THE NEWBERG REPORT — June 1, 2008

Following up on this morning’s report, another number: Texas is 5-13 in day games.

Day games in April (including March 31): 8
Day games in May: 8

Day games in June: 7
Day games in July: 7
Day games in August: 2
Day games in September: 8

So there’s that.

And the flip side of that abysmal day game record is that Texas is 24-16 at night.

Seeing that San Francisco righthander and Cy Young candidate Tim Lincecum (7-1, 2.23) dealt again today, narrowly falling short of earning his eighth win, reminded me of those scenarios in 2006 under which he would have been there for Texas to take with the draft’s 12th pick.  Instead, the Giants chose Lincecum, Arizona tabbed Max Scherzer, and the Rangers selected Kasey Kiker – a pitcher the organization is certainly excited about, but Lincecum has to be among baseball’s five most valuable (and untouchable) young starters.

This year’s draft begins in four days.  Stay tuned for a bunch of intense Rangers draft coverage, fronted by Scott Lucas’s in-depth preview piece and instant email flashes for each of the Rangers’ Day One picks, and amplified by Eleanor Czajka’s renowned Draft Page, where she gathers scouting reports, scouting video, school bios, and player photos for each Rangers pick.  The discussion on the message board will be heavy.  And on Friday, in your mailbox you’ll find what is typically the longest Newberg Report of the year, reviewing the organization’s Day One activity.

Among the things Jon Daniels said to Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram over the weekend was this: “I think the draft is maybe the most important two days of the year for an organization.  In today’s game, regardless of what size market you’re in, your farm system, your young players, that’s your lifeblood.  You have to develop your own players to succeed.  It’s critical to what we do.”

There’s never been a time in Rangers history when so many good things were happening at once in the franchise’s farm system.  The last few years have seen a huge resurgence in Latin America.  Last July staged the biggest trade deadline prospect influx that any team has pulled off in memory.  And last summer’s draft haul, through quantity and quality, helped revamp the upside of the system dramatically. 

In three late July trades, Daniels acquired nine players, one of whom (David Murphy) is among the American League leaders in several offensive categories, and three of whom (Max Ramirez, Neftali Feliz [last seven starts, spanning 36.1 innings: one earned run on 21 hits and nine walks, 40 strikeouts with that "flat-out, God-given gasoline"; 5-1, 2.05 overall, .189 opponents' average, no home runs, 2.24 G/F], and Engel Beltre) have been recognized at one time or another this season as being among the hottest prospects in the game.  Another (Matt Harrison) has thrown a no-hitter despite being among the youngest pitchers in his league.  And yet another two (Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Elvis Andrus) were considered by many to be the top two talents of the nine, and it’s not out of the question that they’ll be that eventually.
 
But the Rangers aren’t going to pat themselves on the back and shine their 2005 and 2006 and 2007 trophies.  This is about constant, relentless, creative asset accumulation, and Thursday and Friday are huge days. 

Texas chooses 11th on Thursday, followed by picks 57, 89, 123, and 153 before Day One is done.

It’s a big difference from last year’s 17, 24, 35, 44, 54, 80, 110, 140, and 170 through the first five rounds, but at the same time you can count on someone whose name Texas calls on Thursday being a key factor in this team’s effort to return to contention and stay there, whether it’s by impacting the roster before they’re even Rule 5-eligible (like German Duran and Doug Mathis did and Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Andrew Laughter, and Derek Holland have chances to do) or by figuring in as a piece in a significant trade (Danny Ray Herrera).

Thursday and Friday are important and could be big, and not only because the Rangers twice play at night, when they’re a .600 baseball team.  It’s Draft Week, one of the most energizing times of the year, whether your team is out of contention or surging as one of baseball’s hottest clubs.

 

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

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