Rising stars on the mound?

Hope you caught the visitor halves of innings five and seven from last night’s Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Showcase game.  Righthander Tanner Scheppers did what he does, sitting 96-99 in his perfect inning of work and spinning a couple big curves.  But righthander Danny Gutierrez?  Wow.  He gave up a single and issued a walk, but struck out the side – with all three strike threes coming on devastating 12-6 hammer curves – while sitting 93-95, and touching 97.  

Outfielder Jermaine Dye, whose 2010 option was bought out on Friday by the White Sox, is getting some mention as a veteran right-handed bat the Rangers might be interested in bringing in.  I’d rather have Mike Cameron, a free agent whose job in Milwaukee has already been taken, as the Brewers have traded shortstop J.J. Hardy to Minnesota for center fielder Carlos Gomez, whose shockingly bad throwing ability I’m sorry to see departing the American League.

Rangers veterans Marlon Byrd, Hank Blalock, Ivan Rodriguez, Eddie Guardado, and Joaquin Benoit have filed for free agency, and Omar Vizquel and Andruw Jones will soon follow.  Texas has made it clear it wants Vizquel back, and the interest is reportedly mutual.  Byrd, too, but he’s understandably going to explore the open market once the exclusive negotiating period expires on November 19.  There’s interest in re-signing Rodriguez but that one’s a little trickier, given the club’s depth at catcher.

Blalock will be somewhere else in 2010, as will Jones.  Guardado is expected to retire.  Benoit is going to have to take a non-roster deal somewhere, and I suppose it can’t be ruled out that it could happen here.

Byrd and Rodriguez are Type B free agents.  If they sign with another club this month, or if Texas offers them arbitration (a safe bet with Byrd) and they sign elsewhere after that, the Rangers would get a supplemental first-round pick as compensation.  (The supplemental first round is where Texas has drafted Tommy Hunter, Julio Borbon, and Scheppers the last few years.)

Ben Sheets?  Back on the market, after his deal with the Rangers in late January was killed by a failed physical.  Texas remains interested.  But with Neftali Feliz and maybe even C.J. Wilson in line for rotation looks, Sheets might be less of a target than he was a year ago.

As far as possible trades are concerned, there will probably be some around the league this week, as the General Manager Meetings are set to take place in Chicago tomorrow through Wednesday.  And there will be groundwork laid for trades that will come down later in the off-season.

In February, San Diego general manager Kevin Towers denied the Rangers’ request for permission to interview Padres national crosschecker Scott Littlefield, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune at the time that he “didn’t think that (the Rangers’) job description for him was a promotion – it looked to be a lateral move, and we valued him too much on the amateur side to grant it.”

Towers is gone from the Padres, Jed Hoyer is in, and according to USA Today, the Rangers have hired Littlefield to become a special assistant – a week after Baseball America‘s Jim Callis had speculated that Hoyer might promote Littlefield to the Padres’ scouting director position.

I’m gonna be honest here.  I’d be very happy if you ordered the 2010 Bound Edition in the next couple days.  I’ve got a publishing house interested in my book for the first time, and have a real chance at a book deal.  It won’t mean much extra money, if any, but I’d really like the book deal.  I need to decide in next few days, and if I’m gonna do it, I owe the publisher a huge production cost check that will be doable if I get a lot of preorders in the next day or two.  

So if you’re a fan of Peter Gammons forewords, of a back cover featuring Tanner Scheppers and Justin Smoak and Martin Perez, of doing your part to boost the national economy and cementing your reputation as a Great American, and of me possibly getting my first book deal – and if you’re interested in the Bound Edition – I’d be really fired up if you ordered books today or tomorrow.

(Ordering details: http://www.newbergreport.com/buythebook.asp )



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(c) Jamey Newberg
Twitter  @newbergreport

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