This week I will document the events from Newberg Night at the Ballpark (Sunday night August 4th).
Newberg Night started at 4:00 in the Legends of the Game Museum with a Q&A session with Will Carroll and Joe Sheehan. Will does a column called ‘Under the Knife’ for Baseball Prospectus (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/) where he describes and analyzes different baseball injuries. He also works for SI.com as the NFL injury expert and has written a couple of books, including ‘The Juice’. For the last few Newberg Days at the Ballpark, Will has flown to Dallas to do Q&A sessions and is always very interesting. Joe is a co-founder and author of Baseball Prospectus and this was his first time to do this event
Will and Joe answered questions for about 45 minutes and here are some of the questions and answers they covered:
Q: Who were the three biggest winners and losers of the trade deadline?
A: Will did the winners and said:
- The Yankees because they got Pudge to solve their catching problem and got Nady and Marte without giving up many prospects.
- The Dodgers because they got Manny without giving up much at all.
- The Pirates because they finally made a plan
Joe did the losers and said:
- The Orioles because they didn’t trade any of their veterans who weren’t a part of their future.
- Mariners because they didn’t trade Raul Ibanez, Adrian Beltre or some of their other players.
- Giants for not trading Randy Winn or Bengie Molina and some other veterans that are on their roster.
Q: What are your expectations for Neftali Feliz?
A: Will said he has a huge upside and was the biggest part of the Teixeira trade. He also said that the Rangers are doing the right thing by not rushing him and that 2010 should be the earliest year that he’s in the bigs.
Q: How much money are Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia worth?
A: They said that with both of them (especially Sheets) you make your best offer to them, but leave without pushing too hard for them.
Q: Which team do you think will win each division and why?
AL West: Angels
AL Central: Tigers
AL East: Rays
NL West: D’Backs
NL Central: Cubs
NL East: Mets
AL West: Angels
AL Central: Twins
AL East: Red Sox
NL West: LAD/ARI
NL Central: Cubs
Q: Who will be in the World Series?
A: Will said that it would be New York and Chicago without clarifying which ones. (I think he was just joking.)
At 4:45 Jeff and Cindy Kuster did a presentation on the Hello Win Column Fund. Cindy is the daughter of Mark Holtz, who used to broadcast for the Rangers. They have a charity to help people with cancer. They talked about what the charity is for and introduced an 11-year-old girl (Chalisa Smith, 11) who had just recovered from cancer. The little girl and her family were being hosted by the Kusters for that night’s game.
Jamey then gave away a bunch of prizes to people who had donated money to the fund. You could donate money as you entered the museum and you got a raffle ticket for every $10. Also, anyone who donated $20 got a set of Nolan Ryan books donated by the Kusters. After the raffle prizes, there was an auction for some more prizes. The best prize was being in the booth for an inning with Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve. My dad and granddad tried to win it for me but it sold for 600 dollars.
At 5:00, Jon Daniels came to start his Q&A session. Here are some of the highlights:
Q: If it’s 2010, Padilla and Millwood are gone, and the only players you can get are ones that are currently in your system - who do you think would be in the starting rotation and why?
A: I asked this question and, before he answered, Jon asked me what I thought. I said Tommy Hunter, Eric Hurley, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Kasey Kiker. Jon said that that was a good list and also mentioned Derek Holland and Brandon McCarthy and said some of the people currently in the rotation are possibilities. Allen Cordrey filmed the Q&A session and sent me this link that shows Jon answering this question: http://www.sportsnetworklive.com/videos/jdgrant.wmv
Q: Can you describe your relationship with Nolan Ryan?
A: Jon said that it’s a good relationship and that Nolan’s involved just the right amount. He brings Nolan in on decisions when it makes sense on a day-to-day basis. He also mentioned that people don’t realize how many things Nolan is involved in for the Rangers, including real estate, fan experience, branding, uniforms, and ticket prices.
Q: What do you plan to do with Nelson Cruz?
A: He would come up if they had an outfield injury or needed a bat.
Q: What has been the biggest surprise and biggest disappointment of the season?
A: The biggest disappointment was the start of the season because they had such high hopes out of spring training, and to start of the year so poorly wasn’t fun. The biggest surprise has been the resiliency of the players. He said they never give up.
Q: What are the priorities for this offseason?
- To sort out the catching and outfield situations
- Starting pitching
- Closer is not an off-season priority
Jon also said that:
- We shouldn’t read anything into the fact that the Rangers took a lot of college pitchers in this year’s draft. It’s not a new draft strategy. It had to do with the players that were on the board.
- He would like to have Milton Bradley back next year.
- Chris Davis is staying in the majors
At about 6:30, after the interviews, we went to our seats to watch the game. I was one row in front of Scott Lucas, Jamey Newberg, Will Carroll, Rob Cook, and Eleanor Czajka. Joe Sheehan was two rows behind us. I enjoyed talking to all of them and they were all really nice. I got to talk with them during the whole game. Will and I talked about fantasy football a lot and he helped me prepare for my draft.
It was a good game. It was close and the Rangers walked away victorious. In the top of the 1st, Luis Mendoza just didn’t have it as he allowed 3 runs to score. Joe Inglett grounded out to second to start off the game and that’s when Mendoza started to really struggle as he walked Marco Scutaro, then Alex Rios singled, then Lyle Overbay had an RBI double, Adam Lind had a sacrifice fly and then Matt Stairs had an RBI single that forced the pitching coach to the mound. After that, Mendoza got Brad Wilkerson to ground out.
In the bottom half of the inning the Rangers went down 1-2-3. So after one it was Blue Jays 3, Rangers 0. In the top of the second Luis Mendoza, really started to settle down as he got three straight groundouts in the inning. Josh Hamilton got hit by a pitch to start off the second inning, but then Marlon Byrd grounded into a fielder’s choice that was almost a double play ball and then David Murphy did ground into a double play. Both halves of the third were 1-2-3 innings. To lead off the 4th Adam Lind singled, followed by another single off the bat of Matt Stairs that moved Lind to 3rd. Brad Wilkerson then grounded out to second, but drove in Adam Lind. The next two hitters went down easily, so after the top of the 4th the Blue Jays were winning 4-0. In the bottom half, though, Ian Kinsler led off with a walk, followed by the Rangers’ first hit of the ballgame, a Gerald Laird two-run homer off of Blue Jays rookie David Purcey. Michael Young then grounded out, followed by a Josh Hamilton walk, but Marlon Byrd and David Murphy couldn’t drive him in. After the fourth it was Blue Jays 4, Rangers 2.
In the bottom of the 5th Chris Davis had a solo homer with one out, followed by Travis Metcalf hit by a pitch, and Ian Kinsler fly out and then Gerald Laird’s 2nd home run of the game. After five, the Rangers were leading 5-4. Nobody scored again until the bottom of the eighth. Michael Young singled to start off the inning, which brought the pitching change (Jesse Carlson came in). Jesse threw a wild pitch that moved Young to second and then he moved Young to third by committing a balk. Josh Hamilton then walked and Marlon Byrd had an RBI double. David Murphy then popped out and Brandon Boggs was intentionally walked. Chris Davis then got an RBI single and loaded the bases. Ramon Vazquez then had a sacrifice fly to make the score 8-4 and that would be the final score of the ballgame, as in the top of the 9th Eddie Guardado retired the Blue Jays on four batters and gave the Rangers the win.
Newberg Night was a blast and I would like to thank Jamey for organizing it and Will, Joe, and Jon for doing the Q&A sessions.
Results of last week’s poll:
Which player from each league do you think has had the best year so far?
Josh Hamilton – 100%
Both others – 0%
Brandon Webb – 50%
Ryan Braun – 38%
Jair Jurrjens – 12%
I’ll be taking a week off. Come back in two weeks when I’ll continue work on the Tom Grieve trade analysis for the first time in a while, unless the Rangers make a trade.