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Cole fusion.

They didn’t even have to play the X.

If it weren’t for that shiny no-trade clause that allowed Cole Hamels to have the final say in the case of 20 other teams, there would have been 29 of them interested in trading for the lefthander, especially with the Phillies willing to help pay for him to pitch somewhere else.

But there were 20 that had that added hurdle, and in at least one case — Houston — Hamels apparently exercised his right to kill a deal that his club was interested at some level in making.

That left nine teams.  

There were clear contenders: the Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees, Nationals, Cubs, and Mets.

There were teams plainly looking to next year: the Braves and Padres.

And there was Texas.

Whether the others were looking for rentals instead (lower cost in prospects) or focused on different roster needs, none of those nine teams (and presumably some number of teams who were on the no-trade list but undaunted, like the Giants and Red Sox, two clubs Hamels was reportedly willing to go to despite his veto power) were able — or, in the Dodgers’ case, willing — to come up with a collection of cost-controlled talent matching what Texas put on the table.

And yet . . . .

Joey Gallo is still here.

And so is Nomar Mazara.  

And Chi Chi Gonzalez and Luis Ortiz and Luke Jackson and Andrew Faulkner and Brett Martin and Yohander Mendez — and Dillon Tate and Michael Matuella.  

And Lewis Brinson and Ryan Cordell and Jurickson Profar and Hanser Alberto and Yeyson Yrizarri and Michael De Leon.

And, not to be overlooked, Rougned Odor and Delino DeShields and Keone Kela and Nick Martinez and Tanner Scheppers, and Shawn Tolleson, somewhat shockingly a pre-arb guy himself.

They’re all here.

And so are Cole and Yu.

Behind whom will be Derek and Martin, and then someone from a group likely including Chi Chi and Colby and Nick and Nick.  (Maybe even Yovani.) 

That assumes everyone is healthy.

It also assumes Texas is done putting together its stable of 2016 starting pitchers, which is a bad assumption.

Catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, righthanders Justin Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff, and Alec Asher, and lefthander Matt Harrison for lefthanders Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman and an undisclosed amount of cash, believed to be between $9.5 million and $12 million.

I regularly write too much.

This time I won’t write enough.

I could write a couple thousand words each on half the pieces in this deal, but will spare you.  It’s a tremendous validation of the job this organization does on the scouting and player development side, and the Phillies have to be as thrilled with the potential of this deal as the Rangers.

Texas saw Alfaro on the left side of the infielder as a teenager in Colombia, and signed him with the determination to make him a catcher.  That was in 2010.

Williams was drafted in the second round in 2012, and Asher in the fourth round that same year.  It was a draft that also produced Gallo.  And Brinson.  And Kela.  (And Jameis Winston, unsigned.)  And Pat Cantwell and Preston Beck and a handful of other players working their way up the system.

Eickhoff was taken in the 15th round in 2011, sandwiched between Faulkner (14th round) and Ryan Rua (17th) and Nick Martinez (18th).  

Harrison came over in the Mark Teixeira trade in 2007.

And then there was Thompson.

A year and a week ago, Detroit sent Thompson and reliever Corey Knebel to the Rangers for Joakim Soria, whom Texas had signed out of the trainer’s room before the 2013 season.

Knebel (along with Luis Sardinas and Marcos Diplan) was flipped six months later to Milwaukee for Gallardo.

Thompson helped Texas get Hamels.

Think about that sequence.

There aren’t many people who get any more fired up about prospects than I do, but there are many reasons you aim to develop heavy depth on the farm, and one of them is to give yourself a chance to add a player like Cole Hamels without having to commit free agent dollars and years to do it.

According to several local and national reports, when you do the math on the cash the Phillies are including in the deal, plus their 100 percent assumption of Harrison’s contract (nearly $33 million remaining), the Rangers will effectively be on the hook for about $40 million of what Hamels is owed this year and in 2016, 2017, and 2018.  In 2019, Hamels is owed $20 million, with a $6 million buyout — but it vests at $24 million if he’s healthy enough in 2017-18 to hit specified inning totals.

Boiled down, on the assumption that the Rangers wouldn’t get meaningful production out of Harrison going forward (but would still be paying for it), they appear to be getting Hamels for something like $12 million a year for the next three or four full seasons.

In the first two of those seasons, Texas will pay Yu Darvish $10 million and $11 million.

So in 2016, the Rangers will basically pay Hamels and Darvish — two number one starters — a combined $22 million.  And then $23 million in 2017.

What do you think it will take to sign Jeff Samardzija, for instance, this winter?  

Or David Price or Johnny Cueto or Zack Greinke or Jordan Zimmermann, who are more on the Hamels level?  

And how many years will you have to commit?

Remember that Max Scherzer got seven years and $210 million last off-season.  

Jon Lester got six years and $155 million.  

James Shields got $75 million, Ervin Santana got $55 million, and Brandon McCarthy got $48 million, each for four years.  And Rick Porcello got $82.5 million for the same term — starting next year — after extending with Boston the day before his first start this season.  He’s 5-11, 5.81 in 2015.  

Pittsburgh gave Francisco Liriano three years and $39 million last off-season, probably in the neighborhood of what someone’s going to give Gallardo this winter — and not far from what Texas is into Cole Hamels for.

While Hamels would probably get something between the Scherzer and Lester commitments if he were on the open market.

As for the cost in prospects, take a look at what Cincinnati and Detroit are getting from Toronto and Kansas City for two months of Price and Cueto.

Yes, the prospect haul Texas is sending to Philadelphia hurts.  Some of it will hurt less with time, some could hurt more.  

But this isn’t two months of Price, or Cueto, or Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza or Cliff Lee.

This is three full seasons, and maybe four, of an established number one starting pitcher, to put alongside another number one and in front of two young, high ceiling lefthanders in Derek Holland and Martin Perez, to form a front four — an extremely affordable front four — that any club would go to battle with.

And you didn’t play the X. 

In part because you have a farm system deep enough that your third and fourth best prospects are more coveted than many other clubs’ first and second, and in part because, as Buster Olney (ESPN) pointed out, the Phillies “had far less leverage than expected,” especially once Detroit put Price on the market, “and were greatly boxed in by [Hamels’s] no-trade provision.”  

Philadelphia bears responsibility for both — the club didn’t have to give Hamels the no-trade clause and didn’t have to wait as long as it did to move him (Jeff Passan [Yahoo! Sports]: “Two executives earlier this week said [the] Phillies should trade Hamels soon so potential Price availability doesn’t change their market.  Oops.”) — and the Rangers, because of the stable of young players it has acquired and developed, were in a position to take advantage of the spot the Phillies were in.  

The decisive position, as it turns out, and whether that’s because the Dodgers were instead prioritizing Price (whoops) or because they couldn’t line up with the Phillies on names outside of Corey Seager and Julio Urias, whom they reportedly wouldn’t discuss, we may never know.   

Jonah Keri (Grantland) points out that Hamels has not only maintained his velocity as he’s entered his 30’s — he’s actually throwing harder now than he has in at least eight years (he touched 96 in his no-hitter on Saturday), and also missing bats at a greater rate than at any time since 2007.  

Keri’s conclusion: “In short, Hamels was good, he is good, and given his combination of stuff, results, and durability, he projects to keep being good.” 

And super-affordable.

According to Bob Nightengale (USA Today), Michael Young’s former Phillies teammate “was thrilled earlier about potentially going to [the] Rangers.  His wife has relatives living in [the] Dallas area.  Also, no state taxes.”  

That’s good.

I could run down all the great things we all envisioned Alfaro and Williams and Thompson and Eickhoff and Asher doing in Rangers uniforms — I’ve unabashedly done it before — or I could pinpoint the limitations that some scouts red-flag, but the bottom line is the same as always with frontline prospects.  They dash expectations as often as they meet projections, at best.

With his his video game raw tools, Alfaro could develop into the most electric both-sides-of-the-ball catcher since a guy who once played here for a very long time but whose name would be wholly unfair to even mention.

Or he could be Cesar King.

Williams barrels baseballs at dizzying rates with his elite bat speed, but even with improvements this year in his plate approach and defensive instincts, there remain questions as to whether he’ll continue to make the necessary adjustments to fulfill his All-Star ceiling.

But maybe he’ll be a better big leaguer than Mazara.  

(There’s almost no chance Texas was going to keep all three of Mazara, Williams, and Gallo going forward, since all three hit from the left side and the big club already tilts too heavily to the left.)

Some see Thompson as a potential number two starter.  Others believe the fastball-slider combination and the effort in his delivery will ultimately be more suited to late relief.  

Unquestionably, he carried more value this month than he did a year ago at this time.  And I’m a big fan.

But is he Colby Lewis?  Or Thomas Diamond?

Eickhoff and Asher:  Back of the rotation?  Middle of the pen?  Or swingmen whose options put them on the AAA-MLB shuttle into their late 20s?  

Or will one of them turn into Kyle Hendricks, or Tanner Roark? 

And then there’s Harrison.

What a warrior.  The scoreless six he threw in Colorado last week was as uplifting a moment as this season has offered, given what that guy has gone through medically and put himself through to get back, when could have simply collected the guaranteed $40 million-plus he was owed in 2015 through 2018.  We’re all fans and always will be.  Good dude, good pitcher, bad break.

And if things get to a point at which the Phillies view Harrison as a sunk cost and cut ties before his contract expires, there will probably be a non-roster invite to come back to Texas for one last shot, and not just ceremonially.  

The Phillies did well here.  They were willing to eat a ton of money (both Harrison’s contract and the subsidy they sent Texas) in order to load up on talent.  Jim Callis (MLB.com) believes Philadelphia might have added a number two starter (Thompson), two All-Star position players (Alfaro and Williams), and two workhouse starters for the back of the rotation (Eickhoff and Asher) — if they all hit their ceilings.  

They won’t all do that, but the Phillies aren’t having to bank on just one or two players panning out.  There’s quality and quantity in this trade, and Philadelphia acquired that with an infusion of cash — and three-plus years of a number one starter.  

MLB.com revealed an updated list this week of the top 100 prospects in baseball, and no organization had as many as the Rangers’ eight.  Texas has just moved the fourth, fifth, and sixth players on that list (Thompson, number 60 overall; Williams, 64; Alfaro, 69) to get Hamels.  

But the top three (Gallo, 8; Mazara, 17; Tate, 55) weren’t touched, nor were the other two on the list (Brinson, 78; Ortiz, 100) in completing the deal.  

Mike Ferrin (MLB Network Radio) tweeted: “Not sure there’s another organization that could send away that much talent and keep [its] top two bats.  Testament to [the] Rangers organization.”  

Of course, the only rankings that matter are the ones on the whiteboards in the front office you’re dealing with, and maybe the Phillies evaluated Thompson, Williams, and Alfaro even higher in the Texas system, and might have had Eickhoff and Asher in their own top 100 mix, even if MLB.com didn’t.  

But I’m thrilled Texas came away with the most valuable trade asset on the market without having to move Gallo, or Mazara, or Brinson, or Gonzalez, or Ortiz.  Especially with a number of teams (understandably) in the mix, and with the Phillies willing to kick in cash, I’m a little surprised that Mazara in particular wasn’t an insistence on Philadelphia’s part.

It just speaks to the depth in prospects that the Rangers are able to get business done with, and if most of the prospects going to Philadelphia reach their projections, that’s fine.  I’d rather trade a guy too soon and see things work out for the other team than fail to trade him before it’s too late to get much value out of him, on the field or on the trade market.  The last thing we’d want as Rangers fans would be for this club’s traded prospects to regularly prove to be mirages.

The Diekman piece in this trade is a bigger deal than getting Mark Lowe tacked onto Cliff Lee was five years ago.  The big reliever throws 97 from the left side, combines it with a wipeout slider, and keeps the ball on the ground.  Command has been an issue, and his 2015 numbers (5.15 ERA, 24 walks in 36.2 innings) aren’t pretty, but he figured some things out after an early-June demotion to AAA.  Sent down with a 6.75 ERA (.292/.417/.449 slash), he spent a week in the International League and came back strong.  Since returning on June 18, Diekman has held hitters to a .233/.313/.317 slash, with 20 strikeouts and seven walks in 15.1 frames (2.93 ERA).  

Texas controls the 28-year-old for three seasons (via arbitration) after this one.

(I mentioned Diekman at the end of the second of the four JD-Ruben phone call reenactments.  Several readers asked yesterday if I would send links out to all four of them.  Here you go:

The Diekman acquisition is a quiet aspect of the trade, but it could end up big over these next three-plus years.

Is Gallardo the next to go?  He’s slated to start tonight, and the non-waiver trade deadline is tomorrow afternoon.  Texas stands to recoup a supplemental first-round draft pick (and the associated bonus pool money) if he finishes the season here and declines a qualifying one-year offer from the Rangers before signing elsewhere this winter.  Clubs know they’ll need to offer the Rangers something today or tomorrow that’s more valuable than the supplemental first, or Texas will have no incentive to move him.

The Dodgers and Blue Jays had reportedly shown interest in Gallardo before addressing the rotation elsewhere.  The Cubs and Yankees and Giants have been mentioned, and a good showing against New York tonight certainly can’t hurt, especially with today’s news that Michael Pineda is headed to the DL with a forearm strain.

Gallardo has limited no-trade protection, but reportedly said he was willing to waive it had talks progressed with Toronto.  Whether he’s open to waiving it in all cases remains to be seen.  

Maybe Gallardo will move on by dinner time tomorrow.  Maybe the Rangers will acquire a right-handed bat.  Maybe there’s something else cooking that will catch us completely off guard.

But if not, it’s been an exceptionally good trade deadline for Texas, to the extent that those can be graded right away.

It would have been fantastic if the Hamels trade happened with Texas four games up on the division rather than four games back in the Wild Card chase.  

But it’s a great thing that, even in the midst of a season that hasn’t met expectations at this point, the Rangers remained aggressive with an eye toward improving the team they’ll field over the next few years.  I’d rather be a fan of a team that goes for it than one that freezes up.

Texas played ball in a big way on Wednesday, and Cole Hamels is a Ranger.

As is Nomar.  As is Joey.  

As is Yu.

This franchise is deep enough in young talent that they didn’t have to play the X, not even for a controllable, affordable, established ace, which makes it look more and more like those X pieces are going to stay right here, eventually playing right field and third base behind a proven big league number one, and another one of those.

Yesterday’s trade was several years of exceptional scouting and player development in the making, and executed by a front office that’s as creative and aggressive as they get, and today, with the reality that Cole Hamels is a Texas Ranger settling in, the result of a move that didn’t compromise the top of the prospect inventory or set the club back financially the way that acquiring multiple years of an ace should, I’m having a hard time feeling like this was anything but an awesome opportunity to take advantage of, an opportunity that Texas alone was able to create for itself. 

Ruben, Jon, and Cole, v.4.

Ring tone sounds (“Unforgettable,” by N.K. Cole).  Ruben picks up his phone.

 

“Deal?”

 

“Deal.”

 

[#synchronizedmoustachetwirl]

[Scene.]

Dallas Pelicans 11U (Majors/AAA) Fall 2015 Tryouts

As with the post last week, this momentary tangent might interest you only if you have a son who will be an 11U ballplayer this fall and next spring, or know of one.  

As far as the Rangers are concerned, you can count on another busy day on the rumor mill and maybe more, and there’s also very good news on the minor league affiliation front.  I’ll get to that later today or tomorrow — and will certainly blast the list if there’s breaking news at any point in the meantime.

For now, however, for those of you who know of a very good ballplayer in the North Texas area heading into the 11U age bracket, the following may be of interest.  Thanks.

** Dallas Pelicans 11U (Majors/AAA) Fall 2015 Tryouts **

The Dallas Pelicans 11U (Majors/AAA) Select tournament team will conduct tryouts to complete our roster for the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 seasons.  If your son (DOB 5/1/04 or later) is a frontline ballplayer interested in an opportunity to join our team, please plan to attend — tryouts will be at 6:45 p.m. on both Sunday, August 2 and Tuesday, August 4, at Richardson High School, 1250 W. Belt Line Road, Richardson, TX 75080.  It is not necessary to attend both sessions, though it’s optional to do so. 

If you have questions or want more details, please contact Jamey Newberg at JNewberg@vilolaw.com or GJSneaker@sbcglobal.net or 214-392-3968.  

In our two years of existence, the Pelicans have played strictly tournament ball at the AAA and Majors levels, winning 70 games and losing only 25.  In 2014, we finished the season taking second place in the 76-team AAYBA World Series, which featured teams from Texas and neighboring states.  In 2015, we took third place in the same World Series, this time featuring 62 teams.

We have had tremendous success in our two years of play and are looking to build on that.  We have our own dedicated facilities at Richardson High School and one of the finest head coaches in North Texas, Mike Tovar, the varsity head coach at RHS.  Coach Tovar has 30 years of coaching experience, and his mission as far as select baseball is concerned is to develop our players, starting at this age, into impact high school players, if not more, capable of playing multiple positions.  Our pitching coach, Chris Callicutt, pitched four years of college ball and has been a tremendous addition to the Pelicans this past year.  

The Pelicans pride ourselves on putting our uniform on good kids from good families, athletes with strong baseball IQ and character and a willingness to work and grow as baseball players and teammates.  (Allowances are made for multi-sport athletes who are playing other sports in the fall.)  Emphasis is on learning to compete and to play the game right and with respect.  Your son will be challenged to reach the next level, constantly.  

Once again, for more information regarding our program or philosophy, or questions regarding tryouts, please contact Jamey Newberg at JNewberg@vilolaw.com or GJSneaker@sbcglobal.net or 214-392-3968.  If you will let us know in advance that you’re planning to come on Sunday and/or Tuesday, it will shorten the process for you once you arrive — if you don’t reach out to us in advance, please consider arriving at 6:30 so we can get some information from you.  

Thanks.

 

Jamey Newberg

Dallas Pelicans-Tovar 11U

Ruben, Jon, and Cole, v.3.

Ring tone sounds (“Canary in a Coal Mine” by the Police).  Ruben picks up his phone.

“R.A.J. here, yo.  Who dis?”  

“Enough, Ruben.” 

“Jon!  What up, Broseph?!?  Thanks for calling back!  Cole pitched yesterday.” 

“Yeah, man.  I know.  Whatcha got, Ruben?” 

“He was really good and now I want a lot more for him.”  

“Ruben, you didn’t say you’d take less after those two eggs he laid the two times before.” 

“I didn’t?”  

“We’ve gone down this path, and you know what we’ll give up and what we won’t.”   

“But!”  

“Deal with us or don’t.  We both need to move on.”  

“All the writers are saying you guys are the frontrunners!”  

“Are we?” 

“I think I need to ask Pat and Andy that.” 

“Have you?” 

“Have I what?” 

[silence]

“One of those writers, Ken Something, said he has sources telling him there’s ‘momentum building toward [a] Hamels trade’ and that ‘offers have improved since [the] no-hitter’ and that ‘teams [are] asking for less money [and] offering better players.’  Like how I added those bracket-y things?”  

“I have a good idea where that source came from, Ruben.”  

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Chief.” 

“Why’d you call, Ruben?” 

“Dodgers! Cubs! Giants! Yankees! Red Sox!” 

“Yes?”  

“Dodgers!”  

“What if Friedman is targeting a reunion with Price?  Would cost less since he’s a rental, plus I bet they think they can extend him in the winter.  Stark says they’re the favorites along with us on Cole — this makes more sense for us because we’re more focused on the long term that LA is.  They’re in on rental pitchers we’d never consider.  They’re also interested in Gallardo and he’d cost exponentially less in prospects.”  

“Gallardo has had a couple rough ones lately.” 

“As did Cole, before yesterday.”  

“Cubs!!”  

“What if Maddon is pushing for Price?  Or Shields?”  

“Giants!!!”  

“No-trade clause.  Red Sox, too.”  

“Oh.”  

“And the Yankees can’t give you what you want, especially if Severino and Judge and Bird are off the table.”  

“Oh.”  

[#moustache

“Hey, Boss, there’s a local writer here in Philly, Jim Salisbury or something, who just wrote: ‘For beleaguered general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who did not accompany the team to Chicago, Christmas came on July 25.’  A couple things about that, Dude, just so you don’t get the wrong idea . . . . ”   

“OK.”  

“First, who’s he calling a B Leaguer?  I played in THE BIGS, man.” 

[silence

“Second, I didn’t understand the Christmas thing, but Pat told someone at the Hall of Fame ceremonies that Cole’s ‘price just went up’ after his no-hitter.  Did you know Cole threw a no-hitter?”  

[silence

“Anyway, I asked Andy what that meant and he said that’s what the Christmas thing was about.  I have no idea what he’s talking about but I wanted to make sure you knew I don’t really think yesterday was Christmas.”  

“OK, man.  Gotcha.” 

“Trade for Cole, Jon.  [sobs]  Get him out of the National League, Jon.” 

“Well, I can help you out there, but you gotta help me, too.”  

“I know he hasn’t pitched well lately — I saw his ERA is 8.22 over his last three starts . . . ”    

“Yeah, well . . . ”   

“I know he’ll bounce back, Jon.  He’s a good pitcher.  He’s good at pitching.”  

“Agree.” 

“He’s nails in the post-season!”  

“Right.”  

“And I know he threw 129 pitches yesterday, but know what he did last time he followed up a 120-pitch effort?”  

“Tell me.”  

“Not sure.  Was hoping you could tell me.”  

“There are websites, Ruben.”  

“What does 7-4-0-0-1-12 mean, Boss?”  

“Is that what he did after his last 120-pitch game?”  

“Yes.” 

[silence

“Last year he hit 120 pitches four times.  The totals for the four starts after those: 29.2-19-4-4-5-35.  I don’t think that’s terrible.” 

[silence

“Nomar Mazara homered yesterday, Jon.” 

“I know.” 

“Give him to me!!” 

“Don’t think so, Ruben.  But what’s the whole deal?  Money too.” 

“You think I’m gonna tell you that?!?”  

“That’s how this works.” 

[silence

[silence]

“The writers in your town are saying the deal would have to include Mazara or Alfaro.”   

“Is that true?”  

“You think I’m gonna tell you that?!?”  

“Ruben.”  

“Jeff Passan says the ‘industry sentiment has Rangers as favorites for Cole Hamels.  Long-term motivation, prospects to swing a deal, and Hamels can’t block trade.’  How about that?” 

“It’s sort of up to you, Ruben.” 

“That Salisbury dude says you guys are in the lead on this.  So does Danny Knobler.”  

“Again, Ruben . . . . ”  

“Johnny Cueto is off the market — one less pitcher I gotta compete with!”   

“And one less team that the Dodgers, Cubs, Giants, Yankees, and Red Sox have to compete with to get their guy.”  

“Oh.”  

“See what the Reds got for Cueto?”  

“Yep.  Solid haul.”  

“I’m offering a better package.”  

“As you should.”  

“As I have.”  

“And that Ken guy wrote that Houston had a scout at Cole’s game yesterday, too.  He said the Astros are ‘staying on [the] periphery, knowing that not many teams can offer what [the] Phillies want.’  Houston, too, Jon — they’re in!”  

“Ruben.”  

“Yes?”  

“One, no-trade clause.  Two, circle back on the last part of Rosenthal’s comment.  That’s my leverage, not yours.”  

“What-ev’s.” 

[A different voice is heard.  Quiet.  Almost a whisper.]  

Jon.”  

“Yes?”  

It’s Cole.”  

“Hey, man.  Nice job yesterday.”  

Get me out of here, Jon.”  

“We’re trying to line up, Cole.  Up to your bosses if it works out.” 

Get me out of here, Jon.  Play the X.”    

“Looking at it, man.”  

I want to play with Yu, man.”  

“That would be the idea.  Hear ya.”  

My next start is Friday.  The trade deadline expires a few hours before it.  Get me out of here.” 

“We want you here, man.  If it makes sense.”  

Ruben is twirling my moustache.  Get me out of here.  And make Ruben stop twirling my moustache. 

“Working on it.” 

[scampering metal cleats heard, at diminishing volumes

“Jon, still there?”  

“Never left, Ruben.”  

“Back atcha in a bit — got a couple national writers to go feed first!”  

“I’ll be here.” 

** Dallas Pelicans 11U (AAA/Majors) Fall 2015 Tryouts **

This will only interest you if you have a son who will be an 11U ballplayer this fall and next spring, or know of one.  

For everyone else, I’ll have a TROT COFFEY rumor dump out later this morning, or possibly around lunchtime.

** Dallas Pelicans 11U (AAA/Majors) Fall 2015 Tryouts **

The Dallas Pelicans 11U (AAA/Majors) Select tournament team is conducting tryouts on a private workout basis to complete our roster for the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 seasons.  (A public tryout may follow soon if the roster is not completed by way of the private workouts.)  If your son (DOB 5/1/04 – 4/30/05) is a frontline ballplayer interested in an opportunity to join our team, please contact Jamey Newberg at JNewberg@vilolaw.com or GJSneaker@sbcglobal.net or 214-392-3968.  

In our two years of existence, the Pelicans have played strictly tournament ball at the AAA and Majors levels, winning 70 games and losing only 25.  In 2014, we finished the season taking second place in the 76-team AAYBA World Series, which featured teams from Texas and neighboring states.  In 2015, we took third place in the same World Series, this time featuring 62 teams.

We have had tremendous success in our two years of play and are looking to build on that.  We have our own dedicated facilities at Richardson High School and one of the finest head coaches in North Texas, Mike Tovar, the varsity head coach at RHS.  Coach Tovar has 30 years of coaching experience, and his mission as far as select baseball is concerned is to develop our players, starting at this age, into impact high school players, if not more, capable of playing multiple positions.  Our pitching coach, Chris Callicutt, pitched four years of college ball and has been a tremendous addition to the Pelicans this past year.  

The Pelicans pride ourselves on putting our uniform on good kids from good families, athletes with strong baseball IQ and character and a willingness to work and grow as baseball players and teammates.  (Allowances are made for multi-sport athletes who are playing other sports in the fall.)  Emphasis is on learning to compete and to play the game right and with respect.  Your son will be challenged to reach the next level, constantly.  

Once again, for more information regarding our program or philosophy, or questions regarding tryouts, please contact Jamey Newberg at JNewberg@vilolaw.com or GJSneaker@sbcglobal.net or 214-392-3968.  Thanks.

Jamey Newberg

Dallas Pelicans-Tovar 11U

A Bengie and a Sikorski.

It was July 16, 2010, and it was one of those moments in Rangers history that we’ll never forget.

The Bengie.

A month short of a decade earlier, on August 16, 2000, there was another landmark Rangers moment that may not have the staying power but will stick with me forever.

The Sikorski.

Last night we were treated, sort of, to both.

The odds of a Shin-Soo Choo cycle, objectively speaking, shouldn’t be as long as they were for the comically slow Bengie Molina, whose 13-year career included six triples (Choo has 24 in 11 seasons), but the way Choo has been going at the plate, extra-base hits and multi-hit games of any sort have felt like longshots lately, and with Choo due to lead off the ninth, needing just the three-bagger, and Delino DeShields slated to hit fourth in the frame, lacking just a home run for his own cycle, I know which of the two I had greater hopes for.

Brian Sikorski threw seven scoreless innings against the juggernaut Yankees in what was the smallish right-handed journeyman’s big league debut, a feat he wouldn’t come close to replicating in any of his remaining four big league starts, though I haven’t taken the time to check in on any of the 10 seasons he spent pitching in Japan.

Matt Harrison dealing six scoreless at Coors Field isn’t the same thing, of course, on any number of levels, but the odds of him ever pitching again after what he’s gone through medically, and then putting up a string of zeroes like that in just his second start back, in that ballpark with that stuff, couldn’t have been much more predictable a year ago, or probably even a week ago, than what Sikorski did in his 26-year-old debut.

The rumor artillery has the Rangers very much in on Cole Hamels (with the Dodgers, Cubs, and Astros most notably in the mix), listening concomitantly on Yovani Gallardo, and “drawing significant interest” (according to Fox Sports columnist Ken Rosenthal) in Mitch Moreland, though they “aren’t motivated to trade him [and] likely would want at least a young starting pitcher” in return.  

But, man, a Bengie and a Sikorski on the same night?  Very cool distraction.

Evan Grant (Dallas Morning News) thinks the Phillies, for Hamels, would be willing to take two of Nomar Mazara, Jorge Alfaro, and Chi Chi Gonzalez, plus “something below it.” 

Two front office members and three scouts were asked by Baseball Prospectus’s Christopher Crawford which corner outfielder prospect in baseball they would take to start a franchise with.  

Four of the five said Mazara (the fifth had him as his runner-up).

I would like to trade for Hamels and his 2016, 2017, 2018, and possibly 2019 seasons.  Give me a starting five of Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, and maybe Chi Chi Gonzalez, maybe Jake Thompson, maybe Nick Martinez, maybe Jerad Eickhoff, maybe Alec Asher.

Maybe Matt Harrison.

Let’s go.

I want Hamels for those three or four seasons, and I want Nomar Mazara playing behind him and hitting in support.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I think Texas can put together a package for Hamels that doesn’t include Mazara and doesn’t include Gonzalez and doesn’t include Rougned Odor or Joey Gallo and would still be painful for another team to beat.

But yeah, maybe I’m crazy.

But I doubt as crazy as a Bengie and a Sikorski on the same night.

YOLO.

I stretched out, motionless, in the pool, having given up on Dallas Keuchel and Will Little’s masterpiece two runs shy of its final, and as I settled in towards the second nap of the day, I thought.

I thought about advancing the ball in a couple of the cases I’m handling, and advancing the ball with our select baseball team.  I thought about what I wanted to write next.  About Pluto.  About dinner.

And about what Yovani Gallardo might have been thinking about.

It was a third straight lackluster effort for the 29-year-old, following a run of eight starts (0.88 ERA, .169/.236/.186 opponents’ slash) in which few other than Zack Greinke were better, and it comes at a time when the Rangers are trying to right themselves against an important baseball clock and when Gallardo has to be thinking about that clock himself.

Whether the righthander wants to be here in 2016 or not, he would stand to benefit from spending the end of this season elsewhere — as long as he pitches well (though that’s true whether he remains a Ranger or not) — because if he’s traded, it eliminates the possibility that he can be tendered a qualifying offer this winter and as a result it opens up his market.  Teams eyeing the crop of free agent starters this off-season will factor in which of them will cost them a first- or second-round pick, and which won’t.  

Gallardo becomes more valuable if the team he finishes the season with can’t attach a draft pick to his price tag by tendering an offer.  And if he doesn’t pitch for the same team all year, a qualifying offer is prohibited.

He can always come back — if he and the Rangers both want that — whether he finishes 2015 here or somewhere else.

Gallardo’s next start, presumably Saturday in Anaheim, is big.  It’s big because Texas has a week and a half to figure some important things out, and because Gallardo has a chance to impact the biggest contract of his career, the latter of which may actually not be true but I bet it’s something he ponders as he lays in a pool, thinking.

Six great weeks aren’t erased by one mediocre start, or three, but the reality is there’s a snapshot box that, right or wrong, scouts and GM’s do tend to check off — Matt Garza was on a 5-0, 1.24 (.210/.264/.302) run over six starts when the Cubs got C.J. Edwards, Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm, and Mike Olt for him two years ago — and it does tend to drive teams wanting to believe they’re getting a guy who’s locked in.

Gallardo hasn’t pitched in the post-season in four years and I’m sure, like any veteran staring at 30, getting back there is near the top of the list of his baseball priorities.  He might welcome a trade over the next 11 days because it would theoretically thrust him more decisively into a pennant race.  He might welcome a trade because it would make him more marketable this winter, as long as he does his job on the mound in the meantime.

The one thing Gallardo can control before the season ends, to a point, is how he performs.  He’ll get his next chance this weekend against the Angels (who, as far as I can tell, is one of only two teams he’s never faced), and then once more against the Yankees in Arlington before the Rangers’ best chance to move him, if that’s their objective, hits its procedural deadline.

There’s no guarantee these next two Gallardo starts will come in a Texas uniform, of course.  But he’s probably not the first choice in this market for contending teams hunting arms, and even if he’s Door Number Two or Three for someone out there, those teams will probably want to see him in Anaheim, at least, while they work the phones on pitchers like Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir and maybe even David Price and James Shields.  

Interesting week and a half ahead.  For the team and its best pitcher.

Leadership.

Apologies for being so absent lately.  

I’ve seen a whole lot of baseball these last eight days — most of it spectacularly good, with a dose of awful sprinkled in that’s easily washed off — and I should be back now to my semi-normal (that is, predictably erratic) perch at a keyboard, as one of big league baseball’s most meaningful calendar circles approaches.

I want to congratulate the 10 boys who have grown so much in the game of baseball under the guidance of Coach Mike Tovar and Coach Chris “Chilli” Callicutt, learning about technique and about approach, and about character and integrity, all of which persists in different forms, and will continue to pay off between the lines, and in so many other ways whenever it is that each of them is done suiting up, and one day finds himself teaching his own kids.

The Dallas Pelicans just finished going 7-1 in the AAYBA 10U World Series, earning the number one seed in the Platinum Division out of 62 teams coming out of pool play, and ultimately taking third place overall.  The team scored 52 runs and allowed 12 in those eight games, but there were other awesome moments this week that happened when the scoreboards were turned off, moments of character-building and understanding what it means to respect the game and how to handle when others don’t, that will endure far longer than any of those numbers. 

Hats off to Mike.  

And hats off to Jeff Banister.  

I don’t know if last night’s ninth inning galvanizes this Rangers team, or if over the next week an unwanted reality settles in further and the club ends up moving veterans for prospects in the kind of deal(s) that are aimed primarily improving a season other than 2015, but it further galvanized my own certainty that Texas has the right leading man.

I wanted to title this entry “The Spirit of 7 to 6,” after watching Rougie stepping up and Banny stepping in, but I also wanted to explain for a second why I’ve been away.  

This is another of those reports that I know will mean more to me in five years or 15 than it does to almost all of you this minute.  I know.

But I woke up this morning thinking about baseball — not unusual — and the thing I wanted to say about the two teams I care most about is this:

Give me Mike Tovar.

And give me Jeff Banister.  

Photo: Elaine Bell Payne

Photo: Elaine Bell Payne

Banister Astros

Mid-Summer something-that-rhymes-with-Classic.

So the National League has won three of the last 19 All-Star Games.

Two of which were in 2010 and 2011.

Because of course.

Trading season: What’s the pitch?

Just 25 days ago, the Rangers were half a game out of a Wild Card spot, having won games started by Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale, with Adrian Beltre nearing activation, and Josh Hamilton and Delino DeShields and Matt Harrison and Martin Perez not far behind.

Since then: A 5-15 record, a 5.5-game deficit in the race to be the road team in the Wild Card game, five teams to pass to get there, and an All-Star Break during which we’re talking about selling in a couple weeks, a feeling of sports-gloom that might have been freeze-dried at the moment of one of the worst defensive displays this team has provided in a long time.

Things can reverse quickly — they did in the last 25 days — but front offices aren’t afforded the luxury of that kind of patience in mid-July.  There are 17 days left before impact trades get a lot more difficult.  Teams deciding whether to sell are laying groundwork now to execute on that, even if fortunes begin to change and they end up choosing a different direction.

Padres GM A.J. Preller said something interesting to the San Diego media last week, at a time when his club was a few games further from a playoff spot than Texas was: “I think it’s that type of year where you’re evaluating and the focus is on being prepared for the next three weeks and being prepared for different scenarios.  It’s not a record thing from our standpoint, but what the value is on the market, if we think there’s going to be good deals, whether that’s adding to the club or changing the look of the club a little bit, that’s what this time of year is for.  We’re still in the process of evaluating that.” 

This is not to suggest that the Padres are in the same immediate or big-picture situation as Texas is — they are not — and it’s not to suggest that Preller and Daniels see things the same way just because they operated in the same war rooms here for years, but there’s a point there that must be factored in.

Those Bleacher Report lists and Sunday notes columns drive traffic, but to label teams as “buyers” or “sellers” this time of year is something that reporters and bloggers are generally quicker to do than general managers. 

That is, there’s no reason Texas couldn’t trade Wandy Rodriguez for a second-tier prospect even if it was on a 15-5 run right now and marching toward the playoffs, rather than the opposite.

And, flagging as the club is right now, it can’t be ruled out that the Rangers attempt to package four prospects for Cole Hamels, even if the mirror tells baseball operations this isn’t the year for the club on the field.  

EndFragment

Just a week ago, Scott Miller (Bleacher Report) predicted, based on “sources familiar with the Phillies’ thinking,” that the Dodgers were most likely to land Hamels, followed by the Rangers, and then the Yankees.  All three teams are outside the lefthander’s limited no-trade protection, thus unimpeded from making a trade, at least procedurally.

As for the other hurdle — the cost — who knows?  Ruben Amaro Jr. has to get this trade right, assuming he’s even calling the shots now that Andy MacPhail has arrived.  

Before the 2008 season MacPhail, then Baltimore’s GM, traded 28-year-old left-handed starter Erik Bedard, coming off a top 5 Cy Young finish, to Seattle.  In return, he got 22-year-old outfielder Adam Jones, who’d had Mariners cups of coffee in 2006 and 2007; blue chip minor league prospect Chris Tillman, who at age 19 was ready for AA; set-up reliever George Sherrill, who would close games for the Orioles for two seasons; and two other prospects.

Baltimore has gotten six All-Star Games out of Jones and one out of Tillman, and got one out of Sherrill before flipping him for prospects a year and a half later.

Bedard, beset by shoulder injuries, pitched three half-seasons for Seattle over four years.  But that’s beside the point.

The Phillies have to do better with Hamels than the Orioles did with Bedard, and they probably will — as long as they decide once and for all to move him.

But looking at Bedard’s February 2008 market isn’t really fair or instructive, because landscapes change in terms of the value of prospects and player control.  (Hamels is under contract for 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, with a 2019 club option that could vest.)  In a sense, there’s never been a player like Hamels, at his age and his track record with his controllability and the amount of dollars the Phillies might have to kick in to get the players they want.

Still, market parameters get set, and while February 2008 is ancient baseball trade history, last July isn’t, and it might be worth looking at what starting pitchers fetched in trade a year ago.

The Cubs traded righthanders Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and Dan Straily (a terrible A’s deal out-terribled only by their Josh Donaldson trade with Toronto four months later).  

(Oakland moved Samardzija a month after dealing Donaldson, sending the righthander to the White Sox for Marcus Semien and three lessers.  The Cubs signed Hammel back in the winter, with the A’s getting no compensation since he’d been with them for less than a complete season.)

Boston traded lefthander Jon Lester (and corner bat Jonny Gomes) to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes.

Boston also traded righthander Jake Peavy to San Francisco for lefthander Edwin Escobar and righthander Heath Hembree.

Boston also traded righthander John Lackey, along with lefthander Corey Littrell, to St. Louis for righthander Joe Kelly and corner bat Allen Craig, but the money in that deal (especially Lackey’s and Craig’s) makes that one almost useless as precedent.

The Rays traded lefthander David Price in a three-team deal with Detroit and Seattle that netted them lefthander Drew Smyly and infielders Willy Adames and Nick Franklin.

Arizona traded righthander Brandon McCarthy to the Yankees for lefthander Vidal Nuno.  

Cleveland traded righthander Justin Masterson to St. Louis for outfielder James Ramsey.  

Oakland traded lefthander Tommy Milone to Minnesota for outfielder Sam Fuld.  

Houston traded righthander Jarred Cosart, infielder Kike Hernandez, and outfielder Austin Wates to Miami for outfielder Jake Marisnick, third baseman Colin Moran, high-end pitching prospect Francis Martes, and the competitive balance draft pick the Astros would use to take outfielder Daz Cameron last month.  

Relievers:

Boston traded lefty Andrew Miller to Baltimore for impressive young southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez.

San Diego shipped righties Huston Street and Trevor Gott to the Angels, who somehow got the deal done by casting off four basically ordinary minor leaguers to the Padres.

Texas traded righty Joakim Soria to Detroit for righthanders Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel (the latter of whom the Rangers used to get Yovani Gallardo later from Milwaukee), and righty Jason Frasor to Kansas City for righty Spencer Patton.

What does the above tell us about Hamels’s market?  Is he worth parting with Nomar Mazara and Jorge Alfaro, which Jon Heyman (CBS Sports) suggests Philadelphia has asked for?  Has Nick Williams’s season — including an insanely hot July (.440/.481/.640 and an eye-opening Futures Game showing) — don’t discount that, as silly-small as the samples are — enabled Texas to market him on Mazara’s tier, or close enough to it to change the conversation?  

Could Texas go in the other direction and see if Gallardo can attract a package like the one the A’s gave up for Samardzija and Hammel, or the one the Marlins gave up for Cosart?  Gallardo’s situation isn’t really similar to Samardzija/Hammel or Cosart — or Hamels — but he’s pitching extremely well and eating innings, and in July that’s worth a lot to a contender.  His value has to be more right now than the Knebel-Luis Sardinas-Marcos Diplan package Texas gave up to get him, and more than the supplemental first-round pick the club could get by not trading him and tendering a qualifying offer this winter, should he sign somewhere else.

And if the Rangers trade Gallardo, they could sign him right back in the winter without losing a draft pick, just as the Cubs did with Hammel last winter.

Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports) suggests trading Gallardo while also acquiring Hamels can’t be ruled out.

Look at what McCarthy was doing at the time the Diamondbacks moved him for Nuno.  Could Texas get something useful for Rodriguez, who’s been very good away from Arlington and who pitched a pretty good game at home on Friday?

Where does James Shields fit in all of this?

Jon Daniels told reporters that he’s looking for a right-handed bat and help in the bullpen right now, both of which make clear sense.

But it also makes sense, this time of year, to look hard at trades involving starting pitchers, whether you’ve got one or two to move or a couple you’ve got your eyes on picking up.

Over the last few weeks, the prospects for 2015 have grown dimmer in Arlington, presumably forcing the Rangers to think about shopping frontline pitching rather than adding it.  We’re at the point on the calendar when decisions along those lines need to be made.

But the lines aren’t as bright as they might seem, and as the evaluation process moves forward, give the Rangers’ needs in the short term and long, and where their excesses are, the question this July is probably less whether Texas is a buyer or seller, and more whether this is a year in which the club could be both, and impactfully so.

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