THE NEWBERG REPORT — OCTOBER 7, 2006

From the Newberg Report, four years and three days ago, regarding the Rangers’ last managerial opening:

“The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Dallas Morning News don’t agree on all the primary candidates (they both identify [Trey] Hillman, Buck Showalter, and DeMarlo Hale, but the Star-Telegram adds Ken Macha, Buddy Bell, and Terry Francona, and the News makes Jim Fregosi a strong candidate), but the Star-Telegram in particular suggests that Hillman has knocked some important socks off in the Ranger front office. The interesting thing about this situation is that Tom Hicks may want a theoretical ticket draw like Showalter, while the baseball operations people (headed by Grady Fuson) may be in favor of Hillman — whose background is intriguingly similar to the one Showalter had when George Steinbrenner stunned the baseball world in 1992 by making the then-35-year-old the replacement for Stump Merrill as Yankee manager.

“Hillman, I think, is the right choice here, for a load of reasons that I won’t get into now (many of which are obvious, anyway). The question, even if the organization agrees, is whether the Nippon Ham Fighters present an obstacle, and if so, whether it is one that can be overcome.”

I love the idea of Hillman here. All I hope is that he gets an interview, and we’ll see where it goes from there. I’m a Don Wakamatsu fan as well, but I recognize that my sense of whether either of them would make a good Texas Rangers manager, or whether Ron Washington or Rudy Jaramillo or Bud Black or DeMarlo Hale or Bobby Jones would, is limited. It’s limited because there’s no real sample to judge off of for any of them, and it’s limited because I don’t know enough about the dynamic in the clubhouse to know what type of manager would work best, or to know which candidate best fits that profile.

I have my guesses, but they’re just guesses, and as a fan my trust is in Jon Daniels to know far better what hire makes sense and to get the right guy in here. If that’s Hillman, or Wakamatsu, or Washington or Jaramillo or Hale, fine. Whatever Daniels thinks. I’m just rooting at this point for Hillman to get a chance.

Daniels told Kat O’Brien of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the primary quality he’s seeking is the ability to manage people, which is to say, “to cultivate a positive and winning environment; facilitate trust with the players; keep players motivated for 162 games, which is easier said than done; [and] be a spokesman for the organization.” In-game management is important to Daniels, but “X’s and O’s [are] behind the managing people factor,” which, as he described it to the Star-Telegram’s Jim Reeves, can also be summed up as “set[ting] the tone for the club.”

O’Brien wrote yesterday that the Japanese press was reporting that Hillman had “an under-the-table agreement to manage the Rangers,” a story that Hillman denied, adding that he hadn’t spoken to Texas about the job opening. T.R. Sullivan noted in his blog on MLB.com, however, that the Rangers had “already reached out to” Hillman, who asked that the club hang tight until after his Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters squad is finished with the Japanese Pacific League playoffs.

The Fighters, awaiting the winner of the current series between the Seibu Lions and the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, won’t start their series until October 11.

This morning’s Japan Times reports that Hillman held a press conference yesterday to quash the Texas rumors, saying: “There have been reports that I was offered the job, that I have taken the job, and they are not true. One Japanese report said something about a secret under-the-table deal, and there is no substance to it.” He added that he wouldn’t answer any more questions about his managerial future after yesterday.

But keep this in mind: the University of Texas at Arlington product, who was the Rangers’ director of player development in 2002 after 12 years managing in the Yankees farm system, has called managing the Rangers his “dream job.”

And if you’re concerned that he might not get as fair a shake as you’d like because his champion here was Fuson, recognize two things: Daniels would never hold that against him, and more importantly, Daniels and Hillman were actually here at the same time. Hillman was with the Rangers from November 2001 until October 2002. Daniels arrived in January 2002. He was an assistant in the baseball operations department here when Hillman interviewed for the managerial post, just before leaving for Japan.

Daniels doesn’t need to go on word of mouth as far as Hillman is concerned.

Reports this morning indicate that Daniels intends to settle on a list of five or six candidates soon so the club can begin interviews, narrow the list to two or three and bring Tom Hicks into the process, and ideally have a decision made within “a couple weeks,” though that could be extended if a key candidate remains involved in the post-season.

Presumably that isn’t limited to the Major League post-season.

Alex Rodriguez in the 2005 and 2006 playoff: 3 for 26 with one double, which equates to a batting average of .115 and a slugging percentage of .154.

(Ugly apparition, God’s gift to oxygen
The puffed up immortal son
How they love him ’cause he’ll become
The ghost at number one.

How does it feel
To be the only one?
How does it feel
To be the only one that knows that you’re right?
How does it feel
To be a chalkline dollar sign?
How does it feel
Up at the address all the widows write?

– Jellyfish, “The Ghost at Number One”)

I’m enjoying A-Rod’s struggles colossally, but with one nagging worry: I don’t want him to play himself into a trade to the Angels.

I wish Kenny Rogers was still pitching to Pudge Rodriguez here. Got freakin’ chills when Jim Leyland left him on the mound after his first eighth-inning visit. That’s one of those games that gets sold short by the box score — you had to see it to fully appreciate what an extraordinary game Rogers pitched.

I don’t remember ever being happier about a baseball game not involving the Rangers than I was last night.

Gary Matthews Jr. is doing good work on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.”

D’Angelo Jimenez is now a key component in Oakland’s post-season push, following the broken finger second baseman Mark Ellis suffered on Wednesday.

Milwaukee exercised Francisco Cordero’s $5.4 million option for 2007. The way he pitched for the Brewers, that wasn’t much of a surprise. The bigger mystery is whether the club will tender arbitration-eligible Kevin Mench.

Washington released righthander Ryan Drese, who pitched 68.1 innings in the year and a half since the Nationals claimed him off waivers from Texas. He’ll be out until late in the 2007 season after Tommy John surgery.

The White Sox outrighted righthander Agustin Montero to AAA. Cincinnati outrighted lefthander Chris Michalak to AAA.

Atlanta dismissed bench coach Pat Corrales, the former Rangers manager, and replaced him with Chino Cadahia, a former Rangers minor league manager. Cadahia, a onetime minor league catcher, is credited with nicknaming Pudge when the prodigy first arrived stateside from Puerto Rico.

Texas reached an agreement with Clinton to keep the LumberKings in place as the club’s Low A affiliate for the next two years. The entire chain of farm clubs remains intact.

Gerry Fraley’s final article for the Dallas Morning News was titled, “Hey UT, why the bully act?” So much irony in those final four words, even though Fraley probably didn’t pen the headline himself.

From new Morning News general columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor, who was recently elevated to the gig from the Cowboys beat: “No one obsesses over the Rangers.”

Ahem.

Taylor continues: “There’s no passion for a team that has one playoff win in 35 years and hasn’t been to the postseason since 1999. If the Rangers disappeared today, would anyone circulate a petition to bring them back? Would anyone sign it?”

The Morning News takes you for granted. No, that’s not true. The Morning News disrespects you.

By the way, if you doubt how realistic it would be for Trey Hillman to want to leave Japan and come home to manage the team that you have a passion for, read the following chat session we had with him in late October 2002, after he’d taken the Fighters job:

http://www.dickiethon.com/newberg/trey_hillman.htm

Thanks to Eleanor Czajka for hanging onto the transcript.

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

1 Comment

Thanks for the comment about Taylor. I had not seen an articule from him before. I e-mailed him and told him I would be glad to sign Roy Mercer

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