February 2008

THE NEWBERG REPORT — FEBRUARY 12, 2008

According to multiple reports, outfielder Kevin Mench has agreed to terms on a minor league contract with the Rangers, getting a non-roster invite to big league camp and an option to request his release if he’s not on the big league roster by June 1.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — FEBRUARY 10, 2008

Make no mistake: Erik Bedard finally landing in Seattle is not a good development in an immediate sense for the Rangers, who visit the Mariners to start the season and are sure to face their two aces, Bedard and Felix Hernandez, on March 31 and April 1.

Texas doesn’t even really get a reprieve in its home-opening series against the Orioles, when Bedard probably wouldn’t have pitched anyway since that three-game set starting on April 8 will include Baltimore’s eighth, ninth, and tenth games, although it’s possible manager Dave Trembley might have skipped the fifth slot on April 5 to get Bedard back on the mound for the series finale in Arlington.

What’s more interesting is that Bedard will face the Orioles twice in April, once in Baltimore on April 5 or April 6, and presumably again in Seattle on April 22.

What’s more discouraging is that Texas and Seattle tee it up 19 times in 2008, and chances are Bedard or Hernandez will start about eight of those games.

But the bigger point is similar to the one that makes the Angels’ signing of Torii Hunter potentially less daunting in the long term than it is right now. As I wrote on November 24:

“Torii Hunter makes the Angels tougher in 2008 than they would have been otherwise, and probably in 2009, too, but that’s about when the Rangers, whose depth in prospects is, for the first time in years, significantly more dangerous (not only in big league potential but also utility in trades) than that of the Angels, should be ready to fight for the division flag that Los Angeles has had a grip on for years.


“What the Angels are able to accomplish between now and then shouldn’t be a huge concern to Rangers fans. Especially if it effectively compromises what the Angels are able to do thereafter.”

The key aspect to the Bedard trade, from a Rangers standpoint, is that, unlike with the Mets and Johan Santana, a contract extension wasn’t a condition of the deal. Seattle controls Bedard in 2008 and 2009. Bedard controls his own future after that.

Meanwhile, 22-year-old Adam Jones has a chance to be a great center fielder for years and years, and getting him out of the division is a good thing, particularly if the Mariners don’t manage to lock Bedard up past 2009, when Texas could be right there in terms of the division picture. Check in with the distinguished crew at USSMariner.com to see how unhappy knowledgeable Mariners fans are about this trade. (Start with this post.)

The five-player package Baltimore got for Bedard, headed by Jones, is closer in quality to the quintet the Rangers got for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay in July than it is to the foursome Minnesota got for Santana. Teixeira, Bedard, and Dan Haren each brought more in trade than Santana did.

(And no, if reports from the summer were accurate, Texas could not have traded Teixeira for Bedard. Baltimore wasn’t making the ace lefthander available at the time, or giving any indication that he’d be anything but untouchable this winter.)

Again, I’m not disparaging Bedard. I know he’s never logged 200 innings in a season, has just 40 wins in four full seasons, and spent the final month last year sidelined with a strained oblique muscle. In spite of all of that, there are still fewer than 10 pitchers I’d take ahead of him.

But if Seattle can’t get him extended, this could end up being a good thing for the Rangers in two years.

A solid point made by Newberg Report reader Tommy Doyle, offering one more positive with regard to the hiring of Nolan Ryan as Rangers President: if the Rangers had opted to go outside the organization and ended up hiring a more experienced big league executive to come in and oversee all aspects, including baseball operations, as Ryan will, chances are far greater that the new hire would have wanted to come in and make loud changes. And that’s exactly what doesn’t need to happen to the positive momentum that Jon Daniels and his crew have built.

Ryan won’t come in determined to tinker. His legacy in the game is obviously more than solid enough that he isn’t coming here driven to make a name for himself. He simply comes here wanting to win.

The Rangers’ player development contract with AAA Oklahoma lasts through 2010. The Astros’ deal with AAA Round Rock (principal owner Nolan Ryan; owner/CEO Reid Ryan; owner/CFO Reese Ryan) runs through 2008.

Current Rangers hit .111 lifetime against Ryan. Executive Vice President of Communications and Public Relations Jim Sundberg went 5 for 39, and first base coach Gary Pettis was hitless in six at-bats.

Texas reportedly continues to talk to outfielder Kevin Mench about a non-roster deal but wants an assurance from the 30-year-old that he would report to Oklahoma if he didn’t make the Opening Day roster.

Righthander Omar Beltre made one start for the Caribbean World Series champion Licey Tigers, giving up one run on four hits and no walks in six innings, fanning three. Outfielder Nelson Cruz was the Tigers’ best player, hitting .407/.429/.667 in 27 at-bats over six games, with four doubles and a home run among his 11 hits.

Boston signed righthander Matt Miller to a minor league contract and named Chuck Smith the pitching coach at High A Lancaster and Tom Goodwin a coach with Lowell of the short-season New York-Penn League.

The Sioux Falls Canaries of the independent American Association signed righthander Pat Mahomes.

Scott Lucas put together a really cool “40-man tree,” sort of a genealogy of every player on the Rangers’ roster. Example:

VICENTE PADILLA
—- Ricardo Rodriguez
——– Ryan Ludwick
———— Carlos Pena (1st round, 1998)
———— Mike Venafro (29th round, 1995)

You can find Mike Hindman’s ranking of the Rangers system’s top 10 prospects here.

Grant Schiller has an interview with Travis Metcalf here.

The local papers have their spring training previews out today. Pitchers and catchers in four days. Start your engines.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — FEBRUARY 7, 2008

From where I sat yesterday, there were moments when Nolan Ryan’s face was framed perfectly by the Texas Rangers logo, as if it were a halo.

(One with red on top, blue on bottom. How fitting.)

I smiled at the corniness of my realization, and imagined the predictable email responses I’d get from two or three readers who never miss an opportunity to rail on me, that is, if I were to actually decide to mention the halo vision.

Two hours later, as I walked out of the stadium toward the parking lot, I noticed a cluster of excavators and cranes just to the north and east, busy doing the work designed to improve the roads leading to the Ballpark, and it made me think of the construction process that’s been going on inside the building for the past couple years, the last seven months in particular. It occurred to me then that the way that the new Rangers president can truly add to his baseball saintliness around here is to allow the general manager’s construction effort to continue on its current path, unimpeded, unaltered, untweaked.

Those concerns weren’t completely eliminated during yesterday’s press conference, but they were minimized for me, significantly.

As Tom Hicks, Jon Daniels, Jim Sundberg, and Ron Washington stood alongside Ryan at the podium, with high-level business-side officials like Casey Shilts, Rick McLaughlin, Kellie Fischer, and Andy Silverman in the room, the announcement was made that Ryan was not only the organization’s new president, but in fact would oversee all aspects of the Rangers’ operations – in other words, both baseball and business, a job description that the club presidency hadn’t entailed since Tom Schieffer’s departure nine years ago.

It made me a little nervous, given the prevailing sense that the baseball operations effort here is as encouraging now as it’s been at any time since before Ryan arrived as player in December 1988.

But judging by Ryan’s comments yesterday, not to mention his decision to leave the Astros and rejoin the Rangers, it at least appears that he is as big a fan of Daniels and his crew as any of us are, and that he has no designs on messing with a good thing. Far from it.

You might say that Ryan’s decision to leave the organization that is closest to his home, that has partnered with the Ryan family by affiliating its AA and AAA farm clubs with franchises he owns in Round Rock and Corpus Christi, is essentially an endorsement of Daniels, an indication that he’s intrigued enough by the path that he perceives the Rangers to be on that he’d leave Houston to be part of it. Ryan said that he comes in with no preconceived ideas on how things should be done, and in terms of player development it was the work that Daniels has engineered the past two years, in the trades he’s made and the drafts the club has had and the work the minor league staff has done in dramatically improving the club’s farm system, that made this a “unique opportunity” that the 61-year-old didn’t want to pass up.

Ryan said he believes in building from within, a philosophy that is already in place and in full force here, and he sees himself as a “resource” for Daniels, who retains final recommendation power, and ultimate accountability, with regard to baseball decisions. He says he has no intention to micromanage, and it sure seemed like he meant it. He doesn’t seem to have any urge to do Daniels’s job, or to recalibrate the way Daniels is taking care of business. To the contrary, Ryan repeatedly praised his general manager.

Ryan’s endorsement of Daniels was matched by that of Hicks, who, according to several reports, is extending Daniels’s contract once again. In June, after the draft but before the standout work Daniels did in July on the trade front, Hicks extended Daniels’s contract one year, through 2009. We don’t know how much longer Hicks has extended his contract this time, but reportedly it matches the length of the franchise’s commitment to Ryan, which is interesting. In June, Hicks noted that Daniels had not only earned the benefit of added security as he headed into a long-term plan that would start with the trading of veterans for prospects, but he was also contracted, as a result, for the same term as Washington (assuming his option for 2009 was picked up, which it would be in September). Now it’s Daniels and Ryan whose commitments are tied together.

And it’s not just in the name of rewarding Daniels for the good job he did in 2007. It’s in the interest of stability, something that the Rangers seem to have, finally, after years of not having it. Surely Hicks wouldn’t have entertained the idea of bringing Ryan in, in this capacity, if he thought the arrangement would endanger the franchise’s stability.

This is not about change, and it shouldn’t be. It’s about getting better, and both Ryan and Daniels seem enthusiastic about what the partnership could produce. Daniels has said more than once that his baseball philosophy is lifted from John Schuerholz, who was known to say, “He with the best and most information wins.” I wrote recently that I’d be on board with this move if Ryan’s baseball input was available to Daniels without being superior hierarchically to Daniels. Ryan and Daniels described that sort of anticipated relationship, and knowing Daniels, who has always relied on trusted associates, he’s going to be energized by having access to Ryan’s experience and acumen and desire to win that World Series title that has eluded him since his second big league season in 1969.

I’d love to be in Surprise the minute Ryan first sees Neftali Feliz, Wilmer Font, Michael Main, Blake Beavan, Tommy Hunter, and Fabio Castillo throw a side. Or Elvis Andrus do his thing, or Chris Davis or Engel Beltre or Cristian Santana. I want to know what Ryan thinks when he first meets 30-year-old A.J. Preller and 64-year-old Don Welke, if he hasn’t already. Those are the kinds of moments that I bet will have Ryan thinking that, yeah, he made the right decision to hitch on over here. He’s read the same Baseball America accolades we all have. But until you see the quickness of German Duran’s hands at the plate or the way Martin Perez can spin the ball at that age, you can’t fully appreciate what’s being built here.

The fears I’d have about any 61-year-old coming in to oversee all aspects of the organization, in particular baseball operations, would be threefold: (1) the danger of a quick-fix mentality; (2) a tendency to push decisions in spite of a lack of knowledge of the organization’s assets (namely, its young players and prospects); and (3) the possibility that, by human nature, that person would want to come in and tweak things, if not derail them. I feel good after yesterday that Ryan won’t present any of those hazards here, that Daniels won’t have to pull back on his aggressiveness at the helm, and that that’s what Hicks is counting on.

A baseball man I trust told me yesterday that he’s 100 percent confident that while Ryan isn’t the type to want to step in and make changes for change’s sake, even if he were wired that way it’s just not something he’d do at this stage of his baseball life. Ryan, he suggested, values his legacy in the game too much to come in and run the risk of being labeled as the guy who arrived amidst all this positive front office momentum and derailed things. In other words, it’s not Ryan’s nature, and even if it were it’s not a risk he’d allow himself to take.

The impact on the credibility quotient that Ryan’s arrival has is obviously huge. Will his presence alone bring a fringe Rangers fan, or a potential Rangers sponsor, on board? If so, great. I wasn’t thrilled about the addition of Sammy Sosa a year and a week ago despite the marketing possibilities, because I was concerned he’d take at-bats away from younger players I thought we needed to learn more about. This is quite different. Nolan Ryan as a leader of established, talented business executives and as a resource for the baseball operations department – if that’s what he’s going to be – doesn’t take “at-bats” away.

One thing I realized during the press conference was how comforting it was to hear Ryan’s voice. Like Mark Holtz, Eric Nadel, and Chuck Morgan, Ryan’s voice is Rangers baseball to me. To someone in Houston, or Los Angeles, or Boston or Omaha or Vancouver, that familiar drawl may not mean Texas Rangers, but to me it does. He was always one of this franchise’s greatest ambassadors, showing respect and commanding it, and from that standpoint it’s great to have him back.

There were actually several (adult) baseball fans standing on the median between southbound and northbound Ballpark Way as the press conference ended, clearly just hanging around in hopes that they could get a jump on this weekend’s Ticketstock and score a Ryan autograph. Nothing wrong with that sort of vibe returning to Arlington (whether signing autographs or cutting ribbons), no matter how big or small the doses.

Ryan must have used the word “challenge” a dozen times as he explained why he decided to take this position. He acknowledged the learning curve that awaits him, making it clear that he has no game plan coming in other than to learn all facets of this organization, and to get to know everyone involved in trying to make the product on the field better.

One of the comments Tom Hicks made as he introduced Ryan was that the Rangers’ employees, after meeting Ryan yesterday, seemed to all come to a common conclusion about the impact of the legend’s arrival: “We have a winner.”

Ryan’s job, in conjunction with the task of everyone he is now charged with working with, is to help the Rangers get to the point at which every one of us can make the same comment.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — FEBRUARY 5, 2008

One of my favorite days of the year is The Day When the Thermometer First Kicks Up Over Room Temp, for obvious reasons. Monday got even better when Baseball America concluded its off-season look at the game’s 30 farm systems by zeroing in on Texas.

When BA projects a club’s lineup three years out, it’s less of a prediction of what the lineup will actually look like (it assumes no trades or free agent acquisitions) and more of an assessment of who the organization has in place and where they’d project to fit if players progress as expected.

If the fact that BA moved Texas from its number 28 farm system a year ago to number four today isn’t enough to convince you that the industry’s premier trade publication thinks Jon Daniels has engineered a quick, dramatic overhaul of its player development program, consider the transformation of the three-year picture that BA offered for the Rangers this year, as opposed to last:

PROJECTED 2010 LINEUP

Catcher Gerald Laird
First Base Mark Teixeira
Second Base Ian Kinsler
Third Base Hank Blalock
Shortstop Michael Young
Left Field John Mayberry Jr.
Center Field Brad Wilkerson
Right Field Nelson Cruz
Designated Hitter Jason Botts
No. 1 Starter John Danks
No. 2 Starter Eric Hurley
No. 3 Starter Kevin Millwood
No. 4 Starter Vicente Padilla
No. 5 Starter Thomas Diamond
Closer Edinson Volquez

PROJECTED 2011 LINEUP

Catcher Taylor Teagarden
First Base Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Second Base Michael Young
Third Base Chris Davis
Shortstop Elvis Andrus
Left Field Engel Beltre
Center Field Julio Borbon
Right Field Josh Hamilton
Designated Hitter Ian Kinsler
No. 1 Starter Eric Hurley
No. 2 Starter Neftali Feliz
No. 3 Starter Michael Main
No. 4 Starter Blake Beavan
No. 5 Starter Brandon McCarthy
Closer Kasey Kiker

Not one repeat. Three players resurface (Young, Kinsler, Hurley) but in different slots.

There’s so much good information in yesterday’s Rangers features, engineered by assistant editor Aaron Fitt. I highly recommend you venture over to the BA website and buy the Prospect Handbook. But let me share some highlights with you.

The top 10 prospects in the system, according to BA:

1. Elvis Andruz, ss (“has a unique ability to slow the game down and always put himself in the right position to make plays”)

2. Chris Davis, 3b (“could be an impact middle-of-the-lineup bat in the majors even if he is tied to first base”)

3. Eric Hurley, rhp (“projects as a mid-rotation starter in the Kevin Millwood mold”)

4. Taylor Teagarden, c (“should be ready to be an everyday catcher by 2009″)

5. Neftali Feliz, rhp (“rather than blowing hitters away with his fastball after the trade, he focused on developing his secondary stuff and still struck out 27 in just 15 innings . . . if it all comes together for him, he has the potential to be a true No. 1 starter, though some scouts see him as a flame-throwing closer down the road”)

6. Michael Main, rhp (“evokes Bret Saberhagen for his slight build, plus-plus arm strength, intelligence and determination”)

7. Kasey Kiker, lhp (“[the Rangers'] idea was to keep him to 20 starts in 2007 . . . Texas preferred to have him peaking at the end of the season rather than in July . . . worked perfectly, as he repeatedly ran his fastball up to 97 mph in a Midwest League playoff game”)

8. Blake Beavan, rhp (“some scouts think Beavan profiles best as a two-pitch bullpen ace with a nasty streak, but the Rangers will give him every chance to start”)

9. Julio Borbon, of (“garners comparisons to Johnny Damon for his prototypical center-field tools . . . plus-plus speed and good instincts make him a quality defender in center . . . projects to hit 10-20 homers annually in the big leagues . . . makes consistent, line-drive contact, is a good bunter and isn’t afraid to work the count . . . also a natural leader”)

10. Engel Beltre, of (“given time and at-bats, Beltre could blossom into a true five-tool superstar, but he’s a long way off”)

BA ranked the organization’s best minor league tools as follows:

Best Hitter for Average German Duran
Best Power Hitter Chris Davis
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Johnny Whittleman
Fastest Baserunner Jose Vallejo
Best Athlete Michael Main
Best Fastball Neftali Feliz
Best Curveball Neil Ramirez
Best Slider Eric Hurley
Best Changeup Kasey Kiker
Best Control Matt Harrison
Best Defensive Catcher Taylor Teagarden
Best Defensive Infielder Elvis Andrus
Best Infield Arm Elvis Andrus
Best Defensive Outfielder Julio Borbon
Best Outfield Arm Engel Beltre

Need some more BA love for the Rangers? Executive editor Jim Callis wrote on Friday that, of the seven biggest trades in baseball since the summer — those involving Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis, Mark Teixeira, Dan Haren, Johan Santana, Nick Swisher, Miguel Tejada, and (imminently) Erik Bedard — the Rangers “got the best value . . . the only better haul went to the Marlins, who gave up two all-stars (for Cabrera and Willis).”

Things you really should read:

* Evan Grant’s fantastic summary of his recent trip to the Rangers’ Dominican Academy, on the Dallas Morning News’s “Seamheads” blog (complete with more than two dozen photos).

* MLB.com’s Lisa Winston’s excellent review of our own Eleanor Czajka’s genius “Girls Don’t Know Anything About Baseball” blog.

* Mike Hindman’s ranking of the number 11 through number 20 prospects in the Rangers system.

* Grant Schiller’s terrific Taylor Teagarden interview.

* More details on (and a few highlights from) T.R. Sullivan and Mel Didier’s fascinating book, “Podnuh Let Me Tell You a Story: A Baseball Life,” complete with instructions on how to order it.

Texas traded righthander Armando Galarraga yesterday, having designated the 26-year-old for assignment on January 25, sending him to Detroit for 24-year-old outfielder Mike Hernandez, a power hitter whose pro path has been unusual. Drafted out of high school in 2002 by Kansas City, out of Daytona Beach Community College in 2003 by Kansas City, and out of Connors State College in 2004 by the Dodgers, Hernandez declined to sign each time and ultimately transferred to Oklahoma State for the 2005 season. He wouldn’t be drafted again.

But Hernandez did sign with Detroit out of an open tryout before the 2006 season. He began his career in extended but was soon assigned to Low A West Michigan, where a .278/.318/.461 season was highlighted by 13 home runs and 63 RBI in just 87 games, two of which featured Hernandez hitting for the cycle.

Hernandez split the 2007 season between High A Lakeland (.260/.326/.478) and AA Erie (.250/.282/.469), hitting 24 homers and driving in 106 runs in 134 games. He was sixth in the Florida State League in slugging, fifth in home runs (20), and second in RBI (87).

New Rangers third base coach Matt Walbeck managed Hernandez in each of his two pro seasons, at West Michigan in 2006 and at Erie in 2007.

Hernandez is limited defensively and not someone who fits in among the Rangers’ top 30 prospects, but is said to have plus makeup to go along with legitimate power. Still, certainly not an impact prospect, which makes this much seem clear: there must not have been a lot of interest out there in Galarraga. But at the same time, Detroit’s willingness to part with a player for him indicates that the Tigers would have placed a claim on the righthander, so Texas wouldn’t have been able to slide him through waivers and hang onto him by way of an outright assignment to the farm if the club had opted to take that chance.

The odds of Hernandez ever getting to the big leagues are not great, but stranger things have happened. Such as 38-year-old Juan Gonzalez landing a non-roster invite from St. Louis. Gonzalez’s last big league action was his one at-bat in May 2005 with Cleveland, an innocent groundout to third on which he pulled up with a strained hamstring that had seemingly ended his career. He’ll evidently have a chance to beat out former Ranger Ryan Ludwick for a spot on the Cardinals’ bench.

St. Louis also passed out non-roster invites to righthander John Wasdin and infielder D’Angelo Jimenez.

According to BA, the Rangers have signed 29-year-old righthander Trey Hodges to a minor league deal. The Houston native and LSU product has spent most of his eight years in pro ball with the Braves (he also had brief stints with the Twins and in Japan), reaching the big leagues in 2002 and spending most of the 2003 season in the Atlanta bullpen. A hand injury limited him in 2004 and 2005 and wiped away his entire 2006 season, and last year he went 6-6, 4.72 in 20 starts and 10 relief appearances for AAA Richmond, fanning 81 and issuing 63 walks in 122 innings. He was far better as a reliever, posting a 2.18 ERA and limiting the International League to a .212 batting average and surrendering no home runs in 33 innings.

Texas has hired scout Jesus “Chu” Halabi to cover Aruba, Curacao, and Cuba. While working for the Orioles, Halabi was responsible for finding righthanders Sidney Ponson and Calvin Maduro, lefthander Radhames Dykhoff, and outfielder Eugene Kingsale in Aruba.

There’s talk that the Rangers might give Ponson a non-roster look in camp. They’re reportedly less likely to offer a deal to reliever Armando Benitez, whom they’ve also auditioned.

Outfielder Kevin Mench is apparently a candidate for a non-roster invite as well.

Daniels reportedly met with officials at the American embassy in the Dominican Republic last week but is no more optimistic about the club’s chances to get righthanders Omar Beltre and Alexi Ogando cleared to return to the United States than he was going in. Daniels suggested the Rangers might allow the pitchers to move on and pitch in another country, perhaps Japan.

Brad Wilkerson’s one-year deal with Seattle guarantees $3 million and offers an additional $2 million in plate appearance bonuses.

Baltimore signed righthander Esteban Yan to a minor league contract. Tampa Bay signed lefthander Brian Anderson to a minor league contract.

One of the things about the almost unprecedented Rangers prospect depth that Jon Daniels is building is that, in a couple years, we’re going to see far fewer Yan and Anderson types showing up during the season as injury reinforcements. As we saw last week with Armando Galarraga, the bottom of the 40-man roster is already getting crowded, and that’s only going to become more pronounced.

It’s not out of the question that, in 2008, when a need presents itself for a two-week patch, or even more, it might be Matt Harrison or Warner Madrigal or Brandon Boggs we see, or even someone not yet on the roster like Eric Hurley or Chris Davis or German Duran. Fewer Nick Bierbrodt’s and Desi Relaford’s? I look forward to that.

As does Baseball America.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — FEBRUARY 3, 2008

Montreal’s first-round draft pick in 1995, high school shortstop-turned-catcher Michael Barrett, is just 31 years old but finds himself likely on the soft side of a platoon, for the first time in years. But he’ll still make $3.5 million this year with the Padres.

The Expos’ fifth-round pick that year, high school catcher Brian Schneider, doesn’t hit much but his defensive chops are so good that the Mets traded young blue-chip outfielder Lastings Milledge in a deal to get him in December. He’ll be paid more than $10 million the next two years to catch Johan Santana and friends.

Montreal took yet another high school catcher in the 16th round of that 1995 draft, Quebec native Pete LaForest, who lasted one year in the Expos system before resurfacing with the Rays and developing into the club’s catcher of the future . . . until relinquishing that label with a lackluster debut in 2003 and a regression at AAA in 2004. Today the 30-year-old journeyman prepares to go to camp on a non-roster invite with the Phillies.

The Expos selected a fourth high school catcher in the 1995 draft, a big left-handed hitter from the same high school that had produced Barry Bonds and Gregg Jefferies (not to mention onetime Rangers Jim Fregosi and Scott Chiamparino). Montreal failed to sign him, however, losing the 18th-rounder to a commitment he’d made to play another sport at the University of Michigan.

As low as he must feel right now, Tom Brady probably doesn’t wish he were Barrett or Schneider or LaForest, and I’m guessing he’s not second-guessing the career path he chose.

Brady gave me and Barrett and Schneider and LaForest and what will probably turn out to be one of the biggest television audiences ever some amazing theater tonight.

I had no allegiance to the Patriots or Giants and yet, despite actually wanting to see New England finish running the table, I’m exhilarated by the result and what Brady and David Tyree and Wes Welker (football’s Steve Nash) and that Giants D-line gave us tonight.

And that reminds me of something I wrote on June 18, 2006:

“Which brings me to this point: When the Rangers have that season where they win a playoff series, and then a second, and get to the Fall Classic, I’m going to be in a lot of trouble.

“My death certificate will probably say: ‘Cause of Death: World Series.’”

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

NEWBERG REPORT PLUS: FEBRUARY 1, 2008

A
photo, with a caption your Straight Edge closer probably never expected to have
associated with his name:

 

Micah_and_cj

 

C.J. Wilson and a little Champagne

 

Your
closer did some great, great work tonight.


Jamey

THE NEWBERG REPORT — FEBRUARY 1, 2008

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus and Keith Law of ESPN both unveiled their Top 100 Prospect rankings yesterday. Both pegged seven Rangers, equaling Boston and Oakland for most players on Goldstein’s list and second only to the Rays’ nine on Law’s.

Interestingly, they weren’t the same seven. And when John Sickels ran his own Top 100 last week, his eight Rangers didn’t include everyone that Goldstein tabbed, nor each of Law’s. In fact, four of Sickels’s eight made neither Goldstein’s nor Law’s list.

The point is that not only are there widely differing opinions on who the Rangers’ top prospect is (Elvis Andrus, Engel Beltre, Chris Davis, Neftali Feliz, Eric Hurley, and Taylor Teagarden have each topped lists from folks whose opinions I respect), but there’s also a massive number of players landing on these various lists.

Alphabetically, here are the Rangers prospects who show up on at least one of the three Top 100’s referenced above: Andrus, Beltre, Davis, German Duran, Feliz, Matt Harrison, Hurley, Kasey Kiker, Michael Main, Omar Poveda, Max Ramirez, Teagarden.

Twelve players.

That’s pretty sweet.

Flashing forward, in “Lost” fashion: A bunch of those guys are going to be instrumental, one way or another, in bringing the next contender to the home dugout at Rangers Ballpark.

For the record, here are Goldstein’s seven (headlining what he refers to as a “crazy crazy deep” farm system) and where they rank:

30. Feliz

49. Hurley

58. Andrus

62. Beltre

73. Main

74. Davis

77. Teagarden

And Law’s:

31. Andrus (“if Texas manages him carefully, the Rangers have a potential star on their hands”)

40. Teagarden (“a catcher who works the count, hits lots of singles and doubles, and has a plus arm and good receiving skills will be one of the top 10, maybe top five, catchers in the game”)

46. Main (“has a shot to develop into a No. 1 starter . . . right now, he projects as a No. 2 or 3″)

48. Duran

60. Hurley

69. Davis

98. Beltre

Mike Hindman rates the Rangers’ impressive crew of minor league catchers.

See you at C.J. Wilson’s Guitar Hero 3 Benefit Tournament tonight at the Landing Café, Southwest Airlines Corporate Headquarters, 2702 Love Field Drive, Dallas, Texas 75235. The building is on the Love Field grounds but a little off the beaten path — I recommend mapping it before you head out.

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

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