May 2008

THE NEWBERG REPORT — May 14, 2008

Several things from Tuesday
night’s game:

1. In the second inning, he
walked.

In the fourth inning, he singled.

In the sixth inning, his sacrifice
fly gave Texas
a 3-2 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Partly because, in the seventh inning,
he did this:

vazquezdive.jpg

 

In the eighth inning, he singled
in a run to push the lead to 4-2.

He’s long had a reputation for
doing the little things that help teams win. 
Lately he’s getting in the habit of doing big things, too.

He’s a fundamentally reliable
defender who is hitting .344/.419/.516.

Ramon Vazquez is a Professional
Ballplayer.

2. The last time Texas won six series in a row was in 1999,
when the club took seven straight sets between July 15 and August 4.  It was the Rangers’ last playoff season.

3. December 22, 2007 Newberg
Report:

“I love the idea, as I’ve dreamed
repeatedly in this space for years, of having three center fielders patrolling
the Rangers Ballpark outfield together. 
Add the fact that the starting outfield could boast three plus arms — Hamilton is possibly a top 10 thrower in the game — and
all of a sudden Texas
has a chance to change the way opposing runners behave.  That’s a really good thing.”

hamiltoncatch.jpg

 

Take a sheet of paper
out and write down all the center fielders this franchise has had who would
have made the catch Hamilton gave us in the eighth – taking into account not
only the breathtaking snag but the fact that he beat the ball to the wall in
the first place – and for extra credit, jot down all of the ones who even think
about throwing to first to try and double up the runner, which Hamilton nearly
did. 

Underneath that, list
all the Rangers right fielders who would have made the grab that David Murphy pulled
off in the seventh. 

Then figure out another
way to use your blank sheet of paper.

4. Kason Gabbard deserved better,
but the pitch count got him.  Since his
brilliant season debut in Anaheim,
the lefthander has made five starts, all no-decisions, posting a 2.78 ERA.

5. Through five innings, the
Rangers had forced Felix Hernandez to throw nearly 50 percent more pitches than
Seattle had
coaxed out of Gabbard.  There are so many
good things about that. 

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News
notes that the Rangers are second in the league in on-base percentage and in
pitches seen per plate appearance.  Whether
we consciously appreciate that or not, it makes watching this team play
baseball a better experience.

6. Eddie Guardado: nine pitches,
nine strikes, first save.  Vintage stuff.  Eddie Money.

7. C.J. Wilson has a 2.25 ERA (three
hits in eight innings) in nine save opportunities.  It’s 8.31 (11 hits in 8.2 innings) in
non-save situations.  He’ll be fine.

8. Seattle looks really beaten down.

9. Pay attention to this.

According to Grant, precocious Frisco
catcher Max Ramirez (.379/.455/.677) is starting to take ground balls at first
base.

10. At the quarter point
of the season, Texas
is in third place in the AL West but is closer to first (four games) than
fourth (five games).

This has turned into a
team that, after finding ways to lose to start the season, is now regularly
finding ways to win.  Amazingly, if we
are able to hold serve this afternoon, we’ll have gotten back to .500.  Despite limping out of the gate this year much
as this club did in 2007, the Rangers have reached 20 wins 19 days earlier this
season than last.

These last four games of
the homestand could be pretty cool.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — May 12, 2008

The game can fire you
up, and punch you in the gut.  It can forge your belief in the strength of
numbers, and just as easily blindside you with something you could never have
expected. 

Like Erik Bedard, staked
to an early 5-0 lead, failing to hold it and falling to 0-1, 5.79 against
Texas in three
2008 starts – after coming into the season as a lifetime 4-1, 2.42 pitcher
against the Rangers.  The dramatic transformation in the Rangers’ approach
against Bedard, forcing him regularly into high pitch counts, is every bit as
big as the impact that the unconventional infield shift the club employs against
Vlad Guerrero.

Like Cha Seung Baek
continuing to deal against this team: he’s now 4-0, 3.38 against Texas in his big league
career, and 6-9, 5.44 against everyone else.

Like Josh Hamilton and
Milton Bradley, in the space of four pitches, hitting two of them a combined 857
feet.

Like Doug Mathis, a day
after getting an unexpected call to the big leagues, calmly throwing nine
pitches and emerging from the dugout to join the home plate scrum with a major
league victory to his credit.

The game, if you let it,
can bring out the worst in you, and the best.  It’s inspiring and depressing and
relentless and good.

And in the end, it
rewards you for hanging in there.

From the May 9 Newberg
Report:

“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.”

Sure am glad he was
playing on my team tonight.

 

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — May 12, 2008

I finally decided, a few weeks ago, that I needed to make
time for “Lost.”  As big a fan
as I was of “Carnivale,” I knew that “Lost” would grab me,
but I’d just never gotten aboard the train. 

I started a week or two ago with Season One, and I’m eight
episodes in now.  I’m hooked.  Love the concept, love the psychology, and –
for the most part — love the storytelling.

But there are two characters that bug me, and it has
nothing to do with their stories.  It has
to do with how they are written. 

Aside from my expectation any time now to see Sawyer break
into “Bawitdaba-da-bang-da-dang-diggy-diggy-diggy,” he gets on my
nerves because everything that comes out of his mouth is a bad punch line. 

I like Sayid’s story but can’t get past how badly he is
written, either.  He’d have been a
perfect Dan Brown character in “The Da Vinci Code,” overexplaining
everything, unnaturally and implausibly. 
(The show “Numb3rs,” same issue.)  Sayid is “Lost’s” Robert Langdon.

I’m going somewhere with this.

There have been sportswriters in this market whom I won’t
read any more, but when it comes to coverage of the Rangers, even the ones I don’t
enjoy as much — less because of their opinions than because of their style — are
basically Sawyer and Sayid.  I’ll fight
through it because it’s Rangers talk.  Just
as I’m not about to stop watching “Lost.”

The players in the newspaper/Web business are as
competitive as the athletes they cover, and that’s a good thing for all of us
who depend on what they produce.  But when
a writer’s agenda starts to look more like setting up a couple segments on the
next day’s talk radio show than reporting the truth, that’s not so good a thing.

On the subject of manager Ron Washington’s job security,
one writer wrote this on Thursday (and I suspect was actually standing next to Jon
Daniels when working up the story):

“Daniels made it clear that no changes are being
considered right now.  Daniels felt the
need to speak on the record about the subject because there still is
Internet-blog and talk-show chatter going on back in the Metroplex even as the
Rangers haven been on a decent roll.  ‘I’m
prepared to put this to bed,’ Daniels said.  ‘The team is playing better, and we’re
starting to get healthy.  I’m very tired
of all of this.’  If there comes a time
to review the Rangers’ field leadership, Daniels said it will not happen before
the All-Star break.  ‘Hopefully it won’t
happen then, either,’ the GM said.”

And this:

“‘The bottom line is nobody should alone shoulder
the responsibility for us getting off to a bad start,’ Daniels said.  ‘We did, though, and we owed it to the
organization and our fan base to review the situation.  There’s no secret we met.  We did.  Now we’re getting healthy and playing better
baseball.  You have to give credit to Ron
and the staff and the players for responding.  They’re playing hard, executing and playing
the game better.  We need to let the team
get out there and play baseball and get rolling.  If at some point we need to re-evaluate,
that’s part of the game.  But it won’t
happen before the All-Star break.'”

Another writer (who I’m sure also spoke directly with Daniels)
offered this:

“‘Nobody was pleased with our play in the first
month, but we’ve said all along that we do not want to have a knee-jerk
reaction,’ Daniels said from Arlington.
 ‘We are playing better now.  I hope this goes away permanently, but if
there is a need to revisit it, we’ll address it at the All-Star break and not
before.'”

And: “Daniels said the topic is not an ‘active
conversation.'”

But then, two days later, another writer gave us this
(and I’m guessing was never on the phone with or in the same room as Daniels,
if even in the same building):

“Ron Washington, we were told, might or might not
have his job security addressed ‘at the All-Star break [mid-July].'”

That writer went on to characterize the situation as Daniels
“hanging [Washington]
out there” and referring to the All-Star break as “a possible execution
date.” 

The way I read the first two stories, Daniels was
standing behind his manager and perhaps trying to preempt the same questions
after every two-game losing streak.  Basically,
I think, the general manager was saying the club won’t reevaluate the manager for
the next two months, so don’t bother asking — and hopefully, by that time
there won’t be any need to reevaluate him at all, or to ask the question.

Somehow, another writer turns that into Daniels “hanging
his manager out there,” as if Daniels has pronounced that the Rangers will
decide Washington’s
fate at the All-Star break.

Well, that ought to fire up the talk show lines today.

“I’m very tired of all of this,” Daniels said.

Me, too.

Look, I don’t know whether Washington is the right manager for this
team.  But do know that there’s only one real
Rangers story at the moment, at least at the big league level, and that’s the
five straight series wins and phenomenal pitching this club is getting despite a
crazy number of days lost to the disabled list, not the manipulated creation of
an hourglass that apparently doesn’t really exist.

But of course it’s the latter that makes us talk about newspaper
writers as opposed to the stories they write (and I’m guilty of doing that with
this report), and that feeds talk show energy, which, I suppose by design,
makes the writer himself more of a talking point today than Josh Hamilton or
Milton Bradley or Brandon Boggs or Doug Mathis. 
Irritating.

Mathis wasn’t given a non-roster invite to big league
spring training this year but midway through camp he earned one, and right then
it became apparent that the Rangers had him squarely on the radar.  His solid 5-0, 3.55 start with Oklahoma (after a poor
0-3, 10.66 showing at the AAA level in 2007) was the reason that he (and not
Eric Hurley, for instance) got the call yesterday when a potential emergency
long man was needed. 

There’s no question that Mathis was headed for a winter
addition to the 40-man roster anyway, but now his options timetable will start
one year early, once he is presumably sent back to the RedHawks upon Kevin Millwood’s
return from the disabled list, where his strained groin muscle should only cost
him the minimum 15 days.

Millwood’s turn will be skipped Thursday, when the
Rangers have an offday, so Mathis should be available during the Mariners series
for long relief work.  He’s expected to
start in Minnesota
a week from tomorrow, which is the next time Millwood’s spot comes up. 

Just six weeks into the season, Vicente Padilla is the
only member of the rotation Texas
expected to start the season with who hasn’t spent time on the disabled list.

The addition of Mathis to the roster momentarily brought
it to a full 40, but Texas had quietly gotten
Kazuo Fukumori through waivers over the weekend (at least one source reports
that he was released) and outrighted him to Oklahoma, where he’s been pitching for more
than two weeks.  Accordingly, the roster
is back down to 39 players. 

I hate when a pitcher like C.C. Sabathia or Dontrelle
Willis gets compared to Vida Blue, because it’s lazy, so understand that when I
say this, it’s strictly because of Boggs’s swing mechanics from the right side,
the way that he seems to choke his swing off on its upward plane, finishing
with the bat pointed toward the field rather than following all the way through,
and not because of anything else: Boggs reminds me of Ellis Burks.

(Here — this is what I’m talking about: http://www.alexsautographs.com/ellisburks1.jpg)

You just can’t take your eyes off of Boggs, the way he
plays the game.

Marlon Byrd struck out four times in four trips in his
first rehab appearance for Oklahoma
on Saturday, but he went 3 for 4 with a double and a walk yesterday.

Remember our discussion in December about how unfortunate
it was that Akinori Otsuka’s ominous medicals reportedly killed a deal with the
White Sox for Class A first baseman Chris Carter — whom Chicago
instead traded to Arizona
for outfielder Carlos Quentin?  Quentin
leads the American League with nine home runs and with a 1.001 OPS.

As good as the Rangers’ outfield has been this season, imagine
what it would be like if Texas
had been able to move Otsuka for Carter and to flip Carter for Quentin.

Milwaukee
has removed Eric Gagné from the closer’s role.

St. Louis
outfielder Ryan Ludwick is hitting .347/.407/.733 with 11 doubles and eight
home runs in 101 at-bats.  If he wasn’t 20
at-bats short of qualifying, his 1.140 OPS would rank third in baseball, behind
Lance Berkman and Chipper Jones.

The Joliet Jackhammers of the independent Northern League
traded infielder Johnny Washington (and righthander Mike Colacchio) to the Florence
Freedom of the independent Frontier League for two players to be named.

Seattle
is in town, and we have encores tonight (Padilla vs. Erik Bedard) and tomorrow
(Kason Gabbard vs. Felix Hernandez).  And
no Richie Sexson.  His appeal has already
been heard, and the league reduced his suspension from six games to five.  He began serving it on Saturday, meaning
he’ll miss the entire three-game set in Arlington.

But I won’t.  I’ll
be there for all three Mariners games (the finale pits Carlos Silva against Scott
Feldman, who has three straight quality starts), and I can’t wait to see what
unfolds.  The way the Rangers are playing
right now, the big club’s story is, or at least should be, what’s happening on
the field.  Unlike “Lost,” one
writer’s creative interpretation of what the flash-forwards might look like for
this team doesn’t really add to the story, and as far as I’m concerned it
detracts from it, presumably in the name of the almighty ratings book.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — May 11, 2008

According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Oklahoma righthander
Doug Mathis is with the team this morning, likely to be added to the 25-man
roster for either Kevin Millwood or Travis Metcalf (and filling the open spot
on the 40 in the process).  Mathis’s
arrival was prompted by last night’s 8.2 innings turned in by the bullpen.  If a long man is needed for Sidney Ponson
during today’s game, Mathis is the man. 
He threw eight innings for the RedHawks on Tuesday, so today is his day
to pitch anyway.

The 24-year-old is having an outstanding spring for Oklahoma, sitting at
5-0, 3.55 in seven starts, scattering 43 hits (.253 opponents’ average) and just
10 walks in 45.2 innings while fanning 30, and he’s coaxed twice as many groundouts
as flyouts.

A Happy Mother’s Day for Jan Mathis, and a big congrats to
her son, one of the real good guys in this system.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — May 11, 2008

No team had a worse
ERA than the Rangers’ 5.68 in April.

No team has a better
ERA than the Rangers’ 1.84 in May.

No team allowed a higher
opponents’ average in April than the Rangers’ .302.

No team has allowed
a lower opponents’ average in May than the Rangers’ .197.

While Doc Medich,
Fergie Jenkins, Steve Comer, Bob Babcock, Danny Darwin, Rick Honeycutt, Charlie
Hough, and Dave Schmidt are probably hanging out somewhere tonight with Mercury
Morris, Paul Warfield, and Don Shula, this nonetheless has to be the most
pumped up 18-20 team in the history of the game.  Even on a night on which our ace was done 12
pitches into the game, this was one that felt good the entire way, even though
it was against the team with the second-best record in the American League.

Five straight series
wins.

Just two games under
.500.  Seems almost impossible.

I’m heading out to the yard for four of the next five games.  And I can’t wait.

Good
baseball is so rewarding.

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

 

THE NEWBERG REPORT — May 9, 2008

4-0.

31-13-0-0-12-20.

27-10-0-0-7-22.

.385/.419/.641.

17-20, despite 239.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — May 9, 2008

Three
stars:

  1. David Murphy has been named
    American League Rookie of the Month for April.  He outpolled Boston outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (who helped make
    Murphy expendable in the first place), Detroit
    righthander Armando Galarraga, and Oakland
    lefthander Greg Smith.
  1. Frisco catcher Max Ramirez is
    number two on Baseball America’s
    Hot Sheet for the week, recognizing the scorchiest minor leaguers in
    baseball, with stats from the past week getting the most weight in the
    determination.  Ramirez hit .579/.636/1.158 last week, raising his
    season line to a healthy .398/.480/.722.
  1. You can’t make some of this
    stuff up.  Former Rangers farmhand Chris Bradshaw, a right-handed
    pitcher out of TCU who was drafted in the 14th round in 2001
    but pitched only one season in the system before a career-ending arm
    injury, is a contestant on the new season of “The Bachelorette.”  I
    know this only because he told me to check this out.  I have never watched any reality TV and don’t have a whole lot of
    interest in starting now, but I’m rooting for Chris, a really good dude,
    to win whatever it is that you win on “Dancing with America’s
    Top Survivorette of the Big Brother Swap,” or whatever the show is called.

 

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

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.

THE NEWBERG REPORT — May 8, 2008

Erik
Bedard came into the game holding right-handed hitters to a .123 batting
average this season.  He was 4-1, 2.42
lifetime against Texas. 

Brandon
Boggs, obviously having never seen Bedard, had as many hits off the star
lefthander as Seattle
had off the Rangers altogether.  Boggs’s two-out
triple in the fourth to break a scoreless tie was absolutely tattooed.  He made Bedard throw five pitches in each of
their three matchups, and then forced Arthur Rhodes to throw eight pitches in
the eighth even though the veteran reliever started the rookie out 0-2.

Word
is that Marlon Byrd is a couple days from heading out on a rehab assignment
that, assuming no setbacks, shouldn’t last more than a few days.

But
the way Boggs (.313/.343/.500) is playing, can you really send him out? 

Michael
Young is reportedly day-to-day with the sore left hip flexor he began to
experience in batting practice and then aggravated in his first-inning at-bat.

My
only disappointment as far as Vicente Padilla’s night was concerned was that he
wasn’t given the opportunity to pitch the eighth (after just 91 pitches), but on
the other hand, we’ve got to get Joaquin Benoit straightened out.  Padilla, who won six games in 2007, already
has five victories in 2008.  His seventh
inning was one of the most exhilarating performances by a Rangers pitcher in a long
time.  After issuing his only two walks
of the night to start the frame, he looked like an Ace.  Not the ace of the Rangers staff, but an Ace.

If
Padilla’s next 15 starts go anything like his first eight have, it’s going to
be fascinating to see whether the Rangers act on the trade offers they’re sure
to field for him at the trade deadline.  He’s
under contract for 2009 at $12 million and has a club option for $12 million in
2010 (with a $1.75 million buyout).  The
way he is pitching now, the way he is in command of the game when he is on the
mound, trading him may seem like a foolish thing to consider, but his history
of inconsistency – maddening inconsistency at times – may make him the kind of player
that you’d want to sell high on, even if that’s something that as a fan you’d
rather overlook when he’s dealing like this. 
I’ve been looking forward to his starts more than any Rangers starter in
years.  Right now, he’s worth what his
contract pays.

And
Boggs is worth well more than his league-minimum $390,000.

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

THE NEWBERG REPORT — May 7, 2008

According to multiple local reports, Jason Botts has
cleared league-wide waivers and has been outrighted to AAA Oklahoma. 

As we discussed last week, the odds that Botts remains a
Ranger past 2008 are less likely now.  If
he plays his way back to Arlington this season — not impossible though it’s a
near certainty that Nelson Cruz (and Brandon Boggs, if in fact he returns to
AAA) would get opportunities before Botts if an outfielder is needed, and if a
first baseman is needed the Rangers might decide to give Nate Gold a look or make
the bold move of purchasing Chris Davis’s contract — then the club can’t push Botts
through waivers and outright him a second time without his permission.  (He can’t decline today’s outright assignment
but will be able to turn down any subsequent outrights.)  And if he’s not on the 40-man roster as of mid-October,
he’ll be able to leave the organization as a six-year minor league free agent
(as will Cruz and Gold).

This has to be a disappointing development for Botts, who
would have been a big leaguer if claimed and instead is a RedHawk for a fourth season.  He’ll presumably work in with Gold at first
base, as Cruz and Kevin Mench (who can leave if not in Texas as of June 1) and John Mayberry Jr. –
and possibly Boggs at some point — are commanding corner outfield starts.  As Joaquin Arias gets more defensive work,
some DH at-bats will free up, and so Botts’s immediate role isn’t clear, but
he’ll probably get back into rhythm pretty quickly and go back to terrorizing
Pacific Coast League pitching, which, like Cruz, he unfortunately hasn’t shown the
ability to do consistently at the big league level.

More in the next Newberg Report.

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 66 other followers