THE NEWBERG REPORT — JULY 21, 2006
One year ago today, John Hart made the first of two July trades to try and give a boost to a club that sat seven games out of first in the West, trading righthander Matt Lorenzo for righthander Kevin Gryboski. He claimed righthander James Baldwin off waivers the same day.
Nine days later, Jon Daniels played the key role in engineering the trade of Chan Ho Park to San Diego for Phil Nevin.
It’s a tough trade market right now — it’s going to be that way most years as long as the Wild Card system remains in place and the conventional, non-waiver trade deadline continues to be July 31 — but the likelihood is that Daniels makes a trade this month that impacts the roster more like his Park-Nevin deal than Hart’s deal for Gryboski, who pitched 11 times in three weeks before being optioned to AAA, never to be heard from in Texas again.
Part of that may be due to an impression that Daniels is a greater risk-taker than Hart was while with the Rangers. Part of it is because the Rangers have more near-ready pitching prospects to trade than they did last July. And part is because the Rangers — and their general manager — have far more reason to believe that they will be in this thing down the stretch than they did a year ago.
But, again, as we’ve discussed for several weeks now, it takes a lot more than motivation to make an impact deal in July these days. It takes a willing partner, and that probably means a team that will do business with you as long as you overpay — especially if it’s for pitching.
In the meantime, it’s no coincidence that Adam Eaton pitched on the same afternoon as John Rheinecker yesterday, as the Rangers prepare for the return of Eaton, just as important a late-July addition as a lot of contenders will be able to claim. In Rheinecker’s last three appearances, despite one quality start, he’s been extremely hittable (.407/.444/.593), which may be a function of his having been around the league enough now that teams are catching on, or maybe because the balls are finding holes where they didn’t a month ago, or two. He’s had only two strikeouts in his 13.1 innings in those three starts.
Meanwhile, Eaton was sharp for Oklahoma yesterday, holding Iowa to one run (which scored after he departed) on three singles and two walks in four-plus frames, fanning six Cubs (four swinging). He threw 49 of his 77 pitches for strikes.
In his four rehab appearances, two for Frisco and two for the RedHawks, Eaton has a 1.46 ERA in 12.1 innings, scattering 10 hits (.208 average) and three walks while setting 13 down on strikes. He will apparently start for Texas on Tuesday against the Yankees at Ameriquest Field. It stands to reason that Rheinecker will be optioned to Oklahoma, where he’ll slip into the rotation spot that Eaton vacates.
No Ranger player is finding his name in published trade rumors more than Kevin Mench, and it’s not all that close.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that Texas has been monitoring Philadelphia righthanders Jon Lieber and Cory Lidle and would be interested in Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Lee if the Brewers decide to shop him. Several stories suggest that Texas is among the clubs showing interest in corner infielder-DH Shea Hillenbrand, whom Toronto designated for assignment on Wednesday after the relationship between the player and the club had deteriorated to the point that a breakup was inevitable.
Brad Wilkerson says he expects to have surgery on his right (non-throwing) shoulder this off-season.
Edinson Volquez is two free passes short of having the highest walk total of any pitcher in the Pacific Coast League. (He trails former Ranger unsigned draftee Dennis Sarfate.) Thomas Diamond has walked the most hitters in the Texas League. Texas is placing Diamond on the disabled list with forearm tightness, though the organization doesn’t believe the injury is serious.
Get this: since the Rangers moved Nick Masset from the RedHawks rotation to the bullpen a week ago, he’s appeared three times, with these results: 5.2 scoreless innings, five hits, no walks, 10 strikeouts. As a AAA starter (and in one four-inning relief outing in his RedHawks debut in May), he’d walked 20 and fanned 39 in 44 innings.
Bakersfield catcher Justin Hatcher has landed on the disabled list with a thumb injury. Arizona League catcher Carlos Dominguez (.281/.304/.359) has been promoted to the Blaze to fill Hatcher’s roster spot.
Clinton third baseman Johnny Whittleman hasn’t played since Monday, when he homered twice in a 3 for 6 effort against Dayton.
Jose Canseco pitched a third of an inning in Tuesday’s Golden Baseball League All-Star Game, getting his one out on a grounder to third by former Ranger Desi Wilson (whom Texas traded to San Francisco [with Rich Aurilia for John Burkett the first time] 15 days after the club traded Canseco to Boston for Otis Nixon and Luis Ortiz). Canseco gave up four runs, the first of which was scored by former Ranger catcher Marcus Jensen (2001), who had doubled to greet Canseco.
Righthander David Elder has joined the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League for what’s at least his third stint with the club.
I’ll be on the Ticket with Greg Williams next Wednesday from 5:30 until 6:10. We’ll talk trade deadline and Rangers prospects, and we’ll take phone calls.
I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that we’ll have an actual trade to talk about.