro that they think they can hide him the rest of the way this season (really, just until September, when rosters expand and Castro’s presence won’t handicap the manager under any circumstances) and benefit for years after that by having him under control.

Texas is neither out of the race nor fortified with a stable pen. And so Castro is on his way out.

But trust this: Daniels is always well prepared. Texas knew for nearly a week that Tejeda was going to come up to make last night’s start, so you can be sure Daniels was working the phones to determine what Castro’s trade value might be well before he made yesterday’s procedural move. Bet on him getting a player back who the club believes can help the big league team right now more than Castro would have, or a prospect whose future the club likes just as much as Castro’s.

Here’s my guess: if the Rangers had been getting any more than 5.2 innings per game out of their starters, or if guys like Joaquin Benoit and Antonio Alfonseca and Brian Shouse and C.J. Wilson had been more effective this spring, or both, Castro sticks. But the bullpen has been taxed, and it has been inconsistent, and as a result the Rangers decided they needed the arms they believe they can most count on at every relief spot. So Castro moves on, and he’s almost certain to be in the big leagues the rest of the year, in someone else’s uniform.

And it may be that Daniels already has a trade he’s willing to make if nothing better materializes, and the designation for assignment simply puts every other team on notice and creates a finite window for them to put in their bids.

I’m disappointed that Castro isn’t going to finish the year as a Ranger and fit next year into the upper levels of the club’s farm system, which is relatively thin on high-ceiling lefthanders. But let’s see what Daniels converts Castro into, which is far more likely to be a player than $25,000 of Chicago’s money.

The cool thing is that this could all play out right around the time that 300 of us will have Daniels fielding our questions, between 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in one week, at Newberg Report Night on July 2.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 24, 2006

That was a great, great win. John Koronka battled through five, ending up with a line that looks better than he really was. He was wild in the zone and left too many pitches up.

But the offense bailed him out, with the middle of the lineup — the revamped middle of the lineup — putting together its best collective effort in a long time.

Then there was Jason Botts, delivering the Rangers’ first pinch hit of the season, absolutely raking a Scott Dohmann pitch through the box to give Texas its first lead, one it wouldn’t relinquish, in the sixth.

An inning later, Mark Teixeira destroyed a Dohmann delivery to break a 22-game homerless streak.

Two pitches later, Hank Blalock blasted a Dohmann offering to right, his 100th big league bomb. Bullpen coach Dom Chiti retrieved the ball for him, and it’s now the only baseball Blalock has kept. Now (and I know this because Max is just five days older than Trey) the key is for Dad to keep the ball out of his son’s reach.

Brad Wilkerson entered the game on a double switch in the seventh and, about four minutes later, looked like a guy who hadn’t warmed up before entering a game on a double switch, making one of the worst outfield throws I’ve ever seen — only to have Gerald Laird bail him out by chasing the throw down, recovering after muffing it himself, and firing to third to catch Todd Helton straying off the bag too far. In that instant, an 8-6 lead that looked split seconds away from disintegrating was upheld with as unconventional a double play as you’ll ever see.

Laird doubled twice and had an excellent throwing night. Michael Young (who also doubled two times), Teixeira (who added a two-bagger to his bomb), and Gary Matthews Jr. all sit in the top four among the league leaders in doubles. None doubles more frequently as Laird, who turns one in every 9.4 at-bats. The Rangers’ backup catcher is now a .341/.367/.588 hitter.

Let me repeat that.

The Rangers’ backup catcher is now a .341/.367/.588 hitter.

He’s also gunned down 52.9 percent of opponents trying to steal. And it looked like that number should have been 58.8 percent, but Cory Sullivan somehow eluded Ian Kinsler’s tag in the seventh last night.

Jeff Francis came into the game holding opponents to a .200 average in Coors Field. Texas planted eight hits on him in 5.2 innings, half of them for two bases.

Nice, uneventful eighth and ninth from Francisco Cordero and Akinori Otsuka.

Oakland scored twice in the ninth off San Francisco closer Armando Benitez to escape with a 4-3 win over the Giants, but never mind that part.

Great note from Rangers manager of baseball media relations Jeff Evans: Texas has the second-youngest roster in baseball, next only to Florida. If my math is right, Texas rookies have gone 9-6, 4.53 and have hit .273/.348/.474.

And the next wave is starting to gather steam. We’re not about to see Edinson Volquez in Texas, and we won’t see John Danks in Texas before September (if then), but it’s a beautiful thing to see those two getting better, at a responsible pace.

Volquez is in the midst of the best run of his pro career, having fired six consecutive quality starts. In that stretch, he’s posted an ERA of 1.80, yielding just 16 hits and 17 walks in 40 innings while fanning 44. His last three outings, each of which lasted seven frames, went like this: one hit and one walk, nine strikeouts; two hits and three walks, 10 strikeouts; and two hits and three walks, eight strikeouts. In those 21 innings, he allowed one run.

Bob Hersom of the Daily Oklahoman offers this fascinating note: Volquez has a 4.01 ERA in innings one through four this season, while his ERA is 2.48 from the fifth inning on. It says a lot about a pitcher’s stuff when he gets tougher the second, third, and fourth times through a lineup. Volquez has a phenomenal arsenal; we’ve all seen it. Now he’s starting to really harness it, to understand that commanding a mid-90s fastball is a lot more effective than leaving upper-90s up in the zone. And if you need a reminder of how stupid that changeup is, lefthanders are hitting just .169 off the 22-year-old righty. His 93 strikeouts are most among the 360 pitchers who have appeared in the Pacific Coast League this season.

The Rangers aren’t planning to rush Volquez back to Texas. Good.

Joining him in the RedHawks rotation is Danks, who will make his AAA debut tonight. This follows a torrid stretch in which the 21-year-old posted seven quality starts out of eight, and had a 2.16 ERA in four June starts. His 82 strikeouts were second in the Texas League at the time of his promotion, which followed a selection to the league’s All-Star Game.

Danks didn’t appear in that game, but Thomas Diamond did, striking out the side (all swinging) in his one inning of work. It’s been the one bright spot for Diamond in a poor month, as the 23-year-old has followed a 3-0, 2.12 May (in which he was named by the organization as its minor league pitcher of the month) with a 1-3, 7.71 June. Chased in the third inning last night, and ultimately getting credited with five Wichita runs, Diamond has been a lot more uneven than Volquez or Danks this year, and that All-Star Game appearance might start water cooler talk (however premature) that Diamond might be best suited ultimately in late relief. (We’ve all seen what Jonathan Papelbon has done, but he’s a unique pitcher who shouldn’t be considered a prototype for what to do with a starting pitcher who doesn’t immediately figure into a big league rotation.)

So, Diamond as a reliever? That’s a decision for later. For now, Frisco manager Darryl Kennedy wants to see more strikes, more ground balls, and fewer strikeouts so that Diamond can go deeper into games. Almost stunningly, he has yet to log more than six innings in any of his 15 starts this year, even though he’s allowed three runs or fewer in 11 of those. High pitch counts and too many walks are the culprit.

So rather than joining Volquez and Danks in AAA, Diamond likely about to be joined in Frisco by Bakersfield righthander Eric Hurley, who was drafted in the 2004 first round along with Diamond but is two-and-a-half years younger.

On Tuesday, Hurley gave up more than two earned runs for just the second time in his last 11 starts. His strong first half (5-3, 2.92) has included a phenomenal home record of 5-0, 1.39 in seven starts, in which the 20-year-old allowed just 25 hits (.157 opponents’ average) and 14 walks in 45.1 innings while setting 54 down on strikes.

Chances are that by time Hurley appears in the Futures Game in Pittsburgh on July 9, he’ll be a Frisco RoughRider.

In the meantime, Hurley will appear in the California/Carolina League All-Star Game on Tuesday, joined by late addition Jesse Ingram, who is having a remarkable season out of the Bakersfield bullpen. In 18 appearances, the 2004 36th-rounder has gone 5-0, 1.64 with five saves, scattering 20 hits (.133 opponents’ average) and 18 walks in 44 innings while setting 72 down on strikes. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 5, a span of 12 appearances.

Outfielder Jayce Tingler was selected to appear in the game as well, but he’s already been promoted to Frisco.

Outfielder Anthony Webster earned his own promotion from Frisco to Oklahoma, having hit .310/.364/.463 for the RoughRiders this spring (including a .400/.423/.590 May). Dating back to June 2005, Webster has been a .328 hitter in 548 at-bats between Bakersfield and Frisco. He went 1 for 3 in each of his first two RedHawk games.

Oklahoma outfielder Will Smith was released to make room for Webster. The 24-year-old, acquired in 2003 from Florida in the Ugueth Urbina trade, was hitting .280/.351/.402 in 132 RedHawk at-bats. He would have been able to leave the organization on his own accord this winter since he’ll have six-year free agency rights, and there’s no chance Texas would have added him to the 40-man roster to prevent him from doing so.

Frisco outfielder Jake Blalock (broken nose) was activated from the disabled list.

When Danks makes his AAA debut tonight, it will be in place of righthander Robinson Tejeda, who will be recalled by Texas to start in Kameron Loe’s slot tonight in Colorado. Tejeda is 3-0, 1.72 in his last six Oklahoma starts, giving up fewer hits than innings pitched each time out and striking out roughly a batter per inning. He has pitched in Coors Field once before, holding the Rockies to three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks in 5.1 innings last July, fanning four.

Righthander Frankie Francisco was supposed to pitch for Frisco last night, the first time he would have worked on consecutive days (perhaps the final box to check off on his rehab punch list), but the Rangers scrapped the plan due to minor muscle soreness in the elbow area. He should pitch tonight.

Lefthander Kasey Kiker, the Rangers’ first-round pick three weeks ago, made his pro debut on Tuesday, giving up one run on no hits, a walk, and a wild pitch in one inning of work for Spokane, fanning one. He then made his first pro start last night, yielding four runs (all unearned) on one hit (a three-run home run) and a walk in 1.2 innings. The 18-year-old went through the Salem-Keizer lineup one time before his night was over, and it appears that his abbreviated effort was simply due to a strict pitch count: he actually retired the first two batters of the second inning before manager Mike Micucci came out to get the ball.

Seventeen-year-old Dominican shortstop Johan Yan, whom Texas signed last summer for a reported $250,000-$400,000 (amidst scouting whispers that he would have been a first-round or sandwich pick had he been eligible for the draft), made his pro debut yesterday, contributing a single, a double, a walk, and a run driven in as the Arizona League squad bested the Giants, 9-7.

Tingler was one of three players Texas selected in the AAA phase of the Rule 5 Draft in December. One of the others was A’s outfielder Alexi Ogando, whom Baseball America considered Oakland’s number three prospect going into the 2005 season. But the 6’4″ slugger with a cannon for a right field arm missed the 2005 season due to visa problems and didn’t make it to Surprise for spring training this March, evidently for the same reason.

And now it appears that the Rangers are bringing that cannon in from right field and placing it on the mound. Ogando appeared in relief for the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League squad on Thursday, throwing a scoreless inning in the club’s opener. He allowed two hits and fanned a pair.

Righthander Omar Beltre got the start in the game, permitting one earned run on six hits and no walks in six frames, fanning seven.

Rice was eliminated from the College World Series, meaning Texas can now negotiate with its 11th-round pick, righthander Craig Crow.

Tampa Bay signed hometown product Jason Romano to a minor league contract.

The Fort Worth Cats of the independent American Association released catcher Dustin Smith.

I’ve been a fan of the rock band Live since they debuted in the early 1990s, but it’s always been because of the melodies, the drums, and the occasional moments of musical genius that defy convention. Not so much on the lyrics, though. I’ve railed on them in the past for the fact that the words “water” or “river” seem to pop up in half their songs. And one thing I realized after my first listen to their new CD, “Songs from Black Mountain,” is that they may rely on the simile more than any band ever has. Metaphors are one thing; every songwriter writes in metaphor. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Simile count on “Songs from Black Mountain”: 10 songs with, two without.

We now have an eStore up and running on NewbergReport.com. Later this weekend I’m going to introduce a couple new specials that I think might interest you.

Twelve spots left for Newberg Report Night. Check your email for the latest details, which I sent Thursday night at about 11 p.m. Central. If you’re interested in one (or more) of the final 12 spots, please let me know quickly.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 22, 2006

A missed call at the plate. A missed throw at third base. A missed bunt signal. And a one-run loss. God, those hurt.

I like Chris Young a lot. But I wanted my team to kick his tail, just as I know he wanted to punish his old teammates.

And an hour later, in Colorado, former Ranger farmhand Ramon Ramirez was brought in to face Oakland fifth-place hitter Bobby Kielty in the 11th inning and served up a single, allowing Nick Swisher to score and stake the A’s to a 3-2 lead that would stand up. Swisher scored all three Oakland runs, the first two on solo bombs.

I’m sorta ready for my sports week to get better.

Righthander Kameron Loe was placed on the disabled list (retroactive to June 19) with an apparent bone bruise in his elbow. Loe had never missed a start or spent any time on a disabled list in his entire pro career, including the minor leagues.

Center fielder Freddy Guzman was brought up to take Loe’s place on the roster, as another starter won’t be needed until Saturday, when Robinson Tejeda will be recalled from Oklahoma. Guzman was hitting .278/.376/.348 in 115 RedHawk at-bats (.276/.362/.381 overall, including his time with AAA Portland), leading the Pacific Coast League with 23 stolen bases.

Texas reinstated righthander Frankie Francisco from the disabled list on Tuesday and optioned him to Frisco. That means that, barring an injury to another Rangers pitcher, Francisco will first be eligible to be recalled on June 30, which is when the Rangers open up a three-game set at home against Houston.

Francisco threw about 25 pitches in the Arlington bullpen before Tuesday’s game, as did RoughRiders righthander Josh Rupe, as Frisco was on its All-Star Break. Francisco will pitch for Frisco tonight and tomorrow, his first back-to-back-day assignments since embarking on his rehab assignment.

Righthander Adam Eaton is shooting for a July 26 return to the big leagues. He’ll attempt on Tuesday to throw a breaking ball for the first time since April surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right middle finger. If all goes well, he’ll reportedly throw a simulated game on July 2 and kick off a rehab assignment on July 6.

Righthander John Wasdin is expected to make a rehab start for Oklahoma on Sunday, limited to about 70 pitches.

Unable to find a trade for him, Texas placed righthander Antonio Alfonseca on unconditional waivers for the purpose of granting him his release. He’d been designated for assignment.

Nothing has been made official, but there are some indications that Frisco lefthander John Danks may be on the verge of a promotion to Oklahoma. The 21-year-old, according to the RoughRiders website, chose not to participate in Tuesday’s Texas League All-Star Game. (He did pitch six innings on Sunday, however, which probably explains the decision.) Jon Daniels has said the organization wasn’t going to make minor league promotions until after the various league All-Star Games. And although I didn’t hear it myself, RedHawks radio announcer Jim Byers apparently said on last night’s game broadcast that Danks is slated to pitch for the AAA club on Saturday.

We’ll update you when there’s news on Danks, who is 5-4, 4.15 in 13 Frisco starts but, more instructively, posted a 7.15 ERA in 22.2 April innings; a 3.32 ERA in 21.2 May innings; and a 2.16 ERA in 25 June frames. He has seven quality starts in his last eight (the lone exception was a 3.2-inning effort on May 28 that followed a two-week layoff and was thus limited by a pitch count). His 82 strikeouts are second in the Texas League to Corpus Christi righthander Juan Gutierrez, whose 86 punchouts have come in 9.1 more innings than Danks has amassed.

While Danks didn’t appear in the Texas League All-Star Game, teammate Thomas Diamond did, and he was very good, striking out the side (number two hitter Jordan Czarniecki, swinging; Alex Gordon, swinging; and Billy Butler, swinging) in one inning of work. Anthony Webster, Nate Gold, and Adam Morrissey each went 0 for 1.

Clinton first baseman Freddie Thon went 0 for 1 in the Midwest League All-Star Game.

Bakersfield righthander Eric Hurley, who could earn a promotion to Frisco in tandem with a Danks promotion to AAA, will pitch for the U.S. Team in the Futures Game, and Oklahoma shortstop Joaquin Arias will play for the World Team. The game will be played in Pittsburgh on Sunday, June 9, as part of the MLB All-Star Game festivities.

The Rangers signed their third-round draft choice, Pepperdine catcher Chad Tracy, for a reported $425,000 bonus, and he’ll get his career started at Spokane. Texas also signed its sixth-round pick Jacob Brigham, a high school righthander out of Central Florida Christian Academy in Florida, as well as its 45th-round pick, University of New Mexico lefthander and changeup specialist Daniel Herrera, and its 50th-rounder, Gonzaga University southpaw Patrick Donovan.

Tracy, the son of Pirates manager Jim Tracy, was widely considered to be the top offensive catcher in the draft, hitting .315/.381/.496 with 20 doubles, four triples, six home runs, and 46 RBI in 254 at-bats over 63 games for the Waves this year.

Brigham, who went 9-2, 0.51 as a high school junior, with 141 strikeouts in 68 innings, allowing just 20 hits and 21 walks, and 10-3, 0.75 as a senior, firing three no-hitters and punching out 146 hitters in 75 frames, scattering 19 hits and walking 32, was named by Baseball America before the 2006 season as a Third-Team Pre-Season All-America (and the number 20 high school prospect in the country, eight spots behind Rangers’ first-round pick Kasey Kiker and just ahead of fourth-rounder Marcus Lemon) before reportedly falling slightly in scouts’ eyes during the spring. He’d committed to the University of Central Florida but instead will get his pro career underway, most likely in the Arizona League.

The only Ranger picks who remain unsigned from the first 12 rounds are Lemon, who will likely be a difficult sign, and Rice righthander Craig Crow, who pitched last night in the Owls’ 5-0 loss to Oregon State in the College World Series. Rice remains alive in Omaha.

Spokane kicked its season off on Monday, and the Arizona League opens today. Kiker debuted on Tuesday for Spokane (I’m probably once again going to avoid calling them the Indians all year: just too confusing), allowing a run on no hits, a walk, and a wild pitch in one inning of work, fanning one. He’ll get his first start tomorrow night.

This week’s Newberg Report “Going Deep” submission is now posted on the Rangers’ MLB site. It discusses when draft picks first become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, using Kiker for context.

According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers and 2005 18th-rounder Chase Fontaine ended up roughly $100,000 apart in draft-and-follow negotiations last month. Atlanta used a second-round pick to draft the Daytona Beach Community College shortstop earlier this month, and the Braves — who told the press that “there was no question in our minds that he was the best hitter in junior college” — have already signed him.

The Dodgers signed Highland Park lefthander Clayton Kershaw (first round) and Oakland signed Hillcrest outfielder Matt Sulentic (third round). Sorry, Texas A&M.

Righthander Jason Standridge has resurfaced with Cincinnati.

The Yankees purchased the contract of righthander Jose Veras early this week, but he’s already been returned to AAA Columbus without getting into a game.

Oakland righthander Steve Karsay retired.

Lefthander Andy Pratt and righthander Billy Sylvester have signed with the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League.

Tampa Bay designated Sean Burroughs for assignment. I usually reserve notes like these for former Rangers, but this one jumped out — not because his dad is a former Ranger, but because there was a time five years ago when the debate over who the best hitting prospect in the game was centered on Burroughs or Hank Blalock.

Roger Clemens debuts for Houston today.

A few announcements:

1. We’re going to have an eStore on the Newberg Report website up and running in the next day or two, and I’ll announce some Grand Opening specials when it’s ready.

2. I’ll be on Southwest Kia Sports Talk (KFWD TV-52) with host Brady Tinker on Tuesday night.

3. We now have a few openings for those of you who haven’t paid for Newberg Report Night (Sunday, July 2) or weren’t able to get in before I had to close reservations.

But here’s the caveat: the auditorium where the pregame events will happen is already at capacity, so any of you who sign up from this point forward will only have access to the Rangers-Astros game itself. And a second caveat: you won’t have any control over whether you’re in Casey’s Corner or in a suite. Given the stage of things we’re in, I’m going to have to slot you where we have room.

If you’re interested — and remember, this would be for the game only, and not the pregame — I’m discounting the charge from $30 to $20. I’m not exactly sure at the moment how many spots are open, but it’s fewer than 20. I’m going to take reservations on a first-come, first-served basis, according to when I receive payment (not when I hear from you that you want a spot, or spots).

Using PayPal would give you the best chance of getting in, since it’s immediate and I can imagine that mailing a check in the morning may arrive too late, given how few spots there are. To pay via PayPal, go to http://www.paypal.com, select the “Send money” option, and type in gjsneaker@sbcglobal.net where you are prompted for the e-mail account. Again, these last spots are $20 per person.

If you do choose to send a check or money order, make it payable to “Jamey Newberg” and sent it to:

Jamey Newberg
Vial, Hamilton, Koch & Knox
1700 Pacific Avenue, Suite 2800
Dallas, TX 75201

Thanks.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 20, 2006 ADDENDUM

Over.  Heated.  (Rock me.) 

OK, last word….

Hey, Timmy.

Duncan6522_1

Hey, Timmy.

Tim_thomas

Hey, Shimmy.

Antoinewalker2

Your team just got a ring despite you.

There’s only one Miami player I’m happy for. And I’m really happy for him:

Alonzo_mourning

Congrats, Zo.  You’re a good man.

Jamey

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 20, 2006

The Dallas Mavericks.

Pouty, Plowed, and Unendowed.

The good news, for me, is that it’s been the worst day of my year, beginning at about 30 minutes after I left the house this morning. So it can only get better from here.

As long as I don’t try to put the ball in Erick Dampier’s hands. Because that would be on me, just as much as on Damp.

One thing is certain: baseball season has now, undeniably, become Baseball Season.

AL WEST       W       L       PCT        GB
Texas           38      33       .535          —
Oakland        38      33       .535          —
Seattle         34     37       .479        4.0
Los Angeles   31      39       .443         6.5

Jamey

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 18, 2006 ADDENDUM

At about 3:45 this afternoon, I got a great big hug from Erica, who was genuinely and completely overjoyed that her two favorite baseball players had just driven in three runs in the bottom of the eighth to break a tie game. She probably wasn’t thinking about the fact that today is the first Father’s Day for both Michael and Mark, even though we’d talked about that earlier in the game.

I may not have a lot in common with those two guys (other than my daughter’s affection), but at a quarter to four my really groovy Father’s Day got a bunch better, and I think Michael and Mark would say the same about theirs.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 18, 2006

I’ve been really tired the last few weeks, unusually so for me. I’d thought maybe it was because, on top of being in a busy cycle at work, I’m also dealing these days with having to find a new car (if you sell Acura’s, Honda’s, Infiniti’s, or Toyota’s, email me — seriously) and dealing with our DCAD property tax appeal. The oven temperatures outside probably factored in, I figured.

But it hit me a couple days ago, while talking to a buddy whose sports insanity is as certifiable as mine. All those things might be part of it, but there’s no doubt that the NBA playoffs have as much to do with my weariness as anything else.

I feel like I’ve been in trial for a month. When I’m trying a case, I don’t know if it’s adrenaline or the eight hours a day of dialing up my senses, but I don’t realize how tiring a day in court is until I’m driving away. It’s as if all the energy I’d worked up and drawn on for the day just spills out, leaving me completely sapped. The Spurs series and the Suns series and, so far, the Heat series have left me feeling like that. I can’t wait for tonight’s game and Tuesday’s, and at the same time, strangely, I can’t wait until it’s all over.

I’m completely drained.

Which brings me to this point: When the Rangers have that season where they win a playoff series, and then a second, and get to the Fall Classic, I’m going to be in a lot of trouble.

My death certificate will probably say: “Cause of Death: World Series.”

While I didn’t think the Mavs would puke it up like that on Thursday, I didn’t like their chances at all that night. The thing that alarmed me was that every single Dallas player who was interviewed the day before and day of the game said they hadn’t slept after the devastating loss in Game Three. They might as well have said, “Hey, Heat. You’re in our heads. And go ahead and body us on Thursday; we’ll have no stamina.”

Should be fascinating tonight. Dallas had all the momentum after the first two games (really, the first two and seven-eighths games). Yet after four, it feels like the series belongs to Miami.

It’s not unlike the season John Koronka has had. Through his first seven starts, he was 4-1, 3.65, holding hitters to a .246 average. In his next six, he went 0-3, 7.18, allowing a .349 average.

And then last night, though it wasn’t necessarily pretty, Koronka held Arizona to two runs in 5.1 innings, earning his first win in six weeks.

Sure would be nice to see Dallas follow suit tonight. They don’t need to win pretty. Just win.

Andruw Jones is hitting .271/.337/.506.

Johnny Damon is hitting .297/.365/.479.

Jim Edmonds is hitting .253/.349/.396.

Grady Sizemore is hitting .291/.369/.522.

Ken Griffey Jr. is hitting .268/.326/.512.

Coco Crisp is hitting .262/.307/.374.

Aaron Rowand is hitting .281/.323/.473.

Meanwhile, there’s Gary Matthews Jr., hitting .343/.396/.566, outpacing those seven center fielders (all of whom sit in the top 15 outfielders in their league’s All-Star voting) — in every category.

Among center fielders in baseball, only Carlos Beltran (.288/.395/.619) and Vernon Wells (.323/.380/.615) have a higher OPS than Matthews.

And he made a play at the wall last night that Beltran and Wells would have applauded.

Matthews is making about $2.4 million this year, his final season before he can explore free agency. What’s he going to command on the open market this winter?

Nobody figured that he would be the Ranger outfielder with the strongest hold on an everyday spot. But that’s exactly what he is, and it’s not even debatable right now.

Texas placed righthander John Wasdin on the disabled list with a sprained right thumb and recalled lefthander Fabio Castro from Oklahoma. Deciding the bullpen needed another southpaw, the Rangers turned to Castro — whose rehab assignment (and, potentially his Ranger career) would have concluded last night — rather than C.J. Wilson, who was placed on the minor league DL due to soreness in his left biceps muscle.

In 17.1 innings between Frisco and Oklahoma, the rehabbing Castro gave up five earned runs (2.60 ERA) on 19 hits and nine walks, fanning 15.

Ian Kinsler and Jason Botts sat out last night after fouling Brandon Webb pitches off their calves on Friday, but both are fine.

One of the things we talked about when I was on Baseball Prospectus Radio with Will Carroll yesterday was that, even though I have no doubt that Jon Daniels will be prepared and unafraid to make an impact trade in July, the problem will be that, like last summer, the list of available impact players will be very short, due in large part to what the Wild Card race does to the trade market each summer. There might be no starting pitcher all that more interesting than Adam Eaton, and no reliever with more potential upside than Frankie Francisco.

Here’s an idea that has absolutely no basis and, truthfully, would probably work only in a fantasy league setting: Kevin Mench, Thomas Diamond, and Julio Gonzalez to Philadelphia for Bobby Abreu, David Dellucci, and some cash.

Diamond turned in a quality start for Frisco last night, though his velocity sat at 89-91 and he hung a few curves that were punished. Josh Rupe relieved Diamond and had a much livelier fastball and sharper breaking ball, though he was hit hard and didn’t complete the one inning that the Rangers had planned for him to get in, as he was charged with three runs on two hits (a double to the right field wall and a triple over center fielder Kevin Mahar’s head) and a walk, all coming after he’d coaxed two weak groundouts.

Francisco is slated to pitch two innings for the RoughRiders today, which will be his first multi-inning effort since his April 2005 Tommy John surgery. In his last appearance, a one-inning stint against Corpus Christi on Thursday, he faced the top three hitters in the Hooks’ lineup, center fielder Josh Anderson (now hitting .308), shortstop Ben Zobrist (.324), and catcher J.R. House (.350).

Strikeout swinging.

Strikeout swinging.

Strikeout swinging.

Eaton threw about 15 fastballs off a mound yesterday, the first time he’s pitched from the hill since ripping a tendon in his middle finger less than a week before Opening Day. He won’t throw breaking balls for at least another week.

Righthander R.A. Dickey was activated off the Oklahoma disabled list and made the start for the RedHawks last night.

Oklahoma center fielder Freddy Guzman was involved in a home plate collision in the top of the first on Friday, and he didn’t finish the game or play in yesterday’s doubleheader.

If the way RedHawks righthander Edinson Volquez started the month of May diminished his chances of contributing at the big league level this year, his last three weeks have more than made up for it. The 22-year-old has fired five straight quality starts (14 hits, 14 walks, and 36 punchouts in 33 innings), and his last two have been utterly dominant.

After blanking Omaha on one hit and one walk in seven innings on June 10, fanning nine, the righthander fired another seven scoreless frames on Thursday, holding Memphis to two hits (both doubles) and three walks while punching out 10 Redbirds. He retired the final 12 batters he faced, extending his scoreless streak to 19 innings.

Daniels was clear the next day that, barring injury to someone on the big league staff, Volquez isn’t on the verge of returning to Texas. Good. For that matter, the organization is also holding off on significant prospect promotions, at any level, until after minor league all-star games have been played. The Texas League and Midwest League All-Star Games will be played on June 20, while the California/Carolina League All-Star Game is set for June 27.

Spokane’s Northwest League title defense kicks off on June 21. The Arizona League opens June 22.

Among those who would seem to be in line for a post-All-Star Game promotion is Bakersfield righthander Eric Hurley, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Stockton on Thursday night. Only once in the 20-year-old’s last 10 starts has he given up more than two earned runs. Hurley stands at 5-3, 2.54 in 13 starts, and his 80 punchouts are good for second in the Cal League.

Eighteen-year-old Clinton righthander Omar Poveda (1-7, 4.44) has seven quality starts in his last nine, and in 12 starts he has yet to walk more than two opponents.

Frisco first baseman Nate Gold is hitting .328/.385/.569 in June, with six multi-hit games in his last eight. He and RoughRider outfielder Anthony Webster (.311/.366/.467 overall) have to be back on the map.

Blaze righthander Wandy Morla was reassigned to Spokane to make room for the activation of Blaze lefthander William Rodriguez.

Bakersfield outfielder Brandon Boggs has extra-base hits in each of the club’s three games since he returned from a two-month layoff due to a broken hand. The 23-year-old is 4 for 10 with a double and two triples since coming back.

In 17.2 innings, Clinton righthander Josh Giles, an undrafted free agent signed last summer out of New Mexico Junior College, has yet to allow a run. Giles, who went 1-2, 8.48 between the Arizona League, Clinton, and Bakersfield in 2005, has scattered nine hits and four walks while punching out 22 Midwest Leaguers.

Eleventh-round pick Craig Crow, a junior righthander out of Rice, is the only Rangers draftee whose team is alive in the College World Series. Should he eventually sign, he’s a likely candidate for Spokane.

Baseball America named lefthander Danny Herrera, the Rangers’ 45th-round pick, to its Third-Team All-America squad. The Odessa Permian and University of New Mexico product, who checks in at 5’7″, 145, went 10-0, 2.24 this season despite pitching in the thin air in Albuquerque.

Dodgers righthander Jae Seo’s 17th inning against Oakland last night: single by number nine hitter Marco Scutaro, strikeout, walk, strikeout, four-pitch walk, five-pitch walk. Game over. Nice work, Jae. Thanks for the help.

The Nationals relieved John Wetteland of his duties as Washington bullpen coach on Thursday because of “philosophical differences” with manager Frank Robinson. A couple Nationals relievers, defending Wetteland, did admit that there were times they weren’t paying close enough to the game. Wetteland was in his first season with the club after spending the better part of the last 10 years with the Rangers as a player and then a coach.

The Nationals replaced Wetteland with Randy Knorr, who — get this — played only 15 games as a Ranger but managed to catch the final pitch of the last two saves and last two wins of Wetteland’s career, in September of 2000. Knorr also singled and homered — one of two bombs he would hit as a Ranger — in the game in which Wetteland would record his final save. Knorr’s solo shot in the sixth produced the Rangers’ final run of the game, a 6-5 win over Kansas City. (I love Retrosheet.)

Righthander Spike Lundberg parlayed a 7-1, 2.40 start for AA Jacksonville into a promotion by the Dodgers to AAA Las Vegas.

Outfielder Jason Conti signed with St. Louis.

University of Texas outfielder Jordan Danks (.319/.429/.517) was named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America team.

Former Ranger farmhand Reggie Rivard was centrally involved in a beanball-brawl war between the Edmonton Cracker-Cats and Calgary Vipers of the independent Northern League on Tuesday. Rivard, who got the Cracker-Cat start, hit two Vipers after Calgary drilled Edmonton first baseman Greg Morrison — a former Viper — for the fifth time in six games. After the second Rivard plunking, a player from the Calgary dugout fired a ball toward the mound, and the benches cleared, and engaged.

Following the nasty fight, which involved the managers, Edmonton was forced to forfeit the game due to a depleted roster.

A few new additions to the prize list for the toy drive raffle on Newberg Report Night, courtesy of Allen Cordrey and Kevin McBrayer: A Josh Rupe game-used autographed baseball, a Thomas Diamond autographed baseball, a Mike Nickeas game-used autographed bat, an Ace Walker game-used autographed ball, and an autographed, matted Dennis Quaid “The Rookie” photo and movie prop.

The prize list is currently as follows:

1.) Mark Teixeira game-used wrist bands
2.) Kameron Loe game-used spring training hat
3.) Mike Nickeas signed, game-used catcher’s mask
4.) Mike Nickeas signed, game-used bat
5.) Marshall McDougall signed, game-used bat
6.) Baseballs signed by:
* Ian Kinsler
* C.J. Wilson
* Josh Rupe
* Thomas Diamond
* Joaquin Arias
* Michael Schlact
* Ace Walker
* Jace Brewer
* Nick Trzesniak
* Joselo Diaz
7.) Signed Stockton Ports jerseys:
* Nick Masset (game-used)
* Joaquin Arias (batting practice)
* Matt Farnum (game-used)
8.) Game-used Clinton jersey signed by Thomas Diamond, John Danks, Anthony Webster, Kea Kometani, Casey Benjamin, Jim Fasano, Nate Gold, Luke Grayson, Kevin Richardson, and Andy Walker
9.) May 13, 2005 manager’s card signed by Buck Showalter, Kevin Mench, Kameron Loe, David Dellucci, Laynce Nix, Brian Shouse, and Don Wakamatsu
10.) Photos:
* Jim Sundberg (four B&W; one is signed)
* Kameron Loe, signed 8×10
* Gerald Laird, signed 8×10
11.) Signed, matted Dennis Quaid “The Rookie” photo and movie prop
12.) Two one-year subscriptions to Baseball Prospectus Online
13.) A 2006 Bound Edition of the Newberg Report signed by Thomas Diamond, Johnny Whittleman, Michael Schlact, Steven Rowe, and Jamey Newberg
14.) A near-complete set of the Newberg Report Bound Edition (1999 through present, with the exception of 2003, which is currently out of stock)

The person who brings the most toys will have his or her pick of any one prize. Judge Brady Tinker will award the second prize to the “coolest” donation (for instance, last year someone brought a new bicycle).

The remaining prizes will be raffled off, with everyone who brought toys eligible.

For all the ill will that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen harbors towards the Rangers, he said this to reporters about Michael Young on Thursday: “They’ve got one player over there that’s everyone’s wish, the shortstop. That’s everybody’s dream. A lot of people talk about Derek Jeter. A lot of people talk about Miguel Tejada. A lot of people talk about other players at that position, but he’s a manager’s dream. He’s the best. This kid can do anything in baseball that he wants to.”

Guillen added: “I’d take that kid everywhere with me.” Which I suspect will include the All-Star Game in three weeks in Pittsburgh.

Happy Father’s Day.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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