Rangers claim Grilli.

According to at least one local report, the Rangers have
claimed right-handed reliever Jason Grilli off waivers.  The 32-year-old was designated for assignment
by Colorado
on Friday, after posting a 6.05 ERA in 22 appearances this season (19.1
innings, 29 hits, 13 walks, 22 strikeouts). 
Grilli had a 3.00 ERA in 2008 between Detroit
and Colorado
(75 innings, 67 hits, 38 walks, 69 strikeouts).


No corresponding move has been announced.


For those of you who have been with the Newberg Report
for any more than a year or two, you know that the fact that the Grilli move
comes on Draft Day is poetic justice.


*     *     *

The local
report that broke the Jason Grilli story now says that Texas didn’t claim him
off waivers, but instead sent cash considerations to the Rockies for the
righthander (meaning before Colorado ever placed him on waivers during the
10-day period that triggered on Friday). 


Because Grilli
was on the Rockies’ 40-man roster and is out of options, not only will a move
need to be made to clear space for Grilli on the active roster, a spot on the
40-man roster will need to be cleared as well. 
The above-referenced report suggests, accordingly, that Texas could let righthander
Kris Benson go to make room for Grilli’s addition to the roster.


I confused
a small handful of you with the reference in my news flash to Grilli and Draft Day.


For those
of you, this comes from the May 31, 2001 Newberg Report, a few days before that
year’s draft:




On December 18, 1988, one of
the most important games in Dallas Cowboy
history took place, as the Green Bay
Packers defeated the then-Phoenix Cardinals, 26-17, salting the win away on a
Don Majkowski-to-Clint Didier touchdown pass.


I kid you not.


The significance of that
GB-PHO game — the Pack’s second straight win — was that it improved the
Packer record to 4-12, while the Cowboys were busy dropping to 2-14 with a 23-7
loss to Philadelphia.  Had Dallas won and Green Bay lost, the teams
would have been deadlocked and facing some sort of tiebreaker or maybe a coin
flip to determine which of them would get the number one pick in the 1989


With the unlikely two-game
win streak for Green Bay, the Cowboys picked
first, taking Troy Aikman.  The Packers picked second, landing Tony


Why do you care?


Because in my opinion, the
final week of the Rangers’ 2000 season might ultimately prove to be similarly
significant in its effect on this club’s immediate future.


The Baltimore
Orioles were a bad baseball team last year, at 67-86 with nine games remaining
against Boston, Toronto, and the Yankees.  Texas wasn’t so great either, as its record
stood at 70-83 with nine to play against Anaheim, Seattle, and Oakland.  And then something strange happened.  The O’s reeled off seven wins out of the nine
games, including the final four games straight — by the average score of
13-2.  At the same time, the Rangers lost
eight of nine, including the final three — by the average score of 11-2.  And as a result, in the space of nine days, Baltimore went from three games worse than Texas in the AL
standings to three games better, and accordingly Texas ended up with the third-worst record
in the league.


In baseball, the draft is
conducted with the AL and NL alternating picks, and so the result of the Texas-Baltimore
standings flip at the 2000 finish line was that the Rangers will pick fifth
overall in the June 5, 2001 draft, and the O’s will pick seventh. This could be
very, very important.


That is because in my
opinion, which I will state right out front is worth very little since I have
not seen any of these guys play, four players are worth getting excited about
— USC righthander Mark Prior, Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira, Middle Tennessee
State righthander Dewon Brazelton, and
Baltimore high
school righthander Gavin Floyd.  And even
though Texas
drafts fifth, I feel pretty comfortable that one, and maybe two, of those
players will be there when the Ranger selection comes up.  Were the Rangers picking seventh, those four
would likely be gone.


With less than a week to go
before Major League Baseball’s 30 scouting directors make the decisions they
get paid to make, Team One Baseball staged a mock draft on its website.  I played Tim Hallgren and took Floyd with the
Ranger pick.


In the mock draft, Prior went
first, Teixeira went second, Brazelton went third, and Casey Kotchman was the
fourth pick.  I don’t see it actually
shaking out that way next week — I think Minnesota will end up shying away
from Prior’s demands and take either Brazelton or Joe Mauer, the Cubs will nab
Prior, Tampa Bay will take Brazelton (if there) or Alan Horne or Colt Griffin
or maybe Roscoe Crosby, and Philadelphia will go with Floyd or Teixeira.  Under that scenario, either way the Twins go,
Floyd or Teixeira will be there for the Rangers.  The Dallas Morning News suggested yesterday
that Teixeira or UCLA righthander Josh Karp could be the pick, but from the
things I have read — and again, the fact that I am reading the assessments of
other people renders my judgment worthless to an extent — Karp seems to have
disappointed a lot of scouts this season and could be slipping to the middle
part or even back half of the first round.


Let’s talk about Teixeira and
Floyd.  And to kick the discussion off,
how about these two interesting notes:


1. They both attended Mount
St. Joseph High School in Severna Park, Maryland.  Teixeira was drafted in the ninth round by
Boston in 1998, but failed to sign and became a Yellow Jacket.  Floyd, incidentally, has committed to South Carolina but is
expected to sign a pro contract.


2. A year ago, in assessing
the top prospects in the Delaware/Maryland/West Virginia/D.C. region for the
2000 draft, Baseball America noted that if Teixeira and Floyd became the top
college and high school selections when the 2001 draft rolled aruond, it would
mark the first time that one high school produced the top college and high
school player in the same draft.  BA then
went on to rank the top players in that region who were eligible for last year’s
draft.  Number one?  Delaware
high school righthander Randy Truselo. 
Number two?  Towson State
lefthander Chris Russ.  Both, as you
know, became Ranger selections, both on the ledger sheet of Ranger scout Doug


On to Teixeira and Floyd.


Teixeira is, by all accounts,
one of the most polished hitters to come out of college in years, a
switch-hitting Troy Glaus/Lance Berkman type. 
A Scott Boras client, the Twins won’t take him.  The Cubs won’t unless Prior goes first.  Tampa
Bay cannot pay its own major league roster, so forget Teixeira — plus they
have never — never — taken a college player in the first three rounds.  The Phillies? 
Would they choose to run into Boras
again, after the J.D. Drew disaster a few years ago?


Would the Rangers take
Teixeira, when (1) the need for pitching is so glaring for this organization,
(2) they do not pick again until the fourth round, and (3) third base seems to
be fairly well accounted for on the farm with Mike Lamb at AAA and Hank Blalock
making huge noise again, this time at High A Charlotte?  The way I look at it is this: you take the
best player available.  If you are not
crazy about the pitchers available to you at number five, you don’t “settle” on
someone with that pick.  Were there
hitters that Texas
preferred over Jonathan Johnson in 1995, such as Todd Helton or Geoff Jenkins,
who were the two players taken immediately after the Ranger pick?  In 1996, do you wonder whether St. Louis (3rd pick: Braden Looper), Montreal
(5: John Patterson), Detroit (6: Seth Greisinger),
or San Francisco
(7: Matt White) actually liked Mark Kotsay (9th pick) or Eric Chavez (10th
pick) more but felt they needed to go with a pitcher?  In 1997, according to the Baseball America
draft preview issue I am staring at right now, Anaheim had the third pick and
was split between Glaus and righthander Jason Grilli — they took Glaus, and
Grilli went with the next pick to the Giants. 
Think the Angels are happy they made that decision?  In the 1998 draft, Kansas City took Stanford righthander Jeff
Austin with the fourth pick. J.D. Drew went fifth, Austin Kearns went seventh,
Sean Burroughs went ninth, and Carlos Pena went tenth.


What’s the point?  These examples illustrate that at times,
deciding in the top of the first round to draft for need can be dangerous.  It may very well be that the Rangers like
Prior and Brazelton and Floyd and Karp more than Teixeira, and if so, I hope
they take the pitcher.  But if they
evaluate Teixeira to have a higher and more projectable ceiling than whatever
pitchers are undrafted by the time the fifth pick comes around, then I think
Teixeira needs to be the pick.




And so
began the “Glaus vs. Grilli” theme that resurfaces in the Newberg Report from
time to time.



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