August 2009


The Angels were 29-29 on June 11.


Since then, they’ve gone 3-6 against Texas.


And 33-9 against everyone else. 


was 32-22 on June 4, after which they went on a 30-20 run (.600) before its current
six-game skid. 


In that 30-20 stretch, the Red Sox went 1-5 against Texas.


And 29-15 against everyone else.


Say what you will about the Rangers’ staying power in this
thing, but you can’t say they’ve backed into the position they’re in. 


Day off today, then three in Cleveland,
followed by a seven-game homestand that starts with three against Boston – the team that the
Rangers are now locked with atop the American League Wild Card standings. 


That’s Texas, which has allowed the fewest runs in the American
League this year
, against Boston,
which is second.


And it pits one of the league’s least effective offenses against
one that just went 31 innings without scoring before pushing two across in the
eighth inning last night.  The Red Sox
have had the better offense this year, but at the moment, the Rangers are
showing signs of finding themselves a bit at the plate, while it’s Boston that’s in a
run-scoring tailspin. 


The Sox have four at home against Central-leading Detroit to try and get well offensively before coming to Arlington.


And not that I’m looking ahead, but after a Kevin Millwood-Jon
Lester matchup on Friday night, Derek Holland faces Brad Penny on Saturday
(before Dustin Nippert and presumably Junichi Tazawa on Sunday afternoon,
though I admit I haven’t kept close tabs on when Tim Wakefield is supposed to return
to action). 


A few quick things:


ESPN’s Buster Olney suggests the Rangers are among the teams
possibly interested in John Smoltz, and Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that Vicente Padilla
might be on the Dodgers’ radar.


Eleanor Czajka has posted a batch of Newberg Report Night photographs
taken by Jeff Loy at this
.  If you have some photos from
the event and want to share them, send me an email.


Anyone have an authentic old school light-blue Rangers road
jersey (Sundberg, Harrah, Umbarger vintage) you’d be willing to lend or sell?


Enjoy the baseball day off.





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e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league game
recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to and click the
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(c) Jamey Newberg



you get set for Kevin Millwood’s return to the mound this afternoon, facing an
Angels lineup that tuned him up a month ago, and perhaps an appointment with
Channel 21 tonight to catch Frisco’s game against San Antonio (during which I’ll
be in the TV booth for the fifth and possibly sixth inning) . . .


. . and as you wonder who the Vicente Padilla impostor was in the dugout
Wednesday night laughing and mocking home plate ump Bob Davidson after the
drilling of Michael Young prompted a warning to the benches – since, you know, Vinny
now insists he was back in the clubhouse when all that went down . . .


. . and as you put another checkmark in the column after seeing that Chris
Davis drew walks in the first four of his six Oklahoma City trips last night
(in a game in which Sacramento issued just seven walks in 12 innings), adding a
single, GIDP, and no strikeouts . . .


. . and as you enjoy this quote from an opposing South Atlantic League manager
regarding Hickory lefthander Martin Perez, number 10 on this week’s Baseball America “Hot Sheet”: “I’m glad
he’s on that pitch count, because he’s scary. 
That helps everyone out a lot” . . .


. . and as you remind yourself that, in extremely limited circumstances, it
really is OK to root for the Yankees . . . I wanted to take a second for some


again to those of you who have responded with “honor system” contributions to
the Newberg Report the last few days.  If you are still interested in
participating – although please don’t feel compelled to – we’re asking for a
contribution of $15 to $25. 


easiest way to contribute is to go to and send payment to the account.


can also send a check or money order to:



Lopez Serafino Jenevein, P.C.

2001 Bryan Street

Suite 2000

Dallas, TX


of whether you participate or not, I thank all of you for your continued
support of the Newberg Report.



To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get
e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league game
recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to
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(c) Jamey Newberg


Vicente Padilla designated for assignment.

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Wednesday night, after Vicente Padilla’s latest questionable
display, including a moment when the cameras caught him in the dugout laughing
and mimicking home plate umpire Bob Davidson’s demonstrative warning to both clubs
that the next purpose pitch would result in an ejection, I posted this on


“For a team that has
forever been thin on starting pitching, there’s simply no question that TX will
cut Vinny Padilla loose at season’s end”


Well, I was wrong.  He’ll
be long gone before this season is over. 
For all intents and purposes, he’s gone now.


You can dispense with the baseball terminology.  Vicente Padilla was fired.


Yeah, Texas
has 10 days to trade the righthander, release him, or get him through waivers
and outright his contract to the minor leagues. 
Translation, in this case: He’ll be released.


Jon Daniels did a number of interviews yesterday shortly
after the move, talking about 25 guys pulling together, a team mentality, “addition
by subtraction.”  It was another Jimmy
Johnson moment for Daniels, not only in the boldness of the decision but in the
positive message it sends to the players this organization is counting on.


It’s a potentially galvanizing moment.


Said the Rangers’ emotional leader, Marlon Byrd: “It’s about
time.  When a player disrupts a team,
eventually there is going to come a time when management has enough.  They have seen enough.  We are fighting for a playoff spot.  The last thing we need in the clubhouse is a
distraction like that.  There are 25 guys
in this clubhouse who are behind management on this.  They showed that they are serious.  They did their job.  That just serves as assurance that they are
doing the right thing here.”


It’s sad from the standpoint that Padilla is a monster
talent, but one who squanders that talent with a renegade mentality and complete
lack of interest in what it means to be a teammate.


The interesting thing about the move is that Texas will owe Padilla the
remaining $4 million on his 2009 deal (unless the highly unlikely occurs and
Padilla is either claimed off waivers or traded for by another club in the next
week and a half) even though he’s finished as a Ranger.  The club was obviously going to buy out his $12
million option for 2010 for $1.75 million, but the fact that ties are being cut
now is a clear signal that management still believes in 2009 (and in the deleterious
impact that Padilla’s presence for the next two months could have had on the
club’s young players).  In a different
way, but not all that different, it’s comparable to a trade deadline
acquisition, a statement from front office to clubhouse that the organization believes
in its players.


Addition by subtraction, as Daniels put it.


Thanks to the solid, if unexpected, contributions of
pitchers like Tommy Hunter and Dustin Nippert, each of whom makes 1/30th
of what Padilla earns this season, this move was possible without the fear that
a dependable arm was being removed in favor of a question mark as the final
third of the season gets rolling. 


Still, even if the move was made possible, it still took
some guts to make, and the approval seems to be universal, among fans and among
media and, without question, among Padilla’s former teammates.





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(c) Jamey Newberg



Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the throwback.

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Back on July 11, buried in a report I sent after midnight
following a win over Seattle,
I wrote: “I’m worried about Jarrod Saltalamacchia.” 


It wasn’t so much what he’d been doing at the plate – he was
4 for his last 19 but that wasn’t the cause of my concern – instead it what was
going on behind it.


For about a week at that point, I was feeling sympathy pains
as Rangers pitcher after Rangers pitcher was having to bend all the way down or
lunge in one direction or another to catch Saltalamacchia’s return throw after
a pitch not put in play – not physical pain but the feeling of being taken out
of rhythm, like a spot shooter fumbling a skip pass behind the three-point
line, or a punter having to field the snap off the turf. 


A month later, an errant Saltalamacchia throw back to the mound
cost the Rangers a run, though fortunately the club was able to overcome it and
pull out a win yesterday.  But Saltalamacchia
wasn’t there calling the final pitches of the game, having been replaced not
long after his wild first-inning throw five feet wide of Tommy Hunter allowed
an unearned run to score. 


The removal of Saltalamacchia from the lineup was not
punishment but instead a concession to what’s being described as a “dead arm,” a
scary proposition for a catcher under any circumstances, but going into a set
of three in Los Angeles, a huge series against a club that happens to be second
in baseball in stolen bases, it carries added significance.  Texas
plays a day game after a night game on Saturday, and if the club doesn’t want
Taylor Teagarden catching both games, a roster move will need to made even if a
disabled list move isn’t planned for Saltalamacchia – unless the plan is to have
Saltalamacchia catch Kevin Millwood, who doesn’t hold runners particularly well.  Could be a track meet that day.


There’s not an obvious solution if the club wants to have
another catcher in uniform.  Max Ramirez
is apparently close to a return to action but hasn’t caught a game in more than
six weeks.  He’s the only other catcher
on the 40-man roster, which means someone would have to be taken off the roster
in order to get Manny Pina (who will need to be added to the roster this winter
in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft) or Kevin Richardson or Emerson
Frostad up here.


(The next roster casualty, whenever it’s needed, is almost
certainly going to be Joaquin Arias.  He’ll
be out of options after this season, and even if he’s successfully removed from
the roster and outrighted, he’ll have six-year free agency rights this winter
if off the roster.  After his very
disappointing showing over the past week, I think it’s reasonable to expect
that Arias has played his final game as a Ranger.)


In the meantime, Julio Borbon is with the team (he was able
to make the 85-mile drive to Oakland from Sacramento, where Oklahoma City had been
playing) and is reportedly set to be activated in time for tonight’s Angels
series opener, as Nelson Cruz is still sidelined with a sprained left ankle and
the Rangers have accordingly been playing with a short bench.  Cruz evidently won’t go on the disabled list,
meaning a reliever (Doug Mathis?) will likely hop back on the Texas-Oklahoma City
shuttle for the time being.


I’m sick of talking about injuries.


While I’m worried about Saltalamacchia, I’m getting less and
less so about Josh Hamilton.  He’s been squaring
up for about a week now, even if his 5 for 20 stretch doesn’t leap off the
page.  He’s going the other way,
reminiscent of 2008, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up with an August
that looks more like last season’s Josh Hamilton than the version we’ve seen this
season.  That would be huge for this


(That last sentence was real insightful, huh?)


Fascinating story from the local beat reporters yesterday,
pointing out that Hamilton recently weaned himself off of an Attention Deficit
Disorder medication, and as a result has felt his energy level and appetite –
and 10 of the 20 pounds he’d lost – come back.


Just as Hamilton
hints at returning to form, Reds righthander Edinson Volquez saw his 2009
season end and his 2010 season jeopardized as he underwent Tommy John surgery on
Monday.  Jonah Keri wrote an
excellent story for Sports Illustrated

on the strange turns the Hamilton-for-Volquez(-and-Herrera) trade has taken.


Millwood’s recent inactivity due to a pulled glute isn’t
going to endanger his chances to lock in his 2010 contract.  He needs 42 more innings to vest, and at his
rate of 6.2 innings per start, that equates to seven more starts in Texas’s final 55 games. 


Millwood = good vest. 
Milton Bradley = bad vest.  When Bradley
appeared in his 75th game of the season a couple weeks ago, his $12
million 2011 option locked in.  The start
of his Cubs career has been a near-disaster.


Hank Blalock since the All-Star Break: .195/.195/.299.  Correct: zero walks (and 24 strikeouts), in
77 plate appearances.


Michael Young since the Break: .405/.463/.757.  Twelve of his 30 hits have gone for extra


Young needs 64 hits in the Rangers’ remaining 55 games to
reach 200 for the year.  He’s on pace for
208 hits if he plays every day the rest of the way. 


Andruw Jones through May 29 (23 games): .303/.443/.605, 19
walks, 17 strikeouts. 


Jones since then (40 games): .186/.277/.486, 18 walks, 32


My opinion: They have very different games, diametrically opposite
in some ways, but if Scott Feldman were on the late 1990s Rangers clubs, with
that offense, he’d have won a Rick Helling-esque 20 games just as Helling did
in 1998. 


Don’t rule out the possibility that Tommy Hunter eventually becomes
that guy.


Hunter was runner-up for AL Rookie of the Month honors in
July (behind White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham).  Young was second to Angels outfielder Bobby
Abreu for AL Player of the Month.


No, the fastball that Neftali Feliz grooved for Adam Kennedy
wasn’t the pitch he wanted to throw.  Still:
Feliz has faced 12 big league hitters, retiring 11 of them.


Six strikeouts in 3.1 innings.


Forty-four pitches, 33 strikes.  A number of them changeups and breaking


As Ron Washington said after Feliz’s debut on Monday, the
velocity and the strikeouts are impressive, but no more so than the percentage
of pitches the 21-year-old is throwing for strikes.


When Texas
returns home a week from today, they’ll have the Red Sox in town.  The first time Feliz emerges from the bullpen
and jogs in towards the mound, that building is going to erupt.


Brandon McCarthy’s AAA rehab assignment kicks off tomorrow
with what’s expected to be a two- or three-inning appearance for Oklahoma City.


The revocable August waivers process is in full swing.  San Diego
righthander Chad Gaudin and Washington
infielder Anderson Hernandez were both traded yesterday.  They won’t be the most prominent big leaguers
traded this month.


The deadline for Texas
to sign first-round pick Matt Purke (and all other unsigned draft choices other
than supplemental first-rounder Tanner Scheppers) arrives in 10 days.  The August 17 deadline doesn’t apply to
Scheppers, who exhausted his amateur eligibility by pitching in the independent
leagues this spring.


The Rangers have nominated Young and C.J. Wilson for the
national Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service by an Athlete,
presented by NFL Hall-of-Famer Ronnie Lott’s non-profit organization.  You can vote for Wilson and Young at the All
Stars Helping Kids website (
and via text message through November 15.


has hired former Rangers director of minor league operations John Lombardo as a
pro scout.


Rangers team physician Keith Meister handled the recent arthroscopic
surgery on Arizona
righthander Brandon Webb’s shoulder.


I’m not sure there’s anything Dr. Meister will be able to do
for Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s shoulder.  It
seems that what might be needed in his case is a bunch of rest, but the team
doesn’t have that luxury. 


It’s far from the only problem on the team, and not even
near the top of the list, but Saltalamacchia has got to get things right with
his throwing, physically and mentally.  I
know it borders on taboo to mention the names of Mackey Sasser and Mike Ivie (and
Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblauch and Rick Ankiel); hopefully there’s nothing more
than a minor shoulder issue at work here that a lighter workload can help get
sorted out.  It’s tough to watch right now. 





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(c) Jamey Newberg



Newberg Report Blast from the Past

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Nestled somewhere between “What’s Jeff Zimmerman up to?”
and “What ever happened to Erik Thompson?,” as far as Newberg Report reader
questions over the years have gone, has been “Where’s Spike Lundberg these


Many of you know the history.  The Rangers’ 1997
26th-round pick, a converted shortstop whose 28 wins in 1999 and 2000
between High A Charlotte and AA Tulsa matched Astros farmhand Roy Oswalt for the
most in the minor leagues, was the first player to admit he read the Newberg
(Minor League) Report and was a big reason this thing started on a path to going
from what it was to what it is.


I heard from Spike last night, and since the feedback
when I passed along a message from Erasmo Ramirez a couple months ago was so
strong, I asked Spike if it was OK with him if I passed this


Read on to find out where Spike Lundberg is these



Hey Jamey,


I shut it down about 5 or 6 weeks ago.  I’ve been
meaning to write you, but everything has started getting crazy with what I’m
doing now.  Before I get to that, let me thank you and everyone who’s been
behind the scenes of the NMLR.  I wasn’t a prospect when Matt Miller first told
me about your website.  So for a guy like me hearing about someone in Texas writing reports
about us, that was kind of a big deal to me.  I always used it as a motivational
tool.  I would pitch my games and being the stat rat that I am, I couldn’t wait
to see everything in the next report.  I needed to know if Doug Davis won again,
because I swear he won every time I did in 99.  It was also fun to follow some
of my best friends that were at other levels like RA, Travis Hughes, Colby
Lewis, Andy Pratt, Nick Regilio, and the list goes on . . . .


Romano used to always make fun of me as the leader of
the computer club, but they couldn’t believe it when I could use some info from
your reports and tell them why this trade may or may not happen and have a good
idea of who we might draft that year.  Once we reached the Texas League, Romano
and C-los were already known to everyone, but I always got a kick out of someone
in Round Rock or San
Antonio telling me they’ve followed me thanks to


I like to tell people I went from suspect to prospect
during those years.  Much of that is because of my focus on the mental side of
the game. Carlos and I would spend more nights at Barnes and Noble and while he
was reading about mythology, I was buried in every baseball book I could find
that talked about Maddux or other guys who did it with their heads more than


Of course, stuff helps and gives you a bigger margin for
error.  That and consistency stopped me and brought me back to earth in OKC.
 Something good came out of that though, I got a record you don’t want while
you’re playing, but I’m not ashamed of now, 27 wins as a Driller.  Although I
never heard the guys on Sportscenter announce me as former Driller, I was
fortunate to even get on that show a couple of times.


So now I’m done, and I’m happy with the things I did do
in my career and have no regrets.  I tried every avenue I could. 12 seasons, 10
years of winterball, 1200 innings, 102 wins, 60+ saves and more memories
forgotten than I can remember.  I’ll miss the fans, I’m guessing 85% of them are
Newberg subscribers.  The thing I’ll miss the most is my teammates.  There’s
nothing like struggling together through those bus rides, the Sally League and
day games in the Texas League.


Now, I’ll still be spending most of my time at the
ballpark.  I’ve been hired as a Professional Player Representative with the
Boras Corporation.  The original plan was to pursue scouting/coaching, but this
came to me right after I hung them up and I’m very excited about it.  Lots of
travel, but I get to spend more time at home and still get to help some young
players who I think will be great down the road.


I’ll still be reading these daily reports, helps me do
my job ya know.  Haha.


Thank you for all the support and making me a bigger
“celeb” than I should’ve been.  I wish all the best for you, your family, and
the Rangers.  I hope Max realizes how lucky he is to be exposed to some of the
best players in Texas history.  Let me know if I can do
anything, besides telling our company’s secrets.








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get e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league
game recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to and click the
“Mailing List” link on the top menu bar.



(c) Jamey Newberg

Twitter  @newbergreport


Newberg Report / Baseball Prospectus special

First, a
quick note: You can catch the Frisco RoughRiders on Channel 21 this Saturday night
(7:00 start) when they host the San Antonio Missions, and if you do, you’ll catch
me in the TV booth for the fifth and maybe the sixth inning, doing a little
color commentary for the broadcast.


But that’s
just for those of you in North Texas.  What follows is good for every one of you
(including the two readers from Cambodia
and Latvia
who have been among those sending Newberg Report contributions in this week).  This message comes to us from Baseball
Prospectus’s Kevin Goldstein:



Hi Jamey,


I wanted to start out by
thanking you once again for inviting Will and myself to Newberg night last
weekend.  It was truly a special event.  Every team has its fan-based
websites and blogs covering the up-and-coming players, and many of them have
excellent content, but none have been able to match your sense of community.
 The fact that you can draw that many people to a ballpark event, have Jon
Daniels be so gracious with his time, while also raising thousands of dollars
for a great cause, is a real tribute to the work you and Scott provide on a
daily basis.


Per our discussions, and
promises to those who attended, we’d like to extend a pair of special offers to
both potentially new, and existing subscribers of Baseball Prospectus.
 Like you, your readers are hardcore baseball fans (as well as all 30
teams, including the Rangers) looking for the best information and analysis out
there, and we provide that on a national level, as they don’t only get Will
Carroll breaking down the injuries like nobody else, and myself on scouting,
prospects and player development, but also Joe Sheehan breaking down the
current news in his inimitable style, Christina Kahrl on all of the
transactions, Marc Normandin helping the fantasy players on a weekly basis, as
well as Jim Siedman and others providing in-depth, high-end statistical
analysis.  We think a subscription is already one of the best deals in
baseball, and we’d like to provide a deal that much better for your readers.


Offer #1: 20% off Premium Yearly Subscriptions


The offer is available to
both new and existing subscribers.  In actuality, it’s a $8 reduction in
price, so for renewals, it’s closer to 25%, as our renewal price is already $5
less than a new subscription to reward customer loyalty.


How to take advantage:


Go to
 In the coupon code field, use code
“newbergyear” (no quotes).  Current subscribers must be logged
into our site to be given the option to extend.


Offer #2: $4.95 off Premium Recurring Subscriptions


This is a great way to try
out Baseball Prospectus with no risk to you, as this is essentially the first
month free.  Subsequent months will be charged at the normal rate of
$4.95/month, and those that cancel in the first month will not be billed.


How to take advantage:


Go to
 In the coupon code field, use code
“newbergmonth” (no quotes).


We can’t keep these deals
open forever, so your readers have until August
to take advantage of either offer.  We’re sure that either way
they won’t be disappointed, and it will be nice to have that much larger and
smarter of a comment thread when I release my Rangers Top 11 prospects (available
to subscribers only) in the off-season.


Thanks again to both you and
your readers, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s event.


Kevin Goldstein


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I had a pretty good arm in high school.  Nothing with pro potential, but I threw well
from shortstop and the outfield, and topped out at 86 on the mound.


Earlier tonight, Neftali Feliz struck out the first four big
league batters he faced.  The first two
swung through changeups for strike three. 


At 90 miles per hour.


And 91.


The velocity on a change isn’t important per se.  The subtraction off the fastball is, and when
you’re able to dial it up at 99-101 like Feliz routinely does, and did tonight,
a changeup at 90-91 can tie a hitter up by completely disrupting his rhythm.


It almost makes me laugh to think that if my fastball could have
tripped a number on the gun like the ones Feliz was clocking with his changeup, I might have played a little


This is not to overlook some really, really good moundwork
by several of Feliz’s teammates, or to ignore the brutal, harsh way that game
got away, in a season that has been extraordinarily short on ninth-inning collapses
and that, despite conventional wisdom that points to 2010 and beyond as when
this club is supposed to contend, is
nonetheless a contending season, four months in, but losses like this do happen
from time to time.  


On the other hand, the pitcher who took the mound for the
first time as a big leaguer in the sixth and seventh?  They don’t come along like that very often.


Whether tonight’s wrenching loss has a lasting impact on
this team’s 2009 fortunes is something we won’t know for weeks.  What we saw from the first reliever Texas ran out to the
hill tonight was impact stuff that’s going to figure in for many, many years,
in a big way.


Feliz (f?-LEEZ), adj.:





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(c) Jamey Newberg



Newberg Report Night 2009.

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A couple minutes into Jon Daniels’s 90 minutes of straight
answers to a lot of excellent questions, one of you raised your hand and said, “First,
I want to thank you for not trading the players we’ve heard you would have had
to trade to get Roy Halladay.” 


The room erupted into a wild ovation that shook the walls.


JD smiled and said, before the fan who made the comment
could get to his question: “I should do nothing more often.  That was awesome.”


It set a tone for the Q&A.


Not really.  The tone
had already been set.  Will Carroll and
Kevin Goldstein were spectacular as the warm-up act, handling questions for
more than an hour (rather than the usual 30 minutes or so – so many of you got
there super-early this year, so we got microphones in the hands of the Baseball
Prospectus duo right away), and, really, based on the generosity you all showed
upon arrival – we raised over $7,000 yesterday for the Hello Win Column Fund through
the Texas Rangers Foundation and I’m going to write a separate $1,000 check to
the Wipe Out Kids Cancer Foundation that Michael Young and Cristina
Barbosa-Young support – there was plenty of positive energy in the room from
the start.


I’m not going to recap the entire event because (1) I’m
exhausted and (2) I know that many of you will do so yourselves.  In the next day or two, I’ll send out links to
the various blogs and message board threads summarizing things.  (Feel free to post your own recaps on the Newberg
Report message board if you want.  And if
you have photos, email them to me and we’ll post those, too.)  There were lots of cool exchanges.


Including the presentation made by Jeff Kuster and the Texas
Rangers to eight-year-old Ryan Stokell, whose leukemia is in remission and
whose family had to remind him – since he was too humble to say so himself –
that he was not only healthy enough to get back on the Little League fields
this summer but hit .889 while he was at it.


Goldstein’s humble yet authoritative responses to questions
about just about every Rangers prospect you can think of.  (Justin Smoak’s upside: “A switch-hitting
Justin Morneau.”)  Goldstein’s command of
the Rangers system – suggestive of the command he has of all 30 farm systems – frankly
scares me.  But what a good dude he is.


Carroll’s explanation of what he understands Tanner
Scheppers’s shoulder issue to be – and one obvious yet overlooked reason why it’s
been difficult to accurately diagnose.


JD talking in stunning terms about 16-year-old shortstop Jurickson
Profar and engaging Goldstein in the discussion. 


A fan asked JD early on whether the plan was to activate
Neftali Feliz in time for last night’s game, since reports had already come out
that he was in the Ballpark and would be added to the roster Sunday night or,
possibly, not until Monday.  JD responded,
“Looks like tomorrow night.”


A cascade of groans.  “Tomorrow
night” meant on the road in Oakland.  “Tonight” would have meant everyone in that
room would be there to see it.


(The only other negative reaction from the room all night
was when Carroll and Goldstein suggested that while Smoak is a plus defender,
Chris Davis “um, has a glove.”  JD set
them straight later on.) 


Anyway, after JD had fielded his final question at 6:30, I thanked
him and, having noticed three or four times during his 90 minutes at the podium
that he was looking down at his phone at an email or text message – once or
twice actually typing in a response – while never skipping a beat with the
Q&A, I said something like: “My vision from 10 feet away is so good that I
noticed he was sending a text to actually go ahead and activate Neftali so he
can get out of this room alive.”


I shook JD’s hand and he leaned over and whispered something
to me.  And walked out of the room.


A few minutes later we were all in our seats in Sections 37
and 38, watching Feliz make the walk from the dugout to the bullpen, sporting the
pink Disney Princesses backpack, as a member of the Texas Rangers roster.


My stupid little joke turned out to be no joke at all. 


It would have been very easy for JD – especially having
disappointed the crowd an hour earlier – to have told the whole room, “Hey, there’s
been a development.  We’ve changed plans.
 Neftali tonight.”  Who among us wouldn’t have taken that
opportunity to make that type of monster announcement in front of a captive
audience, bringing on a standing ovation, starring in our own Home Run Derby? 


Instead, JD preferred to save the surprise for when he was
gone.  It was classic JD, a subtle, poker-faced,
limelight-eschewing move, with all the cool of a split-second Omar Vizquel
decision to let a pop-up fall in front of him to erase Ichiro from the
basepaths and replace him with Jose Lopez.


When JD had arrived, he made a couple brief remarks before
inviting questions (choosing this year to “warm up” with a few others before
putting himself in the line of Grant Schiller’s fire), telling us that when you
get right down to it, what the 320 of us in that room represented goes right to
the heart of why he and everyone else in the game do what they do all day,
every day, 365 days a year.  For that
reason, he said, Newberg Report Night is always one of his favorite nights of
the year.


It’s mine, too, for lots of reasons.  Thanks to everyone who participated.





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(c) Jamey Newberg