September 2008

Cruz lines.

The prodigious power is there for Nelson Cruz, but it always has been.  He’s a good right fielder, but that’s never been an issue.

Here’s what stands out for me:

2006 in Texas: 5.4 walks for every 100 at-bats (AAA: 11.3)

2007 in Texas: 6.8 walks for every 100 at-bats (AAA: 13.0)

2008 in Texas: 11.6 walks for every 100 at-bats (AAA: 14.6)

And this:

2006 in Texas: 24.6 strikeouts every 100 at-bats (AAA: 27.0)

2007 in Texas: 28.3 strikeouts every 100 at-bats (AAA: 21.0)

2008 in Texas: 20.9 strikeouts every 100 at-bats (AAA: 22.7)

Stated another way:

In 2006, Cruz had 4.6 as many big league strikeouts as walks.

In 2007, Cruz had 4.1 as many big league strikeouts as walks.

In 2008, Cruz has 1.8 as many big league strikeouts as walks.

There’s no question that Cruz’s .302/.375/.605 line jumps off the page, considering he hit .223/.261/.385 in 2006 and .235/.287/.384 in 2007.  But the 43-at-bat sample size is small (he gained 46 batting average points, 49 on-base points, and 195 slugging points in last night’s explosion against Boston), and more interesting to me at this point is the significant improvement in his walk and strikeout rates.

The 28-year-old should be in someone’s starting lineup in April.  

Right now I’m glad we’ve got the right of first refusal.

P.S.  Jason Bourgeois, the Rangers’ second-round pick in 2000 out of Houston Forest Brook High School and one of the true fan favorites in recent years on the farm, had his contract purchased by the White Sox yesterday and is looking to make his big league debut.  Bourgeois, who had a terrific .333/.440/.452 camp for Chicago, hit .286/.335/.404 for AAA Charlotte this season, playing primarily in the outfield after seeing most of his time at second base in his five-year minor league run with the Rangers.

P.P.S.  Welcome back, Revo.

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

This one goes to eleven.

No doubt motivated by his buddy Derek Holland to put it to San Antonio for a second straight night and give Frisco a 2-0 lead in the teams’ best-of-five playoff series, Neftali Feliz racked up the following numbers tonight:

Seven innings pitched.

Three hits (none after the fourth inning).

Two walks.

No runs.

Eleven strikeouts (including nine in the first four innings).

Ninety-eight pitches, 65 for strikes.

While not as flashy a number, a little quick math reveals a figure just as phenomenal as all the rest: Feliz averaged 14 pitches per inning.  

That’s a very good number.

That’s an almost inconceivable number when half the outs you record are by strikeout.  They don’t award those on just one or two pitches.

There may not be half a dozen better pitching prospects in the game right now.

And there’s probably not a better tandem than the 20-year-old Feliz and the 22-year-old Holland.

20080814feliz8.jpg   
20080813derek5.jpg  

                                                                                      [Photos courtesy of Scott Lucas]

I’m going to allow myself to blur my vision of those two photos just slightly enough to imagine Feliz and Holland in those alternate solid reds that were mentioned in the papers yesterday, pitching Games One and Two of a big league series in which “Games” and “One” and “Two” merit capitalization.

That may be years from now, if ever, but it’s not hyperbolic to suggest that the Rangers have never had a more exciting pair of pitching prospects than they do right now, in Frisco, adding to their dossier every single stinkin’ time they take the mound.

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

 

 

Kinsler's season over.

According to local reports, Ian Kinsler will not return to action this season.  The second baseman will have surgery to repair a sports hernia in his abdominal wall a week from today.

All kinds of stuff.

The latest step in Max’s apprenticeship as a good baseball fan came yesterday afternoon, years sooner than I expected: The kid loves a well-pitched, low-scoring game.  Well pitched, well defended, clock-friendly.  Every pitch counted.  I’m a proud Dad.

In 2004, when Dustin Nippert and Felix Hernandez were ranked by Baseball America as Arizona’s and Seattle’s number one pitching prospects, that sort of game was what was envisioned — not that one of the two would slide all the way through waivers, as Nippert did three months ago.  

Nippert was great yesterday, blanking the Mariners on seven hits and no walks in seven innings, fanning four.  He changed speeds well and located all his pitches, and was especially sharp early, throwing only two balls in the first inning, four in the second, and three in the third.  

Through four innings, Nippert had thrown 16 balls out of the strike zone.

In his Rangers debut on April 4, Nippert threw 18 balls in two-thirds of an inning.  

In the last two times through the rotation (which hasn’t included Vicente Padilla), Rangers starters are 6-2, 2.76, with seven quality starts out of 10, getting into the sixth inning every time and completing at least six all but twice (which not only speaks to their effectiveness but also boosts the health of the bullpen).  In 65.1 innings, they’ve issued six walks, fanning 38.  

Ten starts.  Six walks.

In fact, in the last time through the rotation, the current starting five issued one walk, a Scott Feldman free pass in the fourth inning on Saturday.  Since then, Rangers starters have put up 28 straight innings without a base on balls.

I’m not suggesting we’ve found our rotation for 2009, but it’s good to see guys like Brandon McCarthy (age 25) reasserting himself, Scott Feldman (25) continuing to offer proof, Matt Harrison (22) giving indications that he may not be not far away from dependability, and Nippert (27) showing flashes of what made him, not long ago, a legitimate prospect (with reports of a mechanical change prompted by Andy Hawkins and Jim Colborn, who have apparently pointed Nippert’s stride more toward the plate so that he’s throwing less across his body).  

These are all guys who project at best in the back half of a decent rotation, if not in a relief role, but things look a lot better going into 2009 if you have candidates for those roles you feel good about, lots more where they came from just a little further from being ready, and Kevin Millwood and Padilla under control.  

It’s still important for Texas to add another horse to the rotation — and maybe one of the above named will have to be traded in order to get that done — but the situation isn’t as empty as, say, the Rangers’ outfield picture was a year ago.

An effort to rein in Feldman’s workload has been thwarted by injuries to other starters, but the club is apparently intent on skipping his next start (aided by off-days tomorrow and Monday).

The timetables for a return to action this month by Ian Kinsler (who reportedly met with team doctors yesterday) and David Murphy are uncertain.

Meanwhile, Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s 2008 season is finished due to a strain and inflammation in his right elbow.  He plans to get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews on Monday (presumably to confirm that there’s no ligament damage and no need for surgery) before starting a six-to-eight-week rehab program.  

Two of the numbers in his final .253/.352/.364 line are disappointing, but it shouldn’t be overlooked that he’s still just 23, younger not only than Gerald Laird but Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez as well, or that he was locked in offensively (and more consistent defensively) lately, hitting a robust .378/.477/.514 over the last five weeks.

I still think that he’d be the catcher I trade this winter in a deal for front-end pitching, assuming the injury doesn’t deflate the trade offers to the point at which Texas would be selling low.  Recall that the Rangers had reason to unclog the catcher position last winter but wisely decided that trading Laird after a poor season would have been unwise from a timing standpoint.  Laird has significantly more value today than he did last winter.  

Saltalamacchia still plans to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic once he completes his rehab program, and his ability to show that he’s healthy there will be important.  If he does that, he’s still a valuable commodity, as evidenced by the apparent face that there were multiple teams interested in trading for him in July — and that was before his torrid month-long streak at the plate.

If Texas can use Saltalamacchia to center a deal for a young pitcher ready to step into its rotation — and ideally to front it before long — I’m happy to go with Laird, who has two more seasons under team control before he can explore free agency, backed up by Teagarden.  There are scenarios as well under which Ramirez could make the team and get 350 at-bats as a designated hitter (depending on whether Milton Bradley returns) who can also spell a left-handed-hitting first baseman and give the club a third catcher on the roster.

If Laird fetches a trade offer that’s significantly better than anything proposed for our other catchers, I’m OK moving him.  But I’m very comfortable with how Laird’s game has developed and like the idea of having him here as a steadying influence as Texas breaks in the next wave of high-ceiling starting pitchers.  

In a strange way, as unfortunate as Saltalamacchia’s injury is, having him end his season on such a good run of productivity at the plate may turn out to be a pretty good thing.

Nice moment for Teagarden yesterday, squeezing the pop-up to seal the major league shutout he’d just caught.

He’s started three games.  Two have been 1-0 Texas victories.

Teagarden also caught an Oklahoma no-hitter this year.

Thrown by Nippert.

Frankie Francisco since inheriting the closer’s job from Eddie Guardado: four games, four saves, 4.1 innings, one hit (a single), no walks, eight strikeouts.  Fifty-six pitches, 44 strikes.  Any questions?

Derek Holland was masterful once again last night, getting the starting assignment in Frisco’s playoff opener and firing 7.1 strong innings, as he held San Antonio to one run (the result of an eighth-inning ball that bounced off right fielder Dustin Majewski’s glove and over the fence) on two hits and a walk while fanning five.  Learn more about Holland’s dazzling effort and all the other action from the first night of the minor league playoffs in Scott Lucas’s morning email recaps.  

You should also read Scott’s outstanding playoff preview if you’re not already on the mailing list.  You can check it out at http://www.newbergreport.com/article.asp?articleid=1130.    

Our own Eleanor Czajka reports in her can’t-miss “Girls Don’t Know Anything About Baseball” blog (http://emcmlb.blogspot.com/) that Teagarden, Chris Davis, and Warner Madrigal, after contributing prominently in the big club’s day game, were in the Frisco stands last night, watching their former teammates take Game One of the series.  That’s a really, really cool note.

Elvis Andrus made a play deep in the hole, I’m told, that defies description.  Suffice it to say that he evidently channeled Derek Jeter on the backhand jump-throw with enough juice on it to get the out at first.

Ken Rosenthal points out in his Fox Sports column that Hank Blalock’s tradeability this winter (should the Rangers pick up his $6.2 million option for 2009) could be boosted by the weakness of the free agent market at third base.  Rosenthal notes that Blalock, still just 27, is committed to an off-season throwing program designed to
enable a return to third.

I was planning on writing about a Rosenthal note from last week suggesting that a “growing number of baseball people expect Rangers president Nolan Ryan to make sweeping changes — changes involving [Jon] Daniels, manager Ron Washington or both,” but a local reporter wrote this week that “[w]ord has come from the very top that such speculation is” an unprintable word for which the sanitized replacement was “rubbish.”

I’d be very disappointed, and very surprised, to see Daniels let go.

Davis has a .552 slugging percentage for Texas in 2008.

Mark Teixeira has a .541 slugging percentage for Atlanta and the Angels in 2008.

Weird: Teixeira is hitting a monstrous .376/.468/.641 since joining the Angels.  Yet the club was 65-40 (.619) before acquiring him, and is 19-14 (.576) since.  

I have no idea.

ESPN’s Buster Olney had the Elias Sports Bureau measure which hitters have been most productive this year against starting pitchers with an ERA of 3.75 or better and relievers with an ERA of 2.75 or better.  Kinsler (.355) was third in all of baseball as of August 19, and Michael Young (.338) was fifth.

Young needs 36 hits to reach 200 for the season.  If he were to play in every one of the club’s remaining 21 games, he’d be on pace for another 96 at-bats, in which case he’d need to hit .375 the rest of the way to get to 200.

Josh Hamilton is the second player in the last 55 years (Albert Pujols is the other) to drive in at least 120 runs in his second big league season.  Consider this quote from Hamilton, when asked about the achievement: “It helps my confidence.  It kind of reaffirms to myself that I can play at this level and hopefully do it for a while.”

Millwood (3-1, 2.76, two complete games) and Marlon Byrd (.393/.468/.607, 42 hits, 15 extra-base hits) were named pitcher and player of the month for August by the Rangers.  Millwood is also the Rangers’ nominee for baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to the player who best exemplifies the sportsmanship and community involvement that Clemente demonstrated.

Nelson Cruz had the highest slugging percentage (.695) in the minor leagues this year.  He was also tied for fourth in home runs (37) and 10th in both hitting (.342) and reaching base (.429).  Renny Osuna was fourth in hits (178), sixth in runs (100), and 14th in hitting (.338).  Julio Borbon was sixth in hits (175) and tied with Andrus for ninth in stolen bases (53), but Borbon was also fifth in times caught stealing (18).  Ian Gac was fifth in RBI (109) and tied for eighth in home runs (32), but third in strikeouts (170).  Jose Vallejo was tied for 12th in hits (166), Johnny Whittleman was sixth in walks (89), and high school teammates John Mayberry Jr. (65) and Steve Murphy (64) were tied for ninth and 13th, respectively, in extra-base hits.

Neftali Feliz had the highest strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate (10.8) of any starting pitcher in minor league baseball, was sixth among starters in opponents’ batting average (.201), and was 15th in total strikeouts (153), while Derek Holland was 10th in three categories: strikeouts (157), ERA (2.27), and opponents’ batting average (.209).  Elizardo Ramirez was tied for seventh in hits allowed (193).

The minor league leader in total bases and extra-base hits (and runner-up in home runs) was High A first baseman Chris Carter, whom Oakland acquired from Arizona in this winter’s Dan Haren trade.  The reason I note this is that, two weeks before the Diamondbacks sent Carter to Oakland in mid-December, they’d acquired him from the White Sox for Carlos Quentin — shortly after Chicago was reportedly prepared to trade Carter to Texas for Akinori Otsuka, before the White Sox reviewed Otsuka’s medical records and withdrew the offer.

In a BA survey, Class A managers and scouts ranked Vallejo as the California League’s best defensive second baseman in 2008 and Clinton manager Mike Micucci as the Midwest League’s best manager prospect.  Those polled in the Texas League called Max Ramirez the league’s best batting prospect, ranked Davis as having the best power, recognized Michael Ballard as having the best change-up, honored Teagarden as the best defensive catcher and Andrus as the best defensive shortstop, and touted Scott Little as the best manager prospect.

The Oklahoma RedHawks will become the Oklahoma City RedHawks next year, and will feature a new color scheme and logo.

Texas extended its player development contract with Spokane two years through the 2010 season.

There are reports that Bakersfield Blaze owner D.G. Elmore intends to move the franchise to the Carolina League after the 2009 season.  I’m pretty sure the Rangers’ player development contract with the Blaze goes through 2010.

Kelley Gulledge, the son of Rangers P.A. announcer Chuck Morgan, had an excellent second half with AA Jacksonville in the Dodgers system, moving from behind the plate to play first base and DH for the Suns and hitting .286/.383/.557 in 70 at-bats.  He also made a cameo pitching appearance on Friday, working the eighth inning of a 7-2 loss to Montgomery and retiring the Biscuits in order, one on the ground and two on strikes.  It was apparently the first time that the 29-year-old had pitched since Little League.

In its ranking of the top prospects in the various summer collegiate leagues, Baseball America judged University of Texas outfielder Kevin Keyes as number one in the California Collegiate League and Cal Poly righthander Kevin Castner as number five.  The Rangers drafted Keyes in the 26th round in 2007, and Castner in the 10th round in 2008, not signing either.

Cincinnati righthander Nick Masset was involved in a minor auto accident on Monday, bruising his hand.  He’ll be OK.

Jason Jennings, sidelined since a month into the season, will start throwing in two weeks.  He’ll be a free agent again this winter.

According to local reports, Rangers equipment manager Zack Minasian says the team will increase the red in their uniform look in 2009, and included could be a solid red alternate jersey and red hat.

Maybe it will call back the look of the Rangers’ three playoff teams from the late ’90s, which would suit me fine.  Maybe it will bear some resemblance to the Diamondbacks jersey that Dustin Nippert wore last year, or the Team USA jersey that Taylor Teagarden wore last month, or the Frisco RoughRiders jersey that Derek Holland wore last night.  

I’m not sure who my money would be on among Nippert, Teagarden, and Holland to be wearing Rangers red when this team is next playing playoff baseball — I might bet on them in reverse order — but there are lots of steps, some little, some big, some aesthetic, and some essential, being taken right now to continue moving this thing in the right direction.

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

Trading with San Francisco: A Giants' perspective.

THE NOB
HILL REPORT

 

*Covering the San Francisco Giants from
Top to Bottom*

 

If there’s
anything that 59-77 has taught us as loyal Giants fans, it’s that we play in
baseball’s weakest division, aren’t anywhere close to competitive in it, and
don’t appear to be on the verge of making any NL West noise in the next couple
years.  This will probably be our fourth
straight year in the 70s in wins, and while our farm system has made some real progress
the past year or two, the strength is in starting pitching, which means two
things: (1) hope they’re ready to rack up the no-decisions – if it weren’t for
Washington, we’d have the worst offense in the league . . . for the second year
in a row, and third out of four; and (2) we actually might have an opportunity
here to do something bold.

 

If new
managing general partner Bill Neukom doesn’t replace GM Brian Sabean this
winter (he’s under contract through 2009, with a club option for 2010), Sabean
probably has to know that he’ll be expected to do something aggressive to change
the team’s fortunes in order to keep his job.

 

Here’s one
assessment of the franchise’s big-picture assets, offensively:

 

* Outfielders
Aaron Rowand (age 31) and Fred Lewis (27) and Nate Schierholtz (24)

* Catcher
Buster Posey (21)

* Catcher-corner
infielder Pablo Sandoval (22)

* Corner
infielder Angel Villalona (18)

* Second
baseman Nick Noonan (19)

 

The rest is
pitching.  And there’s lots of it.  Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez,
and Brian Wilson on the big league staff. 
Madison Bumgarner, Tim Alderson, Henry Sosa, Jesse English, and others
on the farm.

 

And of
course, there’s Barry Zito, who is necessarily a big-picture asset because
we’re paying him $18.5 million next year, $18.5 million in 2010, $18.5 million
in 2011, $19 million in 2012, $20 million in 2013, and $7 million to dump him
from the payroll in 2014 (though if he somehow finds a way to earn 200 innings
of work in 2013 [or 400 in 2012-13, or 600 in 2011-13], his $18 million
contract for 2014 vests, too).  And he’s
got a full no-trade clause, though that’s sort of irrelevant because he might
be baseball’s most untradeable player right now.

 

If Sabean
wants to make a splash this winter – or let’s be honest: if a replacement comes
in and wants to immediately place his stamp on this thing – there’s one obvious
way to do this: Trade pitching to rework the look of this lineup, because
waiting on Posey, Villalona, and Noonan isn’t all that inviting.  Keep Lincecum, of course, but everyone else
is fair game.

 

Figuring
out who wants to get in on this will be easy. 
There’s no team out there who would turn down a chance to improve its
rotation.  I’m not dealing with the
Diamondbacks or Dodgers, despite their strength in young hitters, because I’m
not into the idea of facing Cain or Sanchez that many times every year while
trying to chase their teams. 

 

Can we get Atlanta to put Jason
Heyward in a package?  The Mets: Fernando
Martinez (after they emptied the farm for Johan Santana)?  St.
Louis: Colby Rasmus? 
Pittsburgh:
Andrew McCutchen?

 

Just as the
Twins were probably happy to get Santana out of the AL altogether, all things equal it would be
a good thing, if we’re going to move Cain in particular, to send him to the
other league. 

 

Looking at
the deepest systems in the AL, I’m ruling Oakland out, because
having Cain develop into a 20-game winner across the Bay as that team grows
around him would put him above the fold in the
Chronicle every
time he pitches, and that’s not happening. 

 

Tampa Bay? 
The Rays would have no interest, it would seem, in trading offense for
another starter when they have Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Matt Garza, Edwin
Jackson, David Price, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Jeremy Hellickson, and Jake
McGee on hand.  Frankly, Tampa Bay
might actually be our competition if we were to put Cain on the market, as any
team interested in our guy might have a chance to get with the Rays on one of
theirs, too.

 

The Red Sox
and Yankees will be interested, of course, and we need to get them involved, if
for no other reason to raise the stakes. 
But it’s doubtful Boston
would move Lars Anderson or Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jed Lowrie has probably made
himself virtually untouchable.  Bet we
could get New York
to part with Austin Jackson, but he alone isn’t going to remake our lineup, and
the Yankees’ strength on the farm is also in pitching.  Jesus Montero is a possibility, but where is
he going to fit if we have Posey behind the plate and Sandoval or Villalona at
first?  Does Robinson Cano fit,
considering he’s under contract for $27 million over the next three years (or
$54 million over the next five if his two club options are picked up)? 

 

Sure do
like the Rangers’ farm system.  They have
impact talent everywhere on the field. 
And let’s be honest: If Cain were to go star in Texas,
that’s more palatable from a P.R. standpoint here than if he were doing it in
the National League, or in Oakland, or on
national TV every week in New York or Boston.

 

First, remember
that Henry Schulman reported in the
Chronicle just before the trade deadline that
Texas covets
Sanchez and might have been dangling Hank Blalock in a possible deal for him in
July before Blalock had a physical setback. 
(And some blogger named Newberg wrote: “I have an unnatural partiality
to Sanchez, just like I always have for Oliver Perez” – maybe if the Rangers’
front office is that into Sanchez themselves, we can take advantage of that and
work talks on the 25-year-old, keeping the 23-year-old Cain off the table for
another deal.)

 

I’ll offer
Sanchez (he had an awful July [0-3, 8.57] and hasn’t pitched in three weeks due
to a shoulder thing, but he’s slated to start today) and ask for Chris Davis
and Elvis Andrus, and the Rangers will say no. 
They’ll probably try to turn the discussion to Cain and refuse to offer
Davis or Andrus, and we’ll say no.  And
that all assumes, of course, that this type of discussion didn’t already take
place more than a month ago, which is silly. 
Surely there’s already been plenty of groundwork laid.

 

Cain,
incidentally, is owed just $6.9 million over the next two years combined, has a
$6.25 million club option in 2011 (which could vest based on innings pitched or
games started or Cy Young finish, and which could also increase to as much as
$8.15 million based on the first two categories), and he’ll then have free
agency rights.  He’s a huge bargain and,
though he’s a lifetime 30-40 pitcher (a third of his starts have been
no-decisions even though he gets into the seventh inning on average), he’s
undoubtedly a potential number one.

 

But the
righthander’s also leading the major leagues in pitches thrown this year.  Not sure that that’s as much of a red flag as
Lincecum’s delivery, but it’s something to consider given his age.

 

As for
Sanchez, the lefthander has one more pre-arbitration season and then three more
years before he can be a free agent. 
He’s just 12-15, 4.92 in his career (8-9, 4.53 in 24 starts this year),
but he has as much upside as any young pitcher that the Rangers have gotten to
the big leagues this season, and he’s inexpensive.

 

Let’s look
at the young players worth targeting, but first, here’s a thought: Blalock
really looks out of rhythm right now, but maybe if he finds his stroke this
month we take a chance on him in the deal. 
We liked him at mid-season.  His
$6.2 million option for 2009 isn’t a payroll crusher, at he’ll still only be 27
when this season ends.  Rich Aurilia
comes off the books in a month, and there’s no sense in going forward with the
37-year-old at first base.  If Blalock
settles in here, maybe he can give this roster a solid veteran bat, hold things
down until Villalona arrives, and, if things go badly for the Giants in 2009,
his contract could be flippable at the deadline.  But first, he’s got to show something in
September.  He’s not in sync right now.

 

OK, I want
a shortstop and I want a center fielder, and that means I want Andrus and I
want Julio Borbon.  I want another
outfield bat that I can put in the lineup right away, and David Murphy is my
guy.  I’m certainly going to get a young
pitcher in the deal, even if it’s not my number one priority, and I’m asking
for Eric Hurley or Matt Harrison.

 

So that’s
my proposal to Texas:
Jonathan Sanchez for Andrus, Borbon, Murphy, and Hurley or Harrison.

 

The Rangers
will tell me that they won’t give that package up for Cain, let alone Sanchez.

 

Maybe they
counter with something like Joaquin Arias (impressive offensively since Ian
Kinsler got hurt, though I have my doubts as to whether his arm will ever play
at shortstop again) or Marcus Lemon, Marlon Byrd, and a couple local products,
Zach Phillips and Wes Littleton.

 

And we’ll
say no. 

 

We’ll
haggle over the shortstop, settle on Byrd (who has two arbitration years left)
rather than Borbon as a center field option, agree to make Blalock part of the
deal rather than Murphy, and we’ll grapple over what pitching we get back.

 

Maybe the
talks boil down to Hurley, Lemon, Byrd, and Blalock, which Texas offers for
Cain, to which we say absolutely not – but we’d do it for Sanchez.  The Rangers may “covet” Sanchez, but they
aren’t going to go that far.

 

So to do a
Cain deal, we need more back.

 

To do a
Sanchez deal, we need to improve our offer.

 

So then we
tell the Rangers that, to move Cain, they need to add Omar Poveda, whose
pedestrian-looking 4-4, 4.57 season belies the fact that, at age 20, he’s gone
3-1, 2.38 (30 hits and 18 walks in 41.2 innings, 44 strikeouts) in his last
seven starts in the hitter-friendly California League. 

 

And as far
as Sanchez is concerned, we don’t insist on Poveda and we reluctantly agree to
put 25-year-old righthander Sergio Romo in the deal.  The reliever has given up 13 runs (eight
earned: 3.43 ERA) on 14 hits and four walks in 21 big league innings, fanning
22.  In four minor league seasons, he’s
struck out 10 hitters per nine innings, with fewer hits plus walks allowed than
innings pitched.  He’s short, tends to
give up more flyballs than grounders, and has average stuff, but he gets guys
out – especially lefties, who are dealing with his changeup by hitting .107 in
the big leagues.

 

But we want
a catcher back.  Yeah, Posey is our
long-term answer, but Sandoval probably isn’t going to stay behind the plate,
Jackson Williams may never hit, and – hey – the Rangers have shown what a good
idea it is to stockpile catching prospects. 
We’ll take Manny Pina, who is so good defensively that if his bat plays
at all, he’ll be a big league backup. 
The 21-year-old is hitting .286 in Frisco and .270 for the season,
striking out just once every 10 times up.

 

We’ll also
drop Blalock from the deal.

 

So:

 

For Matt
Cain: Eric Hurley, Omar Poveda, Marcus Lemon, Marlon Byrd, and – if he shows
something in September – Hank Blalock. 
And ultimately, we probably hold out for Andrus instead of Lemon, and
might insist on Engel Beltre rather than Byrd.

 

For
Jonathan Sanchez and Sergio Romo: Eric Hurley, Marcus Lemon, Manny Pina, and
Marlon Byrd.

 

Quickly,
before I get out of here to settle in for Sanchez’s return to the mound this
afternoon, I know Giants fans probably haven’t had the pleasure of listening much
to the late Mark Holtz or current Rangers radio play-by-play man Eric Nadel,
but they are both candidates once again for the 2009 Ford C. Frick Award, and
you should vote for them.  Balloting begins
today at www.baseballhalloffame.org,
and you can vote up to once per day throughout the month.

 

Also, this
may be a Giants blog, but did you see that Dale Scott call at home plate Saturday
night in the Angels game against the Rangers? 
Maybe the worst I’ve ever seen.

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

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