Author Archive

Wins.

Half of their hits came in the ninth.

And three of their four runs.

It was the Rangers’ fifth win when trailing as the ninth inning started.

That leads the Major Leagues.

So does their 34 comeback victories.

Which accounts for more than half of the win total (66) that paces the American League by three, and is less only than the Cubs.

More than half.

Incredible . . . but maybe less so than scoring nearly half the game’s runs in the top of the ninth last night, a ballgame as well as the latest statement in a season befitting of Jeff Banister’s and this team’s hashtagged mantra.

Awesome.

The present lineup of auction and raffle prizes for Newberg Report Night (Day) this Sunday, August 14 at Globe Life Park:

* Autographed Pudge Rodriguez baseball

* Autographed Michael Young baseball 

* Autographed Bob Feller baseball

* Autographed Cole Hamels baseball

* Autographed Juan Gonzalez bat

* Autographed Jurickson Profar bat 

*  Lunch or dinner with Brad Sham at Cane Rosso (up to 12 people)

*  In-game visit to Rangers radio broadcast and game tickets, visit to BP, and dinner in press box (up to 4 people) 

* Pregame meet-up with Jeff Banister for four, including game tickets and one signed Banister bobblehead 

* Behind-the-scenes home game experience with Rangers field reporter Emily Jones, including game tickets, dinner in press box and TV booth visit (up to 4 people)

* Behind-the-scenes Ballpark experience with Rangers pre-/postgame TV host Dana Larson (up to 4 people)

* RoughRiders experience package: includes Lazy River party for 25, including ceremonial first pitch, pregame BP viewing, 10 RoughRiders baseballs, and 10 RoughRiders mini-bats (available in 2017 or mutually convenient date for 2016) 

* Studio sit-in with Ben and Skin (105.3 The Fan), followed by dinner at Shooter’s (up to 4 people)

*  Studio sit-in with BAD Radio (Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket), including lunch catered by Cane Rosso (up to 4 people)    

*  Studio sit-in with Norm Hitzges & Donovan Lewis (Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket), including pre-show prep session and station tour (up to 4 people)    

* Studio sit-in and station tour with the Hardline (Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket) (up to 6 people)

* In-studio dinner and game-watching with Diamond Talk hosts Sean Bass and Ty Walker (Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket) (up to 4 people)

* Autographed Darvish jersey, with custom framing 

* Dallas Wings team-signed basketball plus four game tickets

* Framed Michael Young piece, with piece of game-used ball 

* Framed Ian Kinsler piece, with piece of game-used ball 

* Four seats in Section 23 for August 25 Rangers game 

* Framed Josh Hamilton piece, with facsimile signature 

* Game-used seat back with image of Nolan Ryan, President George H.W. Bush, and President George W. Bush  

* Extra-life-size Limited Edition Power Ranger (six feet tall), brand new from creator

* The two “Grubes” seats in front row behind home plate, plus pregame buffet for two, for future game  

* Four “Grubes” seats in rows 2 and 3 for future game   

* Lunch with Grubes 

* Lunch for four from Rudy’s BBQ during on-site Dunham & Miller (Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket) remote on August 31 

* Newberg Report Bound Editions from the two Rangers World Series seasons

* Two tickets 11 rows directly behind home plate for that day’s Rangers game

* Gift cards to Rudy’s BBQ (four separate winners)

If you have anything you’d like to donate to the event to be raffled or auctioned off to raise money for the Dallas Police Department foundation and the Felomina family, please let me know as soon as possible.

I’m asked this every year — you have to be present to bid on auction items and participate in the raffle.  It’s a benefit of signing up to attend.  If you won’t be at the event but wish to support the Felomina family or Assist the Officer, please email me and I will let you know how you can go about doing that.

The sponsors for this year’s Newberg Report Night (Day) event are:

🔹Paranoid Fan (www.paranoidfan.com @paranoidfan)

🔹Frisco RoughRiders
🔹The Vested Group (www.thevested.com @thevestedgroup)
🔹Donna & David Gamble of SFMG Wealth Advisors
🔹Craig & Brooke Couch of Couch & Russell Financial Group
🔹The Law Office of Greg Jackson, PLLC
🔹Mark & Barbara Maness
🔹Cary DeLong, Tonya Britton, & Meaghan DeLong

There’s only one way to win a two-game series.

And you’ve gotta start by scoring more than the other guys in Game One, as improbable as that might have seemed.

Let’s go, A.J. Griffin.

Catcher.

Yesterday was mostly about Yu Darvish, who was crazy great, scattering five Houston hits in seven scoreless and walkless innings, punching out eight — every one of them swinging.  

On a day when Texas seemingly had men all over the bases every inning, the Astros managed to get two runners to second and one to third over Darvish’s seven frames.

It was also about Ian Desmond coming up big in the 11th, driving in the decisive run in what would be his first two-hit game in a week and a half.

There was Jurickson Profar, delivering two hits of his own after sitting three straight days, the first driving in two big runs in the eighth and the second setting up an insurance run in the 11th.

Which was driven in by Rougned Odor, on his third hit of the day.

Which Matt Bush made stand up with his huge relief effort, facing nine Astros in the two extra innings, starting every one of them off with a strike, and earning the win after none of them crossed the plate.

Big credit to all those guys, and to Delino DeShields, whose effort in the eighth inning — six-pitch leadoff walk, jog to second on Choo hit-by-pitch, steal of third on 2-1 count to Desmond, tremendous work on the 4-2-5 rundown that allowed Choo to take third and Desmond to get all the way to second — set up the massive Profar knock, even if very little of it shows up in the box score.

With all that, another Dang Series Won.  Which effectively gives Texas home field over Houston in the unlikely instance that it’s needed in October.

Speaking of things that don’t show up in the box score, though, one of the big takeaways for me Sunday — and the Saturday and Thursday and Wednesday and Tuesday before it — was Jonathan Lucroy’s impact on the game.

Never mind the single and run-scoring double, which improved his Rangers slash line to .300/.333/.800 in 21 trips.

What fires me up is the blocking and the framing and the throwing and the athleticism — and the plain conviction with which he calls a game and connects with and leads his pitcher, and the confidence he gives his staff to bury a pitch even with a runner 90 feet away — and let me just say this: 

Though they are wildly different players in wholly different situations and jumped out to tremendously different starts as Rangers, the way I feel about Jonathan Lucroy’s arrival is not a whole lot different from the way I felt when Cliff Lee showed up.

I’d very much like to know whether the Astros (who, like the Rangers and unlike the Indians, were not on Lucroy’s partial no-trade list) called Milwaukee to make a legitimate effort to trade for Lucroy a week ago.

And if so, what they offered.

And if not, why not.

With no disrespect intended toward the guys who have competed behind the plate and helped Texas get to two World Series and play 162+ five times in the last six years, I haven’t been able to write this in a very long time:

Having a great catcher — and I mean an established, versatile, athletic beast of a catcher who’s in command of every phase not only of his game but also that of some of his teammates as well — is a damned baseball pleasure.

 

To finish the job, or start it.

Jeff Luhnow, to the Houston media on Monday: “Texas took three of their top five prospects out of their system to improve today, and that’s a decision they made for their benefit.  We are not prepared to do that for our organization at this point.  I feel like we’ve got a young team that’s going to be here for a while.  We don’t have any windows closing.  We’re just getting into our window, if you want to call it that, and we want to keep it open for as long as possible and have as many shots to go to the playoffs as possible.”

We don’t have any windows closing . . . . 

Colby Rasmus, to the same reporters on the same day: “That shows that [the Rangers are] wanting to go out and better their team.  They’ve already beaten us with what they had.  I don’t doubt . . . that we can beat them on a given day.  But that does show something that they’re going out and doing that.” 

They’re wanting to go out and better their team . . . .  

Carlos Beltran, on being traded to Texas on Monday: “The feeling is that I’ve got to go there and help.  Help as much as I can. . . . It’s fun, honestly. . . . Every game that you play is a meaningful game and you try to continue to win ballgames and increase that lead.”

Win . . . .

Jonathan Lucroy, as part of his lengthy and awesome comments to ESPN about his own trade to the Rangers: “Texas made a sacrifice to bring me in.  They gave up some good prospects.  By making that sacrifice, they’re telling me they need me here to win.  

“When a player’s on a team, wherever it is, you want to have that wanted and needed feeling.  It makes you feel like you’re part of something.  We aren’t in the playoffs yet, but we have all the pieces.  I’m already falling in love with this roster.  We have two players in our lineup who are Hall of Fame guys: Adrian Beltre and Carlos Beltran.  Those two dudes are unbelievable.  I’m honored to play with them, and I know I’m going to be a better baseball player being around them.  I’ve only played on the road for Texas, but I can’t wait to play a home game.

“When I step to the plate there, I’m going to take it all in.  I’m going to take all of this in.  I know I had nothing to do with the Rangers getting to where they are now, but I want to have a lot to do with finishing the job.” 

Yeah, so, all of that . . . .

In the five games Texas has played since the Beltran and Lucroy/Jeremy Jeffress trades, the Rangers have scored only 11 runs. 

Beltran and Lucroy have driven in seven of them.  

Seven of 11.

Those two are hitting .324/.343/.765 in 35 trips to the plate, with four homers.

Last night: 5 for 8, with two Lucroy homers and, together, all three runs driven in to pace the Rangers’ 3-2 win over Houston — not to mention the beast work Lucroy did blocking and framing and throwing all night, in a game in which 15 Astros reached base and 13 hitters stepped in with runners in scoring position.

And for good measure, Jeffress threw the biggest inning of the night, punching out Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve and getting Carlos Correa to roll out to second in the bottom of the seventh inning, nursing a 2-1 lead.

Texas 3, Houston 2 shouldn’t bother the Astros, though — or at least their GM — since neither the loss nor the club’s trade deadline inactivity does anything, evidently, to endanger keeping their window “open for as long as possible and hav[ing] as many shots to go to the playoffs as possible.”

As long as you’re comfy kicking the can, wholly indifferent to the fact that your window’s actually already open.

The importance of Mark Teixeira.

I’ve been doing this for more than 18 years.  I started before Mark Teixeira was a professional baseball player, and there’s at least a decent chance I’ll be doing it after that, too.

Strange feeling.

He and a fellow Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket are the two greatest first-round draft picks in Texas Rangers history, but Teixeira, for me, gets the nod over Kevin Brown not just because of his exceptional career but also because of how he impacted the Rangers in the way that, fair or not, most of us will remember him.

Back when the Newberg Report started in 1998 (the Newberg Minor League Report, actually), I committed to writing seven days a week, mostly about the Rangers’ farm system, and kept that up for years, as we had no kids yet (a poor justification since Mike Hindman and then Scott Lucas would take the minor league recaps on and keep going well into fatherhood).  

Mark Teixeira was the first Rangers minor leaguer who truly justified the floor-it hype that I’d habitually dispensed on the likes of Cesar King and Jovanny Cedeno and (sigh) Ruben Mateo.   

Texas had been a playoff team, finally, in 1996 and 1998 and 1999.  Each October the club had been stepped on and over by the Yankees, and in fact after winning their first-ever playoff game on October 1, 1996, the Rangers dropped the next nine to New York over those three post-seasons.

A month after the 1999 playoffs ended, Texas traded Juan Gonzalez because he wouldn’t take the Larry Walker-like contract (six years and $75 million) the Rangers offered him.  Aaron Sele was gone, John Burkett was gone, and so were Tom Goodwin and Todd Zeile.  The Rangers finished last in the division in 2000 (as they would in 2001 and 2002 and 2003 as well: the A-Rod Years), and as a result of having baseball’s fifth-worst record they were awarded the fifth pick in the June 2001 draft.

Minnesota took Florida State quarterback recruit Joe Mauer first.  The Cubs selected Mark Prior.  Tampa Bay chose Dewon Brazelton and Philadelphia went with Gavin Floyd.

The Rangers chose Mark Teixeira, and just before the minor league seasons ended that summer, inked him to a big league, four-year, $9.5 million contract, $4.5 million of which was his bonus for signing.  He would play 86 minor league games — all in 2002 — before debuting in the big leagues the following April, ranked universally at the time as the number one prospect in baseball.

On April 9, 2003, Teixeira doubled down the left field line off Oakland lefthander Mark Mulder.  

He’d been 0 for 16 as a big leaguer going into that at-bat. 

It was an inauspicious start to a spectacular five-year Rangers run that ended with a .901 OPS (.283/.368/.533), 153 home runs, 499 RBI, two Gold Gloves, and two Silver Slugger awards.

And a monumentally important trade.

Though Teixeira helped breathe new life into a franchise that was fully retrenching after the late-90s playoff years, the Rangers hadn’t finished better than third in the West in his four full seasons here.  

In his fifth, which began with Ron Washington newly at the helm and a teardown blueprint in place upstairs if the season had gotten off to a certain type of start, Texas was 13 games under .500 and in last place in the division on July 31, 15.5 games back, when Jon Daniels, in his second season as Rangers GM, traded Teixeira — even though he was still more than a year away from free agency — to Atlanta, where he’d played his college ball.

Texas, which sent veteran reliever Ron Mahay to the Braves as well, got 18-year-old Class A shortstop Elvis Andrus, 18-year-old Rookie-level righthander Neftali Feliz, 21-year-old AA lefthander Matt Harrison, 22-year-old big league rookie catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and 20-year-old Class A lefthander Beau Jones in return.

The Trade.

A year later, the Braves traded Teixeira badly (to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek), and five months after that he left Los Angeles for the Yankees, the culmination of a fascinating bidding war between New York (where his father John’s high school teammate Bucky Dent had played) and Boston (which had drafted Teixeira out of high school but failed to sign him in what was apparently an ugly negotiation that went public).  The Yankees agreed to pay him $180 million over eight seasons, the eighth of which is this one.  

Teixeira’s Yankees reached the playoffs the first four of his eight seasons there.  He was an iron man, missing almost no time until the final month of that fourth year (2012).  Since then, he has struggled with his health, having played just 327 games over the ensuing three-and-two-thirds seasons.  He didn’t play the one time New York has reached the post-season in that time, which was last year’s Wild Card Game.

Meanwhile, over those same eight years, the Rangers have also reached the playoffs four times.  In the first of those, they slew the Yankees to get to the World Series, in an ALCS whose symbolic weight had more to do with those 1990s playoff series and with Alex Rodriguez than with Teixeira.  In the second of those seasons, Texas reached the World Series again, eliminating the Tigers, who had eliminated New York.

Two straight World Series, with Andrus and Feliz and Harrison at the core.

The Rangers haven’t had as high-profile a drafted player since Teixeira was chosen in 2001.  Justin Smoak (2008) came closest, and he was traded well, too.  

The Mark Teixeira Trade headlined this franchise’s turning point.  It epitomized the concept of the window, which Daniels and his inner circle knew wasn’t going to arrive until after Teixeira had likely moved on via free agency.  

The trade didn’t work out for Atlanta, which missed the playoffs in 2007 and would in 2008 as well, after moving him to the Angels.

Things worked out just fine for Los Angeles, which won 100 games and the West with Teixeira on board (.358/.449/.632) before falling to the Red Sox in the ALDS, a series in which he went 7 for 15 (.467/.550/.467).  

The Angels recouped a draft pick when Teixeira left that winter for the Yankees.

With that pick, 25th overall in 2009, Los Angeles drafted Mike Trout.

Teixeira will be remembered as a Yankee.  And like fellow former Yankees Mickey Mantle, Carlos Beltran, Tim Raines, Bernie Williams, and Jorge Posada (OK with you if I don’t include Lance Berkman?), he’ll be remembered as one of the great switch-hitters the game has ever seen.

Along with Eddie Murray, his childhood hero.  

I would have bet that Teixeira would eventually play in Baltimore, his hometown team, reunited at some point with his first big league manager, Buck Showalter.  But Teixeira announced yesterday that he’s not going to play baseball anymore once the 2016 season ends, and so if he does go back home to Baltimore this winter, it’s going to be for good, with Leigh and their kids Jack, William, and Addison.     

Because two Larry Walker references are better than one, here’s another: In 2004, when Teixeira was in his second season as a Ranger and on his way to a top 20 MVP vote (.281/.370/.560, 38 home runs, 112 RBI), the club was good, and — if you listened closely enough to Showalter and John Hart — perhaps illusorily so.  Hart made an effort in July to bolster a division lead that had dwindled from 4.5 games to half a game, agreeing to send AA shortstop Ian Kinsler and AA righthander Erik Thompson to Colorado for Walker.

But Walker vetoed the trade.

Without which I would never have been able to put together my favorite (non-World Series season) Bound Edition book cover ever:

2007 newberg report book cover

Two have retired (one on his own terms), a third is about to, and that leaves Kinsler, whom the Rangers traded twice, saved from doing so only once.

All that makes me feel old.

But not as old as this photograph does:

tex_and_jamey

That baby in the corner?  She watched a minute of Teixeira’s emotional press conference with me yesterday.  She’ll be a junior in high school in a couple weeks.

Next to my wife, of the people in that photo, taken at a Newberg Report event when he had yet to play his first minor league game, Teixeira has aged the least.

Like Kevin Brown (drafted fourth overall), Teixeira (drafted fifth overall) won one World Series.  Not here, obviously.

But he helped Texas get to two of them, their only two to date, and if Texas hadn’t drafted him and signed him and gotten crazy-great production out of him, not even the team in the town where he played his college ball would have loaded up to make that kind of trade for him, a trade that didn’t work out on one end but, man, did it ever work out on the other.

He’s had a tremendous 14-year big league career.  Though the relatively recent introduction of the Gold Glove may warp the note a bit, MLB Network pointed out yesterday that Teixeira is the only first baseman in big league history with at least 400 home runs, 1200 RBI, 900 walks, a .500 slug, and five Gold Gloves.

Singular or not, that’s an extraordinary set of bullet points.

The Rangers’ “Mount Rushmore” has on it one player who was traded for, two others who signed as big league free agents, and one who signed as a teenager out of Puerto Rico.  None were drafted by Texas.

Mark Teixeira wouldn’t get votes himself, and if Cooperstown is in his future, the Rangers will be mentioned in the speech (as they were yesterday) but not depicted on the plaque.

But his importance to this franchise cannot be overstated, and regardless of what’s next for the Rangers’ 2001 first-round draft pick, he’ll be well remembered here, including by a blogger who’s been plugging away at this for Teixeira’s entire career — and then some, with all luck, on both ends.  

Math.

Darvish loses and Hamels loses and Griffin wins in Baltimore, because baseball.

Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy, who each homer in the series, drive in half of the Rangers’ eight runs.

Meanwhile, Houston drops three of four at home against Toronto, and eight of 10, and now the Rangers come to town with the biggest division lead they’ve had in 26 days, before the All-Star Break.

Perez-Keuchel.

Harrell-Fister.

Darvish-Musgrove.

3.5, 5.5, 7.5, or 9.5.

(Real quick: Had a good turnout at last night’s Dallas Pelicans 12U tryout, but now that we have two teams there are still open roster spots.  Great opportunity here — the second tryout session is tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.  Email me if you’re interested in bringing your son.  

Here are more details: https://www.facebook.com/jamey.newberg/posts/10154458099758987) 

3.5, 5.5, 7.5, or 9.5.

Let’s go.

This year’s event.

Registrations are now closed for this year’s Newberg Report Night (Day) event, set for August 14.  We are sold out, having filled the Hall of Fame Theater space to capacity.  Thank you all for that.

If you signed up, you should have received a confirmation email from me when I received payment.

And because many of you have asked, the Rangers will set aside enough Adrian Beltre bobbleheads to pass out to our group once the pregame portion ends and we head to our seats for the game.

All proceeds from that day’s auction and from raffle ticket sales (plus any independent donations you choose to make on arrival) will go to (1) the family of Rangers scout Jose Luis Felomina, who is battling a terminal form of cancer and (2) the Assist the Officer Foundation (atodallas.org), which supports the families of fallen officers from the Dallas Police Department.

I’m asked this every year — you have to be present to bid on auction items and participate in the raffle.  It’s a benefit of signing up to attend.  If you won’t be at the event but wish to support the Felomina family or Assist the Officer, please email me and I will let you know how to go about doing that.

The sponsors for this year’s Newberg Report Night (Day) event are:

🔹Paranoid Fan (www.paranoidfan.com @paranoidfan)

🔹Frisco RoughRiders

🔹The Vested Group (www.thevested.com @thevestedgroup)

🔹Donna & David Gamble of SFMG Wealth Advisors 

🔹Craig & Brooke Couch of Couch & Russell Financial Group

🔹The Law Office of Greg Jackson, PLLC

🔹Mark & Barbara Maness

🔹Cary DeLong, Tonya Britton, & Meaghan DeLong

Big thanks to our sponsors.

I will send out details on this year’s auction and raffle prizes soon.

The annual 90-minute Q&A with Jon Daniels will be outstanding.

But the auction and raffle right before it will be even better.

See you all there.

Going for it — the Rangers trade for Carlos Beltran, Jonathan Lucroy, and Jeremy Jeffress.

We’ve all pointed to 2007 as the year when the Rangers’ front office philosophy changed — maybe “took shape” is the better way to put it — when one- and five-year plans were put in place to take what had been a flagging franchise, at least in terms of pennant race absence and regular double-digit numbers in the “Games Back” column, and chart a new course.  

Jon Daniels and his crew put a new manager in place, intensified scouting efforts in Latin America, and traded Mark Teixeira and Eric Gagne and Kenny Lofton that summer, all feeding a teardown designed to point everything in one direction, a systematic and concerted effort toward renewed relevance.  Consistent, perennial relevance.

Part of the plan involved drafting aggressively each June, a less conservative approach than the one that had marked the Grady Fuson years.  Lower floors but higher ceilings.  Educated gambles on high-end baseball talent.

In the 10 drafts since that 2007 season, the Rangers have made 22 first-round (and supplemental first-round) picks.  Very few of the players taken with those selections have done much at the big league level for Texas.

But they’ve done a whole lot for this franchise.

When the Rangers not only returned to relevance by reaching the post-season for the first time in more than a decade but in fact advanced in the playoffs for the first time ever and, in fact, won a pennant, and then another, part of the effort to get there involved trading prospects.

Including first-round draft picks.

To boost the 2010 World Series run, Daniels traded 2008 first-rounder Justin Smoak and 2007 first-rounder Blake Beavan to Seattle in the Cliff Lee trade, and 2007 first-rounder Michael Main to San Francisco in the Bengie Molina trade.

As part of the chase to get back to the World Series in 2011, Daniels moved 2007 first-rounder Tommy Hunter to Baltimore in the deal to get Koji Uehara.

The Rangers traded four first-round picks in the two World Series season July’s.  

They traded four more first-rounders in the last week.

Lewis Brinson (2012) to Milwaukee in a deal for Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress.

Travis Demeritte (2013) to Atlanta in a deal for Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez.

Luis Ortiz (2014) to Milwaukee in the Lucroy/Jeffress deal.

Dillon Tate (2015) to the Yankees in a deal for Carlos Beltran.

That’s a whole lot of premium draft picks, and millions of signing bonus dollars, shipped away.

But there’s so much more still around (Daniels said yesterday that other teams asked about 32 of the Rangers’ minor league players leading up to the deadline, an absolutely insane number) and, more to the immediate point, the addition of Lucroy and Beltran and Jeffress unquestionably boosts the odds that Texas gets back to the World Series and finishes one with a pileup. 

Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told Houston media yesterday that the Astros weren’t prepared to take “three of their top five prospects out of their system to improve” now — which he contends Texas did — after which Houston outfielder Colby Rasmus told some of the same reporters: “That shows that [the Rangers] are wanting to go out and better their team.  They’ve already beaten us with what they had.  I don’t doubt . . . that we can beat them on a given day.  But that does show something, that they’re going out and doing that.”   

It didn’t take Rasmus’s comments to recognize that when a front office loads up and makes a deadline deal, it gives the guys in uniform a huge shot in the arm.  The Rangers did it last summer — though further out in the division and in the Wild Card race than the Astros are now — when they also gave up, arguably, “three of their top five prospects” if not five of their top 8 or 10 (Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff, Alec Asher) in the deal to get Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman.  Houston didn’t do it yesterday, and Luhnow seemed rather proud of it.  

Cool.

Here, the men in the clubhouse who have grinded their way to an AL-best 62 wins and a division lead got the message from upstairs — just as they did one year ago when they were a handful of games and teams back of a playoff spot — that the organization believed in them and was willing to back that up by doing its part to make the team better.   

Ownership was willing to spend money.

Management was willing to spend prospects.

Because they believed in the guys in uniform.  Right now.

The day started, from a Rangers standpoint, with the acquisition of Beltran, about an hour before the deadline.  

What?  A bat?  When all signs were pointing to rotation impact or a bullpen boost?

Two things are fairly clear:

(1) Texas was in on every theoretically available difference-making starter (Chris Sale and Chris Archer), as well as others not thought to be available at all (Vincent Velasquez).  

(2) In the end, those guys weren’t traded anywhere, suggesting that the price to play was exorbitant (and, given the overall rotation market now and this coming winter, rightly so).

The Rangers didn’t concede in talks for Sale and Archer and Velasquez, but they didn’t fold as a result.  Instead, they adjusted.  If the club couldn’t meaningfully modify its rotation, there were other ways they saw to improve what was a somewhat flawed roster: Lengthen the lineup, lengthen the pitching staff, and shore up two spots (catcher and right-handed set-up reliever) that perhaps have held up only because of players contributing at what’s probably as high a level as can be expected — but maybe couldn’t be counted on for another three months.

I’ve got to admit: I didn’t realize how insane a season Beltran is having until yesterday.  He’s hitting .304/.344/.546, with 22 home runs and 64 RBI in 398 plate appearances.

Comparison: Ian Desmond, who we all think of as an MVP candidate, is hitting a strikingly similar .303/.355/.519, with 20 home runs and 63 RBI — over 50 more trips to the plate than Beltran has had.

No regular on the Rangers has as high a batting average as Beltran.

Or slugging percentage.

Or OPS.

Or home run total.

He has a healthy OPS (.816) from the left side (against right-handed pitching) — but an elite OPS (1.045) from the right side (against lefties).

Daniels called Beltran the best bat that was moved at the deadline, and it’s hard to argue otherwise.

Beltran will DH for the most part — though when Shin-Soo Choo returns (possibly this week), the two of them could share DH and right field — and considering Rangers DH’s were hitting .224/.304/.351 (.655), the addition of Beltran has the chance to significantly upgrade the offense.

Including in October.  In a significant sample — 223 plate appearances over 52 games — Beltran has been an exceptional playoff performer, hitting .332/.441/.674 (1.115) with 16 homers and 40 RBI (with more walks [35] than strikeouts [26]) in what amounts to the equivalent a third of a season.

Also, like Adrian Beltre and, before him, Mike Napoli and Joe Nathan, Beltran comes here having never won a World Series.  At age 39, it has to be what continues to drive him.  Daniels compared Beltran yesterday to Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield, as a timeless hitter who gives his team consistently tremendous at-bats, even at an age where few remain productive, if in the game at all.  

Molitor played in two World Series, winning just once — at age 37.

Winfield also played in two World Series, winning just once — at age 41.

Beltran has played in one World Series, and didn’t win.

I trust JD’s Molitor/Winfield comp wasn’t just about middle-aged OPS.

(For what it’s worth, which is basically nothing, Beltran is taking Nathan’s number 36 [which was his own number with New York, and as a rookie with Kansas City] . . . while Lucroy is taking Napoli’s number 25 [which he’s never worn].)

Beltran wasn’t added to help Texas win playoff games as much as he was to help the club get there.  He’s a difference-maker, and those don’t come cheap — even at age 39, and even as a rental with no possibility of draft pick compensation on the back end.

It cost the Rangers the highest draft pick they’d had in 30 years, just one year and 74 innings into his pro career.  Dillon Tate (along with fellow righthanders Erik Swanson and Nick Green, both Day Two draft picks in 2014) goes to New York, an exchange that months ago would have been inconceivable.  The Yankees, in order to get Tate, sent enough cash over to cut in half the $5 million or so that Beltran is owed the rest of the year.

It’s been a disappointing season for Tate.  Sent back to Low A Hickory, where he finished the 2015 season, he was getting hit at a .310/.392/.448 clip, posting a 5.12 ERA with nearly four walks per nine innings.  His mid-90s velocity had dropped some nights to the upper 80s, his wipeout slider had lost some bite, and his mechanics were off.  

That’s certainly not a death knell on the career of a pitcher just over a year out of college, but Tate had clearly struggled more this season than the organization expected — otherwise, he probably would have been all but untouchable.

Here’s the takeaway on Tate, for me: As the first pitcher taken in the draft, fourth overall, it would have been easy for Texas or some other team, in this or any other sport, to refuse to move him this quickly — especially for a rental bat — over fear of the fan or media reaction.  I give the Rangers credit for treating Tate as the prospect he is — not “the former number four overall pick” — and evaluating the trade offer they ultimately accepted on that basis.  

Just as C.J. Edwards wasn’t “the former 48th-round pick” when Texas traded him, Tate’s availability shouldn’t have been assessed based on his signing bonus or draft position.  And it seems it wasn’t. 

The Yankees are moving Tate to the bullpen, which was where he pitched in college until his draft year and which many have predicted is his eventual role anyway.  Temporary, perhaps, as their effort to fix him gets underway.  

Had the Rangers not gone on a tear under Tim Bogar in September of its disastrous 2014 season, they might have picked first overall in 2015 (where they could have taken college shortstops Dansby Swanson or Alex Bregman), or third (where high school shortstop Brendan Rodgers went to the Rockies).  Instead, they picked fourth, and today the result of that slot is the bonus they paid Tate and the $2.5 million of Beltran’s contract that they’ll pay to have him hit in the middle of the lineup the rest of this season.

The move Texas made after sending Tate, Swanson, and Green to New York for Beltran was bigger in several respects.  Brinson, Ortiz, and a player to be named later to the Brewers for Lucroy and Jeffress involved no rental players, and no prospect question marks.  Brinson’s season hasn’t been as explosive as his 2015, and Ortiz might be dogged by conditioning issues in the long term, but make no mistake: the Rangers are parting with two frontline prospects (and who knows who the third will be?) to get two pennant races out of Lucroy and four out of Jeffress.

This is the trade, like last year’s for Hamels and Diekman, that has a chance to be an unquestionable win-win for the two teams involved.

Texas almost wasn’t one of those teams.

On Saturday, Milwaukee and Cleveland had agreed to terms on a trade that would have sent Lucroy to the Indians for prospects Francisco Mejia, Yu-Cheng Chang, and Greg Allen.

On Sunday, Lucroy exercised his partial no-trade clause to kill the deal.

On Monday, the Rangers capitalized.

Just as they did when the Yankees thought they had a deal with Seattle for Lee in 2010.

And when the Angels and A’s failed to close free agent deals with Beltre in 2011.  

And when Hamels vetoed a trade from Philadelphia to Houston in 2015.

The Rangers capitalized.

If you read any of Lucroy’s comments yesterday (including: “The Rangers were a team I was really hoping for and it ended up working out . . . . This is probably the best-case scenario for me and my family”), you’ll probably be reminded of the things Hamels said at this time a year ago.

Lucroy is a .299/.359/.482 (.841) hitter this season.  Rangers catchers have hit .231/.285/.418 (.703).

His OPS trails only Beltran and Desmond among Texas hitters.

He frames well and he throws well and pitchers love throwing to him.

He makes only $4 million this year (12 Rangers make more) and will make only $5.25 million next year.  

He’s one of the game’s five best catchers (he was fourth overall in the NL MVP vote in 2014), is on an insanely team-friendly contract, and was traded without Jurickson Profar or Joey Gallo being involved.

And the Brewers still tossed in their closer, who is under team control through 2019.

The catchers on the last 10 World Series winners:

2006: Yadier Molina 

2007: Jason Varitek

2008: Carlos Ruiz

2009: Jorge Posada

2010: Buster Posey

2011: Yadier Molina 

2012: Buster Posey

2013: Jarrod Saltalamacchia/David Ross

2014: Buster Posey

2015: Salvador Perez

I’ll just leave that there.

Along with the admission that, next to a World Series win, the thing I’ve probably craved around here most over the years is the arrival of the next frontline catcher.

Trading for a catcher in the middle of a season?  Texas did it in 2010 (Bengie Molina) and 2012 (Geovany Soto), and patched things up with journeymen Chris Gimenez and Bobby Wilson in 2015.  All were playoff seasons.  It can work.

Plus, Lucroy is a more complete player than any of them, and another player who hasn’t won.  He’ll get after it here, starting tonight as he settles in to catch Yu Darvish.

Lucroy is going to make the lineup better and the pitching staff better and, like Beltran, add another winning presence to an already strong clubhouse.  

Jeffress brings a power sinker that likely won’t be used in the ninth inning like it was in Milwaukee — though perhaps there will be four- and five-run leads that Jeff Banister will feel comfortable entrusting to Jeffress rather than Sam Dyson, and the concept of backing off of Dyson a little bit down the stretch is really attractive.  

Jeffress has 27 saves (in 28 chances) this year, and if he picks up a few here and there for Texas this summer, especially if it means Dyson’s usage pattern can be slowed a bit, fantastic.  Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with a groundball pitcher sitting upper 90s coming in to get seventh- and eighth-inning outs.  (He’s much better against right-handed hitters this year [.215/.253/.226, one extra-base hit in 101 matchups] than against lefties [.316/.393/.481], which makes the idea of deploying him tactically an inviting one.) 

Not having to rely on Matt Bush holding up into late October is also good.  

If he does, awesome.  But now, perhaps, he doesn’t have to.

According to Statcast, Jeffress has allowed the second-lowest average exit velocity in baseball this year.  As Buster Olney (ESPN) points out, he has a 1.06 ERA since June 10, over which span of time the Texas bullpen sports a 4.61 ERA.  

Daniels said yesterday that the Rangers pen now has “only winning pieces.” 

Ben Lindberg (The Ringer) suggests that, “[i]n the space of an hour, the Rangers added both the best overall position player (Jonathan Lucroy) and perhaps the best hitter (Carlos Beltran) traded on deadline day, with a quality closer (Jeremy Jeffress) thrown in for good measure.”  

The cost was significant.  And that’s OK.

Does the loss of Brinson, who would have been this team’s next long-term center fielder, signal a mind that’s opening among ownership to the concept of paying Desmond what he’s worth to stay in Texas past this season?

Don’t know.  

(I do know that I need to change the email banner.)

Did Texas just trade a future number one starter in Ortiz?

Martin Perez and Derek Holland were ranked higher by the industry when they were nearing the big leagues than Ortiz is.  Both are established Major League starting pitchers who have had injury issues and who still have another level they can reach, and hopefully will.  

No guarantees, though.  There never are with pitchers.

The point is that trading a 20-year-old AA pitcher, with very rare exceptions, is a risk on both ends of the deal.  

It looked like Lucroy was headed to Cleveland.  He isn’t.  He’s headed to Texas.

(Interestingly, some are reporting that after Lucroy killed his deal to Cleveland on Sunday, the Indians turned their attention to acquiring Beltran.  Texas beat them again.)

Yesterday, with the timing and the drama, felt almost like a comeback win.

Maybe Ortiz fulfills all expectations or, like Kyle Hendricks, blows by them.  

That’s OK, if he does, and if Brinson becomes Mike Cameron and if the player to be named later (expected to be identified after the season) takes the deal over the top for Milwaukee.

It’s OK if Tate ultimately ends up producing like you’d expect the number four overall pick to produce, and if Swanson and Green get to the big leagues.    

And if Demeritte plays up the middle for 10 years, hitting baseballs out of National League parks with regularity.  

All that’s OK.  It’s a good thing when Texas prospects pan out for other teams.  It’s good.  

Keep ’em coming back for more.

Hamels is here and Lucroy is here and Beltran is here, and so are Dyson and Diekman and Jeffress and Alvarez.  

And so are Profar and Gallo and Nomar Mazara and Rougned Odor.

As part of a lineup that, for instance — tonight — looks like this:

Profar (LF)

Desmond (CF)

Beltran (DH)

Beltre (3B)

Odor (2B)

Lucroy (C) 

Mazara (RF)

Moreland (1B)

Andrus (SS)

Darvish (P)

It’s a lineup with the kind of length that the 2011 World Series team could roll out there.

Know what this is?

C.J. Wilson 

Colby Lewis

Derek Holland

Matt Harrison

Alexi Ogando

That’s the rotation for that 2011 team which, but for a moment upon which we shall not swell, was baseball’s very best.

Compare that to a rotation led by Hamels and Darvish.

No, Daniels didn’t add Sale and he didn’t add Archer and he didn’t add any other legitimate playoff-caliber starting pitcher in the last week.

But he’s built that lineup, he’s deepened the pen, and I invite you to look again at that 2011 Hamels-less and Darvish-less rotation that got Texas to final game MLB played that year.

First-round picks Justin Smoak and Tommy Hunter and Blake Beavan and Michael Main all moved on at least once more after Texas traded them.

Lewis Brinson is reporting to AAA Colorado Springs.

Luis Ortiz is headed to AA Biloxi.

Travis Demeritte is with High A Carolina.

Dillon Tate will pitch in relief for Low A Charleston.  

Meanwhile, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran and Jeremy Jeffress are joining their new teammates in the visitors’ clubhouse in Baltimore.  

You can sit still when your very good team is a handful of games out of a playoff spot with two months to go.

You can sit still when you have a relatively comfortable lead and there aren’t any frontline starting pitchers whose price tags make sense.

Or you can find another way to get better, and go for it.

Farm systems are massively important.  Drafting is huge.  Player development is huge.  

Without strength on the farm, not only in talent but also in coaching and coordination and strength and conditioning, you don’t have Nomar Mazara and Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar in the starting lineup on a team poised once again to play 162+.

And without it you also don’t have Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran, and you don’t have Cole Hamels and Sam Dyson and Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Diekman and Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez, either.

Or whatever frontline starting pitcher the Rangers trade for this winter.

But first things first: There are 56 games left on the schedule to play, and 11 wins to try and lock down after that.  

That’s what the Rangers management saw when it looked this last week at what it had, and where it could get better.  The foundation was in place for the front office to go out and back the players and coaches up, and prove their belief in the team by taking long-term risks for short-term gain, an approach that’s a whole lot easier to embrace when the long term wasn’t drastically compromised with last summer’s big trade and wouldn’t be by going back for more this time around, either.

July wasn’t a very good month for this team, but it ended strong, and though the team was able take the first day of August off, the front office certainly didn’t, and with what went down yesterday, I’m seriously ready for some August baseball, excited about September around here, and absolutely can’t wait for October.

Fun house.

The Rangers, throwing everyone but Yu Darvish at the Royals, swept four from Kansas City at home.

The Astros, kicking off three against Detroit with Colin McHugh and wrapping that series up with Dallas Keuchel, got swept.

What was 2.5 is now 6.0.

And that’s the second-biggest division lead in baseball, and at 62 the second-highest win total, each a tick behind the Cubs, whose highly improbable comeback win over Seattle on Sunday shoved the Mariners 8.5 games behind Texas.

Welcome to the pennant race roller coaster.

And, in the meantime, the fun house mirror.  The non-waiver trade deadline is in a little more than seven hours.  

There’s so much speculation whipping around, with the frenzy centered on Jonathan Lucroy and Brewers pitchers and Rays starters and Chris Sale and Vincent Velasquez and Carlos Beltran, and a smaller handful of players whom the Rangers aren’t being connected to.

At least by the national media.

Something involving Texas will probably happen this afternoon (Buster Olney [ESPN] considers Texas second only to the Dodgers among teams “most likely to complete deals today”), and it will be bigger than trading for Dario Alvarez and Lucas Harrell, the latter of whom threw a quality start in his Rangers debut yesterday, an uneven effort that wasn’t the crispest, but one that was enough to allow the offense to do its job and wrap up the club’s first series sweep of the Royals since April 2011 and, more importantly, its first four-game win streak since late June.

Rangers baseball is cooking again.

Off-day today.

Yu tomorrow.

Cole Wednesday.

But today’s not really an off-day, at least for those not in uniform.  

It could be one of the busiest days of the Rangers season, and — potentially — one of the most impactful.

Buckle up.

* * *

The rest of this might interest you only if you have a son who will be a 12U ballplayer this fall and next spring, or know of one.  

I’ll send something out if (when?) there’s news before the 3:00 deadline today on the trade front.  If in the meantime you want to keep up with the rumors that involve Texas, follow me on Twitter (@newbergreport). 

* * *

Dallas Pelicans 12U (Majors) Fall 2016 Tryouts – ** TWO TEAMS **

The Dallas Pelicans-Tovar 12U (Majors) Select tournament team would like to announce that it is forming a second 12U team that will be forming right away.

In connection with the addition of the new team, the Pelicans 12U program as a whole will conduct open tryouts for the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 seasons.  If your son (DOB 5/1/04 or later) is a frontline ballplayer interested in an opportunity to join one of our two 12U teams, please plan to attend — tryouts will be at (1) 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 4 and (2) 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 6, 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@vinlaw.com or GJSneaker@sbcglobal.net or 214-392-3968.  

We have had tremendous success in our three 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 since joining two years ago.

Jonathan Harrison, who has 10 years of experience coaching select ball at the Majors/AAA/AA levels and is currently overseeing the middle school program at The Greenhill School and serving as assistant varsity coach, will coach the new Pelicans team that is now forming.  Coach Harrison played for Coach Tovar in high school and coaches with the same philosophy and objectives that have always been a hallmark of Coach Tovar’s teams.

Because we are forming a new second team, there are many opportunities for ballplayers looking for a new team to join our program right away.

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@vinlaw.com or GJSneaker@sbcglobal.net or 214-392-3968.  If you will let us know in advance that you’re planning to come on Thursday and/or Saturday, it will shorten the process for you once you arrive — if you don’t reach out to us in advance, please consider arriving half an hour early so we can get some information from you.  

Thanks.

Jamey Newberg

Dallas Pelicans-Tovar 12U

Belt(s).

 

Beltre smile 2

Looking forward to looking back.

A year and two days ago, we woke up to a fading race that sported a Rangers team that had lost 10 of 12, and 18 of 24.

The club was nine back in the division, and seven back in the Wild Card race.

Seven games back for a Wild Card spot, that is.

And six teams back.

That night, there was a magical baseball game that made no objective sense.

Matt Harrison threw six shutout innings.

In Coors Field.

It was the second game he’d pitched in more than a calendar year.

And the second-to-last game he’d pitch, possibly ever.

The Rangers, written off by plenty of folks by that time, won that July 21, 2015 game, 9-0.  

They didn’t gain any ground in the division that night, and they didn’t gain any ground in the Wild Card standings, either, but they kicked off a four-game win streak, and an 11-4 run, and, more importantly, a 45-25 sprint to the finish, putting that all-but-buried club in the playoffs.

Matt Harrison pitched that night in Colorado because Cole Hamels wasn’t here yet.  

This morning, Texas has a 2.5-game lead in the West.

Yes, they’ve racked up eight losses in nine games, and 15 of 19.

This roster is going to change, soon.  For the better.

So is the brand of baseball this team plays.

It will.

You know how, when you’re sick, and I mean seriously down for the count, it’s difficult to remember what it feels like to be healthy?

And when you’re feeling well it’s hard to imagine that feeling of being sick?

I look forward to looking back at this stretch of baseball when this year’s book is all done.

Because when this team is playing 162+ in 2016, I won’t remember this feeling and what it was like.  Thankfully.

Let’s go, Cole.  Kick something off.

Let’s go.

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