October 2007

2008 Bound Edition of the Newberg Report

2008 BOUND EDITION OF THE NEWBERG REPORT

I’m now taking preorders for the 2008 Bound Edition of the Newberg Report, my ninth annual book on the Texas Rangers.  It’s more than 300 pages commemorating the 2007 season, beginning with the search for a new manager and moving into a season that got off to a disappointing start before things got interesting, first with a June draft that was one of the strongest in the league, a July trading season that Texas dominated from a sellers’ standpoint, and a two-month stretch in the second half in which the Rangers played their best baseball of the year, despite the fact that the club had traded several key veterans and turned things over to a much younger roster.  The book not only looks back on 2007 but is also a primer on what you can expect from this organization for years to come.  Nowhere can you find more information and analysis on the players that the Rangers are developing as future members of the major league team and, in some cases, as ammunition to trade for veterans brought in to join the core of the club.

Nearly 700 of you on this mailing list are past customers of the Bound Edition, but for those of you who are relatively new to the Newberg Report and may not be aware that I publish a book each year, here is what you can expect from the Bound Edition:

THE FEATURES

The book picks up right where the 2007 Bound Edition left off, starting with the dismissal of Buck Showalter and the process management went through in deciding on his replacement.  What followed was a season that, in many ways, was among the most fascinating Rangers seasons in years, one that ended with a sense that a long-term plan was in place and had some momentum.  The Bound Edition is the most thorough chronicle you’ll find of the twists and turns that the 2007 season took, and of the implications of the personnel moves that highlighted it.

The 2008 Bound Edition contains every report I wrote from early October 2006 until early October 2007.  It’s a complete record of the Rangers’ 2007 season, complete with a feature section comprised of more than 60 pages of new material that won’t ever appear on the website or in any e-mail deliveries and including more prospect evaluations than ever before.

Included in that bonus material will be the return of the Newberg Report Awards, with an assessment and ranking of what I consider to be the top 72 prospects in the Rangers system and, for the first time, commentaries on every one of those players, broken down by position.

The “Poised” lists of the 10 position players and 10 pitchers that I’m predicting breakout years for in 2008 are back, as is the annual “40-Man Roster Conundrum” chapter, in which I look at the roster decisions facing the organization this winter plus an explanation of how the Rule 5 Draft works, and also the popular Transactions Hornbook, giving you one place to go to learn, in great detail, how baseball’s rules work, with sections on waivers, options, outright assignments, arbitration, the amateur draft, and a bunch more.   

I’m also including the couple dozen “Swapping Stories” columns I wrote for MLB.com in 2007, each marking the anniversary of a notable trade from Rangers franchise history.

The Bound Edition contains season-ending statistics for every player who appeared with the Rangers’ big league club, all six minor league affiliates, and the Dominican Summer League in 2007, plus full details on the Rangers’ 2007 draft and a chronological rundown of every transaction Texas made in 2007.

The forewords for the 2007 Bound Edition were written by Rangers broadcaster and former player and general manager Tom Grieve, Newsday columnist Ken Davidoff, and longtime Newberg Report reader Paul Foster. 

The front and back cover once again feature action photographs – taken by some of the best photographers in the business – of more than a dozen of the Rangers’ top prospects, perfect for autographs.  I don’t want to reveal too much more about the cover yet, but I’m really pumped about it.

THE PRICE

As always, the 2008 Bound Edition is $25.00.   

Because I have to front the costs, if you plan to buy copies of the book I would appreciate it if you’re able to send payment now.

As we’ve always done, there is a discount if you pay now.  If you pay for your order by November 15, I will waive the standard $2-per-book shipping charges.  Accordingly, the book will cost you only $23 if you pay by November 15, either by (1) check or money order, or (2) credit card through http://www.PayPal.com. ; Since sales of the book have increased each year, it’s easier on me if I know right away about how many to have the printer generate for the first run.  The books should be ready for delivery by the second week of December at the latest, in time to help you not only stock your own reference shelf or coffee table but also fill Christmas and Chanukah lists for your friends and family.  And as we’ve done the past two years, we’ll have a book release party with Rangers guests in attendance.

I know the $2 discount isn’t much, but I don’t have much of a margin to deal with.

I also have all the previous editions of the Bound Edition for sale.  The price breakdown is as follows: 

2008 Bound Edition – $25 (but $23 if you pay by November 15)
2007 Bound Edition – $20
2006 Bound Edition – $15
2005 Bound Edition – $15
2004 Bound Edition – $15
2003 Bound Edition – $15
2002 Bound Edition – $15
2001 Bound Edition – $15
2000 Bound Edition – $10

SPECIALS

1. Again, if you pay by November 15, the price of the 2008 Bound Edition is reduced from $25 to $23.

2. A gift set of all nine Bound Editions is available for $120, which is a $25 discount.

ORDERING

For those who are in a position to pay now, I’d appreciate it.  You can order by credit card through PayPal (more on that in a moment) or you can send a check or money order in whatever amount your order comes to, payable to “Jamey Newberg,” at:

Jamey Newberg
Vincent & Moyé, P.C. 
2001 Bryan Street, Suite 2000
Dallas, TX 75201

In addition to your check or money order, please make sure I have your mailing address, and specify how many of each book you want.

Ordering by credit card through PayPal is very easy.  Just go to http://www.paypal.com, select the “Send money” option, and type in gjsneaker@sbcglobal.net where it asks for the e-mail account (and again, make sure you identify exactly what years of the Bound Edition you want, so I know exactly what to ship to you).

If PayPal is new to you, signing up is extremely user-friendly, costs you nothing, and is completely secure. Go to https://www.paypal.com/refer/pal=gjsneaker%40sbcglobal.net and follow the simple instructions.

For inventory and printing purposes, I would appreciate it if you would respond to this e-mail and let me know how many copies of the books you plan to order, whether you’re sending payment to me immediately or not.

TO SUM UP

I want you to know how much I appreciate the level of support you all have given me in every phase of the Newberg Report.  Your support in the form of buying the Bound Edition is a concrete way to sustain it.  If you have questions about the book, I encourage you to ask me.

Again, here’s the drill:

1. Respond to this e-mail and let me know what you plan to order, even if tentatively (please do this whether you are taking advantage of the early discount or instead plan to pay later on).

2. Send payment by check or money order to:

Jamey Newberg
Vincent & Moyé, P.C.
2001 Bryan Street, Suite 2000
Dallas, TX 75201

3. Or pay by credit card at http://www.PayPal.com, sending it to the gjsneaker@sbcglobal.net account.

Thanks again for your continued support of the Newberg Report.

Jamey Newberg
http://www.NewbergReport.com

THE NEWBERG REPORT — OCTOBER 28, 2007

A really good post-season has been punctuated, anticlimactically, with a letdown of a World Series, but from a Rangers standpoint, things just got interesting again.

A couple innings before a 10-day hourglass was flipped over — giving the Yankees that long to prevent Alex Rodriguez not from leaving, but from shopping himself to the league as a free agent — Scott Boras announced to the baseball world, through Fox reporter Ken Rosenthal, that A-Rod decided earlier today that he didn’t need 10 days (or a decision by the Yankees on their next manager) to decide. He’s apparently opting out.

Now, the Yankees have been saying that an opt-out by their third baseman would be tantamount to a change of teams, as they’ve made it clear repeatedly that they weren’t willing to participate in the bidding once their exclusive window to negotiate with A-Rod shut.

That’s because any offer they make to A-Rod after November 7 (or earlier, if this opt-out is official) will cost them $21-22 million more than the same offer would have cost before then, as they have a subsidy in that amount from the Rangers (some in New York suggest it’s closer to $30 million) as long as A-Rod is employed under the same contract that traveled with him to New York when he was traded in February 2004. An A-Rod venture into free agency means that the landmark contract he signed with Texas in December 2000 ceases to operate.

Maybe even the Yankees have a fiscally motivated brain cell or two.

Either that, or it’s a pride point, an ego thing. Nobody’s gonna manipulate Yankees Global Enterprises. Not Alex Rodriguez, and for **** sure not Scott Boras.

We’ll see.

If Boras engineered this announcement without actually submitting the paperwork, perhaps there’s enough motivation on both sides for an extension to get hammered out before November 7. But for that to happen at this point, someone will have to subjugate at least a little ego.

After the Yankees indicated publically in the last few days that they wanted A-Rod to meet with them face to face before the expiration of the 10-day window, Boras responded publically by saying, “It’s really something that’s up to Alex when he feels the time is right to do that.”

By which he means: “Don’t think so.”

Boras was more direct on the issue of what the nature of such a sitdown would be: “If Alex wants to meet with the Yankees, there’s obviously no negotiating that would go on during the meeting.”

But if what Boras told Rosenthal tonight is irreversibly true, and New York’s mandate is irreversibly true, A-Rod is about to change teams, and the Rangers are getting a massive payable erased from the books.

Multiple reports indicate that New York was preparing to offer A-Rod a four- or five-year extension worth more per year than the $27 million he was scheduled to make annually over the final three years of his existing contract. Boras obviously thinks — and perhaps knows — he can get a better deal from another club.

Maybe Boston.

Speaking of which, it’s hard not to imagine how much different things might have been if the Red Sox had acquired A-Rod before the 2004 season. Not so much for Boston, who ended up winning the Series that year, but for Texas, who reportedly would have ended up with Manny Ramirez and Jon Lester in exchange for A-Rod (and would not have owed Boston any money) rather than Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias. That’s some job Lester did tonight.

According to Baseball America, the Rangers had the choice between Elvis Andrus and impressive 21-year-old Class A outfielder Jordan Schafer in the Mark Teixeira trade. If Arias had developed as he was supposed to, Schafer (who led the minor leagues with 176 hits this year and was third with 49 doubles) might have been the choice and would be the Rangers’ future center fielder.

BA adds that third baseman Chris Davis might be shut down for the remainder of the Arizona Fall League season to rest the stress fracture in his left foot. Davis has appeared in only four games, going 3 for 12 with a home run, three walks, and four strikeouts.

Taylor Teagarden is hitting .391/.464/.652 in AFL play, leading a solid Rangers contingent that also includes Andrus (.304/.360/.435), who is the league’s youngest player by more than a full year, German Duran (.279/.360/.488), and John Mayberry Jr. (.238/.360/.452).

Lefthander Matt Harrison, who blanked Team China a couple days ago on one single in three innings, fanning a pair, is 3-0, 1.93 in four AFL starts, scattering 11 hits and four walks in 14 innings while striking out eight. Scott Feldman has a 3.38 ERA and 11 strikeouts and four walks in 10.2 innings, Danny Ray Herrera has a 1.59 ERA in 5.2 innings, and Kea Kometani has a 3.60 ERA in five frames, punching out nine and walking one.

The batting leader in the Mexican Pacific League is Jason Botts, at .419.

The on-base leader in the Mexican Pacific League is Jason Botts, at .514.

The slugging leader in the Mexican Pacific League is 32-year-old Carlos Sievers. Jason Botts is second, at .677.

In 16 games, Botts has driven in 18 runs and scored 20. He has four home runs (third in the league) and four doubles (seventh), and his 12 walks are tied for the league lead with Erubiel Durazo.

In addition to Baseball America’s assessment of the Rangers’ 2007 draft as baseball’s second best, the publication called righthander Michael Main the third-best athlete in the entire draft and center fielder Julio Borbon the fifth-fastest runner.

Houston interviewed Rangers national crosschecker Kip **** before hiring Brewers Eastern scouting supervisor Bobby Heck to be its scouting director. Heck was an area scout for the Rangers from 1995 through 1999. Among the players he was responsible for Texas drafting were righthander Nick Regilio and outfielder-first baseman Jason Jones, both of whom got to the big leagues, and two players whom the Rangers shipped in pennant run deals for veterans: righthander Daniel DeYoung (to Florida in 1998 in the Todd Zeile trade) and outfielder Adrian Myers (to Seattle in 1999 for lefthander Jeff Fassero).

The White Sox got righthander Ryan Bukvich through waivers and outrighted him to AAA Charlotte, but he had the right to refuse the assignment and did so, opting for free agency.

The Sussex SkyHawks of the independent Can-Am League claimed lefthander Derrick Van Dusen off waivers from the Coastal Bend Aviators of the independent American Association.

Congrats to Eric Gagné. And Terry Francona. And John Blake.

And Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Another baseball season in the books.

And an interesting off-season ahead for the Rangers, one that in the last couple hours got a bunch more interesting.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — OCTOBER 24, 2007

From that Baseball America story on Elvis Andrus that I referred to yesterday:

“I really think he’s going to be special,” said one scout from a National League club about Andrus. “To me, he’s the next Hanley Ramirez. And I think there’s power in the bat, even though a lot of people doubt him. He has such limited experience, but look at the numbers in the minor leagues. Defensively, Andrus is as good or better than Hanley and he has the chance to be the full package.”

As a 19-year-old in the Florida State League, Ramirez hit .310/.364/.389 with just one home run and the power didn’t begin to emerge until he was in Double-A later that season and into the 2005 season.

It was after that 2005 season that Boston’s willingness to trade Ramirez made Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell Red Sox, rather than Rangers.

I’m envisioning Andrus in Texas one day, but if there’s a day in the future when his development enables the Rangers to go get the game’s best available young starting pitcher, I’m down with that, too.

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

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS — OCTOBER 23, 2007

It’s official: Oakland has hired Don Wakamatsu away from the Rangers, giving the 44-year-old a two-year deal to serve as manager Bob Geren’s bench coach.

Wakamatsu served as Buck Showalter’s bench coach in Texas from 2002 through 2006 and, after being considered as a finalist to become Showalter’s successor as manager, was the Rangers’ third base coach in 2007. Wakamatsu also served as the club’s catching instructor and ran big league spring training.

Hate to see an asset like that end up with a division rival, but it’s a good day for Wakamatsu and his family.

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

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS — OCTOBER 23, 2007

According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com and Richard Durrett of the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers expect Don Wakamatsu to leave the club for a job on Oakland’s coaching staff, with an announcement possibly coming sometime today. Sullivan notes that Texas will seek a replacement who can handle all three of the primary responsibilities that Wakamatsu had — catching instructor (which is the priority), third base coach, and spring training coordinator — while Durrett suggests that the organization could split the duties between a few coaches (including a catching instructor that would necessarily have to come in from the outside).

Wakamatsu’s departure is not good news. But allow me to counterbalance it a bit by sending you to a story that was just published by Baseball America about Elvis Andrus.

This one is a can’t-miss.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — OCTOBER 23, 2007

I’m a bit under the weather today (whatever that expression is supposed to mean), but there are a few things I want to share with you.

First, the Rangers have created a special ticket-buying opportunity for the Newberg Report community. If you call Troy King at 817-436-5927 or email him at tking@texasrangers.com to order a “10-pack” for the 2008 season (vouchers good for any games next season other than Opening Day) and reference the Newberg Report, the Rangers will donate 5 percent of your purchase to the Hematology/Oncology Outpatient Clinic at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, which is the facility that C.J. Wilson has chosen to benefit this year through his Guitar Hero/Halo tournaments and other efforts.

If you order by November 30, 2007, you will get a special order form allowing you to redeem your vouchers before individual tickets go on sale to the public.

There are several different 10-pack packages available (ranging from $79 to $349). If you place a Corner Box or Club Box order, you will also get two free upper-level tickets to a Dallas Stars game (up to an $80 value).

Don Wakamatsu interviewed for the A’s bench coach vacancy on Friday, but there’s been no word of an offer.

An Evan Grant idea that I can get behind: If Rudy Jaramillo exercises his free agency at the end of the month and takes the hitting coach job with the Mets, and if the Rangers respond by moving Gary Pettis into the hitting coach spot here, why not give Rusty Greer the role that Pettis had in 2007, as first base coach and outfield instructor? Grant notes that Greer played for Ron Washington in the Arizona Fall League (in the league’s inaugural 1992 season, I think), and he’d undoubtedly have a tremendous impact in the clubhouse.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Yankees contacted Trey Hillman about their managerial job but he told New York (for whom he managed in the minor leagues for 12 seasons before the Rangers hired him to be their director of player development after the 2001 season) that he already had a deal in principle to become Kansas City’s manager.

I hate it that “The Office” is now a one-hour show. I’ve heard they might go back to 30 minutes soon, but I may not stick around to find out.

Budding politician Torii Hunter now says the Braves and Nationals are high on his list.

Here’s my interview last week with Joe Hamrahi of Baseball Digest Daily.

When Texas agreed to a one-year, $775,000 contract with righthander Frankie Francisco last week, it left righthanders Akinori Otsuka and Joaquin Benoit, catcher Gerald Laird, infielder Ramon Vazquez, and outfielder Marlon Byrd as the club’s remaining arbitration-eligibles.

The Rangers’ potential free agents are righthander Jamey Wright, outfielders Brad Wilkerson and Sammy Sosa, and utility man Jerry Hairston Jr.

Nobody has worse luck with vacuum cleaners than we do. I’m going to name them, retroactively and going forward: John “Stumpy” Pepys, Eric “Stumpy Joe” Childs, Peter “James” Bond, Mick Shrimpton, Joe “Mama” Besser, Gary Wallis, Jody Linscott, Richard “Ric” Shrimpton, Sammy “Stumpy” Bateman, Mick Fleetwood, and Scott “Skippy” Scuffleton.

German Duran has not only added third base to his repertoire in AFL play, he’s also working out at shortstop and in the outfield. Count on a non-roster invite in February.

Outfielders Jason Botts (.326/.431/.488) and Brandon Boggs (.357/.438/.381) are hitting well in the Mexican Pacific League but with not much power. Outfielder Chad Tracy is hitting .286/.342/.686 for the West Oahu CaneFires, leading the Hawaii Winter Baseball League in slugging and in home runs (four) even though he has a third fewer at-bats than most players in the league. CaneFires first baseman Ian Gac is hitting .300/.407/.540, with three homers.

Outfielder Victor Diaz could end up playing in Japan in 2008.

Rangers professional scout and senior advisor to the general manager Tom Giordano was named baseball’s East Coast Scout of the Year, after being nominated by scouting directors around the league and voted on by all scouts in the game.

I’d feel a lot worse today if not for the Ticket’s Jaron Neihart, who came through yesterday with the name of the song that Chuck Morgan used to play when the Rangers took the field in the first inning and that Mark Elfenbein once used as his Sunday morning show intro. It’s not The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” as many of you suggested when it was driving me crazy a few months ago. It’s the Alan Parsons Project instrumental “Sirius,” which was made famous (though not famous enough for my aging brain to remember) by the Chicago Bulls, who used it as their intro in the Jordan Dynasty years. Here you go.

Boston got lefthander Daniel Haigwood through waivers and outrighted his contract to AAA Pawtucket.

Don’t forget to call Troy King to get in on the 10-pack action for 2008 and help a really good cause.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — OCTOBER 21, 2007

If this morning’s breaking Paul Byrd news and NBARefGate developments have you craving some sportsy positivity, you’re just a click away.

Evan Grant’s feature story on the Rangers’ fall instructional league program, which concludes today, is pure gold. You’ll learn something new about Engel Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Blake Beavan, Tommy Hunter, Thomas Diamond, and German Duran, and you’ll understand why I thought my hop to Surprise earlier this month was one of the best baseball trips I’ve ever made.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — OCTOBER 18, 2007

The Rockies were in Day Two of an eight-day fall vacation, while Boston and Cleveland were on a 550-mile road trip. No games were played on Wednesday. But here in Dallas, it was a great, great, unforgettable baseball day.

I got to be in the same room, for 90 minutes, with the Say Hey Kid.

So were a thousand other people, none of whom I suspect had a better day than Eric Nadel, who was honored with the opportunity to interview Willie Mays and whose impeccable, comfortable style made it feel like the rest of us were just eavesdropping on a casual, dynamic conversation between two baseball people. One of them, among the finest broadcasters in the game today. The other, the Greatest Player Ever.

Before Mays was introduced to the SMU Athletic Forum crowd, the great Bobby Bragan delivered his inimitable rendition of “Casey at the Bat,” 119 years after it was written and 13 days before Bragan will turn 90. They say Pavarotti could sing the phone book and give you chills. Baseball through Bragan’s voice is equally perfect.

I wish I were around to have seen Willie play. The video footage is great, the stories too, but being around that man yesterday made me realize how unique he is, and must have been, as a personality to be treated to on a daily basis. Willie Mays loves him some him, but it doesn’t come across as brash, or self-aggrandizing, or off-putting. It’s sort of an infectious happiness, an appreciation of how blessed he was and is, a recognition of how stinkin’ fun his life has been.

When I saw Manny Ramirez throw his arms up Tuesday night as his no-doubt, sixth-inning drive to right center merely brought the Red Sox to within 7-3, my thoughts didn’t turn to whether Jensen Lewis was going to drill Mike Lowell with the next pitch, or whether someone else would plant one in the side of a different Boston hitter, maybe Manny himself, when the game was on ice three innings later.

I just enjoyed the moment, the way Manny did. There’s not enough of that in baseball today.

Manny isn’t the complete player that Willie was. He may not do one thing as well as Willie did. But he plays with Willie-like exuberance, and that counts for something. Kirby Puckett was known for the same enthusiasm on the field when I was a kid, but even he was less of a character than Manny Ramirez is, less of an eccentric. “Manny being Manny” is such a recognizable baseball catchphrase because, perhaps sadly, he’s so undeniably one of a kind in today’s game.

Yesterday, Willie Mays offered anecdote after anecdote that usually ended with him driving home some point about how great a baseball player he was, but it was never offensive.

It was just Willie being Willie.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — OCTOBER 16, 2007

Twenty-one wins in 22 games. Good grief. Colorado, like Texas, was in fourth place in its division when its streak began a month ago. And the Rockies finished last in their division a year ago. And in 2005.

Angels general manager Bill Stoneman is expected to become former Angels general manager Bill Stoneman later today. What a strange last few weeks, with Terry Ryan, John Schuerholz, Walt Jocketty, Larry Beinfest, and now Stoneman (among a few others) leaving their GM posts.

One of the candidates who has emerged for the Cardinals job is Arizona assistant general manager Peter Woodfork, who was a finalist for the assistant position in Texas when Jon Daniels hired Thad Levine.

Levine is going to start popping up on those lists, too, if not this winter then probably next.

According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, the Yankees asked Tom Grieve after the 1994 season (right before they launched their run of 13 straight playoff seasons) if he was interested in becoming their general manager. I’d never heard that.

Sullivan also reports that Houston has received permission from Daniels to interview Rangers national crosschecker Kip **** for its vacant scouting director position.

The Rangers reinstated righthanders Akinori Otsuka, Willie Eyre, and Josh Rupe and infielder Joaquin Arias from the 60-day disabled list and removed righthanders Mike Wood and Eyre, catcher Chris Stewart, and outfielder Kevin Mahar from the 40-man roster.

Texas outrighted the latter four to the minor leagues, but Wood opted for free agency while Eyre agreed to terms on a minor league contract with Texas for the 2008 season (which he will spend rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery).

Stewart and Mahar, having not been outrighted previously, did not have the right to decline their assignments.

Philadelphia declined its 2008 option on catcher Rod Barajas. Boston designated lefthander Daniel Haigwood for assignment. Pittsburgh designated utility player Matt Kata for assignment.

Rumors are gaining steam that the Mets will approach Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo when his contact expires at the end of the month and offer him the same job there. Jaramillo — who managed the rookie-level Sarasota Rangers in the mid-1980s with Mets general manager Omar Minaya on his coaching staff — was a finalist for the managerial job in New York that ultimately went to Willie Randolph three years ago.

In the meantime, Jaramillo has reportedly spent time in Arizona working with the Rangers’ minor league hitters at Instructs.

Tampa Bay named former Rangers outfielder Dave Martinez bench coach, ending speculation that Don Wakamatsu was a possibility for that job.

ESPN’s Keith Law on the Rangers’ Arizona Fall League delegation: “Texas sent the best crop of prospects of any club. Taylor Teagarden, German Duran and Elvis Andrus (on the taxi squad, playing Wednesdays and Saturdays) are all part of the Rangers’ contingent. Teagarden’s throwing still isn’t all the way back after Tommy John surgery in 2006 — and it may not come back any more than it has — but he’s going to hit with a solid base and gap-to-gap approach. Duran shows surprising power with a very quick bat and a short path to the ball, and he’s a 55 glove and arm at third base. Andrus, acquired in the Mark Teixeira trade, is still more athleticism than baseball ability. But the ball really flies off his bat, and he has a very easy and coordinated swing.”

Law didn’t even mention Chris Davis, who fouled a pitch off his foot a week ago and has been sidelined ever since.

Law also neglected to mention John Mayberry Jr., who shares the league lead with three home runs (and has four walks to two strikeouts in 18 at-bats), or pitchers Matt Harrison, Danny Ray Herrera, and Kea Kometani.

When I wrote last week that “Duran homered, doubled off the top of the center field wall, singled twice, and walked, driving in two runs, scoring three times, and — interestingly — playing third base, a position he’d appeared at just one time professionally,” the note that he doubled off the wall was courtesy of Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the teams most likely to pursue free agent center fielder Torii Hunter this winter are Texas, the White Sox, the Yankees, San Francisco, Atlanta, and St. Louis.

The Rangers have built an extension on the left field wall of the Dr Pepper Youth Ballpark that resembles Boston’s Green Monster. I can’t wait for Max to play on that field one day.

If you are statistically inclined, check out Scott Lucas’s breakdown of the Rangers 2007 minor league statistics. Actually, it’s really cool stuff even if you lean more toward scouting than numbers.

Could anybody have guessed, on July 31, how wide the spectrum would be between what Eric Gagné and Kenny Lofton have done in the two and a half months since Texas traded them, and who would be on which side of that spectrum?

I learned from a friend the other day that there was a Newberg Report Bound Edition (the 2005 edition, specifically) on the shelves at Half Price Books a few weeks ago, and it happened to be a copy signed by Buck Showalter. My friend bought the book. The population of Bound Edition owners has grown by one.

We’re a couple weeks away from complete details on the 2008 Bound Edition, which will have a number of changes from the first eight editions of the book. Stay tuned.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — OCTOBER 11, 2007

I’d rather be talking about the Rangers getting ready for a league championship series, but since we don’t have that opportunity this year, you’re stuck these days with some news out of Arizona, less than hour away from where the Diamondbacks open their playoff series with Colorado today.

The Rangers came up big in yesterday’s Arizona Fall League action. In a 14-11 Surprise win over Peoria Javelinas, German Duran homered, doubled off the top of the center field wall, singled twice, and walked, driving in two runs, scoring three times, and — interestingly — playing third base, a position he’d appeared at just one time professionally. (That was in a May 14, 2006 Bakersfield game in Modesto, a 7-4 Blaze win in which Duran went 3 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a sac fly. So Duran, as a third baseman, is 7 for 7 with three extra base hits, two walks, and a sac fly.)

More importantly, we’re seeing the effort to develop Duran as a utility infielder candidate get underway.

Taylor Teagarden caught and went 2 for 4 with a three-run home run. Two Javelinas stole bases on Teagarden, both with starter Matt Harrison on the mound.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus tripled in five trips.

Right fielder John Mayberry Jr. went 0 for 2 but drew three walks. He’s going to do an AFL journal for MLB.com. His first entry should be posted today.

Harrison allowed two runs on five hits (including a homer) and a walk in three innings, but he did strike out four.

A couple leftover notes from Instructs:

Lefthander Martin Perez is 16 but looks 20. Catcher Leonel De Los Santos is 17 but looks 12.

The grand slam that outfielder Miguel Alfonzo crushed off of Clayton Kershaw on Friday was plenty impressive, but the identically smashed shot that he hit the next morning off Royals lefthander Ben Swaggerty was notable from the standpoint that Swaggerty gave up only one home run in 35.2 innings in 2007.

The reason lefthander Beau Jones isn’t at Instructs is that he had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow area last week. He should be ready for spring training.

Promising lefthander Miguel De Los Santos, who pitched just four times in 2007 (between June 8 and July 3), is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Center fielder Julio Borbon returned to Instructional League action yesterday (he’d been nursing a tight hamstring) and went 5 for 5 in a game against Seattle, homering and adding three doubles and a single.

Love this quote from Jim Czajkowski, pitching coach for Atlanta’s Appalachian League affiliate in Danville, regarding 19-year-old righthander Neftali Feliz: “He had a very loose, fluid arm that flat-out, God-given gasoline came out of. It looked like he threw hard without even trying. Any high schooler that throws like that is a No. 1 pick. Our scouts did a great job of finding him.”

And ours did a great job insisting that he be included in the Mark Teixeira trade. Appy League managers and scouts ranked Feliz as the circuit’s number four prospect this year, according to a Baseball America survey.

Andrus was number three in the Carolina League, and catcher Max Ramirez was number four. Harrison didn’t rank in the Southern League top 20.

Said Myrtle Beach manager Rocket Wheeler of Andrus: “He had 30-some RBIs, but he probably saved us 50-some runs with his defense.”

Other Baseball America top 20’s:

Midwest League: righthander Omar Poveda (12), third baseman Johnny Whittleman (14), lefthander Kasey Kiker (17)

California League: third baseman Chris Davis (9), Teagarden (13)

Texas League: righthander Eric Hurley (8), Duran (14)

Pacific Coast League: righthander Edinson Volquez (13), Hurley (16)

Teagarden was the second-team catcher (behind the Cubs’ Geovanny Soto) on BA’s Minor League All-Star Team. The High A All-Star Team included Teagarden at catcher and Davis as the designated hitter.

You knew that Davis finished second in the minors in home runs (36) and RBI (118). His .598 slug and 296 total bases were each fifth-most in the minors. Jason Botts had the third-highest on-base percentage (.436). only two players had more than Clinton outfielder K.C. Herren’s 12 triples.

Volquez held minor league opponents to a .190 batting average. Only Yankees blue-chipper Ian Kennedy (.183) had a stingier mark among starting pitchers.

Righthander Kameron Loe recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow, but he should resume off-season workouts in about a month and is expected to be at full strength by spring training.

Oakland will not bring several coaches back, including bench coach Bob Schaefer. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Don Wakamatsu is a “strong bet” to succeed Schaefer as the A’s bench coach — a job that he was apparently offered last year (after his run at the managerial job in Texas) but declined because he didn’t want to move his family at the time.

Wakamatsu is also identified as a candidate for the Tampa Bay bench coach job.

If Wakamatsu leaves, what about bringing Trey Hillman in to fill his spot on the Rangers staff? Or do you instead let Ron Washington choose the replacement (presumably one of the three coaches let go by the A’s)?

Hillman’s Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters won their second straight Japan Pacific League championship last weekend, defeating Bobby Valentine’s Chiba Lotte Marines. Hillman has said that he intends to return to the United States for the 2008 season. According to Jim Reeves of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Yankees, Dodgers, Royals, and two other teams have already contacted Hillman about a possible job.

The White Sox named Buddy Bell director of minor league instruction.

Detroit exercised its 2008 option on catcher Pudge Rodriguez.

Colorado dropped lefthander Mark Redman from its playoff roster, adding outfielder Willy Taveras.

Cleveland lefthander John Koronka is now a minor league free agent.

Washinton slid lefthander Mike Bacsik through waivers and outrighted him to AAA.

I’m overcome with guilt. For some reason I tuned into SportsCenter last night. I then saw the Celtics-Timberwolves pre-season highlights package set to something called Stuart Scott’s Poetry Jam, and I might be scarred for life.

Good grief, ESPN is an embarrassment. The only good thing about SportsCenter is the genius of the commercial spots promoting the show. Sad.

The Alex Rodriguez drama picks up full steam now. He’s apparently seeking a new 10-year deal that will pay more than $30 million annually . . . which is more than half of the 2007 payroll of three of the four teams that are still alive in the playoffs.

T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com points out that those same three teams — Cleveland, Arizona, and Colorado — are run by GM’s who were mentored by John Hart.

Keeping an eye on the Arizona Fall League and the Rangers’ Instructs program, and recognizing what this system is in the process of developing, I’ve got visions of a fourth.

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

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