THE NEWBERG REPORT — JANUARY 12, 2007
The Rangers loaded up for Daisuke Matsuzaka and Barry Zito and were in the final mix, only to be blown out of the water by the Red Sox and Giants. As a fallback Texas targeted Mark Mulder but couldn’t lure him from his 2006 club.
The Rangers wanted to keep Mark DeRosa but couldn’t offer him the playing time that the Cubs promised. As a fallback they went after Mark Loretta but ran into the same issue. Let’s face it: With the four infielders that Texas goes to war with, getting another DeRosa to choose to play here would be as tall an order as the Cowboys convincing a top-flight defensive coordinator to come in for what amounts to one secure season under a head coach who doesn’t give out much leash in the first place.
Failing to land one more stud starter or another dependable veteran bat might qualify as disappointing, but how great would it be if Josh Rupe or Kameron Loe on one hand, and Jason Botts on the other, allow us to look back on this the same way that we can now view the Cowboys’ decision not to trade Tony Romo to New Orleans for a mid-round pick?
There’s nothing wrong with opening up the fifth spot in the rotation, which can be skipped two or three times in April, to a competition among a group of young pitchers like Rupe and Loe and John Koronka and Edinson Volquez.
And definitely nothing wrong with giving Botts every chance to claim the right-handed half of the DH spot. It would have been one thing to bring in an impact, middle-of-the-lineup bat to fill that role. But short of that, might as well fill the utility infield spot with a guy like Jerry Hairston Jr. — because having your utility man capable of playing all over the outfield makes a lot more sense than trying to find one who can DH a third of the time. And that versatility theoretically means a guy like Botts can make the club even if he’d only be counted on as a platoon DH.
It’s sort of goofy how some people have responded negatively to the non-roster invite given last week to Hairston. If he weren’t linked (by the series of trades that got him here in the first place) to Chan Ho Park, nobody would pan the move. He’s made between $1.5 million and $2.3 million each of the last four seasons, is only 30 years old, and is here on a non-guaranteed deal. If used correctly and not overexposed, he can help.
Ramon Vazquez, Joaquin Arias, Drew Meyer, and Matt Kata all have shots at the utility role, but it would stand to reason that Hairston comes in as the frontrunner.
A couple stories have gotten this wrong lately: The Rangers no longer control lefthander Derek Lee, who tore through the Dominican Winter League with a 6-0, 1.80 regular season ERA and has a 1-0, 1.29 mark after two playoff appearances. The 32-year-old TCU product went 6-12, 4.26 for Oklahoma in 2006, but is now a free agent.
The Rangers have hired former Dodgers and Giants infielder Dave Anderson to replace Darryl Kennedy as Frisco manager. Since retiring in 1992, Anderson has managed in the Detroit farm system, coached at the University of Memphis, and served as the Dodgers’ minor league infielder coordinator.
Righthander John Thomson signed with Toronto. Pittsburgh gave righthander Kevin Gryboski a minor league contract. Righthander Esteban Yan signed with Japan’s Hanshin Tigers.
Cleveland designated righthander Brian Sikorski for assignment. Oakland released utility man Cameron Coughlan.
Boston named Bruce Crabbe its minor league infield coordinator and Mike Cather the pitching coach for AA Portland. The Angels hired Tom Gregorio to be their roving catching instructor. San Diego named Bob Skube the hitting coach for Low A Fort Wayne.
Catcher Jason Mann signed with the San Angelo Colts of the independent United League, and righthander Shawn Phillips signed with the Windy City Thunderbolts of the independent Frontier League. The Sussex SkyHawks of the independent Can-Am League released infielder Marcos Agramonte.
In 2007, the Rangers will start all June, July, and August home night games (roughly coinciding with the time that schools are out) at 7:35, rather than 7:05. The only day games during that stretch are scheduled for Saturday, June 23 against Houston (2:55 p.m.) and Sunday, July 8 against Baltimore (2:05, the final game before the All-Star Break).
A week from tomorrow (Saturday, January 20), the Rangers will hold a free hitting and pitching clinic at DBAT Baseball Academy of Dallas (at 15605 Wright Brothers, Addison, Texas 75011; 972-387-3228), from 4:30 until 6:30. Ian Kinsler, Wes Littleton, and Rick Bauer will be hand for the clinic and will sign autographs. There will also be club giveaways, and everyone who attends will get complimentary tickets to Fan Fest.
For the second straight year, the Rangers are giving the Newberg Report community a discount on tickets to the Dr Pepper Texas Rangers Sluggers of the West Awards Dinner, which is on Friday, January 26 at Eddie Deen’s Ranch in downtown Dallas, starting at 6:30 p.m.
The tickets are $50 to the public, but you can go for $40 if you call Jessica Beard at 817-273-5203 and tell her you’re part of the Newberg Report group.
We filled three tables (of 10 people each) at last year’s dinner, and I know a few of you have already taken advantage of the offer this year. Most (if not all) of the tables at the event will have Rangers players or other club representatives at them. Seating is limited, so the sooner you register, the better your chances of having a player at your table.
The organization will hand out awards for Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year at the dinner, and there will be special interviews with Mark Teixeira and Ron Washington during the program. Josh Lewin will co-host the event with Mike Doocy of Channel 4, and Eric Nadel, Victor Rojas, and Tom Grieve will also chip in. Net proceeds from the event benefit the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation.
Thanks to Chuck Morgan, Jim Sundberg, and Kate Jett for making this special deal available again this year to the Newberg Report community.
The Rangers are losing a really good guy and a master at his job. Manager of media relations Jeff Evans, a Seattle native, is leaving to join the Mariners public relations department.
Eleanor Czajka has put the transcript of Kat O’Brien’s chat session with the Newberg Report up.
As I mentioned a few days ago, the 2003 Bound Edition is no longer out of print. Although I’ve been out of stock of the book for nearly a year, I’ve found the files and will have 50 new copies of the book printed in a few days. It’s the largest of my eight books (just short of 400 pages), and features Mark Teixeira, Travis Hafner, and Laynce Nix on the front cover and C.J. Wilson and Ben Kozlowski on the back.
I’m selling the 2003 book for $15 a copy, which is less than my cost to print and ship it. (For the 15 of you who told me in the last few days that you want a copy, you may go ahead and send payment now if you’d like.)
A complete set of all eight Bound Editions — which I can now finally provide — is $115 (which is a $15 savings).
At some point today, the new and improved Newberg Report website will settle in. There’s a brand new look, lots of new features, and more functionality than ever.
I’d like to hear your feedback, whether you encounter any bugs or simply have comments or criticisms to share. My thanks to a number of people who put a lot of time and effort into the creation and beta-testing of the new site, most of all Don Titus of Dokati Interactive and Jason Rutherford of Rutherford Creative, Bob King, and Corey Elliott.
Give it a spin and let me know what you think.