THE NEWBERG REPORT — AUGUST 28, 2006

With the way things have gone lately, I would have never guessed, without checking, that Texas has won as many games in August — 15 — as in any month all season. And there are still three games to go in the month, starting tomorrow in Baltimore.

After that, Texas will be able to expand its active roster, and the club will evaluate potential additions based on two factors: whether they can help the club now, and whether being in the big leagues will serve to help their development. The club will reportedly add between three and seven players.

Righthanders Nick Masset and Scott Feldman will almost surely be back to fortify the bullpen (with Feldman serving his six-game suspension upon his return), lefthanders John Koronka and John Rheinecker are possibilities, and Frankie Francisco has a good shot. Media reports suggest Kameron Loe might be shut down for the year rather than brought back, while John Danks and Thomas Diamond almost certainly won’t come up.

Texas will likely add a third catcher, either Miguel Ojeda or Jamie Burke, which will mean that someone will have to be removed from the 40-man roster. (Easy enough: Brad Wilkerson can be moved to the 60-day disabled list.)

There are two infielders on the 40-man roster who aren’t in the big leagues, though neither shortstop Joaquin Arias nor utility man Drew Meyer is a lock to come up. Outfielder Jason Botts, back in action in Surprise as he rehabilitates from surgery for a broken hamate bone in his right hand, could return once he’s deemed fully healthy, and outfielder Freddy Guzman could come back as well.

Infielder/outfielder Eric Young is already up, having been purchased on Friday after hitting .222/.364/.519 in 27 at-bats over nine Oklahoma games (five of his six hits went for extra bases). Masset was optioned to make room for Young, though as noted above, he should return to the bullpen in September.

The latest edition of my "Going Deep" column, which will be posted on TexasRangers.com sometime today, focuses on Young and why it wasn’t necessary, despite what you’ve read in the papers over the last week, for Young to be up by August 31 in order to be playoff-eligible.

Outfielder Carlos Lee, days after announcing that he’d left agent Adam Katz to hook up with Scott Boras, retreated and said he’s staying with Katz.

Doctors will examine righthander Kip Wells’s sprained left foot today, which should clarify whether he’s got a chance to return to the rotation sometime in September or if surgery is instead a possibility.

Turns out Wilkerson had a tear in his rotator cuff (right shoulder) with no damage to his biceps tendon. Following last Tuesday’s surgery, he’s already begun a rehab program that he believes will have him ready to go by spring training. He’s remaining with the team until it departs for its final road trip of the season.

One of the biggest disappointments of the season for me has been the Rangers’ decision to trade Fabio Castro. My disappointment grows. Castro has now pitched 10 times for Philadelphia, and the numbers are sick. In 17.1 innings, the small lefty has yet to allow a run. Even the two runners he’s inherited have failed to score. He’s allowed just five hits (.093/.140/.148) and fanned eight. He’s coaxed as many double plays (two) as he’s issued walks.

And he’s a 21-year-old lefthander who throws in the low 90s.

Who has the bigger swing arc, Matt Stairs or Justin Morneau? Does anyone else in the league even come close?

And what does the fact that Stairs and Morneau are both Canadian have to do with it?

The Rangers are sending righthanders Jesse Ingram and Danny Touchet, catcher Kevin Richardson, third baseman Travis Metcalf, and outfielder Anthony Webster to play for the Grand Canyon Rafters in the Arizona Fall League, with two more pitching slots to fill. Clinton manager Andy Fox will be the bench coach for the Rafters, whose roster also includes Pirates reliever Jesse Chavez, the righthander that the Rangers shipped to the Pirates for Wells last month.

Don’t count on Frisco righthander Eric Hurley filling one of the remaining AFL spots. He hasn’t pitched in a week and a half due to a strained oblique muscle, and having thrown nearly 140 innings, I’d be surprised if the Rangers extended his second full pro season beyond the RoughRiders’ schedule. Hurley, who turned 21 earlier this month, is also within a month or two of becoming a father.

Make sure to read Mike Hindman’s outstanding analysis of Hurley and Danks, the Rangers’ top two prospects.

Frisco first baseman Nate Gold had most of the day off in Frisco’s tilt with San Antonio last night, but he entered the game defensively in the eighth and, in the bottom of the frame, saw one pitch. He deposited it in the left field seats, his Texas League-leading 32nd bomb of the year. Gold has driven in 97 runs and is hitting .285/.371/.570, giving him an OPS of .941 that trails only Royals uberprospect Alex Gordon. The five hitters chasing Gold in the league’s home run race have between 104 and 149 strikeouts apiece. Gold has 83.

Bakersfield outfielder Brandon Boggs (.261/.352/.444) landed on the disabled list with a separated shoulder.

Rangers vice president of marketing and in-park entertainment Chuck Morgan worked his 1,900th consecutive Major League game on Saturday, dating back to 1983.

The Rangers struck four-year extensions with Oklahoma and Bakersfield to keep them in place as the club’s AAA and High A affiliates.

Boston purchased the contract of righthander Bryan Corey, two weeks after designating him for assignment and re-signing him to a minor league deal. Detroit recalled righthander Colby Lewis for a second stint, this one lasting six days. Washington designated righthander Travis Hughes for assignment and purchased the contract of righthander Kevin Gryboski.

In Baseball America’s ranking of the top 30 prospects in the Cape Cod League this summer, number nine was righthander Shooter Hunt, who was the Rangers’ 34th-round pick in 2005 out of a New Jersey high school. Hunt, who was projected to go as high as the fifth or sixth round but fell because of what was perceived to be a solid commitment to the University of Virginia, posted a 4.72 ERA in 34.1 innings as a Cavalier freshman before deciding to transfer to Tulane for the 2007 season.

But in the meantime, he led the Cape in strikeouts with 54 in 40 frames this summer, holding opponents in the prospect league to a .147 batting average. BA suggested that if Hunt can improve his changeup and his control, his power assortment (which includes a devastating curve) could make him a first-round pick in 2008.

Lloyd Christmas: "What are the chances of a guy like you and a girl like me . . . ending up together?"

Mary Swanson: "Well, that’s pretty difficult to say."

Lloyd: "Hit me with it! I’ve come a long way to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?"

Mary: "Not good."

Lloyd: "You mean, not good, like one out of a hundred?"

Mary: "I’d say more like one out of a million."

[Pause.]

Lloyd: "So you’re telling me there’s a chance! Yeah!"

Bring on Baltimore.

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

1 Comment

Castro is gone and Joaquin Benoit is still here. And that has accomplished what? Huge mistake

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