THE NEWBERG REPORT — DECEMBER 8, 2007

Jon Daniels told the local press on Thursday that he expected “closure on a few things” in the ensuing two to four days, with free agent acquisitions more likely than trades.

And yet I could have made it through the weekend just fine without seeing this in a San Diego Union-Tribune article: “If [Kosuke] Fukudome chooses the Padres, he must adapt to an extreme pitcher’s ballpark, yet will draw less scrutiny than he would in Chicago. Former Padres reliever Akinori Otsuka, who retained a San Diego residence after the club traded him to Texas, recommended the Padres to Fukudome.”

Disappointing. Really disappointing.

Fukudome is supposed to announce in the next few days whether he intends to play in the United States or remain in Japan in 2008.

The Rangers have said that they’re backing out of the bidding for Eric Gagné, who has been seeking a guaranteed two-year deal. Texas, whose offer to Gagné (according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) was for $6 million and might have included an option for a second year, remains interested in LaTroy Hawkins. The Yankees have reportedly offered Hawkins $3.5 million for one year. Texas reportedly has a one-year offer with an option for a second season on the table.

Gagné declined Boston’s offer of arbitration last night, but under the current CBA that doesn’t preclude the Red Sox from continuing to negotiate with him if they so choose.

Not unexpectedly, Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier’s name is popping up since the arrival a few days ago of Andruw Jones. Texas and Tampa Bay are reportedly showing interest.

The Rangers apparently made a late run at Jones before he agreed to a two-year, $36 million deal with Los Angeles, but Scott Boras insisted it would take a longer deal for Jones to transition to the American League.

According to a story by Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Texas also contacted Florida about Miguel Cabrera before the Marlins hooked up with Detroit, but talks broke down when Florida refused to give the Rangers permission to speak with Cabrera’s agent about a long-term contract.

Multiple stories on Thursday indicated that outfielder Milton Bradley was set to re-sign with San Diego for one year and $4 million, but now Bradley is putting that deal on hold. Whether he’ll give Texas an opportunity to change his mind is unclear.

The Rangers are apparently interested in a one-year match with Corey Patterson. I’d rather give David Murphy a chance in center field. Patterson’s speed on offense is emasculated by the fact that he reaches base only 30 percent of the time, and he doesn’t throw nearly as well as Murphy, whose range may not be what Patterson’s is but is still better than average.

If you’re imagining a platoon of Frank Catalanotto (or Ben Broussard or Mike Lamb or Sean Casey) and Chris Shelton at first base, recognize that Shelton has reverse splits, hitting righthanders at a better clip (.286/.342/.498) than lefties (.269/.363/.420) in the big leagues. The disparity was even more pronounced in Shelton’s big 2005 season (.306/.364/.536 vs. .278/.345/.433).

Texas lost nobody in the Rule 5 Draft, including the minor league phase. The Rangers, with a full 40-man roster, did not participate in the major league phase but drafted four players in the AAA phase and one in the AA phase of the draft. As Scott Lucas flashed on Thursday, the players Texas selected were righthanders Levi Romero and Clayton Hamilton, outfielder Dustin Majewski, and infielder Jaime Trejo in the AAA phase, and righthander Francisco Cordova in the AA phase. There are no roster requirements in the minor league phases, so those five players are now Rangers property regardless of where the organization chooses to assign them out of spring training.

Seattle drafted R.A. Dickey, days after Minnesota had signed him to a minor league deal. In the AAA phase, Tampa Bay made former Rangers minor league outfielder Rashad Eldridge the first pick, selecting him from Minnesota’s system.

Philadelphia brought Jake Blalock back on a minor league contract.

Righthander Travis Hughes signed with Japan’s Yokohama BayStars.

Maybe Hughes can somehow get the word to Kosuke Fukudome that he’d attract less scrutiny in Texas than he would in Chicago, and that he’d get to adapt to an extreme hitters’ yard here.

Disappointed in Aki.

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

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