June 2010

Rangers-Angels underway.

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One heck of a
baseball game.  The kind you can imagine these
two teams playing over and over in their 16 remaining matchups this year, and
for the next few years, at least.  That’s
as intense as June baseball can get.  The
game of inches moments, the blown fundamentals, far too many runners left on
base, questionable bunt decisions and bullpen management – it was a game that
very easily could have gone the other way.

 

To get to this point, having built a division lead that will
stand no matter what happens in this series, a lot was made of the soft interleague
schedule that the Rangers tore through, winning 13 of 15.  But the schedule is what it is, and you have
to go out and win the games.  Last year,
Texas split the season series with Toronto, Kansas City, and Baltimore, and lost
11 of 19 to Oakland – four of the five worst teams in the American League.  The Rangers finished the year in second place
in the West, 10 games back.  If they’d properly
beaten up on those teams and gone, say, 31-14 instead of 21-24, they’d have
finished with the same 97-win total that the Angels did.

 

And that’s partly because Texas managed to go 11-8 against
Los Angeles last year.  If the Rangers
can repeat that success against the Angels this season (they’ve won 2 of 3 so
far), they’ll win this division.

 

Texas is 20-6 in June. 

 

The Angels are 18-8.

 

Neither team is going away.

 

Hopefully Omar Beltre is half as impressive tonight as Alexi
Ogando was last night (perfect, 12-pitch seventh, eight strikes).

 

I debated whether I needed to say something about what was
said yesterday about being compensated by the Rangers to write.  My website and my emails are independent.  The Rangers don’t tell me what I can and can’t
write, and never have.  They don’t censor
my content.  My sometimes obnoxious optimism
about this team is 100 percent mine.  It’s
who I am and always have been and always will be. 

 

I do provide content to the Rangers every week for their own
website, and provide content to the Rangers every month for their gameday
program, and provide thousands of abridged Bound Editions to the Rangers every
year so they can give a copy to each of their season ticket accounts.  For a few years I also wrote and recorded video
packages every homestand for the Rangers to air on the video board between
innings; we’ve shelved that project so far this season.  I don’t give those things away.  I have been compensated by the Rangers for
those things, and also get some of my spring training trip reimbursed – that’s
a working week for me.

 

I invite website donations for about a week each year.  My emails and website content have always
been free to anyone who wants to read them. 
Those donations help keep the online content afloat and allow me to give
something back to Scott Lucas, Eleanor Czajka, and several other good people
who give their time and energy to this project.

 

My point of view with respect to the Rangers is no different
today from what it was when I started writing about the team, which was many
years before they compensated me in any way, or even knew who I was.  It’s optimistic, supportive, and
hopeful.  And it’s mine.  It always will be that way.

 

We chat during tonight’s game, at www.foxsportssouthwest.com, starting
shortly before the 9:05 first pitch.  See
you then.

 

 

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

 

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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and click the “Mailing List” link on the top menu bar.

 

 

(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

 

Omar Beltre arrives.

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Tanner Scheppers moved
from the AAA bullpen into the rotation two weeks ago.  Teammate Michael Kirkman has rediscovered his
command.  Frisco horse Blake Beavan is on
a ridiculous roll, firing 10 straight quality starts (7-2, 1.80, five walks and
42 strikeouts in 70 innings).  Derek
Holland and Rich Harden are getting healthier.

 

But when Texas decided
to use Monday’s off-day not to skip the fifth starter but instead to give Colby
Lewis two extra days of rest (something he was afforded on occasion in Japan),
the club could have thrown Dustin Nippert back out there against the Angels (who
have slapped a 6.40 ERA on him lifetime, including a 9.49 mark in Anaheim) and
not looked to the farm or the disabled list at all.

 

But rather than
worry about Nippert giving them a third straight three-inning start, killing
the bullpen in a crucial series, Texas chose to reach down for another option.  The club could have held Guillermo Moscoso or
Doug Mathis out of their last AAA starts to have them ready to go in Anaheim,
but didn’t.  Matt Harrison (1.50 ERA over
his last five appearances, though averaging just 38 pitches) could have gotten
the opportunity.  The call could have
gone to Scheppers or Kirkman or Beavan, but the Rangers didn’t feel the time
was right for them.

 

As recently as 20
weeks ago, nobody would have bet on Omar Beltre having a big league
career. 

 

But even 20 hours
ago, nobody could have guessed that Beltre would be the Rangers’ ninth starter
in 2010.  In spite of his advanced age
and spot on the 40-man roster, he got only one appearance with the big club in
spring training, a one-inning look in which he fanned a couple and allowed one
baserunner, on a walk.  Ogando, by
comparison, got into five Cactus League games. 
Kirkman got more of a spring training look than Beltre.  So did Zach Phillips.  And Michael Ballard.  And Richard Bleier.

 

Who knows what Beltre will do Wednesday night when he takes
the ball in the bottom of the first?  Here’s
what you can expect: command of a fastball-slider-split repertoire, lots of
ground balls, and a pitcher who won’t be overwhelmed by what, objectively
speaking, ought to be an overwhelming experience.

 

You’ve heard plenty about the long odds that Alexi Ogando
faced and overcame in getting to the big leagues after a five-year exile from
the United States, but the 28-year-old Beltre served the same sentence, was
always a more heralded prospect, and thus theoretically had more taken from him
than his fellow Dominican.  After a
five-year span during which no sentence that included Ogando was without Beltre’s
name as well, the two will be teammates tomorrow, not in the Dominican Summer
League or in Oklahoma City, but in Anaheim as members of the Texas Rangers
pitching staff.

 

After its heyday in the previous decade, Texas made a
relatively light impact in Latin America in the 1990s.  In 2000, however, the franchise got
opportunistic.  Cincinnati had secured a
verbal agreement from the 6’3″, 190-lb Beltre in the fall of 1999 to sign for a
reported $300,000.  But the Reds delayed papering
the deal so that they could assign Beltre’s signing bonus to the organization’s
2000 budget.  The administrative tactic backfired.

 

As his deal hung in limbo, Beltre amped his velocity up several
miles per hour that winter, touching the mid-90s as an 18-year-old (believed at
the time to be 17), and he walked away from the Cincinnati commitment.  Texas outbid several other interested teams
and landed the big righthander for what was reported to be $650,000 in March
2000.

 

Believing he was ready for the challenge, not only
physically but mentally and emotionally as well, the Rangers promptly assigned
Beltre to the short-season Gulf Coast League, where he posted a 3.54 ERA, a .238
opponents’ average, and just 15 walks in 61 innings.  League managers named him the circuit’s 10th-best
prospect.  

 

In his second season, Beltre posted similar numbers for
advanced rookie-level Pulaski (fronting a rotation that included C.J. Wilson) while
nearly doubling his strikeout rate, leading the short-season Appalachian League
with six wins.  Turning just 20 at the
end of that season, he had replaced the injured Jovanny Cedeno as the club’s
top long-term pitching hope.

 

But elbow surgery wiped Beltre’s 2002 season out, and he
spent the 2003 (Low A Clinton) and 2004 (High A Stockton) seasons working in middle
relief.  He was healthy again, but his
place on the club’s prospect depth charts was receding. 

 

It then disappeared during the span between 2005 and this
January, when he was denied a work visa for five years due to his involvement
in a marriage fraud and human trafficking scam. 
In those five years he was limited to pitching in the Dominican Summer
League – there was even talk that Texas considered selling him at one point to
a Japanese club, as bleak as his prospects for reentry into the States appeared
to be – and while he was ridiculously dominant in the DSL (1.33 ERA, 120 hits
and 29 walks in 176.1 innings, 222 strikeouts, one home run), he was a man in
his mid-20s pitching against kids in their late teens, at a time in his
pitching life when he probably would have reached Arlington if not for the
legal issues.

 

As you watch Beltre pitch and begin to get a feel for his
approach, you won’t be that far behind the Angels, who simply can’t have
scouted him as extensively as most prospects on the doorstep of the big leagues
are typically scouted.  He’s only logged
37.2 innings this season, nine AAA relief appearances followed by a mid-May
transfer into the Oklahoma City rotation (a stretch of five starts that also
included one relief outing when he returned from a two-week shutdown early in
June due to a ribcage muscle issue – he also had a short disabled list stint in
May with an elbow strain).   And if Los Angeles only saw him work out of
the RedHawks’ bullpen, they saw a different pitcher from the one who was asked
to go through an opposing lineup more than once.

 

As a reliever this year, Beltre posted a 3.94 ERA and .300
opponents’ average, walking six batters per nine innings and fanning 11 per
nine.

 

As a starter: 1.25 ERA, .203 opponents’ average, three walks
per nine, 10 strikeouts per nine. 

 

And in spite of the healthy strikeout rate, he’s nonetheless
averaged just 13 pitches per inning as a starting pitcher.  He’s not going to light up a radar gun the
way Neftali Feliz and Ogando and Scheppers will, but when he’s right he’s
chewing up innings by pounding the zone, particularly with that splitter that generates
a groundball barrage, often early in the count. 
Beltre’s pitch efficiency is exactly what Nippert (20 pitches per inning,
including 26 per nine in his two starts) has not been able to provide this
year.

 

In his last start, a five-inning effort against New Orleans,
Beltre (working with Jarrod Saltalamacchia) held the Zephyrs to two singles and
no walks in five scoreless innings, fanning six from a lineup that included blue-chip
Marlins prospects Cameron Maybin and Logan Morrison. 

 

Tomorrow, six days later, he’ll face a lineup that includes
Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Howie Kendrick.

 

If Beltre can locate the way he did on Thursday (75 percent
of his 56 pitches for strikes), against a lineup completely unfamiliar with him
and without the benefit of much of a book on him, he’ll have a shot to keep
Texas in the game early. Will he make an immediate impact the way Ogando has,
making himself as indispensable?  Doubtful,
but a decent showing would probably earn him a home start against Cleveland
next week and perhaps another one against Baltimore before the club reaches the
All-Star Break.

 

Is there a chance that this is a showcase move, that some
team in seller’s mode has indicated some level of interest in Beltre heading into
July?  Can’t rule it out.  But this is a pitcher who will be 29 before the
end of the season, and for that reason it’s unlikely that a team looking get
younger will key on him.

 

But there’s another layer to that analysis.  If Beltre fares well tomorrow, and over a run
of several starts heading into the back half of July, could it make Texas a little
more comfortable parting with another pitcher who might figure into the rotation
picture soon?  Sure.  Behind Lewis and Wilson and Scott Feldman and
Tommy Hunter is a pool of candidates that includes Holland and Harden, and Scheppers
and Kirkman and Beavan, and Harrison and Moscoso and Mathis.  Martin Perez isn’t going to be a factor in
2010, but he’s back on track in Frisco.  There’s
some depth there.  A solid showing from
Beltre could conceivably make a guy like Beavan or Kirkman less difficult to
part with.

 

Who goes to make room for Beltre (who is already on the
40-man roster)?  Nippert could be
designated for assignment or hidden on the disabled list, though presumably you’d
want him around for the Beltre start in case a long man is needed.  That role could be assumed by Harrison,
however – or Harrison could be optioned to AAA to replace Beltre in the rotation
and get stretched out again himself. 
Surely Ogando is no longer a candidate to be sent back to Oklahoma
City.  And while Chris Ray has had his
issues and could have the leverage of his assignments lessened due to Ogando’s
presence, I doubt he’d be optioned.

 

I’d bet on Beltre replacing Nippert or Harrison, the latter
of whom would not have to be exposed to league-wide waivers.

 

And another thought: If Harrison goes down to AAA and slides
into Beltre’s vacated rotation slot, it could facilitate his own showcase.  Despite the variance in experience, Harrison
is a full four years younger than Beltre. 
It would stand to reason that the 24-year-old lefthander (who has 32 big
league starts but won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2011
season) would be involved in July trade discussions.  Teams have seen him in the big leagues this
year, and he’s been especially good in June (2.03 ERA in relief, .208 opponents’
average).  That’s a good reason not to
send him down, of course.  But putting
him on predictable display for scouts every fifth day in Oklahoma City could have
a different benefit.

 

There has been and will continue to be much talk about
Vladimir Guerrero’s return to Anaheim this week, rightfully so.  I continue to ponder what the AL West
standings would look like right now if you took Guerrero and Darren Oliver off
the Rangers roster and put them back in Los Angeles.

 

But Beltre’s arrival in a major league ballpark is a pretty big
story as well, given all that he’s gone through.  While Guerrero will be the most recognizable
figure in Angel Stadium this week, no player will be less familiar than Beltre,
and from a baseball standpoint the Rangers are hoping that works somewhat to
their advantage.

 

There’s the matter of Scott Feldman-Joel Pineiro to take
care of first tonight, but as far as tomorrow night is concerned, make plans to
stop by
www.FOXSportsSouthwest.com
for our third live Newberg Report in-game chat session of the season.  I don’t have a good feel for how long Omar
Beltre will last, but we’ll get the chat started before the game begins and go all
the way until the final pitch of the game.

 

 

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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

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

 

Oswalt-Hunter.

There are 88 games
left on the regular season schedule.

 

If the Rangers,
owners of the second-best record in Major League Baseball and one game short of
catching the Yankees, play .500 ball the rest of the way, they will finish 89-73.

 

The club is on a 98-
or 99-win pace, and even playing mediocre baseball from here on out shouldn’t bounce
Texas out of contention.

 

Having the wherewithal
to add a key piece or two over the next five weeks, and getting it done without
crossing the line into crazy, would move the needle forward even more in what
has been one of the most electrifying Rangers seasons ever.

 

There’s going to be
one general manager watching Tommy Hunter face off against Roy Oswalt tonight
in Arlington, envisioning the opposing starter wearing his club’s uniform in the
second half.  And I’m not sure there won’t
be two GM’s doing exactly that.

 

I’ll be a guest on Dale
Hansen’s Sports Special tonight (Channel 8, 10:30 p.m.).  But I won’t blame you for not flipping over
if Texas-Houston is still going on, as the Rangers try to move a little closer
to a 100-victory pace with a win over a pitcher who would probably like to make
about two dozen starts in this ballpark over the next year and a half.

Oswalt vs. Lee: What am I missing?

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OK, that whiteboard
document I mentioned the other day
is starting to pile up with things I
need to write about, but I’m not going to do a full-length report today.

 

I have just one question
to toss out there.

 

I’ve read a bunch of
articles and heard a bunch of radio talk in the last week suggesting something like
this:

 

It would take a lot in the way of young players
and top prospects to trade for Cliff Lee – but not as much as it would take to
get Roy Oswalt, since he’s under contract for the 2011 season while Lee would
just be a two-month rental.

 

Really?

 

Answer this: What would you pay Oswalt on the open market
this winter?  Let’s say this was his free
agent year, just like Lee.  Assume
(however unlikely) that Oswalt would want just a one-year deal for 2011.  You’re Texas – not the Yankees, not the Red
Sox, not the Angels.  What would he be
worth?  

 

Would you pay him $10 million to pitch here in 2011?

 

$16 million?

 

$18
million?

 

If, like me, you would not pay Roy Oswalt $18 million to
pitch for Texas in 2011 if he were on the open market, then the second year remaining
on Oswalt’s current deal is a negative, not a positive.

 

Right?

 

If you wouldn’t choose to pay Oswalt $18 million to pitch in
2011 ($16 million base plus $2 million buyout for the 2012 option), then you’d
be better off trading for Lee and recouping the two first-round picks in next
year’s draft when (if?) he signed elsewhere this winter.

 

Two other things on that point:

 

1.     
Sure, you’d get draft pick compensation a year later on
Oswalt, but right now Lee is a solid Type A free agent while Oswalt is a Type B
- if Oswalt stays in that territory over the next year and a half of baseball
(will he really get better?), then he’s going to kick back a supplemental first
when he leaves via free agency (purportedly to return to Houston), rather than
the first-rounder plus supplemental first that Lee is sure to bring.  So with Oswalt you’d get the compensation a
year later – and probably a first-round pick less.

 

2.     
Lee is a better pitcher.

 

All that ignores another obvious point – that Lee makes $9
million in 2010, while Oswalt makes $15 million.  That means Lee will earn $3 million over the
final two months this season, and Oswalt $5 million. 

 

That $2 million difference isn’t all that significant – if you
were getting an equal or better pitcher, that is, which I don’t think Oswalt
is.

 

Now, Houston may ask for more than Seattle
will, especially from the Rangers (see my May 23 report
for reasons why), but don’t assume the Mariners will be any more reasonable in
their demands, or that they should be.  Won’t
Jack Z need to be extra sure that he doesn’t lose a Cliff Lee trade with a team
he’s chasing inside the division?   Won’t there be more suitors for Lee – not only
because he’s a better pitcher but also because his lack of the no-trade card that
Oswalt has widens the field? 

 

And back to my primary point – isn’t the fact that Lee is a “rental”
a
plus,
when weighed against the $18 million you’d have to commit to Oswalt to be in
your uniform in 2011?

 

I think Lee is going to cost more.  Probably more than Texas ought to give
up.  It seems to me that all these
stories and talk show segments suggesting the price for Oswalt will be higher than
Seattle’s price for Lee are wrong.

 

If, instead, I’m the one who’s wrong about that, then I don’t
need to take Houston’s calls – unless they want to talk about Blake Beavan or
Alexi Ogando or Michael Kirkman plus a bat (Mitch Moreland?) for Brett Myers.  If not, and if the price for Oswalt really is
greater than it is for Lee, then I’m not sure why I wouldn’t take the time I’d
be spending on the phone with the Astros and dial up the Mariners instead.

 

 

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To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get
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recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to
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(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

 

Housecleaning.

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I have an old Word
document where I jot down ideas for my next report, or tuck them away for a
report down the road. 

 

I don’t always get
around to using all the notes.  And I’m
not very good about looking over the notes and deleting the ones I’ll never
use.  The document is now 108 pages.

 

In it are a bunch of
notes on this year’s July 2 international free agent class.  Some thoughts I never got around to writing about
this winter, regarding players the AL West teams added this off-season, and who
they lost.  A lot of stuff I’ve piled up about
Rich Harden.

 

The oldest two notes
in the document: (1) something I heard in 1999 about a chance Texas had to
trade Ken Hill at the 1997 trade deadline to Cleveland for rookies Bartolo
Colon and Damian Jackson; and (2) an Instant Message from Peter Gammons in 2001
that said: “Carlos Pena’s brothers Pedro and Omar are playing for Wareham and
each had two hits Thursday.” 

 

(Guess I can cross the first one off now.  The second one stays, as a reminder to me of
how much better this game is because Peter Gammons loves it.)

 

One thing that’s tucked in that document is something I wrote
in April but, for whatever reason, I didn’t find the right report to put it in:

 

 

hamilton-volquez_bipanel_576.jpg

 

Blue-chip prospect

 

Blue-chip prospect

Substance abuse suspension

 

Regression on the field

Traded, sold low

December 21,
2007

Traded, sold low

Sports
Illustrated
mid-season awards: Runner-up, AL MVP

July 2008

Sports
Illustrated
mid-season awards: Runner-up, NL Cy Young

2008 All-Star Game (first full MLB season)

July 15, 2008

2008 All-Star Game (first full MLB season)

Whoops (Deadspin: photos/bar)

Just before
Spring Training 2009

Whoops (Deadspin: video/guns)

Disabled list – ribcage strain

May 2009

Disabled list stint – back spasms

Second DL stint – abdominal surgery

June 2, 2009

Second DL stint – right elbow surgery

Regression on the field

April 2010

Substance abuse suspension

 

It
would never sell to the Network TV suits. 
“Too hokey,” they’d say, “viewers would never buy it,” and then they’d
opt instead for a pilot called “Extreme Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,”
where Kate Gosselin and Helio Castroneves build a duplex each week, using only
the tools found in the Iron Chef’s kitchen, Donald Trump’s hair products, and
Howie Mandel.

 

 

I was about to delete it tonight but as I stared at that
final “Regression on the field” note for Josh Hamilton, which I wrote in April but
which now seems like 10 months ago, I thought I’d toss it in here.

 

The parallels between Hamilton and Edinson Volquez’s careers
since The Trade have been remarkable.  Pay
attention to what Volquez has been doing on his ahead-of-schedule rehab (eight
scoreless innings, three hits, no walks, seven strikeouts in two appearances), and
if his location is there, you can see where he might surprise some people in
the second half and have as much impact for the Reds as any trade deadline
pickup gives another contender.

 

But whatever Volquez manages to do in 2010, it seems
unlikely that it would parallel what Hamilton has been doing for the last five
weeks (.421/.445/.744 in 121 at-bats since May 18, with nine home runs and 29
RBI in 30 games) and seems poised to do for the season.

 

To put it in perspective: In his storybook 2008 season, Hamilton
hit .304/.371/.530.

 

Right now, even including his pedestrian six-week start to
the 2010 season, he sits at .337/.381/.600 for the year.

 

He’d have to hit .280/.363/.477 the rest of the way this
year to end up, in the same number of at-bats, with his 2008 slash line.

 

And that could happen. 
There’s no way Hamilton keeps this ridiculous run going and stays this
locked in all year.  He may see his
numbers recede a bit, but then again may be Ian Kinsler will pick his
production numbers up, and maybe Nelson Cruz’s hamstrings are done barking for the
year, and even if Julio Borbon cools off, Elvis Andrus should get to clicking
again eventually.

 

This offense is so different when Hamilton is right.

 

Another note I may never use if I don’t use it now: While
Colby Lewis leads major league starting pitchers in opponents’ batting average
(.187, ahead of Ubaldo Jimenez’s .189), Chris Ray – who for whatever reason I still
find that I don’t completely trust – is holding opponents to a .189 clip out of
the Rangers pen.

 

Lewis’s complete opposing slash line is .187/.267/.323.  Ryan Raburn, in other words.

 

Ray’s is .189/.286/.333. 
Raburn after maybe a 1 for 5 with a double and a walk.

 

Meanwhile, Kevin Millwood, the pitcher whose departure essentially
made Lewis and Ray (and Rich Harden) Rangers, won his first game of the season on
Saturday, and sits at .296/.348/.486 for the year.  The average hitter against Millwood this year
is in Ryan Braun/Hanley Ramirez territory.

 

Buster Olney featured Michael Young in his
Sunday column for ESPN
, including in the article this anecdote:

 

[R]ight
near the trade deadline last season, Rangers GM Jon Daniels recalled the other
day, he got a phone call from Young, who was in the clubhouse.  Texas was thinking about making deals to
augment the team for a run at the AL West title – but to do so, of course, the
Rangers would’ve had to trade some of their young players.

 

“Hey,
listen,” Young told Daniels. “I just want you to know – do what you have to do,
but don’t do something just to appease us down here.”

 

In
other words: Young understood if the Rangers decided not to trade for someone
like Roy Halladay.

 

“We
like where you guys are headed,” Young told Daniels. “We like the young
players.”

 

I think I’m at the point right now, seeing what Colby Lewis
has become and what Josh Hamilton has re-become, and seeing that good-looking
3.5-game lead in the West with a day off tomorrow and the Pirates and Astros
(who tonight designated for assignment three players who played against Texas
today: righthander Casey Daigle, outfielder Cory Sullivan – who will be
replaced by Jason Bourgeois – and catcher Kevin Cash, whose departure paves the
way for Jason Castro, the Stanford catcher whom the Astros passed on Justin Smoak
in order to draft in 2008) coming to town, and the club possibly three weeks
away from an ownership transition, where I’m hopeful that if Young makes that
same phone call to Daniels in a month, Daniels “does what he has to do,” and
goes and adds a Guy.

 

In other words, remember that Step Five we talked about a
year and a month ago
?  Say it with
me:

 

It’s time.

 

 

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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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and click the “Mailing List” link on the top menu bar.

 

 

(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

 

Big league focus.

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There have been
years, too many of them, when this morning I might have written an entire
report about Jurickson Profar’s pro debut and made a big deal out of the fact
that the leadoff hitter (Ryan Strasborger) and three-hole hitter (Andrew Clark)
in between whom he hit last night are each five years older, and that the big Tri-City
righthander that Profar doubled off of (Mequite Poteet, McLennan CC, and Lamar
University product Ricky Testa) is six years older than the shortstop from
Curacao.

 

But this isn’t the
morning for that, and not the season for me to feel compelled to devote this
space on the things that Scott Lucas expertly covers each day, as a way of
distracting myself from an epidemic rash of bad big league pitching, poor execution
offensively, or an outbreak of lousy baserunning or routinely booting the ball.   

 

There have been seasons, recently, where once we got to June
every report I sent out might have had notes, and not necessarily at the tail
end, pointing out that Buck Showalter and Bobby Valentine are candidates for
the Orioles job, or that the Dodgers released lefthander John Koronka, or that the
Yuma Scorpions of the independent Golden League placed outfielder Masjid Khairy
on irrevocable waivers.

 

Instead, Texas has won six straight on the road, has nailed down
13 of 17 in June, owns a 2.5-game division lead on the Angels, and is clicking
on just about all cylinders.  That’s a
lot more fun to write about.

 

Did Frisco lefty Martin Perez get drilled last night?  Yes.  Eight
runs (seven earned) in an inning and a third. 
Cause for alarm?  Johan Santana,
in his final full minor league season, had starts in which he allowed 8, 8, 6,
6, 6, and 6 runs.  In his final month of
that 1999 season, he made seven starts and one relief appearance, posting a 7.65
ERA.

 

And he was a year older than Perez.

 

And pitching two minor league levels lower than Perez.

 

Don’t panic.

 

I’m not suggesting you should ignore what’s happening on the
farm, obviously.  If these stories about
Texas showing legitimate interest in Roy Oswalt (who was mentored by Nolan Ryan
and played for manager Jackie Moore and pitching coach Mike Maddux in his own
final minor league season) have some substance, keeping close tabs on what
Blake Beavan and Beau Jones and Engel Beltre and Matt Thompson are doing would
be smart.  If the Rangers can get out of
court in time to pursue the top tier of what the trade deadline has to offer, they’re
not going to trade Justin Smoak and Tommy Hunter and Alexi Ogando to get a deal
done.  There will be minor leaguers
involved.  Not by themselves.  But they’ll figure in.

 

It’s always worthwhile to pay detailed attention to what’s
going on in Hickory.  Some years it
serves an extra purpose, as a distraction. 
Others, like this year, it provides context.   

 

Supplemental first-rounder Mike Olt signed for slot yesterday,
and pretty soon he’ll settle in at third base for Spokane, situated 40 feet to
Profar’s right.  I look forward to every
word of Scott’s reports every day, and in mid-June they get an extra boost when
we can read about Randol Rojas and Miguel De Los Santos and Nick McBride and Guillermo
Pimentel at Spokane, and Jake Skole and Kellin Deglan and Luis Sardinas and
Juan Grullon with the Arizona League squad, whose season kicks off Monday
night.

 

But it’s all backstory right now, less notable than Scott Feldman’s
2.89 ERA in his last three starts or Josh Hamilton’s 1.354 OPS in June – or the
fact that Vladimir Guerrero sits at .327/.397/.577 for the month and yet is
being out-OPS’d by Julio Borbon (.423/.456/.615) over the same stretch.  Hickory lefthanders Robbie Erlin and Robbie
Ross are having spectacular seasons, but that’s less important than what Darren
Oliver is doing.

 

Perez and Tanner Scheppers each struggled last night, but
right now I’m more concerned about Elvis Andrus’s .143/.211/.143 slash line,
with 10 strikeouts in 35 at-bats, since he put those ridiculous highlights in
his hair a week and a half ago.  I don’t
care about the hair.  I care that his
.304 average has dropped to .282 in those eight or nine days, and he’s looking
a little out of sync.

 

And I’m trying to figure out why Ian Kinsler, who has hit in
eight straight (.379/.472/.448) with as many walks as strikeouts, still doesn’t
look right to me at the plate.

 

This season, thankfully, has given us plenty so far to
celebrate and to worry about and to focus on, moving bankruptcy proceedings and
the spring training story of the manager’s 2009 off-field mistake somewhere away
from the center of our attention. 

 

I’m interested in Erlin’s Hickory start this evening and on
McBride’s start in Spokane, in whether Michael Main can maintain this
Bakersfield run he’s on in Game One of the Blaze’s Saturday twinbill, and in how
Brandon McCarthy fares in his return to AAA action tonight, his first action in
two weeks and first start in two months.

 

But none of it matters as much right now as Colby
Lewis-Scuffy Moehler tonight, or C.J. Wilson-Felipe Paulino tomorrow.   

 

Am I interested in how Profar fares tonight against 25-year-old
Tri-City rehabber Josh Sullivan, who was in the minor leagues when Profar was starring
in the Little League World Series at age 12? 
Of course.  Am I eager to see
whether catcher Jorge Alfaro shows up on the AZL roster when that club begins
play Monday?  Absolutely.

 

But for now, it’s all about what’s going on in Arlington, and
that’s what you want to be able to say heading toward mid-season, the All-Star
Break, and what could be a very interesting trade deadline season.

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

 

Taking to the road.

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Little run, away

Game’s biggest division lead

Now owned by Texas

 

It’s been an excellent road trip.  Facing two mediocre teams but matched up against
good pitching more often than not, Texas has gone 5-1 so far on the trip, and
now visits Houston for three, missing the Astros’ top two starters (Roy Oswalt
and Brett Myers), before returning home.

 

Got to keep taking care of business, not only this weekend
but for these three weeks leading up to the All-Star Break, during which the
Rangers face clubs with a losing record 19 times in 22 games, the lone exception
coming in a three-game set in Anaheim June 29-July 1, against an Angels team
that now sits 2.5 games back in the AL West.

 

The Rangers’ final action before the Break is a July 8-11 series
at home against Baltimore, intersected on the 9th by a bankruptcy court
hearing in Fort Worth that, depending on what happens this Tuesday,
could
set things up for the league’s ownership to approve the sale of the Rangers to
the Greenberg/Ryan group well in advance of the conventional trade deadline.

 

Texas will come out of the Break with 23 of 42 games on the
road, including 19 games against the three best teams in the East and two best
teams in the Central, and another 19 against West foes. 

 

But if the sale goes through sometime during that crucial stretch,
imagine the idea that the rotation or bullpen or bench could be given a
significant boost before it ends.

 

Not that the arrival of Alexi Ogando (who gets a hit every
time he comes up, and a win every time he pitches) might not end up being a bigger
boost than some contenders are able to make during trade season.  Or that Tanner Scheppers might not make even
more of an impact this summer than Ogando.

 

(By the way, if you dare credit Jon Daniels for the plan to steal
Ogando from Oakland nearly five years ago, to convert him from outfielder to
pitcher, to stick with him through the immigration nightmare, and to help forge
a solution for getting him back into the United States, he’ll correct you and
point out that A.J. Preller and Mike Daly were primarily responsible for all of
it, with Thad Levine and Danilo Troncoso instrumental in clearing up the legal
restraints.)

 

Nelson Cruz, heading out on a three-game rehab stint today, and
Derek Holland, who could embark on a rehab assignment next week, and Tommy
Hunter, who says his hip flexor strain is fine, are getting closer to returning
as well.

 

I’m not sure whether Nolan Ryan assumed the sale would have
been completed or not when he predicted at the beginning of the season that
this team would win 92 games. 

 

It’s presently on pace to go 93-69.

 

A reader emailed this to me last night: “I am currently
sitting in the Buffalo Wild Wings in Arlington, full of people ready to watch
the Lakers and Celtics.  And when Elvis’
bunt was thrown wild, a chant of ‘Let’s Go Rangers’ broke out.” 

 

This is getting pretty good.

 

As you now know, early this week we sold out of spots for Newberg
Report Night, in about 48 hours.  Several
of you asked about the possibility of attending the July 25 game with our
group, even though admission to the pregame events in the Hall of Fame Theater
is closed.  We can do that.

 

If you’re interested in sitting with the Newberg Report
group that Sunday night against the Angels, in Sections 37-40 along the first
base line (lower bowl), you can get a discounted game ticket for $15 (half the price of the full event
admission).  If you want to watch with
our group from a luxury suite, you can do so for $100 (the same price as the event admission but still a huge
discount off of what it would normally cost to sit in a suite).

 

And the majority of your cost would still go to our
charities, which this year are the Hello Win Column Fund (which supports local
families impacted by cancer) and a local women’s shelter.

 

If you’re interested in attending the game with us on the 25th,
the way to sign up is the same as it has been (details here). 

 

Based on how the schedule lines up until then, particularly over
the next three weeks, that night’s game against Los Angeles could be pretty
huge.

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

 

Proud.

 

Just like Ivan Rodriguez’s final hit as a Ranger (the first
time around at least), an opposite-field double that he rocketed to right
center field, Michael Young’s franchise record-tying and record-breaking hits
were extremely fitting: a similar double to right center, pure opposite field
genius befitting of both the Rangers’ new all-time hit leader and the man who,
on that list, he has displaced, followed by a single shot up the middle that
plated two runs, instrumental in a
victory, the most
appropriate part of all of this. 

 

Young said after the 27th out that he’s happy the
record-breaking hit came in such a big spot in the game, so he wouldn’t have to
think about anything other than trying to push another couple runs
across.  (Which made me think of something
I’d written four years ago
.)  And of course, nobody doubts the sincerity
of his comment, or his final words to Nolan Ryan during the live TV interview
that just finished: “Proud to be a Ranger.”

 

Sorry to interrupt without having much to say.  I’m
proud that guy’s a Ranger.

Texas 3, Florida 2.

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Just an awesome win.

 

C.J. Wilson (pitching off the same mound he made his big
league debut on five years and five days ago) wasn’t particularly sharp but
minimized the potential damage, and kept his team in the game against baseball’s
hottest, if not best, pitcher. 

 

Making his big league debut, Alexi Ogando could have been
sharper as well, but there’s plenty to love about his future, even if he is a
couple months older than Hanley Ramirez.

 

But Matt Treanor, the Rangers’ answer down to the club’s final
out against a right-handed closer because there’s not a Conor Jackson or Mike
Lowell or even a Brandon Boggs on the bench, stepped in against the team he had
723 of his 736 career at-bats for coming into 2010, two of which had produced triples,
and crushed a two-run three-bagger on the first pitch he saw, a 94-mph fastball
that he shot to deep, deep left center.

 

It was a great moment for Treanor, and for Neftali Feliz,
who minutes later worked a quiet shutdown ninth after struggling mightily in
his last effort, but we shouldn’t overlook the great moment Julio Borbon had,
also up with the club down to its final out, just prior to the Treanor
shot.  With two outs, the tying run on
third, a virtual refusal to work a walk all season, Marlins closer Leo Nunez
having thrown five strikes out of seven pitches – and having not issued a walk
in his last 18 appearances, and the pressure of having the pitcher’s spot and the
thinnest of options off the bench behind him, the odds of Borbon slowing the game
down and making Nunez throw strikes in that situation didn’t even
register. 

 

But he drew his fourth walk of 2010, on five pitches, and
made things happen with his feet, scoring easily behind Josh Hamilton on
Treanor’s shot one pitch later, rewarding Wilson with a no-decision and Ogando
with a victory.

 

Sure would be great if some sort of switch has been flipped
and Borbon starts to rack up a few walks, since to date he’s been working free
passes at about one-fifth the rate he did as a rookie last year.

 

Meanwhile, the Angels lost tonight, 7-1.

 

November 24, 2011, the six-year anniversary of the Marlins’
trade that sent Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota to Boston for
Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado, and Harvey Garcia . . . instead of
Beckett and Lowell (and maybe Mota) to Texas for Hank Blalock and John Danks (and
maybe Joaquin Arias): Texas sends Martin Perez, Robbie Erlin, Luke Jackson, and
Luis Sardinas to Florida for Josh Johnson and reliever Clay Hensley.

 

(Actually, no chance. 
Marlins VP Andy Silverman will threaten to jump off the roof of the new Miami
Marlins Stadium if the club trades Johnson just as the team is about to open
the new ballpark in 2012.)

 

(But I can dream.)

 

Johnson got 21 outs tonight, 20 of which were on strikes or
on the ground.  He’s an extraordinary
pitcher, and the Oklahoma native won’t retire as a Marlin.

 

But he got a no-decision tonight, too.  If something special happens this season, we’ll
remember this one.

 

OK, a few follow-up points about Newberg Report Night (July
25), based on your questions:

 

        
In the next couple days, I’ll send confirmations to the many
of you who have already signed up for the event.

 

        
For those choosing the $30 option (stadium seats), we will likely
be in Sections 37 to 40 (lower bowl, first base side), somewhere in that area.

 

        
The suites will not be catered, though you are welcome to
cater them at your own expense.  You can also
bring concessions up to the suites.

 

        
Yes, I will be sure you’re sitting with the people you want
to sit with, whether in the seats or suites.

 

        
Among the auction items will be a baseball signed by Michael
Young, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Scott Feldman, David Murphy, Justin Smoak, Derek
Holland, Tommy Hunter, Craig Gentry, Brandon McCarthy, Chris Davis, and Rusty
Greer (donated by Grant Schiller). 
Luther Davis of Davis Auctioneers, who helped us at the second Sherlock’s
event, is planning to join us for Newberg Report Night as well.

 

        
For PayPal purchasers, I’m told if you click “Personal”
rather than “Purchase,” and then “Gift,” then there won’t be a PayPal fee taken
out on my end.  Not a big deal, but those
dollars taken out of every payment add up, and to the extent that we can avoid
those fees, it obviously increases the charitable donation we’ll be able to
make.

 

        
A couple people paid today and said they’re surprising Dad with
this as a Father’s Day gift.  Not a terrible
idea.

 

        
We sold out last year in eight days, faster than ever
before.  We’re going to beat that this
year.  In one day today, we’re already 40
percent full.  If you plan to come, don’t
wait too long to register.

 

See this morning’s email (or click here) for full
details.

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

Newberg Report Night set for July 25.

We’re
now ready to start taking reservations for the seventh annual Newberg Report
Night at Rangers Ballpark, which will be on Sunday, July 25, when Texas
wraps up a four-game series against the Angels.  As always, we’re doing this
right around the conventional trade deadline . . . and getting a 90-minute pre-game
Q&A session with GM Jon Daniels.

 

And
I’m happy to announce that, depending of course on where things stand with the
sale process, Chuck Greenberg has offered to join us for the Q&A portion as
well.

 

One
other new feature this year.  As always,
a ticket to the event costs $30 per person, which includes all the pre-game events as
well as your game ticket
(parking is not included).  But the
Rangers have offered the Newberg Report community a sizable discount on luxury
suites for that night, and as a result, if you want to watch the game from a
suite, you can attend the entire day’s events for $100 per person.  The
suites hold 20 people each – if you have a group (of anywhere between two of
you and 20 of you), just let me know so I can be sure to put you together in
the same suite.

 

We
have about 300-350 people attend this event every year, and are at absolute
capacity as far as the Hall of Fame Theater is concerned – so please make your
reservations as soon as you know you’ll be attending.  Once we reach Theater
capacity, we’ll have to close registration (though we can continue to sell spots
for the game only: $15 for stadium seating and $100 for suite seating).  Last year we sold the event out in eight days.

 

Here’s
what we tentatively have planned (the details historically get better as we get
closer to the event):

 

 

3:00     Doors open


We’ll gather in the Hall of Fame Theater at Rangers
Ballpark.  You’ll get your game tickets once you enter the Museum – no
need to go to Will Call or anywhere else.  

 

You’ll have the opportunity in the front lobby of the Hall
of Fame to make a donation to our designated charities, which this year will be
(1) the Hello Win Column Fund through the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation and
(2) a local women’s shelter.  You may donate any amount; for every $10 you
donate, you will get one ticket for a memorabilia raffle we’ll have during the
event. 

 

As usual, I would recommend getting there as early as you
can in order to get a good spot in the auditorium.  Some of you might have
to stand – the theater capacity includes not only the room’s 235 permanent seats
but also extra folding chairs and standing room.

 

 

4:00     Will Carroll & Kevin Goldstein Q&A


Baseball Prospectus writers Will Carroll (an annual Newberg
Report Night guest) and Kevin Goldstein (who joined us for the first time last
year) are tentatively set to join us again this year.  They’ll conduct a Q&A session officially beginning
at 4:00 p.m., as the theater starts to fill up – though typically they grab the
podium closer to 3:30.  

 

 

4:45     Raffle/Auction, charitable presentation


More details on
this later.  As we’ve always done, we’ll raise money
for a charitable effort at the event, including through your purchase of raffle
tickets that day.  For every $10 you
donate, you will get one ticket for the raffle.
  Whoever makes the
largest donation at the event will get his or her choice of any of the
prizes.  The remaining prizes will be raffled off.

 

We’ll
likely also have a few special items to put up for a quick live auction.

 

After the auction we’ll make a quick charitable
presentation.

 


5:00
    Jon Daniels & Chuck Greenberg Q&A


While it’s not possible this far out to guarantee his availability, Rangers GM Jon Daniels is expected to join us, as he has the six
previous Newberg Report Nights, for a lengthy Q&A session.  The fact
that the event is less than a week before the conventional trade deadline makes
the possibilities even cooler (though don’t expect him to take other GM’s calls
on speakerphone).  This is a really unique opportunity, one of my favorite
days on the baseball calendar every year.

 

Also, as mentioned above, prospective owner Chuck Greenberg will
join us as well,
subject to any limitations from the sale process.  If you were at the Sherlock’s event in
February, you know Chuck’s going to be as fired up about getting together that day
and night as any of us.

 

JD and Chuck will arrive at 5:00 and take your questions in
the auditorium for about 90 minutes.

 

 

6:30     Adjourn to the stadium


At about 6:30, we’ll conclude in the auditorium and head
to our seats for the 7:05 first pitch.  (Again, you’ll pick your game
tickets up in the Museum when you arrive.)  The seats will be in the lower
bowl on the first base side, as always.   And this year, if you choose,
you can sit in a luxury suite with fellow Newberg Report folks at a very
affordable cost, thanks to the Rangers.

 

 

Please sign up and pay as
soon as you know you’ll be coming.
  Spots are first
come, first served, and again, last year we sold out in just eight days.

 

The cost, once again, is $30 (stadium ticket) or $100 (suite
ticket), and you can pay in one of two ways:

 

1.
You can order by credit card through PayPal by going to http://www.paypal.com/
http://www.paypal.com/”>http://www.paypal.com,
selecting the “Send money” option, and typing in GJSneaker@sbcglobal.net where you are
prompted for the e-mail account.

 

2.
Or you can send a check or money order, payable to “Jamey Newberg,” to:

 

Jamey
Newberg

Vincent
Lopez Serafino Jenevein, P.C.

1601
Elm Street, Suite 4100

Dallas, TX 75201

 

Let me know what questions you have.  I look forward to
seeing lots of you there on the 25th.

 

Jamey

 

 

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