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.
I heard from a few unhappy Rangers fans yesterday, after news broke that the Rangers and pitching coach Mike Maddux were parting ways.
He’ll be missed. In his seven seasons here, he brought credibility to the position and to the staff. He was here from the 2009 season through the 2015 season, and that right there, with nothing more, should tell you plenty about his impact on Texas Rangers baseball.
But until we know the rest of the story — and I’m not talking about the reasons why Maddux reportedly chose to look around after the Rangers made him an offer to remain — can anyone really take a position on whether this is a development that just might work out? Don’t we first need to see what Texas does to fill the role?
And probably give the new pitching coach some time to see how things fit?
I got similar emails last October when Tom Bogar wasn’t hired to manage this club full-time, and instead the job went to a relative unknown from the Pirates organization.
Let’s wait a little.
Evan Grant (Dallas Morning News) wrote this:
The decision came down mostly to business. The Rangers were prepared to keep the status quo at pitching coach and offered Maddux a two-year deal after the season. Maddux, who has overseen the six lowest staff ERAs in the 22 seasons at Globe Life Park, wanted to either further negotiate his situation or have a chance to explore his market value.
Though technically still under contract until Saturday, the Rangers gave Maddux permission to shop around. As the process went on, it became more realistic Maddux would go elsewhere.
The Rangers began their own contingency search and review and decided there was the possibility of improvement.
The possibility of improvement.
At the end of the 2013 season, in the context of the Rangers deciding to make a change at bench coach, I wrote a report on that subject. Here’s part of it:
Give in to nostalgia, and resist change, and in professional sports you find yourself over-extending Terence Newman and Jay Ratliff, or re-committing wistfully to Roy Tarpley, and ending up where you end up.
When Texas walked away from closer Mike Henneman after its first-ever playoff season in 1996 and signed John Wetteland, it was an obvious upgrade, but the move the following winter that sent Jim Leyritz and more to Boston for Aaron Sele and more, with Sele coming off two post-injury seasons of ERA’s over 5.00, was less of a no-brainer at the time. Doug Melvin thought it would make Texas better. He was right.
After a second playoff appearance (and second instant exit) in three years, Will Clark was out and Rafael Palmeiro was back in. Not an indictment on Clark.
A winter later, after a third playoff exit at the Yankees hands in four years, Melvin decided that moving Juan Gonzalez (who’d scoffed at the concept of an extension in the six-year, $75 million Larry Walker neighborhood) in a package to get Justin Thompson (coming off a Sele-like regression) plus kids Gabe Kapler and Francisco Cordero and versatile bat Frank Catalanotto was a change worth making. It didn’t pan out the way Texas had hoped, primarily because of Thompson’s health.
The massive changes the following off-season — buying Alex Rodriguez and tacking on Andres Galarraga, Ken Caminiti, Randy Velarde, Mark Petkovsek, and Jeff Brantley, each a decade older than the superstar shortstop, while moving on from Wetteland and Royce Clayton — were designed to make the Rangers better, as was the next winter’s forfeiture of premium draft picks to sign Chan Ho Park and 30-somethings Todd Van Poppel, Jay Powell, and Gonzalez, plus the acquisitions of John Rocker and Hideki Irabu and Dave Burba and now I’m tired of going through this exercise.
Here’s the point: Moving on from Lee and Hamilton and Napoli and Uehara, and Clark and Wetteland and Leyritz and Clayton, wasn’t necessarily a knock on any of those players. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse, and when you let C.J. Wilson walk so you can go all in on Yu Darvish, and when you decide not to meet your 32-year-old warrior ace’s six-year ask and instead invest in five years of Adrian Beltre, the one thing needs to be viewed in the context of the other.
You can, and should, always look to get better, whether you’re coming off three straight seasons with win totals in the low 70’s or two straight World Series appearances, and organizations that don’t do that tend to get into trouble, and not only in the short term.
“We were good. But not good enough,” said Jon Daniels about his 2013 club, in a press conference three days after it was done playing. “We’ve got to get better. . . . We’re in the middle of what we feel is a tremendous run — but we’re not satisfied. We want more. . . . One and done isn’t good enough. It’s not acceptable.”
Good. But not good enough.
Daniels added: “There’s no area of the organization where we can’t get better. And that includes me and Ron.”
It also, in Daniels’s estimation, includes the manager’s coaching staff, and part of the turnover from 2013 to 2014 — and there will be lots of turnover — has already been set in motion, as the contracts of bench coach Jackie Moore and first base coach Dave Anderson were not renewed.
The dismissal of Moore generated the bigger media reaction, in large part because of raw comments nearly instantly attributed by some to the 74-year-old (though refuted elsewhere) in which he reportedly said he believed he was fired because he was “a Nolan guy.”
I love Yu Darvish, but I would trade him for Clayton Kershaw.
I can’t wait to see what’s next for Leonys Martin, but if I could get Mike Trout or Andrew McCutchen I’d be happy to see Martin take that next step in an Angels or Pirates uniform.
Adrian Beltre is my favorite Ranger ever, but offer me Manny Machado for him, and I’ll tee up an extremely lengthy Beltre retrospective and move on.
Chuck Morgan . . . well, no, Chuck Morgan is untouchable.
But Elvis Andrus or Ian Kinsler or Jurickson Profar or Derek Holland or Martin Perez or Tanner Scheppers or Rougned Odor or Luke Jackson or Joey Gallo or Lewis Brinson: If the front office believes moving them helps the Rangers get better, I’d prefer that they follow their evaluations and the output of their internal discussions than lean on nostalgia and what might be more popular in the clubhouse or with the fan base.
Is it fair to assume that the Rangers deciding they needed to get better at the bench coach spot doesn’t necessarily mean they believed Moore couldn’t do the job any more?
When Texas let Wetteland go after the 2000 season, opting instead to turn the ninth inning over to 28-year-old Jeff Zimmerman, with the 25-year-old Cordero being groomed for the role, it wasn’t necessarily because the club felt the 34-year-old Wetteland was no longer capable of getting hitters out with the game on the line.
It was because the Rangers thought they could get better.
* * *
Ron Washington tipped his cap to Moore and Anderson, acknowledging that things like this happen in the game and you move forward. He echoed the importance of trying to get better, and in doing so said he expects their replacements to be “strong coaches, will-wise and preparation-wise.” Daniels, who said the idea any time the franchise is looking to add coaches or officials is to find “smart, strong people who share our vision,” defined the profile for the ideal bench coach as someone who is prepared, who brings energy, who is positive with the players. Someone who helps the manager think a batter ahead. An inning ahead. A game ahead.
Maybe Moore is really good at all of those things.
But maybe there’s someone out there who could be better for what this particular Rangers team needs, in this stage of its evolution, a baseball franchise that has reached a certain level of success and faces the natural and formidable challenge of trying to stay there, and to exceed it.
Darvish/Kershaw. Martin/McCutchen. Loui Eriksson and prospects for Tyler Seguin.
You never stop looking for ways to get better.
Mike Maddux was great for this franchise. Nobody is suggesting otherwise, including the front office that apparently offered him two more years to stay sometime in the last couple weeks.
But what if Maddux finds a situation that’s better for him and his family?
And what if the Rangers find a pitching coach that, going forward, makes better sense (even to some of you who refuse to consider that possibility) and makes the Texas Rangers better?
There are at least three internal pitching instructors worthy of consideration — minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark, AAA pitching coach Brad Holman, and AA pitching coach Jeff Andrews — all superstars whose departure would generate fewer emails than I got from some of you yesterday about Maddux but whose lower-profile place in this organization is absolutely critical.
If you don’t think those guys had a whole lot to do with Derek Holland and Martin Perez and Keone Kela and Chi Chi Gonzalez and Nick Martinez and Andrew Faulkner and Nick Tepesch and Jake Thompson and Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher and C.J. Edwards and Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm and Marcos Diplan and Luis Ortiz and Brett Martin and Yohander Mendez and I’d go on for a long time if I didn’t have to go to work today, well, you’d be very wrong.
There are now two positions on the coaching staff that Clark or Holman or Andrews could fit. They evidently interviewed already for the first one (bullpen coach, which had been held down by Andy Hawkins). Now they’re candidates for pitching coach as well.
And, like with Bogar a year ago, if the Rangers decide there’s an external candidate better suited to be in charge of the big league pitching staff than Clark or Holman or Andrews — and than Maddux — wouldn’t that be a good thing, if you believe in this front office’s ability to acquire talent?
Man, I believe in them in that area, 100 percent.
An opportunity has developed. Shouldn’t we hang tight a bit before judging Mike Maddux’s departure?
The Royals got eight brilliant innings from their bullpen on Tuesday night but needed none on Wednesday, as Johnny Cueto shoved at an epic level, making me sad that the Rangers aren’t battling the Mets right now but happy that baseball isn’t yet done for the year.
Of course, baseball’s never really done for the year.
The GM Meetings start in Florida on November 9, a week from Monday, and by then the Rangers will make news, as the deadline for teams to make qualifying offers (one year at approximately $15.8 million) to their free agents is five days after the World Series ends. The World Series will end somewhere between Saturday and Wednesday, making the QO deadline somewhere between November 5 and November 9.
Free agents who are tendered qualifying offers then have seven days to decline or accept.
No player has ever accepted the qualifying offer in the three years that the system has been in place.
Would Yovani Gallardo be the first? Seems like you have to take that risk if you’re the Rangers, to lay claim to the compensatory pick at the end of the first round in the likely event that the 29-year-old turns the offer down so he can sign the second and likely largest (and last?) multi-year contract of his career.
Yes, the free agent market is deep in starting pitchers this winter. But there’s going to be a host of teams unable (or unwilling) to play ball at the monetary level that Cueto and David Price and Zack Greinke and Jordan Zimmerman and Hisashi Iwakuma and Jeff Samardzija and maybe even Marco Estrada will require. Gallardo will command less money annually than each of those starters, and fewer years than most (three or four?), and there’s almost no team who wouldn’t be in the market for 180 routinely effective and always healthy innings.
Sure, Gallardo could accept the QO and roll the dice that he’ll repeat 2015 and hit the market a year from now with far less starting pitcher competition. But if you were his agent, would you bank on a repeat of his numbers in 2016?
No player has ever accepted the QO, and I doubt Gallardo would be the first.
Baseball’s never really done for the year, as winter ball and fall ball before it set the stage for young players taking yet another step forward.
Jurickson Profar reported to the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League a week ago today.
That day, he doubled and homered, while his teammate Lewis Brinson singled twice.
The next day, Profar doubled and stole a base, and Brinson tripled.
The day after that, Profar singled two times and drew three walks, while Brinson sat.
Neither played on Sunday, because the AFL rests.
On Monday, Profar and Brinson each tripled, and Profar added a double.
Tuesday: Brinson doubled and stole a base. Profar sat.
Yesterday: Profar doubled and walked twice, and Brinson homered, drew two walks, and added a steal.
Profar has hit safely and driven in runs in each of his five AFL games. Six of his eight hits for extra bases. Five walks and one strikeout.
Since Profar arrived, Brinson has hit safely in each of his five games, driving in runs in four of those and scoring runs in four games as well. Seven hits, four for extra bases.
Teammates for a long time.
Conceivably with Korean Byung-ho Park, the right-right first baseman who will reportedly be posted Monday by the Nexen Heroes (where he’s teammates with former Rangers Brad Snyder and Ryan Feierabend)? Travis Sawchik (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) reports that Texas, one of 20 teams that have scouted Park, “have sent top executives” to see the 29-year-old play. Park, in his four full seasons with the Heroes, has hit 31, 37, 52, and 53 home runs, increasing his OPS each year (.954, 1.039, 1.119, 1.150).
Sawchik could be teeing up an article about Pittsburgh losing a coach off Clint Hurdle’s staff for the second straight winter, as Pirates third base coach Rick Sofield (whose playing career ended in 1982 with AAA Denver in the Rangers system) is reportedly the favorite to land the managerial post in San Diego. Sofield and Ron Gardenhire are apparently the finalists for the job.
Hurdle strongly recommended Jeff Banister to his old bosses in Texas last winter. Sounds like he’s probably done the same with A.J. Preller as far as Sofield is concerned.
Speaking of Banister, he and Mike Ferrin (MLB Network Radio) have agreed to write the forewords for this winter’s Newberg Report Bound Edition, which adds a pretty big reason you should absolutely buy copies of the book for your boss, your secretary, your neighbor, your Uber driver, your kids who are always in need of new reading material, and you. Details on how to buy the book will be available very soon.
Huge, huge thanks to Banny and Mike for agreeing to give the book a massive boost.
Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports) wrote late in the summer that Texas and Washington engaged in “wide-ranging” talks last winter about righthander Stephen Strasburg, “but never got close to a deal.” According to Rosenthal, Profar interested the Nationals, and the Rangers also kicked the tires on outfielder Steven Souza, whom Washington eventually moved to Tampa Bay in a deal to get shortstop prospect Trea Turner and righthander Joe Ross.
With the Nationals hiring Bud Black as their new manager, it’s less likely that Strasburg is going anywhere before he can test free agency a year from now. Black, like Strasburg a San Diego State product, apparently goes way back with the righthander, and Strasburg is obviously a key to Washington returning to contention.
If Black didn’t land a job as a manager, many speculated that he would have returned to the Angels as pitching coach, a role he’d held from 2000 to 2006 on Mike Scioscia’s staff (before getting the opportunity to manage the Padres). The Angels had dismissed pitching coach Mike Butcher earlier this month — and he’s already landed the same job with the Diamondbacks.
On that same subject, Alden Gonzalez (MLB.com) reports that Mike Maddux is “soliciting offers from other clubs” and could be a candidate to join the Angels if he decides to leave the Rangers.
Big congrats to Michael Tepid, who is joining the staff of 2080 Baseball.
Bigger congrats to 2080, which is getting the benefit of Mike’s big baseball brain.
(Quick aside: Reminder to read this if you have a frontline 11U ballplayer looking for a new team.)
Shocking word has broken this morning that Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos is leaving the Jays, unable to come to terms with ownership on a contract extension, and it’s probably a good thing that a certain segment of Jays fans are probably coming up empty looking around to see if they have any projectile bottles left.
What now for Anthopoulos? There are no GM vacancies around the league at the moment, and Boston’s first base coach position has already been filled.
As has Miami’s managerial job, which Don Mattingly has apparently just agreed to take, days after the Dodgers let him go.
Steve Barningham, the Mets scout credited for pounding his fist on the table as a first-year scout in 2006 until his club used its 13th-round pick on Daniel Murphy, spent two years as a player in affiliated minor league ball — as a Class A outfielder with the Rangers in 2000 and 2001.
Barningham played with 21 future big leaguers those two years in Port Charlotte, including Colby Lewis.
Lewis won’t get a qualifying offer next week, but he seems like a much better bet to return to the Rangers in 2016 than Gallardo.
That situation is days away from starting to unfold, while Profar and Brinson keep stacking up the extra-base hits.
Baseball is never really done for the year.
As I was going through the final edit process on this year’s book, I came across this late-January entry, titled “Things I’d like to see,” which listed a bunch of (mostly) baseball wishes for 2015.
I thought, on this, the four-year anniversary of perhaps the unlinkably worst day in local sports history, that I’d revisit the list to see how things turned out this season.
(Oh, and also, here’s a link to the audio from the nearly hour-long Rangers roundtable I was invited to join Ben Rogers, Jared Sandler, and Mike Bacsik on last week on 105.3 The Fan: http://cbsloc.al/1kAR42H)
The January list:
* A trade for Cliff Lee. If Texas really did go down the road [this winter] with Philadelphia on Cole Hamels, and if money really was the primary sticking point, then it’s probably fair to assume there was some level of consensus on Rangers prospects that (1) the Phillies like and (2) the Rangers were willing to consider putting in a deal. That’s valuable information. Scale back the Hamels package — take the best player in the deal off the table, for example — and go from there. This can wait until July.
Well, Lee never did pitch in 2015, sidelined all year with a forearm strain. But Texas-Philadelphia talks did revive in July, on Hamels after all, and that’s one reason I’m so fired up about the 2016 season and beyond.
* A key non-roster acquisition in the next three weeks. Jeff Banister appears to be committed to using his bench more than Ron Washington did. Maybe that convinces a player who wouldn’t have chosen an non-guaranteed opportunity in Texas the last several years to take one now. Not that there are lots of candidates still floating out there — but I’d like to see the bench boosted one more time.
Over those ensuing three weeks, Texas signed righthander Jamey Wright and outfielders Ryan Ludwick and Nate Schierholtz to non-roster deals. None stuck.
* On that subject, Mitch Moreland and Kyle Blanks putting together the first .800+ OPS season by Texas designated hitters since 2011.
That worked out well, no matter how you look at it. Moreland (who didn’t DH much) and Blanks combined for an .820 OPS (.283/.333/.487), while Rangers DH’s had an .824 mark (.298/.370/.454).
* Blanks doing enough to make the Josh Donaldson trade look even worse for Oakland.
Man, it looked like Blanks was on his way to a really big year before he got hurt in June. (He declined the Rangers’ outright assignment this week and is now a free agent again.)
Of course, Donaldson did enough on his own in 2015 to turn that terrible A’s trade into an unmitigated disaster.
* Juan Gonzalez. It’s been 10 years since he played and I don’t think I’ve seen him since. He was Josh Hamilton before Josh Hamilton. Some former teammate of Juando needs to convince him to show up before one home game this year. Just one.
Never saw that he made it to a game, but my son and I did get to see him in August, and that was really cool.
* More and more beasts landing in the National League. With the Dodgers and Nationals and Cubs spending like they are, and the Padres trading for everyone, it’s kinda cool to see some high-end talent moving away from the AL. Seems like it’s been forever since that’s happened.
Of the impact players who changed leagues this season, things seemed to tilt back toward the American League a bit. You had Hamels, Jake Diekman, and Sam Dyson coming to the AL, along with Johnny Cueto, Troy Tulowitzki, Ben Revere, Carlos Gomez, and Mike Fiers, with Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Jose Reyes, and Joakim Soria among those moving over to the National League.
* Delino DeShields having as strong a camp as Michael Choice did a year ago (.369/.406/.708 and standout defense), and a better season.
DeShields didn’t have as strong a camp (.256/.319/.465) as Choice did a year earlier.
As for the season? DeShields was one of the absolute bright spots of the year, obviously, a transformative force in the lineup — while Choice ended up sold in August to the Indians, who kept him in AAA (.204/.306/.3532) even when the minor league season ended and big league rosters expanded.
* Non-roster invite Engel Beltre walking up to non-roster invite Geovany Soto in White Sox camp and asking him to stop smoothing the dirt after every double-pump throw back to the pitcher, to which Soto responds: “Do I know you?”
You can’t prove this didn’t happen before Chicago released Beltre in May. (He finished the year with San Francisco’s AAA club.)
* Three of Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell, Ronald Guzman, Jairo Beras, and Travis Demeritte putting up pinball numbers against Cal League pitching. That sort of thing happens in High Desert. Artificial to a point, maybe, but doesn’t hurt trade value, or confidence.
(Speaking of Brinson and trade value, I wrote this back in June 2012, on the day he was drafted: “If it sounds by the tone of this report that I’m already cooking up a 2015 trade that involves Lewis Brinson and Yovani Gallardo, I’m not.” Brinson didn’t go in the trade, obviously, but trading for Gallardo in 2015 happened, and that’s just a little freaky.)
Brinson (.337/.416/.628) and Cordell (.311/.376/.528) certainly did their part, forcing their way to Frisco (and in Brinson’s case, to Round Rock by season’s end), and Guzman did if you break his High Desert season down between May/June (.232/.266/.348) and July/August/September (.311/.358/.498). Hope Guzman (who turned 21 just this month) can build off that in 2016. He needs to.
Beras and Demeritte never made it to High A in 2016. But their arrows pointed in opposite directions this year.
* Some starting pitcher, maybe Yohander Mendez, opening eyes by keeping the ball down and not getting pinballed in High Desert.
Mendez repeated Low A Hickory in 2015 and pitched well (.230/.278/.298, just two home runs surrendered, 15 walks and 74 strikeouts in 66.1 innings, 2.44 ERA). Of the Mavericks pitchers, lefthander Frank Lopez did the best job among the starters (.226/.280/.381 opponents’ slash, 2.95 ERA) and earned a promotion to Frisco, where he struggled in his first look at AA hitters.
* Birdman, Boyhood, Whiplash, Cake, Still Alice, American Sniper, The Imitation Game. Realistically, maybe three of those.
Only got Boyhood and Whiplash in. Whiplash was awesome.
* The new Star Wars movie at least meeting expectations.
We optimistic on that?
* Martin Perez joining the club in July.
* Joey Gallo joining the club in August.
In a pennant race.
June, and it wasn’t in a pennant race.
* Keone Kela wearing the pink backpack over the final six weeks, and maybe more after that.
He instead wore it the very first six weeks, and most every week thereafter. After a two-week break at the end of August, the 22-year-old came back to make 19 scoreless appearances (16.2-8-0-0-4-21, one double among the eight base hits, .145/.203/.164 slash, seven of nine inherited runners stranded) to finish the regular season, after which he allowed one hit in three playoff innings.
What a story that dude was.
* Derek Holland, who led the American League in shutouts in 2011: That guy.
We saw that guy against Baltimore on August 30. His 6-0 shutout of the Orioles (three hits, no walks, 11 punchouts, retired the final 14 hitters) completed a sweep and brought Texas to within three games of the division lead, and they hadn’t been closer than that in more than two months.
Wish we saw it more often than that. And I hope when he’s that guy again, that it’s still in Texas.
* Jurickson Profar, who led baseball in prospect hype in 2012: That guy.
The early AFL returns (.412/.500/.882 in 20 plate appearances, five of his seven hits for extra bases, just one strikeout) are promising, at least.
* Jellyfish reuniting.
(That’s the least likely thing on this list.)
* Hamilton meeting his season goals (which, as always, are focused on his own statistics), but his team missing the bigger ones.
To be fair, this was in reference to the Angels team that then owned (but disclaimed) him.
And Los Angeles did fall short, happily — at the Rangers’ hands on the regular season’s final weekend, with Hamilton driving in runs in three of the four games, including the two Texas wins.
* Robinson Chirinos and Carlos Corporan suppressing any urge to rush Jorge Alfaro.
I doubt Alfaro would have seen Texas before September and maybe not even then, considering he didn’t return from his ankle injury until late in the year, well after his trade to Philadelphia. But Chirinos and Chris Gimenez (and at times, Corporan and Bobby Wilson) held things down adequately anyway.
* Kyuji Fujikawa closing out a shutout that Yu Darvish started for the first time since the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Remember Fujikawa’s two games in relief for the Rangers in May? I don’t believe you.
Still, he pitched twice more than Darvish did in 2015.
And Texas was still a playoff team.
* Darvish and Adrian Beltre, maybe 10 months from now, replacing their current contracts with newer, shinier ones.
OK: One of them.
It’s been nine months.
Will the Rangers extend Beltre this winter beyond 2016?
* Prince Fielder, at even 15 percent less than the 100 percent that he’s said to be at now. Good Prince changes everything.
Named yesterday by The Sporting News as the AL Comeback Player of the Year.
Sure missed his bat in the Jays series, though.
* Getting past Ballghazi Week so we can get to Kyler’s Monday decision on which school he’ll disappoint four months later when he decides to go pro as a second baseman en route to developing into a lockdown center fielder.
The baseball thing didn’t happen, but there’s been plenty of drama anyway. Fascinated to see where this heads.
* Matt Harrison between the lines.
Those three July starts were among the really cool moments of 2015.
Hope he’s not done.
Bet he lands back here, somehow.
* Weeks before sending three legitimate prospects to the Phillies, Texas obliterating its international bonus pool on July 2, adding further to the pipeline that will have been boosted a few weeks earlier in the draft.
Phillies: Check (though it was five legit prospects, not three).
Texas didn’t blow through its international cap, but the organization did land a few high profile names, starting with center fielder Leody Taveras.
* The number four pick in the country, at Fall Instructs.
On the long weekend of October 1-2-3-4.
When I’ll be watching the season-ending series at home against the Angels from the Brookside Sports Bar in Surprise, with the primary objective of those four games getting Darvish, Holland, Gallardo, and Lee and the bullpen properly lined up for the following week.
I did see Dillon Tate in Surprise, but it was one weekend earlier, and it was Rangers-Astros I was watching while out there. It was tense and awesome and I can’t wait to watch pennant race baseball in Surprise at the end of the 2016 season.
And on some weekend — maybe one of the above — about four weeks short of a new reason to celebrate October 27, and make it an anniversary worth remembering, and linking to.