November 2006

THE NEWBERG REPORT — NOVEMBER 4, 2006

I’ve got time for a quick update, and here are the most important things I can tell you:

On the managerial front, the Rangers are bringing Oakland third base coach Ron Washington in for a second interview with Jon Daniels and Thad Levine tomorrow, with Tom Hicks participating this time, as he did for part of the Don Wakamatsu and Trey Hillman interviews. It’s expected to be the final candidate visit before the organization makes its decision on who will replace Buck Showalter.

According to local reports, Wakamatsu, Hillman, and Washington are the three finalists (meaning Manny Acta and John Russell have been ruled out), and a decision could be announced as early as Monday. In any event, Daniels says the situation should be resolved within the week.

That timetable has made sense all along, as free agency opens on November 12, and eliminating the question mark at manager seems like the correct thing to do before that phase of the off-season arrives.

There are also reports that the Rangers intend to submit a sealed bid for the right to negotiate with Japanese righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka before Wednesday afternoon’s deadline to do so. It’s expected that the prevailing bid will exceed $20 million.

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

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS PLUS — NOVEMBER 2, 2006

According to wire reports, the Seibu Lions posted righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka on Thursday. Interested MLB teams accordingly have until 5 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday to submit blind bids. The high bid — expected to be over $20 million — merely secures the exclusive right to negotiate with the 26-year-old, whose agent is Scott Boras.

The Rangers are rumored to be among the interested teams.

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

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS — NOVEMBER 2, 2006

So I’m sitting here eating lunch and flipping through some webpages, and I land on www.BaseballAmerica.com, whose lead story is teased as follows:

“If the high school class of 2006 was less than impressive, no one is making the same complaints about next year’s draft class. As the World Wood Bat Championship showed there are plenty of talented arms and a number of intriguing bats in what is shaping up as one of the best high school classes in years.”

Prediction: Assuming the newly modified CBA doesn’t change materially when it expires, the Rangers are going to have some very, very difficult 40-man roster decisions to make in November 2011, maybe more so than any team in baseball. Either that, or Jon Daniels is going to be able to make a blockbuster trade or two in 2009 and 2010. And I mean blockbusters.

Or, more likely, both.

Of course, Max will be older then than Erica is now, which I can’t even imagine.

So I think I’m gonna go back to eating my lunch.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — NOVEMBER 2, 2006

The Rangers aren’t commenting on the managerial search (as they shouldn’t), but here’s what we know based on what the press is reporting.

Trey Hillman met with the Rangers for nearly 10 hours on Tuesday, interviewing with Jon Daniels and Thad Levine during the afternoon, meeting with Daniels, Levine, Tom Hicks, and Tom Hicks Jr. in the evening, and getting a late dinner with Daniels and Levine, before flying out yesterday morning to Oakland (after several hours of delay due to mechanical issues with the plane, according to USA Today) for an interview with the A’s. Hillman will interview with San Diego today and fly back to Japan tomorrow.

Don Wakamatsu had his formal interview with the Rangers yesterday, becoming the fifth and final candidate (following Ron Washington, John Russell, Manny Acta, and Hillman) to visit with club officials about the position. Wakamatsu spent five hours with Daniels and another two with Hicks.

New senior director of baseball operations Don Welke traveled last Thursday to Washington’s hometown of New Orleans for a follow-up visit, suggesting the Oakland third base coach may be in line for a second-round interview. Washington met with the A’s on Tuesday to interview for their own managerial opening, and Acta will interview with Oakland after he returns from MLB’s Japan tour on November 12. Orel Hershiser will interview with Oakland on November 8, and if Wakamatsu hasn’t been hired by Texas, he is expected to visit with the A’s at some point as well.

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson, who gave A’s GM Billy Beane (and obviously his own boss, San Diego GM Kevin Towers) a glowing recommendation of Hillman, said of the Rangers’ 2002 director of player development, whom he hired four weeks after arriving in Texas himself: “That was a key hire for me, and Trey was the whole package. The minute I interviewed him, it was a done deal — and for me to hire someone I didn’t know in that job was a big deal. But Trey’s personality, people skills, planning ability, attention to detail — it would be hard to find better. He’s someone who makes sure things get done.”

Hillman himself added, with regard to Fuson, whom he hadn’t met before joining the Rangers: “He was like my brother, not like my boss, we bonded so quickly.”

As it turns out, Hillman is interviewing with the three organizations that Fuson has worked for. It’s probably not a coincidence.

Japan’s Daisuke Matsuzaka held a press conference yesterday, announcing that his club, the Seibu Lions, has agreed to post the 26-year-old, permitting all 30 Major League clubs to submit blind bids for the right to negotiate with him.

The first day on which a Japanese club could post one of its players was yesterday. At some point Seibu will notify the MLB Commissioner’s Office that it wishes to post Matsuzaka — that could take place today. MLB will then distribute official notice to the 30 big league clubs announcing the post date. As of the post date, clubs will have 72 hours to submit a blind bid for the righthander. After the 72-hour window expires, the club that submitted the highest bid will be awarded the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka.

That club will then have 30 days to make a deal with Matsuzaka and his agent, Scott Boras. If an agreement is reached, the bid money goes to Seibu as a transfer fee. If talks break down and the club doesn’t sign Matsuzaka, the Lions must return the bid money to the MLB club, and Matsuzaka won’t be able to be reposted for another year.

If the Boras part scares you, think about this: the leverage won’t belong to him and his client. The MLB club that secures the posting rights won’t be bidding against any other MLB club, and since Seibu decided to enter this process, you can guess that when presented with a bid, say, in the $20-25 million range, the Lions won’t be in a mood to forfeit that fee back to the MLB club and end up with a disappointed Matsuzaka back on their hands instead. Given the likelihood that he’d leave Seibu when he’s a Japanese free agent a year and a half from now (three weeks into the 2008 season), yielding no compensation for the Lions, it’s safe to assume that Seibu is counting on the posting fee at this point, and not the player.

But leverage or no leverage, that doesn’t mean Boras won’t land for Matsuzaka the largest contract that any free agent pitcher gets this winter.

The highest posting bid ever made was the $13.1 million that Seattle put up in order to negotiate with Ichiro Suzuki before the 2001 season. Almost all reports suggest it will take a significantly higher bid to land the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka.

Interestingly, the Mariners have publicly confirmed that they don’t plan to get in on the Matsuzaka bidding, and there are reports that the Angels are also staying out of it. There’s even a story suggesting the Yankees won’t bid more than $20 million, but that sounds like something New York might be planting in an attempt to suppress bids from their competition.

Texas is reportedly interested in two Japanese pitchers other than Matsuzaka as well: 27-year-old Hanshin Tigers lefthander Kei Igawa, who led the Central League with 193 strikeouts (his third whiff title), and 31-year-old free agent righthander Hiroki Kuroda, who led the league with a 1.85 ERA while with the Hiroshima Carp.

Major league free agents can’t negotiate on the open market before November 12, but don’t expect Gary Matthews Jr., Vicente Padilla, or Mark DeRosa to re-sign with Texas before then.

It’s far more likely that the Rangers will have a new manager by the 12th.

T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com suggests that Mike Piazza, whose 2007 option was not picked up by the Padres, might be a good fit for the Rangers, who could have him DH most days and catch once or twice a week (though Texas would presumably have a third catcher on the roster as well).

Piazza is a Type A free agent, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, but it’s doubtful that San Diego would offer him arbitration.

Among the pitchers classified as Type B’s are Ted Lilly, Jeff Weaver, Mark Mulder, and Gil Meche. Under the modified CBA, if the Rangers were to sign any of them, they wouldn’t forfeit a pick; instead, the 2006 club for the player in question will get a sandwich pick between rounds one and two if the club offers arbitration and the player signs elsewhere.

Unfortunately, Padilla and DeRosa are Type B’s as well, meaning there will similarly be no compensation disincentive for any team to negotiate with them. Same with Rod Barajas. Carlos Lee, like Matthews, is a Type A.

Adam Eaton is a Type C, meaning there’s no compensation tied to him. His equivalent in the National League is lefthander Randy Wolf, who missed the first two-thirds of the season after elbow surgery but has some upside.

There are reports that Texas is interested in outfielder Luis Gonzalez, who is a Type A. David Dellucci is a Type A as well, as is Barry Bonds, in whom the Rangers might have some interest, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports that the White Sox “could take a shot at All-Star shortstop Michael Young as part of a major deal.” That’s not happening. Of more interest in the story is the comment that Chicago has “thoroughly scouted Texas pitching prospects Edison [sic] Volquez, John Danks, Thomas Diamond, Nick Masset and Eric Hurley, and preliminary talks last November broke down when the Rangers were unwilling to part with Danks or Diamond in a multiplayer trade.”

Fascinating. I went back to see what I’d written about the White Sox last November, and all I could find that would conceivably fit was this: “Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the White Sox are shopping righthander Freddy Garcia, with plans to replace him in the rotation with righthander Brandon McCarthy.”

Baseball America has put together a 2006 Draft All-Star Team, based on pro performance and level of competition, featuring a lineup of nine, plus five pitchers. Three of the 14 players are Rangers: Spokane catcher Chad Tracy (third round) and first baseman Chris Davis (fifth round) were considered to have had the best rookie seasons of any 2006 draft pick at their positions, and lefthander Danny Ray Herrera (45th round) was one of the five hurlers.

In the category of best pro debuts among junior college players drafted in 2006, BA determined that nobody in baseball was better than Davis, and that no Day Two pick (rounds 21 and later) had a better debut than Herrera. Shortstop Marcus Lemon (fourth round) was judged to be the number four defensive player to come out of the draft.

Outfielder Nelson Cruz has heated up for Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League, lifting his numbers to .303/.425/.545 in 33 at-bats. Outfielder Ben Harrison is hitting .383/.486/.633 in 60 at-bats for Caribes de Oriente in the Venezuelan Winter League. Outfielder John Mayberry Jr. sits at .318/.388/.545 in 44 West Oahu CaneFires at-bats in the Hawaii Winter Baseball League. Lefthander A.J. Murray, unquestionably making an impression after missing the entire 2006 season, is 3-1, 1.88 in seven Arizona Fall League appearances, allowing 15 hits and five walks in 14.1 innings while fanning 12. No prospect has taken him deep.

And maybe most significantly, righthander Nick Masset continues to flourish in the closer’s role for Venados de Mazatlan in the Mexican Pacific League, with seven saves — and seven scoreless appearances — in eight trips to the mound. In eight innings, the 24-year-old has scattered seven hits and one walk while punching out 10.

Don Mattingly, who was both Michael Young’s and Mark Teixeira’s favorite player growing up, was elevated by the Yankees from hitting coach to bench coach, adding further punch to his candidacy to be Joe Torre’s eventual successor.

Tucker Matthew Rupe was born to April and Josh yesterday, weighing in at seven pounds, four ounces, and measuring 20 inches.

Vote for Mark Holtz — or Eric Nadel, Tom Grieve, John Lewin, Norm Hitzges, Steve Busby, or anyone else — for the 2007 Ford C. Frick Award, recognizing excellence in baseball broadcasting. And vote often.

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

2007 BOUND EDITION OF THE NEWBERG REPORT

I’m now taking preorders for the 2007 Bound Edition of the Newberg Report, my eighth annual book on the Texas Rangers. It’s more than 300 pages commemorating the 2006 season, beginning with the hiring of Jon Daniels and the Winter Meetings and telling the story of the baseball season that culminated with the dismissal of Buck Showalter, as well as a primer on what you can expect from this organization for years to come. Nowhere can you find more information and analysis on the players that the Rangers are developing as future members of the major league team and, in some cases, as ammunition to trade for veterans brought in to join the core of the club.

Nearly 600 of you on this mailing list are past customers of the Bound Edition, but for those of you who are relatively new to the Newberg Report and may not be aware that I publish a book each year, here are the details on this year’s Bound Edition:

THE FEATURES

The book picks up right where the 2005 Bound Edition left off, with Tom Hicks’s decision to hire the youngest general manager in Major League Baseball, and the unfolding of the Rangers off-season that featured several major trades (and one, for Josh Beckett, that nearly trumped them all) and the signing of Kevin Millwood. What followed was a season that, for several reasons and on several levels, was disappointing, and it led to the decision to make a change at manager going into a crucial winter in which a number of key veterans would be free agents, and the core of the Rangers club was in its prime. The Bound Edition is the most thorough chronicle you’ll find of the twists and turns that the 2006 season took, and of the implications of the front office moves that preceded and followed it.

The 2007 Bound Edition contains every report I wrote from November 2005 until the day in October 2006 when Showalter was fired. It’s a complete record of the Rangers’ 2006 season, complete with a feature section comprised of more than 60 pages of new material that won’t ever appear on the website or in any e-mail deliveries and including more prospect evaluations than ever before.

Included in that bonus material will be the return of the Newberg Report Awards, including top ten rankings (with player evaluations and commentary) for Full-Season Player of the Year in the Rangers farm system, Full-Season Starting Pitcher of the Year, and Full-Season Relief Pitcher of the Year, as well as rankings for Short-Season Player of the Year, Short-Season Starting Pitcher of the Year, and Short-Season Relief Pitcher of the Year. Each list also contains a retrospective look at who I ranked in each category five years ago, when players like Hank Blalock and Travis Hafner and C.J. Wilson were still in the lower levels of the Rangers’ farm system.

The “Poised” lists of the 10 position players and 10 pitchers that I’m predicting breakout years for in 2007 are back, as is the popular “40-Man Roster Conundrum” chapter, in which I look at the roster decisions facing the organization this winter plus an explanation of how the Rule 5 Draft works, and my own ranking of the top 72 prospects in the Rangers system. There’s also a batch of additional top 5 and top 10 lists that range all over the place, such as the best moves Texas made in 2006 and the most disappointing, the biggest breakthroughs in the organization, both on the big league level and on the farm, biggest disappointments of the year, the best defensive players in the system, and lots more.

Based on your feedback, I’ve put the Transactions Hornbook back in the book, giving you one place to go to learn, in great detail, how baseball’s rules work, with sections on waivers, options, outright assignments, arbitration, the amateur draft and the Rule 5 Draft, and a bunch more.

The book contains season-ending statistics for every player who appeared with the Rangers’ big league club, all six minor league affiliates, and the Dominican Summer League in 2006, plus a full rundown of the Rangers’ 2006 draft.

The forewords for the 2006 Bound Edition were written by Rangers lefthander C.J. Wilson, Lorrie Masset (mother of Rangers righthander Nick Masset), and Alan Schlact (father of Rangers minor league righthander Michael Schlact), with a common theme: the long road that faces every player brought into a Major League organization to get to the big leagues, and how the Newberg Report helps you follow the players along that path.

The front and back cover once again features action photographs – taken by some of the best photographers in the business – of a number of the Rangers’ top players, both in the big leagues and in the farm system, perfect for autographs. I don’t want to reveal too much more about the cover yet, but I’m really pumped about this one.

THE PRICE

Keeping my promise never to increase the cost of the book again, the 2007 Bound Edition is $25.00.

Because I have to front the costs, if you plan to buy copies of the book I would appreciate it if you’re able to send payment now.

As we’ve always done, there is a discount if you pay now. If you pay for your order by November 15, I will waive the standard $2-per-book shipping charges. Accordingly, the book will cost you only $23 if you pay by November 15, either by (1) check or money order, or (2) credit card through http://www.PayPal.com. Since sales of the book have increased each year, it’s easier on me if I know right away about how many to have the printer generate for the first run. The books should be ready for delivery by the second week of December at the latest, in time to help you not only stock your own reference shelf or coffee table but also fill Christmas and Chanukah lists for your friends and family. And as we’ve done the past two years, we’ll have a book release party with Rangers guests in attendance.

I know the $2 discount isn’t much, but I don’t have much of a margin to deal with.

I also have all the previous editions of the Bound Edition for sale, with the exception of the 2003 book, which I’m out of at the moment. The price breakdown is as follows:

2007 Bound Edition – $25 (but $23 if you pay by November 15)
2006 Bound Edition – $20
2005 Bound Edition – $15
2004 Bound Edition – $15
2003 Bound Edition – SOLD OUT
2002 Bound Edition – $15
2001 Bound Edition – $15
2000 Bound Edition – $10

SPECIALS

1. Again, if you pay by November 15, the price of the 2007 Bound Edition is reduced from $25 to $23.

2. A gift set of all seven available Bound Editions (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007) is available for $100, which is a $15 discount.

ORDERING

For those who are in a position to pay now, I’d appreciate it. You can order by credit card through PayPal (more on that in a moment) or you can send a check or money order in whatever amount your order comes to, payable to “Jamey Newberg,” at:

Jamey Newberg
Vial, Hamilton, Koch & Knox
1700 Pacific Avenue, Suite 2800
Dallas, TX 75201

In addition to your check or money order, please make sure I have your mailing address, and specify how many of each book you want.

Ordering by credit card through PayPal is very easy. Just go to http://www.paypal.com, select the “Send money” option, and type in gjsneaker@sbcglobal.net where it asks for the e-mail account (and again, make sure you identify exactly what years of the Bound Edition you want, so I know exactly what to ship to you).

If PayPal is new to you, signing up is extremely user-friendly, costs you nothing, and is completely secure. Go to Paypal.com and follow the simple instructions.

For inventory and printing purposes, I would appreciate it if you would respond to this e-mail and let me know how many copies of the books you plan to order, whether you’re sending payment to me immediately or not.

TO SUM UP

I want you to know how much I appreciate the level of support you all have given me in every phase of the Newberg Report. Your support in the form of buying the Bound Edition is a concrete way to sustain it. If you have questions about the book, I encourage you to ask me.

Again, here’s the drill:

1. E-mail me at gjsneaker@sbcglobal.net and let me know what you plan to order, even if tentatively (please do this whether you are taking advantage of the early discount or instead plan to pay later on).

2. Send payment by check or money order to:

Jamey Newberg
Vial, Hamilton, Koch & Knox
1700 Pacific Avenue, Suite 2800
Dallas, TX 75201

3. Or pay by credit card at www.PayPal.com, sending it to the gjsneaker@sbcglobal.net account.

Thanks again for your continued support of the Newberg Report.

Jamey Newberg
www.NewbergReport.com

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

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