June 2007

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 30, 2007

You know what I’m terrible at? Really, really awful at?

I have an unspeakably difficult time watching Jamey Wright pitch.

Nothing wrong with that 5.0-6-2-2-3-3 line, but I’m talking about actually watching him do his thing. Next time he’s on the mound I think I’ll just listen until he’s chased, then flip the set on after that.

Wright, for me, is the anti-David Cone. I’d go watch Cone pitch if I heard he was throwing batting practice to his kid’s Little League team. Maybe even his grandkid’s.

Tyler Kepner of the New York Times reports that “[t]he Yankees are no longer interested in trading for [Mark] Teixeira,” because they’re not willing to make a competitive offer.

I don’t know what Kepner’s reputation is, though he obviously writes for a reputable publication, maybe the most reputable one in the business. But ask yourself this: Who told Kepner that about the Yankees’ game plan? If your answer is New York general manager Brian Cashman, why do you think Cashman would share that comment with someone he knew would then put it in print?

If it was someone else affiliated with the Yankees, how smart would it be for that person to reveal something like that without Cashman’s approval?

Or maybe it was with Cashman’s approval.

Or even at his direction.

It’s to the point at which the list of teams interested in Eric Gagné and/or Akinori Otsuka is longer than the list of teams that are not.

Rob Bradford of the Boston Herald reports that Boston is not one of the 12 designated teams that Gagné would contractually permit a trade to. But as we’ve discussed, that really not that great an impediment.

Frisco righthander Edinson Volquez was activated from the disabled list after missing two starts due to a blister, but his work last night was brief. After rain delayed the start of the game 14 minutes, Volquez walked the first two Arkansas batters and had two strikes on the third before rain once again halted play (for 90 minutes) and ended Volquez’s night. The RoughRiders and Travelers were scoreless in the 10th when the skies reopened, and the game was suspended. It will be resumed when Frisco travels to Arkansas in a week.

Bakersfield third baseman Chris Davis in April, in his first month in High A, having skipped Low A altogether: .244/.277/.558.

Davis in May: .276/.339/.495.

Davis thus far in June: .337/.361/.652.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the Longview product went 8 for 10 with a double, four home runs, and 11 RBI. He’s up to .286/.327/.565 for the year, riding a 19-game hit streak.

California League pitchers aren’t thrilled to see outfielder Ben Harrison back in a Blaze uniform. Harrison struggled at Frisco on his return from off-season shoulder surgery (.160/.300/.280 in eight games) but has been on a tear since a reassignment to Bakersfield followed another couple weeks on the disabled list. He has hits in all eight of his Blaze games, going deep three times with eight RBI and a line of .385/.500/.846.

Harrison proved in 2006 that the Cal League was no match for him (.293/.397/.520, 18 homers and 74 RBI in 87 games) and the Texas League didn’t get much of a reprieve (.282/.341/.491). He should be back in Frisco sometime this summer.

Bakersfield lefthander Glenn Swanson needs Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. Swanson, signed as a 49th-round draft-and-follow fifth-year senior in 2006, went 1-1, 3.43 in 21 relief appearances between Spokane and Clinton last summer, but had really broken through this spring. In seven LumberKing starts, he went 6-1, 2.93, fanning 42 and walking just six in 43 innings. Following a mid-May promotion to the Blaze, he went 1-4, 4.87 in seven starts, walking an entirely uncharacteristic six in his final appearance on Sunday.

Frisco second baseman German Duran won the Home Run Derby at the Texas League All-Star Game on Tuesday, defeating A’s catcher prospect Landon Powell as he connected 15 times in four rounds. Interestingly, four of Duran’s 15 regular-season homers have come in Corpus Christi’s Whataburger Field, which is where the All-Star festivities were staged.

Spokane righthander Fabio Castillo (1-2, 6.92) took a loss last night but had his best 2007 outing in the process, holding Tri-City to two runs (one earned) on six hits and no walks in five innings. He fanned six, plunked two, and induced five groundouts and three flyouts.

First-rounder Michael Main made his pro debut on Wednesday, but it wasn’t on the mound. Main served as the Arizona League squad’s DH and singled in four trips, driving in three runs. He then went 0 for 3 as the club’s DH yesterday, adding a sacrifice bunt. As discussed before, Texas has agreed to allow Main, a standout center field in high school when he wasn’t pitching, to hit occasionally this season.

USA Today named righthander Blake Beavan a second-team member on its High School All-American team.

The Mets demoted catcher Mike Nickeas, whom they acquired from Texas last summer for outfielder Victor Diaz, from AA Binghamton (.213/.272/.287) to High A St. Lucie this week.

San Diego came to terms with supplemental first-round pick Corey Luebke, the Ohio State lefthander who was the Rangers’ 22nd-round pick in 2006.

Dual Dominguez ducats: (1) Juan Dominguez has surfaced in the Mexican League. Pitching for Saraperos de Saltillo, the 27-year-old started on Wednesday and allowed an infield single and four walks in three scoreless innings, fanning two. (2) Louisville slugger Chris Dominguez was named the the DH on Baseball America’s Freshman All-American Team, after clubbing 15 homers and driving in 61 runs in just 267 at-bats. Dominguez was the Rangers’ 17th-round pick in 2006.

The Coastal Bend Aviators of the independent American Association signed righthander Juan Jimenez.

I think I forgot to mention that Rob Cook and Eleanor Czajka’s Pitcher and Player of the Month features for May were posted weeks ago on Eleanor’s Minor Details page.

Two added raffle prizes for this Friday’s Newberg Report Night (actually, 11 additions): (1) 10 subscriptions to Baseball Prospectus (worth $40 each) and (2) “Have Will for your Fantasy Draft” — Will Carroll will be on call for your next baseball or football fantasy draft.

The thing I’m most excited about for that night? Maybe that Kam Loe is slated to start.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 28, 2007

Remember that neighborhood kid that nobody ever got out in streetball? The one that, if you held him to a single, meant your pitcher got a Gatorade shower? The one who was never a threat to the Bridges’ window panes or the Morrows’ landscaping, because chances are he was just going to go ahead and clear their rooftops, whether he chose to hit from the left side that particular at-bat, or the right?

The kid whose imposing bite was accompanied by virtually no bark.

The one who was such a force at the plate that you weren’t sure whether to congratulate him after a couple doubles, a single, and a walk in five trips, with three RBI – or to tell him not to worry too much: he’ll get ’em next time.

The one that everybody else knew would be a major league masher one day.

Can you remember what he looked like?

Clip_image001

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

Swapping Stories: The Carl Everett Trade of 2003

July 1, 2003: Texas trades outfielder Carl Everett and cash to the White Sox for two or three players to be named later; Texas selects righthanders Frankie Francisco and Josh Rupe and outfielder Anthony Webster on July 24, 2003.

General managers in baseball and every other sport are usually judged by how their trades work out. Like a starting pitcher’s win-loss record, a GM’s trade ledger is generally a reasonably objective measure for his success. But like a pitcher’s wins and losses, it’s not always fair to use trade results to define a GM’s success.

First, there’s far more to the job.

Second, there’s a lot more to making a trade than two GM’s drawing it up and shaking hands.

The first half of the Rangers’ 2003 season was ugly. The club had its worst June in franchise history, losing 20 times and falling back in the division at one point by 22 games. It was Buck Showalter’s first season as Rangers manager, and very little was going right. General Manager John Hart pinpointed a handful of marketable veterans on his roster, and resolved to get a head start on the trading market.

Hart made four trades that July, getting younger in three of them. The first of those deals was made on July 1, with Texas sitting at 32-49. The White Sox were 40-42 but winners of seven out of ten, and on that Tuesday the club made trades for Mets second baseman Roberto Alomar and for Everett, shipping three prospects to New York and three more – or maybe just two – to Texas.

Trading Everett made obvious sense for the Rangers. He had rebounded after two poor seasons to get off to a terrific start, piling up 18 home runs and 51 RBI in the first half, and was on an expiring contract that was paying him $1.5 million every month. Texas was also ready to take a look at Laynce Nix in center field.

The easy part was deciding to capitalize on Everett’s productivity. Deciding on who to accept in return was the challenge.

The White Sox and Rangers agreed on a list of eight prospects from which Texas could choose two or three to complete the deal, and as consideration for allowing them to add Everett right away, the White Sox permitted Texas to scout the eight players for a few weeks before having to decide which to take.

At the time, current Rangers bullpen coach Dom Chiti was a Special Assistant to Hart. The two had been together, first with Baltimore, then with Cleveland, and then with Texas, since 1982. Chiti, along with Senior Advisor Tom Giordano and Special Assignment Scout Rudy Terrasas, spent three weeks watching International League, Southern League, Carolina League, and South Atlantic League games to build on the reports that the organization already had on AAA righthander Felix Diaz, AA lefthander Corwin Malone and righthander Enemencio Pacheco, High A righthanders Frankie Francisco and Wyatt Allen and second baseman Ruddy Yan, and Low A righthander Josh Rupe and outfielder Anthony Webster.

Reportedly, the conditions of the trade dictated that the Rangers could take only two players if they wanted one in particular. That player was evidently Malone, certainly the highest-profile prospect in the group. Whether it was the opportunity to take three players if they passed on Malone, or the elbow and shoulder problems that the 22-year-old had encountered in the previous 11 months, the Rangers went in a different direction, not necessarily making the obvious choices but, in retrospect, probably making the shrewdest decisions possible.

On July 24, after three weeks of intense scouting (as Everett was hitting a punchless .237/.328/.339 for the White Sox), Texas announced that it had pinpointed Francisco, Rupe, and Webster to complete the deal.

Chicago had acquired Francisco from Boston less than a year earlier, in a trade for veteran reliever Bobby Howry. He was in his seventh pro season, and yet at age 23 was pitching in Class A in the month that Chiti, Giordano, and Terrasas were on their mission. Francisco picked a very good time to show his stuff. A starter at the time, he pitched in three games for High A Winston-Salem after the pool of eight players was defined, twice allowing one hit in seven innings.

Rupe was in his first full pro season, pitching 19 times in relief for Low A Kannapolis before getting his first start of the year on June 15. In that start, Rupe gave up 10 runs in 2.1 innings of work. Why point that out? Because if you toss that effort out, Rupe’s 5-5, 3.02 record for the Intimidators would have been 5-4, 1.71. Even including that spanking, Rupe held the South Atlantic League to a .212 batting average and, in 65.2 innings, was never taken deep.

The media advertised Webster as the key to the deal. Ranked as Chicago’s number three prospect going into the season even though he had yet to play for a full-season farm club, the former blue-chip tailback prospect was hitting .299 for Kannapolis when the front end of the Everett trade was announced, slumping a bit to .289 by time the trade was completed. He was second in the league with 68 runs scored (in 94 games), and had stolen 20 bases. Texas had a remarkably thin collection of outfielders on the farm at the time – the franchise’s highest hopes were for Ramon Nivar, a converted second baseman – and Webster was being counted on to step to the top of the Rangers’ minor league outfielder class.

Converted back to the bullpen, Francisco rocketed to Texas within a year and was a huge part of the stalwart bullpen that led the 2004 club to 89 wins. Rupe was brilliant when healthy in 2003 and 2004, reaching Texas three weeks after turning 23 in 2005. Webster, as it turns out, has been on the slowest track of the three, spending his first three Rangers seasons in Class A before splitting 2006 in AA Frisco and AAA Oklahoma, and returning to Frisco for the 2007 season.

At this point, it’s more likely that Francisco ends up closing games for Texas and that Rupe pitches every fifth day for the club than it is that Webster becomes the next Marquis Grissom or Milton Bradley, as he was once supposed to do. But whether Texas ends up getting two big leaguers out of the Carl Everett deal or three, Dom Chiti and Tom Giordano and Rudy Terrasas certainly made John Hart look good on this deal, especially considering what has become of the five White Sox prospects that the Rangers chose not to take.

Jamey Newberg is a contributor to MLB.com. A Dallas lawyer, he has been an insane Texas Rangers fan since the days of scheduled doubleheaders, Bat Nights when they actually handed out a piece of lumber instead of a grocery store voucher, and Jim Umbarger. He has covered the Texas Rangers, from the big club down through the entire farm system, since 1998 on his website, NewbergReport.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS: Synchronicity

Stewart Copeland was no different from Greg Maddux, killing not with power but with precision. The left-handed grip was as unmistakable as Yastrzemski’s stance, or Tekulve’s delivery. But above all, like Maddux, he was consistently dominant, if bespectacled and in all other respects just as unimposing.

Sting was Roger Clemens, holding forth with a confidence that has morphed into arrogance, in age-defying physical shape and still able to do on his own stage what very few 20 years his junior can do. A sellout? Maybe. But still worth paying to see. (And like Koby Clemens, I had low expectations for Joe Sumner, figuring his opportunity was merely a nepotistic instance of waking up on third base, so to speak. But like the younger Clemens, Sting’s kid might actually have something – Fiction Plane was pretty good, in a Soundgarden/Killers kind of way, with hints of U2 and Nirvana.)

Andy Summers was Mariano Rivera. (Ya know?)

I was driving home, feeling pretty sure that when I wake up Wednesday morning, the newspaper experts will proclaim their super-turbo-intelligence and tell me that the concert I was at was lousy, that the Police are nothing at this point but shadows (on the door? in the rain?), exploiting a susceptible fan base. That I was essentially wrong for having a kick-*** time at a kick-*** show.

Then I learned that the Rangers did it again, winning improbably in Detroit. Like the rest of this stretch of good baseball, it will probably be nothing but a footnote for many in the local sports media, if not an opportunity for some of them to chastise those of us who continue to give everything we’ve got to this team, to condemn us for sticking with it.

I probably won’t read the concert reviews in the morning, and with a few exceptions I’ll continue to skip the columns and the talk show segments that zero in on the Rangers.

If I’m wrong to have had a blast at the Police concert, or to forget about the standings the minute the first pitch is thrown each night, don’t bother telling me.

You make the best of what’s still around.

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

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS: A load of bull

Detroit came in having won seven straight, sporting a composite .299/.366/.437 hitting line in that stretch, averaging more than seven runs a game, giving up fewer than three a game, and committing just three errors as a team. En fuego.

Jeremy Bonderman came into the game with an 8-0 record, twice as many wins as any other undefeated starter in baseball.

Texas landed in Michigan at 5 a.m. this morning, making what was already shaping up to be buzzsaw of a game a potential cover-your-eyes affair.

But there was Kameron Loe, unfazed and single-minded, taking the ball. Seven innings. Two runs. Seven hits, two walks.

Fifteen groundouts. Five flyouts.

Fif. Teen. Ground. Outs.

He’s a bull.

– Jamey

P.S. Nice job, Tigers, making Akinori Otsuka throw all of nine pitches in the eighth.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 25, 2007: Resilience.

A couple points about last night’s 12-9 loss to Houston.

The offense came back from a four-run deficit in the eighth and a two-run deficit in the ninth, only to be silenced in the 10th after the Astros scored three times in the top of the inning. Resilient.

Eric Gagné, not so much. It’s been a dominant season for the Rangers closer, but last night was just the third time all year that he’s been asked to pitch on back-to-back days (the first one, in late April, was cut short by a hip strain that led to an 18-day stint on the disabled list). And it produced the first truly bad outing of the season for Gagné, as he entered with the game tied in the 9th and gave up a double, a walk, a deep flyout, and a two-run double (only the second and third runs he’s allowed all season) before inducing a lineout to shortstop and a grounder to second to end the inning. Ten of Gagné’s 20 pitches missed the strike zone. It was only the second time in 22 appearances that he didn’t throw more strikes than balls.

This is the time of the year when things like how Eric Gagné fares when pitching on consecutive days matter.

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

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS: McCarthy deals

In Game Two of Oklahoma’s doubleheader this afternoon, RHP Brandon McCarthy, taking the mound in game action for the first time in 15 days, produced this line:

IP H R ER BB K
4.1 3 0 0 0 6

McCarthy threw 40 of his 63 pitches for strikes. Two of the three hits he allowed were soft bloop singles that fell in front of the outfield.

Good.

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

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS: Padilla DL-bound

Multiple media reports indicate that RHP Vicente Padilla is headed to the disabled list, to give his elbow time to rest. Padilla was slated to start in Detroit on Tuesday against Kenny Rogers. Instead, according to Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, candidates for that start include John Koronka (who would be on his regular day to pitch, having thrown 88 pitches for Oklahoma on Thursday), Joaquin Benoit, and Willie Eyre.

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

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS: Backwards

This afternoon Jason Botts hit minor league home run number 106, which is what Sammy Sosa’s big league home run total would look like if he glanced up at his rearview mirror.

Hang on, gotta write a quick letter.

============================

Dear Jeff Vorva of the Daily Southtown out of suburban Chicago:

Saw your Saturday note that said: “There was speculation when the Cubs were in Texas that a deal sending [outfielder Jacque] Jones to the Rangers for reliever Eric Gagné was a possibility.”

I assume your editors give you only so much column-inch space to write each day. You could have saved yourself a little space rather than include that note.

You realize, I’m sure, that Gagné was a Type A free agent last winter. That was based on what he accomplished in 2005-2006. This coming winter his Elias classification will be based on 2006-2007 numbers. In 2005, he pitched 13.1 innings and saved eight games, with an ERA of 2.70. He’s already at 20 innings and seven saves this year, with an ERA of 0.45. Stands to reason he’ll be a Type A again this winter.

Jones is hitting .234/.295/.328 with two home runs in 201 at-bats. He’s making $4 million this year and is guaranteed $5 million next year.

So let’s assume that Texas gets no better trade offer from the Yankees or Mets or Detroit or Philadelphia or Cleveland for Gagné than Jacque Jones. (Impossible scenario, but I’m trying to play along with your story here.)

Does it make any sense that the Rangers would prefer to have Jones and the $7 million he’s guaranteed over the next 15 months rather than an additional first-round draft pick plus a supplemental first-rounder in next year’s draft that they’d get by simply holding onto Gagné and making him an arbitration offer this winter that he’ll obviously decline?

Seriously?

Yours very truly,
Bump Wills


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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 23, 2007

When Jon Daniels addressed reporters who had gathered on Tuesday for the announcement that Tom Hicks had extended his contract through 2009, he said, when asked how he intended to go about righting this ship: "What we tried to do was to win and develop at the same time.  What we’re in the middle of right now is showing that’s extremely difficult . . . . [In the future] there will be an increased emphasis on the long-term planning, laying the foundation and making sure we have a sustainable base of talented players coming up."

It reminded me of something I’ve been thinking about for a couple weeks.

I think the Rangers will be playing for a playoff spot in mid-September 2009.

There’s no science to this.  No sabermetrics or other statistical projections that I ran to come to the conclusion that Texas will win a certain number of games in 2009.  It’s just a hunch.

Vicente Padilla will be in a contract year, effectively.  Texas has a $12 million option on him for 2010.

Kevin Millwood probably will be, too.  He’s probably not going to get to 180 innings this year, meaning he’d need to average that workload in 2008 and 2009 — or reach that level in 2009 alone — to lock in his $12 million option for 2010.  Otherwise, it’s the club’s discretion whether to pick the option up.

By 2009, Eric Hurley is likely to have settled in as a member of the rotation, after getting acclimated at some point in 2008.

Hopefully he’ll be joining a dependable 25-year-old Brandon McCarthy or an established 27-year-old Robinson Tejeda, if not both.

A high-level prospect or two that Daniels acquires in the next six weeks will be ready by then.

Jason Botts will be a full-time major league hitter.  Hopefully here.

A couple guys from the group containing Taylor Teagarden, Travis Metcalf, German Duran, Johnny Whittleman, Chris Davis, Brandon Boggs, John Mayberry Jr., Chad Tracy, Kevin Mahar, Joaquin Arias, Ben Harrison, and Steve Murphy will be ready to help offensively.

Fabio Castillo won’t quite be ready, but Omar Poveda might be.  Maybe Doug Mathis and Zach Phillips, too.  What will have become of Edinson Volquez?  Thomas Diamond?  Michael Schlact?   

A.J. Murray will be the most dependable middle-inning lefthander in the pen, replacing C.J. Wilson, who will have moved by then into one higher-leverage role or another.

Our outfield will once again have range, and a better ability to keep runners from taking an extra base.

Ron Washington’s contract currently expires in 2008.  The next year and a half of big league results will dictate whether he’s around in 2009.

It’s sort of strange, but I have a clearer hunch about 2009 than I do about 2008.

Mainly because of Padilla and Millwood.

I was ready a couple weeks ago, against my will, to write Nelson Cruz off as far as his future with the Rangers is concerned, since he’ll be out of options at the end of this season.  But the way he has responded to his demotion to AAA two weeks ago, it’s almost certain that he’s going to get a second extended stretch of time to prove himself in Texas in 2007.  Cruz homered again last night — his seventh bomb in 14 games — and is now hitting a stupid .356/.455/.911 in 45 Oklahoma at-bats.  Of his 16 hits, 11 have gone for extra bases.

We know Eric Gagné’s contract allowed him to designate 12 teams to which Texas can trade him without his consent, but we don’t know who those teams are.  A Fox Sports report suggests, however, that the Yankees, Mets, and Angels are on the list of 12, and that Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Detroit are not.

Daniels told reporters that Mark Teixeira could remain sidelined until early July.  The All-Star Break is July 9-11.

How positive was Washington’s relationship with outfielder Milton Bradley in Oakland?  The A’s designated the mercurial 29-year-old for assignment and then traded him last night to Kansas City for enigmatic reliever Leo Nunez — but the trade then fell through when the Royals learned that Bradley suffered a strained oblique muscle on Tuesday.  Wonder if Texas was in on the Bradley talks, and if so, whether the injury kills those talks.  (If nothing else, it certainly lowers his price.)

Lynn Henning of the Detroit News writes that the Tigers have talked to Texas about Gagné and Akinori Otsuka, and that the Rangers "have had an eye on some of Detroit’s Class A and AA starters."  We’ve mentioned Andrew Miller, Jair Jurrjens, and Eulogio De La Cruz before.  Add Chris Cody and Duane Below to that mix.  This is getting interesting.

According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Texas has discussed outfielder Jacque Jones with the Cubs.

Duran and Whittleman will play for the World Team and the U.S. Team, respectively, in the July 8 Futures Game in San Francisco.   

A pitching hand blister has forced Volquez (6-0, 3.57 with Frisco) to the disabled list.   

Davis was Bakersfield’s lone representative in the California League-Carolina League All-Star Game, playing right field (he’s played nothing but third base all year for the Blaze) and hitting a solo home run.

Frisco righthander Luis Mendoza (7-0, 5.51) was named to replace righthander Hurley in the Texas League All-Star Game.  Hurley makes his AAA debut tomorrow.

McCarthy makes a rehab start tomorrow as well for Oklahoma, which has a doubleheader.  McCarthy will reportedly make two rehab starts (the second for Frisco) before a planned return to Texas on July 4.

If Jamey Wright isn’t spectacular today, shouldn’t Mike Wood be held back a day and given his start in Detroit on Thursday?  Wood has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any of his nine AAA starts, and he sits at 6-1, 2.28 for the RedHawks.  His peripherals are just as impressive: 40 hits (.193 opponents’ average), nine walks (1.4 per nine innings), 51 strikeouts (7.7 per nine).  Two home runs allowed.  A 2.25 groundout-to-flyout rate.  Left-handed hitters (.193/.225/.298) just as inept as righties (.194/.242/.258).   

I don’t know whether the 27-year-old Wood or the 32-year-old Wright, given their outright status, will figure in for this team in 2009, or even 2008.  But I know which one I’d rather find out about.

Hank Blalock threw 20 times from 10 feet yesterday.

Arias has surfaced.  He played shortstop in the Arizona League squad’s opener yesterday, making an error and contributing a single and double to a 9-6 Rangers win over the Royals.   

Harrison was activated from the disabled list and sent down from Frisco to Bakersfield, and in his first Blaze game last night he homered and singled.

Clinton lefthander Zach Phillips, who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning last night and exited after the frame having given up just one hit and two walks while fanning eight, has kept the opponent completely off of the scoreboard in five of his last nine starts.  The 20-year-old stands at 7-2, 2.62 in 14 LumberKing starts.

Two interesting splits for 19-year-old Clinton shortstop Marcus Lemon, who sits at .245/.336/.314 for the season: after a slow start, he’s hitting .314/.405/.371 in June; and since a move from the number nine spot in the order to the leadoff spot, he’s hitting .303/.409/.368.   

While the Rangers apparently aren’t on the verge of signing Blake Beavan (he’s now threatening to go to Navarro Junior College but chances are he’ll still sign before the August 15 deadline), they have come to terms with fellow first-rounder Michael Main (for a reported $1.2375 million bonus), and this is interesting: Texas is going to allow Main, who would have been a premium pick as a center fielder if he weren’t such a promising pitching prospect, to hit about once a week in the Arizona League, likely as a designated hitter.  Cleveland, incidentally, did the same with its top prospect, lefthander Chuck Lofgren, getting him 13 plate appearances in his debut season of 2004.

The Rangers also signed second-rounder Matt West, who played shortstop for Houston Bellaire High School but will probably see time all over the infield and possibly even behind the plate in Surprise.

Round 26 pick Kevin Keyes, a toolsy outfielder out of Austin Connally High School, played on the Rangers’ Area Code Games squad two straight years.  That likely means Keyes played for Randy Taylor, the Rangers’ area scout who was responsible for the Keyes selection.  Taylor also coached Teagarden, Whittleman, and Mayberry in the Area Code Games prior to the Rangers drafting them.

Texas signed undrafted University of South Carolina Upstate catcher Bret Story, who hit .246/.285/.324 for the Spartans this spring. 

The Rangers released 24-year-old righthander Edwin Vera, who went 4-20, 4.32 in four seasons since signing out of Venezuela.

Pittsburgh signed Matt Kata to a AAA contract, and designated righthander Danny Kolb for assignment.

Kansas City signed righthander John Thomson.  He’ll debut for the Royals on Monday.

Baltimore purchased the contract of righthander Rob Bell.

The Atlantic City Surf of the independent Can-Am League signed righthander Greg Runser.  The Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent Northern League traded outfielder Cameron Coughlan to the Sioux Falls Canaries of the independent American Association for a player to be named.

Padilla has allowed 33 hits (.458 opponents’ average) in 13.2 June innings and has a 7.90 ERA in that stretch.  McCarthy, the club’s hottest starter, has been out two weeks.  Teixeira and Blalock are out.   

And yet Texas has won three straight, four of five, and six of eight.   

Given that we could never have seen this coming 10 days ago, you are encouraged to dismiss my speculation about what could happen here in 2009.   

 

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 66 other followers