THE NEWBERG REPORT — DECEMBER 31, 2007

A reader emailed me recently asking what I thought the correlation was between the strength of a franchise’s farm system and the eventual success of its big league club, given the recent revitalization of the Rangers’ prospect depth.

I suggested there’s more to the equation. Strength on the farm has to be accompanied by shrewd trading. It’s rare that a franchise wins based solely on a wave of prospects arriving. It’s important to be able to use some of your prospect depth to make smart trades for established players.

Hopefully the Cincinnati trade works out, and is the first of several like it over the next few years. I look forward to the time when Texas is in a position, based on the big league standings, to be on the other side of the Mark Teixeira, Eric Gagné, and Kenny Lofton trades of five months ago. The organization, for the first time in years, should be able to compete in those trade markets based on where the farm system now stands.

In the meantime, I look forward to writing about Chris Davis and Elvis Andrus and Engel Beltre and Nick Ramirez in 2008. About Johnny Whittleman and Kasey Kiker and Taylor Teagarden and Neftali Feliz. About another few dozen players on the Rangers farm who are on a path, if things continue to break right, to figure in as Texas gets better. Some will make it to Arlington one day, others will be traded before they ever get that chance. Those in the latter category have as much of a chance to help the Rangers get better as those who will play here. Maybe more.

Although developing attachments to some of these kids may make it seem like the Rangers are giving up on them when they give them up, that’s not the point of a trade. The point is to get better, to improve your chance to contend, to compete for the chance to play in October. The best trades are the ones that set your team up not only to win, but to sustain some of that success over several years. Boston will never regret trading Hanley Ramirez. And nobody will ever accuse the Red Sox of giving up on him.

I think the story I’m most pumped about writing in 2008 is Josh Hamilton’s. If this works out like it might, then Edinson Volquez and Danny Ray Herrera will forever be two of my favorite players to ever come through this organization, in a Ryan Dempster, Fernando Tatis, Kevin “The Catcher” Brown sort of way.

Happy New Year to you and your families. And thanks for helping make 2007 a cool year for the Newberg Report.

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

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