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.

1 Comment

ARod opts out!!!! 21.3 Million of the ledger and back in the bank! Maybe to be used for a CF? Mr. Hunter you do want to be closer to your family don’t you?

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