Things I think.

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1.      Oakland has a starting five, and an August
schedule, that ought to make every one of us think about the real possibility
that Texas isn’t going to coast to a playoff berth.  You know what?  Good.

 

Are the
Rangers going to the playoffs?  Yes.  But the last thing this team needs (well,
next to another injury setback) is to take the foot off the gas (think about
how that’s killed the Mavericks more than once going into the post-season), and
I’m good if there’s not a temptation – even a natural, subconscious impulse -
to ease up for any more than maybe one final turn through the rotation going
into Game One.

 

Sure would be
nice to have that game in Arlington.

 

2.      Nolan Ryan said last week that while Ron
Washington is under contract only through 2010 but will be back next season,
Jon Daniels has one more year on his deal, mirroring Ryan’s own. 

 

It’s no
longer necessary, even symbolically, for Daniels’s contract to track Ryan’s in
length. 

 

This is not meant
to be a message to the ownership group, which I expect is already several steps
ahead of this, but instead just a thing I think: Daniels needs to be extended,
before the season ends, for a long time. 
Ryan is now a certainty to be around here for the long haul, and thank
goodness for that.  High on the list of
this franchise’s top assets are its general manager and lots of people who work
here because of him. 

 

It’s time: To
lock Jon Daniels up.

 

3.      Oklahoma City lefthander Michael Kirkman
fanned eight in 5.2 innings on Sunday, but walked four and served up two home
runs.  If the club doesn’t want to give
Derek Holland this Saturday’s start against Boston, Rich Harden’s spot could just
be skipped and given to Colby Lewis, who – because of two intervening off-days -
would still be going on an extra day of rest. 

 

Harden (who
threw more balls than strikes on Saturday) told reporters after the game that
he “never got a feel for his release point,” which is so frustrating to hear,
and that he “know[s] what [he] need[s] to do to get back.”

 

It’s August. 
 

 

4.      Chris Davis has still played more third base
at Oklahoma City than first base.  And
now he’s the RedHawks’ starting left fielder, seeing his first time in the
outfield the last two days since his first minor league season (2006).  Local reports suggest the Rangers are getting
“much trade interest” in Davis, from Boston, among others.

 

Texas shouldn’t
trade him.  Not now, at least.  Because I think he has a good chance to
follow the Nelson Cruz path and bloom late, in a new setting?  (Carlos Pena and Russell Branyan have also
been suggested.)  I do still believe in Davis’s
future, but that’s not why he shouldn’t be traded now.

 

He won’t
clear revocable trade waivers this season, and that creates two problems: (1)
Texas would have only one club to negotiate a trade with, and why limit your
suitors?  (2) Even if, say, Kansas City
were the team that claimed Davis, there’s no chance that someone like the disgruntled
Zack Greinke reaches Texas on waivers (let alone the timing issue, which makes
it difficult to have roster members on both sides of an August trade, unless
really bad contracts are involved). 

 

Save Davis
for the winter, when the club should be in a position to make an impact trade
for a starting pitcher or impact hitter and can capitalize on Davis’s apparent popularity
– if not with the team Texas is talking trade with, then with a third team that
can fill a gap in the trade or in the Rangers’ own system.

 

I still don’t
rule out the possibility that Davis figures it out here (even as a bench bat that
can play at four corners) (and no, I’m not giving up on the catcher idea), but
given the mounting number of failed big league chances, if he’s drawing real
interest then his greatest value may be in a deal.     

 

5.      Looks like Taylor Teagarden, in something of
an upset, has not only gotten a chance to prove himself once again in Texas but
is, at last, capitalizing on it.  He
doesn’t need to keep up this power surge to be a solid number two catcher.  He’s starting to gain the confidence of his
manager.

 

6.      According to John Perrotto of Baseball
Prospectus, the Dodgers are thinking about non-tendering catcher Russell Martin
this winter to cut costs.  Martin makes
$5.05 million this year, and I believe he has two more arbitration seasons
before he can opt for free agency.  Hmmm.
  

 

7.      I’m not seeing much of anything out of
Cristian Guzman, who initially turned down the deadline trade to Texas before
reconsidering.  Not sure what he does
better than Andres Blanco. 

 

Wish we could
have gotten in on Arizona’s Kelly Johnson before the trade deadline.  Can’t imagine he’d slip through just about
the entire league and get to Texas on waivers to facilitate a trade.

 

Sure wish
things had worked out with Khalil Greene this year.

 

Ian Kinsler’s
injury history and the organization’s added flexibility financially are going
to result in an upgrade at the utility infield spot next year.  It’s becoming a priority.  Right?

 

8.      Joe West is an irritating umpire to watch.

 

9.      How confident are we that Vladimir Guerrero
is going to bounce back?  Since the
beginning of July, he sits at .213/.278/.336 in 122 at-bats.  Justin Smoak was more productive as a Ranger
than Guerrero has been over July and August. 

 

Let’s say he pulls
out of it a bit, but doesn’t do anywhere near the level of damage he did in the
first half (.319/.364/.554)?  What do you
offer him this winter to make sure he doesn’t shop around?  Tricky.

 

10.  Smoak since his demotion to AAA Tacoma: .207/.314/.448.  Josh Lueke (AA West Tenn and AAA Tacoma): one
run on seven hits and zero walks in 11.1 innings, 20 strikeouts.  Blake Beavan (AA West Tenn and AAA Tacoma): four
starts, 3-1, 4.50, 25 hits and two walks in 24 innings, 13 strikeouts.  Matt Lawson (AA West Tenn): .363/.414/.525 in
80 at-bats.  Chris Ray (San Francisco):
2.84 ERA with eight strikeouts and five walks in 12.2 innings.  Michael Main (AA Richmond): 13.83 ERA with 21
hits, 14 walks, and seven strikeouts in 13.2 innings; hasn’t pitched in 12
days.  Evan Reed (AA Jacksonville): 1.2
scoreless innings in one appearance, left with tightness in his elbow.  Omar Poveda is out for the season.  Ryan Tatukso (AA Harrisburg): one start – one
run on five hits and four walks in 4.2 innings, six strikeouts.  Tanner Roark (AA Harrisburg): one start – three
runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings, four strikeouts.   

 

Roman Mendez made
his second Spokane start yesterday, giving up four runs (all unearned) on seven
hits (including two home runs) and one walk in 4.2 innings, fanning five.  Seven groundouts, one flyout.  Chris McGuiness sits at .261/.433/.304 for
Bakersfield, with six walks and four strikeouts in 23 at-bats.

 

11.  Yes, Tanner Scheppers has been solid most
nights since returning to the bullpen for the RedHawks.  But nowhere near as dominant as (40-man
roster member) Pedro Strop, who since returning to AAA from Texas has put up
these video game numbers: 8.2 innings, zero runs, four hits, zero walks, 16 strikeouts.
 Both are going to be here in September,
but if one gets here before then, I’m not so sure it shouldn’t be Strop.

 

12.  I hope that Torii Hunter Jr.’s friends at Prosper
High School aren’t making fun of him because of where his Dad is playing.  (Or not playing, while he serves his
four-game suspension.)

 

13.  Texas gets a bit of a break tomorrow, as A.J.
Burnett was scratched yesterday with back spasms and will go for the Yankees in
Arlington tomorrow night rather than Phil Hughes.

 

14.  Several new prospects should enter the fold
soon: The deadline to sign 2010 draftees is a week from today (two hard-throwing
righthanders, supplemental first-rounder Luke Jackson and fifth-rounder Justin
Grimm, are the key unsigned picks), and Daniels has suggested the Red Sox
prospect to be named later in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia deal could be announced
before long.

 

15.  Sometime soon, when the club is on the road, we’re
going to have a game-watching Newberg Report event with Chuck Greenberg (who is
temporarily
physiologically incapable of being elated
).  We’ll charge some sort of
admission fee but it will all go to charity. 
Stay tuned for details.

 

16.  There’s been lots of talk, particularly since
the All-Star Break, about how Texas was facing a really tough part of its
schedule.  Does anyone ever take the time
to think about the idea that other teams are now at the point at which they
have to say the same thing when Texas comes up on their schedule?

 

This sort of
success is still taking some time to get used to. 

 

And that’s
fine with me.  Give me a battle over the
next eight weeks rather than a whole lot of cruise control.

 

OK.  Maybe seven.

 

 

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(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter 
@newbergreport

 

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