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.
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 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  than strikeouts ) 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?
(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:
It’s a lineup with the kind of length that the 2011 World Series team could roll out there.
Know what this is?
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.
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.
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.
* * *
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.
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.
Dallas Pelicans-Tovar 12U
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.
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.
We’re now ready to start taking reservations for the 12th Annual Newberg Report Night (Day) at Globe Life Park, which will be on Sunday afternoon, August 14, the finale of the Rangers’ series with Detroit. This year our event will benefit both a foundation supporting families of fallen Dallas Police Officers and the family of Rangers scout Jose Luis Felomina.
You can read more about Jose here.
Newberg Report Night will include our usual extensive pre-game program in the Hall of Fame Theater, featuring a roundtable Q&A with the Newberg Report’s own Scott Lucas and local minor league junkie Michael Tepid, followed by our annual Q&A session with Rangers GM Jon Daniels, plus our yearly memorabilia raffle/auction, conducted by local professional auctioneer Bret Richards.
Two added notes of interest this year:
• We are gathering this year for a day game (2:05 start), which I know from past years will appeal to many of you who would be coming in from out of town for the event.
• It’s Adrian Beltre Removable Helmet Bobblehead Day — so, well, you know.
There are several different price point options to attend — including one new option this year:
• $40 per person: Admission to all the pre-game events plus an Upper Reserved game ticket (parking not included)
• $70 per person: Admission to all the pre-game events plus an All You Can Eat game ticket in the Upper Home Run Porch, which includes grilled chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, nachos, and soft drinks (parking not included)
• $200 per person: Admission to all the pre-game events plus a Luxury Suite ticket (parking and catering not included)
• $20 per person: Upper Reserved game ticket only (that is, no admission to the pre-game events)
• $50 per person: All You Can Eat game ticket only (no admission to the pre-game events)
• $175 per person: Luxury Suite ticket only (no admission to the pre-game events)
• $40 per person: For those who already have a ticket to the ballgame, admission to the pre-game events without a game ticket costs the same as it would if you bought a game ticket: $40 per person
We typically have from 250 to 350 people attend this event every year. Once we reach Hall of Fame Theater capacity, we’ll have to close registration (though we can continue to sell spots for the game only). Many years we’ve sold the event out in less than 24 hours, and so I would strongly recommend that you make your reservations as soon as you know you’ll be attending.
Kids are welcome.
Here’s what we tentatively have planned (the details tend to get better as we get closer to the event):
10:00 Doors open
We’ll gather in the Hall of Fame Theater. You’ll get your game tickets from us once you enter the front lobby of the Hall of Fame — no need to go to Will Call or anywhere else.
You’ll have the opportunity in the lobby to make a donation to our designated charitable cause, which this year will be (1) a foundation supporting families of fallen officers from the Dallas Police Department (I am working on identifying which foundation to team up with) and (2) the family of Rangers scout Jose Luis Felomina, who is battling a terminal form of cancer. You may donate any amount; for every $10 you donate, you will get one ticket for a memorabilia raffle we’ll have during the event.
As usual, I would recommend getting there as early as you can in order to get a good spot in the auditorium. Some of you will have to stand — the theater capacity includes not only the room’s 235 permanent seats but also extra folding chairs (not pictured below) and standing room.
10:30 Roundtable Q&A featuring Scott Lucas and Michael Tepid
As the theater fills up, Scott and Michael will field your questions on Rangers prospects. These are really smart baseball guys with an 80-grade sense of humor (maybe 70 in Tepid’s case), and are fantastic every year. Should be fun.
11:15 Raffle/auction, charitable presentation
As we’ve always done, we use this event to raise money for charitable efforts, including through your purchase of raffle tickets that day. For every $10 you donate, you will get one ticket for the raffle. Whoever makes the largest donation at the event will get his or her choice of any of the prizes. The remaining prizes will be raffled off.
We’ll then also have a number of special items to put up for a quick live auction, presided over by award-winning local auctioneer Bret Richards. 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.
After the auction we’ll make a quick charitable presentation.
12:00 Jon Daniels Q&A
While it’s not possible this far out to guarantee his availability, Rangers GM Jon Daniels is expected to join us, as he has the 11 previous Newberg Report Nights, for a lengthy Q&A session. The fact that the event is shortly after the trade deadline makes the possibilities even cooler, and if you’ve ever been to one of our events, you know how extraordinarily open and honest JD is with us. This is a really unique opportunity, one of my favorite days on the baseball calendar every year — and as JD has told us in the past, one of his as well.
Jon is expected to arrive around 12:00 and take your questions in the theater for about an hour and 30 minutes.
1:30 To the game
At about 1:30, we’ll conclude in the theater (and distribute auction and raffle winnings) and head to the seats/suites for the 2:05 first pitch. (Again, you’ll pick your game tickets up just inside the Hall of Fame entrance when you arrive.)
Please sign up and pay as soon as you know you’ll be coming. Spots are first come, first served — your spot is only locked in once I receive payment — and again, in many recent years we’ve sold out in less than 24 hours.
The cost, once again, is $40 (pre-game plus Upper Reserved ticket), $70 (pre-game plus All You Can Eat ticket), or $200 (pre-game plus suite ticket), and you can pay in one of two ways:
• You can order by credit card through PayPal by going to www.paypal.com, selecting the “Send money” option, and typing in GJSneaker@sbcglobal.net where you are prompted for the e-mail account. (Make sure to specify what types of tickets and in what quantity, as we have more price point options this year than in the past.)
• Or you can send a check or money order, payable to “Jamey Newberg,” to:
Vincent Serafino Geary Waddell Jenevein, P.C.
1601 Elm Street, Suite 4100
Dallas, TX 75201
If you’re paying by check, I’d recommend mailing it right away so the event doesn’t close before your payment arrives.
If you’re buying multiple tickets, I don’t need to know every attendee’s name, but if you’re paying separately from someone you want to sit with for the game (whether in seats or a suite), let me know their names in an email or in a note with your payment. The suites hold 20 people each, so if you have a group (of anywhere between two of you and 20 of you) wishing to be in a suite together, just let me know so I can be sure to put you together in the same suite . . . but you can certainly buy one suite ticket as well.
One last thing: Just like the last few years, we’re opening up sponsorship opportunities for the event. There are $500 and $1,000 sponsorship levels, both of which include two suite tickets and an autographed Bound Edition (year of your choice). At the $500 and $1,000 levels you will get mentions in all event-related email; at the $1,000 level you will also get mentions in Twitter blasts and in the 2017 Bound Edition.
If you or your business might be interested, give me a shout.
Let me know if you have questions. And let’s raise a lot for the families of our fallen police officers and for Jose and his family.
The point of this morning’s entry, as it cooked in my head the past few days, was going to be that if I were another team, I’d be aggressively trying to pry Jurickson Profar free from Texas, like Sandy Alomar Jr. blocked by Benito Santiago, Jeff Bagwell stuck behind Scott Cooper, Michael Young caught in a Felipe Lopez-Brett Abernathy-Cesar Izturis thicket that Doug Melvin capitalized on.
Objectively, Profar should not be available, or even up for a meaningful discussion. But he is, and not only because no player is untouchable in a Jon Daniels organization — he is because, the way the team is constructed, Profar certainly has greater value than as a player you can move all over the field to give teammates time to recover or just a day off here and there. While he makes this pennant contender a much better team than it would be without him, it’s at least imaginable that he could be converted, via trade, into an even more valuable piece of the puzzle, at least during the Beltre/Darvish (Desmond?) Window.
But late Wednesday afternoon, the idea behind this writing — and the look of the Rangers’ depth chart — changed, with news that Prince Fielder has a C4/5 disc herniation and was on a plane back to Texas for a medical consult to determine the next step. Some in the media have speculated that another neck surgery could be on the table, and if so, Fielder’s 2016 season, at the very least, would be over.
Shin-Soo Choo (who received an injection yesterday to address inflammation in his lower back) joined Fielder on the disabled list, but while Delino DeShields was the reasonably expected recall to take Choo’s place, it wasn’t Joey Gallo who got the call to replace Fielder on the active roster. It was utility infielder Hanser Alberto, for what, at least in immediate retrospect, is an obvious reason: the club needs a utility infielder, because Jurickson Profar is vacating that role, slated to get Prince Fielder’s full-time at-bats.
Those at-bats could come at DH some nights. On others, it could be as the club’s first baseman, with Mitch Moreland sitting. Or, as was the case last night with Rougned Odor, it could be somewhere else on the field so that an everyday player can get a half-day off by DH’ing himself. That could pay dividends later in the season, as veterans aren’t pushed as hard in the second half (at least defensively) as they were in the first.
One way or another, Profar is going to play just about every day for the foreseeable future — he’d even gotten some pregame outfield work in with Jayce Tingler earlier in the week, for the first time since 2014 — and as long as Moreland is here and healthy, having Gallo around would only serve to fortify the bench. Gallo’s recent AAA struggles (.182/.386/.333 over his last 44 plate appearances, covering nearly two weeks) notwithstanding, it wouldn’t have made sense to bring him up without a clear role, and surely everyone would agree that, of the two, Profar is the player more deserving at the moment of the everyday at-bats.
Nobody loves what Profar brings this team any more than I do. But I don’t reject the idea that trading him might be the best course of action, when considering all options. And that’s what this report was supposed to explore: Some other team taking advantage of the rare opportunity to add a young player of Profar’s stature, possible only because the makeup of his current team’s roster means that, foreseeably, he’s something less than indispensable. Some other team getting aggressive and making Texas an offer to pry Profar loose that the Rangers ultimately couldn’t turn down.
But that’s not happening.
(Anything’s still possible.)
Here’s the thing: Beat reporters are suggesting that the Rangers’ current mound woes have put Daniels in a negotiating corner, as counterpart GM’s know Texas is desperate for rotation help and could try and leverage trade talks accordingly. And it’s a fair assumption: The club’s starting pitchers have given up 79 runs (70 earned: 8.25 ERA) in 76.1 July innings (with a brutal 45 walks, all of which came around to score, it seems like) over 17 games, which is an astoundingly ugly 4.49 frames per game. Asking the bullpen to pitch more than half the game, even once through the rotation, is asking for extended trouble. For more than half a month? Scary.
But the Fielder injury in particular could have the odd consequence of giving Daniels a little leverage back, at least as far as Profar is concerned. He’s an everyday player now (even if not at shortstop, which he predicted publicly this week that he will be in 2017, somewhere), and if a team out there is serious about involving him in trade discussions, Rich Hill’s GM and Andrew Cashner’s GM and Nate Eovaldi’s GM need not waste their time.
It would have been wasted effort for those teams to ask about Profar anyway, for those players, but now there’s not even room for the misperception.
If Tampa Bay wants to talk about Chris Archer rather than Matt Moore or Jake Odorizzi?
If Chicago is willing to discuss Chris Sale instead of Jose Quintana?
Then Profar, of course, is on the table.
At this point, given his new role as an everyday player on a team that now finds itself in a dogfight, Profar’s not going anywhere for anything less than a sure thing that pitches.
One club executive tells Jon Heyman (FanRag Sports) that trades over the next two weeks will “go through the Rangers and Red Sox,” given the trade ammunition they (and the Cubs) have stocked. Keith Law (ESPN), even after last July’s trade with Philadelphia that cost Texas as much legitimate prospect depth as any trade in recent memory, called the Rangers’ farm system this week the fourth best in baseball.
That’s without Profar, who is no longer a prospect. He’s past that.
Any team with something meaningful to trade these next two weeks will call Texas.
And Texas will check in on everyone who is possibly available, and probably some who aren’t.
I don’t know if something big will get done by August 1, but if not it won’t be for lack of effort.
It’s been a season in which Texas has missed massive amounts of time from Yu Darvish and Colby Lewis and Derek Holland and A.J. Griffin, and from Shin-Soo Choo and Keone Kela and Robinson Chirinos, and from Drew Stubbs and Tanner Scheppers and Josh Hamilton. It hasn’t gotten what it expected from Mitch Moreland or Delino DeShields or Tom Wilhelmsen or Andrew Faulkner or, for a fair stretch of time, Shawn Tolleson.
And now it’s going to be without Prince Fielder for what seems bound to be half a season, not that it derived nearly enough benefit when he was in the lineup.
All that, and the Rangers, the coldest team in baseball, are just one win short of having the most in the American League, and two short of the top big league mark.
I know, and I’m right there with you: It’s been demoralizing this month to watch this team’s starting pitchers (who have one July win) consistently get behind in the count and regularly take the team out of games early. Several hitters have cooled off considerably together, to the point at which there haven’t been many innings of sustained offense. There’s been a rash of really bad baseball lately, lots of losses to inferior teams, often convincingly, and thank goodness for that historically great run the team went on in the first half, because it feels like the club may need every bit of it.
But things will turn around soon, and whatever the bundle of reasons for the bounceback will be, chances are good that Jurickson Profar will be part of that.
I had one thing in mind when, a few days ago, I came up with the title to today’s report.
Now I think its meaning is different, but no less apt.
They took Kyle Hendricks and C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm and, in a roundabout way, Pedro Strop.
But we took Anthony Iapoce and, circuitously, Robinson Chirinos, who was teammates with Chris Archer as a Cubs AA prospect and as a Rays AAA prospect and I think it may just be time to make them teammates again. Not entirely sure my vote counts.
They took Sosa and DeRosa and Madlock and Guzman.
But we took Palmeiro and Fergie, and never mind Dempster and Garza and Harden, please.
They took Ditka, Wennington, and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
We took Rodman and Belfour, and Sharp and Oduya.
I guess you could say they took Arrieta and Zobrist and Lackey, too, but they can have one of them.
They also took two games from Texas this weekend.
But we took one. And it was exceptional.
One thing I took was 47 years to get to Wrigley Field.
And this photo.
Victory handshakes are good.
Cole Hamels gave up four hits this time, four more than he allowed the last time he faced the Cubs, but once again he gave up zero earned runs.
Once again he chipped in a base hit. He’s had half as many hits as he’s allowed in those two games.
Once again he won.
With two fewer walks than the two he issued in last July’s no-hitter, and three fewer pitches per inning.
Cole Hamels’s final game as a Phillie was the gem at Wrigley Field a year ago. Yesterday we saw the pitcher Texas traded for.
Chirinos, the onetime Cubs infield prospect that Texas tried trading for before Chicago sent him (with Archer) to the Rays (for Garza), was pretty outstanding himself.
My road record with the Rangers since 2010 is now 12-4.
Eleven of the wins were playoff games.
The other one came yesterday, in the best baseball park I’ve ever been fortunate enough to step foot in.
See you in October, Wrigley.
They’ve lost 9 of 12 but still maintain a healthy (if a little less comfortable) lead in the division.
And so have they.
The Rangers and Cubs were both reeling — a fair word, I think, given that each had its league’s best win-loss record before their current skids — when the All-Star Break arrived mercifully, and when Ian Desmond tweeted, minutes after his All-Star Game appearance, “Get a recharge and see what we are made of in the second half — see you out there,” he might as well have been talking to his teammates as to you and me.
Keone Kela’s active again, but Jake Diekman’s cut left finger is evidently worse than Cole Hamels’s cut chin, and Diekman heads to the 15-day disabled list, with Derek Holland shifting to the 60-day disabled list, effectively sidelining him until August 21. Shin Soo-Choo is out of today’s lineup with what the beats are speculating is continued back stiffness, and now I’ve heard enough bad news and don’t want to type about any more of it.
The Rangers and the Cubs have been reeling, but there are three day games between the two teams on tap, starting a couple hours from now, three games that some are fairly couching as a possible late-October preview, even though since June 28 only one team in baseball has a worse record than these two.
Since today’s date one year ago, Texas has won 100 regular season games and Chicago has won 103. But that’s history.
As is the 3-9 slide both took into the Break.
Both teams are going to add muscle via trade over the next two weeks, and both are going to play in October. Maybe even against each other.
They’re about to tee it up today.
Recharged. Let’s see what the Rangers are made of.
(* Trade Rumor Offerings To Chew On For Fun, Even Yuks)
Not to be confused with veteran reliever Todd Coffey, the TROT COFFEY is (usually) a mailing list-only Newberg Report update on various trade and free agent rumblings unearthed, if not hatched, by the media or player agents:
· Bunch of trade rumors to get to, but a little housekeeping first.
· Our 12th annual Newberg Report Night (Day) at Globe Life Park will be on Sunday, August 14. This year our event will benefit two recipients.
Jose Luis Felomina scouts for the Rangers in Curacao. He’s 50 years old. He believed in Jurickson Profar from the time Profar was 11 years old. He turned A.J. Preller, Mike Daly, Don Welke, and Chu Halabi onto the kid, and without his influence, Profar might have signed with a different organization.
Jose has a wife, and they’re raising three young kids, and supporting his mother as well.
Jose also has cancer. In the last few months, it has spread terribly, and it’s terminal. We’re going to help his family out.
We’re also going to support the Dallas Police Department. After Thursday’s tragic events downtown, we decided to use our yearly gathering, which as usual will feature a lengthy Q&A with Jon Daniels in the Hall of Fame Theater, to give a few hundred Rangers fans an opportunity to help out in some small way. We may support the DPD through the Stand United campaign benefiting the Assist the Officer Foundation, or maybe through the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation. I’m still working on sorting that out.
As always, we’ll have an extensive raffle and auction of Rangers memorabilia and experiences (if you have items you want to donate to the auction, please let me know), and admission will include a ticket to that day’s series finale against Detroit. There will be seats available at three different price points, including luxury suites and All-You-Can-Eat seats.
Talk with your friends about this if you think you might be interested. We’ll open registration up in the next few days, and capacity is around 300 people. In many years we’ve sold the event out in less than 24 hours. Given the opportunity to help Jose and the DPD, to spend an hour and a half talking with JD, and to catch a pennant race game with six weeks to go before the playoffs, I’m expecting this year’s to sell out quickly.
· The day before the shootings in Downtown Dallas, the “Insignificant Others” podcast did an interview with me that lasted more than an hour. We talked about the beginnings of the Newberg Report and touched on a ton of topics regarding the current Rangers team. Given the timing, I didn’t feel right mentioning it until now.
You can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/insignificantotherspodcast/episode-13-jamey-newberg
· Onto today’s COFFEY.
· Fourteen of the game’s 30 clubs are within 2.0 games of a playoff spot. As Peter Gammons (Gammons Daily) puts it: “Good for [the] game, good for revenue-sharing, bad for [the] trade market.”
· We talk about it every year, but since the advent of the second Wild Card slot, there just aren’t many teams who lock themselves in as sellers before the last few days of July. Teams who lean that way but aren’t yet convinced they have no shot in 2016 are going to ask for too much right now: If we’re going to punt on this season, you need to give us a slam dunk reason to do it.
Makes it tough, at least this early in the month.
· While we all expect Texas to add at least one established pitcher this month via trade, and more likely two, the year-old rumors that the Rangers and Brewers could line up on a trade for catcher Jonathan Lucroy have not only persisted — they’ve actually gained steam over the last week, in terms of media attention.
· Lucroy, age 30, is having a resurgent season both at the plate and behind it, and told Jon Heyman (FanRag) this week: “I want to be competitive. I want to be on a team that is playing for a championship. If that’s the Brewers, great. If not, not.”
· Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports) reports this week that an “astonishing” 18 pro scouts were on hand for a recent Rangers Rookie League game, more than one of whom were apparently dispatched by Milwaukee, fueling speculation that the Brewers could be interested in younger Texas prospects like 17-year-old outfielder Leody Taveras and 18-year-old shortstop Anderson Tejeda. (I’m also a fan of catcher Yohel Pozo on that club.) Rosenthal suspects Milwaukee “probably would want one of the Rangers’ top prospects, a Jurickson Profar [or] Joey Gallo. But a youngster like Taveras or Tejeda could end up as part of a deal.”
· The Brewers (albeit under a different regime) targeted righthander Marcos Diplan in their trade of Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers, even though Diplan, then 18, had yet to even pitch stateside. They were smart to do it. Trading for players as far from the big leagues as Taveras or Tejeda may seem a little unorthodox, but Milwaukee has been to that well with Texas and had it pay off before.
· You’d also expect Texas to put either Robinson Chirinos or Bobby Wilson (both of whom can be controlled past this season) in a Lucroy deal, and I wonder if Brewers GM David Stearns, who came over from the Astros front office, might be interested in Delino DeShields. I imagine nobody with Houston rode the fence on DeShields — Stearns probably either covets the idea of giving him an opportunity to refind his 2015 magic, or wants no part of him.
· I’d very much like to see Texas gets its hands on Milwaukee southpaw reliever Will Smith in any deal for Lucroy as well. Bullpen righty Tyler Thornburg has been mentioned as a possible target as well. Heyman spitballed the idea several weeks ago that Gallo might be enough to land Lucroy — I’d be reluctant to put Gallo in a deal for anything other than a controllable frontline starting pitcher, but if the Brewers insisted on him and more, that’s when Smith (who is controllable through 2019) would have to be part of the deal for me.
· Rosenthal suggests that second-tier Rangers prospects like righthanders Ariel Jurado and Connor Sadzeck, outfielder Ryan Cordell, first baseman Ronald Guzman, and catcher Jose Trevino are generating some level of interest around the league.
· San Diego lefthander Drew Pomeranz, who was chosen by Texas as part of its standout 2007 draft but not signed, has pitched for four organizations, breaking out this season with the Padres, who are believed to be shopping a number of veterans. Rosenthal reported this week that the Rangers are “interested in . . . Pomeranz, [and] have done background work on him.” He’s been outstanding this year, holding opponents to an anemic .184/.267/.288 slash line — with road splits that are actually better than his home numbers, dispelling any fear that his success has been an artificial product of Petco Park — with a breaking ball that regularly misses bats, but (1) I just don’t see parting with a Profar or Gallo-level asset in a deal for the 27-year-old and (2) I doubt Preller would accept less, given that Pomeranz is affordably controllable through 2018.
· According to Dennis Lin (San Diego Union-Tribune), Preller “is said to be particularly infatuated with” Profar, but “[p]rying Profar away likely would take far more than Pomeranz.”
· If the Rangers and Padres do get together on a deal, I’d like to see Ryan Buchter or Brad Hand, both left-handed relievers, involved.
· LaVelle E. Neal III (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) reports that Texas recently “took a hard look” at Twins righthander Ervin Santana, who has a 1.63 ERA (.173/.214/.235 slash) in his last four starts (one of which was against the Rangers) but who is owed more than $34 million through 2018.
· According to Jim Bowden (ESPN/XM), Texas and Tampa Bay “have had trade talks regarding a deal that would send [righthander] Jake Odorizzi to the Rangers in exchange for a bat.” Bowden suggests Profar, Gallo, and Lewis Brinson are among the Rangers players the Rays are interested in. Rays lefthander Matt Moore is believed to be available as well, while it appears to be unlikely that the club would part with righthander Chris Archer.
· Rosenthal reports that the Rangers don’t think highly enough of Atlanta righthander Julio Teheran to include Profar in a deal for the 25-year-old, under control through 2020.
· Daniels told Rob Bradford (WEEI) that the Rangers called Boston over the winter about knuckleballer Steven Wright, but the Red Sox weren’t interested in moving the 31-year-old, who’s in the middle of a breakout season.
· Buster Olney (ESPN) hears that the Rangers, Nationals, and Giants are “poised to be most aggressive in pursuit of late-inning relief help,” with all three clubs linked to Yankees relievers Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman should New York make them available.
· Before San Diego traded Fernando Rodney to Miami, Heyman proposed a Padres deal that would have sent Rodney and fellow reliever Brandon Maurer to Texas for Jurado and shortstop Michael De Leon. Heyman noted that Atlanta reliever “Arodys Vizcaino, a younger pitcher also having a dominating season, may be a bigger target for Texas, but the Braves are asking for a ‘(Ken) Giles-type return.’”
· The Rangers were reportedly zeroing in on a minor league deal with 32-year-old Cuban free agent outfielder Alexei Bell, who has played the last two seasons in Canada and Mexico. According to Jesse Sanchez (MLB.com), Bell could be assigned to Frisco sometime in July.
· Texas traded outfielder Ryan Strausborger to Seattle for the Mariners’ fourth international bonus slot, adding $210,700 to the Rangers’ $2.1574 million bonus pool. Texas spent a reported $800,000 of its pool on switch-hitting Venezuelan catcher David Garcia, judged by many to be the top catcher available in this summer’s J2 class.
· Among Baseball Prospectus’s mid-season prospect rankings are Gallo at number 12, Brinson at number 22, lefthander Yohander Mendez at number 47, and righthander Luis Ortiz at number 48. Baseball America has Gallo at number 11, Brinson at number 30, and Ortiz at number 74.
· It’s been a disappointing season for Brinson from a health and production standpoint (.242/.300/.468) after his breakout 2015, but he may be coming alive, having homered in three straight RoughRiders games.
· Ian Desmond has known Shawn Tolleson, what, four months? During the All-Star Game moment last night, following the fifth inning, when players, coaches, umpires, media, and fans held up “I Stand Up For ______” cards showing their support for someone in their lives battling cancer, Desmond held two cards, on one of which he handwrote: “Mark Tolleson.” That’s Shawn’s Dad.
Ian Desmond, man.
· The Rangers, according to Jeff Wilson (Fort Worth Star-Telegram), intend to discuss a contract extension with Desmond “after the season and before he hits free agency for the second straight off-season.” Daniels commented: “We’d be crazy not to want to continue the relationship. At the same time, we’ve got a good thing going on with the team, and no one involved wants a distraction. We all agree that it’s best to lay low, and, if and when we talk, to handle it privately.” Desmond: “I’m having a great time here.”
· Stay tuned for more details on Newberg Report Night — very soon.