THE NEWBERG REPORT — AUGUST 30, 2007

We now know that righthander Edinson Volquez will be recalled when rosters expand on Saturday, and in fact he’ll make that day’s start in Anaheim.

We can be relatively certain that lefthander A.J. Murray is coming back up, too, and that a third catcher (Chris Stewart? Guillermo Quiroz?) is a near-lock to join him. There’s been some speculation that center fielder Freddy Guzman, who leads all of AAA with 51 stolen bases, could get his first 2007 look. And that makes a good amount of sense, as Guzman is on his final option.

Victor Diaz and Kevin Mahar are candidates to show up again as well. Travis Metcalf will return at some point from the disabled list.

But righthander Eric Hurley, who stands to be the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year and could be a rotation factor sometime in 2008? Almost no mention.

As it should be.

That’s not a knock on the 22-year-old. He’s had a terrific season. The last time the Rangers drafted and developed a righthander and got him to the doorstep with this much promise was probably Kevin Brown, 20 years ago.

The reason you would bring Hurley up in September would be to reward him not only for his strong season but for four years of buying into the program and capitalizing on it. To get him acclimated now, if not on the mound then in the clubhouse and on the plane.

But there are more significant reasons not to bring Hurley to Arlington next month.

First, he can’t be drafted via Rule 5 until next winter, so there’s no compelling reason to put him on the 40-man roster before sometime in 2008, and in fact there’s a strong disincentive, as giving him a roster spot means Jon Daniels would unnecessarily have one less spot this winter to devote to a free agent or trade acquisition, or to a minor leaguer among those who would otherwise be exposed to the draft.

Second, Hurley has thrown 158 innings this year, already a career high. Why push it?

Third, on a related note, what if he were to come up here and, buoyed by adrenaline and an urge to prove himself at the highest level, overthrows or gets lax with his mechanics and hurts himself, as Philip Hughes and Jair Jurrjens did? Don’t even want to imagine how ugly that would be.

Fourth, Hurley had his worst outing of the season on Monday. He’ll get one more RedHawks start (on Saturday), and possibly more if Oklahoma makes up its 1.5-game deficit and extends its season. For his sake, I’d like to see him bounce back and take a good start into his off-season. More likely to have that come in Albuquerque (the Isotopes, whom the RedHawks are chasing, haven’t seen Hurley yet) than in Anaheim, or Minnesota, or Arlington.

Fifth, and this isn’t really a reason not to bring Hurley up, but more of a point of precedent. In 2005, Ian Kinsler had a .274/.348/.464 AAA season, with 28 doubles, 23 home runs, and 94 RBI. He was the organization’s minor league player of the month in August (.336/.421/.555, five homers, 20 RBI). The Rangers surely had thoughts as September arrived that Kinsler was ready to take over at second base, leading them to trade Alfonso Soriano three months later. And even if Kinsler wasn’t a lock to break camp with Texas the next spring, he was nonetheless going to be draft-eligible in December 2005 and thus was going to be added to the 40-man roster in November.

But Kinsler was not called up when rosters expanded. C.J. Wilson and Marshall McDougall returned from brief options. Josh Rupe was recalled to make his big league debut, as was Jason Botts. Second-year big leaguer Gerald Laird was recalled, and it was non-roster member Esteban German, rather than Kinsler, who was purchased and given a September audition in the infield.

I can’t get behind the idea that it would be very smart for Texas to bring Hurley up this year. The non-roster invite he’ll get in camp in February won’t carry some stigma distinguishing it from the invitation that 40-man roster member Armando Galarraga will get, and in fact Hurley will get a more extensive look in Surprise. He’ll start the year in Oklahoma, just as he would have if on the 40-man roster. He’ll show up in Texas when the time is right, just as he would have if on the 40-man roster.

In any event, I don’t expect we’ll be seeing Hurley in Rangers Ballpark until 2008.

We will see Volquez, however. The reigning Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week (1-0, 0.00, six hits, five walks, 16 strikeouts in 13 innings over two starts) will start in Anaheim on Saturday and then make his home debut during the Oakland series the following weekend.

Turns out John Danks will pitch in Rangers Ballpark this year before Volquez does. Danks is slated to start tonight against Kevin Millwood.

Daniels will watch the Danks start from the television booth with Victor Rojas and Tom Grieve, as he does a live, in-game chat session. You can submit questions for Daniels today 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.

Hand it to Sammy Sosa. Another couple productive at-bats against lefthanders last night, this time delivering his first pinch-hit of the year with a game-tying double into the right field corner in the seventh and then the game-winning sacrifice line drive to center in the 11th.

Hey, Detroit? Minnesota? Omar Minaya? Somebody offer us your Scott Shoemaker for the man before tomorrow night.

Before John Rheinecker came in and caught Jim Thome looking in the eighth, I think the last Rangers pitcher to get Thome out was Steve Foucault. Good grief.

As for Thome’s next at-bat (in the 10th), you’ve got to love the rare 4-5-3 double play that Wilson coaxed.

The Rangers no-hit Chicago over the final 6.2 innings last night, including Kameron Loe’s final inning and two-thirds and then five frames from the bullpen.

The television broadcast last night suggested that Michael Young needed to hit .339 the rest of the way to get to 200 hits, and that was before he went 2 for 6. I think they were wrong, though. My math says that he needs to go 40 for 123 the rest of the way (.324) to reach 200.

Marlon Byrd, who turned 30 yesterday, has 86 RBI between Oklahoma and Texas this season.

Wilson may just is in his first full big league season, but he was selected to be the Rangers’ new player representative once Mark Teixeira was traded.

Righthander Willie Eyre had Tommy John elbow surgery on Monday and will miss the 2008 season.

Catcher Adam Melhuse, whom Texas designated for assignment a week ago, cleared waivers and is a free agent. He could sign with another club today or tomorrow and be eligible for post-season play.

Watching A.J. Pierzynski get collared in five trips last night, leaving four men on base, reminded me that Daniels is going to have an interesting opportunity this winter with his catching depth. Could Laird bring something despite his subpar season? Minnesota turned Pierzynski into Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser. Johnny Estrada made Kevin Millwood a Phillie. Einar Diaz keyed deals for Travis Hafner and Chris Young. Eddie Taubensee brought rookie Kenny Lofton to Cleveland.

Laird may not have the value that a 26-year-old Pierzynski but should be in the same ballpark as Estrada and Taubensee were and certainly has more big league cred and projection than Diaz had.

And imagine what Saltalamacchia could bring, if the Rangers decide to investigate that alternative and stay with Laird until Taylor Teagarden is ready. Would Tampa Bay be willing to discuss Scott Kazmir, who is set to go to arbitration this winter? Do you allow yourself to test the Dontrelle Willis waters? We know that Pittsburgh was dangling Ian Snell before Atlanta used Saltalamacchia to get Teixeira. Has Zack Greinke’s resurgence as a reliever and spot starter so locked him in with Kansas City that they wouldn’t discuss him?

Dare I suggest that the White Sox might make Danks available if Saltalamacchia were on the table?

Or, thinking much bigger, what about using him to front a package for Miguel Cabrera, who makes $7.4 million this year and will make more the next two years through arbitration before surely pricing himself out of Florida after the 2009 season?

Laird should have enough value to fetch something useful, and is more likely to be traded than Saltalamacchia. But don’t ever think that Daniels isn’t considering every possibility, including some that may seem all but impossible.

Atlanta is 13-14 since trading for Teixeira and Ron Mahay, and has fallen from 3.5 games back in the National League East to five games back.

Texas is 13-13 in that same stretch.

Saltalamacchia when playing catcher for the Braves: .354/.393/.468. When playing first base, DH’ing, or pinch-hitting: .194/.261/.339.

When playing catcher for Texas: .371/.405/.714. When playing first base: .143/.172/.268.

Oklahoma righthander Ezequiel Astacio threw a pitch behind New Orleans designated hitter Jason Alfaro in the ninth inning of last night’s 8-2 Redhawks loss, causing the benches to clear. Nobody threw a punch, and nobody got tossed.

From the great Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus: “Between the Teixeira trade, the 2007 draft, and the emergence of Chris Davis, is there a more improved system this year than the Rangers?”

Davis did not homer for Frisco last night. Probably should have sent out a news flash.

Frisco’s Dave Anderson was named Texas League Manager of the Year, while righthander Luis Mendoza and second baseman German Duran made the Post-Season All-Star Team.

Spokane catcher Jonathan Greene (.249/.359/.482, 11 home runs, 44 RBI in 54 games) and lefthander Ryan Falcon (4-2, 2.36, one save in 24 relief appearances, 32 hits [.208 opponents' average, just two home runs], six walks, and 58 strikeouts in 42 innings) made the Northwest League All-Star Team.

The Rangers signed veteran righthander Luther Hackman to pitch in relief for Oklahoma, placing righthander Alfredo Simon on the disabled list. The 32-year-old Hackman, who saved 18 games for AAA Nashville with a 3.61 ERA this season, has pitched in the big leagues for Colorado, St. Louis, and San Diego. I don’t think he’s ever gone by his middle name, Gean.

Bakersfield infielder Thomas Berkery was promoted to Frisco.

Blaze shortstop Elvis Andrus returned to action last night after missing four days with a minor injury. In five plate appearances he singled, drew two walks, and stole two bases.

According to Baseball America, the Rangers placed righthander Luis Indriago (10.34 ERA in 15.2 Arizona League innings) on the suspended list.

The Dodgers, who couldn’t get their stuff together a month ago to make a meaningful trade deadline deal, placed a claim on righthander Esteban Loaiza this week and, yesterday, Oakland decided not to revoke, sticking Los Angeles with the 35-year-old and the roughly $8.5 million he’s guaranteed over final month plus next season. Or the Dodgers can opt to pay Loaiza (whose season debut was last week after neck and knee injuries kept him sidelined all year) a little more than $15.5 million if they want to keep him around in 2009 as well.

Oakland recalled righthander Colby Lewis from AAA to replace Loaiza on its staff.

St. Louis signed lefthander Mike Venafro to a minor league contract. Cincinnati released outfielder Tyrell Godwin. The North Shore Spirit of the independent Can-Am League released righthander Ruben Feliciano.

Fort Worth Cats lefthander Mario Ramos retired last week.

Pumped to see John Danks pitch here tonight. It wouldn’t surprise me if Sammy Sosa is in the lineup, and as much as I’d prefer not to see that, and hope that some contender calls Jon Daniels today agreeing to take him, I’d prefer to have Sosa suited up here in September than Eric Hurley.

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

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