June 2007

Swapping Stories: The Guillermo Mercedes Trade of 1995

June 22, 1995: Texas trades shortstop Guillermo Mercedes to Cleveland for lefthander Dennis Cook.

In the 1980s, the Texas Rangers were leaders in the effort to mine talent in Latin America. The club signed and developed players like Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Sammy Sosa, Ruben Sierra, Wilson Alvarez, and Jose Guzman, going outside the draft to build the core of the club and stock the system with players that other teams would eventually part with established players for.

As other organizations caught up in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, and players in Puerto Rico became subject to the draft, the Rangers’ not only lost their edge in Latin America, but by any objective measure, were probably closer to the back of the pack than the front in the 1990s and in the first part of this decade.

From time to time between the prolific ’80s and the organization’s recent resurgence in Latin America, Texas did manage to land a handful of prospects from that part of the world, usually to the credit of Omar Minaya, then the Rangers’ international scouting director. Among them were eventual big leaguers Julio Santana, Fernando Tatis, and Ruben Mateo, each signed by Texas in the ’90s.

Also among the players that Minaya found in that time was a 16-year-old shortstop named Guillermo Mercedes, who signed with Texas in December 1990 out of La Romana in the Dominican Republic. Mercedes weighed a listed 155 pounds when he signed, but there was no projection needed as far as his defense and footspeed were concerned.

Mercedes finished among the league leaders in both fielding percentage and stolen bases in each of his first four years in the system. Going into the 1994 season, despite having not played above the Low Class A level, Mercedes was nonetheless ranked by Baseball America as the Rangers’ number eight prospect.

On November 18, 1994, a month and a half after Doug Melvin was hired as Rangers General Manager, he faced his first deadline to add eligible minor leaguers to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. Among the players Melvin added was Mercedes, who was just a career .229 hitter with no home runs (and only 26 extra-base hits) in 308 games.

At the time, the club’s top position player prospect was shortstop Benji Gil. The next two were probably second baseman Edwin Diaz and third baseman Mike Bell. Coming off a disappointing 1994 season, AA Tulsa shortstop Rich Aurilia was shipped in December to San Francisco with outfielder Desi Wilson for righthander John Burkett (who never suited up for the Rangers, at least this time).

Whether the stock the Rangers placed in Mercedes had anything to do with their willingness to move Aurilia is unclear, but it was probably Gil’s presence that made both Aurilia and Mercedes available in the right deal. When Melvin made the 1994 trade for Burkett, it was an effort to bolster a rotation that included Kenny Rogers, Kevin Gross, Roger Pavlik, and Bob Tewksbury.

Six months later, it was the bullpen that Melvin used his perceived shortstop surplus to address.

In June 1995, Melvin had a chance to acquire veteran southpaw Dennis Cook from the Indians, at the cost of Mercedes. It had been a miserable spring for the 20-year-old, who hit .218 with two extra-base hits in 110 at-bats for High A Charlotte and .119 in 42 at-bats for Tulsa.

Cook had struggled himself. Coming into 1995 he had a lifetime ERA of 3.85 in seven big league seasons, but through the first half of the season he had pitched himself out of regular use for the Indians, who had acquired him off waivers from the White Sox over the winter. Cook had a 6.39 ERA in 11 Cleveland relief appearances, getting into just one game in a span of 18 days when Indians General Manager John Hart designated the 33-year-old for assignment on June 18.

Texas worked out a trade for Cook by offering Mercedes four days later. Cook was pretty good in the second half for Texas, posting a 4.00 without a decision in 34 relief appearances and one start. He was then an instrumental piece of the club’s solid set-up relief crew in 1996, the franchise’s first-ever playoff season, winning five games out of the bullpen and posting a 4.09 ERA in 60 appearances, fanning 64 hitters in 70.1 innings of work. He pitched twice in the Rangers’ four playoff games against the Yankees, walking one in 1.1 hitless and scoreless frames.

Cook left Texas after the 1996 season, helping Florida win a World Series – over Cleveland – in 1997 (posting a 3.90 ERA during the regular season and firing nine scoreless innings in the post-season) and later pitching for two Mets playoff clubs. All told, Cook pitched 16.1 playoff innings in his 15-year career, never allowing an earned run.

Meanwhile, Mercedes lasted just two and a half years in the Cleveland system, never reaching the big leagues.

But he made an impression on Hart.

Texas hired Hart as its General Manager in November 2001, and Mercedes returned to the Rangers organization, brought on to run the club’s Dominican instructional league program that winter. He then managed the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League club from 2002 to 2005 and has served as its hitting coach the last two seasons.

The December 1990 signing of Mercedes out of La Romana – which is where the Rangers’ Dominican academy was based in the years that he managed the DSL club – wasn’t nearly as heralded as the discoveries of Rodriguez, Gonzalez, Sosa, and Sierra before him, or Santana, Tatis, and Mateo afterwards.

But he provides a good example of the importance of building depth in minor league inventory, because even though Mercedes didn’t have close to the impact that those others had as players, Texas was able to develop him to the point that he could be flipped for a key component of its first playoff team. That’s a scouting and development success story.

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.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 21, 2007

According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers are promoting righthander Eric Hurley to Oklahoma. The 21-year-old, who would not have been drafted until this month had he gone to the University of Florida rather than sign with the Rangers out of high school as their second first-round pick in 2004, will make his first AAA start on Sunday.

Hurley has gone 7-2, 3.25 for Frisco this year, holding the Texas League to a .219 batting average and fanning 76 while walking 27 in 88.2 innings. Combined with his late-season stint with the RoughRiders last season, Hurley’s AA record is 10-3, 2.86 in 20 starts and a relief appearance.

Hurley’s final Frisco start was his roughest (eight runs on nine hits [including four home runs] and three walks in four innings), but don’t be discouraged. Last summer he was in the midst of his only slump with High A Bakersfield (9.53 ERA in five starts) when he was promoted to Frisco, promptly going 3-1, 1.95 in six starts.

Hurley was the Rangers’ choice with the number 30 selection in the 2004 draft, which was compensation from Atlanta for the Braves’ signing of free agent righthander John Thomson. Yesterday, as Texas announced it was promoting Hurley to AAA, Toronto was in the process of releasing Thomson.

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

NUMBER 600

Right
center field.

Smoked.

Against
the Chicago Cubs.   

Off Jason Marquis, a pitcher who wears the Cubs
#21 that Sammy made famous.

Nice
moment for Victor and for Josh, and for Sammy.

And
for Akinori Otsuka, who Tom Housed the shot.

And,
a bit to my surprise, for myself.

I
kinda enjoyed that, and the follow-up blast by Frank Catalanotto, which counts
just as much as Sammy’s in the scorebook and, hopefully, will be more than
enough for Kameron Loe, who is dealing for a second straight time out and
putting another deposit in the bank as he moves towards solidifying the job
he’s filling right now.

This
season was supposed be about a lot more than Sammy Sosa hitting a landmark home
run or Kameron Loe vying to lock down a rotation spot in June, but for the moment,
it feels really good.

 

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 19, 2007

I get a kick out of all these national media stars who have proclaimed the last couple weeks that the Rangers are going to be sorely disappointed by the trade offers forthcoming for Mark Teixeira for one predominant reason — that he’d be able to leave via free agency after the 2008 season, and therefore teams are obviously not going to give much up for him.

Freakin’ spurious argument.

Reminds me of the radio spot that a local security alarm company ran a few years ago that said, “Studies have shown that about 25 percent of all burglaries occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day every year!!” Which sounds interesting until you realize that about 25 percent of the calendar year occurs between Memorial Day and Labor Day every year as well.

A free Bound Edition to whichever of you emails me the longest list of impact players who have been traded in the last 10 years with more than two seasons left before free agency.

And we’re talking impact players at the time they were traded. Players like Travis Hafner, Adrian Gonzalez, Jeremy Bonderman, and Dan Haren don’t count. Players like Teixeira do.

There may be mitigating factors causing certain teams to struggle with what they’d offer Texas for Teixeira. His quadriceps strain. A steady first baseman already in place. A reluctance to deal with Scott Boras. Who knows? There could be a number of reasons.

Having “just” two pennant races for which Teixeira is guaranteed to be around shouldn’t be among them.

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

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS: Daniels extended

The Ticket is reporting this morning that, according to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram story that I can’t find online, Tom Hicks will announce today that he has added one year to Jon Daniels’s contract, extending its term through 2009.

If you read my May 25 manifesto, you know my thoughts about this.

Bravo.

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

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS: A BYRD IN THE HAND

Hypothetical:

“Texas agrees to terms with outfielder Marlon Byrd on a two-year, $3.5 million contract, with a club option for $3 million in 2010 ($250,000 buyout). The contract includes plate appearance incentives that, if all reached, could increase the two-year guaranteed term to $4 million. The contract erases what would have been Byrd’s two final arbitration years.”

Does Texas make that deal today?

Does Byrd?

From the Rangers’ standpoint, it’s a bargain if he plays every day (or even as a platoon center fielder) and produces, an overpayment if he ends up as a fourth outfielder on a club with a retooled outfield (though not an albatross contract even in that case). From Byrd’s, it gives him the first financial security of his career on one hand, but is ceding what could be more money via the arbitration system if he continues to put up numbers and play virtually every day, whether in Texas or somewhere else that he handpicks this winter.

I’m not here to say that Byrd is a couple years away from landing a five-year, $50 million free agent deal (far from it), but Byrd is just about exactly the age that Gary Matthews Jr. was when Matthews arrived here on a AAA deal and played his way into a call-up in 2004. And there’s no question that Byrd was considered the better prospect when he was originally breaking into the big leagues. Even if he’s not quite the center fielder that Matthews is, he’s a pretty good defender, and he’s similarly versatile offensively when he’s going well, which he clearly is right now. In 13 June starts, he’s had hits in all but one game, including multiple hits seven times. He’s hitting .436/.492/.582 in 55 at-bats for the month, and .390/.435/.494 in 77 at-bats for Texas overall, after hitting .358/.415/.568 in 176 AAA at-bats.

Which side would be smart not to take that deal right now?

P.S. According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, Josh Rupe (who was transferred to the 60-day DL yesterday) had surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow and will be out of action until late in the summer.

P.P.S. I hope Cincinnati trades Adam Dunn this summer. Don’t care where.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 17, 2007

I live for Sunday morning softball doubleheaders, but this morning at 8 a.m., as I was about 17 minutes into a 20-minute drive to the fields and got the phone call canceling today’s games, I wasn’t ripped up.  I’d already gotten in "Pendulous Threads" (Incubus) as well as the "Baba O’Riley" intro to Elf’s Sunday morning show on the Ticket, so I was sufficiently fired up to play ball, but I was just as happy to turn around and head home to spend Father’s Day morning with my family. 

Erica and Max have settled in for a little Disney channel action, so I figured I’d write a little.

First a shout out to Jeff Wilson’s kid.

How many left-handed relievers would you trade C.J. Wilson for?  The list is probably shorter than you might first think.

Billy Wagner?  Of course not.  He’ll be 36 in a month.

B.J. Ryan?  He had Tommy John surgery a month ago, wiping out the second year of his five-year, $47 million deal and threatening his third.

Mike Gonzalez?  Tommy John less than a month ago.

Thirty-one-year-olds Brian Fuentes and Hideki Okajima are pretty good.  So is 30-year-old George Sherrill.  How do they stack up against the 26-year-old Wilson?

Opponents are hitting the foursome as follows:

Wilson:   .184/.316/.272
Fuentes:  .178/.264/.327
Okajima:  .161/.220/.203
Sherrill: .162/.188/.243

Left-handed hitters:

Wilson:   .089/.241/.111
Fuentes:  .190/.308/.333
Okajima:  .163/.250/.209
Sherrill: .098/.152/.195

Wilson has allowed four hits in 45 at-bats by lefties: singles by Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Prince Fielder, and a Robinson Cano double.

Right-handed hitters:

Wilson:   .246/.366/.377
Fuentes:  .174/.253/.326
Okajima:  .160/.203/.200
Sherrill: .242/.235/.303

Strikeouts/walks:

Wilson:   28/18 in 32.1 innings
Fuentes:  22/8 in 31.1 innings
Okajima:  30/9 in 33.2 innings
Sherrill: 23/3 in 21.2 innings 

Wilson’s in pretty select company.  He’s clearly got to get his walks down, and his success rate against right-handed hitters suggests he might not be ready for a rotation role.  Both those issues need to be addressed before Wilson can be entrusted with the ninth inning.   

But Fuentes is going to make well more than his current $3.5 million salary in his final arbitration season of 2008.  Okajima will make a base of $1.25 million in 2008, with some reachable innings pitched incentives that should kick it closer to $1.5 million.  Sherrill will probably be a Super Two this winter, meaning his first seven-figure arbitration payday comes in 2008.

Wilson, at least three-and-a-half years younger than each of them, has one more pre-arbitration season (likely south of $500,000) before he becomes arbitration-eligible for the 2009 season.

I’m not sure I’d trade him for any left-handed reliever in the game.

One reason righthander Jamey Wright got the call last night in Cincinnati instead of Oklahoma righthander Mike Wood is that Wood had his last start skipped due to shoulder soreness.

Fortunately, the Rangers didn’t have to risk losing a player on the 40-man roster to make room for Wright.  Righthander Josh Rupe was transferred to the 60-day disabled list with an elbow issue that has already sidelined him for a month.

Clarification since there are a couple media versions getting this wrong: righthander Eric Gagné’s limited no-trade clause, I believe, allows him to designate 12 teams to which he can be traded (not 12 to which he *cannot* be dealt).  That, of course, doesn’t mean Texas can engineer a trade with the other 17 clubs — it only means that such a deal would enable Gagné to negotiate some form of compensation (big cash or a contract extension) in exchange for his waiver of the veto right.

Oklahoma outfielder Jason Botts is third in the Pacific Coast League with a .427 on-base percentage.  His .923 OPS is tenth-highest in the league, and nobody has more than his 52 walks (the next most is 43) or 23 doubles.

The Rangers told reporters this week that Botts is not an option to play first base while Mark Teixeira is sidelined with his strained quadriceps muscle.  Botts has been exclusively an outfielder and DH this season.

Frisco second baseman German Duran is the active hitting leader in the Texas League.  His .328 clip had trailed only Chase Headley, who was called up by San Diego this week.  Duran, still just 22, is third in the league with a .963 OPS (third in slugging and ninth in reaching base), second in home runs (13), and leads the circuit in runs scored (50 in 65 games).  The RoughRiders clinched a division title last night as they improved their record to a salty 45-22.

RoughRiders righthander Edinson Volquez is 5-0, 3.57 in six AA starts.  Maybe even more important than the 11 walks in 35.1 innings is the progress the 23-year-old has made in the subtleties of the pitching process and in his maturity, according to organization officials.

Bakersfield catcher Taylor Teagarden’s 1.094 OPS, .630 slugging percentage, and .464 on-base percentage would league the California League but he lacks the requisite number of plate appearances.

Clinton (40-26) has secured a Midwest League playoff berth.  Third baseman Johnny Whittleman (.984) and outfielder K.C. Herren (.938) are second and fourth in the league OPS rankings.  Outfielder-catcher Chad Tracy still leads the circuit with 54 RBI. 

After a 6.35 April, LumberKings reliever Brennan Garr has posted an ERA of 0.81 in May and June.  Last year’s ninth-rounder out of the University of Northern Colorado, where he was a far more dominant hitter than pitcher, Garr has been especially strong in June, firing 8.1 innings in which he has allowed just one hit, walking five while fanning nine.  For the season, he’s held the Midwest League to a .173 average, saving three games and posting a 1.93 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 28 frames.  This is a budding player development success story.

On June 13, I speculated that the "Juan Grullon" who appears in the Dominican Summer League statistics is presumably the same pitcher who has previously been called Gueris Grullon.  Not the case.  Two different guys.  Which suggests that the latter is headed for a short-season club.

Spokane’s Northwest League schedule kicks off on Tuesday.  The Arizona League starts Friday.

It slid under the radar, but Texas managed to sign outfielder Eric Fry, the club’s 33rd-round pick in 2006, a few days before last Thursday’s draft.  Fry hit .343 and slugged .601 for San Jacinto Junior College this year, driving in 51 runs in 57 games and stealing 18 bases in 20 tries.  He was set to transfer to Oklahoma State had he not signed with the Rangers as a draft-and-follow or signed with whichever team would have drafted him on the 7th.   

Texas had drafted Fry in 2006 after he’d hit .341 (slugging .519) with 10 home runs, 18 stolen bases, and a team-leading 62 RBI in 59 games as a freshman.  He’d also been drafted by Detroit in the 29th round in 2005, out of a Lake Charles, Louisiana high school.  His family relocated to Bayfield, Texas after Hurricane Rita.

The Rangers released outfielder Terry Blunt, who had played three seasons in the system since signing as a fifth-year senior out of Kansas State just before the 2005 draft.   

St. Louis optioned righthander Kelvin Jimenez back to AAA.  Oakland designated lefthander Erasmo Ramirez for assignment.

Kansas City signed infielder Jared Sandberg to a minor league contract.

Kevin Jr. and James Millwood’s Dad takes the hill for the Rangers in about an hour.  I’ve got a couch to hit.

Happy Father’s Day.

 

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JUNE 14, 2007

When Kameron Loe was optioned five days ago, he obviously didn’t visualize making a trip to Pittsburgh.

When he did get recalled, bet he didn’t think about getting a base hit, not to mention scoring a run, something the white shirts didn’t manage to do all night.

But I know Kameron a little bit, and I’m confident he did visualize becoming the first Rangers starting pitcher to see the eighth inning. Bet he envisioned executing his pitches exactly the way that he did.

Demoted but never used, he nonetheless returned to the big leagues a different pitcher. Backed by a home run barrage, he had immaculate command, firing 71 strikes in 108 pitches, coaxing 14 groundouts and just three in the air, and punching out a career-high seven, including four left-handed hitters. I don’t remember seeing his breaking ball – the pitch he was sent to Oklahoma to work on – as consistent as it was tonight.

By the way: Bravo, Andy Hawkins.

This was a night for the bullpen to relax. And for me to relax.

A 24-42 record isn’t all that much happier than 23-42, but an effort like that from a young player who has worked his tail off to go from a 20th-round pick and Class A tandem starter to the first Rangers pitcher in 15 games to fire a quality start – and I mean a quality start – is one of the best things that this team has given us all season.

There are going to be moments the rest of the year where someone does something to give us hope that next year and the year after that are going to be better. Maybe it will be Jason Botts. Or Frankie Francisco going on a tear. Or Gerald Laird or Robinson Tejeda or Travis Metcalf. Or a player or two that aren’t even in the organization right now, but will be once the trading begins.

I really would like for Kameron Loe to be that guy, too. He’s one of those pitchers whose funky mechanics have to be just right and whose command has to be locked in to succeed, since he’s not going to blow hitters away. Pitchers who can locate with sink have a chance to make good things happen for this team, and Loe was that guy tonight. It was all working.

Following what I imagine to be his lead, I’m visualizing more of the same.

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

Swapping Stories: The Ruben Mateo Trade of 2001

June 15, 2001: Texas trades outfielder Ruben Mateo and third baseman Edwin Encarnacion
to Cincinnati for righthander Rob Bell.

There’s a baseball adage about the hazard of trading a player a year too late rather than a

year too early. Hindsight tells us that things would have turned out to be very different

in Texas had the club traded outfielder Ruben Mateo in 1999 rather than 2001, but at the

time the Rangers had rightfully made the five-tool prospect almost untouchable.

Almost.

After Pudge Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, and Sammy Sosa had arrived in the big leagues, Mateo

was undoubtedly the most complete player that Texas had developed from Latin America.

Nobody had more arm strength, and few were blessed with the combination of power and speed

that he boasted offensively.

Tom Goodwin roamed center field for Texas in 1998 and 1999, its last two playoff seasons,

but he took free agency and left the Rangers for Colorado after the 1999 season. The club

didn’t stand in Goodwin’s way, ready to usher in the Mateo Era by anointing the 22-year-old

as its starting center fielder in 2000. Mateo was coming off a dominant 1999 season in AAA,

hitting .336/.385/.597 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI in 63 games before spending the rest of

the year in Texas, a 32-game look that was limited by two stints on the disabled list.

But Mateo’s 1999 season almost happened in another organization. Rangers general manager

Doug Melvin, after consistently refusing to make the right-handed hitter available in trade,

reportedly agreed to send him to Toronto that February, in a package with righthanders

Esteban Loaiza and Jonathan Johnson, in exchange for Roger Clemens. Texas thought the deal

was done, when the Yankees jumped in and offered David Wells, Graeme Lloyd, and Homer Bush,

getting Clemens.

Mateo thus remained Rangers property and parlayed his strong 1999 season into a starting big

league role in 2000. He was hitting .291 with seven home runs and a team-leading six stolen

bases when, on June 2, he sustained a horrific injury to his upper leg, breaking his right

femur in an awkward effort to beat out an infield grounder. He missed the remainder of the

year.

On Draft Day that summer, three days after the freak Mateo injury, Texas used its

ninth-round pick on Edwin Encarnacion, a 17-year-old Dominican third baseman who had gone to

high school in Puerto Rico. He garnered as much attention as any round nine selection

would, which is to say he was virtually anonymous even through his pro debut, a homerless

.311/.381/.379 campaign with the Rangers’ rookie-level squad in the Gulf Coast League.

Mateo went to spring training in 2001 hoping to prove to Texas that he was healthy enough to

reclaim the center field job. He hit .343 and slugged .672 in camp, going deep five times

– one homer short of club leader Alex Rodriguez, who had just signed with the Rangers.

Center field once again belonged to Mateo.

But none of the momentum Mateo built up in Port Charlotte followed him to Texas. After 129

at-bats, he was hitting just .248/.322/.341 and Texas, off to an 18-31 start, optioned him

back to AAA.

Reds general manager Jim Bowden had tried for years to pry Mateo loose from the Rangers,

summarily rejected time after time. But he wasn’t dissuaded by Mateo’s apparent inability

to bounce back from the leg injury. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity.

In June, with Mateo hitting .216/.241/.333 in Oklahoma, Bowden offered Texas righthander Rob

Bell, Cincinnati’s top pitching prospect, a 24-year-old with a power curve to go along with

low-90s heat. He’d fanned more than a batter per inning as a minor leaguer, walking just

2.5 batters per nine, and he had 35 big league starts (7-13, 5.12) under his belt. Melvin

saw a chance to pounce on another pitcher he thought was primed to break through, just as

he’d done four years earlier when he acquired Aaron Sele from Boston.

But Bowden said he needed another player to make the deal, considering Mateo’s injury

history (aside from the leg fracture, he’d also lost time to a broken wrist, a pulled

hamstring, a bruised chest, and a pulled groin muscle since reaching the big leagues).

Bowden asked for Encarnacion, who was hitting .306/.355/.453 for Low A Savannah. The

Rangers had third base depth with Mike Lamb in place, Hank Blalock in the midst of his

breakthrough season with High A Charlotte, and new draftee Mark Teixeira in talks to sign

with the organization.

But Rangers manager Jerry Narron wasn’t crazy about the idea. Three months earlier, he’d

watched Encarnacion in the teenager’s first spring training. When the trade was on the

table in June, Narron told Melvin that Mateo wasn’t the player that would make Texas look

bad in the deal. It was Encarnacion.

Melvin made the deal anyway, sending Mateo and Encarnacion to the Reds for Bell on June 15,

2001.

Mateo struggled as a Red, languishing in AAA the rest of 2001 and splitting both 2002 and

2003 between Cincinnati and AAA, before leaving the organization after the 2003 season and

bouncing around between a number of clubs (including Bowden’s Washington Nationals). Bell

went 9-8, 6.73 in two disappointing seasons in Texas, earning his release before the 2003

season began.

Meanwhile, Encarnacion methodically progressed, arriving in Cincinnati in 2005. Dan

O’Brien, who had been Melvin’s assistant general manager when Texas drafted Encarnacion and

traded him, was the Reds’ general manager. Narron was Cincinnati’s skipper.

In just 211 big league at-bats in 2005, Encarnacion hit nine homers with 31 RBI. In 406

at-bats the following season, he went deep 15 times, drove in 72 runs, and hit

.276/.359/.473, all at age 23. His 2007 season started out in disappointing fashion,

prompting a brief wake-up call option to AAA, but he’s back with the Reds and hitting

.273/.351/.393.

Mateo’s in AA, trying to get back to the big leagues. Bell toils in AAA.

Had Texas been able to close the deal with Toronto in 1999, Clemens would have been a Texas

Ranger. And the organization presumably would have capitalized a bit more on Encarnacion,

if not as a future third baseman in Arlington then at least as more than a tack-on to a

trade that, from several angles, was simply an exercise in bad timing.

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 — JUNE 13, 2007

Bartolo Buchholz.

Cha Seung Clemens.

Grover Cleveland Gaudin.

And Cy Snell.

A quick deficit, more terrible defense, and yet another game in which the other team — a pretty bad team, in this case — buried Texas early and never let them back in it.

Texas is getting outscored in the first inning this season by 30 runs (50-20).

Texas is also getting outscored in the second inning by 30 runs (53-23).

In innings three through nine, the Rangers aren’t so bad. The opposition is outscoring them, 277-274.

What does that mean?

It means the bullpen has been a lot better than the rotation, obviously.

And it means a lot of nights that are hard to watch.

Watching the postgame interviews, I thought the manager and the players seemed extremely depressed. Hard to blame them.

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

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