July 2007

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS — JULY 8, 2007

The game starts off with a sharp single, a sac bunt, another sharp single that drives in a run, and a five-pitch walk. The way Kevin Millwood was uncomfortably shuffling around the mound, the illness of the blowing wind was palpable, and it was basically impossible to imagine the Orioles were done scoring for the day.

But they were. And Kenny Lofton – who shockingly is the number 28 OPS hitter in all of baseball (.946) in June and July – scores on a Marlon Byrd single in the bottom of the first (Byrd is number nine in OPS [1.050] over that same span) and then on his own solo shot in the sixth (drawing walks in his other two trips), and the Rangers win, again on the strength of excellent starting pitching.

That’s seven straight series the club has won or tied, and a 15-8 stretch of baseball, most of which has been played without 75 percent of the starting infield.

Big, big moment for Frankie Francisco in the eighth.

And then there was this from earlier in the day:

BALTIMORE ORIOLES-Placed SS Freddie Bynum on the 15-day DL. Recalled SS Luis Hernandez from Norfolk (IL).

Hernandez, at age 23, came into this season as a lifetime .246 hitter, over six years in the Braves minor league system. Joining the Orioles as a free agent this off-season, he hit a combined .244 between AA Bowie and AAA Norfolk. He joined Baltimore today and entered the game defensively after Melvin Mora had pinch-hit for Brandon Fahey in the seventh.

Hernandez’s first stroll into a big league batters’ box was with two outs in the ninth inning against Eric Gagné.

Not exactly fair.

But if baseball was always fair, and always predictable, I probably wouldn’t have decided to take my daughter to the ballpark at all this afternoon, and even having made that decision, I might have packed up and left after those first four hitters.

Another great day at the yard, and I am baseball-content going into this four-day break.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JULY 8, 2007

Just for fun:

August 25, 1999 Newberg Report:

“R GCL: The Orioles blanked the Rangers, 5-0, on a dominant four-hitter by pitchers Erik Bedard and Martin Berube. Bedard (2-1, 1.86) three-hit the Rangers over seven while punching out a dozen without a walk, and Berube (0.53 ERA) allowed a hit and plunked Orlando Cruz in his two frames. David Mead allowed a Nick Garcia grand slam in the fifth, and overall he allowed five hits and no walks in 4.1 innings, fanning four. Lefties Jamie Hill and Steve Stamm continued to roll; Hill (2.35 ERA, .203 average against) allowed two hits and a walk in 1.2 scoreless innings, while Stamm (1.74, 1.39) allowed just a walk in two innings, fanning three. Erick Mejias had two of the Rangers’ four singles, while Ricky Angell and Matt Gajewski fanned three times each.”

December 14, 2004 Newberg Report:

“Joe Christensen of the Baltimore Sun writes that the Orioles offered Texas lefthander Matt Riley for Mench but that the Rangers declined. Gary Washburn of MLB.com reports that Baltimore offered either Riley, Erik Bedard, or John Maine to the Rangers for Adrian Gonzalez.”

December 7, 2005 Newberg Report:

“Sullivan and O’Brien write that Baltimore is interested in Adrian Gonzalez and has ‘shown a willingness to talk about’ lefthander Erik Bedard. I’m very interested.”

Bedard’s effort last night was as impressive as any I can remember from an opposing pitcher in Arlington. Fifteen strikeouts, no walks, 27 batters. Two singles, promptly erased on double-play grounders.

Oklahoma’s Jason Botts went 0 for 4 last night, ending what had been a 19-game hit streak.

Bakersfield’s Chris Davis singled in the fourth inning of the Blaze’s game in Modesto, extending his hit streak to 27 games.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JULY 7, 2007

On July 29, 2004, the Rangers promoted Jon Daniels from director of baseball operations to assistant general manager.

Kameron Loe made his AAA debut that night, and it wasn’t a pretty one. In six innings of work he allowed five runs on seven hits (including two home runs), three walks, and a wild pitch, fanning four.

Michael Young was in the midst of his first season as a big league shortstop and his breakthrough 99-RBI season at the plate. Two weeks earlier he’d appeared in his first All-Star Game.

On July 29, 2004, Travis Metcalf was six weeks into his pro career, going 0 for 5 in a road game in Eugene and seeing his Spokane batting average, which had been .300 just 11 days earlier, dip to .264.

Montreal outfielder Brad Wilkerson was in the midst of a breakthrough 32-home run, 106-walk season.

Dodgers closer Eric Gagné, whose streak of 84 consecutives saves without blowing one had been snapped three-and-a-half weeks earlier, saved his 30th 2004 game on July 29, getting four outs in Colorado (two on strikes, two on the ground), lowering his season ERA to 1.50. He was three weeks away from one more blown save that season.

On July 29, 2004, it had been 11 months since Paul Shuey had thrown a big league pitch. His career was presumably over.

Grant Schiller was eight.

On July 29, 2004 we held the first Newberg Report Night at the Ballpark. Texas lost to Oakland, 7-6. Chad Bradford got the win for the A’s, whose catcher, Adam Melhuse, contributed two singles and a walk. Young singled three times. Rookie Frankie Francisco entered in the ninth and struck out Bobby Crosby, the only batter he faced.

Will Carroll flew in from Indianapolis for the event, and Daniels, despite having been at a press conference announcing his promotion as well as those given to Dom Chiti and Ron Hopkins, and a contract extension for Francisco Cordero, came by as well and worked the room during the game.

Nearly three years later, JD and Kameron and Michael and Travis and Brad and Frankie, and Shuey and Bradford and Melhuse, and Grant and Will, and a whole lot of you re-converged, coming from all those different places to Rangers Ballpark to take part in a really cool night.

The final act began with another brilliant turn by Loe, who fired six-plus scoreless innings, scattering five hits and three walks (one intentional), fanning three, and inducing 12 groundouts out of 15 outs put in play.

Wilkerson did his thing again, going deep for the fifth time in five games (12 RBI in that span). Melhuse made a huge play on a wild pitch, tagging Chris Gomez out at the plate in a 3-0 game in the seventh (a call that umpire Brian Knight admitted after the game that he blew). After a Nick Markakis double cut the lead to 3-2, Francisco entered the game, and got four very big outs, needing just 10 pitches, eight of which were strikes.

Bradford got five big outs of his own, starting with a comebacker off Metcalf’s bat in the seventh and ending with a Young roller to second and a Sammy Sosa punchout in the eighth.

Metcalf and Young would redeem themselves.

In the top of the ninth, in the space of just six pitches Gagné blew his first save since those two in 2004, but he managed to strand runners on first and third with a strikeout of Kevin Millar to send the game to extra innings, tied at 3-3.

Joaquin Benoit made quick work of the Orioles in the top of the 10th. In the bottom of the frame, Metcalf singled sharply up the middle off Shuey, who is in the big leagues for the first time since 2003 (when Metcalf was a redshirt sophomore at the University of Kansas). Jerry Hairston Jr. dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt down the third base line, nearly beating it out. With one out and first base open, Shuey issued what had to be an unintentional-intentional walk, giving Ramon Vazquez little to hit in a situation in which the smart play probably would have simply been to put him on and set up the potential double play. Up came Young.

It almost seemed like a foregone conclusion, a great way to finish a great day and night at the yard, evening our Newberg Report Night record at two wins, two losses. Young got the Shuey pitch he wanted immediately, rifling the first pitch he saw by a diving Gomez, sending Metcalf racing home from second, his teammates hopping over the dugout rail and racing onto the field to mob him, and thousands of us into a little hysteria that we’re allowed, even if the walkoff win only pulled us to within 12 games of .500.

I gave up after that first Newberg Report Night on July 29, 2004 trying to fully summarize the event. It would take me hours to write, and maybe nearly as long to read. I’ll leave it to the Newberg Report and LoneStarBall message boards for you guys to recap what went on. Grant is going to write about the event on his blog (http://texasrangerstrades.blogspot.com/) at some point as well.

But I do want to thank a lot of people. JD and Will, first and foremost. They’re the reason 300 of you signed up for this event, and they were great, as always. JD took questions for more than an hour, and if I hadn’t been the one to call an end to it so we could get things wrapped up in time for the first pitch, he’d have kept going. He was candid as usual, even blunt. And your questions were great, starting with Grant kicking things off (automatic) and rolling through what was about 80 minutes without a break.

The ovation you guys gave JD at the end of those 80 minutes lasted as long as a Bob Sturm interview question. It was very cool.

Will continues to fly in for this event every year and put a good face (no, not in the Buck Showalter sense) on all the great work that Baseball Prospectus does and that he does as an author and sports injury expert. He acts like it’s always his privilege to come in each year, but clearly that belongs to us.

Thank you to Cindy and Jeff Kuster, whose work through the Hello Win Column Fund is such an inspiration. Sharae Horton, a single mother of four who is battling cancer, was unable to make it at the last minute because of illness, but the Rangers and Allen Cordrey put together a really groovy gift bag to give to Sharae and her kids, and Cindy and Jeff shared a few moving stories about the families that the Hello Win Column Fund has helped.

We raised $2,700 last night for the Fund, through your donations. That’s really cool.

We raffled off about 30 prizes, and auctioned off another three — the Kusters surprised us with three extra sets of Mark Holtz’s marked up scorebooks and media guides. You can’t imagine how cool those are.

Charles Holden, who made the largest individual donation, took the grand prize from the raffle — a game-issue Rangers warm-up jacket signed by Young, Loe, Wilkerson, Ron Washington, Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Ian Kinsler, Gerald Laird, Jason Botts, Jamey Wright, John Rheinecker, Desi Relaford, Joaquin Arias, Freddy Guzman, Drew Meyer and Kevin Richardson — and gave it to the Kusters so they could raise more money. It was a great gesture by Charles.

We’ll auction that jacket off through the Report in the next week or so. I’ll give you details soon.

Thanks to Allen, Eleanor Czajka, Devin Pike, and Rob Cook, everything went smoothly from our standpoint. Rangers folks Lindsey Welsh and Jason Sampsell made everything easy for us.

Devin had what was probably a routine night for him: He helped collect donations, set up some A/V equipment in the auditorium to accommodate a last-minute change in the program, and officiated at a wedding in one of our 15 suites during the fifth inning.

I’m not joking.

Thanks also to Jeff Cogen, Andy Silverman, Chuck Morgan, Heather Hansen, Taunee Taylor, Paige Farragut, Donnie Pordash, Rush Olson, Hugo Carbajal, and Kate Jett of the Rangers.

Thanks to Scott and Courtney Lucas for coming up from Austin. I imagine for most of you, it was your first chance to meet Scott, who is doing an outstanding job on the daily farm reports. For Courtney’s sake, I think next year we’ll schedule Newberg Report Night for a bobblehead giveaway game.

And thanks to all of you who attended, many from out of town (and even out of state) yourselves. The pregame events were a ton of fun for me, the ballgame was memorable, and it’s always great to see so many of you in person.

I’ll let everyone know when the Channel 5 story on our event will run. Newy Scruggs and his cameraman Noah came out to get some footage, and I’m told the package will probably run on Sunday night, July 22. When I get confirmation, I’ll pass the details along.

If anyone can YouTube the bit that Jim Knox did from our suite (the fourth inning, maybe?), please send me the link.

This season isn’t progressing in the same way that that 89-win season 2004 was unfolding when we had our first event. But baseball is pretty good about delivering snapshot moments, and gathering a bunch of diehard fans like we did, getting an opportunity to spend more than hour of our time talking baseball with the general manager, raising lots of money for an important cause, and seeing Michael Young finish what Kameron Loe started made me feel like those two dozen blue shirts pouring out of the dugout at 10:45 to celebrate a win on the field.

Thanks.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JULY 6, 2007

Streaks:

Twenty-five straight games in which Bakersfield third baseman Chris Davis (.301/.342/.576) has hit safely. He has multiple hits in six of his last nine.

Eighteen straight for Oklahoma left fielder-DH Jason Botts, including home runs in four of his last six games (and extra-base hits in five of six). In the last week he’s raised his OPS from .917 to .986. His batting average (.324) reached its season high last night, as did his on-base percentage (.431). His slug (.556) was at its high point a night earlier.

Five-game hit streak for Frisco right fielder John Mayberry Jr., raising his line from .229/.327/.417 to a very healthy .303/.387/.545 in 66 AA at-bats.

Three straight days of home games unaffected by the rain.

Hoping to keep everything intact today. See you at the yard.

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

Swapping Stories: The Ugueth Urbina Trade of 2003

July 11, 2003: Texas trades closer Ugueth Urbina and cash to Florida for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, lefthander Ryan Snare, and outfielder Will Smith.

Everyone who has played in a Rotisserie league thinks he or she can be a big league general manager. We all know how to value players, right?

But among the hundred reasons none of us could ever be Major League GM’s is that until you’ve been in the game, and in management, you can’t fully appreciate how critical timing is, and how important it is to have both an understanding and a knack for taking advantage of it.

Timing was essential to the Rangers’ acquisition of Ugueth Urbina in December 2002, and the club’s trade of the closer to Florida seven months later.

The Rangers were coming off a 90-loss season in 2002. General Manager John Hart was relatively quiet that off-season in terms of roster turnover, with two notable, related exceptions. Having made the decision to allow Ivan Rodriguez to leave via free agency, he engineered a trade with his former organization, sending hitter Travis Hafner and righthander Aaron Myette to Cleveland for catcher Einar Diaz and righthander Ryan Drese on December 6.

What preceded and followed were several less significant moves, many of which were aimed at patching up a bullpen that had suffered in 2002 from lackluster performances turned in by Hideki Irabu, John Rocker, and Todd Van Poppel. The pen led baseball with 33 blown saves, 38 losses, 266 walks, and 71 home runs surrendered, and Hart set out to overhaul his relief corps. Non-roster deals for Ron Mahay and Brian Shouse, among others, were followed by a bigger move on December 23, when Hart signed Urbina.

Despite coming off a terrific season and a third saving games for Boston, the 28-year-old had to take a significant pay cut from the $6.7 million he’d earned as an All-Star in 2002. Whether the Rangers, who had 27-year-old Francisco Cordero coming off his own breakthrough season (two earned runs after May), went into the winter with plans to add a veteran closer is unclear. But when they were able to get Urbina for $4 million (plus $500,000 deferred), it was a move they couldn’t pass up.

The timing was exquisite. In an off-season remarkably light on available proven closers – and teams needing them – Hart capitalized on Urbina’s slow market and signed him to the one-year deal. In July, Hart timed things perfectly once again.

Cordero, back in a set-up role to get the ball to Urbina, hit his groove in late June. After a stretch of four straight games and five out of six in mid-June in which he’d surrendered runs, he put zeroes up in 11 of his next 12 appearances, registering 13 strikeouts and just one walk in 14 innings over that span. Meanwhile, the club was 18 games out of the division lead as of July 10, and Hart knew by then that several contenders were picturing Urbina (leading the AL with 26 saves despite the Rangers’ poor record) in the eighth or ninth for their own stretch run. The relatively modest investment that Texas had made in Urbina was about to reap benefits, just three months into his Rangers career, beyond the mentoring of Cordero.

Juan Gonzalez had just vetoed a trade to the Expos. Rafael Palmeiro was about to kill a Cubs deal. Urbina, on the other hand, was willing to join a contender.

There were a number of available relievers on the trade market. Among the late-inning relievers traded in July were Armando Benitez, Mike Williams, Curt Leskanic, Matt Herges, Scott Williamson, Mike DeJean, Kent Mercker, and Brandon Lyon. Leskanic was the first to go, heading from Milwaukee to AL Central-leading Kansas City on July 10. Texas acted the following day.

Among the teams reported to be most interested in Urbina were the Yankees (Boston, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Atlanta were others). Most accounts had Texas asking New York for first baseman Nick Johnson or lefthander Brandon Claussen or catcher Dioner Navarro, with the Yankees instead offering a package of lefthander Alex Graman and righthander Jorge DePaula. There were conflicting reports as to whether outfielder Juan Rivera was on the table.

But the Marlins stepped up and offered first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, the first overall pick in the 2000 draft. Hart knew he had his deal, and there was no use waiting – either for Florida to decide that its 4.5-game deficit in the Wild Card hunt was insurmountable or for the reliever market to establish a lower price in players.

At one point the Rangers and Marlins were discussing a package that would have sent either Gonzalez or fellow first baseman Jason Stokes (Texas preferred Gonzalez), plus catcher/corner infielder-outfielder Josh Willingham and lefthander Ryan Snare to Texas. Ultimately, the Marlins forced the Rangers to choose between Gonzalez and Willingham, agreeing to insert outfielder Will Smith as a third player in the deal. Hart pulled the trigger.

“Several clubs were dancing, but when Gonzalez was included I knew where we were going,” Hart said. “You’re never afraid to jump early if the right pieces are there.”

Texas agreed to send approximately $1.5 million to Florida to cover most of what remained on Urbina’s contract. The Rangers considered it a small price to pay for the chance to get Gonzalez. Considering that the Mets acquired forgettable prospects Jason Anderson, Anderson Garcia, and Ryan Bicondoa from the Yankees for Armando Benitez less than a week later, it seems pretty clear that Hart timed things exactly right.

Gonzalez, age 21, was a brilliant defender who had shown an ability to hit for average and moderate power, confirming the John Olerud/Mark Grace projections that he was labeled with since being drafted number one three years earlier. A .312/.382/.486 Low A season in 2001 was followed by a .266/.344/.437 AA season in 2002, and in 2003 he was assigned to AAA. But he struggled, hitting a punchless .216/.286/.288, and at the end of May he was returned to AA.

Texas trusted its scouting reports, writing Gonzalez’s slow AAA start off to December wrist surgery. Had it not been for that slow start, the Marlins’ developmental surplus at first base, and their prescient sense that they were still in the race, Gonzalez probably wouldn’t have been available. Again, it’s all about timing.

Snare and Smith had their ups and downs in the Rangers system. Snare lasted until 2005, getting one big league appearance for Texas in 2004. Smith hung around until 2006. But Gonzalez was the key, and after an uninspiring first summer in AA with the Rangers, he busted out with a big 2004 (.304/.364/.457 in AAA) and a spectacular 2005 (.338/.399/.561 in AAA), getting brief big league looks both years, including a surprise spot on the 2005 Opening Day big league roster – as a DH – after a big camp in which he hit .392/.402/.557 and was among the league leaders with 22 RBI. There was even a momentary experiment in right field when Gonzalez returned to Texas at the end of the season.

Several months later, the Padres insisted that Texas include Gonzalez, who grew up in San Diego, in the January 2006 trade that sent Chris Young and Terrmel Sledge to the Padres for Akinori Otsuka, Adam Eaton, and Billy Killian. The Rangers agreed, and in Gonzalez the Padres now have what should be a perennial candidate for the National League All-Star team.

Florida certainly wouldn’t redo their own trade that sent Gonzalez to Texas. Urbina eventually assumed the Marlins’ closer role and won three games, saved six, and posted a 1.41 ERA to help them get to the post-season. He then recorded four saves in the playoffs, including two in the World Series.

The same vision is probably infiltrating several front offices right now, as clubs imagine what Eric Gagné could do for their playoff chances. Meanwhile, the Rangers are likewise assessing an opportunity to take a reliever they signed to a one-year winter deal and converting him – by timing things right – into a piece or more that could impact the franchise long-term.

Both Texas and the clubs on the other end of the phone can look back four years to the Urbina-Gonzalez trade for inspiration.

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.

JULY 4 NEWBERG REPORT PLUS

Jamey Wright throws a quality start, and it *still* drives me crazy to watch him pitch.

No such consternation watching this bullpen execute.  That was beautiful stuff.

The Rangers, with tonight’s series-clinching win, are close to going a month since their last series loss.  Since dropping two of three in Pittsburgh on June 12-14, they’ve won five series and split one — and three of those series have been against clubs who will be in the playoffs if the standings hold up.

With apologies to Scott Lucas, who will write up today’s farm action in the morning, tonight’s Rangers win has me in a really good mood and so I’m sharing with you the following from the minor leagues:

A home run, a double, and a walk for Oklahoma left fielder Jason Botts tonight.  Surprised?

Frisco righthander Armando Galarraga (7-4, 4.57) fired a complete-game, one-hit shutout, holding Arkansas to a ground ball single to left with two outs in the sixth.  He walked one and punched out nine hitters.

In Clinton lefthander Kasey Kiker’s first 23 pro appearances, the Rangers never allowed him to pitch six innings.  His next two outings:

IP  H R ER BB K
Friday      6.0 4 0  0  1 5
Tonight     6.0 3 0  0  0 7

The 19-year-old, one of the Midwest League’s youngest pitchers, sits at 3-2, 2.25 in nine LumberKing starts.

From my March 17 report from camp in Surprise: "Wilmer Font, Carlos Pimentel, and Geuris Grullon: Pretty soon you won’t need me to tell you to remember those names."

The last three nights of Arizona League action:

IP  H R ER BB K
July 2 Font    4.0 4 0  0  0 6
July 3 Grullon   2.1 0 0  0  1 6
July 4 Pimentel 3.0 0 0  0  3 6

That’s 9.1 scoreless innings pitched, four hits, four walks, and 18 strikeouts.  From three 17-year-olds.

Fireworks.

 

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JULY 4, 2007

You have a core player nearing his first opportunity to market himself to the whole league via free agency, and his agent is Scott Boras. You have absolutely no chance to keep him, right?

Wrong.

The media likes to say that no Boras client ever stays put, but history disproves that. Thanks to the research of readers Todd Trice, Ben Morris, and Jim O’Connor, here’s a breakdown of the list of reasonably high-profile Boras clients over the last decade or so who have been eligible for first-time free agency, slotted in one of three categories:

PLAYERS WHO RE-SIGNED WITH THEIR EXISTING CLUBS: Carlos Baerga (Mets), Darren Dreifort (Dodgers), Andruw Jones (Atlanta), Derek Lowe (Boston), Kevin Millwood (Philadelphia), Robb Nen (San Francisco), Gary Sheffield (Florida), Jason Varitek (Boston), Bernie Williams (Yankees)

PLAYERS WHO DEPARTED WITHOUT DRAFT PICK COMPENSATION: Jim Abbott, Steve Avery, Kevin Brown, J.D. Drew, Eric Gagne, Magglio Ordonez, Jarrod Washburn

PLAYERS WHO DEPARTED WITH DRAFT PICK COMPENSATION: Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre, Johnny Damon, Alex Fernandez, Greg Maddux, Chan Ho Park, Alex Rodriguez, Kenny Rogers, Jeff Weaver, Barry Zito

We know that Mark Teixeira isn’t going to fit in category number two. If Teixeira is here on the final day of the 2008 season, the Rangers will obviously offer him arbitration to recoup a late first-round pick plus a supplemental first from the team that signs him (one possible exception: Baltimore is the only team that should be in the mix and might be a lower-half team in 2008, in which case the Rangers would get a supplemental first plus the Orioles’ second-round pick rather than their first).

The question, then, is whether Teixeira will be one of those who doesn’t leave. There are a dozen factors, of course, that go into the analysis of whether Teixeira stays or goes, and when, but it might be instructive to take a look at what the 10 teams who offered arbitration to their Boras clients got in return.

Also keep in mind that in a couple of those cases — Beltran and Damon — the team faced with the decision was not the team that had drafted and developed the player (Kansas City in both cases) but instead the team who got part or all of the player’s final year before free agency. The Royals traded Damon to Oakland in January of 2001, along with infielder Mark Ellis, getting reliever Roberto Hernandez from Tampa Bay and shortstop Angel Berroa and catcher A.J. Hinch from Oakland in a three-team trade. The Royals traded Beltran to Houston in late June of 2004, getting catcher John Buck from the Astros and third baseman Mark Teahen and righthander Mike Wood from the A’s in another three-team deal.

Kansas City traded Damon and Beltran because the club knew it would be unable to keep those players when they reached free agency the following winter. Were the returns the Royals got in each case better than the draft pick compensation would have been? Certainly not in one case, probably so in the other.

For the loss of Damon to Boston, Oakland was compensated with picks it used to draft outfielder-first baseman Nick Swisher (16th overall) and Teahen (29th). Those two players, along with Joe Blanton, keyed the A’s “Moneyball” draft.

For the loss of Beltran to the Mets, Houston was compensated with picks it used to draft outfielder Eli Iorg (38th) and Tommy Manzella (89th).

The rest of the draft pick returns:

For the loss of Beltre to the Mariners, the Dodgers were compensated with picks they used to draft righthander Luke Hochevar (40th) and shortstop Ivan DeJesus Jr. (51st). It was the second time that Los Angeles drafted Hochevar, and the club couldn’t come to terms with him either time. Kansas City made him the first pick in the draft and signed him in 2006, the year after the Dodgers had used the compensation pick on him.

For the loss of Fernandez to the Marlins, the White Sox were compensated with picks they used to draft righthanders Kyle Kane (33rd) and Aaron Myette (43rd).

For the loss of Maddux to the Braves, the Cubs were compensated with picks they used to draft righthander Jon Ratliff (24th) and third baseman Kevin Orie (29th).

For the loss of Park to the Rangers, the Dodgers were compensated with picks they used to draft lefthander Greg Miller (31st) and righthander Zach Hammes (51st).

For the loss of A-Rod to the Rangers, Seattle was compensated with picks it used to draft infielder Michael Garciaparra (36th) and catcher Rene Rivera (49th).

For the loss of Rogers to the Yankees, Texas was compensated with picks it used to draft righthander Sam Marsonek (24th) and lefthander Corey Lee (32nd).

For the loss of Weaver to the Angels, the Dodgers were compensated with picks they used to draft righthander Bryan Morris (26th) and infielder Preston Mattingly (31st).

For the loss of Zito to the Giants, Oakland was compensated with picks it used to draft first baseman Sean Doolittle (41st) and outfielder Grant Desme (74th).

It’s still early with regard to some of the above, but at this point Oakland’s Swisher/Teahen picks are the only ones that have paid off well. But recognize that the A’s had to pay about $2.5 million in bonus money to sign them, so it’s not as if you can compare those two to a couple prospects Oakland might have been able to turn Damon into.

But now you’re a step ahead of me.

The A’s couldn’t trade Damon. Not because they’d just acquired him a year earlier (and by the way, nice work by Billy Beane: moving Berroa and Hinch to get Damon and ending up not only with a year of Damon in center field but coming out the other end with Ellis, Swisher, and Teahen) — but because 2001 was a playoff season for the A’s.

And that’s why I’ve said for two months now that I think Teixeira will be traded before Opening Day. If the Rangers go into the 2008 season with him on the roster — and if they don’t believe he will sign here long-term — and the team finds itself in striking distance in July, Jon Daniels obviously can’t deal Teixeira at that point. (As I wrote on May 16: “So just trade him during the 2008 season, you say? Can’t plan on that. Think about it: If Texas is 58-45 in the last week of July, a game back of the Angels, can you imagine the message it would send to the clubhouse and the fans if the club decided it needed to trade its most productive hitter? Would never happen. And to go into the 2008 season assuming that it would be impossible to be in a contending position in July is just not something Jon Daniels would ever do.”)

If the Rangers believe Teixeira will sign somewhere else after the 2008 season, they simply have to trade him this month, or this winter.

Otherwise, they may end up spending a couple million bucks on Michael Garciaparra and Rene Rivera.

The point is this: Just because Teixeira is a Boras client doesn’t automatically mean (contrary to popular media spouting) that he’s going to leave. Maybe more Boras clients change teams than players represented by other agents, but it’s still a case-by-case basis.

Still, most think that Teixeira will test the market, whether because he ultimately wants to play in New York or Baltimore or Atlanta, or because Boras will push him to free agency (though I don’t think that will be the key factor), or because the Union will encourage him to shop himself and score the next landmark contract. And if the Rangers believe that’s where this is headed, a trade simply makes more sense than counting on two players chosen with compensatory draft picks — who will cost $2-3 million more to acquire than another team’s prospects, and who will clearly be longer shots to make it than another team’s prospects.

I’m still not convinced the trade will happen this month, and that has nothing to do with Teixeira’s health. Yes, teams may be more willing to give up significant minor league talent in July in order to have him around for two pennant races. But in the winter, more clubs might be interested (faced with their own free agent losses to address) and all interested clubs should be in a better position to give up players they might not otherwise be willing to part with while in the thick of a pennant race.

Example: the way first baseman James Loney, outfielder Matt Kemp, and righthander Chad Billingsley have responded in the last few weeks to intensified roles with the Dodgers, why would Los Angeles part with any of them in a deal to get Teixeira? That’s not to say that the Dodgers would move any of them in December, either, but unfortunately it doesn’t make sense for the club to disrupt things right now to get Teixeira, unless the names involved were instead players like Andre Ethier, Andy LaRoche, Jonathan Meloan, Hong-Chih Kuo, Tony Abreu, or Chin-Lung Hu. Maybe even Clayton Kershaw, though I’d be surprised if he were made available.

Teixeira is reportedly primed to return to the lineup on July 13, immediately following the All-Star Break. He might first go out on a brief rehab assignment to test his left quad in game conditions.

Center fielder Kenny Lofton is no longer a very good defender, but maybe his bat has heated up at the right time to make it 11 playoff seasons out of 13 for the 40-year-old. Marlon Byrd (.398/.438/.582) was certainly a deserving June Player of the Month for the organization, but Lofton hit .388/.459/.518 in June, with a phenomenal ratio of 12 walks to only four strikeouts in 85 at-bats.

Maybe most interesting is that Lofton went 8 for 16 in the Boston series over the weekend — the Red Sox might be the one contender who could use some help in center field, in case Coco Crisp’s return from a sprained thumb goes less than smoothly and the club decides Jacoby Ellsbury’s not ready for a pennant race.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Rangers’ current asking prices for Eric Gagné and Akinori Otsuka are “outrageous.”

Good.

Ken Davidoff of Newsday calls Gagné and Otsuka two of the top three available pitchers in baseball this month (along with Matt Morris), and Teixeira the number two available hitter (next to Adam Dunn).

Consider this with regard to whether Gagné would waive his no-trade clause for one of the 17 teams he can block a deal to: his contract contains significant incentives tied to games finished, so it’s not likely he’d consent to a deal to one of those 17 teams if it’s one that would use him in the eighth inning.

Through basically half a season, Gagné has finished 22 games. If he were to replicate that number the rest of the way, he will have earned $2.25 million in incentives. And he’s spent 26 days on the disabled list, so if he’s healthy for the second half, he would be on pace to finish maybe another 10 games, which would mean an additional $1.25 million. If he gets to 56 games finished, which is certainly conceivable if he stays away from the DL, he maxes out on appearance-based incentives and would pull in a total of $4 million on top of his $6 million base.

So yeah, he’s going to be a little disinclined to waive his limited no-trade to go to a team that isn’t going to unseat its current closer.

As for Gagné’s comments this week that he loves it in Texas and would like to stay for a few years? Nothing wrong with trading him now for a blue-chip prospect and then signing him in the winter. I gladly forfeit a second-round pick to do that — the player you should be able to get for him now is going to be more valuable an asset than a second-round pick, even setting aside the million bucks the draft choice would cost to sign.

Texas may keep Otsuka out of action through next week’s All-Star Break, though he reportedly won’t undergo an MRI on his right forearm, in which he experienced tightness during Sunday appearance in Boston.

Oklahoma shortstop Joaquin Arias has been shut down and will have season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. He got into just three games with the RedHawks after appearing in two Arizona League contests on a rehab assignment.

Oklahoma righthander Mike Wood was named a Pacific Coast League All-Star. Outfielder Jason Botts was not. Maybe those voting thought that surely he’d been summoned to the big leagues some time ago.

Another home run for Botts last night, along with a single.

If you’re on the mailing list, you caught Scott Lucas’s great note in yesterday’s Farm Report that the only professional baseball player with more doubles than Botts’s 32 going into last night’s games was Magglio Ordonez, and the only three with more than Botts’s 60 walks were Barry Bonds, Todd Helton, and Oakland AA outfielder-third baseman Luke Appert.

Wins don’t matter a whole lot on the farm, but maybe they aren’t the worst thing in the world for Edinson Volquez, whose retooling involves more than just his mechanics. He’s now 7-0, 3.77 in nine Frisco starts, and even on nights when he hasn’t been at his most effective, he’s clearly kept his team in the game.

Frisco outfielder Brandon Boggs is up to .299/.407/.576, his highest numbers since the season’s second week. Boggs has hit for a higher batting average and higher slugging percentage in each of his four pro seasons, a significant accomplishment considering the pitching obviously gets better at each level.

Bakersfield third baseman Chris Davis extended his hit streak to 23 games last night.

Arizona League catcher Cristian Santana fractured his thumb and will miss four to six weeks. The 18-year-old prospect missed the 2006 season due to shoulder surgery.

When Texas Rule 5’d lefthander John Koronka in December 2002 and returned him to the Reds before spring training ended, it did produce an outright, which means if he clears waivers this week and the Rangers outright his contract to the minor leagues, he will have the right to decline the assignment and take immediate free agency.

Koronka will be out of options when this season ends, and since it was unlikely that he would have made the Opening Day staff in 2008, his designation for assignment shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. As for this year, he was certainly behind Wood and Willie Eyre and probably John Rheinecker on the rotation depth chart, not to mention Vicente Padilla upon his return.

According to Baseball America, Texas released righthander Tony Pluta and infielder Johany Abreu, and signed undrafted Pepperdine outfielder Luke Salas, a four-year starter and career .305 hitter for the Waves. Salas was assigned to Spokane.

Rangers first-round righthanders Blake Beavan and Michael Main are both first-teamers on Baseball America’s High School All-America team, Beavan as one of five pitchers and Main as the utility player for his stellar work both on the mound and at the plate. Righthander Neil Ramirez (supplemental first round) and outfielder Garrett Nash (fourth round) are second-team honorees.

Third-rounder Evan Reed, a reliever from Cal Poly, has reportedly signed, as have Arizona State outfielder Tim Smith (seventh round), Texas Lutheran University shortstop Jacob Kaase (23rd round), and Oregon State lefthander Anton Maxwell (31st round).

Pittsburgh released righthander Matt Lorenzo. Washington released righthander Shane Funk.

Along with manager Jerry Narron, Cincinnati fired bench coach Bucky Dent, and roving outfield instructor Ed Napoleon resigned.

Florida signed lefthander Erasmo Ramirez to a AAA contract and has already brought him up to the big club.

The Sussex SkyHawks of the independent Can-Am League released righthander Fernando Rijo.

Tomorrow’s “Swapping Stories” trade retrospective will be about the 2003 trade that sent Ugueth Urbina to Florida for a package including Adrian Gonzalez.

See about 300 of you at Newberg Report Night on Friday.

In the meantime, Happy Fourth.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JULY 3, 2007

It struck me tonight, as Ervin “Magic” Santana was punching Rangers out early on like Morris Moss against Kimball High, that I don’t think I’d ever seen, at the big league level, a lineup collectively watch more strikes and swing at more balls out of the zone as Texas did the first couple times through the lineup.

(Is the fact that John Hirschbeck is working behind the plate a factor? Maybe. But it’s not as if we didn’t know who was umpiring tonight.)

One of these days I think I’ll relinquish my perch in center field where I operate that super-turbo-high-tech beacon lighting system, signaling pitches to hitters on nights that Mark Buehrle isn’t on the mound, and instead eavesdrop on the road team’s late-afternoon pitcher-catcher game-planning session.

Would love to know how other teams think they can get our guys out.

Give the Rangers this, however: the lineup forced 103 Santana pitches through five innings. Now, when 10 of his 15 outs come on strikes (11 strikeouts all told), that alone is going to ratchet a pitch count up, but at the same time among those 103 deliveries were 37 allowed to go by outside the zone.

The working of counts has paid off. You could see Santana laboring a bit when Brad Wilkerson took him yard for the second time in the game to lead off the sixth and when Desi Relaford rifled a single on the next pitch. A Travis Metcalf sac bunt followed and suddenly Santana’s night is finished. Nice work.

And a very nice bounceback so far for Kevin Millwood, after some command issues the first time through the lineup.

Love well-pitched games like this.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JULY 2, 2007

Over a week’s time, the Rangers beat Roy Oswalt, Jeremy Bonderman, and Josh Beckett.

And then tonight Kason Koufax joins a Ranger-killing pantheon that includes Bartolo Buchholz, Cha Seung Clemens, Grover Cleveland Gaudin, and Cy Snell.

Nothing wrong with a 4-3 road trip against a pair of division-leading clubs, but man, that one was frustrating.

Over in Omaha, two more doubles for Jason Botts tonight, giving him a stupid 32 two-baggers in just 83 games. And 60 walks, which leads the PCL by 10.

Thirty-two doubles in a half a season.

That’s sorta good.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — JULY 1, 2007

Are you one of those who thinks the Rangers rotation has been an unmitigated disaster this year?  That there have been absolutely no positive developments to come out of the starting five?

No question that the rotation has been the key reason for the club’s awful start and its unhappily firm hold on last place in the West.  There have been far, far too many nights on which this team has had to play from behind.

But you think there’s been zero good news lately as far as Rangers starting pitchers are concerned?

Bull.

Kameronloe

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

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