A follow-up on the COFFEY dump, because this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while but didn’t know how to drill down into second-level splits data until the great Dave Cameron gave me an Excel tip this morning . . . .
I’ve seen lots of noise made about Justin Upton’s uneven splits. He’s a lifetime .307/.389/.548 (.937 OPS) hitter at Chase Field, a mere .250/.325/.406 (.731 OPS) hitter elsewhere.
The equivalent of 2012 Prince Fielder at home, Michael Saunders away.
The disparity was even greater in 2012 alone: .313/.390/.534 (.924 OPS) at home, .252/.326/.344 (.670 OPS) away.
Robinson Cano vs. Rafael Furcal.
So, buyer beware, right?
Well, as someone pointed out (I can’t find where I saw it), lots of Upton’s road games have been in the pitchers’ parks of the NL West.
So I wanted to see how Upton has fared in the five AL West parks, and in American League parks as a whole – not how he’s hit against AL clubs, that is, but how things have gone when he’s been in their ballparks.
In 209 plate appearances in AL ballparks, Upton has hit .317/.393/.465 (.858 OPS). In other words, 2012 Dexter Fowler.
Of those, 88 trips have come in Texas, Anaheim, Oakland, Seattle, and Houston: .314/.373/.454 (.826 OPS). Or 2012 Alex Gordon.
A dozen of those plate appearances came in Seattle, in 2009 (one of his two great seasons). He went 5 for 11 with a home run and a walk, and no strikeouts, good for a .455/.500/.727 slash (1.227 OPS).
No wonder the Mariners are seduced.
Upton has been a lot better in AL West parks (.826 OPS), not to mention AL parks as a whole (.858 OPS), than he’s been away from Chase Field altogether (.731 OPS).
So, you know, there’s that.
Here’s where we stand as far as Monday night’s book release event at Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub & Grill in Dallas (9100 North Central Expressway), benefiting the Emilie Parker Memorial Fund, is concerned.
Current guests include Rangers Minor League Player of the Year Mike Olt and undefinable local celebrity Michael Gruber, formerly of The Ticket. I might have news later today on another player as well.
Ben Rogers of ESPN 103.3 FM will emcee the event.
You can bring your Bound Editions or whatever else you want to get autographed by our guests (limit two items per featured guest, please), and I’ll have 2013, 2012, and 2011 books on hand as well.
For every $10 you donate to Emilie’s Fund upon arrival, you will get one ticket for our raffle. Whoever makes the largest donation will get his or her choice of any one raffle item, and the remaining stuff will be awarded by drawing. We’ll have an auction of some bigger stuff as well. Participation in the raffle and auction are reserved for folks present at the event.
As with our December event, 100 percent of the raffle and auction proceeds will go toward Emilie’s Fund, which will support not only the Parker family but the other 19 families of the kids whose lives were lost at Sandy Hook Elementary as well.
The raffle and auction lists continue to grow, but for now I expect the following:
- Autographed baseballs, including Nolan Ryan, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Jurickson Profar, Justin Grimm, Steve Buechele, John Wetteland, Ozzie Smith, Clayton Kershaw, Hunter Pence, Edinson Volquez, Alex Gordon
- Autographed baseball featuring most of the 2012 Rangers
- Autographed Rafael Palmeiro bat
- Autographed Hamilton/Cruz/Murphy bat
- Official MLB base autographed by Mike Olt
- Autographed Ruben Sierra jersey
- Autographed photos, including Nolan Ryan, Ted Williams, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Martin Perez, Jesus Montero
- Autographed baseball cards, including Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, Martin Perez,
- A sit-in with the Norm Hitzges Show at the Ticket studios for up to four people, including pre-show meetings and airing of Norm’s show
- A date with Grubes
- Lunch for four with Grubes
- Original Mike Olt painting by local artist Pat Payton
- Will Clark lithograph signed by Clark and artist Vernon Wells Sr.
- “2011 ALDS Champs” bottle of sparkling wine autographed by Elvis Andrus & Mike Adams
- Unused tickets for every 2010 Rangers playoff game
- Custom framing for a baseball jersey or baseball shadowbox ($500 value)
- Portrait session with celebrity photographer Kevin Jairaj ($500 value)
- Two lower bowl tickets and parking pass to any Rangers home game in 2013 (excluding Opening Day)
- Texas Stadium seatback featuring picture of Tom Landry
- Original Sporting News proof picture of Steve Buechele
- Seven Yu Darvish rookie cards
- Uncut sheet of Texas Rangers playing cards and set of Rangers playing cards
- Original art work of Buddy Bell for five cards in Rangers playing card set
- Two custom iPhone 4 cases, featuring local artist Pat Payton’s artwork of Nolan Ryan and Yu Darvish
- Dessert Chips and Salsa Gift Basket from Dread Head Chef
Other things to know:
- The autograph line will get moving at 6:00 pm, but you can arrive earlier if you’d like. We’ll plan to be at Sherlock’s until 9:00 pm, but please note that Olt may not be able to stay the entire time.
- There will be a set-up when you arrive where you can donate to Emilie’s Fund (and get your raffle tickets) and can buy Newberg Report books (I’ll have the 2013, 2012, and 2011 editions there, and will ship any other editions to you at my cost).
- However, while we’ve required the purchase of a Bound Edition in past years in order to get autographs, that is not necessary this year. I’d rather you donate to Emilie’s Fund first, and then if you want I’m certainly happy to sell you a book.
- We can take cash, checks, or credit card payments.
- Once the autograph line subsides, we’ll open up the floor for a Q&A/roundtable discussion with our guests.
Luther Davis and Bret Richards, who have auctioneered all our events the past few years, are out of town Monday. If you’re a professional auctioneer or know one who might be interested in helping us out Monday night, please let me know.
We’ve raised over $25,000 for Emilie’s Fund so far. Looking forward to kicking that number up further.
More details as they become available.
What is Lance Berkman?
For starters, he’s not Josh Hamilton.
At least not the 2010 version, probably.
Then again, neither was Hamilton in 2011, or 2012.
In fact, in eight of Berkman’s 14 big league seasons, he had a higher OPS+ (a park-adjusted measure of on-base plus slug) than any Hamilton season other than his 2010 MVP campaign.
Take it a step further: the season Berkman had in 2011 (.301/.412/.547) – good for a 164 OPS+ – was more productive than all but three Rangers seasons (of 100 games or more) in the organization’s 41 years: Mike Napoli’s 2011 (173 OPS+), Hamilton’s 2010 (170), and Juan Gonzalez’s 1993 (169).
None of Alex Rodriguez’s seasons here measured up to Berkman’s 2011. Gonzalez’s two MVP seasons fell short. Rafael Palmeiro, Ruben Sierra, Pudge Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre – none of them had a season at the plate in Texas like Berkman’s 2011 in St. Louis.
Lance Berkman is not like most Rangers hitters, because he routinely walks as often as he strikes out.
The only two Rangers hitters to have a season of more walks than strikeouts in the last 10 years are Ian Kinsler (2011) and Palmeiro (2003). In that span Berkman has done it twice – and two other times been one walk short.
And he’s done it in 146 career plate appearances at Rangers Ballpark (22 walks, 21 strikeouts).
Kinsler has it within him to be that guy again, of course. It’s in Jurickson Profar’s game, too, even if that part doesn’t fully mature until after Berkman is done. But nothing wrong with the veteran helping to set a tone that even Beltre can’t.
This is going to take some getting used to, but I can’t wait. Embrace ball four.
Lance Berkman is a health risk.
He’ll be able to DH for a full season, a luxury he’s never had – but a pair of right knee surgeries in the last year, at his age, obviously makes him somewhat of a gamble from a physical standpoint.
So was Vladimir Guerrero.
So was Joe Nathan.
So were Milton Bradley and Eric Gagné and Joakim Soria.
So was Hamilton.
He might be Brandon Webb, or Adam Eaton, or Keith Van Horn, but I’m thinking positive on this. Berkman passed what (given the investment) had to be a rigorous physical, something Napoli has been unable to do in Boston, and if the Rangers feel good about the risk – and their checkbook says they do – I’m optimistic.
Lance Berkman is no bargain.
At $10 million for 2013, and a $12 million club option ($1 buyout) for 2014 that becomes a guaranteed $13 million if Berkman reaches 550 plate appearances (something he did nine straight years until 2010, then again in 2011), many are saying Texas overpaid.
They said that about Guerrero, too.
And Yu Darvish.
And lots of those same folks thought Texas should have tendered $13.3 million for one year to Napoli, whose hip is in such bad shape that the Red Sox have tried for five weeks without success to rework the three-year, $39 million deal they’d agreed to pay prior to a physical.
Berkman’s deal has more team safeguards in it than the two years and $26 million that St. Louis gave Carlos Beltran when Albert Pujols left, and it should. Beltran was coming off a 2011 season when he signed last winter that was nearly as productive as the season Berkman is a full year removed from. His two-year guarantee was justified in comparison, and some reports had Texas in the mix along with St. Louis to sign him.
Ask the Cardinals how they feel about that two-year commitment in comparison to the 10 years committed to Pujols, the player he basically replaced, by someone else – the same someone else who just committed five years to Hamilton and guaranteed 10 times more money than the Rangers are locked into Berkman for.
Lance Berkman isn’t much of a fan favorite around here at the moment, maybe less so for the comments he’s made than for the two-out, two-strike, Scott Feldman pitch he swatted to center on October 27, 2011.
But Vladimir Guerrero was the enemy for a long time, as were Charles Haley and Deion Sanders, and Brett Hull and Adrian Dantley.
This isn’t Kiki Vandeweghe.
Or David Freese.
Lance Berkman is not like anyone who appeared in 100 games for Texas in 2012 or 2011 or 2010 or 2009, because he switch-hits.
Whenever Profar arrives (I’m not sold 100 percent that he’s destined for AAA, in spite of Daniels’s comments Monday night), he and Berkman will be the Rangers’ first 100-game switch-hitters since Milton Bradley and Brandon Boggs in 2008. And batting from both sides isn’t just a novelty. It makes the opposing manager work a little harder and at least consider extra pitching changes.
No, Berkman isn’t as good from the right side as the left, but a dependable left-handed bat was what this lineup needed most – check out the current state of starting pitching in the division – and here’s the other thing: He’s not a mess from the right side. His career OPS against left-handed pitching is .777. In 2011, it was .804.
If Berkman puts up an .800 OPS from the right side this year, he will have been more productive from his weaker side than Kinsler was overall last season (.749). Elvis Andrus (.727) and Nelson Cruz (.779) and Mitch Moreland (.789), too. And certainly Michael Young (.682).
Which raises the next point: While Texas has done well to address the loss of left-handed-hitting punch by adding Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski, and while the division is relatively light on southpaw pitching, there will be days when C.J. Wilson or Brett Anderson is on the hill and you might want to avoid running out a lineup that features both Geovany Soto and Craig Gentry and includes Berkman, Moreland, and David Murphy and their weakened splits.
The need for another right-handed bat – someone more bankable than Conor Jackson or Ryan Garko – seems to remain.
Given the club’s remarks at Monday’s Berkman presser, Mike Olt isn’t going to be stuck on the Texas bench waiting on opportunities against lefties. He needs to play.
Could Napoli be that guy? With Adam LaRoche re-upping yesterday with Washington, one would think that Boston almost has to get something worked out with Napoli at this point.
Could the LaRoche signing mean Nationals first baseman-outfielder Michael Morse makes some sense here? Three things: (1) he’s not really a lefty-masher (he put up reverse splits in 2011 and 2012, his two full-time seasons in the bigs); (2) Washington reportedly wants left-handed relief or prospects (to replenish what was lost in trades the last year with Oakland and Minnesota) in return, according to Jim Bowden (ESPN/XM), and Texas has no excess in the former and will need to be protective of key assets as far as the latter is concerned, especially if the club is targeting bigger fish; and (3) there are reportedly about a dozen teams interested in Morse, which gives the Nationals some leverage in terms of what they’re asking for.
For what it’s worth, Gordon Edes (ESPN Boston) suggests Morse could be in play for Boston as an alternative to Napoli.
Justin Upton? The rumor won’t go away (Ken Rosenthal [Fox Sports] believes Texas continues its “persistent and relentless” pursuit of the outfielder, willing to offer Arizona a package of Olt, a “top pitching prospect” [perhaps from among Martin Perez, Justin Grimm, and Cody Buckel], and a “third quality piece”), and the longer this goes on, you have to begin wondering if Arizona can afford to take him to camp.
The rumors that Seattle could be in the lead on Upton make sense, given the Mariners’ depth in high-end pitching prospects, but the fact that nothing’s gotten done there may indicate Upton meant it as more than just a leverage point when he included Seattle on his four-team no-trade list. (Could the Mariners will turn their attention instead to Morse, whom they traded away badly three years ago?)
Maybe the answer on the right-handed boost is that Kinsler and Cruz just need to be better in 2013, bouncing back from career-low full seasons at the plate. Perhaps for different reasons, it’s not difficult to believe both will.
Lance Berkman is going to be a quote machine.
It’s not going to be what defines his time here – his comments won’t be a daily Mickey Rivers, Delonte West, or Mike Vanderjagt sideshow – but we’ve read enough over the years to know Berkman’s going to speak his mind, just like Pierzynski will, and in the absence of Young in particular, having another veteran presence to speak for what’s likely going to be a younger team will help, particularly when things get tense. The Young role doesn’t need to fall squarely on Kinsler’s shoulders.
Yes, Berkman’s coming back to the “Mickey Mouse” AL, in the DH role that he “hates,” joining the club that “reached” for Beltre after its “lightning-in-a-bottle” 2010 season, but unlike C.J. Wilson and Dennis Rodman and Thomas Henderson – and Hamilton – Berkman isn’t the type who’s going to regularly put himself in a corner needing a dose of damage-control assistance.
Berkman’s manner with the media reminds me of what Gabe Kapler and Dan Campbell would have been if they were core players. Pierzynski is more likely to play the Deion Sanders role.
Will Clark was quotable. So was Michael Irvin. Tyson Chandler was, too. I miss them all.
Lance Berkman is not Mike Trout or Giancarlo Stanton or Matt Kemp, even though he’s going to wear number 27, which he’s never worn in the big leagues, and I doubt it’s in tribute to Todd Zeile or Frank Catalanotto, but maybe it’s a tip of the cap to Carlton Fisk and the 19 seasons he played after his career-threatening knee injury.
Or to Vladdy.
Lance Berkman is not Mario Ramos, Matt “The Pitcher” Williams, Vincent Sinisi, Dane Bubela, Craig Crow, Jason Gray, or Dave Pavlas. After the season-opening homestand he’ll have played as many games as a Ranger as all the previous Rice University products who have come through this organization combined.
Lance Berkman isn’t Randy Williams, and I’m guessing New Braunfels Canyon High didn’t play Buna High outside Beaumont when the two of them were playing high school ball, but I bet Rice played Lamar University a time or two before both were drafted in 1997, and while I know Berkman wasn’t one of the 399 big league hitters Williams faced and that they never teed it up in the minor leagues, either, I’m also sure that they were the two players whose roster spots Texas (Monday) and Boston (in July 2011) cleared by designating lefthander Tommy Hottovy for assignment, and that was a long sentence.
Lance Berkman doesn’t have as cool a “Big” nickname as Frank Thomas, David Ortiz, Andres Galarraga, Randy Johnson, Bryant Reeves, or Sam Perkins, and while he probably embraced “Fat Elvis” more than Hideki Irabu accepted “Fat Toad” but probably not as willingly as Lafayette “Fat” Lever wore his nickname, I’m not about to start referring to the shortstop as “Nonfat Elvis,” and so there’s only one Elvis on this team, and the one whose signing was announced the day before Elvis Presley’s birthday is going to have to settle here for Big Puma, which I think he’s going to be more than good with.
Lance Berkman is not Julio Franco, however old he was when he arrived in Texas, and he’s not Palmeiro, who became a Ranger one day before Franco did, but he brings a new dimension to this offense just as those two did 24 years ago. One regular Texas hitter reached base at better than a .354 clip last year, and that was Murphy’s .380 spike. Only twice in Berkman’s 14 seasons has he had that low an on-base mark: his rookie season (.321) and 2010 (.368).
In fact, Berkman’s career .409 on-base (.404 in 146 plate appearances at Rangers Ballpark) is better than Franco’s as a Ranger (.382), better than Palmeiro’s as a Ranger (.378), and better than the only four hitters who had higher Ranger clips than those two: Mike Hargrove (.399), Alex Rodriguez (.395), Clark (.395), and Rusty Greer (.387).
Dave Magadan is going to love how Berkman makes pitchers work, and so will we.
And, speaking of Palmeiro and Franco, whom the Rangers traded for on December 5 and December 6, 1988, Texas added another veteran that December 7, a man whose career was thought to be in its twilight and who, two dozen years later, sat down with Berkman to take his temperature on the idea of giving the game one more shot, in Arlington.
Like Nolan Ryan was, maybe Lance Berkman is a roll of the dice this late in his career.
What he told Ryan, evidently sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Day, was that he thought he was done when the off-season arrived. But his knee began feeling better. The money and the opportunity gave him something to think seriously about. In the end, Ryan says, Berkman was going to play for Texas, go back to the Yankees because of Andy Pettitte, or hang ’em up.
People thought Pettitte was done when he retired after the 2010 season that ended at the hands of the Rangers. Berkman’s career appeared to be on life support as well, as he’d struggled through half a season with Houston and then two months with New York.
But the Cardinals signed him and were rewarded with a season that earned him a seventh-place finish in the NL MVP race.
St. Louis rolled the dice and hit big.
So did Texas when it got a commitment for one last guaranteed year from Ryan – who ended up pitching five seasons for the Rangers.
“I am excited about the Rangers. They have given me an opportunity to stay in Texas, play for a club that is going to be competitive and have a family situation I think is the most workable for my family. . . . The Rangers have shown that they will do everything they can to field the best club they can. . . . Also, I am a die-hard Texan and want to remain in Texas.”
That’s what Ryan said when he joined the final team of his storied playing career.
It’s probably not far from what Berkman and Ryan discussed two weeks ago, and looks a lot like what he said to the press on Monday.
Lance Berkman is a Nolan Ryan guy.
And, yes, so was Roy Oswalt.
But Mike Maddux was, too. What’s your point?
Lance Berkman isn’t Josh Hamilton, even if some like the estimable Dave Cameron believe that might not be a bad thing:
- “[I]f we just look at expected performance for 2013, there’s a decent chance that Berkman will put up offensive numbers that are not too different from what Hamilton would have produced [in Texas].”
- “Especially if he’s platooned and spends most of his time hitting against right-handers, Berkman could easily outpace Hamilton’s offensive levels on a per at-bat basis.”
- “And, of course, it’s not like you’re getting a lot of extra health certainty with Hamilton as opposed to Berkman. He was healthier last year, but his injury track record is longer than Berkman’s, and the best we can say is that both are likely to play less than a full season in 2013.”
- “There’s no question that [factoring in defense] makes Hamilton the better player, and certainly worth more in salary. I’m not suggesting that Berkman and Hamilton are equally valuable, or that Hamilton and Berkman should have signed the same contracts this winter. However, I am suggesting that perhaps the overall net effect of the moves on the Rangers and Angels won’t be as big as they might appear on the surface.”
- “[A]s a bonus, going this direction still allows the Rangers to swing a trade for Justin Upton at some point if they can find a match with Arizona, and an Upton/Berkman combination is almost certainly an improvement over a Hamilton/Cruz duo.”
- “I think the overall impact of having one or the other on the Rangers roster isn’t too dramatically different. By going this direction, the Rangers have replaced a decent chunk of Hamilton’s value without absorbing the long term risks of matching the five year deal he got from Anaheim, and they’ve given themselves the option to still acquire a right field upgrade should the opportunity present itself.”
And maybe they will. Maybe Upton will soon be a Ranger, along with Berkman, a pair of top 10 finalists for NL MVP in 2011 who dropped off in 2012, just as Texas did itself.
It’s all an exercise in seeing into a crystal ball at some level. We don’t really have any idea what Berkman will be in 2013. We can’t be certain he’ll give the Rangers any more than Eaton or Oswalt or Brad Wilkerson did. And we don’t know for sure he won’t be better than Hamilton.
Lance Berkman isn’t going to fit neatly into any category. A switch-hitting fusion of on-base savvy, an outspoken streak, and a refurbished knee, he’ll probably end up reminding of us of absolutely nobody, like Vladdy and Deion and Tyson – and Josh – and while the outcome is hard to project, it seems fairly predictable that Berkman will manage to carve out a chapter in Rangers history that, for better or worse, we’ll end up talking about for a very long time.
When I looked back to see how many years it’s been since I started posting my Top 72 Rangers Prospects rundown from the Bound Edition on New Year’s Day (this is the sixth year), I spent a few minutes looking at the list from three years ago, which turned out to be months before the Rangers’ first World Series season got rolling.
The Clint Hurdle stuff at the top of that January 1, 2010 report was cool to look back at, especially the part about Ian Kinsler.
It makes me think of Dave Magadan and Kinsler.
Re-reading my comment about Rich Harden made me realize my opinion on him probably did more of a one-year 180 than any player in the history of ever.
But the stuff about what July 2010 could bring, and the possibility of something special that season, man, that gets me fired up for baseball.
I look back at that year’s Top 72, and see a rookie who would build off the previous year’s debut and become a difference-maker (Neftali Feliz), a breakout prospect who would make a surprise impact late in the year (Mitch Moreland), and a virtually unknown quantity who would be a weapon all summer and into October (Alexi Ogando).
Maybe this year Jurickson Profar, Leury Garcia, and Justin Miller are those three guys.
I look back and see seven players who would be gone from the organization seven months later – Justin Smoak, Michael Main, Blake Beavan, Omar Poveda, Evan Reed, Tanner Roark, and Ryan Tatusko (not to mention Josh Lueke and Matt Lawson, who didn’t make the list) – used as pieces to boost a big league roster primed to make a post-season charge (its first in more than a decade).
And another few who would be sent away a year after that – Pedro Strop, Joe Wieland, and Robbie Erlin – with a similar purpose.
There are some on this year’s list who will be deployed in the same way. Maybe this July or next.
Maybe this month.
I see Martin Perez at number three, his second of what is now five straight seasons in the top 10.
And Profar at number six, having yet to play his first minor league game.
And Danny Gutierrez and Kasey Kiker in the top 15, two years before both would be out of affiliated ball and pitching in the indie leagues.
There’s nobody among this year’s top 15 you can even conceive of that happening to.
In fact, you could probably make the case that every one of the first 10 players on this year’s list would be the top prospect in some number of systems.
You don’t get a parade for having the best farm system – just as you don’t for winning the winter – but the depth of this club’s minor league pipeline is one reason to feel very good about the big picture here, to be stoked about both the two-year and the six-year plans.
So here we go – this year’s Top 72 (excluding players who have exhausted rookie status [like Leonys Martin] and six-year free agents as of season’s end [like Johan Yan] and players acquired since Thanksgiving [like Lisalverto Bonilla, Jake Brigham, Cory Burns, and Coty Woods]):
1. Jurickson Profar, SS-2B
2. Mike Olt, 3B-1B-OF
3. Martin Perez, LHP
4. Lewis Brinson, OF
5. Jorge Alfaro, C
6. Nomar Mazara, OF
7. Joey Gallo, 3B
8. Ronald Guzman, 1B
9. Cody Buckel, RHP
10. Jairo Beras, OF
11. Justin Grimm, RHP
12. Luis Sardinas, SS-2B
13. C.J. Edwards, RHP
14. Rougned Odor, 2B-SS
15. Luke Jackson, RHP
16. Wilmer Font, RHP
17. Leury Garcia, 2B-SS-OF
18. Nick Williams, OF
19. Nick Tepesch, RHP
20. Jose Valdespina, RHP
21. Roman Mendez, RHP
22. Engel Beltre, OF
23. Neil Ramirez, RHP
24. Keone Kela, RHP
25. David Perez, RHP
26. Jordan Akins, OF
27. Collin Wiles, RHP
28. Alec Asher, RHP
29. Hanser Alberto, SS-3B
30. Yohander Mendez, LHP
31. Luis Marte, SS
32. Drew Robinson, 3B
33. Odubel Herrera, 2B-SS
34. Barret Loux, RHP (since traded to Cubs)
35. Victor Payano, LHP
36. Tomas Telis, C
37. Matt West, RHP
38. Chad Bell, LHP
39. Zach Cone, OF
40. Nick Martinez, RHP
41. Justin Miller, RHP
42. Kyle Castro, RHP
43. Will Lamb, LHP
44. Connor Sadzeck, RHP
45. Jerad Eickhoff, RHP
46. Kellin Deglan, C
47. Joseph Ortiz, LHP
48. Jake Skole, OF
49. Eduard Pinto, OF
50. Kevin Matthews, LHP
51. Jamie Jarmon, OF
52. Chris McGuiness, 1B (currently Indians property, via Rule 5)
53. Preston Beck, OF
54. Arlett Mavare, RHP
55. Pat Cantwell, C
56. Ryan Strausborger, OF
57. Jose Leclerc, RHP
58. Jared Hoying, OF
59. Phil Klein, RHP
60. Ryan Rua, IF
61. Francisco Mendoza, RHP
62. Jimmy Reyes, LHP
63. Abel De Los Santos, RHP
64. Chris Garia, OF
65. Wilfredo Boscan, RHP (since traded to Padres)
66. Teodoro Martinez, OF
67. Christopher Grayson, OF
68. Royce Bolinger, OF
69. Jose Felix, C
70. Janluis Castro, 2B-3B
71. Ryan Rodebaugh, RHP
72. Joey Butler, OF
Some of those players will make me look real silly, one way or the other, in 2013.
Some will come up, some will be gone.
Maybe in a way that will cement their place in Rangers history, in a Danny Ray Herrera kinda way.
Lots of them will take the methodical step forward, helping to bring another wave closer, steadily and with bad-ɑѕѕ force.
Whatcha got, 2013?
“I’m really disappointed in Texas,” said an AL exec. “It’s unbelievable to me, how they allowed themselves to miss out on everything they had on their radar.”
But another AL exec said there’s a logical explanation for that – and a moral to all that swinging and missing: “They had too many balls in the air. They had too many things going on. You have a chance to get shut out when you do that. And that’s exactly what happened.”
– Jayson Stark (ESPN)
The temptation is there to upbraid an organization that not long ago was widely judged as baseball’s best. But it’s far too early to do that. The Rangers will swing from their heels in these final offseason at-bats.
– Jon Paul Morosi (Fox Sports)
The wrong reaction for the Texas Rangers would be an overreaction, a course correction that takes them off a trajectory that has carried them through two World Series appearances in the last three years. . . .
The Rangers’ significant resources in prospects and money are still available. Maybe the Rangers will make their move before the July 31 trade deadline, or maybe they’ll contend without a major move – and still be in position to be one of the teams with a legitimate shot at David Price when the Rays trade the left-hander; rival executives view that as inevitable, because of Tampa Bay’s financial limitations.
The Rangers are not going to alter their long-term plan.
The Rangers are biding their time.
– Buster Olney (ESPN)
Texas was very much in the red zone on Zack Greinke, perhaps “within an eyelash” (as Don Welke put it Wednesday night) of signing the righthander before he opted to become a Dodger.
The Rangers, having missed out on Greinke, were thought to be the team to beat as far as
trading for James Shields was concerned. Kansas City instead pulled a deal off with Tampa Bay.
After that, every national writer had Texas squarely in the mix for R.A. Dickey before Toronto stepped up with a shocking offer that made it easy for the Mets to decide to trade the underpaid Cy Young Award winner.
And of course, the overwhelming consensus was that the Angels’ new left fielder was going to stay in Texas, but that didn’t happen, either.
There’s something telling about those deals.
Forget the Dodgers for now. They belong in a category of one, and since they have only eight players making $10 million (if not double that), and are still saddled with two non-marquee everyday players, I halfway expect them to trade Dee Gordon, Zach Lee, and Yasiel Puig for Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano to fix that.
What do the other three teams making those deals that were seemingly primed for Texas – the Royals, Blue Jays, and Angels – have in common (besides Willie Mays Aikens and Rance Mulliniks)?
For Kansas City, the idea was pretty clear: Go for it. Baltimore and Oakland getting it done in 2012 provided the inspiration. No sense in waiting for the next wave of kids. Win before Alex Gordon and Billy Butler leave. Gird the thing as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Sal Perez, and Alcides Escobar take that next step. Take advantage of the solid young bullpen and a division that at least allows for dreams of a Wild Card berth, and add some veteran arms to the rotation. Stop waiting for Luke Hochevar to figure it out and for Danny Duffy to get well and for Jake Odorizzi to arrive. Trade for Ervin Santana. Re-up with Jeremy Guthrie.
And then go get a guy to give the ball to in the opener against the White Sox. Trade for James Shields. Get Wade Davis in the deal, too, because agreeing to put a blue-chip young hitter like Wil Myers and more on the table allows you to do that.
When a pitcher like Shields is on the free agent market, he ends up getting a contract north of $100 million, while the Royals are left chasing guys like Guthrie and Bruce Chen and rolling the dice with Luis Mendoza. This was their chance.
It was a tremendous deal for the Rays, who can slide Chris Archer or Alex Cobb into the rotation in Shields’s absence, wait on Odorizzi (who also came in the deal) to develop, and envision Myers joining Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings and Ben Zobrist to form the core of Tampa Bay’s lineup for years. (Such a good deal, in fact, that the Rays weren’t open to the Rangers’ overtures unless they were getting Jurickson Profar, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan.)
I didn’t mind the deal for the Royals. They’ve been awful forever. They have a core of young hitters who are capable of contributing to a winner, and the sputtering treadmill of constantly waiting on the next wave that they’ve been running on includes the reality of eventually losing the better ones as they reach their prime and, with it, free agency. They don’t have a monster TV deal, nor one on the horizon.
My one regret as far as the Royals-Rays deal is concerned is that Ryan Dempster didn’t take Kansas City’s two-year, $26 million offer in late November, wanting the club to go to three years (he’d later accept two years and $26.5 million from Boston). Had the Royals signed Dempster, theoretically they would have kept Myers and not traded for Shields – perhaps leaving Texas to get something done with Tampa Bay without having to include Profar.
But aside from that, this arguably makes some sense for Kansas City. I’ve heard some things about Myers that has me less enthusiastic about his future than maybe I should be, but even if he turns out to be Chipper Jones rather than Nick Markakis, the Royals believe they have a window of opportunity here, and securing two years of control over Shields (and thus two summers of flippability in case the bigger plan doesn’t work out) plus five years of Davis matches up well with where their lineup strength is right now, not to mention the state of the division.
For the Jays, the price to obtain Dickey was just as steep, as they parted with catcher Travis d’Arnaud – thought to be untouchable – and their next-best prospect, 20-year-old righthander Noah Syndergaard (of Mansfield), in a seven-player deal to get the 38-year-old knuckleballer. Why go that length to get Dickey?
Again, the window.
The Yankees and Red Sox haven’t been this big a combined question mark in a whole generation, certainly not since Toronto won its two World Series in 1992-93. Tampa Bay, having moved Shields and Davis, arguably takes a step back, even if Myers and Odorizzi arrive sometime in 2013. The Orioles, 2012 notwithstanding, are the Orioles.
And as Keith Law (ESPN) points out, with the Maple Leafs on ice and the Raptors brutally bad, the Blue Jays – another club without the benefit of a TV windfall – have a chance for dramatically higher attendance revenue (they haven’t drawn three million fans since eclipsing the four million mark in those two World Series seasons) if they win.
Hence, kids to Miami for Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and more, and d’Arnaud/Syndergaard-plus to the Mets for Dickey-plus. That influx of talent increases the odds that Toronto wins something during Jose Bautista’s own window, at a time when the division competition appears to be as vulnerable as it’s been in a long time or can be expected to be after another winter of prospect development and reloading opportunities for the Jays’ rivals.
The concept of a window to win is a bit different for the Angels. It’s not so much about taking advantage of a competitive opportunity – though signing that outfielder accomplished the objective in part, by removing him from the Rangers’ attack – as it is about going all in while Albert Pujols is still productive (whether he’s 33 right now, or 37), not to mention Jered Weaver, who is under contract the next four years, his age 30 through age 33 seasons.
Five years from now, Mike Trout is going to get paid. (He’s surely going to get locked up well before that, but the deal, whenever it’s made, will likely have ramp-up salaries in 2015, 2016, and 2017, before the game-changing numbers set in.) Until then, it’s all about winning while Pujols is still Pujols, and while Weaver is still Weaver – Trout is exceptionally great but one Andrew McCutchen does not a contender make – and given that the Los Angeles farm system, according to Baseball America, “might be the worst in baseball,” throwing that kind of commitment at that new right fielder (massively backloaded, as a matter of fact: 15-15-23-30-30, with a $10 million signing bonus paid up front) was all about taking another big chunk of that Fox Sports West cash and loading up to win . . . right . . . now.
Interestingly, Olney reports that it’s “evident that [the] deal [for the outfielder] was made over the head of the Angels’ baseball operations department.”
It wasn’t a great baseball move for Los Angeles, given the risk associated with the player and the manner in which a budget that already basically guarantees one substantial anchor three and four and five years from is now going to be weighed down even further in those seasons.
This has the appearance of Angels ownership looking for ways to grease through a window that’s going to start closing pretty soon.
(I think if I were the Angels, I might have loaded up for Greinke instead of the outfielder, but two things there: (1) Maybe they thought they had no chance to force the Dodgers to fold on Greinke; and (2) going in the other direction had the added allure of a direct kick to the Rangers’ gut. I do wonder, though, if the Angels might have waited until Greinke signed to make their move, so that Texas wouldn’t have the chance to respond by kicking up their own proposal to Greinke.)
(Interesting comment on MLB Network Radio by Jon Daniels, by the way: He notes that it was around December 7, six days before the player signed with the Angels, that he first suggested to Daniels that it “might be time to move on” – in part because of “things that had been said” – though Daniels didn’t think at that point that the situation was intractable, and believed there was a “chance to repair” things. According to Jon Heyman [CBS Sports], Texas ultimately made an offer “that could have gotten [the outfielder] to five years,” even if not guaranteed for five like the Los Angeles proposal was.)
As far as the big strikes the Royals, Jays, and Angels have made this month, you might quibble with the execution, but there’s no debating the plan. Windows-based, all of them.
So we turn to Texas. There’s TV money coming. There are winning players here and high-end prospects ready to reinvigorate the lineup, behind which there’s still plenty of farm system muscle. There’s a creative and tireless front office, and the support of a hungry ownership group.
On the one hand, the window here appears to be so wide open that you can’t even see it framed, with waves of minor league talent coming that promises (one way or another) to keep it that way.
On the other, how much longer will Nolan Ryan want to do this?
How much longer will Jon Daniels, Thad Levine, and A.J. Preller all be working together?
Yu Darvish’s contract, Adrian Beltre’s prime, Elvis Andrus’s situation.
The defections this winter that have yet to be fully addressed, with the options out there getting more limited.
Maybe there is a sort of window here after all. There’s going to be another one right after this one narrows – as surely as one can say that about any organization – but with a core that’s already been chipped away at this winter without a title, this is no time to be thinking about a retrenching year.
Oakland will have to show it can repeat.
Seattle has work to do before that club is Tampa Bay (pitching depth, a few lineup pieces, a number one starter to ride . . . while he’s still around).
Houston is there.
Los Angeles can just bring it.
Yeah, the Rangers are still right there, and the winter’s not over.
Daniels and his crew regularly talk about the dual one-year and five-year plans, a concept that Welke rebranded at our event Wednesday night, referring to them instead as two-year and six-year plans. The idea, I suppose, is that even labeling a strategy as having a one-year design could be interpreted as possibly militating toward the occasional emptying of the upper tier of the farm system for two months of Greinke, or dealing James McDonald and a prospect for two months of Octavio Dotel.
Two (no, three) months of Cliff Lee – that’s different.
And so is two third-tier prospects for Dempster, and one of them for Bengie Molina.
Otherwise, control is king, which is why Mike Adams made so much more sense than Heath Bell (aside from being a better pitcher), why Koji Uehara was a tremendous fit, why targeting Mike Napoli was more than just rolling the dice on a one-year breakout.
It’s why persistent rumors that Arizona and Texas talk regularly about Justin Upton are completely credible, as the Rangers look for long-term control over an impact outfield bat to replace the one that they once acquired when he promised five years of club control himself.
Upton – at the right cost – would boost that two-year plan. And fit a good chunk of the six-year version.
But the cost is obviously key, and presumably why Upton remains a Diamondback, for now.
The Mets reportedly wanted Mike Olt or Leonys Martin – if not both – in any deal for Dickey. Texas declined.
Profar in a deal for Shields? No thanks. Love Shields, but no.
Four years for Edwin Jackson? Texas was apparently never interested.
Three for Napoli, or Cody Ross? Too much.
Three years – and a forfeited first-round draft pick – for Adam LaRoche? He’d presumably be a Ranger right now if Texas wanted to do that.
Four and a pick for Nick Swisher? Thad Levine told MLB Network Radio that Texas wasn’t in on that mess.
(Well, he didn’t say “mess.”)
The Rangers could have afforded to do any of the above.
Can they afford not to do any of them?
Too soon to grade the winter. Way too soon.
But here’s the thing about what the Royals, Jays, and Angels have done, and they’re not alone. This mantra we’ve heard the last few years about teams hoarding their prospects, and overvaluing them, because of cost certainty and payroll containment, seems to have given way to, or at least made room for, a different stratagem: To overpay in prospects in order to take advantage of windows to win.
As Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said after the Dickey deal: “Sometimes we forget . . . it’s all supposed to be about winning . . . . That’s the end goal.”
Jason Parks (Baseball Prospectus) offered more texture to the same idea.
The Blue Jays “feel they have a chance to win,” Parks wrote, “and they are willing to part with some of the currency they’ve been saving up to enhance their odds. It’s a risk, but you can’t always rest on the accomplishments of your farm system when the product at the highest level is paramount to your own survival. Eventually, you have to play your hand.”
Is this new baseball carpe diem the smart way to go?
No matter how you answer that, is it becoming the only way to play ball on the big stuff?
The idea of Profar for Shields, or Olt and Martin for Dickey, is just as preposterous as committing four expensive years to Jackson, or three to Shane Victorino.
You can bet Kansas City and Toronto sold a bunch of tickets these last few weeks, and that they feel much better about winning in 2013 and 2014.
You can also bet that a significant chunk of hard-core Royals and Jays fans aren’t crazy about seeing Myers and d’Arnaud set to launch their eagerly awaited careers somewhere else. It’s not as if those trades brought David Price over, or Giancarlo Stanton.
Speaking of which, if it takes Myers to get Shields, and d’Arnaud to get Dickey, and Didi Gregorius for one year of Shin-Soo Choo, where does the ask start on Price or Stanton?
Sure, Price probably isn’t thrilled to see Shields and Davis moved for unproven pieces while he’s helping prop open the Rays’ window, and we know how Stanton feels about Marlins management blowing the thing up around him, but if that marginally chips away at any leverage Tampa Bay and Miami has with those two gold pieces, the Shields and Dickey trades boost it a hundredfold.
For Stark, a Texas offer for Stanton would probably require Profar, Olt, Martin, “and more . . . [and] even then [I’m] not sure [the Marlins] do it.”
Still, if the Marlins decide to move Stanton, or if the Rays decide to move Price, few clubs could afford to part with what it would take – and survive it developmentally – especially given this new landscape in which the bluest of prospect chips are being traded.
What could Texas get for Andrus in this new sort of trade market?
Don’t answer that. Don’t think about it. I take it back.
Instead: Extend the window, and make a lifetime deal.
(If you’re wondering whether I’m directing that plea toward the team or toward the player, the answer is yes.)
Morosi says the Diamondbacks, even having targeted the shortstop prospect Gregorius and landing him, would still trade Upton for Andrus.
Yeah, I bet they would.
Morosi also says to keep an eye on Texas and Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
OK. But look at the cost to get one year of Choo before spitballing a trade for Gonzalez and his five years of reasonably salaried club control. Morosi suggests the price could be merely Martin Perez “and some other arms.” Given CarGo’s uninspiring road splits away from Coors Field, maybe so. But given the very current landscape, I’m unconvinced.
I’m also unconvinced when Morosi says Texas could jump in on Michael Bourn, who turns 30 this week with a game predicated on speed, who doesn’t get on base, and who would cost a first-round pick even if his ask on the length of term necessarily comes down.
Pierzynski’s one-year deal doesn’t fit a two-year or six-year plan, but at his age and at the relatively modest salary it took, you make that move because it doesn’t compromise anything and fills a hole.
Trading for Jason Kubel’s one year of inexpensive control? Same idea, I suppose, as long as the pitching prospect price that Arizona reportedly seeks is closer to the package Texas gave up for Dempster than the one the Angels surrendered for Greinke.
The Diamondbacks trading Kubel, if they end up doing that as expected, would be the latest example of another trend we’re seeing this winter: Signing a player to create a surplus, and trading out of that surplus to address other needs.
The Angels sign a power-hitting outfielder, making Mark Trumbo a DH, and then trade Kendrys Morales for lefthander Jason Vargas.
The reverse: Cleveland trades Choo to get a package headlined by young righthander Trevor Bauer – and signs Swisher to replace Choo.
Toronto stockpiles catchers early in the off-season.
Seattle’s acquisition of Morales could prompt that club to trade Justin Smoak.
Arizona signs Cody Ross, and may trade Kubel for pitching.
Detroit re-signs Anibal Sanchez, and may move Rick Porcello to one of what’s being reported as a whole bunch of interested clubs.
The Dodgers sign Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and may trade Aaron Harang or Chris Capuano for something.
If Texas were to get Upton, maybe Nelson Cruz gets moved elsewhere.
Which to me would represent more than just a reallocation of assets, as I tend to think of Upton not so much as a superstar to climb on the back of but instead as a younger and slightly better version of Cruz.
Even if the Upton-to-Texas concept, which has gotten more media play than any bet-on-it scenario since the Texas-catching-for-Boston-pitching theme of four winters ago, similarly falls short of reality, it seems likely that the Rangers’ next impact move will be via trade rather than free agency. Levine intimated as much on MLB Network Radio a few days ago.
The window is partly why. Sacrifice prospects rather than too many years or too much money to get the player, and hang onto the first-round draft pick that, in some cases, would be lost, making sure not to compromise the pipeline just to add a free agent with a commitment that instantly doesn’t feel right.
We don’t know what the Rangers will do next. They’re very good about virtually ensuring that that’s the case.
But we do know they’ll do something big.
Well, we don’t know that.
But pretty close.
Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports) wrote, recently: “One way or another, the Rangers are going to be good. They’re also going to be different. Whether they end up better remains to be seen.”
Yes, it does.
It remains to be seen not only because the winter isn’t over, but also because the games haven’t been played. If you think the Royals, Blue Jays, and Angels have positioned themselves to go ahead and make October reservations, ask the Angels how that worked out last year, and the Marlins and Red Sox if you need more convincing.
And if you’re wondering, like I am, whether this new trend of taking presumably untouchable prospects and converting them into immediate help has set a new market that Texas is going to have to succumb to in order to keep up, lots is uncertain, but this isn’t: The Rangers have shown restraint this winter, which is not a compliment or a complaint, but instead an observation that while some clubs are absolutely going all in, and others are happily taking advantage of the emergence of clubs absolutely going all in, Texas lurks, with something laid out on a whiteboard that none of us can see.
Without ever mentioning the Rangers, Ken Davidoff wrote something a week ago in the New York Post that seemed to be squarely about this franchise:
I think it’s worth noting that the best-run teams, payroll be darned, don’t seem to think in terms of windows. They look at the endless expanse of the future and strive to contend each and every season.
It’s only words.
But just as the Angels’ Pujols strike and the Marlins’ Reyes/Buehrle/Bell offensive didn’t work last winter – and in fact in Miami’s case became part of this new story a year later – we don’t yet know how moving Wil Myers or Travis d’Arnaud will work out in the short term, we don’t yet know how overcommitting to an age-risky hitter will pan out in the long term, and we don’t yet know how refusing so far to go down paths like those will turn out for Texas, in the short term or the long term or in terms of the concept of sports windows, which may or may not drive this franchise after all and which therefore makes me question dumping almost 4,000 words on it and, hey, now it’s snowing a whole lot outside so catch you later.
Usually after a Newberg Report gathering of any sort, I try to take the time in a report to publicly thank the folks by name who helped host and manage the event, but as for Wednesday night’s event at Sherlock’s to support the Emilie Parker Memorial Fund, if I didn’t thank all couple hundred folks who showed up and who helped to run things and who contributed, and the couple dozen people who donated items to raffle or auction off, and the print, radio, and television media who caught word of what we were doing and spread it, and those of you who couldn’t make it that night but have donated since, it would be incomplete and unacceptable.
So thanks to everyone who fits into one of the above categories, or more. Thank you very much.
Randy Galloway took the time and devoted his space to some comments about the event, and I wanted to share them with you if you haven’t yet read his Friday column. It was a special night on Wednesday.
Here is Randy’s column: http://tinyurl.com/Galloway-on-Emilie-Fund-Event
We’re now over $21,000 in donations. I’m going to wait until after Christmas Day to forward them to the Parker family, so if you’d still like to contribute, there are different ways to do so, one of which is by sending whatever amount you’d like to my PayPal account (go to www.paypal.com and send payment to the GJSneaker@sbcglobal.net account).
As I mentioned Thursday, the Parker family has said that they’re going to share the proceeds collected in the Fund with other Newtown families stricken by last Friday’s tragedy. They wanted me to pass along that “the love and support that the people of DFW have shown has been overwhelming.”
I should also mention that, as the auction gained incredible momentum on Wednesday, Ben Rogers offered to open up his and Jeff “Skin” Wade’s contribution – a studio sit-in during the airing of their show and lunch with them afterwards – to anyone who wanted to match the winning $1,100 bid.
Two Rangers fans matched it that night. Two more have matched it since then.
If you want in, Ben & Skin’s deal is still on the table.
Emily Jones did the same thing with regard to her “behind the scenes, all-access” experience during a home game at Rangers Ballpark, which auctioned off at $1,500. She agreed to contribute a second one of those, and then a third, and those have been grabbed now as well.
Galloway offered up a second sit-in for his show Wednesday night, too, and it was quickly taken up on.
Angels broadcaster and old friend Victor Rojas caught wind of what we were doing on Twitter, and while we were at Sherlock’s, he committed $500 of his own to the cause.
I’ve got a Rangers-centric story idea in my head that’s now more than a week old, and a barrelful of Coffey notes to organize and share, but not now. (And if you have questions about picking up a Bound Edition before Christmas, just email me.)
I’ll get back to musing about baseball soon.
First things first.
So you may not be able to read this, since apparently the world might have ended at 5:11 a.m. Central, but even if we’re still around, we have this to look forward to: Today is the darkest day of the year.
I mean that in the most science-dropping manner possible, but against the backdrop of both the Mayan heads-up and the claustrophobia of the Winter Solstice, I share with you the news that A.J. Pierzynski is a clean physical away from joining the Texas Rangers.
My thoughts on Pierzynski are of record. The things that stack up in the wrong column as far as his reputation in the game is concerned have long seemed to me like they’d be an ill fit on this team, a group that in this run of contention has prided itself on exceptional chemistry, and it’s not as if he’s put up Barry Bonds or even Jeff Kent levels of production to overshadow the other stuff.
When people talk about the veteran, the conversation usually starts with his brash streak that tends to venture beyond that line that separates swagger from offensiveness.
(I wish he’d pull an Artest and insist that, instead of initialing Anthony John, he be referred to as “Tony Pierzynski.” That would be outstanding.)
In spite of his reputation as a premier agitator, he did shift the spotlight a bit in 2012, when at age 35, in his 15th big league season, he managed to put up a career-best .827 OPS, boosted primarily by a career-high .501 slug. Over his previous 10 seasons, in each of which he played between 128 and 140 games and got between 469 and 570 plate appearances, the left-handed hitter averaged a dozen home runs and 202 total bases.
This past year, in 520 trips to the plate, Pierzynski went deep 27 times and racked up 240 total bases.
As was his .287/.338/.536 slash against right-handed pitching, a needed element in a lineup that’s lost a big part of its left-handed-hitting presence.
And so is the fact that, despite the career year he comes off of, it only took a one-year commitment and a mere $7.5 million (compare the two years and $17 million Pittsburgh is giving Russell Martin) to get Pierzynski to agree to terms.
And so is the argument, which I’m open to buying into, that the Rangers’ clubhouse could stand to get a little edgier.
Which it will.
In their own, different ways, first-time teammates Pierzynski and Joe Nathan are going to take on bigger roles in the Rangers clubhouse, nine years after they were traded for each other in what was a landslide win for Minnesota, who added the pre-arbitration Nathan and blue-chip prospect Francisco Liriano (plus Boof Bonser) for Pierzynski, who lasted one year in San Francisco before wearing out his welcome, getting non-tendered, and taking a pay cut to sign a one-year free agent deal with the White Sox.
I listened to a radio interview last night with ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine, who covered Pierzynski on a daily basis for the last eight years, and while he addressed the personality issues that we’ve come to associate with the catcher, and noted that Pierzynski was extremely inconsistent with the media, a source of frustration that Levine might have implied between the lines has not helped the way he’s characterized in the press, he also said a few things that caught my attention.
He’s a pure leader, Levine said, and “all about winning.”
There’s not a smarter guy in the game, Levine suggested.
And nobody works harder.
And he’s super-durable (his lone career disabled list stay was due to a fractured wrist in late 2011 that he returned from in three weeks), having caught more than 100 games 12 straight seasons, tied for the fourth-longest such streak in baseball history.
And his huge ego (which Levine, the child of a single parent himself, believes he can relate to) leads to boos that he absolutely feeds off of.
(By the way, while Pierzynski’s career slash at Rangers Ballpark [.271/.331/.421] is right in line with his overall lifetime numbers, he’s been better in Anaheim [.327/.380/.447].)
Levine also admitted that he talked to Rangers officials this off-season about Pierzynski, a very interesting added layer to what we might normally envision as an organization’s standard exercise in due diligence.
Is Pierzynski going to repeat his career year at the plate? Hard to call it likely. Is he an exceptional catcher? While he gets good marks for his handling of pitchers (even by those who over the years haven’t particularly cared for him personally), he’s not going to shut down a running game, but he’s going to start more games than Geovany Soto and most likely relegate Eli Whiteside to Round Rock duties, and that’s a much stronger situation behind the plate than Texas had yesterday.
Soto will probably continue to work with Yu Darvish, and aside from that we could see a rough platoon, where Pierzynski faces most right-handed starters and Soto draws lefties most often.
And, as we’re getting used to here, we may very well be looking at a completely different catching tandem a year from now. At some point that will end.
For now, Pierzynski will probably give this team some offense, will handle the intangibles behind the plate in a way that should stand out from the negative stuff since we’ll get to watch him every day, will operate on a manageable one-year deal that doesn’t cost the Rangers a draft pick, and will add an element of edge to the Texas club that won’t be unwelcome at all.
Hey, I was cool with Milton Bradley’s one year here.
I went into this winter not wanting the Rangers to sign A.J. Pierzynski, but they have, and as far as I can tell the world hasn’t come to an end.
And I’ll have to admit, what he did in that 2005 playoff game against the Angels (which I sorta liked) didn’t beat me down as much as his pregame and postgame work on Fox’s national broadcasts the last couple post-seasons.
I never liked Pierzynski as a Fox analyst during the playoffs, and now that he’s joined the Rangers, who needed a frontline catcher and some left-handed pop and, despite a slow winter on the transaction wire, unquestionably remain a World Series contender, I know one real good way to make sure he’s not back doing television commentary in October this year.
Slight change in plans for tonight. Due to the volume of auction items and an effort to give everyone a chance to come away with some memorabilia or other cool stuff, we’re going to raffle off a bunch of the items, saving the rest for the live auction.
And former Rangers outfielder Kevin Mench wants in on this. He’ll be with us tonight to sign autographs along with our other guests.
Full event details are below, but first here’s the information on the raffle and auction.
For every $10 you donate to the Emilie Parker Memorial Fund upon arrival, you will get one ticket for the raffle. Whoever makes the largest donation will get his or her choice of any of the following 12 items. The remaining 11 will be raffled off by drawing at 7:30 (we’ll sell raffle tickets until 7:30 but will continue to take donations after that as well). The raffle list:
- Giant canvas 2010 World Series ticket autographed by Jon Daniels, Thad Levine, Josh Boyd, and Don Welke (courtesy of Allen Cordrey)
- Autographed Adrian Beltre baseball (courtesy of Allen Cordrey)
- Autographed Nolan Ryan baseball (courtesy of Corey Smith)
- Autographed Pudge Rodriguez baseball (courtesy of Keeli Garza)
- Autographed Rafael Palmeiro baseball (courtesy of Keeli Garza)
- Autographed Gaylord Perry baseball (courtesy of Autographs Ink)
- Autographed Fergie Jenkins baseball (courtesy of Autographs Ink)
- Autographed Jeff Burroughs baseball (courtesy of Autographs Ink)
- Autographed Hank Blalock baseball (courtesy of Autographs Ink)
- Autographed Kenny Rogers baseball (courtesy of Greg Holland)
- Autographed Orange Bowman Chrome Kellin Deglan baseball card, # 14/25 (courtesy of the Deglan family)
- Approximately 20 autographed Topps baseball cards donated by Connecticut native Mike Olt
The following 15 items will be auctioned off by Luther and Caleb Davis of Davis Auctioneers right after the 7:30 raffle drawing. The auction list:
- Framed original Yu Darvish drawing (courtesy of local artist Pat Payton)
- Full catered dinner for 40 people from Cane Rosso’s mobile oven – appetizers, salads, pizza, and desserts (value $1000) (courtesy of Jay Jerrier)
- Mickey Mantle/Joe DiMaggio signed photograph (courtesy of Caleb Davis of Davis Auctioneers)
- Private dinner with Baseball Prospectus staff on April 20, ticket to BP’s April 21 event at Rangers Ballpark, copy of the BP2013 annual, one-year BP subscription, & personalized Rangers replica jersey of your choice (courtesy of Joe Hamrahi)
- Game-used lineup card from Frisco RoughRiders’ inaugural 2003 season, signed by entire team (courtesy of Allen Cordrey)
- Opportunity to hang out with Ben & Skin during the airing of their 9-noon show on ESPN 103.3 FM (courtesy of Ben Rogers and Jeff “Skin” Wade)
- Opportunity to hang out with Galloway & Company during the airing of their 3-6pm show on ESPN 103.3 FM (courtesy of Matt Mosley)
- Opportunity to hang out with Emily Jones for an “all-access, behind-the-scenes experience” at a Rangers home game (courtesy of Emily Jones)
- Opportunity to hang out at taping of DFW SportsBeat with host Brady Tinker and Everson Walls (courtesy of Brady Tinker)
- Dallas Stars home jersey, autographed by Joe Nieuwendyk, Marty Turco, Gerald Diduck, and Bob Bassen (courtesy of Dallas Stars)
- Four tickets to a mutually agreed-on Sunday Rangers game, plus a half-inning on the P.A. system for a child (courtesy of Chuck Morgan)
- Autographed Jurickson Profar Pro-model bat (courtesy of Allen Cordrey)
- Autographed game-used bat donated by Mike Olt
- Autographed new bat donated by Mike Olt
- Autographed game-used infield glove donated by Mike Olt
All proceeds from the raffle and auction will go to the Emilie Parker Memorial Fund. Participation in the raffle and auction are reserved for folks present at the event.
However, if you can’t make it to the event and want to contribute to the Memorial Fund, you can go to Adam’s LoneStarBall website or Joey’s Baseball Time in Arlington site and do so. Several of you have also sent donations to my PayPal account (GJSneaker@sbcglobal.net), which is also fine. I’ll pass those along to the Memorial Fund along with tonight’s donations.
Other things to know:
- The party is at the Arlington location of Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub & Grill, at 254 Lincoln Square, a few blocks west of Rangers Ballpark.
- The autograph line will get moving at 6:00 pm, but you can arrive earlier if you’d like. We’ll plan to be at Sherlock’s until 9:00 pm.
- There will be a set-up when you arrive where you can donate to the Memorial Fund (and get your raffle tickets) and can buy Newberg Report Bound Editions (I’ll have the 2013, 2012, and 2011 books on hand, and will ship any other editions to you at my cost tomorrow, so that you have everything in time for the holidays).
- Again, though, while we’ve required the purchase of a Bound Edition in past years in order to get autographs, that is not necessary this year. I’d rather you donate to the Memorial Fund first, and then if you want I’m certainly happy to sell you a book.
- We can take cash or checks, and I’m hoping to be set up to take credit cards as well.
- You can bring your own stuff to get autographed, but please limit it to two autographs per baseball guest as you go through the line.
- At 7:30 we’ll take a break from autographs so Luther and Caleb Davis of Davis Auctioneers can conduct the raffle and live auction. Autographs will resume after that.
- Throughout the evening, Ben Rogers of ESPN 103.3 FM will emcee things, which will include interviews with our guests, Rangers minor league outfielder Preston Beck (a product of Bishop Lynch High School and UTA), Senior Special Assistant to the GM Don Welke, International Scouting Director Mike Daly, and former Rangers outfielder Kevin Mench.
- Once the autograph line subsides, we’ll open up the floor for a Q&A/roundtable discussion.
Don’t hesitate to bring your kids, especially this year. The room will be non-smoking.
Thanks to everyone who has stepped up in such a huge way on this, and especially to those of you who are coming tonight or supporting the effort in some other way.
Robbie & Emilie.
The book release event for the 2013 Bound Edition is this Wednesday, December 19, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Sherlock’s Baker Street Pub & Grill in Arlington (254 Lincoln Square, a few blocks west of Rangers Ballpark).
In past years, we’ve required a purchase of the book in order to get autographs from our guests. While I’ll have plenty of books on site, there’s no purchase required this year.
This is a photo of Robbie Parker and his daughter Emilie, taken at Rangers Ballpark:
Emilie, age six, was one of the 20 children whose life was senselessly taken on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. You might have seen footage of Robbie speaking about the tragedy, and about Emilie, on Saturday evening.
Robbie lived in Arlington as a child, and remains a Rangers fan. The Parkers have family in the Metroplex as well.
We’re going to collect donations for the Emilie Parker Memorial Fund at Wednesday night’s event. If you want to buy a Bound Edition at the event, you can do that (I’ll have the 2011 and 2012 books there, too), but please consider donating to the Memorial Fund first and foremost.
If you can’t make it to the event and are interested in contributing to the Memorial Fund, you can go to Adam Morris’s LoneStarBall website for instructions on how you can do that. Props to Rangers fan Cormac Kelly, a Connecticut resident, for bringing the idea to Adam.
Our featured guests at Sherlock’s, at the moment, will be UTA and Bishop Lynch product Preston Beck, who was the Rangers’ fifth-round pick in June (and possessor of the best outfield arm in the entire Rangers system, according to a Baseball America feature this month), as well as Rangers Senior Special Assistant to the GM Don Welke and International Scouting Director Mike Daly. There may be others. I’ll keep you posted.
Ben Rogers of ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM might be on hand to emcee the event. Not sure on that just yet.
As usual, we’ll do a Q&A session with Preston, Coach, and Mike once everyone interested in getting autographs has done so. The private event will be non-smoking – definitely kid-friendly.
Let me know if you have questions. Hope to see you Wednesday night.
I did want him to sign here. I really did. I’m sports-sad that he didn’t.
Back in late July, when he was deep into those two months he would jokingly admit to having taken off, during an 0-5 effort in which he saw 19 pitches, took only four for balls (three in his final at-bat), fanned three times, and left runners on base in four of those trips in a 7-4 loss to the Angels, the Twitter conversation got a little jacked up and at one point I said that for about a year I’d had a theory about him that I wouldn’t ever write about.
And I won’t now, because I wrote about him on Friday and I’m done writing about him.
But when he said at his Hollywood premiere yesterday that it would have been easy and comfortable to stay in Texas, and that sometimes you just need to be taken out of your comfort zone so you can impact a whole lot of lives in a different place, well, yeah.
It was a blessing in disguise, he said on Saturday, that Texas didn’t jump out early in the winter to sign him (which his wife is “so glad” about).
I’m not sure I’m buying the disguise part. Maybe “time to move on” really was a post-Thanksgiving relevation, a “blessing” that came to him masquerading as not-enough-love. Maybe none of that occurred to him until the last few weeks.
I pass no judgment on his priorities. They’re very different from lots of pro athletes, and that’s cool. His ultimate goal as a ballplayer – if he had to single out one – is probably not to win a World Series.
OK. Is what it is. Part of the package.
Hearing what we heard yesterday, and understanding what we do about him, I’m not sure the decision he made this week should be surprising at all.
He made $28.2 million in five years here. He’ll make $125 million in five years there. I’m not going to say those numbers will end up looking backwards in terms of the production he provides, but I’m sorta confident about which team will have gotten the better deal.
I won’t boo him when he comes to Arlington in April.
But I won’t stand up and cheer his return, either.
He’s just another Los Angeles Angel now.