THE NEWBERG REPORT — May 9, 2008

Regarding last night’s melee: Bravo, Milton Bradley,
Eddie Guardado, and Ian “Brenden Morrow” Kinsler. 

If it were up to me, this isn’t over.  There’s still a debt to pay.  Vicente Padilla hits Ichiro near the knee in
the first inning on Wednesday, and so Seattle
retaliates Thursday.  I get that.  But drilling both Gerald Laird and Ian
Kinsler above the waist was overkill, and when Kason Gabbard throws a pitch
high but no closer to the right-handed-hitting Richie Sexson than it was to the
left-handed batter’s box, Sexson — who has 40 pounds on Gabbard — not only
charges the mound but throws his hat at the ducking pitcher before mauling him
and injuring Gabbard’s leg. 
Gutless. 

The Mariners show up here Monday.  Padilla gets the ball that day.

But it’s not up to me.

(Yeah, that’s me knee-jerking.  I want Seattle
to pay, and not just with that series loss — Texas’s fourth straight series win.)

Sexson will probably get suspended, and I hope he
appeals.  And gets written into the
lineup Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. 
And I hope if we do retaliate, we choose someone else.  Better to just go ahead and let Sexson
contribute a dozen outs.

There was speculation in November that Texas
and Seattle
might have discussed a Sexson-Padilla trade, before the Rangers dealt minor
leaguer Tug Hulett to the Mariners for Ben Broussard.  Whew.

I loved a lot of things about Jimmy Johnson, one of which
was his lack of pride.  Fullback Alonzo
Highsmith starred for him at the University
of Miami, and three years after the
Oilers made him the third pick in the draft, Johnson (a year into his job with Dallas) traded a
second-round pick and a fifth-rounder to make Highsmith a Cowboy.  He’d appear in nine games and touch the ball
22 times before Johnson released him. 
Johnson didn’t care what he’d invested in Highsmith, didn’t care about
their history together.  He didn’t think
Highsmith could help him win games, and he was gone.

I see some of that in Jon Daniels, too.  He had plenty of reason to offer Akinori Otsuka
a contract in December, given that he was the lone survivor of the ugly trade
that sent Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez to San Diego. 
But Daniels didn’t like the medicals on Otsuka, and he cut ties.  Simple as that.

Armando Galarraga was all that remained of the Daniels trade
that sent Alfonso Soriano to Washington.  Still, he tried to get Galarraga through
waivers, assuming the risk that he could lose the 26-year-old, which of course
he did.

Right or wrong, Daniels doesn’t hang onto players simply
to protect an earlier personnel decision. 

I applaud yesterday’s decision to cut ties with Broussard,
even though he was only a month into a $3.85 million deal that Texas must still pay
(unless someone trades for Broussard or claims him on waivers, neither of which
will happen).  He wasn’t hitting, he
wasn’t playing particularly good defense, he wasn’t going to be here in
2009.  There’s really nothing else to
say. 

Jason Botts had an opportunity to do what Broussard
wasn’t doing.  Chris Shelton has a shot
now.  Frank Catalanotto, too.  Maybe Nate Gold will before the year is
up.  Odds are that they’re all placeholders
until Chris Davis is ready.  The only
reason to keep Broussard around was cash — though that cost was sunk — and
pride, and I’m glad that Daniels didn’t allow the latter to stand in the way of
moving forward.  This was no knee-jerk
decision.

Speaking of which, Richie Whitt of the Dallas Observer posted
a blog entry yesterday, reporting that “two baseball sources [he] trust[s]”
said that Rangers management has had talks with Don Baylor, Mike Hargrove, Jim
Tracy, and Jackie Moore as potential successors to Ron Washington.  Daniels told local beat reporters that the
report was full of unspecified inaccuracies, that he has no intention of making
a knee-jerk decision at manager, and that the club doesn’t plan to address the
managerial position (if at all) before the All-Star Break.

That’s two straight shutouts (and 21 scoreless innings)
for the Rangers, their first back-to-back blankings since the club beat the
Angels in Anaheim,
2-0 and 1-0, with two weeks left in the storybook 2004 season.

As for the bullpen, that’s 24 scoreless relief innings and
counting.  Even more impressive: just eight
hits and seven walks in that stretch.  And
20 strikeouts.

I chose Mark DeRosa as the utility infielder on my
all-time Rangers team in this week’s MLB.com column, but Ramon Vazquez is in the
conversation.  That guy can play on my
team any day.  He’s not an everyday player,
but there’s not one facet of the game that he embarrasses himself in.

Consider the outfielders who are producing for this team:
Josh Hamilton, Bradley, David Murphy, and Brandon Boggs.  The really exciting thing about it is that not
one of them was here a year ago, when the outfield was justifiably considered a
black hole, both defensively and at the plate. 
Daniels’s success in reconstituting the outfield as dramatically (and
expeditiously) as he did is something that hasn’t gotten enough attention. 

With regard to the crowded outfield/first base/designated
hitter situation at Oklahoma, it appears that something’s about to give.  With Botts back with the RedHawks after having
cleared waivers, he joins Nelson Cruz, Gold, John Mayberry Jr., and Kevin Mench,
and conceivably Boggs once Marlon Byrd is healthy, but I still just can’t see
Boggs losing his big league roster spot right now the way he’s playing.  In any event, Daniels said, “It’s
crowded, but hopefully we’ll be able to clear that up soon.”

The likely interpretation is that Mench, who can be a
free agent on June 1 if not in the big leagues — and not presently on the
radar to join the big club — could be moved soon, whether by trade or straight
release.

And Cruz might be on the verge of a return to Texas.  The Broussard move created an open spot on
the 40-man roster, and Cruz was lifted before the third inning in Game Two of
Oklahoma’s doubleheader last night, with no apparent injury, at least based on
a reading of the game recap.

Botts homered in his final Rangers game, a week and a
half ago.  He proceeded to homer on his
first Oklahoma
swing of the year, last night in the nightcap of the RedHawks doubleheader.  The bomb off big league veteran Kirk Saarloos
provided the RedHawks’ only run of the game.

Botts’s first big league home run (in May 2006) also came
off of Saarloos.

Righthander Luis Mendoza threw approximately 50 pitches in
the bullpen on Wednesday without discomfort in his right shoulder, but he
apparently tired toward the end of the session and isn’t close to being
activated.  He’ll pitch a simulated game
Saturday and will be sent out on at least two rehab starts after that.

Righthander Jason Jennings hasn’t thrown since going on
the disabled list with a right elbow strain a week ago.

Righthander John Patterson, who has been beset by nerve
damage in his right forearm the past two seasons, felt pain near the nerve over
the weekend at extended spring training in Surprise.  He’s been shut down.

Righthanders Dustin Nippert and Robinson Tejeda are
pitching in the AAA rotation, but only in an effort to increase their
workload.  Both are still being evaluated
as relievers.

Colorado
is showing interest in righthander Kevin Millwood, according to Troy E. Renck
of the Denver Post.

The Rangers named Clinton first baseman Ian Gac (.395/.485/.802,
nine home runs and 24 RBI in 23 games) and Oklahoma’s Cruz (.380/.537/.785,
nine home runs and 27 RBI in 23 games, plus 25 walks, 14 strikeouts, and nine
stolen bases in 10 attempts) Co-Minor League Players of the Month for April and
Clinton righthander Kennil Gomez (4-0, 1.55 in five starts, 23 strikeouts and
two walks in 29 innings, .183 opponents’ average, 2.05 G/F) the Pitcher of the Month.  The organization has also implemented a new honor,
handing out Defensive Player of the Month recognition for the first time.  Frisco outfielder Craig Gentry (who I put on
the system’s all-defensive team after his rookie season in 2006) is the inaugural
recipient.  The speed merchant committed
no errors for the month and cut five runners down on the bases.

Frisco catcher Max Ramirez’s was the Texas League Offensive
Player of the Week last week.  Clinton outfielder Engel
Beltre and infielder Renny Osuna were Co-Midwest League Offensive Players of
the Week.  Bakersfield righthander Tommy Hunter was the
California League Pitcher of the Week.

Nine games into the season, Bakersfield center fielder Julio Borbon was
hitting .211/.225/.237.  Sixteen games
later, he’s lifted his season line to .321/.370/.404, going 27 for 71 (.380) with
eight doubles, seven walks, and five strikeouts in that span.  He’s riding a 13-game hit streak.

But that’s nothing. 
Blaze catcher Manuel Pina went 2 for his first 26 this year.  Since then, he has gone 22 for 56 (.393) and
now sits at .282/.333/.333 for the season. 
True to form, the defensive star has struck out only three times in 78
at-bats all season.

Get this: in Clinton’s series opener hosting Peoria last night, Chiefs manager Ryne Sandberg was ejected with his team down, 7-0, after he reportedly (according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com) charged LumberKings manager Mike Micucci after the sixth inning and had to be wrestled to the ground.  Sandberg apparently took exception to a Clinton hitter bunting at some point, though by looking at the game recap the only two bunts I find are one in the second innings with Clinton up, 2-0, and another in the third with the same score.  I’d like to hear more about this story.

It’s early, but Atlanta
is just 18-15 and sits in third place in the NL East (and fourth in the Wild
Card race).  Won’t be pretty if the
Braves fail to get to the playoffs in either of the two Mark Teixeira seasons that
cost them Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison,
and Beau Jones.

C.J. Wilson’s next Guitar Hero Challenge charity event is
next Thursday, May 15, at Southwest Airlines Headquarters at Love Field, benefiting
the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital
of Dallas.  Doors open at 6 p.m., with the tournament
beginning at 6:30.  There’s a $20 donation
to attend, and for another $10 the first 10 to sign up can tee it up with C.J. in
Guitar Hero.  Email Robert Champagne at Robert.Champagne@wnco.com for more
details.

Doctors pronounced Doug Davis cancer-free yesterday.  A
CT scan revealed no spread of the disease from his
thyroid, which was removed surgically a month ago.  Spectacular news.

Independent league moves: The Sioux Falls Canaries
(American Association) signed outfielder Will Smith.  The Joliet Jackhammers (Northern League)
signed catcher Patrick Arlis.  The Kansas
City T-Bones (Northern League) signed righthander Gerry Oakes and released lefthander
Marc Major.  The St. Paul Saints
(American Association) released outfielder Adam Bourassa.  The Fort Worth Cats (American Association) released
righthander John Maschino.

Quick: Do you realize what your team’s win-loss record
is?

 

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

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