THE NEWBERG REPORT — OCTOBER 28, 2006
For those of you who care about the promotions and hires made in the Rangers’ baseball operations and scouting departments this week — and I’ve learned in the last few days that there are a lot more of you than anyone would expect — you’ve probably already learned the basic facts about Don Welke, Kevin Bootay, Gary Rajsich, Mike Daly, Kip ****, and Barbara Pappenfus. A few extra tidbits about each that you might not have known:
Welke, hired as senior director of baseball operations, has been in the game for more than 40 years, including 1999 through 2004 with the Dodgers, a span within which A.J. Preller worked in baseball operations with that organization. Preller was hired by Texas in November 2004; Welke was brought here three months after that as an international crosschecker for his first stint with the Rangers, which lasted one season before Welke’s longtime sidekick Pat Gillick was hired in Philadelphia and brought him along. Shortly after Welke’s departure for the Phillies, Preller was promoted from manager of professional and international scouting to director of professional and international scouting.
Semantics aside, Preller’s importance in this organization has grown exponentially — he’s part of the three-headed team interviewing managerial candidates — and Welke returns in a more significant role than the one he left behind a year ago, as he will act as an advisor to Jon Daniels. Saying you want to make a bigger impact as an organization on the international market is one thing. Having the Welke-Preller duo back together for a third time to lead that charge is how you execute the plan.
Bootay, the Rangers’ new West Coast scouting supervisor, was the Rangers’ first-round pick in the January phase of the 1984 draft, 11th overall — seven spots after Rangers minor league catching coordinator Damon Berryhill, six spots after former Rangers outfielder Dave Martinez, and two spots after former Rangers scout Tim Fortugno. (Oddibe McDowell was the Rangers’ first pick in the June phase, 12th overall.) Bootay, who spent five years in the Rangers system as a .258-hitting outfielder who racked up more stolen bases (167) than RBI (157), was a product of Cerritos College, which also produced Rod Barajas, Danny Patterson, Craig Worthington, and Marcus Lemon’s dad, Chet.
Rajsich, whose brother Dave pitched in relief for the Rangers in 1979 and 1980, was purchased at the end of his own big league career in 1985 from St. Louis by the Chunichi Dragons, the club that just fell in the Japan Series to Trey Hillman’s Nippon Ham Fighters. Rajsich, who assumes a pro scouting job with the Rangers, spent the 1986 through 1988 seasons with Chunichi.
Daly, the new manager of scouting operations after working as an area scout with Cleveland, was an LSU teammate of former Rangers farmhand Brandon Larson. Daly’s final year at Louisiana State was 2000, the season before Laynce Nix and Nick Masset would have joined the Tigers had they not changed their plans.
****, the organization’s new national crosschecker, was an area scout with the Rangers from 1992 through 2000, responsible for the drafting and signing of Doug Davis, Rick Helling, and Colby Lewis, among many others. He was promoted to national crosschecker for the 2001 season when Tim Hallgren was elevated from that position to scouting director. When Grady Fuson arrived a year later, Hallgren was returned to the national crosschecker post, and **** became West Coast crosschecker, which is the position he held until this week’s promotion.
I first met Barbara Pappenfus in 2001, during the first Winter Carnival at which the Rangers invited the Newberg Report to have a presence, when she brought Jovanny Cedeno over to our booth and tried to facilitate a conversation between the 21-year-old righthander, who spoke no English, and me, who spoke no Spanish. Barbara, promoted to executive assistant to the general manager, is a great person, and has a great family, including a husband and a son who are both courageous fighters.
It’s beginning to look like it took a rule change to keep outfielder Ben Harrison off the 40-man roster this winter. As good a season as he had in 2006 between Bakersfield and Frisco, the run he’s on right now in Venezuela is simply unconscious.
Speaking of that rule change, I think I’ve got the details on the modification of Rule 5. While it’s clear that an extra year has been instituted before clubs must protect their draft picks on the 40-man roster, what wasn’t clear at first was when the trigger date was for calculating eligibility.
The old Rule 5 counted forward beginning with the effective season of the player’s first pro contract. Now it’s a bit more complicated.
The player’s Rule 5 clock starts with the player’s signing date — as long as the player signs before the regular season ends for the farm club to which he’s assigned. If he signs after the minor league regular season ends, his clock doesn’t begin until the following season.
To clarify, if a player signs on August 1, that December’s Rule 5 Draft will count towards the requirement of four or five before the player is eligible to be drafted. But if the player signs on October 1, that December’s draft will not count — the draft 14 months later will be the first that counts.
So, as I understand it, since Emerson Frostad signed his first contract with Texas on August 25, 2003, he’ll be eligible for this winter’s draft. Under the old Rule 5, Frostad would have been a first-time eligible this winter because his original contract was for the 2004 season (even though he signed it in August 2003), meaning the December 2006 draft would have be his third. But rather than have his eligibility pushed off a year like most first-time eligibles, he’ll actually be eligible this year anyway, because his sign date occurred during the 2003 season and thus the December 2006 draft will be counted as his fourth.
Of course, this distinction will become virtually meaningless in a few years, because starting in 2007 draftees will have to sign by August 15 (unless they are college seniors) or not at all. In other words, almost all players who sign will necessarily do so during the minor league season.
Peter Gammons suggests that Hillman might figure into the mix of candidates for Oakland’s managerial opening. From what we know about Hillman, he doesn’t seem to fit Billy Beane’s automaton profile, but when Gammons writes something that involves Beane, you can usually assume that Beane wanted it written, for whatever reason.
As I speculated yesterday, Hillman is almost a certainty to be a candidate in San Diego, where Grady Fuson is part of the leadership group. Padres general manager Kevin Towers has acknowledged that he’s formulated a list of seven or eight candidates — none of whom have big league managing experience. Bud Black evidently goes into the process with the tag of frontrunner.
Righthander Jesse Ingram pitched a scoreless inning in yesterday’s Arizona Fall League “Rising Stars Showcase” (the league’s equivalent of an All-Star Game), giving up a hit and recording one strikeout.
According to Baseball America, the Rangers have signed 29-year-old righthander Jose Vargas out of the Mexican League. The reliever went 6-4, 1.36 with 27 saves this season, permitting 61 hits and 26 walks in 73 innings while punching out 70 and allowing only one home run. Texas also signed righthander Ken Chenard, a former Mets farmhand who spent the 2006 season pitching for Winnipeg in the independent Northern League, going 3-3, 4.30 in six starts (24 hits and eight walks in 29.1 frames, with 37 strikeouts).
BA also notes that the Rangers re-signed righthander Michael Bumstead (1-2, 1.81 with five saves in 33 relief appearances for Frisco in 2006) and catcher Reese Creswell (.188 in 80 at-bats between Bakersfield and the Arizona League).
The North Shore Spirit of the independent Can-Am League traded outfielder Andrew Wishy to Worcester.
Anyone else getting the feeling that, maybe next to Jeff Suppan, there isn’t a free agent whose market is gaining more strength than Gary Matthews Jr.?
While, at least for the moment, it seems as if the Rangers will have the relatively uncontested ability to choose their next manager, the club’s opportunity to hang onto its top free agents isn’t going to be nearly that simple.
With the World Series over, a 15-day window has opened for eligible players to file for free agency. During that period, teams have the exclusive right to negotiate with their own players who have declared. But the Rangers’ top free agents — Matthews, Vicente Padilla, Carlos Lee, and Mark DeRosa — are almost sure to test the market starting two weeks from now, and perhaps for that reason, as much as any, Daniels will want to have his new manager in place by time open free agency begins.
It’s about to heat up.