THE NEWBERG REPORT — JULY 22, 2007

I suspect I wasn’t the only one who sniffed out the unintended double meaning in this Dallas Morning News headline today: “Sosa says he hopes to finish career with the Rangers.”

Here’s what I don’t get, and I offer this without any intellectual arrogance…I’m sure there’s a legitimate reason…I just don’t have a feel for what it is: If all Texas can hope for is to get Minnesota or the Mets or anyone to call and say, yeah, we can use Sammy Sosa to help us out against lefties, isn’t all that we can expect in return another Enrique Cruz or Rick Asadoorian?

If so, are we really holding out for that sort of offer?

Is it a matter of respect for Sosa, choosing not to release him because of what he’s contributed here and how good a clubhouse guy he’s been? Is there a concern that it might send a negative message to his teammates or to future free agent targets? I don’t see it. He’s not producing. Would designating him for assignment so he can get an opportunity to help a contender – see Matt Stairs, 2006 – really be a sign of disrespect?

Sosa is hitting .239/.297/.441. That’s ninth on the team in batting average among players with more than 100 at-bats. Tenth in reaching base. Seventh in slug.

Ron Washington said on Saturday that he hopes Sosa can get himself going because the Rangers are set to face a bunch of left-handed pitchers. Yes, Sosa is a .320/.435/.571 hitter against southpaws. This month he’s 2 for 12 against them, with six strikeouts.

Yes, Jason Botts (.364/.446/.627 against lefties in AAA [and just about as dominant against righthanders]) is unavailable right now because of a finger injury. So platoon Victor Diaz (.212/.222/.538 against big league lefties, .323/.344/.581) or Nelson Cruz (.176/.250/.216, .341/.408/.477) with Frank Catalanotto (.229/.310/.400 against righties) until Botts is ready.

And then give Botts 20 at-bats a week as soon as he’s healthy. It’s imperative that we figure out in 2007 – against big league pitchers who are pitching to win every night, as opposed to next March, when the veterans against whom he needs to be tested are pitching just to ramp up to Opening Day – whether Botts deserves a spot on the team in April. Because that decision will be irreversible, since Botts will be out of options.

Wish I understood whether the reason for Sosa’s continued place on this roster is something more than a hope that someone else’s need for a right-handed bat might free up an Enrique Cruz.

Peter Gammons reports that Phillies general manager Pat Gillick and his sidekick Mike Arbuckle were at the Rangers-Indians game on Thursday. One would think that Philadelphia (4.5 games out of the Wild Card) is a buyer rather than a seller, and if that’s true then Gillick and Arbuckle were likely in town to see Joaquin Benoit or Ron Mahay or Kenny Lofton (Sosa? Nah.) – not someone like Indians rookie outfielder Ben Francisco.

Imagine Jon Daniels and Thad Levine going together to a National League game in late July. Gillick and Arbuckle showing up in Texas isn’t exactly pro coverage scouting.

Lefthander John Rheinecker will start Game One of Tuesday’s doubleheader against Seattle. Rheinecker is 4-2, 3.57 in nine Oklahoma starts, including 3-0, 2.28 in his last four.

Frisco righthander Armando Galarraga, who came to Texas in the Alfonso Soriano trade with Washington after the 2005 season, gave up nine runs in 2.1 innings on June 21. In his last seven starts other than that debacle, his record is 5-1, 1.13, with 28 hits (.171 opponents’ average) and 11 walks allowed to go along with 51 strikeouts in 47.2 innings of work.

He’s back: Check Mike Hindman’s blog for his latest thoughts on Botts.

The Yankees have converted 23-year-old Rudy Guillen – who was one of the minor leaguers that the Rangers chose shortstop Joaquin Arias over in the Alex Rodriguez-Soriano trade before the 2004 season – from outfielder to pitcher. Guillen made his mound debut on Friday, pitching a scoreless inning and two-thirds (one single, one walk, one plunk, one wild pitch, one strikeout) for the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Yankees.

Phillies 2006 first-round pick Kyle Drabek will undergo Tommy John surgery this week. The Rangers opted for lefthander Kasey Kiker with their 2006 first-rounder (12th overall), passing on the Houston native Drabek (18th overall) among others.

A reminder for those interested: NBC’s Newy Scruggs is airing a story on the Newberg Report during tonight’s Channel 5 sportscast, which I believe starts at 10:25 p.m.

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

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