July 2009

Invested.

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You know those baseball cards from 20 years ago that you
held, and maybe bought a few hundred “doubles” of, because you just had a feeling?

 

At one point as I opened my desk drawer at work yesterday, my
eyes caught a couple tickets to Rangers/A’s on September 14, and to
Rangers/Rays on September 26. 

 

As the second half opens for Texas in less than 12 hours, it’s too soon
to predict how big those two games will be, or how huge those tickets could be.  There’s a stretch between August 3 and
September 9 when the Rangers play 25 of 35 games on the road, with the 10 at
home pitting us against Boston, Minnesota, and Toronto.  But in the meantime, Texas has 13 of 16 at home. 

 

Situated near the end of that first stretch and before the second
is the trade deadline. 

 

Lots could change between now and September 14, both in the
standings and on the roster.

 

So will my investment in those September 14 and September 26
tickets turn out like these?

 

kevinmaas.jpg

 

         

 

 

jefferies2.jpg

Or these?

 

ryne-sandberg-tp.jpg

 

         

 

 

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Buckle up.  This ride
may be one we’ll remember for a long time.

 

 

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

 

El Duque departure imminent.

The reality of Neftali Feliz’s imminent big league debut just
drew a little closer.

 

According to multiple local reports, the Rangers have told righthander
Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez that the club does not intend to purchase his
contract from Oklahoma City by Monday, the day he can unilaterally opt for free
agency if not in the big leagues.  Texas has made the
determination that Feliz will get the first look in relief the next time a
reinforcement is needed, and accordingly the club is going to allow Hernandez to
leave, which they expect he will do.

 

The 39- or 43-year-old has a 2.45 ERA in eight relief
appearances for the RedHawks, scattering four hits and four walks over 11
innings while fanning 12, but despite the sparkling numbers, the Rangers don’t believe
his command or velocity is Major League-ready.

Looking back on a look ahead.

Since it’s mid-season and we still have another couple days
before Texas takes the field again, here’s something to tide you over – the two
massive “Asked & Answered” Q&A’s I did in February, fielding about 80
of your questions about the 2009 season and beyond, just as spring training was
getting underway.

 

There were some spectacular questions in both batches, and
among my answers are plenty of hits and misses in terms of my 2009 predictions.  Here’s one from the February 3 Q&A that I
came out OK on, so far:

 

=========================

Q: If Andrus were to
play 120 games in 2009, what sort of stats do you see him ending up with? – J.

 

A: In his first 494
big league at-bats (spanning two years), Jose Reyes hit .283/.307/.407 with 32
stolen bases. In his first 196 big league at-bats (spanning two years), Alex
Rodriguez hit .224/.257/.352 with seven stolen bases. I’ll say Reyes’s on-base,
A-Rod’s slug, and split the difference in batting average and steals.

=========================

 

Spelling out my answer, what I predicted in February for
Andrus was .253/.307/.352, and 20 stolen bases.

 

Andrus is hitting .253/.315/.350.  Extrapolate to 120 games, and he’d end up
with 26 steals.

 

So I was a little light on the swipes.  Otherwise, pretty close.

 

Here are the complete Q&A’s:

 

February 3 “Asked & Answered”:  http://www.newbergreport.com/article.asp?articleid=1245

 

February 18 “Asked & Answered”:  http://www.newbergreport.com/article.asp?articleid=1280

 

 

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

 

Tuesday morning TROT COFFEY*

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(* Trade Rumor Offerings To Chew On
For Fun, Even Yuks)

 

Not to be confused with Brewers
journeyman reliever Todd Coffey, the TROT COFFEY is an
update on various trade rumblings unearthed, if not hatched, by the media:

 

       
Roy Halladay has given Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi
a list of teams he would agree to be traded to despite his no-trade clause (Joe
McDonald of the Providence Journal,
and others)

 

       
Roy Halladay has not given Toronto
GM J.P. Ricciardi a list of teams he would agree to be traded to (Bob
Nightengale of USA Today, and others)

 

       
Whee!!

 

       
Halladay, who will face Hanley Ramirez, Chase
Utley, and Albert Pujols in the bottom of the first tonight, thinks the chances
he’ll be traded this month are 50-50 (Jerry Crasnick of ESPN)

 

       
The Blue Jays will not allow any interested club
a window of time to negotiate conditionally with Halladay on a long-term
extension if a trade is agreed upon in principle (Tony Massarotti and Nick
Cafardo of the Boston Globe)

 

       
The Red Sox are bringing Clay Buchholz up to showcase
him
make Friday’s start against the Blue Jays (he’ll join Brad Penny and Jon
Lester in that series, pushing John Smoltz, Josh Beckett, and Tim Wakefield to Boston’s
series in Texas)

 

       
The Rangers are interested in Pittsburgh All-Star
lefthander Zach Duke (who went to Waco Midway High School, which knocked
Hillcrest out of the state playoffs my sophomore year – when Duke was two years
old) or Pirates lefty Paul Maholm . . . the Pirates had special assistant to
the GM Marc DelPiano (who coached and scouted in the Rangers minor league system
in the early ’90s) in Seattle for the opener of the Mariners-Rangers series (a
Tommy Hunter start – but Pittsburgh may also be scouting the Mariners, who have
reportedly shown interested in Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez) . . . and
the Pirates have “heavy interest” in Derek Holland and Martin Perez (William
DePaoli of Inside Pittsburgh Sports, crediting John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus)

 

Of course, you can’t name a baseball organization that doesn’t
have heavy interest in Holland
and Perez.

 

Duke would be under team control through 2011.

 

I can’t reprint what prospect analyst John Sickels wrote
about what he saw out of Neftali Feliz in Sunday’s Futures Game.  Well, I can reprint all but one seven-letter word:

 

“After intense analysis, I have come to the conclusion that
Neftali Feliz throws ________ hard.”

 

The Rangers have signed undrafted righthander Jake Geglein,
who finished a five-year career at the University of Cincinnati
as the program’s all-time saves leader.

 

San Diego
released AAA outfielder-first baseman Vincent Sinisi.

 

The only other two times Nelson Cruz and Prince Fielder
homered back-to-back were July 27, 2005 and August 16, 2005, when the two were
AAA Nashville teammates for 10 weeks in the Brewers system.  

 

Fielder would never see the farm after that summer.  Cruz would return for a third run at Pacific
Coast League pitching the next season, before his July inclusion in the trade
to Texas that
featured Francisco Cordero and Carlos Lee. 

 

Four years ago, it’s likely that only one of those two
envisioned last night. 

 

I’m not a huge fan of what goes on during the All-Star Break
– I’m eager for the season to get back underway – but that was a pretty cool
thing for Cruz.

 

Thumbnail image for salt2.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

A big game. Again.

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Big game this afternoon. 
Much better to go into the four-day Break coming off a 4-3 road trip to
Anaheim and Seattle than to go in with a losing record on the trip, regardless of
whether the Angels complete a sweep of the Yankees today or not.

 

One of the huge (but overlooked) differences between the
2008 Rangers and 2009 brand has been how much the club has cut down on outs given
up on the bases.  Last night’s bad baserunning
stood out because it’s thankfully been an aberration this season, as opposed to
a routine issue like it was early in 2008.

 

Kevin Millwood in April (five starts): 2.13 ERA,
.210/.253/.333 opponents’ slash line, 1.9 walks per nine innings, 7.2 innings
per start

 

May (six starts): 4.28, .280/.354/.490, 3.4 per nine, 6.2 innings
per start

 

June (five starts): 1.30, .214/.299/.328, 3.4 per nine, 7.0 innings
per start

 

July (three starts): 8.83, .324/.390/.535, 4.2 per nine, 5.2
innings per start

 

Millwood leads the American League with 130 innings pitched,
tied with Arizona’s
Dan Haren for the heaviest workload in baseball.  He’ll get eight days of rest before starting
against Boston.

 

Ian Kinsler, author of the six-hit cycle on April 15, was in
a 6 for 41 (.146) slide before going 5 for his last 17 (.294).  These next four days of inactivity,
especially if he contributes again this afternoon, are going to be good for
him, and for this team.

 

Incidentally, since it was Dustin Pedroia who was in need of
an All-Star Game replacement, the decision was left to Rays manager Joe
Maddon.  Had Pedroia been a players’ selection
(like Torii Hunter) rather than a fan selection, the replacement would have
been Kinsler, since he had the highest number of player votes among second
basemen not already on the roster.   

 

Jon Daniels and his crew are getting plenty of well-deserved
credit for the quiet additions of Darren O’Day and Andruw Jones and Omar
Vizquel to this roster, but Jason Grilli belongs on the list, too.

 

Grilli has now logged 12.1 innings with Texas,
after 19.1 innings for Colorado
at the start of the season.

 

With the Rockies: 6.05 ERA,
.345/.429/.476 slash line, 6.1 walks per nine innings

 

With the Rangers: 1.46 ERA, .146/.222/.293 slash line, 2.9 walks
per nine innings

 

Fluky?  I don’t know.  But the fact is that Daniels’s scouts and
advisors saw something they liked in Grilli despite those abominable Rockies
numbers, and moves like that one, when there are two or three or four in a
season, can change the win column by two or three or four, even if they escape
the headlines. 

 

Neftali Feliz will pitch for the World Team in today’s
Futures Game, which airs on ESPN2 at 1:00. 

 

Twenty of the 30 MLB clubs have two prospects in the
game.  The Rangers, despite having the top
farm system in baseball, are one of the 10 teams with just one.

 

ESPN’s Keith Law on that subject:

 

Where on earth is Texas first baseman
Justin Smoak?  Smoak, the third-best
player available in the 2008 draft, is now the top first base prospect in the
minors, but MLB never asked the Rangers to send him to the Futures Game.  He hit .328/.449/.481 before his recent
promotion to Oklahoma City,
despite going from college straight to Double-A.  Another Rangers farmhand, pitcher Martin
Perez, belongs in the contest as well but was omitted.  The fact there’s only one Ranger in the game -
most clubs have two representatives – would be a lot easier to swallow if their
system wasn’t good, but Texas has the best farm system in the majors and should
have more than just Feliz wearing its uniform on Sunday.

 

According to a local report, the Rangers have confirmed that
they agreed to pay Curacao shortstop Jurickson Profar $1.55 million to sign a
week and a half ago, and Venezuela
shortstop Luis Sardinas $1.5 million.  Both
are in the top 10, dollar-wise, around the league, based on the July 2 signings
that have been reported.

 

Roy Halladay’s numbers in Rangers Ballpark are a concern for
a number of you, if some of the emails I’ve gotten are any indication.

 

But maybe it’s not the park, but the opponent.

 

Against the Rangers in Arlington,
Halladay has a 6.14 ERA and has allowed Texas
to hit .285/.338/.461.

 

But against the Rangers in Toronto, Halladay has a 4.55
ERA and has allowed Texas
to hit .292/.335/.453.

 

And overall in Toronto,
Halladay has a 3.26 ERA and allows opponents to hit .243/.285/.376.

 

You know, I said at the top that today’s game, pitting
Dustin Nippert against Erik Bedard, is a big one.  It is. 
But when was the last one that wasn’t?

 

Don’t take for granted that this team has given us Big Games
almost every day for the last three months. 
Things are looking up for this organization long-term, but seasons like
this don’t always happen – even when they’re supposed to.

 

 

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

 

Random thoughts.

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Strike three to Jose Lopez was not the best pitch Frankie
Francisco has thrown in 2009, but it was close.

 

Strike three to Ichiro two batters earlier was the best pitch Francisco has thrown this
year.

 

Does Derek Holland seem to get squeezed by the umpire a lot
more than he should?

 

I’ve thought for a couple months that this club’s key roster
need was a power righthander for the eighth inning.  Man, it would have been nice to have that guy
tonight.

 

Not an unrelated point: Neftali Feliz pitched on July 5,
July 7, and July 9, representing the first two times since his shift to the Oklahoma City bullpen
that he’s been asked to pitch on one day’s rest.  In those three games, he’s allowed one hit
and no walks in four innings, fanning five.

 

He was slated to pitch tonight, and if he had passed the consecutive-day
test, a big decision might have been imminent. 
But Feliz is slated to pitch two innings in the Futures Game on Sunday,
and so the Rangers opted not to use him tonight.  The back-to-back assignment should come next
week.

 

Scott Feldman, MUTRIHOF.

 

They would have been lost in the details had Seattle come
back to win again, but the Franklin Gutierrez foul pop-up that Hank Blalock and
Ian Kinsler didn’t catch in the first inning and the Lopez flare to shallow left
that dropped between Marlon Byrd and Omar Vizquel in the eighth would have been
crucial “plays unmade” that would have figured in heavily.

 

Nice job tonight at the plate by Kinsler, whose slump has
been the strangest one I’ve ever seen.

 

It sure seems like Ichiro bats every inning.

 

I’m worried about Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

 

Michael Young had 100 hits at the midway point of the
season.  Six more in the four games
since, and he’s right on pace to start a new streak of 200-hit seasons.

 

Say what you will about how deserving Nelson Cruz is of his
All-Star Game appointment, but it’s worth noting that this is a player who was
designated for assignment 15 months ago and went unclaimed by 29 clubs, and now
he’s headed to St. Louis next week because, once Torii Hunter had to pull out
due to injury, it was Cruz who had the next-most votes of any AL outfielder -
not fan votes, but player votes.  That means
a lot.

 

Cruz will also participate in the Home Run Derby.  Josh Hamilton, thankfully, will not.

 

I love how Hamilton
is shortening up and driving the ball up the middle.  If there’s one thing his return to the lineup
can actually do in wholesale fashion, it’s to remind everyone else that there’s
a better way.  Blalock seems to be
subscribing lately.

 

The two obviously notable aspects of Chris Davis’s first
four games since his demotion to AAA:

 

1. He’s hitting .467/.526/.867.

 

2. He hasn’t played first base yet (but is expected to once
in Oklahoma City’s
Saturday doubleheader).  Three games at
third base so far, one at DH.

 

But this is just as meaningful:

 

Game One: Single to center, flyout to left, groundout to
second (with two runners on and nobody out in what was then a 1-0 deficit:
hitting to the right side was the right baseball play), groundout to second.  No strikeouts.  Not pull-happy.

 

Game Two: Triple to left center, flyout to left, single to
center, double to right, and – needing a home run for the cycle in the eighth
inning of a game that the RedHawks led, 12-2 – works a walk.  No strikeouts.  Love the patience and control in the final
at-bat, contrary to the overanxiousness and lack of rhythm he had in Arlington.  Love the use – again – of all fields.

 

Game Three: Strikeout, home run to right, strikeout,
strikeout, intentional walk.  Not a great
night.

 

Game Four: Line drive single to center, line drive single to
left, RBI sacrifice fly to deep right to tie the game in the fifth inning, hit
by pitch, strikeout.  More use of all
fields.

 

I’m liking how this is going.

 

Dayn Perry of Fox Sports makes Ron Washington his AL Manager
of the Year at the season’s midpoint. 
Don Wakamatsu is his runner-up.

 

Of the four or five starting pitchers I proposed trying to
trade for last summer, two hadn’t really established themselves as reliable
winners: Kansas City righthander Zack Greinke and San Francisco lefthander
Jonathan Sanchez (my September 1 idea: Eric Hurley, Marcus Lemon, Manny Pina,
and Byrd for Sanchez and Sergio Romo).

 

While Greinke has been one of baseball’s best pitchers in
2009, Sanchez had pitched himself out of the Giants’ rotation late in June, getting
his first start in 18 days tonight.

 

So much for getting San
Francisco to part with him now.  An eighth-inning error tonight by third
baseman Jose Uribe was all that kept Sanchez’s 9-0-0-0-0-11 no-hitter from
perfection.

 

Remember when Jeff Zimmerman pitched two innings against the
rookie-level Rangers on June 22, in what was the Kid Mariners’ second game of
the Arizona League season?  He hasn’t
pitched since.  That doesn’t sound good.

 

Spokane
lefthander Robbie Ross tonight: five shutout innings (with five strikeouts to extend
his Northwest League-leading total to 39, in just 25.1 innings) – and eight
groundouts to go along with one flyout.

 

Three more runs driven in tonight for Frisco outfielder-first
baseman Mitch Moreland, extending his RBI streak to 11 straight games.

 

Does anyone know of any baseball camps in the Dallas area this summer that
are open to five-year-olds?

 

These West Coast trips (particularly when Texas is in the hunt) take years off my
life.  Six straight 9 p.m. starts?  There’s no way I’m not going to watch every
pitch, but man, it takes a toll. 

 

Winning three of the first five helps a lot.

 

Good night.

 

 

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

 

Halladay shopping.

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There are issues involved with the hypothetical marriage
between the Rangers and Roy Halladay that weren’t factors when Texas traded
Mark Teixeira two years ago, but there are a few things instructive about the
2007 trade that, in part, helped put the Rangers in the position that they’re now
in, able to compete with anyone in terms of loading up an impact package of
young players to close a huge deal.

 

Are we 2007 Atlanta?  Or are we the ’07 Dodgers?

 

And do we have to be either?

 

Before diving into that question, let’s get two things out
of the way, a couple issues that are not insignificant but that aren’t really in
need of too much analysis.

 

First, all circumstances considered, can the Rangers take on
Halladay’s contract?  He’s owed about $7
million the rest of the way this season; that figure will be just under $5
million when the trade deadline arrives. 
He’s set to make $15.75 million in 2010. 
Of course, Vicente Padilla’s $12 million salary comes off the books this
winter, and Padilla, Hank Blalock, and Frank Catalanotto combined earn over $22
million that will be gone in 2010. 

 

Yes, the Rangers have a number of arbitration cases this
winter, but practically speaking, Halladay’s 2010 contract is not so much the
question.  It’s the balance of his 2009 salary.

 

Second issue to note, and dispose of: Would Halladay waive
his no-trade clause to come to Texas?  Johan Santana wouldn’t.  It’s not so much a question of whether he
thinks the team can win.  Halladay, age
32, obviously has another massive contract or two in him (maybe one if he were
to agree to an immediate extension with his new team).  Though it’s hard to imagine his stature as an
established ace being threatened when that next contract comes up (as long as
he’s healthy), Rangers Ballpark has not been particularly kind to him.  The opposing .799 OPS is the highest mark
against Halladay in any stadium in which he’s pitched more than twice, as is
the 6.14 ERA.  Is this where he’d want to
be, since he has some control over that?

 

OK, let’s assume Texas
can manage a trade for Halladay financially, and that he’d accept a deal here.

 

Can the Rangers put together a strong enough package to land
him?

 

Of course.

 

Should they?

 

Not as easy an answer.

 

There have been a dozen columns written in the last few days
touching on the Rangers’ place in the Halladay sweepstakes.  Lots of interesting points have been made, a
great many in common, but there were two in particular that took a opposite slants
on a key issue:

 

Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas
Morning News
: “There is no need to start dumping prospects now.  Yes, everyone loves to talk about how loaded
the Rangers’ farm system is.  It’s a good
idea to keep it that way, at least for another year.  Remember that most prospects in baseball, no
matter who’s [sic] system it is, eventually become suspects.”

 

Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus: “At some point the
Rangers will have to convert their prospect depth into major league players,
and this is one way to do that.  They
would probably have to deal one of Derek Holland or Neftali Feliz, but then
they could pull from further down their list and create a stronger package than
anything most teams could assemble.”

 

It’s fairly self-evident, I would assume, that I’m a pretty big
a proponent of minor league player development, but I gravitate toward Sheehan’s
mindset on this issue.   In fact, I’d turn one of Cowlishaw’s points
back on him: Yes, most prospects do become suspects.  That’s part of the reason why you don’t
hesitate to trade some of them.  Better to
trade a kid too early than too late. 

 

Stated another way: When Texas
traded Ruben Mateo and Edwin Encarnacion to Cincinnati for the hugely disappointing Rob
Bell, it hurt a lot more that the Rangers hadn’t moved Mateo sooner for
something far more meaningful than it did to move Encarnacion before he’d
established himself as a true prospect.

 

My point: If the deal is right, especially when you’ve got
such a deep inventory of prospects with market value, you have to be willing to
move some of them.  They won’t all make
it, and even if they all somehow did, there wouldn’t be room for them all to
make it here.

 

So for me, if the threshold question for some is whether it’s
indeed time for Step Five, my
answer is yes, for the right player.  Roy
Halladay is the right player.

 

OK.  Atlanta or the Dodgers?

 

Before launching into this, if you have a few minutes, give
the first half of my June 18, 2008
report
(title: “Why this could be a tough trading season for Texas”) a glance.  The premise: Because you can’t trade draft
picks in baseball, trade offers are rarely equivalent, and when a team with a top
farm system like the Rangers is on the other end of the phone, particularly
with a player like Halladay the one being shopped, the chances that a team would
accept anything less than the top two or three kids in that system – even if
competing teams would have trouble matching a package of the fourth, fifth, and
sixth prospects – might be slim.

 

If this were the NFL or NBA, the price for a player like
Halladay might be two first-round picks and two legitimate prospects.  But when only players are involved, it’s
obviously all about which ones a seller can pry loose from a buyer, and when
the commodity for sale is one of the game’s very best pitchers, the leverage
sits with the seller.

 

Especially when what’s for sale is good for two pennant
races rather than one.  If Toronto does shop
Halladay aggressively this month, Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi will have taken a page
right out of Jon Daniels’s July 2007 book.  As the Braves learned in July 2008, trading a
year and two months of Teixeira was worth a huge amount more than trading two
months of the slugger.

 

By all accounts, though a number of teams were in on
Teixeira when the Rangers made it known that he was available, it came down to
the Braves or Dodgers for various reasons, primary among which was the fact
that those two NL clubs had the young players Texas most wanted.

 

We know what the Braves – whose GM John Schuerholz was quietly
about to semi-retire – were willing to part with. 

 

The Dodgers reportedly offered first baseman James Loney,
outfielder Andre Ethier, and right-handed reliever Jonathan Meloan.  Like Atlanta,
they wanted a veteran reliever back, but while it was Ron Mahay that the Braves
targeted, reports are that Los Angeles
asked for Joaquin Benoit.

 

Apparently, Atlanta
wouldn’t give up Class A righthander Tommy Hanson or Class A outfielder Jordan Schafer,
despite the Rangers’ attempts to get one or both.

 

Los Angeles
wouldn’t part with Class AA lefthander Clayton Kershaw.

 

It’s reasonable to assume that if the Dodgers had agreed to
put Kershaw on the table, Teixeira would have been a Dodger, and Elvis Andrus
and Feliz and friends would not be Rangers.

 

It’s not all that unusual for teams to get impact deals done
even when making their top prospects untouchable.  The Mets got Santana without putting Mike
Pelfrey or Fernando Martinez on the table. 
The Cubs got Rich Harden without parting with Josh Vitters.  The Phillies kept Carlos Carrasco and Lou
Marson when they traded for Joe Blanton. 

 

Now, it’s not always the case.  The Diamondbacks parted with their two top (and
arguably four of their top six) trade-eligible prospects to get Dan Haren
(though they were getting three years of Haren control).  The Brewers traded their top prospect to get
C.C. Sabathia. 

 

And no, Harden and Blanton weren’t Halladay. 

 

But Santana was.

 

Arizona and Milwaukee got their guy
by trading their best prospects.  The
Mets didn’t have to – but had the benefit of Santana reducing Minnesota’s
leverage by reportedly exercising his no-trade clause to kill talks with Texas,
if not other teams as well.  The Cubs and
Phillies got their veteran starters and held onto their top kids.  And so did the Braves in getting Teixeira,
even though they still gave up a ton to get him.

 

The Dodgers, once you got past Kershaw, couldn’t come out on
top.

 

That’s where the Rangers might be closer to the 2007 Braves,
given the quantity of this organization’s very good prospects.  The big difference is that while Atlanta acted out of uncharacteristic desperation, given
Schuerholz’s status, Texas
won’t do that.

 

So can the Rangers propose a deal that the Jays would take
over all others (and again, this assumes that the payroll implications and Halladay
no-trade clause are cleared hurdles) without parting with the best this system
has to offer? 

 

Let’s look at what Toronto
needs.  There are potential matches with Texas, unquestionably.  Looking a couple years down the road (when
the Jays will conceivably be without Halladay whether they trade him or not),
it seems to me that the identifiable holes are at catcher and every infield
spot other than second base, and of course they will demand and get pitching in
any Halladay deal as well.

 

I’m thinking this is what I would offer, not at the outset
but when it came down to bottom line time:

 

a. either Neftali Feliz and Mitch Moreland . . . or Justin
Smoak (or Chris Davis) and Blake Beavan (or Tommy Hunter)

b. Taylor Teagarden

c. Wilmer Font or Wilfredo Boscan or Guillermo Moscoso or
Omar Poveda

d. Engel Beltre or Mike Bianucci or Jose Vallejo or Joaquin
Arias or Marcus Lemon

 

And I want reliever Jason Frasor in the deal, too, to give
me another right-hander for the final third of the game.  He’s under control through 2010.

 

Group A is the key.  For
Halladay, I’d give up Feliz or Smoak, but not both.

 

Derek Holland and Martin Perez are untouchable, for me.  So is Joe Wieland, even though he’s not on
the same tier.  And Andrus, of course, is
off limits.

 

Yes, I want Halladay to extend his contract and be here for
more than just a year and a third.  But that’s
likely not going to happen as a pre-condition to the trade.  You take the chance that he helps this team
win a division in 2009, and that in the winter he agrees to rip up the final
year of his contract and replace it with four or five more.

 

One local writer suggests Texas
could put Blalock and Padilla in the deal, after which Toronto could flip each of them elsewhere for
tack-on prospects.  Makes great sense for
the Rangers, but I don’t see it working. 
Why would another team trade anything for Padilla when he was passed
over on league-wide waivers recently?  I’m
guessing that if Texas
could have traded either Padilla or Blalock for any sort of prospect at any
point this season, it would have already happened.

 

Boston
will be in on Halladay, and that’s a fascinating thing.  At first blush, you’d assume Toronto
wouldn’t want to put Halladay in a Red Sox uniform when the Jays will be
chasing Boston
every season, but at the same time they’d presumably be stripping the Sox of Clay
Buchholz and maybe Lars Anderson or Josh Reddick and more, and maybe Ricciardi
feels like he’d be closing the gap that way. 
I think it would be crazy for the Jays to trade Halladay to Boston, but Ricciardi has
done some confusing things in the past.  Regardless,
it does make sense to keep the Sox involved, if for no other reason than to
drive up what other teams have to offer.

 

The Yankees have said they’re not in on Halladay.  We’ll see.

 

The Phillies are said to be a favorite to go hard after
Halladay, and they have a solid crop of top-tier prospects.  The Mets? 
There will be interest, but can they compete when it comes to what they
can offer?

 

Would you be OK trading Feliz, Moreland, Teagarden, Font,
and Beltre for Halladay and Frasor?

 

Or Smoak, Beavan, Teagarden, Boscan, and Vallejo?

 

Is either package enough?

 

Objectively, maybe Toronto
will believe it’s entitled to more. 
Maybe the Jays insist on either Feliz or Holland plus either Andrus or Smoak. 

 

But the question will be whether another team can match Feliz
or Smoak in the first place.  If Feliz or
Smoak is Toronto’s “guy” – a player that Ricciardi has circled when surveying
the systems of the interested clubs (cf.,
Kershaw for Texas in 2007, Hanley Ramirez for Florida after the 2005 season) -
then maybe the Rangers have the leverage not to offer both since, arguably, no other
club can trump a package that includes one of them plus Teagarden and three other
legitimate prospects.

 

Toronto will surely start
talks, if they ever get started, by asking for Feliz (or Holland) plus Smoak.  But the Rangers asked the Dodgers for
Kershaw, and the Braves for Hanson and Schafer, and though Texas was told no by both, the club still
made a deal with one of them. 

 

That, I think, would be a reasonable plan here.  If a Philadelphia
offer, for instance – maybe Kyle Drabek or Jason Knapp, plus Dominic Brown and
Jason Donald and Lou Marson – forced Texas
to include Feliz and Smoak in order to stay in the hunt, then that’s when we
back out.

 

There’s a point at which we’d be giving up too much, even
for a pure number one like Halladay.  What
I’m thinking is that, maybe, we are deep enough that we can survive the
sweepstakes without having to meet what is sure to be Toronto’s initial demand.

 

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

 

 

One extra reason to vote for Ian Kinsler

Apparently,
the Angels and Dodgers have forged an alliance, with Angels fans
agreeing to vote for Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp as long as Dodgers fans agree
to vote for Angels third baseman Chone Figgins in the fan balloting for the
final player on the AL and NL All-Star Game rosters.

 

Cute.

 

One
day into the vote, Ian Kinsler has an early but narrow lead over Brandon Inge
and fellow finalists Figgins, Adam Lind, and Carlos Pena for the final AL roster spot.

 

Here’s
some added incentive for the Newberg Report community to help send Kinsler to St. Louis:

 

If
Kinsler wins the vote, Cristina Barbosa-Young and Tess Kinsler and their
husbands Michael and Ian will treat one Newberg Report reader who voted, and a
guest, to dinner at Bob’s Steak and Chop House in Dallas on an upcoming off-day. 

 

Unlike
the standard All-Star Game vote that concluded last week, there is no limit to
the number of times you can vote to help Kinsler hold his lead to become the 33rd
player on the AL
roster. 

 

Here’s
where you go on MLB.com to vote: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090706&content_id=5726034&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

 

You
can also vote by text message if you’re a Sprint, Nextel, or Boost subscriber.
 To vote by mobile phone, text the word “VOTE” to 1122.  To vote for
Kinsler, simply text “A3″ to 1122.

 

Voting
closes at 3 p.m. our time on Thursday afternoon, so get rolling.  Vote a
lot of times.  Email me at gjsneaker@sbcglobal.net once
you’ve voted, and you’ll be entered in the drawing for the dinner with the
Young’s and Kinsler’s. 

 

And
you can still vote for Kemp on the NL side if you want.

 

Jamey

Davis optioned to AAA.

Part of me is sad that Chris Davis won’t be on the overnight
flight to Anaheim,
celebrating a sweep of the Rays and five straight overall.  He’s instead headed for Oklahoma City, trading places with Josh
Hamilton. 

 

Sad, but not really disappointed.

 

It’s the right move.  Right
for Texas, right for Davis. 
Short term, and long term.  He’s
too important to what is being built here to put his psyche at any further
risk, and with Texas on another roll and headed into seven crucial games with
the Angels and Mariners, this lineup just works better right now with Hamilton
essentially replacing Davis in the lineup. 
Presumably, Hank Blalock settles in for now as the everyday first
baseman, and against righthanders Hamilton,
David Murphy, Marlon Byrd, and Nelson Cruz will handle outfield and DH
duties.  Against lefties, Andruw Jones will
rest someone – probably the DH – though he could be asked to play some first
base.

 

Since May 24, Davis
had started one time without striking out. 
He’s hitting .087/.087/.130 (five strikeouts) in 23 at-bats against the
Angels this year (.286/.318/.714 [eight strikeouts] in 22 at-bats against Seattle).

 

Aside from the importance of this seven-day road trip, what
follows is four days off (July 13-16) for the All-Star Break, and one result of
this move is that Davis can keep playing and return to Texas – if the club decides
he’s ready – in time for the beginning of the second half, when Texas hosts Minnesota
on July 17, having spent the requisite 10 days on the farm.  Interestingly, though, the RedHawks are idle July
13- 15 for the AAA All-Star Break, so I wonder if Davis might be transferred to Frisco for home
RoughRiders games on the 13th and 14th.  Frisco is off on the 15th and plays
in Corpus Christi
on the 16th.

 

Frame of reference: The Angels optioned second baseman Howie
Kendrick three weeks ago, when he was hitting a punchless .231/.281/.355.  In 20 AAA games, he got very healthy, hitting
.346/.414/.526.  He rejoined Los Angeles this
weekend. 

 

There will be moments, maybe even in every game while Davis is away, when we’ll see Blalock or Jones fail to
make a defensive play that Davis
probably would have made.  Frankly, that’s
a big reason why this move didn’t happen until July.  Davis
is as good a first baseman as there is in the league, and nobody else on the active
roster is even an average defender at the position.  But the issues at the plate have gotten to
the point at which they trump the potential glove impact, with this team
squarely in a race.

 

Davis’s
postgame comments were exactly what you’d hope for from a young player, and what
we’d come to expect from Davis, who will eventually be a team leader. 

 

Davis
told D Magazine‘s Jeff Miller: “It
was only a matter of time.  Obviously, I
wasn’t making adjustments.  You can’t
expect them to keep sticking me out there every day, not really being any kind
of a threat at the plate.  I’m not down
about it.  You don’t ever want to be sent
down, but at the same time it’s kind of a relief to know I can just go get my
head straight and kind of take out all the outside influences away and just go
get back to baseball.  Give myself a
chance to get back to where I need to be.”

 

Yep.

 

“I really appreciate how long they’ve stuck with me, more
than they really had to,” Davis
added.  “I think the fact that I was
playing really good defense helped a little bit.  We’ll go back to square one tomorrow and see
what we need to do.”

 

To MLB.com’s Daniel Paulling: “What I’m doing is not working.  It was definitely not the Chris Davis that
they thought they were getting.  They
know how productive I can be and I haven’t been that guy.  We all know how this year has gone.  It’s no secret.  It’s good that I can clear my head, take my
time, figure out what’s going on and get back here.  I want to go out, work my tail off, get
squared away and get back up there.  I
want to be a part of this team.”

 

So for now, Davis and Justin Smoak, who was promoted from
Frisco to Oklahoma City
two days ago, will presumably share time for the RedHawks at first base and
designated hitter, an arrangement that could be a preview of their big league duties
in 2010 and beyond. 

 

Monday night, as the Rangers attempt to match a season-high
11 games over .500 and shove the Angels back into second place, Davis’s Omaha Royals opposition will be Sidney Ponson, against
whom Davis was 2
for 5 last summer with a home run and four RBI. 

 

(The two were never teammates.  Ponson was released on June 16, 10 days
before Davis debuted
in the big leagues.  Before that, Ponson
spent the first few weeks of the season in Oklahoma,
but Davis didn’t
join the Redhawks until May 25, after beginning the season in Frisco.)

 

Tuesday, Davis will face journeyman
Brandon Duckworth, whom Davis
has never faced.  I like the fact that Davis, while in a less
pressured setting, is nonetheless slated to face a couple big league veterans
right away.

 

Another move is coming, incidentally.  Dustin Nippert is reportedly going to take
Vicente Padilla’s start Tuesday night in Anaheim,
pushing Padilla back to Wednesday or Thursday as he continues to deal with shoulder
soreness.  Because Nippert is on the
60-day disabled list, his activation will necessitate the removal of someone
else on the 40-man roster.  As I speculated
in this morning’s report, a transfer of Brandon McCarthy to the 60-day DL would
be the most painless move to make.

 

But if and when non-roster members Smoak or Orlando
Hernandez or Neftali Feliz are purchased, it gets a bit trickier.

 

That’s for another time. 
For now, it’s going to be strange seeing Texas take the field without Davis,
but the bottom line is that this was a decision that, all things considered, I’m
absolutely OK with, and it’s good to see that Davis himself is as well.  It’s a move that’s going to pay off for
everyone.

 

Five international signings.

Confirmed international signings according to at least one
local report: shortstops Jurickson Profar (Curacao), Luis Sardinas (Venezuela), and Luis Mendez (Venezuela), outfielder Chris Garia (Curacao), and
pitcher Daniel De la Torre (Mexico). 

 

Incidentally, Profar, who gained repute as an 11-year-old
when he led Curacao to the 2004 Little League World Series title as that squad’s
pitching ace but will play shortstop professionally, took batting practice at
Rangers Ballpark today and went deep – from both sides of the plate.  He’s 16.

 

Profar, Sardinas, and Garia are all switch-hitters and all considered
premium athletes with full toolboxes (which is not to denigrate Mendez and De la
Torre – I just don’t know anything about them yet).  It may not be a stretch to suggest that the Rangers’
2009 international position player class could be the club’s best since director
of pro and international scouting A.J. Preller and senior director of baseball
operations Don Welke were hired five years ago.

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