THE NEWBERG REPORT — MARCH 14, 2007
On the same day that White Sox lefty John Danks continued his march toward a possible Opening Day rotation spot by earning a win against Texas with three innings of relief (two
runs, one earned, on two hits and a walk, with three strikeouts), the Rangers began a
three-week run of roster moves by transferring righthanders Edinson Volquez (option) and
Thomas Diamond (reassignment) to minor league camp.
Those events are completely unrelated of course – the Rangers believed Danks was ahead of
Volquez and Diamond when they agreed to ship him to Chicago along with righthander Nick
Masset in a deal for righthander Brandon McCarthy – it’s a sequence that’s sure to give the
papers and blogs a convenient lead for today’s camp stories.
None of this comes as a surprise. Danks is a better prospect than Gavin Floyd or Charlie
Haeger; the only question, as far as I’m concerned, was whether he’d claim a rotation spot
right away or not until sometime during the 2007 season. It’s looking like he may never see
As for Volquez and Diamond, the odds of either heading to Arlington in April were
astronomically slim, and we’re at the point of camp where starters are beginning to stretch
out and bullpen competitions are becoming more defined, which means the innings available
for pitchers who aren’t in the mix for the Opening Day staff are disappearing. Volquez and
Diamond need work – assuming Diamond’s elbow tendonitis allows him back on the mound – and
sending them across the complex to work with the AAA squad facilitates that.
Also optioned were righthander Armando Galarraga (two Cactus League innings) and lefthander
Daniel Haigwood (none), and along with Diamond the Rangers reassigned righthanders Eric
Hurley (one inning) and Jose Vargas (two) and lefthander Scott Rice (one).
Scary moment yesterday as Michael Young got drilled in the helmet by a Floyd delivery, an
offspeed pitch that clocked in at “only” 81 mph – but it was enough to force Young from the
game and to the hospital for stitches in his ear area, and that’s troubling. All
indications from the club are that it’s a minor thing, relatively, and that he’ll just miss
a few games, but if his equilibrium is affected even slightly, that’s anything but minor.
No more word on Nelson Cruz, who took a fastball to the helmet on Monday but whose hospital
tests were happily negative.
In Young’s absence, Joaquin Arias (6 for 14, no walks, one strikeout) is expected to make
his defensive debut today, possibly starting at shortstop.
Sammy Sosa, who originally signed with the Rangers out of the Dominican Republic before the
less-than-a-year-old Arias could walk (which puts a baseball joke squarely on the tee), is
hitting .464/.483/.821 and leading the club in spring average and slugging. I’m still
pulling for Jason Botts (.368/.400/.579) to force his way onto this roster, but Sosa and
Marlon Byrd (.375/.448/.542 and solid center field defense) aren’t letting up.
Interesting question from a reader: if the Angels are somehow able to void Gary Matthews
Jr.’s contract (highly unlikely), would the Rangers lose the 24th and 44th picks in the June
draft that they were awarded as compensation for losing Matthews to free agency? I would
guess not, since free agent acquisitions fall under the category of “buyers beware,” but
it’s a question worth looking into.
Primary minor league observation from yesterday: Righthander Fabio Castillo has gotten
bigger in the last year. Not Jose Marte big, but bigger, and in a good way. Pumped about
Minor league games kick off today. I should have a bunch more prospect notes for you
Hopefully not including news of any more pitches to the head.