Thoughts on a sale of the Rangers.

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From the Newberg Report written 751 days ago:

 

Second to the elation
I’ll feel when Texas next makes the playoffs
will be the next time that New York
doesn’t.

 

Bring on the A’s.

 

Word broke yesterday that Tom Hicks is open to selling a majority
stake in the Rangers.  I don’t have much
to say about that other than (1) I hope Nolan Ryan chooses to be a big player
in this (it’s clear that Hicks wants him to be) and (2) it’s crucial that,
whatever transition takes place, the baseball operations crew is allowed to
stay on the course that it laid out two years ago and has this franchise poised
to be where we all want it be. 

 

Hicks gets far too much criticism from the mainstream media,
who choose not to recognize the guts and foresight it took to make Jon Daniels,
who at the time had less than five years in baseball, his general manager, and the
patience and lack of ego it took to authorize the plan that Daniels presented
to him in May 2007 to trade Mark Teixeira and shift focus and resources to
scouting and player development and a wholesale effort to load up on young
talent through the draft and international market and trades, a philosophy that’s
a lot less flashy and far more gradual than many owners would have signed off
on. 

 

Baseball America‘s
Jim Callis in an ESPN chat session yesterday:

 

Q: Bedard trade for
Orioles . . . best trade in baseball in 10 years?

 

Callis:  Check out the Mark Teixeira trade to the
Braves.

 

The Herschel Walker trade wasn’t Herschel Walker Trade until the Cowboys turned the Minnesota draft picks into
Emmitt Smith and Darren Woodson and Russell Maryland and Kevin Smith and three
Lombardi Trophies.  The Teixeira trade is
no Herschel Walker Trade – yet.  But
there’s no question that without it, this franchise wouldn’t be in nearly as
good a position as everyone agrees that it is. 
Hicks should get some credit for believing in, and consenting to, the
plan that Jon Daniels and his crew proposed and have now been executing for two
very good years.

 

Don’t count on the general columnists recognizing Hicks’s role
in that, however.

 

Or acknowledging in print the millions of Hicks dollars that
may not have gone to player payroll (a favorite topic of the media, rarely mentioning
Ben Sheets or Torii Hunter or Daisuke Matsuzaka or Barry Zito or Carlos Delgado
as free agent acquisitions he has consistently greenlighted even though they’d have
busted the budget) but did go to annual decisions to pay out of slot to pave
the way for the drafting and signing of the right high school and college players
(Teixeira, Derek Holland, Justin Smoak, Taylor Teagarden, Julio Borbon, Jake
Brigham, Neil Ramirez, Marcus Lemon, Robbie Ross, Clark Murphy, Johnny
Whittleman, Kyle Ocampo, Matt Thompson, and others), to outspend the
competition in Latin America (examples: Martin Perez, Fabio Castillo, Cristian
Santana, and Richard Alvarez, plus the aggregate of a Preller/Welke/Batista
class like 2006’s Wilmer Font/Wilfredo Boscan/Kennil Gomez/Carlos Pimentel/Geuris
Grullon/Macumba haul), to pay top dollar to make sure we had the hitting coach
and pitching coach we’d zeroed in on, and to hire Nolan Ryan.

 

The Ryan hiring was, of course, an inspired one that has
paid off in many ways and will continue to do so, and though the media has been
wholly supportive of Ryan’s arrival and impact, rarely is Hicks credited for
bringing him in at what had to be a significant financial investment.

 

Hicks wants to win, and though some with newspaper space
will continue to disparage the team payroll (for a roster that today maintains the
best record in the American League) and ignore all else, if Hicks wasn’t
interested in spending to win, would we have Holland and Smoak and Perez and
Mike Maddux . . . and Ryan?

 

What I’m hoping for, if Hicks does indeed sell controlling
interest in the Rangers, is continuity.  I
would have faith in a Ryan-led ownership to insist on that and to make it
happen.  So might someone coming in from
the outside, but if that’s where this is headed, I sure hope that stability is
a priority for whoever that might be. 

 

I guarantee you that the Angels and A’s and Mariners would
be thrilled to see someone come in here and push massive changes.

 

No word yet on whose roster spot Tommy Hunter will take for this
afternoon’s Game One start.  It could be
the first of multiple moves made today, possibly including the optioning of
Hunter back to AAA between games.

 

I’m no hitting coach and won’t suggest to you that I’ve
spotted a correctable flaw in Chris Davis’s swing, but to my baseball eye it sure
looks like the head of Davis’s
bat is flipping – almost flicking – through the zone, causing him to swing
through average fastballs.  The swing
looks level enough but seems like it’s not staying in the zone long enough.

 

The draft is in 11 days. 
Most mocks have Texas landing one of two high school arms from the state,
Brownwood High School righthander Shelby Miller or Klein High School lefthander
Matt Purke, when the club’s pick comes around at number 14, though others
suggest Miller will never last past the top 10 and some think Purke’s rumored price
tag could make him a very tough sign – particularly since his birthdate will
make him a rare draft-eligible sophomore in 2011 if he honors his commitment to
TCU. 

 

Jonathan Mayo’s MLB.com mock from yesterday (Purke) is here.  He’s having a draft-related chat session that’s
now underway here.

 

Baseball Prospectus’s Kevin Goldstein ran a mock a week ago (Miller)
here.  He suggests Purke’s bonus demands could reach
$5 million.

 

ESPN’s Keith Law published his latest mock (Miller) here
on Wednesday.

 

As solid as the Rangers’ 2007 draft haul was (headlined by first-round
picks Blake Beavan, Michael Main, Borbon, Neil Ramirez, and Hunter, plus 17th-rounder
Mitch Moreland), imagine if Texas had managed to sign 11th-round righthander
Anthony Ranaudo and 12th-round lefthander Drew Pomeranz.  Law published a
piece a week ago
suggesting that LSU’s Ranaudo, Ole Miss’s Pomeranz, and Georgia’s
Justin Grimm project to be three of the top pitchers in the 2010 draft.  University
of Texas outfielder Kevin
Keyes, the Rangers’ 26th-round pick in that 2007 draft, is another
player whose 2010 draft potential will get lots of print a year from now.

 

John Sickels has published an updated Top 100 Prospects list,
with five Rangers showing up (Smoak at number 4 [second among hitters to
Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters], Neftali Feliz at number 6 [second among
righthanders to Atlanta's Tommy Hanson], Holland at number 20 [third among lefthanders
to Tampa Bay's David Price and Baltimore's Brian Matusz], Teagarden at number
49 [fifth among catchers], and Max Ramirez at number 100 [seventh among
catchers]).  Sickels has Borbon, Main, and Kasey Kiker among 24 who just missed the
list.  No mention of Perez, the Jerry
West of the Newberg Report email banner whom I ranked in this
week’s Top 20 Rangers Prospects column
ahead of Feliz.

 

Maybe I missed it, but nowhere among the 124 players Sickels
listed could I find High A Lancaster catcher Jason Castro, the player Houston took 10th overall last June, leaving Smoak
for Texas at
number 11.

 

Stan McNeal of the Sporting
News
writes that when Atlanta signed Elvis
Andrus in 2005, the Braves thought they’d lost him to the Rangers when the
16-year-old didn’t show up on time for Atlanta’s
morning workout a day after he’d worked out for Texas. 
But Andrus did arrive, 15 minutes late, and blew the Braves away.  Says Royals GM Dayton Moore, who was then the
Braves’ director of player personnel: “After watching him work out, we sat down.  We had $325,000 on the table.  I asked him how much he wanted.  He said $500,000.  I put out my hand to shake his.  If he had asked for $700,000, I would have
given it to him.”

 

I wrote five days ago about the role Rangers Director of
Player Development Scott Servais played in the career-changing transformation
of Nelson Cruz’s batting stance and the striking maturation in Jarrod
Saltalamacchia’s defensive game.  Add
this: According to Daniels (in a Dallas
Morning News
column by Tim Cowlishaw), Servais pushed this winter for the
plan to have Holland begin his major league career in the bullpen, something that
Feliz is also expected to do later this season.  Notably, Servais caught Roy Oswalt with both
AAA New Orleans and Houston in Oswalt’s 2001 rookie season – and Oswalt started
his big league stint out of the Astros bullpen.

 

No group has taken a greater collective step forward in the
Rangers system this season than its lefthanders, from starters Matt Harrison, Holland,
Perez, Kiker, Michael Kirkman, and Richard Bleier to relievers A.J. Murray, recent
free agent acquisition Mike Hinckley, Zach Phillips, Corey Young, Ryan Falcon, Glenn
Swanson, and the stunning Yoon-Hee Nam, whose scoreless six-inning effort last
night improved his record to 1-0, 1.06 in three starts (17 innings, five hits,
three walks, 15 strikeouts), compared to 3-1, 0.52 in nine relief appearances
(17.1 innings, eight hits, six unintentional walks, 18 strikeouts, all four
inherited runners stranded).  The
21-year-old from South Korea commands a mid-to-upper-80s fastball and a plus curve,
according to Rangers minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark, who offered
that and tons more recently in an
outstanding interview with Mike Hindman
.

 

Texas has promoted
infielder-outfielder Adam Fox from Frisco to Oklahoma City,
and infielder Renny Osuna from Bakersfield
to Frisco.

 

More Beau
Vaughan bloggy greatness
.

 

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Red Sox would
only trade righthanders Clay Buchholz or Michael Bowden for “an elite hitter
under similar team control (for example, Justin Smoak or Brett Wallace).”  Rosenthal correctly notes that players can’t
be traded until a year after signing their first pro contracts (which means
August 15 in Smoak’s case), but they can be pegged as players to be named later
as long as they are conveyed within six months of the trade.

 

Cleveland
designated outfielder David Dellucci for assignment this morning.  Much like Frank Catalanotto, Dellucci is a
sure bet to clear waivers due to his contract ($4 million), and then he’ll be
able to sort through what will probably be several opportunities to upgrade another
club’s bench at minimum wage while the Indians pay off the balance of his deal.

 

Righthander Eric Gagné signed with the Quebec Capitales of
the independent Can-Am League.

 

According to Baseball America,
the Rangers have reinstated outfielder Miguel Velazquez from the inactive
list.  The 2006 19th-rounder
out of Puerto Rico is an enigmatic player who
hasn’t appeared officially since 2007, when hit .330/.381/.489 in the Arizona
League.

 

Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker reports that, according to Nikkan Sports, the Rangers dispatched
two scouts to watch Japanese high school lefthander Yusei Kikuchi work out about
a week ago.

 

For those of you who use Hotmail and have involuntarily been
bounced off the subscriber list in the past, I’m told you should be sure nmlr@listserv.tamu.edu is on your “safe
senders list.”  To be safest, you should
probably add gjsneaker@sbcglobal.net,
jnewberg@vilolaw.com, and minors@scottlucas.com, which are the
addresses from which Scott and I send the reports to the Listserv for distribution.
 

 

Based on what’s about a 10:1 ratio in the wave of emails I’ve
gotten back, it looks like we’re going to have Newberg Report Night on Sunday,
August 2 against Seattle.  More details soon.

 

 

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

 

2 Comments

I usually agree with most of what you say, but concerning the credit due to Tom Hicks I must respectfully disagree. First, the good decisions he has made recently are a direct result of the horrible decisions that he made at the beginning that sent this franchise into a 10 year tailspin. Under Bush/Sheiffer/Doug Melvin, the plan was exactly as it is now. However, Mr. Hicks wanted to win now so he changed the course. He was met with failure after failure which caused him to change course with each passing season never staying with a plan.

I would argue that the ONLY good decision Mr. Hicks made is the Nolan Ryan hire. Nolan Ryan by himself restored credibility to this franchise and I believe it lit a fire under and gave a sounding board to Jon Daniels who, before Nolan Ryan, made some horrendous moves that further set the franchise back. (See McCarthy has more upside than Texas native John Danks who is a left hander that the ballpark was built for.)

I think Mr. Ryan actually saved Mr. Daniels’ job. So, while Mr. Hicks does deserve some credit it is not much credit. So he was willing to spend some money. Isn’t that what the owner of any business should do?

Furthermore, Mr. Hicks never has really “known” this Ranger franchise and I don’t think he ever will. (See his comments that the Rangers have always been a “blue” team and his choice to rename The Ballpark in Arlington after the failed Ameriquest Field to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It’s THE Ballpark in Arlington and that is what most fans know it by and still call it.)

The greatest day, until we win a World Series, will be when the sale is announced…..unless he sells to a Robert Short, Brad Corbett, or Eddie Chiles clone!

As a person with no inside knowledge and only a fan from the outside since I was a kid 1974, I put Hicks among the worst owners the Rangers have ever had. And, he is the only one I remember who made you feel like he was “sticking it to” the fans and he never cared about his fan base. I believe most pure fans who are not connected to the franchise through some blog or other writing job feels the same way I do. We have been consistently betrayed by the money grabbing greed of Tom Hicks and the Rangers will be better off when he is a minor partner. The sad thing is that with the right owner, everybody can win. With a greedy owner, only the greedy owner wins.

By the way, if the next owner endears himself to the fanbase and puts a winning team on the field, I would pay $30 to park and buy $20 hot dogs. I, as a fan, just want to feel part of something special with my chosen sports team. (See Red Sox nation, Cubs fans, etc.) Jerry Jones gets it and to a certain degree so does Mark Cuban. Bush/Rose/Schieffer/Melvin also got it when they made us feel like they built the ballpark for us and they fielded some great teams. I can’t give any credit to the owners while I was a kid because it was only about baseball and my heroes like Jim Sundberg, Toby Harrah, Tom Grieve, Mike Hargove, Buddy Bell, Mickey Rivers, Al Oliver, etc. It was only about what happened between the lines. Unfortunately, when you grow up, you see things that you were blind to as a kid and it is impossible to overlook them.

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