Socks and boots.

The General Manager was in New York, with the team, but he had boots on the ground all over.

Some in Latin America, as the equivalent of Draft Day for this year's crop is less than a week away.

Some no doubt in Tijuana, where Cuban defector Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has been throwing for scouts and will do so again today, with rumblings that there's enough significant interest in the 26-year-old righthander among the high-stakes players that he could command a deal not unlike the six-year, $56 million contract Yu Darvish got — without that pesky $51.703411 million posting fee tacked on.

And others in Fort Lauderdale, where fellow Cuban defector Dariel Alvarez, a 24-year-old outfielder, currently auditions for his own big league deal.

While Alvarez may not fit the category, Gonzalez (who some believe could step into a pennant race this year, while others don't) will be heralded as the latest Cuban import poised to make a splash the way Aroldis Chapman and Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig have, and at this rate, by time that story gets written, maybe Leonys Martin fits on the same short list.

Gonzalez is Darvish's age and older than Chapman.  Alvarez is younger than Cespedes but older than Puig.

And they're all older than Jurickson Profar, who yesterday became the youngest opponent to hit a regular-season home run against the Yankees.

Ever.

Profar may not be ready to play left field, and may still have to do more good baseball things in order to get Ron Washington to put him in the lineup more than once a week, but he's pretty damn good now, and the fact that he was born in 1993 shouldn't make you any less excited about fellow 1993 babies Joey Gallo and Jorge Alfaro, slated to represent the Rangers in the July 14 Futures Game at Citi Field, two days before the MLB All-Star Game.

Or 1994's Rougned Odor, who is one of five finalists for you to vote onto the World Team for that game, which you should get on right now.  Vote a lot between now and Sunday night at midnight.

You're gonna love this kid.  Absolute hitting machine, and a swagger monster.

Odor's gonna wow you during games with the way he plays baseball, though that's a little different from the way Gallo will wow you in B.P. or the way Alfaro will wow you during infield practice, which is not to sell his own B.P.'s short — or to suggest those two aren't taking it into the games this season.

(But here's Baseball Prospectus's Jason Parks on Alfaro's selection for the Futures Game: "Love seeing #TheLegend on the roster, as the pop times on display for the world team could lead to a new sexual revolution.  Alfaro will freak people out with his batting practice prowess, and Peter Gammons will do somersaults behind the cage, much to the joy of the on-looking crowd.  I’ll cry real tears and throw roses at his feet.")  

Gallo is here because Texas decided two winters ago to target Darvish and let C.J. Wilson go.

Just about every move this organization makes is made with the ripple effect in mind.  The two-year plan and the six-year plan, hand in hand.

Chances are pretty good that the circumstances that led to Darvish and Gallo arriving and Wilson moving on will pay off.  The decision to draft Texas high school lefthander Matt Purke over Texas high school righthander Shelby Miller in 2009 looks awful now, but there are those in the organization who stand by the evaluation, believing that if Purke had entered pro ball rather than go to TCU — where his pitch counts and usage were based on competitive advantage rather than player development — he'd be the better big league pitcher right now, sporting an advanced version of what that club official called a repertoire in high school that featured "a fastball with the best life of any pitcher I have scouted in all my years of doing this."

July 2 is four days away, and we're going to find out then or shortly thereafter whether Texas, using its $1.94 million international bonus pool (and probably more — Baseball America's Ben Badler believes the Rangers and Cubs will exceed their bonus allotment by trading for extra), was able to landed a kid from Curacao it thinks could be the next Profar.  Or from Venezuela (Odor).  Or from Colombia (Alfaro).

Or from the Dominican, homeland of Engel Beltre, whose first big league at-bats came yesterday, nearly six years after Texas insisted on him in the Eric Gagne trade with Boston, and they happened in New York, where he lived for eight years as a kid, and though he singled in his first at-bat, setting up the only run Derek Holland would need, and again in his final at-bat, before squeezing the final two outs Holland and the Rangers would record, he's going to get less burn off the bench going forward than Profar, and for now that's OK.

He'll be out of options after the season, and if the elite defender can just play and contribute enough to earn something more in 2014, whether that's with Texas or someone else, that's cool.

Neil Ramirez will have one option left in 2014, and if you've been reading Scott's reports and paying attention to what the righthander has done this season, then you'll agree it's far too early to write Cody Buckel off.

It's a process, and not always a linear one.

Same with a big league baseball season, where a team playing sloppy baseball for a week and a half can turn around and, over the next 10 games, hosting first-place Oakland and traveling to St. Louis and New York, win every one of them other than Darvish's two.

For eight straight the Rangers have worn the blue jerseys that before that had been the last ones in the closet, because this is baseball and you respect the streak.

It hasn't been linear for Texas, or for Holland, who came into yesterday's game 0-5, 8.85 lifetime against the Yankees, including 0-3, 8.06 in New York, and proceeded to throw the club's first complete game of the season, and perhaps more noteworthy than the two hits (a leadoff Ichiro single in the first and a third-inning Austin Romine single) and two walks and seven strikeouts was the Greg Maddux-esque 92 pitches.

It was a day on which Leonys Martin (whose 10-game hit streak was tied for the league lead with Miguel Cabrera and Alberto Callaspo, neither of whom homered twice on Wednesday) got the day off and Adrian Beltre was only asked to hit, and Holland and Profar and the younger Beltre made sure it worked out just fine.

Texas didn't need the former shortstop pitching the eighth and didn't need the other former shortstop pitching the ninth, and a dozen Rangers scouts south of the border may or may not have had their cell phones set to pop a Texas 2, New York 0 alert as they work to close in on another handful of shortstops to add to the system in the next few days.

Meanwhile, while the big club and the General Manager were in New York, the club's pro scouts have had their boots on the ground in AL and NL parks all around the league, doing the groundwork that will lead to next month's trades.

Next month, that is, unless the Cubs try to capitalize right away on the crazy-great run that free-agent-to-be Matt Garza is on (22 innings over his last three starts, two runs on 15 hits and five walks, 23 strikeouts, .190/.256/.278 slash), including yesterday's strong effort in Milwaukee (7.0-8-1-1-1-10).

But do you want to trade Mike Olt in a package for Garza, and run the risk that you miss the playoffs and Garza leaves and you get no draft pick compensation and suddenly Mike Olt is your Jean Segura?

Then again, with the drafting of Kris Bryant, the Cubs probably aren't interested in Olt as they might have been a month ago.

But you don't want Martin Perez to be your Zack Wheeler, either.

When Engel Beltre and Neil Ramirez and Wilmer Font and Leury Garcia (.804 OPS since returning to AAA, with starts at shortstop and center field) and others show that they might belong after all, especially as you near July on the calendar, that's nothing but good, and I'm not going to sit here and tell you that second baseman Ryan Rua (24 home runs in 306 Hickory plate appearances) and left-handed reliever Alex Claudio (two-level promotion to Frisco after 22 hits, 62 strikeouts, and seven walks in 47 Hickory innings) haven't at least moved themselves onto a tier where they can help close a deal on the back end.

Maybe in two years we're saying the same thing about California high school righthander Luke Lanphere, whom Texas evidently just signed for a significant $400,000 bonus out of the 21st round.

It's going to hurt if former first-rounder Luke Jackson or former 48th-rounder C.J. Edwards get moved, but if they do it won't be for this year's Ryan Dempster.

Or for this year's Mike Adams, because this year's Mike Adams has just thrown a perfect inning for Frisco (June 20), another perfect inning for Frisco (June 23), and then a perfect inning for the Arizona League Rangers (June 26).  Joakim Soria's two-days-off routine now gets ramped up to one-day-off, as he is slated to pitch an inning in Round Rock tonight.

Adams, by the way, is staring at possible season-ending shoulder surgery.

And Mike Napoli, who has one extra-base hit since June 1, is scheduled to have another MRI on his hip this weekend — though it's being characterized as a check-up and nothing more.

Garza may be the first frontline arm to move, unless it's Ricky Nolasco, whom Miami is allegedly talking to multiple NL West teams about.

But for the first time in memory, it may actually be offense rather than pitching that Texas is prioritizing in July.  Jon Daniels told MLB Network Radio that the club probably needs another bat even if Nelson Cruz is eligible to play all season.

Then again, Nolan Ryan said to Randy Galloway on his radio show: "Making the playoffs and going deep in the playoffs, you have to have strength in your starting pitching and you have to have somebody that carries that load and can pitch innings for you.  As we well know, we haven't gotten to the halfway point.  We've had a lot of injuries.  You'd like to have some depth in your starting guys and so if we can make a trade we'd certainly like to to improve the ballclub and maybe give us some depth."

As for the manager?  Ryan told Galloway: "I think Ron would like to have probably a guy in the bullpen to help carry part of the work load, because I think at times he knows in his heart that he'd like to give somebody an extra day, and the game doesn't dictate that he can and so he has to keep going to the well.  I think he knows the second half of the season is going to be a challenge if that happens."

So, yeah:  Hitter.  Starter.  Reliever.

It's all on the table.

And of course, aside from Soria, Colby Lewis should reenter the picture soon, and Alexi Ogando should as well, though I'm not so sure he should be a starting pitcher any more.

ESPN/XM's Jim Bowden spitballs Justin Grimm, Gallo, Alfaro, and Lewis Brinson to the White Sox for Jake Peavy and Alex Rios, and that absolutely isn't happening, nor is the Profar-for-Cliff-Lee idea that Bowden and some local reporters are pushing.

I want Cliff Lee.

The Phillies are not getting Jurickson Profar, or any other team's young player with that sort of value.

But yeah, I want Cliff Lee.

It will mean trading kids for a 34-year-old, but that's why you load up on kids.

It will be expensive, even if the Phillies necessarily kick in a healthy subsidy, but sometimes that's OK, too, like when you give five years and $80 million to a third baseman entering his age-32 season, and forfeit a first-round draft pick in the process.

This isn't about winning farm system rankings.

It's about winning big league baseball games and 162+, and while Joey Gallo and Neil Ramirez are trying to help their farm clubs win, and while Joakim Soria throws fastballs in front of no more people than the radar-gunned number in floppy hats standing around Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez in Tijuana, and while Rangers scouts with their radar guns and stopwatches are taking in Cubs games and maybe Phillies games and Marlins games, too, it was all about what was was happening the last three days in Yankee Stadium, and now what's on tap in Arlington for the next nine, against Cincinnati and Seattle and Houston, and it's likely we'll see a lot more Rangers blue, just as some of us wear our mismatched socks.

There's a ton going on behind the scenes, all over, but every bit of it is ultimately geared toward the same thing.

 
title_authors

Jamey Newberg

Dallas attorney Jamey Newberg has been commenting on Rangers from the big club down through the entire farm system since 1998.

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas was born in Arlington, Texas, to Richard and Becky Lucas. He lived mostly in Arlington before moving to Austin, where he graduated from The University of Texas. Scott works for Austin Valuation Consultants, Ltd., and has published several boring articles about real estate appraisal and environmental contamination. He makes a swell margarita and refuses to run longer than ten kilometres.

Eleanor Czajka

Eleanor grew up watching the AAA Mudhens in Toledo, Ohio. A loyal Ranger fan since 1979, she works "behind the scenes" at the Newberg Report.

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Updated 10/31/2014 12:41:34 PM
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