I have an old Word document where I jot down ideas for my next report, or tuck them away for a report down the road.
I don't always get around to using all the notes. And I'm not very good about looking over the notes and deleting the ones I'll never use. The document is now 108 pages.
In it are a bunch of notes on this year's July 2 international free agent class. Some thoughts I never got around to writing about this winter, regarding players the AL West teams added this off-season, and who they lost. A lot of stuff I've piled up about Rich Harden.
The oldest two notes in the document: (1) something I heard in 1999 about a chance Texas had to trade Ken Hill at the 1997 trade deadline to Cleveland for rookies Bartolo Colon and Damian Jackson; and (2) an Instant Message from Peter Gammons in 2001 that said: "Carlos Pena's brothers Pedro and Omar are playing for Wareham and each had two hits Thursday."
(Guess I can cross the first one off now. The second one stays, as a reminder to me of how much better this game is because Peter Gammons loves it.)
One thing that's tucked in that document is something I wrote in April but, for whatever reason, I didn't find the right report to put it in:
It would never sell to the Network TV suits. "Too hokey," they'd say, "viewers would never buy it," and then they'd opt instead for a pilot called "Extreme Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," where Kate Gosselin and Helio Castroneves build a duplex each week, using only the tools found in the Iron Chef's kitchen, Donald Trump's hair products, and Howie Mandel.
I was about to delete it tonight but as I stared at that final "Regression on the field" note for Josh Hamilton, which I wrote in April but which now seems like 10 months ago, I thought I'd toss it in here.
The parallels between Hamilton and Edinson Volquez's careers since The Trade have been remarkable. Pay attention to what Volquez has been doing on his ahead-of-schedule rehab (eight scoreless innings, three hits, no walks, seven strikeouts in two appearances), and if his location is there, you can see where he might surprise some people in the second half and have as much impact for the Reds as any trade deadline pickup gives another contender.
But whatever Volquez manages to do in 2010, it seems unlikely that it would parallel what Hamilton has been doing for the last five weeks (.421/.445/.744 in 121 at-bats since May 18, with nine home runs and 29 RBI in 30 games) and seems poised to do for the season.
To put it in perspective: In his storybook 2008 season, Hamilton hit .304/.371/.530.
Right now, even including his pedestrian six-week start to the 2010 season, he sits at .337/.381/.600 for the year.
He'd have to hit .280/.363/.477 the rest of the way this year to end up, in the same number of at-bats, with his 2008 slash line.
And that could happen. There's no way Hamilton keeps this ridiculous run going and stays this locked in all year. He may see his numbers recede a bit, but then again may be Ian Kinsler will pick his production numbers up, and maybe Nelson Cruz's hamstrings are done barking for the year, and even if Julio Borbon cools off, Elvis Andrus should get to clicking again eventually.
This offense is so different when Hamilton is right.
Another note I may never use if I don't use it now: While Colby Lewis leads major league starting pitchers in opponents' batting average (.187, ahead of Ubaldo Jimenez's .189), Chris Ray - who for whatever reason I still find that I don't completely trust - is holding opponents to a .189 clip out of the Rangers pen.
Lewis's complete opposing slash line is .187/.267/.323. Ryan Raburn, in other words.
Ray's is .189/.286/.333. Raburn after maybe a 1 for 5 with a double and a walk.
Meanwhile, Kevin Millwood, the pitcher whose departure essentially made Lewis and Ray (and Rich Harden) Rangers, won his first game of the season on Saturday, and sits at .296/.348/.486 for the year. The average hitter against Millwood this year is in Ryan Braun/Hanley Ramirez territory.
Buster Olney featured Michael Young in his Sunday column for ESPN, including in the article this anecdote:
[R]ight near the trade deadline last season, Rangers GM Jon Daniels recalled the other day, he got a phone call from Young, who was in the clubhouse. Texas was thinking about making deals to augment the team for a run at the AL West title - but to do so, of course, the Rangers would've had to trade some of their young players.
"Hey, listen," Young told Daniels. "I just want you to know - do what you have to do, but don't do something just to appease us down here."
In other words: Young understood if the Rangers decided not to trade for someone like Roy Halladay.
"We like where you guys are headed," Young told Daniels. "We like the young players."
I think I'm at the point right now, seeing what Colby Lewis has become and what Josh Hamilton has re-become, and seeing that good-looking 3.5-game lead in the West with a day off tomorrow and the Pirates and Astros (who tonight designated for assignment three players who played against Texas today: righthander Casey Daigle, outfielder Cory Sullivan - who will be replaced by Jason Bourgeois - and catcher Kevin Cash, whose departure paves the way for Jason Castro, the Stanford catcher whom the Astros passed on Justin Smoak in order to draft in 2008) coming to town, and the club possibly three weeks away from an ownership transition, where I'm hopeful that if Young makes that same phone call to Daniels in a month, Daniels "does what he has to do," and goes and adds a Guy.
In other words, remember that Step Five we talked about a year and a month ago? Say it with me:
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(c) Jamey Newberg