September 2010

Game-Watching Party v.2: Wed., Sept. 8, with Assistant GM Thad Levine

It’s a go.  Rangers Assistant GM Thad Levine will join us
this Wednesday at the Dallas location of Sherlock’s for our second game-watching
party in nine days.




WHO: Thad Levine, Rangers Assistant
General Manager

WHAT: Q&A session and Rangers-Blue
Jays on every TV (Derek Holland is projected to start)

WHERE: Sherlock’s Baker St. Pub (9100 N.
Central Expressway, northeast corner of 75 and Park Lane)

WHEN: Wednesday, September 8, 2010;
Q&A begins at 5:00 p.m., game time is 6:00 p.m.

COST: Free


Bring your A game for Thad. 
He’s played a huge role in the architecture of this team alongside Jon
Daniels, and putting a microphone in his hands is like throwing Josh Hamilton a
fastball over the heart of the plate.  It’s
gonna be a good time.


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Labor Day Weekend

But there’s much work to be

Ready, set, ready


Just two more off-days, September 13 and 16, over these 31
days.  The next one after that will be
Monday, October 4, eve of the playoffs.


The only intrigue left on the Rangers’ schedule is whether
the clincher comes in Los Angeles or Oakland on the back end of the September
17-26 trip, or against Seattle or Los Angeles at home over the final
seven.  I’m not rooting for the Rangers’ division
lead to shrink over the next few weeks, but yeah, I am.  I’d really like to see Texas come back from
that last West Coast trip with a seven-game lead, at most.


An interesting, surprising note in the agate type yesterday:
the Mets purchased catcher Mike Nickeas as part of the club’s September roster
expansion.  The 27-year-old, traded by
Texas to New York in 2006 for outfielder Victor Diaz, considered retiring last
winter but gave the game one more shot this season, hitting .276 between AA and
AAA before getting Thursday’s call-up, his first.


Just as interesting has been Seattle’s decision to leave
Justin Smoak – and Josh Lueke – in AAA rather than bring both up, as that organization
should have nothing on the itinerary at this point other than evaluating players
for 2011.  The Mariners say they don’t
want to disrupt AAA Tacoma’s season, and won’t bring any players up from that
club until its Pacific Coast League playoff run is completely over, which could
be as late as September 21.  The Rainiers
are 1.5 games up in their division with four regular-season games to go.


Speaking of the Pacific Coast League, lefthander Michael Kirkman
was named yesterday as the 16-team circuit’s Pitcher of the Year, based on a
vote of league managers, GM’s, broadcasters, and media.  Kirkman is just one of the subjects we
covered in the latest installment of Rangers Podcast in Arlington, which Ted
Price, Adam Morris, and I recorded last night. 
You can find the iTunes upload here,
or go to
for the Web version.



Yes, you all are right.  There is that other bit of intrigue left, the chase for home field, as the Twins were taken to 13 innings last night and lost, 10-9 to Detroit, bringing Texas to within a game and a half of Minnesota as the two teams get set to play three big ones, starting tonight.  Texas sends Derek Holland to the mound, with the Twins summoning AAA righthander Matt Fox, a 27-year-old who will be making his big league debut – as scheduled starter Nick Blackburn was pressed into service in the 13th inning last night (taking the loss as he was taken deep by Gerald Laird).

But I still want to clinch at home.  What say we sweep these next three from the Twins, go 14-8 through that September 17-26 trip while Oakland goes, say, 17-5 . . . and Minnesota has a losing record over that stretch?

That would work for me.




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(c) Jamey Newberg



Column on and footage from the Game-Watching Party.


Couple things this morning.


First, the latest
installment of my weekly column for
has been posted this morning.  This
week’s column takes a look at September roster expansion in the Jon Daniels regime,
and how this season’s moves differ from previous Ranger Septembers.


Here’s a direct link
to the column:


Also, Emily Jones of
Fox Sports Southwest recorded a good amount at our game-watching party with
Chuck Greenberg and Chuck Morgan at Sherlock’s on Monday night, including a
number of fan interviews, and those will first air tonight at 11:30 p.m. on
FSSW “Rangers Insider.”


Brady Tinker’s interview
of Chuck Greenberg from the event will air on Monday’s Labor Day episode of “DFW
Sports Beat,” at 4:00 p.m. on Fox Sports Southwest.


Eleanor Czajka’s photos from the party can
be found here
or at 


Ted Price’s Web recording of that night’s Q&A with Chuck
and Chuck should be available soon.  I’ll
let you know when it’s up.

Jeff Francoeur: A marginal addition.

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There’s a tendency
to microanalyze every baseball trade, especially the good old-fashioned
player-for-player swaps that you never see in football and that are rarely the
point of NBA deals.  It’s what we do. 


Joaquin Arias for Jeff Francoeur isn’t that big a deal.  It will get a bunch of attention because of
who one of the players once was and what he was supposed to become, but while
it adds something to the club without taking anything away (especially if
Brandon Boggs slides through waivers and is outrighted), there’s probably less
chance of Francoeur having a major impact as a Ranger than there is of him
leaving as lasting impression in his time here as Kip Wells, or James Baldwin.


Following Francoeur’s age 20 season for Class A Myrtle
named him the game’s number 14 prospect.  Matt Treanor and Andres Blanco had a combined
total of one season in which they were among the top 14 prospects
for their own


That’s a large reason why the Texas trades for Treanor and
Blanco, two more or less unremarkable National League journeymen who were
picked up from Milwaukee (for infielder Ray Olmedo) and from the Cubs (for a
player still to be named) in late March, right up against a different
roster-finalizing deadline, got only relatively passing mention.  They had little in their past to hang much of
a story on, little was given up to get them, and little (at first) was expected
of them.


All of that is true about Francoeur, other than the past
promise.  He was third in the Rookie of
the Year vote at age 21 – despite not arriving in the big leagues until
July.  He drove in 100 runs in each of
his first two full seasons with the Braves, winning a Gold Glove in the second
of those years.  If you’d asked 100
baseball people then what Francoeur would be at age 26, even the most pessimistic
would have never pegged him for a sub-.300 base-reacher and sub-.700 OPS’er who’d
slide almost all the way through league-wide waivers en route to being traded
to his third team, for an out-of-options infielder that had been designated for
assignment and cleared waivers himself, to fill a bit role on a playoff
contender that may not even lead to a playoff roster spot. 


Treanor and Blanco weren’t career disappointments, and thus
weren’t really news, when they were picked up late in March.  Francoeur has the
Baseball America
past, and the $5 million contract (which will be covered by the Mets while
Texas pays for Arias, essentially), and that’s what makes this trade different
from, say, the addition two weeks ago of Alex Cora, who had been let go by the
Mets himself.


Yet in a couple months, Francoeur will be a 26-year-old, in
good health, non-tendered before getting through his arbitration years.


For now, as rosters expand with the arrival of September,
Francoeur – who was reportedly picked up after efforts to get Boston’s Mike
Lowell or Colorado’s Ryan Spilborghs or the Dodgers’ Reed Johnson were denied,
not to mention the trumped waiver claim on Manny Ramirez – will give the club
some flexibility in a few ways. 


He can make a run at giving Texas the right-handed bat off
the bench that’s been missing.  (He’s
hitting .278/.355/.412 against lefthanders this season, after a .344/.356/.521
slash in 2009.  And for what it’s worth,
though he’s 2 for 12 in his career against C.C. Sabathia, he’s 5 for 8 with a
double and home run off of Andy Pettitte.) 


He’s still playable on an outfield corner (great arm, not
much else). 


Both of those things make it easier to sit (or pinch-hit
for) Julio Borbon against tough lefthanders. 


Down the stretch he’s a guy who can help the Rangers give
Josh Hamilton and his knee some extra down time and avoid having to play David
Murphy every single day. 


Basically, he’s a fallback for an outfield in which every
regular has issues (overall production or splittiness or health).  And his presence on the bench gives the club
more options to match up in key late-inning at-bats, especially with an expanded
roster that’s going to be heavy on extra defenders with not a lot of extra


Plus, not that Jorge Cantu doesn’t have his own future to
play for, but Francoeur has something to prove, especially given his awful
.190/.269/.305 second half and recent ill-advised playing time demands.  He’ll be a free agent this winter, probably needing
a positive finish just to land a big league deal. 


Francoeur has gone, in short order, from a Rookie of the
Year phenom and established pre-arbitration middle-of-the-order threat to an underachieving
player traded for Ryan Church to a role player traded, with cash that wasn’t essential,
for Joaquin Arias.   


He’s not a great player. 
The Rangers aren’t expecting him to be. 
They’re expecting him to be a minor upgrade in limited situations over
some players, an option to lighten the September load on others.  The whole time he’ll try to make a case to be
included in October, when rosters shrink back down to 25.


In other words, he’s less important on this club than
Treanor or Blanco.  Even if the trade to
get him, because of the time of year and the upside he was once thought to
have, generates more ink.





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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
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(c) Jamey Newberg