THE NEWBERG REPORT — JULY 4, 2006
“Hey, Max, who is that?”
“Mike-Oh Ung! Hit the bat, hit the ball!”
“And who’s that?”
“And that big guy?”
“Oh! Dat’s Daydee Botts.”
You have to understand; the fact that Max is now naming players is no more impressive than the fact that it’s no longer the case that every player, regardless of position and sometimes regardless of team, is identified, energetically, as “Mike-Oh Ung!” At least not always.
Many of our conversations start with me saying, “Heeeeere’s the pitch!” and with Max responding with a swing of his bat, or a golf club, or a crayon or board book or sock, followed by a click of his tongue, and a dash around the room, sometimes properly counterclockwise, sometimes in a very cricket-esque north-south pattern, but always ending in the exact spot where he started, with a “slide” that looks more like an elbow drop performed by one of those pro wrestlers that his Uncle Barry worshiped as a kid.
Sometimes the “slide” is punctuated with Max’s signature call: “Homerun! Awesome-cool.”
It can be a simple game if you let it. I thought about that last night as Texas threw two strikes for every ball, took walks, ran the bases aggressively but sensibly, and maybe most importantly, didn’t appear to be taking an approach at the plate that looked like a bunch of guys loading up for the six-run home run.
It was a 6-1 win that didn’t have an impossible catch or an umpire’s call or any ninth-inning heroics at its core. It was a simple win, well executed.
As fans we always latch onto dramatic wins with big moments as potential triggers for a healthy win streak; I’m as guilty of it as anyone. But I wonder if a win like that one, a win that was achieved because the guys on the mound and the guys at the plate stayed within themselves, went out and did exactly what they’re capable of, relaxed, and took advantage of opportunities, might be as likely a catalyst for a team to get into a groove as a walkoff win would be.
Sure would be nice to put together a solid little run over these six with Toronto and Minnesota going into next week’s All-Star Break.
Michael Young and Gary Matthews Jr. won’t get that Break, not that they’re complaining. For Young, it’s the third straight All-Star Game selection for a guy who’s finally getting national recognition as a rock. For Matthews, who is the oldest position player on the Rangers and yet in the midst of what’s really his first season as an everyday starter, it’s a great, great story.
Matthews is going to get paid this winter. Great timing on his part, heading into his first shot at conventional free agency (as opposed to the kind that smacked him in the face at the end of March 2004, when Atlanta released him out of camp and he peddled his wares around the league until Texas offered him a Class AAA job a week later).
What’s he going to get this off-season, at age 32, assuming he’s as good in the second half as he’s been in the first? Three years, $20 million? Four years?
He’s a year older than Torii Hunter, who will also hit the market this winter. But seriously, who would you rather have?
Vernon Wells will hit free agency after the 2007 season. Do you resist locking Matthews up long-term because Wells, an Arlington product and Young’s best friend, would be a perfect fit here? Nope. You never know if Wells ever gets to free agency, you do know that every team with money to spend will be after him, and even if you have confidence that you can bring Wells here, Matthews can play on a corner, too.
Matthews and his father become the 14th father-son duo to become Major League All-Stars.
Oklahoma reliever Wes Littleton was brought back up before yesterday’s game to reinforce the bullpen. Outfielder Freddy Guzman was optioned back to the RedHawks. Since his late-May promotion to AAA, Littleton has gone 4-1, 2.16 with two saves, scattering 14 hits and five walks in 16.2 innings while fanning 15. Most impressive has been the sidewinder’s gaudy 3.71 groundball-to-flyball ratio.
Kevin Millwood left Sunday night’s start with a strained biceps, and was examined yesterday by team physician Dr. Keith Meister, who found no serious issues. Millwood will still lay low for another day or two. It’s not been determined whether he’ll skip a start.
Dr. Meister also saw Frankie Francisco and gave the righthander an anti-inflammatory cortisone injection in his elbow on Sunday.
Kameron Loe, rehabbing his elbow-area bone bruise in Surprise, got a cortisone injection on Sunday as well.
Adam Eaton threw 30 pitches to Jason Botts, Jerry Hairston Jr., and Freddy Guzman in a simulated game on Sunday, reporting no pain in his finger afterwards. He’ll join Oklahoma and pitch for the RedHawks this Thursday, scheduled to throw 30 pitches. Assuming no setbacks, he’ll then throw 45 pitches on Monday, 60 pitches on July 15, 75 pitches on July 20, and 90 pitches on July 25, putting him on schedule to pitch when Kansas City wraps up its visit to Texas on July 30.
Brian Anderson, age 34, has decided to have Tommy John surgery on July 14, one week short of the one-year anniversary of him having the same procedure.
At Oklahoma, C.J. Wilson (left biceps soreness) has been activated from the disabled list, and R.A. Dickey (shoulder strain) and Kelvin Jimenez (elbow soreness) have been DL’d. Outfielder Adrian Brown was placed on the DL with a lacerated left pinky finger, and Ruddy Yan (hamstring) was activated. After playing all but one of his 16 April games in the RedHawk outfield, Yan has played second base once and DH’d another time since returning to action, though he did play outfield in his five rehab appearances late last month in Surprise.
Lefthander Shane Wallace was demoted from Frisco to Bakersfield, where he’d pitched twice in May.
Clinton righthander Juan Carlos Garcia was placed on the disabled list with a groin injury.
Texas traded Oklahoma infielder Tim Olson to Toronto for Class A righthander Joey McLaughlin Jr., assigning the 24-year-old product of Oklahoma City University to Clinton. McLaughlin, whose father pitched in 15 games for Texas in 1984, was the Blue Jays’ 18th round pick in 2004. He went 6-3, 2.77 with seven saves in his first two pro seasons, all in relief, with an impressive opponents’ batting average of .196 to go along with 96 strikeouts in 91 innings. Repeating Low A Lansing this season, McLaughlin had a 3-1, 3.04 mark in 16 relief appearances, holding the Midwest League to a .255 clip while fanning 17 in 26.2 frames.
Bakersfield left fielder Ben Harrison hit his 17th and 18th home runs last night, adding a single and two walks and driving in seven runs. He’s now hitting .296/.393/.547 with 68 RBI in 75 games.
Clinton third baseman Johnny Whittleman hit no home runs in his first 425 pro at-bats, dating back to June 2005 when he was drafted in the second round. He has four bombs in his last 34 at-bats. After a particularly slow start to this season, he’s hitting .370 over the last week, pulling his numbers up to .230/.327/.353 for the season.
LumberKing righthander Josh Giles, signed last summer as an undrafted free agent out of New Mexico Junior College, where he was a teammate of reliever prospect Johnny Lujan, still hasn’t permitted a 2006 run. He’s allowed 12 hits and four walks in 23.1 innings, punching out 27.
The Rangers signed 11th-round pick Craig Crow, a righthander from Rice, and 29th-rounder Dan Hoben, a southpaw from Chandler-Gilbert Community College, bringing to 25 the number of draft picks they’ve come to terms with.
Philadelphia reporters took the fact that Texas had a scout at Friday’s game between the Phillies and Blue Jays to mean that the Rangers were showing interest in David Dellucci. They failed to note that it was Rangers advance scout Bob Johnson, who was there to watch Toronto just before that club headed to Arlington for the current series.
I still wouldn’t rule out a Dellucci return, though.
A day after Philadelphia acquired him from Texas, Fabio Castro was called on to mop up in the third inning of an 8-0 game and fired three hitless innings, walking one and fanning two Blue Jays.
The Phillies agreed yesterday to pay The Woodlands High School righthander Kyle Drabek $1.55 million to sign. Drabek was taken six slots after Texas chose Kasey Kiker, who signed for $1.6 million.
San Diego’s Chris Young was named National League Pitcher of the Month for June, posting a 1.17 ERA for the month.
According to MLB.com and the Washington Times, the Rangers were in on Dominican 16-year-old shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez, along with Boston, the Yankees, and Minnesota, before Washington outbid them all and signed him Sunday for $1.4 million.
Righthander Carlos Almanzar will undergo a second Tommy John surgery and is done for the year. He’d made only four appearances this year, all in June, for AA Mississippi and AAA Richmond.
The Reno Silver Sox of the independent Golden Baseball League, counterattacking in response to the San Diego Surf Dawgs’ acquisition of Jose Canseco, traded the Yuma Scorpions a player to be named in exchange for catcher Jason Dewey, the face of the inaugural Frisco RoughRiders squad.
The latest edition of my “Going Deep” feature is now posted on MLB.com, focusing on what Texas did with Castro in the context of Rule 5.
The Yankees released Erubiel Durazo from his AAA contract. He was hitting .290/.400/.419 in 62 Columbus at-bats.
Tonight’s pitching matchup:
With fireworks: Awesome-cool.
Something like that.
Keep it simple.