According to at least one local report, the Rangers have claimed right-handed reliever Jason Grilli off waivers. The 32-year-old was designated for assignment by Colorado on Friday, after posting a 6.05 ERA in 22 appearances this season (19.1 innings, 29 hits, 13 walks, 22 strikeouts). Grilli had a 3.00 ERA in 2008 between Detroit and Colorado (75 innings, 67 hits, 38 walks, 69 strikeouts).
No corresponding move has been announced.
For those of you who have been with the Newberg Report for any more than a year or two, you know that the fact that the Grilli move comes on Draft Day is poetic justice.
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The local report that broke the Jason Grilli story now says that Texas didn't claim him off waivers, but instead sent cash considerations to the Rockies for the righthander (meaning before Colorado ever placed him on waivers during the 10-day period that triggered on Friday).
Because Grilli was on the Rockies' 40-man roster and is out of options, not only will a move need to be made to clear space for Grilli on the active roster, a spot on the 40-man roster will need to be cleared as well. The above-referenced report suggests, accordingly, that Texas could let righthander Kris Benson go to make room for Grilli's addition to the roster.
I confused a small handful of you with the reference in my news flash to Grilli and Draft Day.
For those of you, this comes from the May 31, 2001 Newberg Report, a few days before that year's draft:
On December 18, 1988, one of the most important games in Dallas Cowboy history took place, as the Green Bay Packers defeated the then-Phoenix Cardinals, 26-17, salting the win away on a Don Majkowski-to-Clint Didier touchdown pass.
I kid you not.
The significance of that GB-PHO game -- the Pack's second straight win -- was that it improved the Packer record to 4-12, while the Cowboys were busy dropping to 2-14 with a 23-7 loss to Philadelphia. Had Dallas won and Green Bay lost, the teams would have been deadlocked and facing some sort of tiebreaker or maybe a coin flip to determine which of them would get the number one pick in the 1989 draft.
With the unlikely two-game win streak for Green Bay, the Cowboys picked first, taking Troy Aikman. The Packers picked second, landing Tony Mandarich.
Why do you care?
Because in my opinion, the final week of the Rangers' 2000 season might ultimately prove to be similarly significant in its effect on this club's immediate future.
The Baltimore Orioles were a bad baseball team last year, at 67-86 with nine games remaining against Boston, Toronto, and the Yankees. Texas wasn't so great either, as its record stood at 70-83 with nine to play against Anaheim, Seattle, and Oakland. And then something strange happened. The O's reeled off seven wins out of the nine games, including the final four games straight -- by the average score of 13-2. At the same time, the Rangers lost eight of nine, including the final three -- by the average score of 11-2. And as a result, in the space of nine days, Baltimore went from three games worse than Texas in the AL standings to three games better, and accordingly Texas ended up with the third-worst record in the league.
In baseball, the draft is conducted with the AL and NL alternating picks, and so the result of the Texas-Baltimore standings flip at the 2000 finish line was that the Rangers will pick fifth overall in the June 5, 2001 draft, and the O's will pick seventh. This could be very, very important.
That is because in my opinion, which I will state right out front is worth very little since I have not seen any of these guys play, four players are worth getting excited about -- USC righthander Mark Prior, Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira, Middle Tennessee State righthander Dewon Brazelton, and Baltimore high school righthander Gavin Floyd. And even though Texas drafts fifth, I feel pretty comfortable that one, and maybe two, of those players will be there when the Ranger selection comes up. Were the Rangers picking seventh, those four would likely be gone.
With less than a week to go before Major League Baseball's 30 scouting directors make the decisions they get paid to make, Team One Baseball staged a mock draft on its website. I played Tim Hallgren and took Floyd with the Ranger pick.
In the mock draft, Prior went first, Teixeira went second, Brazelton went third, and Casey Kotchman was the fourth pick. I don't see it actually shaking out that way next week -- I think Minnesota will end up shying away from Prior's demands and take either Brazelton or Joe Mauer, the Cubs will nab Prior, Tampa Bay will take Brazelton (if there) or Alan Horne or Colt Griffin or maybe Roscoe Crosby, and Philadelphia will go with Floyd or Teixeira. Under that scenario, either way the Twins go, Floyd or Teixeira will be there for the Rangers. The Dallas Morning News suggested yesterday that Teixeira or UCLA righthander Josh Karp could be the pick, but from the things I have read -- and again, the fact that I am reading the assessments of other people renders my judgment worthless to an extent -- Karp seems to have disappointed a lot of scouts this season and could be slipping to the middle part or even back half of the first round.
Let's talk about Teixeira and Floyd. And to kick the discussion off, how about these two interesting notes:
1. They both attended Mount St. Joseph High School in Severna Park, Maryland. Teixeira was drafted in the ninth round by Boston in 1998, but failed to sign and became a Yellow Jacket. Floyd, incidentally, has committed to South Carolina but is expected to sign a pro contract.
2. A year ago, in assessing the top prospects in the Delaware/Maryland/West Virginia/D.C. region for the 2000 draft, Baseball America noted that if Teixeira and Floyd became the top college and high school selections when the 2001 draft rolled aruond, it would mark the first time that one high school produced the top college and high school player in the same draft. BA then went on to rank the top players in that region who were eligible for last year's draft. Number one? Delaware high school righthander Randy Truselo. Number two? Towson State lefthander Chris Russ. Both, as you know, became Ranger selections, both on the ledger sheet of Ranger scout Doug Harris.
On to Teixeira and Floyd.
Teixeira is, by all accounts, one of the most polished hitters to come out of college in years, a switch-hitting Troy Glaus/Lance Berkman type. A Scott Boras client, the Twins won't take him. The Cubs won't unless Prior goes first. Tampa Bay cannot pay its own major league roster, so forget Teixeira -- plus they have never -- never -- taken a college player in the first three rounds. The Phillies? Would they choose to run into Boras again, after the J.D. Drew disaster a few years ago?
Would the Rangers take Teixeira, when (1) the need for pitching is so glaring for this organization, (2) they do not pick again until the fourth round, and (3) third base seems to be fairly well accounted for on the farm with Mike Lamb at AAA and Hank Blalock making huge noise again, this time at High A Charlotte? The way I look at it is this: you take the best player available. If you are not crazy about the pitchers available to you at number five, you don't "settle" on someone with that pick. Were there hitters that Texas preferred over Jonathan Johnson in 1995, such as Todd Helton or Geoff Jenkins, who were the two players taken immediately after the Ranger pick? In 1996, do you wonder whether St. Louis (3rd pick: Braden Looper), Montreal (5: John Patterson), Detroit (6: Seth Greisinger), or San Francisco (7: Matt White) actually liked Mark Kotsay (9th pick) or Eric Chavez (10th pick) more but felt they needed to go with a pitcher? In 1997, according to the Baseball America draft preview issue I am staring at right now, Anaheim had the third pick and was split between Glaus and righthander Jason Grilli -- they took Glaus, and Grilli went with the next pick to the Giants. Think the Angels are happy they made that decision? In the 1998 draft, Kansas City took Stanford righthander Jeff Austin with the fourth pick. J.D. Drew went fifth, Austin Kearns went seventh, Sean Burroughs went ninth, and Carlos Pena went tenth.
What's the point? These examples illustrate that at times, deciding in the top of the first round to draft for need can be dangerous. It may very well be that the Rangers like Prior and Brazelton and Floyd and Karp more than Teixeira, and if so, I hope they take the pitcher. But if they evaluate Teixeira to have a higher and more projectable ceiling than whatever pitchers are undrafted by the time the fifth pick comes around, then I think Teixeira needs to be the pick.
And so began the "Glaus vs. Grilli" theme that resurfaces in the Newberg Report from time to time.