Another area where the Rangers stand out.

Baseball Prospectus’s Will Carroll, the national media’s foremost expert on baseball injuries and sports medicine, emailed me after reading Friday morning’s Newberg Report, and had this to say:

“Did you really just go 1000 words on Rich Harden without using the word ‘Meister’ to explain why Texas can do this and other teams couldn’t/wouldn’t?  Meister’s starting to develop the reputation as ‘the next James Andrews.’”

Later that day, Carroll threw this out there via Twitter:

“Any injured pitcher should consider White Sox, Cards, Rangers, Brewers — med staffs and pitching coaches give them better chance.”
 

There are several areas for which the Rangers get praised for sitting on the cutting edge, primarily in scouting and player development, but the medical and training programs here are also recognized in the industry as state of the art, and that’s a huge thing when it comes to attracting pitchers here, particularly ones with past arm health issues.  You take Carroll’s comments and it gives more texture to Harden’s own remarks:

“I really feel this is a good fit for me.  Everybody I’ve heard from has said this is a good organization.  I feel like it’s a good spot for me to go out there and make all my starts and pitch 200 innings.”

And:

“I want to have a great season here and be here for more than one year.”

Harden’s 2011 option is almost surely not going to come into play, but that’s not only a pitcher whose career could end up like Ben McDonald’s or Mark Prior’s but also one who acknowledges it head-on, and when I read what Carroll had to say, I started to think that the Meister-Maddux-Reed-Harmon-Vazquez team might turn out to be a reason that Harden may really want to be here past 2010, and that those weren’t just empty words that get said the day a player signs with a new team.

An interesting note from Harden’s history: After splitting 2002, his first full pro season, between High A Visalia (4-3, 2.93) and AA Midland (8-3, 2.95), racking up 11 strikeouts per nine innings and holding opponents to a .210 batting average, Harden was reassigned to Midland for some reason to start the 2003 season.  That assignment was brief.  The RockHounds opened in Round Rock on April 3 and Harden got the Opening Day nod.

He fired six perfect innings, punching out nine.

Series in the minor leagues often last nearly a week, to keep travel costs down.  Midland stayed in Round Rock for six days, meaning Harden’s turn would come around a second time before the RockHounds left town.

On April 8, Harden fired seven perfect innings, setting eight Express hitters down on strikes.

He wouldn’t make it back to West Texas for the RockHounds’ home opener, earning a promotion to AAA Sacramento, an assignment that would last 16 games (9-4, 3.15) before Harden would move on to Oakland in mid-July.

The Round Rock manager who watched Harden face 39 of his hitters over two games, not letting one of them reach base and piling up 17 strikeouts?

Rangers bench coach Jackie Moore.

(And it’s probably safe to assume that Express owner Nolan Ryan was on hand at least for the first Harden effort, since it was Opening Day.)

Harden with the Cubs (2008-2009): 4.33 ERA in day games, 2.44 ERA at night.  Batters didn’t fare particularly well against Harden during the day: .235/.328/.439.  But they were carved up at night: .185/.279/.293.

Texas plays far more night games than the Cubs.

Texas non-tendered nobody yesterday, but around the league there were some interesting names thrust onto the free agent market: righthanders Chien-Ming Wang, Matt Capps, Mike MacDougal, Jose Arredondo (scheduled for Tommy John surgery), Seth McClung, and Adam Miller; lefthander Scott Olsen; catcher John Buck (who played for Moore at Round Rock and probably rises to the pole position as Texas continues to look for veteran catcher insurance); corner infielders Ryan Garko, Garrett Atkins, and Jonny Gomes; utility infielder-outfielder Alfredo Amezaga; and DH Jack Cust.  Another couple notable players who seem not to fit the Rangers’ needs are second baseman Kelly Johnson and left-handed-hitting outfielder Ryan Church.

Carroll thinks Wang would be a “great fit” in Texas “because of its medical team and his sinkerball.”

According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, the Rangers are satisfied with the condition of Mike Lowell’s surgically repaired right hip, but continue to look at the medicals on his right thumb, which hampered him late in the season.  Interestingly, Red Sox assistant general manager Ben Cherington, noting that there remain things for the clubs to go over, said on Saturday regarding the rumored trade of Lowell (and $9 million) for Max Ramirez: “It would not be a complete surprise if it didn’t happen.”

Baseball Prospectus’s Kevin Goldstein on lefthander Ben Snyder, whom the Rangers had Baltimore take for them with the third overall pick in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft to complete the Kevin Millwood trade:

In discussions with a scout (who’s not with the Orioles, Giants, or Rangers) last week about the list, Snyder was his number one target, as he already has one definite big-league skill.  A beefy lefty with good fastball and an even better breaker, Snyder is absolute murder [on] lefties, limiting them to a .146/.198/.197 mark during the regular season.  He would have been my Giants sleeper for their Top 11, now he just might be the Rangers’ version.  This is my number-one choice to stay with his new team.  Odds to Stick: 2-1.

Texas lost nobody in the major league phase of the Draft and just one player in the minor league phase: 28-year-old reliever Beau Vaughan, who had been acquired from Boston a year ago for Wes Littleton.  Oakland drafted Vaughan.

The Rangers added three players in the minor league phase: lefthander Winston Marquez (Minnesota), catcher Andrew Jenkins (Florida), and outfielder James Tomlin (Dodgers).  Marquez, just 22, has big stuff but has had trouble staying healthy.

The Mets drafted righthander Johnny Lujan from the White Sox in the minor league phase.

Tom Verducci thinks Philadelphia is emerging as the favorite to acquire Roy Halladay.  Excellent.

In less flashy Phillies news, the club signed lefthander Bill White to a minor league deal with a big league invite.

Righthander Tanner Scheppers made the Arizona Fall League’s All-Prospect Team, notable in that only four pitchers from the entire league were so honored.

Josh Lewin will be back in the Rangers TV booth, having agreed to a one-year deal with an option for 2011.  He’ll be permitted to miss no more than three September games to do NFL work.  

We’ll record the next episode of Rangers Podcast in Arlington tomorrow night, and we’re planning to take questions.  Submit yours now by sending them to rangerspodcast@gmail.com.  

I’ve got a computer that’s about to die, and I need a new one.  Any suggestions?  Needs to be a desktop PC.  I don’t need a monitor.  A fast processor is key.  At least 320 GB of hard drive space, 64-bit.  Would rather not spend a ton, but needs to be reliable.  Let me know if you have some advice.  Thanks.

Finally, up-to-date details on Thursday’s Book Release Party for the 2010 Bound Edition:

WHEN: 6:00-9:00 pm, Thursday, December 17, 2009 (though you can arrive at 5:00 and probably even earlier)

WHERE: Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub & Grill, 254 Lincoln Square Center in Arlington (few blocks west of the Ballpark, just south of I-30 and west of Collins; ample parking, and a huge party room that we have sole access to) — phone number is 817-226-2300

GUESTS: Rusty Greer, Ian & Tess Kinsler, Scott Feldman, Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland, and Chris Davis

FOOD: http://www.sherlockspubco.com/Images/Final_Food_Menu.pdf (the party is during Sherlock’s Happy Hour, by the way)

ADMISSION: Free – but the “cost” for getting autographs from our guests is the purchase of a 2010 Bound Edition, which you can pay for now (via PayPal) or at the event.  (The guys will sign your baseballs, bats, cards, etc., too — but you have to have the book to get autographs.)  Limit three autographs per player.

BOOK ORDERING DETAILS: http://www.newbergreport.com/buythebook.asp (there will be copies for sale at the event; if you prepay or have already done so, I’ll have your order prepackaged for you to pick up when you arrive)

Q&A: Will follow the autograph session.

TOYS: Representatives from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve will also be at the gathering to collect new, unwrapped toys for the Rangers/Toys for Tots program – which the Kinslers are the team spokespeople for.  Please consider supporting the effort to help needy children in North Texas experience the joy of the holidays.

Our private party will be non-smoking.  Kids definitely welcome.

Let me know if you have questions (or computer advice).

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

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 http://www.newbergreport.com and click the “Mailing List” link on the top menu bar.

(c) Jamey Newberg
http://www.newbergreport.com
Twitter  @newbergreport

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