Elvis.

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From Tuesday’s report:

 

Make the plays you
should, and a handful that you shouldn’t . . . and you give yourself a much
better chance to win. . . . New York has won 15 of 19, and you have to limit
the mistakes if you expect to beat those guys. 

 

The Yankees didn’t balk. 
Didn’t get caught flat-footed leading off first base as a righthander’s pickoff
throw was sailing in.  Didn’t drop a fly
ball.  Didn’t backhand a soft-toss to
second on a critical potential double play ball. 

 

The Rangers didn’t play the last three days like a team with
the best record in the league.  Too many fundamental
(if not mental) mistakes. 

 

Still, the upshot of all that is that Texas
won once, New York
twice, and I’m not sure there’s a team in the league right now that can expect
to go into Yankee Stadium and come away with a series win. 

 

Going into Boston, matching Kevin Millwood up against Brad
Penny (whose home ERA is 6.14), Derek Holland (presumably) against Jon Lester (a
surprisingly high 5.65 ERA for the season), and some version of Vicente Padilla
against Daisuke Matsuzaka (7.17 ERA), it’s not going to be easy – it never is
at Fenway Park – but missing Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield is a bit of a
break, and if Texas can escape with two wins and split this six-game road trip,
it would be hard to be too disappointed.

 

On the subject of mistakes: We know Elvis Andrus will make
some – he was spectacular but not flawless in New York – but I was reminded,
watching him on that stage the last three days, of something that occurred to
me and anyone else who saw him play any meaningful amount of time the last two
years. 

 

Andrus is a winner. 
And that’s something entirely different from being a very good
player. 

 

Winners minimize their own mistakes, capitalize on others’
mistakes, exploit weaknesses.  We are
seeing strong evidence right now that Andrus, even at age 20, has a whole lot
of winner in him.  And, obviously, that’s
only going to become more and more prevalent as he matures.

 

A fear: We were all aware, three years ago, that Jason
Giambi’s Yankees contract was set to expire at the same time that Mark Teixeira
would get his first chance to explore free agency.  Derek Jeter’s current 10-year deal is set to
expire after the 2010 season.  He’ll be
36, and will obviously sign another deal with New York at that point.  Andrus, if he doesn’t extend at some point
into his free agent years, will be a free agent after 2014, when Jeter will be
40 – and by then, if Jeter is still playing, he’s not likely to be a fulltime
shortstop. 

 

That scares me.  I think
we can all agree that Andrus – who told the Rangers two months after coming
over in the Mark Teixeira trade: “You probably think I’m going to say [my
favorite shortstop is] a Venezuelan shortstop because that’s where I’m from,
but I’m not.  It’s Derek Jeter.  He is a leader and a winner, and that’s what
I am” – appears to have everything that marquis teams like the Yankees love to
add in his prime, a player overflowing in talent and charisma and savvy and
star power to build around.  He’d be the
perfect guy for Jeter to pass a torch to. 

 

The way I feel about Andrus now, if that happens, I might
have to give up on baseball.

 

Sorta stupid to worry about Andrus six years from now when
he’s played 46 major league games.  But I
know if I were a Yankees fan, with my smug sense of entitlement (courtesy in
part of an obscene TV/radio deal) in spite of the fact that the last championship
trophy was hoisted a couple months after Andrus’s 12th birthday,
that I’d view Andrus as one of those players you can’t take your eyes off of
and one that, when you close them, you can’t help but envision in pinstripes.

 

This Rangers team will belong to the 26-year-old Andrus and the
28-year-old Chris Davis in 2014, the final season for each before free agent
eligibility, and I’m going to set aside those fears and convince myself right
now that Andrus will be the Rangers’ Derek Jeter, and Davis the club’s Lance
Berkman, maybe with a title or two of their own by that point. 

 

Andrus is one of those rare athletes who, upon his arrival
in the big leagues, gives off the unmistakable sense that he will, one way or
another, win championships.  Just like Andrus’s
hero Jeter, who arrived in New York at a time when the Yankees had gone 13 years
without a playoff appearance, and went on to reach the post-season in each of
Jeter’s first 13 seasons.

 

The Ben & Skin Show on 105.3 FM The Fan (the Rangers’
radio home) took calls yesterday asking for nickname suggestions for the
Rangers shortstop.  No need.  Like Emmitt, like Dirk – like Jeter – he’s
all set.  “Elvis” will do just fine.  

 

Speaking of the Rangers’ radio home, Eric Nadel is back in Dallas after Friday morning surgery in New York to repair two tears in the retina of
his right eye.  He’s not sure how long he’ll
be away from the booth.  I’m going to ask
my yoga instructor wife how I’m supposed to go about channeling all my energy
and positive thoughts in the direction of a speedy Nadel recovery and return to
action.  Taking in yesterday’s game
without his description, and realizing that there will come a day when he’ll actually
retire, scared me as much as the thought of Andrus in pinstripes.

 

We’re now four days from the draft.  This is thought, unlike 2008, to be a
pitching-heavy draft, both in the first round and in its depth, so you might
expect it to be a pitching-heavy crop for Texas, even though it will continue to operate
under the “best player available” philosophy. 

 

Baseball America‘s
Jim Callis suggested in a recent chat session that, if Andrus were in this
draft (this would be his junior year in college), “[h]e’d be in the mix for the
No. 2 overall pick [behind Stephen Strasburg] and there’s no way he’d get out
of the Top 10.” 

 

Still no word on the severity of Josh Hamilton’s abdominal
strain/sports hernia, or whether surgery is the next step.  He was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday.

 

So was Cincinnati’s
Edinson Volquez, same day.

 

Meanwhile, Danny Ray Herrera has a 1.69 ERA in 23 relief appearances
for the Reds.

 

Texas
optioned righthander Warner Madrigal to AAA and purchased the contract of
righthander Doug Mathis, making room for Mathis on the 40-man roster by
transferring righthander Willie Eyre from the 15-day disabled list to the
60-day disabled list.

 

The other 29 teams have until noon today to place a claim on
Padilla and assume the remaining $8 million on his 2009 deal, plus a $1.75
buyout obligation unless his $12 million option is picked up for 2010.  He’s a good bet to clear waivers (and start
on Sunday in Boston).

 

From Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports:

 

“The Rangers still would consider trading a hitter for a
reliever even if they lose outfielder Josh Hamilton for a prolonged stretch.  Hamilton
should learn Monday whether he needs surgery for an injury that is effectively
a sports hernia.  If the Rangers trade,
say, outfielder Marlon Byrd or infielder Hank Blalock, they could replace that
player internally, promoting Class AAA outfielder Julio Borbon, Class AAA
catcher Max Ramirez or Class AA first baseman Justin Smoak.  The Rangers, operators of the game’s
top-ranked farm system according to Baseball America, also will consider
pursuing a starting pitcher such as the Mariners’ Erik Bedard or Indians’ Cliff
Lee.”

 

I’ll have more to say about that idea in another report,
soon.

 

I wrote this on July 19, 2008:

 

Surveying the
landscape of potential bullpen additions the Rangers could make this month, I
think I know who my number one candidate is.

 

He won’t cost us John
Mayberry Jr.

 

He won’t cost us
Johnny Whittleman and Evan Reed.

 

He won’t cost us
Michael Schlact and Marcus Lemon, and he won’t cost us Derek Holland.

 

He’d cost us a
transfer of Jason Jennings from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled
list.

 

I’m not sure there’s a
potential trade out there that would work for me any more than getting
33-year-old Kiko Calero up here. 

 

In four appearances
since signing, the Oklahoma
reliever has a 3.00 ERA, but all the damage came in his first appearance back
on July 6 — when he hadn’t pitched in 18 days.

 

In his last three
RedHawks appearances, Calero (whose lifetime big league track record includes a
3.56 ERA with 255 strikeouts and 96 walks in 242.2 innings) has been perfect,
facing five hitters and getting six outs (a caught-stealing accounting for the
turbo-efficiency).  In two hitless and
walkless innings, Calero has fanned four.

 

He’s coming back from
a rotator cuff injury diagnosed a year ago. 
But every reliever on the market right now will have warts, whether it’s
health or effectiveness or a bad contract. 
And he seems to be pitching healthy. 
And effectively.

 

I’ll take Calero, and
keep the prospects.

 

Calero never did make it up to Texas. 
He signed a non-roster deal with Florida
this winter.  He made the team after a
dominant camp (10 scoreless innings, three hits, one walk, seven strikeouts).  He’s appeared 31 times for the Marlins since
the season began, scattering six runs in 27 innings (2.00 ERA) on 16 hits
(.174/.284/.207) and 14 walks, setting down an impressive 35 hitters on
strikes.  In 63 at-bats, right-handed
hitters have zero extra-base hits (10 singles, five walks, 27 strikeouts).

 

Think we could use him here?

 

Remember my note on Monday about Oakland reliever Michael Wuertz, whom the A’s
stole from the Cubs in February for pedestrian minor leaguers Richie Robnett and
Justin Sellers?  Neither is still Cubs
property.  Chicago traded Sellers to the Dodgers for a
player to be named later or cash in March, and released Robnett last week.

 

Milton Bradley had an MRI on his right calf on Wednesday,
after pulling up with what appeared to be a strain in Tuesday night’s Cubs
game.  Getting his .220/.338/.390 numbers
back into the Chicago
lineup is a day-to-day proposition.

 

Going into yesterday’s games, nobody in baseball, major
leagues or minors, had more than Frisco right fielder Mitch Moreland’s 23 doubles.

 

According to Baseball
America
, the Rangers have placed Bakersfield
righthander Josh Lueke on the suspended list.

 

Even though the Clinton LumberKings are now a Mariners affiliate,
L-Kings radio broadcaster Dave Lezotte interviewed
former Clinton starter Derek Holland for the farm club’s MLBlog
.

 

Sammy Sosa is no longer interested in waiting for the phone
to ring.  He’s retiring.

 

More
from Oklahoma City
reliever Beau Vaughan.

 

We now have 244 paid for this year’s Newberg Report Night at
Rangers Ballpark, on August 2.  I expect that
we’ll be full by the end of the weekend, so if you’re interested in attending
but haven’t paid, now’s probably the time.  Full details are in a flash box at the top of www.newbergreport.com.  For $30, you’ll get to participate in a
90-minute Q&A Jon Daniels and another Q&A with Baseball Prospectus’s
Will Carroll, to support a good cause or two, and to get the chance, at gametime
and for two or three hours after that, not to be able to take your eyes off of Elvis.

 

 

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

 

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