THE NEWBERG REPORT — AUGUST 24, 2007
The leading home run hitters in baseball over the last seven days:
Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, with five bombs each.
Since Texas traded Teixeira to Atlanta, nobody has more than his 10 home runs. Meanwhile, no Ranger has more homers in that span than Saltalamacchia.
This is certainly not to suggest that Saltalamacchia is anywhere near as dangerous today as Teixeira or Pujols, but that’s not the point, especially since (1) Jon Daniels was in a position a month ago of deciding what to do with a player who was going to choose not to play here in a year and a half and (2) he also got four other prospects in the deal that sent Teixeira and Ron Mahay to Atlanta.
When Teixeira was as old as Saltalamacchia is today, he homered, singled, and walked as AA Tulsa’s third baseman in a 7-6 win over Wichita. (That game happened to be the AA debut for C.J. Wilson, who allowed two runs on three hits and two walks in five innings, fanning four.)
The point is that while Saltalamacchia’s .221/.259/.455 line as a Ranger (.261/.308/.427 when his time with the Braves is included) isn’t very imposing, we need to remember that he was 21 years old when this season began.
The other players Texas got in the trade:
Spokane righthander Neftali Feliz has a 1.08 ERA in five appearances (and no runs allowed since his first outing), scattering five hits (.167 opponents’ average) and six walks in 8.1 innings while punching out a phenomenal 16 hitters. Left-handed hitters and righties are identically inept against the 6’3″ 19-year-old. Last night he got four outs. All on strikes.
The organization views Feliz as a starting pitcher down the road. Right now the idea is to keep him on a pitching schedule but to work him in relief as the club limits his workload.
Bakersfield shortstop Elvis Andrus is hitting .313/.367/.398 for the Blaze. He has hits in 17 of his last 19 games, and since his first five Bakersfield games he’s hitting .355. Andrus, who turns 19 on Sunday, was just a .244/.330/.335 hitter for High A Myrtle Beach in the Braves system, but instructively, he was a .296/.379/.413 hitter on the road.
Clinton lefthander Beau Jones is 3-0, 1.15 in four appearances, the last three of which were starts. In 15.2 innings, he’s permitted 11 hits (.196 opponents’ average) and five walks, striking out 14. Prior to the trade, Jones, who turns 21 tomorrow, walked 26 in 56.1 innings between Myrtle Beach and Low A Rome, all in relief with the exception of one start in June.
Lefthander Matt Harrison could join Frisco for its post-season run. He’s throwing off a mound in Surprise, rehabbing a case of turf toe.
As far as the Boston trade is concerned, lefthander Kason Gabbard is 2-1, 3.51 in five Rangers starts, three of which were quality starts. The other two? The 25-year-old was one out short of a quality start in his Texas debut, giving up three runs in 5.2 innings, and he was lifted from his August 12 start after getting four outs without permitting a run, due to forearm stiffness.
Outfielder David Murphy is 11 for 23 (.478/.478/.652) as a Ranger, playing good defense.
Outfielder Engel Beltre, at age 17, is hitting .303/.386/.553 against Arizona League pitching. He has four home runs, three doubles, two triples, and three stolen bases in 19 games, batting at the top of the order and playing center field.
Meanwhile, Eric Gagné has an ERA of 11.25 in nine Boston appearances.
Oklahoma first baseman Nate Gold has 11 home runs in 22 August games. He had 13 homers in 90 games coming into the month.
Promising Arizona League catcher Cristian Santana is hitting .302/.439/.558, including .361/.506/.623 in his last 18 games.
If Jamey Wright is needed in big league relief today, righthander Armando Galarraga would reportedly be called up to make tomorrow’s start.
Looks like the odds are against Akinori Otsuka pitching again this season, though he probably won’t need elbow surgery.
The latest installment of my “Swapping Stories” column focuses on the Rangers’ 1992 blockbuster trade with Oakland that sent Ruben Sierra, Bobby Witt, and Jeff Russell to the A’s for Jose Canseco.
You can find an interview I did with Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus Radio at http://www.baseballprospectus.com/radio/ (Aug. 23 link). We talked mostly about the big picture for the Rangers but touched on Wednesday’s 30-run explosion as well.
My favorite notes from that game:
Murphy, Saltalamacchia, and Ramon Vazquez, the bottom three hitters in the lineup, each reached base five times, going 13 for 19 with four homers and 16 RBIs.
Saltalamacchia came into the game hitting .132 with two strikes. All four of his hits, including two home runs, came with two strikes.
Texas hitters reached base 11 of 12 times (eight walks, three hits) when the count reached three balls.
Baltimore pitchers threw 120 more pitches than their Ranger counterparts.
The Rangers saw 33 pitches out of the zone on the first pitch, chasing only two of them.
Murphy swung at 14 pitches in the game. He missed one.
John Danks is slated to face off against Josh Beckett in Game One of today’s Chicago-Boston doubleheader. Brings back a memory or two.
The two-year, $22 million extension that Chicago gave outfielder Jermaine Dye surely has to cap Mike Cameron’s market this winter since Cameron, still a solid center fielder, is a year older than Dye and has been less productive this year. I’ve always loved Cameron’s game, even if it’s not what it once was.
Rangers minor league catching instructor Damon Berryhill will manage the Surprise Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, which begins play in October.
Frisco coach Scott Coolbaugh will serve as a coach in the Hawaii Winter Basbeall League.
Daniels will be in the television booth with Victor Rojas and Tom Grieve next Thursday, August 30, for what amounts to an in-game live chat. You can submit questions for JD in advance (or during the game) by going to http://www.foxports.com and typing in keywords “Rangers Booth.” If your question is read on the air, you will receive two vouchers for an upcoming 2007 Rangers home game.
By the way, Happy Number 30 to JD.
And I’m not talking about Wednesday’s Game One.