When Jon Heyman (CBS Sports) reports that the Rangers “are getting a lot of hits on their stash of relievers: [Shawn] Tolleson, [Sam] Dyson, [Jake] Diekman, [and Tom] Wilhelmsen,” the only thing that’s questionable about the tweet is whether Heyman miscounted what was left in his 140 allotted characters when he decided to leave Keone Kela out, because the only other shocking thing about that report would be if, in this market, those guys weren’t drawing major interest based on cost and control and impact and what is probably perceived as surplus, but then again you can never have too many effective relief pitchers, or quarterbacks, when you’re built to win, or too many Lowrie/Lawrie’s, when you’re not, but the main reason I didn’t like that Houston-Oakland Lowrie trade is because it freed up $15 million over three years (including $7.5 million in 2016) for the Astros, who may use some of the payroll relief to go after a closer, but then again that would cost Houston so much in prospects that it ought to boost the market for Tolleson or Dyson or Diekman or Wilhelmsen or Kela even further, not that I’m interested in moving any of them, but you gotta listen, because as much as Craig Kimbrel already cost Boston, Aroldis Chapman will cost Houston or someone else even more, and when you then get to Ken Giles and Mark Melancon and Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon, most of the Rangers quintet fits in closer to the Giles level than the rest, based on cost and control and impact and age, and even though Texas parted with a load of prospects in July, the system isn’t in desperate need of infusion, except for the reality that every farm system is always in need of infusion, but it’s cool that every ranking of this Arizona Fall League season’s prospects I’ve seen has Lewis Brinson near the top even though he put in just three AFL weeks, and his breakout 2015 at five combined levels (High A, AA, AAA, AFL, Puerto Rico) is a big reason the Rangers decided to take advantage this month of an opportunity to trade an increasingly expensive and decreasingly effective Leonys Martin, further fortifying what was already a team strength by adding Wilhelmsen to the bullpen and — conceivably — setting things up to address some needier area of the team by way of another trade, and, hey, guess what, the Orioles are apparently interested in Yovani Gallardo because that would make him a former Ranger and because of course and that’s not only unsurprising but also important since it would bring another compensatory draft pick the Rangers’ way, and Dave Magadan will be Arizona’s hitting coach though I’m not sure that qualifies as taking him closer to his Florida home, and I saw a report that Texas is among those “checking in” on John Lackey, and now I’m involuntarily thinking about Rich Harden, which is as unwelcome as thinking about clavicles and lacks the silver draft-pick-implications lining of the loss of a starting quarterback or a back-of-the-rotation starter who declined a qualifying offer, and the easiest way to get my mind right again with ball is to think about how a healthy and productive Jurickson Profar could be huge for this thing, and I’m sorry if this report is only one sentence long but it’s a rainy and lazy day and I’m thinking now about digging back into the leftovers and maybe grabbing a nap while dutifully avoiding the allure of entering the Black Friday fray, and when I wake from that one, it may be time for another fridge raid and another nap while continuing to let others brave the Black Friday combat zone, not that I’m against supporting the economy, whether that means surveying the late-inning relief pitcher market, effectively selling an innings-eater for a supplemental first-round draft pick, or buying books about incredible Texas Rangers baseball seasons for yourself and all the baseball fans on that holiday shopping list that you could shorten easily and quickly and awesomely, staying (1) in your pajamas and (2) dry and (3) out of brawls, and giving yourself more time today for a sandwich and a nap.
One of the hallmarks of a life worth living is learning something new nearly every day, and today I’ve learned that Black Friday, in some corners of the marketplace (especially the e-centrically inclined), actually starts on Wednesday.
So, in case you’re craving an added distraction before tomorrow’s food and football fest, and dutifully look to get your Friday started 48 hours early, we are days from shipping the 2016 Bound Edition for those who have pre-ordered. And you can get in on that action right now.
If you place your order now, your books will ship in plenty of time for the holidays. The 2016 Bound Edition is available in both hard copy and in digital form, and I have copies of all past years’ editions available as well (in fact, I can ship any of those prior editions immediately).
As far as the 2016 book is concerned, Jeff Banister’s foreword is worth the cost of the book by itself.
(Mike Ferrin’s foreword and the other 230+ pages are a bonus.)
Among the candidates to benefit from your Black-Friday-on-Wednesday generosity and thoughtfulness:
- All those friends of yours whose baseball insanity is on level with yours
- Your spouse (or your Top 10 Spouse Prospects)
- Your kid, if she or he needs something new to read for school
- Your boss and your co-workers
- Your parents and siblings
- Your coaches and teachers and accountants, and their parents (not their siblings, as that would be a little silly)
- Your other relatives and in-laws who love the Great Game
- Anyone who loves photos of Jeff Banister shoving a finger in A.J. Hinch’s face during a bench-clearing get-together in Houston
- Your clients – seriously, your clients (none of whom need another fruit basket)
- Your Secret Santa assignee
- Geovany Soto, who we’re going to see smoothing the dirt and double-pumping his throws to the mound a whole lot this coming season
- That person who always shames you by out-cooling you with the gift he or she gives you
- That person you want to shame into getting you something super-awesome and unique by beating them to the punch
- All those people on your annual (and perhaps semi-annual, if not more frequent) gift list who “have everything” or “don’t need anything”
You can check off a whole lot of those to-buy-for boxes in just a couple minutes.
Tip of the cap to the great Marty Yawnick, whose awesome design of the front and back covers is shown below:
Happy Thanksgiving, you guys.
Each year the Bound Edition contains a chapter called “The 40-Man Roster Conundrum” that breaks down the decisions facing the Rangers, like all teams, between the end of the season and November 20, the date on which minor league players with certain amounts of service time must be added to the roster in order to be shielded from the Rule 5 Draft. The chapter explains the process (as well as how the Draft works), and focuses specifically on this year’s Texas roster and the club’s minor league crop of draft-eligibles, predicting at the end what I think the Rangers will do.
Last year on this date Texas rostered Luke Jackson, Hanser Alberto, Jorge Alfaro, and Jerad Eickhoff. Among those the club left off was Odubel Herrera, whom the Phillies drafted (and kept), while Houston lost Delino DeShields to the Rangers after they’d left him unprotected.
The “Conundrum” chapter in this year’s is over 5,000 words, finishing with these 45:
Within the constraints of our hypothetical, I’ll speculate that outfielder Nomar Mazara, lefthander Yohander Mendez, and righthander Connor Sadzeck will be the only internal additions to the 40-man roster on November 20, and that Texas will be active again in the Rule 5 Draft.
There are three other candidates in particular who I think might be on the cusp of the roster but, because of big league needs this winter, could be left off the crowded roster and find themselves named in a mock or two leading up to the December 12 Draft. That discussion is part of the 5,000-plus words, and while that might not be as good a reason to buy the Bound Edition as Jeff Banister’s crazy-great foreword (which is not to denigrate Mike Ferrin’s own outstanding foreword submission), the feedback on the “Conundrum” chapter is generally pretty good. I think you’ll dig it.
As for today’s deadline, though I have a fairly solid track record predicting the Rangers’ 40-man additions, this is a year when I won’t be surprised at all to be off by a player.
We’ll know by the end of the day.
One big league at-bat. One base hit.
One big league season managing. One Manager of the Year award.
Whatcha got for an encore?
I’ve got an idea.
There are nine new GM’s in baseball since August, and while some of their predecessors are merely moving upstairs, that’s not the case for all of them, including Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto.
Dipoto hasn’t overhauled his new club the way A.J. Preller did last winter with the Padres, but it’s early. He’s been on the job less than two months and had already traded Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Danny Farquhar, and minor leaguers Enyel De Los Santos and Nelson Ward, acquiring Joaquin Benoit, Nate Karns, C.J. Riefenhauser, and prospect Boog Powell when, on Monday, he swapped a reliever and an outfielder for an outfielder and a reliever, sending Tom Wilhelmsen, James Jones, and a player to be named later to Texas for Leonys Martin and Anthony Bass.
Wilhelmsen was a phenomenal story in Seattle, one of Jack Zduriencik’s signature moves in his seven-year run as Mariners GM. A former Milwaukee farmhand — drafted when Zduriencik was that club’s scouting director — Wilhelmsen was out of the game for four years when he logged 11.2 indie league innings in 2009 and got an opportunity in February 2010, at age 26, to throw a side for Zduriencik, a year and a half into his run as Seattle GM. The righthander signed a minor league contract, and a year later made the Mariners’ Opening Day pitching staff.
Wilhelmsen went on to appear in 267 games for Seattle, saving 67 of them and striking out more than eight batters per nine innings.
His tenure with the Mariners lasted a little longer than Zduriencik’s, and there’s a point here.
Tom Wilhelmsen is not a Jerry Dipoto trophy. He was an asset for a new General Manager to evaluate, to decide whether his greatest value to the club was in the bullpen or in a trade. Rumored for weeks to be hunting for a center fielder (such as Brett Gardner, Peter Bourjos, Jon Jay, or Martin, according to Fox Sports columnist Ken Rosenthal earlier this month), Dipoto clearly decided that adding Benoit (on Thursday) would facilitate flipping Wilhelmsen for that center field addition.
Just a week ago an NL club executive explained to Joel Sherman (New York Post), in the context of this wave of GM changes around the league: “What happens is that when you have new people, they do not view the talent left behind like the old people did. When you draft and develop a player, you tend to have a higher opinion and affinity for the player than someone outside the organization. The new person doesn’t have the same ties and is more willing to trade them.”
Maybe to the Rangers’ benefit, as they add a pitcher who, over the final six weeks of the 2015 season, for a different GM and a different manager and a different pitching coach, gave up two runs (0.95 ERA) on 11 hits in 19 innings, fanning 17. Only four relief pitchers in baseball averaged more than Wilhelmsen’s 95.5 mph fastball velocity in 2015, and it’s actually his slider that’s his biggest weapon (opponents hit .136/.185/.186 against the pitch in 2015, and .160/.202/.247 for his career). The cost (along with Bass, who I would guess Texas didn’t plan to go to arbitration with) was Martin, who had possibly played his way out of the Rangers’ plans.
Which is not to say he wouldn’t have been able to play his way back into them. Martin’s still young. His game should play up in Safeco Field, where his speed and arm in center field is a critical piece of that club’s attack in that park, and where the cavernous outfield might finally convince him that his offensive game is in the gaps, not over the fence. I like this deal for Seattle.
I’m a sucker for plus outfield defense and especially outfielders who can change a game with their arms. I’ll miss that. Mariners fans will be treated to run-saving defense in center, which they’ll need given that Nelson Cruz and (for now) Seth Smith man the corners. But alas, in Texas I’m down to one favorite Martin.
New Mariners manager Scott Servais was the Rangers’ Senior Director of Player Development when Texas signed Martin out of Cuba and, in the same season, got him to the big leagues. Servais’s bench coach, Tim Bogar, managed the Rangers when Ron Washington left the team in September 2014, and over those final three weeks that year Martin played everyday and hit .295/.340/.375, suggesting a light had perhaps flipped on.
In a way, Martin has more champions in Seattle at the moment than Wilhelmsen did.
I like the deal for Seattle, and I like it for Texas. A strong Rangers bullpen gets stronger. A player (Martin) poised to make an arbitration-driven salary in the $4-5 million range — certainly not commensurate with the fourth outfielder role he’d have gone to camp with — is trimmed from the payroll. Another center fielder with plus speed and a plus arm (Jones) comes in, with a minor league option attached. A player to be named is on the way as well, and Jon Daniels said yesterday that player “is an important piece of the deal.”
(For what it’s worth, my bet is that unidentified player is a draft-eligible prospect not on the Mariners’ 40-man roster, and who won’t be added to it by this Friday’s deadline. Then, assuming the player slides through the Rule 5 Draft on December 12, he’ll be sent right afterwards to Texas. The reason to do it this way is so the Rangers don’t have to roster the player, nor take the risk that he’s drafted next month. If the player in question is drafted from Seattle, there’s probably a backup player the two teams have agreed on to complete this trade.)
Wilhelmsen’s arrival gives Texas a formidable collection of power arms (with different looks) in the late innings — righthanders Shawn Tolleson, Sam Dyson, Keone Kela, and Wilhelmsen, plus lefthander Jake Diekman — and any one of them could conceivably be asked to get the key seventh- or eighth-inning outs, or close things out in the ninth. Like the others, Texas has multiple years of control over Wilhelmsen, two seasons in his case.
Or perhaps Texas will do what Seattle did by acquiring Benoit to free Wilhelmsen up — that is, add Wilhelmsen to free another reliever up to help address a different club need. Rosenthal suggests the Rangers “had been drawing trade interest in some of their relievers[, and the a]ddition of Wilhelmsen could lead to another deal.” Jon Heyman (CBS Sports) reported last week that “[w]hile Tolleson isn’t being shopped, Texas is willing to listen to offers on him” and in fact “ha[s] fielded some interest in their closer.”
Will Martin figure things out in Seattle? No telling. He regressed badly in 2015, but there’s tons to like in his game and the change of scenery could be what he needed. Center field in Texas belongs to Delino DeShields now, and before long will be Lewis Brinson’s home. One more year of Martin hitting .219/.264/.313, plus another step up the arbitration ladder, and there’s no way a year from now you get a bullpen weapon of Wilhelmsen’s caliber in exchange.
While Jones shares Martin’s profile, he didn’t hit big league pitching at all in 2015 and doesn’t have Martin’s upside (though he’s having an outstanding winter league season in Venezuela, hitting .327/.385/.455 in 123 plate appearances). But as a backup outfielder capable of playing all three spots and providing a late-inning weapon on the bases — he’s succeeded on 28 of 30 stolen base attempts in the big leagues — he can be very useful.
There’s a likely dropoff from Martin to Jones, but the difference probably won’t be as great as that between what the journeyman Bass might have been expected to deliver and what Wilhelmsen should. Plus the Rangers get the salary relief in this deal as well.
And let’s see who that player to be named is.
As invested as so many of us are, and those of you who have kids get this on a whole different level, it’s difficult sometimes to cut ties with a player who’s been around for awhile and, even if he hasn’t yet fulfilled expectations, who’s given this team so many awesome moments.
It’s probably difficult to some degree for a GM whose group scouted a high-ceiling player like that, acquired him, and developed him into a contributing big league ballplayer, to cut ties and risk seeing that player help win games somewhere else.
Not so much, perhaps, for a new GM, encumbered by no ties at all.
I think we all suspected Texas might trade Martin this winter, but that Daniels (ranked Friday by Ken Davidoff as MLB’s number two GM) would necessarily be selling low.
Instead, it appears he sold Martin for a package of players that some new folks in charge had no lengthy or nostalgic ties to, a brand of player that this winter there seems to be an unusually high population of. Time will tell, especially with Wilhelmsen and Jones but maybe even in the case of the minor leaguer to be named who has no history with either his new GM or his new farm director, whether it’s one of those new market inefficiencies the Rangers have found a way to exploit in the incessant effort to make the ballclub better.
It still doesn’t feel right writing about sports today, but I had this thought and figured I’d jot it down.
Would you rather have Sam Dyson at slightly above league minimum in 2016 and 2017 (not to mention the pennant race in 2015, which might not have extended past 162 without him, for less than $200,000), and then at arbitration-driven salaries in 2018, 2019, and 2020 (which are unpredictable at this point but perhaps, if he ends up closing games, $4 million, $7 million, and $10 million)?
Or Craig Kimbrel for $11.25 million in 2016, $13.25 million in 2017, and either $13 million in 2018 or $1 million to cut ties for that season?
So Dyson at maybe $22.5 million for the next five years (plus one pennant race under the belt)?
Or Kimbrel at $25.5 million for two years, or $37.5 million for three?
The 27-year-olds were born three weeks apart.
If you’d choose Kimbrel, given the track record, that’s fair.
Even at a far more staggering payroll hit, especially these next two years ($1 million range vs. $25 million range).
But it took catcher Tomas Telis and left-handed relief specialist Cody Ege, who project as role players, for Texas to get Dyson.
It took center fielder Manuel Margot, shortstop Javier Guerra, second baseman Carlos Asuaje, and lefthander Logan Allen for Boston to get Kimbrel.
Margot is considered a top 20 prospect in baseball. Guerra fits in somewhere around the top 50.
That’s probably not too far from where Telis and Ege were ranked in the Rangers system alone.
Anyway, that looks like a really good trade for A.J. Preller.
And an even better one for Jon Daniels.
That’s all I’ve got this morning.
Free agent Colby Rasmus accepted the Astros’ qualifying offer yesterday, meaning he’s now locked up with Houston for $15.8 million in 2016.
In what’s now a four-year history of the QO, he’s the first player ever to accept it. Every single one of the 34 players tendered QO’s in the last three years turned it down. None of this year’s 20 had accepted it, at least not yet, until Rasmus did last night.
Among the 26 active players with at least 30 career plate appearances against Yovani Gallardo, Rasmus has the fourth-highest OPS (1.038). Albert Pujols is first (1.476).
Andrelton Simmons has faced Gallardo four times in his career. He has four hits. Including one of his rare home runs.
Pujols is in the American League West. Simmons is now, too. And Rasmus is back in the division.
Gallardo, among the 20 free agents tendered qualifying offers a week ago today, has until 4:00 local time today to decide whether to accept the QO himself, which would terminate his free agency; or decline it, which means he can negotiate with all 30 teams — including Texas — on a deal that can be any mutually acceptable length for any mutually acceptable amount, and which means if he chooses one of the 29 teams other than Texas, there would be an extra supplemental first-round draft pick headed the Rangers’ way.
Yesterday, the population of AL West hitters who pound Gallardo jumped by 7 million percent.
The Rangers’ off-season gets a kickstart, one way or another, in eight hours.
Maybe Gallardo wants to pull in three to four years of guaranteed money, somewhere in the mid-$30-million-to-mid-$50-million range.
Or maybe he’d rather be like Colby Rasmus, and as a result have to face him the thousand times in 2016 that he won’t be facing Pujols or Simmons.
And that’s this morning’s edition of mathematically unsound, triskaidekaphobic, super-small-sample-blind, intellectually dishonest, non-sequiturry baseball stuff.
Man, let’s go get him.
His big question mark may at last be gone.
But it still hovers, so maybe we can buy low.
He’s raking, and if he’s right he can defend at a premium position.
He’s high-risk, high-reward, but that risk keeps diminishing.
He could still be great, like we all thought, and he’s still just 22.
The Rangers have no room for him.
Maybe we can give them something they need — something that never would have been enough to get him three years ago, and that never would be enough six months from now.
Let’s go get him.
That’s what other fan bases are probably thinking about Jurickson Profar, and reportedly other Major League teams as well.
It’s not a whole lot different from the Rangers moving in and capitalizing on Josh Hamilton when they did, eight winters ago.
One big contrast, though: Edinson Volquez and Danny Ray Herrera for Hamilton snuck up on a virtually Twitter-less baseball world in 2007, while there’s probably been more written since the Texas season ended a few weeks ago about Profar than about all other Rangers combined.
He homered and doubled in his first Arizona Fall League game, hit safely and drove in runs in each of his first five games, and has kept on producing. Has as many walks (eight) as strikeouts, and twice as many RBI (16) in just 13 games, not counting the league’s All-Star Game four days ago, when he singled twice, walked twice, and stole two bases.
According to Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports), “other teams want him,” in spite of the fact that he hasn’t yet been cleared to put a glove on.
Rosenthal reported a year ago that when the Rangers and Nationals discussed righthander Stephen Strasburg, Washington wanted Profar as part of any deal.
Joel Sherman (New York Post) has written separate pieces in the last four days suggesting that the Mets come after Profar to play shortstop, and reporting that the Yankees are among the teams who have called Texas about the 22-year-old, in their case envisioning him at second base. Sherman also notes, as everyone does, that A.J. Preller (who oversaw the Texas effort to sign Profar out of Curacao in 2009) still doesn’t have an answer at shortstop in San Diego.
But Daniels told Sherman: “We are not looking to trade him. We held onto him this long. We are pretty optimistic his shoulder is fit. The mindset is to wait and see where he is. We believe he will get back to his value, which was one of the best young players out there.”
And if he does get back to his value, he’d fetch a whole lot more than any team would reasonably offer the Rangers right now for the fall league DH.
Or he’d give Texas itself a much more valuable, cost-effective, club-controlled weapon than anything being offered in Boca Raton.
Profar, who hit a 400-foot, opposite-field bomb from the left side yesterday, will reportedly play shortstop when he’s allowed to play defense, which will likely be in camp (though he was throwing from 105 feet as of three weeks ago). It won’t be in the fall league, and it won’t be in winter ball, which the Rangers prefer he not risk playing before returning to Surprise in February.
That led one scout to verbalize to Sherman the point being made in the war room of every one of those interested teams he and Rosenthal have alluded to, plus the one occupied by the team that signed and developed the switch-hitter: “I like Profar, but if you are Texas, you have to ask full value for him, and how could you give up full value for a player who we don’t know yet if he can throw?”
The chances of Profar being traded this winter, in spite of the present logjam in Texas at each of his primary positions, are astronomically low. There’s just no reason to think he could have nearly as much trade value — which is a concept much different from trade interest — as he has value to the Rangers as a potential weapon with years of affordable control, the versatility to make all sorts of other moves more realistic to consider, and the upside of a player who was thought of not long ago as baseball’s premier prospect.
He’s younger than Hanser Alberto. And Delino DeShields. And Andrew Faulkner and Luke Jackson and Chi Chi Gonzalez.
And everyone else on the Rangers’ 40-man roster other than Rougned Odor, Joey Gallo, and Keone Kela.
I like the idea that Profar and those three will be Rangers for a long time.
I’m as guilty as anyone as far as all the attention I’ve paid to Profar over the last month is concerned, based on a slate of what amounts to exhibition games in Arizona, games in which he’s only leaving the dugout the field four or five times, rather than three times that.
But he’s on my mind right now, and apparently on the minds of a lot of people in the game who are in charge of making their teams better, all but one of which is imagining ways to exploit what is almost certainly an unexploitable situation.
I hope I have to write about Jurickson Profar a ton more in 2016.
And for a whole lot of years after that.
It’s a relatively big day today, as Texas must decide by the end of the afternoon whether to tender Yovani Gallardo a one-year qualifying offer of $15.8 million, and whether to bid blindly on the right to negotiate with Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park, who was posted by his Nexen Heroes team on Monday.
If the Rangers tender the offer to Gallardo, he’ll have until a week from today to accept it or turn it down. If he declines the offer, he can still negotiate with Texas — but if he signs somewhere else, the Rangers recoup a supplemental first-round pick as compensation. (If he accepts the deal, he evidently can’t be traded before the 2016 season without his consent.)
If the Rangers bid on Park’s negotiation rights and theirs is the highest bid submitted, they would have 30 days (starting Monday) to reach a deal with Park himself — assuming Nexen decides to accept the posting bid.
You might have read stories this week suggesting Gallardo could be the first player in the four-year history of the qualifying offer process to accept the QO, which would make the decision to tender a risky one for the Rangers, who might not want to devote nearly $16 million to that rotation spot.
But consider this.
It makes sense for a player’s agent (in Gallardo’s case, Bobby Witt) to advance the thought that his client could accept the qualifying offer, even if he wouldn’t. A player like Gallardo is better off with no qualifying offer tied to him when he hits free agency, because a player who has declined a QO costs his signing team its first-round pick the next June (or, in the case of a team drafting in the top 10 slots, its second-rounder). Gallardo isn’t a top-tier option in this winter’s pitching market, and he stands a better chance to generate a bidding war if there’s no draft pick forfeiture to make teams think twice about moving in on him.
Anyway, the speculation — at least on the front end — will be over by the end of the day.
As for Park, a durable right-handed hitter with two straight seasons of 50+ home runs, would he be a better option as a righty bat to plug in at first base than Mike Napoli, at the cost? The good thing about the timing of Nexen’s posting is that Park will have signed with a big league club or not by December 9, the day before the Winter Meetings end. If Texas is the team in a position to negotiate with the 29-year-old, it can likely do so without worrying that Napoli will have been swept off the market in the meantime.
Of course, the Rangers may prefer Napoli to Park in the first place, given what Napoli brings this team in the clubhouse and how much less it would cost to lock him up than the Korean star.
Speaking of the Winter Meetings, which will be held in Nashville from December 7-10, they will be preceded by the GM Meetings, which take place this coming Monday through Thursday in Boca Raton. And Jon Daniels and Jeff Banister now have a complete big league coaching staff going into that important week, when lots of groundwork for impact winter decisions is laid. The Rangers were better off not having the distraction of pending coaching decisions as the inner circle prepared for any number of meaningful conversations to be had in Florida next week.
I got a small handful of emails from Rangers fans yesterday questioning the additions of Doug Brocail (pitching coach), Anthony Iapoce (hitting coach), Brad Holman (bullpen coach), and Justin Mashore (assistant hitting coach) to Banister’s staff for the sole reason that they’d never heard of most of them, which is a terrible position statement. (If I’d wasted time replying to those few folks, I would have suggested they go back and find the emails they sent a year ago when the Rangers hired Banister, the Pirates lifer.)
So what’s the M.O. here? What’s the statement Daniels and Banister are making?
There is no M.O., as far as I can tell. And that’s a good thing.
Sometimes this front office brings in an established veteran coach, like Mike Maddux or Dave Magadan or Clint Hurdle, because that’s what fits.
Sometimes it promotes from within (Andy Hawkins, Scott Coolbaugh, Steve Buechele, Hector Ortiz, Jayce Tingler).
Sometimes it’s external, but not a household name (Tim Bogar, Tony Beasley).
Sometimes, like with Gary Pettis years ago, and Bengie Molina last year, and Brocail now, it’s a familiar name from a different context.
When it came to hiring a manager, a man to lead a roster and coordinate a staff and set a tone, two different times Daniels went out and hired a man who’d spent a virtual baseball lifetime in an organization that hadn’t given him the shot that the Rangers were prepared to.
Either Don Wakamatsu or Trey Hillman would have been a more popular choice than Ron Washington.
Bogar would have been the easier and safer and expected choice a year ago, over Banister.
The M.O. here is to take advantage of opportunity, and to make the best hire possible under the set of circumstances in place at the moment that opportunity arises.
There is an M.O. here, actually. The M.O. is to get the hire right. That’s it.
No matter where the best candidate falls on the experience spectrum, or the familiarity spectrum, or whether his employer is in another league or down the hall.
I knew a little bit about Brocail’s coaching history and reputation before this week, and hardly anything about Iapoce. Holman and Mashore are two coaches who have been instrumental in getting young players in the Rangers system to the big leagues, or to a level that helped make impact trades possible; they’re two coaches I’ve worried would eventually be lost to greater opportunities elsewhere. Now they get those opportunities right at home.
I took a bunch of notes during Brocail’s and Iapoce’s introduction to the local press yesterday, and among the words that kept getting repeated, and evoked, were energy . . . toughness . . . positivity . . . preparation, communication, connection.
Daniels talked about how Brocail, as a player, had to come back from major injuries, and had to reinvent himself.
Iapoce (“Great players don’t need to be told they are great — they want to know how you are going to help them get better”) used the term “offensive coordinator,” which resonated with his new manager and ought to resonate with every one of us.
It’s about more than refining a swing path. We saw in the World Series what a “run-scoring culture” (Iapoce’s phrase) looks like.
Brocail played a big part in Houston’s young pitchers developing into big league contributors. Same with Iapoce and the Cubs’ young hitters. There’s a track record that we should be familiar with, and excited about, even if it was taking place outside our field of vision and awareness.
Banister said in a phenomenal Wednesday radio interview, on what he wants in a coach joining his staff: “A great communicator. How can he make me better? Look me in the eye and get me excited.”
Maddux was fantastic in Texas, just as he was in Milwaukee and just as he will be in Washington. Magadan is a decorated hitting instructor, and the Rangers offense was a good one last year, featuring several players who, for at least a big chunk of the season, made big adjustments and took big steps forward.
But I’m excited about Banister and Brocail and Iapoce coordinating this club’s attack going forward.
And I’m thrilled that Holman and Mashore aren’t going anywhere. Well, anywhere else.
Their promotions open up a hitting coach position and pitching coach position in Round Rock, and whether that leads to a reassignment for a guy like AA pitching coach Jeff Andrews or pitching coordinator Danny Clark or AA hitting coach Jason Hart, there’s now a vacancy somewhere in the pitching instruction chain and somewhere in the hitting instruction chain, and that’s two more opportunities to make a new hire, and get it right.
I have no idea what front office role the Rangers might have in mind for ousted Marlins GM and manager Dan Jennings (ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports club interest), but I’m intrigued.
How can you make me better?
A hitter to his hitting coach.
A manager to his staff.
A GM evaluating the risk of a qualifying offer, or a posting bid, or hiring a free agent baseball operations exec.
Today’s a big day, on a couple fronts.
Next week is a really big week, even if the manifestation of the work done in Boca Raton won’t be known for another month, or more.
The effort to bring the 2016 picture into focus is hours and days and weeks from gaining momentum, but some pretty big steps have already been taken this week, and there was nothing homogenous about them, unless you consider the uniformity of confronting each opportunity as just that, an opportunity to refine (if not redefine) things with an eye toward winning one more October series than the franchise won in 2015, and then a couple more on top of that.
THE 2016 BOUND EDITION OF THE NEWBERG REPORT
** PREORDERS UNDERWAY **
[this photo will be on the front cover, which at the moment is still a work in progress]
We are now taking preorders for the 2016 Bound Edition of the Newberg Report, my 17th annual book on the Texas Rangers. It’s nearly 300 pages commemorating the incredible story of the 2015 season, all chronicled in the book in daily, exhaustive, emotional detail. For any Rangers fan, this book will be one to look back on for years and years.
The 2016 Bound Edition, with forewords written by Rangers manager Jeff Banister and MLB Network Radio host Mike Ferrin, not only looks back on 2015 but also serves as a primer on what you can expect from this organization for years to come. Nowhere can you find more information and analysis on the players that the Rangers are developing as future members of the major league team and, in some scenarios, as ammunition for trades that could dramatically alter the roster this off-season.
More than 3,000 of you on this mailing list are past customers of the Bound Edition, but for those of you who are relatively new to the Newberg Report, here is what you can expect from the book:
The book picks up right where the 2015 Bound Edition left off, taking you from the October 2014 search for a new manager through the October 2015 playoff run and containing every report I wrote in that span (including every “Trot Coffey” rumor dump). The Bound Edition is the most thorough account you’ll find of the unforgettable twists and turns that the 2015 season took, and of the implications of the personnel moves that highlighted it.
Not just a complete record of the Rangers’ season, the book includes a feature section comprised of an entire section of new material that won’t ever appear online. Included in that section are rankings and analysis of more than 70 Rangers prospects throughout the club’s highly ranked farm system, making the Bound Edition a primer on the players who should help keep this organization in contention for years to come. There’s also the annual “40-Man Roster Conundrum” chapter, breaking down the organization’s decisions headed toward the Rule 5 Draft, an important procedural opportunity each December to add talent and make sure it isn’t lost — last year the club added Delino DeShields and lost Odubel Herrera in the draft, moves that stand to impact the Rangers and Phillies for years.
The photographs that appear on the glossy front and back covers, as always, feature some of the Rangers’ top young big leaguers and prospects, and are perfect for autographs.
The 2016 Bound Edition is $24.95 per book, plus shipping. An e-Edition will also be available for $9.99.
I also have all the previous editions of the Bound Edition for sale. The price breakdown is as follows:
• 2016 Bound Edition — $24.95 (plus shipping)
• 2015 Bound Edition — $20.00 (e-Edition — $9.99)
• 2014 e-Edition — $9.99
• 2013 Bound Edition — $20.00
• 2012 Bound Edition (Second World Series edition) — $20.00
• 2011 Bound Edition (First World Series edition) — $20.00
• 1999/2000 through 2010 Bound Editions — $15.00 each (free shipping)
Previous editions will be shipped separately from the 2016 book (in most cases right away). As far as previous editions are concerned, shipping is $3.00 for the first book, and $2.00 for each additional book.
• A gift set of all 17 books (16 Bound Editions plus the 2014 e-Edition) is available for $250, which is a $30 discount.
• Buy two or more copies of the 2016 Bound Edition, and I’ll throw in a free copy of last year’s eEdition.
You can order by credit card through the book distributor. Just click the “Order Now” buttons on the front page of the website, or go to http://www.newbergreport.com/estore/buythebook.asp.
You can also order by check or money order, payable to “Jamey Newberg,” at:
Vincent Lopez Serafino Jenevein, P.C.
1601 Elm Street, Suite 4100
Dallas, TX 75201
Regardless of your method of payment, please make sure to include your mailing address, and specify how many of each book you want.
I’m extremely biased but, trying to pretend to be slightly objective, I think this is the kind of book that any Rangers fan’s library should include. You should talk yourself into buying copies for your boss, your secretary, your neighbor, your Uber driver, your kids who are always in need of new reading material for school, and you.
I’m happy to answer any questions you have.