There have been years, too many of them, when this morning I might have written an entire report about Jurickson Profar's pro debut and made a big deal out of the fact that the leadoff hitter (Ryan Strasborger) and three-hole hitter (Andrew Clark) in between whom he hit last night are each five years older, and that the big Tri-City righthander that Profar doubled off of (Mequite Poteet, McLennan CC, and Lamar University product Ricky Testa) is six years older than the shortstop from Curacao.
But this isn't the morning for that, and not the season for me to feel compelled to devote this space on the things that Scott Lucas expertly covers each day, as a way of distracting myself from an epidemic rash of bad big league pitching, poor execution offensively, or an outbreak of lousy baserunning or routinely booting the ball.
There have been seasons, recently, where once we got to June every report I sent out might have had notes, and not necessarily at the tail end, pointing out that Buck Showalter and Bobby Valentine are candidates for the Orioles job, or that the Dodgers released lefthander John Koronka, or that the Yuma Scorpions of the independent Golden League placed outfielder Masjid Khairy on irrevocable waivers.
Instead, Texas has won six straight on the road, has nailed down 13 of 17 in June, owns a 2.5-game division lead on the Angels, and is clicking on just about all cylinders. That's a lot more fun to write about.
Did Frisco lefty Martin Perez get drilled last night? Yes. Eight runs (seven earned) in an inning and a third. Cause for alarm? Johan Santana, in his final full minor league season, had starts in which he allowed 8, 8, 6, 6, 6, and 6 runs. In his final month of that 1999 season, he made seven starts and one relief appearance, posting a 7.65 ERA.
And he was a year older than Perez.
And pitching two minor league levels lower than Perez.
I'm not suggesting you should ignore what's happening on the farm, obviously. If these stories about Texas showing legitimate interest in Roy Oswalt (who was mentored by Nolan Ryan and played for manager Jackie Moore and pitching coach Mike Maddux in his own final minor league season) have some substance, keeping close tabs on what Blake Beavan and Beau Jones and Engel Beltre and Matt Thompson are doing would be smart. If the Rangers can get out of court in time to pursue the top tier of what the trade deadline has to offer, they're not going to trade Justin Smoak and Tommy Hunter and Alexi Ogando to get a deal done. There will be minor leaguers involved. Not by themselves. But they'll figure in.
It's always worthwhile to pay detailed attention to what's going on in Hickory. Some years it serves an extra purpose, as a distraction. Others, like this year, it provides context.
Supplemental first-rounder Mike Olt signed for slot yesterday, and pretty soon he'll settle in at third base for Spokane, situated 40 feet to Profar's right. I look forward to every word of Scott's reports every day, and in mid-June they get an extra boost when we can read about Randol Rojas and Miguel De Los Santos and Nick McBride and Guillermo Pimentel at Spokane, and Jake Skole and Kellin Deglan and Luis Sardinas and Juan Grullon with the Arizona League squad, whose season kicks off Monday night.
But it's all backstory right now, less notable than Scott Feldman's 2.89 ERA in his last three starts or Josh Hamilton's 1.354 OPS in June - or the fact that Vladimir Guerrero sits at .327/.397/.577 for the month and yet is being out-OPS'd by Julio Borbon (.423/.456/.615) over the same stretch. Hickory lefthanders Robbie Erlin and Robbie Ross are having spectacular seasons, but that's less important than what Darren Oliver is doing.
Perez and Tanner Scheppers each struggled last night, but right now I'm more concerned about Elvis Andrus's .143/.211/.143 slash line, with 10 strikeouts in 35 at-bats, since he put those ridiculous highlights in his hair a week and a half ago. I don't care about the hair. I care that his .304 average has dropped to .282 in those eight or nine days, and he's looking a little out of sync.
And I'm trying to figure out why Ian Kinsler, who has hit in eight straight (.379/.472/.448) with as many walks as strikeouts, still doesn't look right to me at the plate.
This season, thankfully, has given us plenty so far to celebrate and to worry about and to focus on, moving bankruptcy proceedings and the spring training story of the manager's 2009 off-field mistake somewhere away from the center of our attention.
I'm interested in Erlin's Hickory start this evening and on McBride's start in Spokane, in whether Michael Main can maintain this Bakersfield run he's on in Game One of the Blaze's Saturday twinbill, and in how Brandon McCarthy fares in his return to AAA action tonight, his first action in two weeks and first start in two months.
But none of it matters as much right now as Colby Lewis-Scuffy Moehler tonight, or C.J. Wilson-Felipe Paulino tomorrow.
Am I interested in how Profar fares tonight against 25-year-old Tri-City rehabber Josh Sullivan, who was in the minor leagues when Profar was starring in the Little League World Series at age 12? Of course. Am I eager to see whether catcher Jorge Alfaro shows up on the AZL roster when that club begins play Monday? Absolutely.
But for now, it's all about what's going on in Arlington, and that's what you want to be able to say heading toward mid-season, the All-Star Break, and what could be a very interesting trade deadline season.
To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league game recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to www.newbergreport.com and click the "Mailing List" link on the top menu bar.
(c) Jamey Newberg