This week’s blog entry is an interview with Jamey Newberg of the Newberg Report (http://www.newbergreport.com).
1. Who do you think the Rangers will add to the 40-man roster this off-season to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft?
The only two definites are John Danks and Thomas Diamond. Nate Gold might be the biggest bubble candidate; others include Johnny Lujan, Kevin Mahar, Ben Harrison, Emerson Frostad, Travis Metcalf, Anthony Webster, and Tug Hulett. Alexi Ogando will be eligible but has too many questions to be much of a risk.
2. Which 5 position players in the Rangers minor league system do you think have the best change of being on the 25-man roster next year?
Assuming you mean at some point during the season, as opposed to Opening Day...I’d say Jason Botts, Joaquin Arias, Freddy Guzman, Victor Diaz, and, hmm, maybe Anthony Webster.
3. Which 5 pitchers in the Rangers minor league system do you think have the best change of being on the 25-man roster next year?
Assuming you’re not counting guys like Kam Loe and John Koronka.... John Danks, Nick Masset, Thomas Diamond, Erasmo Ramirez, and Kea Kometani. But don’t rule out Eric Hurley at the end of the season.
4. What do you think are the Rangers top 3 off-season priorities?
Externally: the rotation, an eighth-inning monster, and a clean-up hitter. Internally: get Michael extended, keep GMJ, keep DeRosa.
5. What do you think were the best surprises for the Rangers major league team in 2006?
Certainly Matthews and DeRosa establishing themselves. Littleton, Wilson, and Rupe. Laird and Kinsler – though they weren‘t really surprises.
6. What do you think were the best surprises for the Rangers minor league system in 2006?
Masset, Harrison, Gold, Frostad, Herrera, Kometani.
7. What do you think were the biggest disappointments for the Rangers major league team in 2006?
Wilkerson and Cordero, and nobody else was close. Unless you count Eaton’s injury.
8. What do you think were the biggest disappointments for the Rangers minor league system in 2006?
Metcalf. Mayberry’s first half. Whittleman. Galarraga’s health.
9. What is your prediction for where Thomas Diamond will play in 2007 and why?
Diamond needs a full year in AAA. What he does with that assignment may determine whether he’s a big league starter or a set-up man.
10. What is your prediction for where Steve Rowe will play in 2007 and why?
Rowe’s role as a terrific influence on the young pitchers in Frisco may mean he’s back with the Riders in ‘07.
11. How did the Newberg Report get started?
Back in 1998, I used to post minor league updates on the Dallas Morning News message board (usually about Jeff Zimmerman, Doug Davis, Ruben Mateo, and Jason Romano)...some people on that board suggested I send out an email with updates so they wouldn’t have to check the message board just to see if I’d posted something new. The mailing list started with 6 or 8 recipients.
12. How much time do you spend on it per week?
Probably 15 hours a week, not counting time I spend watching the Rangers play.
13. What are the three hardest things about doing the Newberg Report?
1. The time. There’s never really much time off; there’s as much news to write about in the off-season as there is during the season. And I’m balancing it along with family, which is the most important part of my life, and my real job. I’m a partner at a Dallas law firm, which is a very time-consuming, stressful job on its own.
2. The book. Between September and October every year, putting the Bound Edition together can be draining. Don’t get me wrong: I love doing the book. But it wipes me out.
3. Trying to stave off getting into a rut with my writing.
14. What are the three most fun things about doing the Newberg Report?
1. Getting to know great people in the game, from front office guys to players to media members.
2. Getting to know players’ parents when their sons are just starting out in the minor leagues. It’s a long, hard road, and the start of it is always an unmistakable combination of excitement, pride, anxiety, and faith.
3. C’mon – this is baseball! How could it not be a blast?
15. How long do you plan to do it?
Easy answer: Until you push me aside!
16. What is the funniest or strangest thing that’s happened to you because of the Newberg Report?
Meeting Mack Brown this past April and having him tell his wife that I know more about his recruiting efforts every year than anyone else on the planet. I’m a faithful Longhorn alum but I had to break it to Mack that he was thinking of Jamie Newberg, who writes about college football for Rivals.com. Strange moment.
17. Have there been any really unpleasant stories from doing the Newberg Report?
A few. There was one player in the system many years ago who wasn’t crazy about what I was writing and said some unpleasant, irrational things. Privately, it was hard for me to get behind him as a player after that, and I did begin to question whether I should keep the project going. There have also been the inevitable disagreements with readers and journalists from time to time, but I generally don’t let those get to me.
18. What was your favorite team growing up and why?
My love of baseball developed following the Rangers; they’ve always been my team. I was a big fan of Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, and Kal Daniels, and as a result I was a fan of the Brewers in the late 70s and early 80s and the Reds in the late 80s, but Texas was always far and away the team I cared about the most.
19. What do you like and not like about being a lawyer?
It’s an extremely challenging profession, and I love that about it. There are real chances to help people. You get to be around a lot of very intelligent, hard-working people. On the other hand, if you’re not careful, the adversarial nature of litigation can change who you are for the worse, and can affect your family – that’s one huge reason that I throw myself into baseball as well. It’s a good balance.
20. Did you play baseball growing up? If so, for how long and at what position?
I played Little League and BBI as a kid and then at Hillcrest High School. I tried to walk on to the University of Texas baseball team, and came close to making it, but ultimately my “career” ended at that point. From age 5 until my senior year in high school, I was a shortstop. My coach moved me to the outfield for my senior year (and I wish now that someone had done so earlier – I would rather play the outfield than step up with the bases loaded). I also pitched my junior and senior years in high school. When I tried out at UT, it was in the outfield.
I would like to thank Jamey for doing this interview. Jamey has been very nice to me and it was really nice of him to help me with this blog by doing this interview. I thought he had a lot of interesting answers. I was really interested that he thought Anthony Webster might be on the team next year and that Johnny Lujan might be on the 40-man roster.
Come back next week for part 1 of an analysis of the trades made by John Hart when he was Rangers GM.