THE NEWBERG REPORT — May 23, 2008

Batting third, he was instrumental in a dramatic win, raking a single to right with a man on first in the ninth, and coming around to score when the next hitter blasted a walkoff home run.  Once you heard that they won the game in the ninth, you knew he was somehow in the middle of it.

That’s what Carl Yastrzemski did on May 21, 1981, the day Josh Hamilton was born.

It was 14 years after Yastrzemski won the American League Triple Crown.  

Nobody has won it since.

Josh Hamilton has now played in 138 games for Cincinnati and Texas, amassing 495 at-bats, a conservative equivalent of a full first year in the big leagues.  His line: .309/.372/.578, 30 doubles, 31 home runs, 100 RBI, and nine assists.

It’s a phenomenal set of numbers even before you consider that it’s basically coming from a rookie, a guy who is still seeing most pitchers for just the first or second time.

Surely I read this wrong, but Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote yesterday that when Hamilton reached 50 RBI in 45 games on Monday, he set an all-time American League mark for the fastest to reach that level, breaking a record shared by Joe DiMaggio (1936) and Carl Everett (2000), each of whom got to 50 RBI in his 46th game of the season.  Didn’t Juan Gonzalez do it in 40 games in 1998, the year that he had 101 RBI at the All-Star Break?

According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers have had “internal discussions and at least one casual conversation with [Hamilton's] agent” about a long-term contract.  As it stands, the Rangers control him unilaterally in 2009 as well as in his arbitration years of 2010, 2011, and 2012.  

Thanks in large part to Hamilton’s heroics (which came on a day on which he had to talk his way into the lineup), the Rangers extended their unbeaten streak to eight series.  

Milton Bradley sits at .322/.433/.570.  Tell you what: I have no interest in moving him in July, even if this team is out of the race, and even if some team is crazy enough to Max Ramirez us.  I want Bradley around all year, not only between the lines but in the room for all this team’s young players to learn from.  He leads the league in reaching base and is fourth in both hitting and slugging, but almost as big as far as I’m concerned is his intensity and tenacity and how those things never let up.  

If Bradley decides to move on this winter, there should be a couple picks in the first two rounds coming our way as a consolation.  But if he’s interested, I want the 30-year-old around next year and a couple after that.

C.J. Wilson in the bottom of the 10th yesterday: 12 pitches, 10 strikes.

Michael Young’s defensive game on Wednesday might have been his best in a year or two.  He was extraordinary.  

Nobody in the major leagues has more than David Murphy’s 18 doubles.

Hank Blalock is expected to rejoin the team today in Cleveland, but it’s no longer a lock that Chris Shelton (.360 over the last two weeks) is the roster casualty, particularly since Frank Catalanotto’s back continues to bother him.

The Rangers career of Franklyn German is likely over.  Even if Texas can slide him through waivers, since he’s been outrighted before (by Florida in 2006), he has the right to decline any subsequent outright assignments and take free agency.

Righthander Kameron Loe, recalled to take German’s place in the bullpen, hasn’t had a good AAA season (5.14 ERA, .319 opponents’ average), but in his last nine appearances — only one of which was as brief as one inning — he had 12 strikeouts and no walks, and he has a sparkling 3.06 groundouts for every flyout this season.

According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, if Boston had traded Manny Ramirez and Jon Lester to Texas for Alex Rodriguez, the Red Sox were also set to trade Nomar Garciaparra to the White Sox for Magglio Ordonez, Brandon McCarthy, and Arnie Munoz.

Frisco lefthander Matt Harrison’s numbers since Texas acquired him in July from Atlanta: 8-1, 2.64 in seven Arizona Fall League starts and seven RoughRiders starts.  And he’s still three months away from his 23rd birthday.  

Scott Lucas had this interesting note: Harrison’s six walks in Sunday’s no-hitter — all of which came with two outs — were the most he’s ever issued in 104 pro appearances.  In fact, he hadn’t walked more than three in a game since August of 2004.  Control like that from a young lefthander who works in the low 90s and touches 95 is legit.

Ramirez leads the Texas League in reaching base (.464) and in slugging (.701) and in total bases (108, in 43 games), he’s second in hitting (.390), and he shares the league lead in home runs (11) — with teammate Chris Davis.

Oklahoma righthander Eric Hurley last night: seven scoreless innings, six singles, three walks, five strikeouts, nine groundouts and five flyouts, and double plays to end four of his last five frames.  Outstanding.

The mercurial season of Bakersfield lefthander Zach Phillips (4-3, 5.13) continued last night, as he punished Visalia with a complete game three-hitter (including a bunt single).  His catcher, Manny Pina, went 3 for 4 with his first home run of the season.  

The last time that Pina struck out was 63 at-bats ago, on April 25.  Can there be a longer streak anywhere in baseball?

On that date, Pina — a defensive wizard behind the plate — was hitting .149/.241/.170.  Since then: .390/.415/.525.

The Rangers released righthanders Dan Touchet and Jake Dittler and catcher Hunter Harrigan, and acquired catcher Tim Gradoville from Philadelphia for future considerations.  Gradoville is a Creighton University product, like his cousin Chris Gradoville, who catches for Bakersfield, and Rangers director of player development Scott Servais.  Tim has joined the Frisco roster.

San Diego righthander Chris Young landed on the disabled list with a fractured nose, and thank goodness the news isn’t worse than that.

Seattle designated inexplicable Ranger destroyer Cha Seung Baek for assignment yesterday, recalling R.A. Dickey from AAA in exchange of swingman righthanders.

The Sioux Falls Canaries of the independent American Association claimed righthander Mark Roberts off of waivers from the Lincoln Saltdogs, where Roberts had been teammates with righthander Ryan Dittfurth.  The Yuma Scorpions of the Golden Baseball League released catcher Angel Sanchez.

If your kid is in T-Ball or Little League right now like mine is, there’s all kinds of camps coming up at the Rangers’ newly renovated Dr Pepper Youth Ballpark, which now features a green-monster style wall in left field.  Here’s what’s available:

* Hitters Only Camp: Saturday, May 31 & Sunday, June 1 (ages 9-12; instructors will teach hitting mechanics; $275 fee includes two tickets to Rangers-A’s game in a luxury suite on the 1st)

* All Skills Camp (ages 6-12; instructors will teach hitting, pitching, catching, fielding, throwing, baserunning, weight training, flexibility, team offense, and team defense; $225 fee) — camps are 9 a.m. until noon on June 10-13, June 17-20, July 8-11, July 22-25, and July 29-August 1

* Mini Camp: June 9, 10 a.m. until noon (ages 4-6; all-around baseball skills; $50 fee)

For additional information, contact Breon Dennis, the Rangers’ Senior Director for Baseball Programs, Corporate Clinics & Youth Ballpark, at 817-273-5297 or bdennis@texasrangers.com, or visit texasrangers.com/youthballpark.

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

2 Comments

As always, I’m grateful for your info and analysis. I agree that it would be very good to keep Bradley, and wish they would try to do a three-year deal with incentives to avoid the injury risk. I would add another reason to your list for keeping him: He’s a very consistent, power-hitting, switch hitter, tailor-made to protect Hamilton. As other teams take Hamilton seriously, the guy behind him will be critical. Even if Chris Davis is everything we hope, Bradley will still look good between the two left-handers.

Tom Kildebeck

A three-year deal for Bradley may not be needed to protect Hamilton, and bat in front of Chris Davis, as it’s beginning to look like Max Ramirez will have that job.

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