June 1 TROT COFFEY*.
(* Trade Rumor Offerings To Chew On For Fun, Even Yuks)
Not to be confused with veteran reliever Todd Coffey, the TROT COFFEY is a mailing list-only Newberg Report update on various trade and free agent rumblings unearthed, if not hatched, by the media or player agents:
- Much was made last night of the Royals playing Thursday until after 3 a.m. and then flying to Texas overnight, and how that might affect an already struggling club in the opener of its three-game set in Arlington.
But there’s a prevalent theory in baseball that a beatdown travel situation like Kansas City was subjected to Thursday night usually affects the team not in the first game of the next series, but in the second game. That could work to the Rangers’ advantage here, as today’s matchup (Nick Tepesch-James Shields) is the one that shapes up to the be the toughest of the series for Texas, which sent Derek Holland out last night and will start Yu Darvish tomorrow.
I’m not sure whether Shields flew ahead of the team on Thursday (as I’m sure last night’s starter Wade Davis did), but the Royals lineup didn’t, and if Tepesch is sharp this afternoon, Game Two could shape up to be more evenly matched from a pitching standpoint than it might have been otherwise.
- Speaking of Shields, whose contract includes a $12 million club option for 2014, I’d love it if the Royals were open to shopping him next month. But given that they parted with Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi in the December trade to get him, I doubt they’d move him for anything less than a Jurickson Profar-led package (especially given the state of Dayton Moore’s job security).
- Got lots of Frisco-related notes for you.
- Alexi Ogando threw an extremely efficient 60 pitches over six innings in his rehab start for the RoughRiders last night, 42 for strikes. The remarkable part is that, through four frames, he’d thrown only 31 pitches – and 26 for strikes. The four hits and four strikeouts, and even the zero walks, can be misleading given that AA hitters will swing at balls out of the zone that big league hitters won’t, but Efficient Alexi is almost always Good Alexi, and last night’s effort was encouraging.
- Mike Olt returned to action in the same game, after a five-week absence due to vision issues, and while he fanned twice, he also went deep in the eighth inning. There’s been word that Olt could return to Round Rock after the weekend with Frisco.
This would be an outstanding time for Olt to round back into form and get hot.
- Right-handed reliever Justin Miller, back in action himself after April 2012 Tommy John surgery, was scored upon for the first time since joining Frisco on May 17. In 4.2 innings since his return (carefully spaced out with at least two days of rest between appearances), the 25-year-old has given up one run on two hits and three walks, fanning six. Having been placed on the 60-day disabled list on April 11, he’s eligible for activation on June 10, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he sees Arlington at some point this summer to give the big league bullpen another power righty.
- Another right-handed reliever in the Frisco pen, Roman Mendez, on his second of three options this year, was also seemingly headed toward a big league debut this summer, but reinjured his throwing elbow Tuesday night. Diagnosed with a stress fracture (an injury he suffered in 2012 as well), he had surgery yesterday and will miss the rest of the season. Bummer.
- Outfielder Joe Benson, who I need to write a long post about soon, homered for the fourth game out of six since joining Frisco a week ago. In 164 plate appearances this year for AAA Rochester in the Twins system, the former legitimate prospect hit .192/.256/.285 with one home run (10 extra-base hits overall). In 21 plate appearances for Frisco, he’s hitting .389/.476/1.167 with the four homers (five extra-base hits). Benson did come out of the game after grounding out in the fifth inning, apparently due to a groin issue (unrelated to the knee and wrist injuries that crippled his 2012 season).
- After .881 and .879 OPS seasons in 2010 (27 homers, 66 extra-base hits) and 2011 (23 homers, 50 extra-base hits), spent primarily in AA, Benson appeared to be on a direct path to Minnesota before his disjointed 2012 season. Healthy this spring, the center fielder triggered this comment from Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: “He can bring a lot to the table. I’m talking he can be a starting [big league] player. I’m not talking about a bench player. This guy can be a starter if he gets back all of everything he had before he got hurt.”
- Minnesota designated Benson for assignment a week ago to make roster room for 28-year-old righthander P.J. Walters, a journeyman who’s been outrighted off 40-man rosters three times in his career, including by the Twins themselves in October. In two Minnesota starts this week, he’s allowed six runs on 18 hits over 12 innings.
- Benson, like Engel Beltre and Wilmer Font, will be out of options after this season. Expect all three to be up in September, if not sooner, and if not traded beforehand.
- As for Michael Kirkman, who is out of options now, his roster spot appears to be safe for the moment, based on comments from the manager and general manager, but he really needs to string together some efficient outings, especially as others like Ogando and Colby Lewis and Kyle McClellan are getting closer to returning.
- Joakim Soria, whose Tommy John surgery was roughly at the same time as Miller’s, is slated to throw a bullpen today after a pectoral strain in mid-April set his own rehab program back. He’s apparently on track to pitch in minor league games in the next week or two, with a potential big league return in early July.
- No peeps lately on how Neftali Feliz is coming along on his rehab.
- Strange thing about the nine home runs Darvish has surrendered this year: Six have been hit by batters hitting in the bottom third of the lineup (DeWayne Wise, David Ross, Matt Dominguez – twice, Don Kelly, Jhonny Peralta), and in none of the nine counts was Darvish ahead of the hitter. Tack on the Marwin Gonzalez perfect game-busting single (on the first pitch of his at-bat), and you see a bunch of situations in which Darvish has let inferior hitters get him. Seems addressable.
- The great Gregg Fleisher points out that Josh Hamilton, in the year between June 1, 2012 and May 31, 2013 (including the one playoff game), is a .234/.306/.450 (.756 OPS) hitter with 183 strikeouts in 156 games, and that Rob Deer was a lifetime .220/.324/.442 (.766 OPS) hitter, with an average of 191 strikeouts for every 156 games played.
- Hamilton is one-fifteenth through his eighth-of-a-billion-dollar contract.
- Lots of national writers and local talk show hosts are talking about Philadelphia trading Cliff Lee and how that might look here. Says Lee, who can block trades to 21 undisclosed clubs: “I definitely want to win. I want to be on a winning team. That should be what it’s all about.” The Phillies are 26-29, 6.5 games out of first and 8.0 back in the wild card chase.
- Texas is not trading Jurickson Profar for Cliff Lee.
- Texas is not stupid for not trading Jurickson Profar for Cliff Lee.
- And you are not stupid for thinking Texas is not trading Jurickson Profar for Cliff Lee.
- Lee’s contract pays a little more than $16 million the rest of the way this year, $25 million in 2014, $25 million in 2015, and either $27.5 million (if kept) or $12.5 million (if bought out) in 2016. So, as of today, it’s a deal worth either $78.5 million for 2013-2015, or $93.5 million for 2013-2016. That’s a ton of cash, and Philadelphia would have to subsidize the deal at some level if it expects to get legitimate young players in return.
- I do love Cliff Lee, and if the parameters made sense would love to see him back in Texas.
- Jim Bowden (ESPN/XM) suggests Seattle could shop 32-year-old righthander Hisashi Iwakuma and would make sense for Texas to pursue. He’s inexpensive and very good, and I doubt the Mariners (with their own hot-seated GM) would entertain moving him.
- Nick Cafardo (Boston Globe) thinks the Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, and A’s are among the teams with interest in 24-year-old Japanese righthander Masahiro Tanaka.
- Buster Olney (ESPN) thinks the Rangers, Braves, Nationals, Pirates, Dodgers, and Tigers could each be a fit for Joba Chamberlain should the Yankees consider trading him.
- The Rangers placed righthander C.J. Edwards and lefthander Victor Payano on the disabled list, and I wouldn’t get too alarmed, because the Rangers are known to do things like this from time to time with their young pitchers at the lower levels of the system. The organization, while carefully monitoring workloads, prefers to have them pitch in pennant races and playoffs to shutting them down before the late part of the season.
- Oakland has lost two of its last 14 games: to Ross Wolf and Barry Zito.
- Robbie Erlin gets his first big league start today for San Diego. He made two relief appearances for the Padres a month ago.
- The White Sox released outfielder Ruben Sierra Jr. and signed outfielder Josh Richmond. The St. Paul Saints of the independent American Association released righthander Danny Gutierrez.
- The draft starts Thursday. Texas picks 23rd and 30th in the first round, 62nd overall in the second round, and 99th overall in the third round. Rounds one and two will take place Thursday night, with the rest of the draft spanning Friday (3-10) and Saturday (11-40).
- In what is his third mock draft, Jim Callis (Baseball America) projects Kentucky high school lefthander Hunter Green and Arizona high school shortstop Riley Unroe as the Rangers’ picks at 23 and 30. In his first mock, Callis had Texas taking California high school first baseman Dominic Smith and Green. In his second mock, Callis went with Green and Plano West outfielder Billy McKinney.
- Keith Law (ESPN) projects Georgia high school shortstop Travis Demeritte and Stanford outfielder Austin Wilson as the Rangers’ first-rounders (though with the latter pick, Law says it’s “hard to pin down, as I’m hearing the Rangers are all over the place – hitters and pitchers, prep, college and junior college”). In a previous mock, Law went with Demeritte and New Jersey high school lefthander Rob Kaminsky.
- Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com) predicts Texas will take South Carolina catcher Nick Ciuffo and McKinney.
- John Sickels (Minor League Ball) has Oklahoma high school catcher Jon Denney and North Carolina high school righthander Hunter Harvey going to the Rangers.
- Kiley McDaniel (Scout.com) has Texas taking Samford outfielder Phil Ervin and Florida high school shortstop Oscar Mercado.
- Jeff Passan (Yahoo! Sports) broke the story yesterday that MLB has shelved the idea of an international draft until at least after the 2016 season (when the current CBA expires – and international draft proponent Bud Selig will no longer be Commissioner), and as a Rangers fan this news should make you very happy.
- And a final draft note: Due to work commitments, I won’t be staying up all night on Thursday to deliver a much-too-long writeup Friday morning on the first two rounds. I’ll get to that report – it just won’t be the next morning. But Scott will send emails out as the Rangers make their two first-round picks and one second-rounder that night.