Monday, July 25, 2011

Newberg Night Report

Last night was Newberg Report Night at the ballpark. As always, it was lots of fun and Jamey did a good job of putting it together. I would like to thank Jamey Newberg and Eleanor Czajka for making it happen, and Jason Parks, Kevin Goldstein, Thad Levine, and Jon Daniels for doing the Q&A sessions.

he Q&A sessions were held in the Rangers Hall of Fame’s theater like usual. We got there at about 2:35 and went on up to the theatre, which was already almost completely full, even though the doors had just opened at 2:30. Jason Parks and Kevin Goldstein were the first Q&A session, which started at 3:30. They both did a great job, and it was Jason’s first year to be at the event. Here are a couple of the questions and answers:

Q: How would you rank the American League West farm systems?
A: (Kevin) I think you would have to rank the Rangers first right now. The Rangers are the best team in the West and also have the best system in the West, not only to bring people up, but to use another purpose of a prospect, which is being an asset to bring something in a trade. Those are equally important things. That said, Oakland and the Angels both have a very good farm system, and have things coming, and are not going to go away and start handing the Rangers division titles for the next decade. It’s going to be tough. Seattle’s system is just so-so. It’s not horrible, it’s just so-so, but at the same time, Seattle just called up Michael Pineda this year, who is pretty darn good, and Dustin Ackley this year is pretty darn good, so they’ve added an above-average position player and a potential stud starting pitcher. Their system’s done its job for a while, and even if it’s down a little bit, that’s ok. The Rangers still have a good system that’s one of the better ones in baseball, and while it’s not the best, it’s one of the better ones. They do a good job drafting and a crazy good job internationally.

Q: Where do you think Jurickson Profar will be in the next couple of years and who is he comparable to?
A: (Kevin) As young as he is, I think we’ll see him in High-A next year and Double-A in 2013, I don’t think he should have a big league timetable now. This kid is so young and is really, really good, and you look at what he’s doing in Low-A. Everyone always talks about how young Bryce Harper is, and Profar is six months younger than him. And he’s playing an elite, up-the middle position very well, hitting, stealing bases. I think he has the potential to be a shortstop who hits .280-.300 with 15-20 home runs, and 15-20 stolen bases, and that’s a massive talent, which is a $15-20 million dollars on the free agent market.

(Jason) This is a guy who I think could be at Double-A right now. He could handle Double-A. Profar adjusts to the level he’s on well, which is why he was able to handle this advanced assignment to start the season, and that’s why he could handle an advanced assignment next season. He could start at Double-A next year, I wouldn’t be surprised, and could handle the major leagues by the time he’s 20.

After the Goldstein/Parks Q&A session, an auction was held that raised over $15,000 for the Shannon Stone Memorial Foundation. Following the auction was the main event, the Jon Daniels Q&A. Assistant GM Thad Levine was there as well and also answered a few questions. As usual, Jon did a great job, taking questions for more than 90 minutes. Here are some excerpts from the Q&A.

Q: How much of an information gap is there between the players that you have and the players that other teams have, as far as scouting goes?
A: We’ve tried to do as much as possible to narrow that gap. We don’t really talk about that, but at the end of the day that is our goal with our pro scouting. We scout their personal history, and that kind of stuff to try to help us know everything possible about players on other teams.

Q: (me) When you are working with agents on contracts, what are some of your biggest pet peeves?
A: (Jon) When they open their mouths.
(Thad) I think that one thing that we’ve done since we’ve been here is really try to forge relationships with everybody in the industry, whether it’s other GMs, other team’s scouts, agents, so I think for the most part we have done just that. We have pretty good relationships with agents. I think the biggest issue I have when you’re negotiating a player’s contract is when there is an early impass, when somebody says, ‘We’re at an impasse, there’s no way we’re gonna get a deal done’, and there’s no creativity in the flow of conversations. But beyond that, I think we’ve learned if you have the relationships beforehand and you treat each of these negotiations as the next building block of the relationship, then there’s no reason you can’t come to an agreement. It’s when they treat it as one isolated event instead of as a building block to a relationship; otherwise there’s nothing stopping you from getting a deal done.

Q: Do you enjoy the trading deadline or free agency period more?
A: Definitely the trading deadline, no doubt. What we do now is going to have an immediate impact on a pennant race. In November, what you do isn’t going to do anything to help your team win for a few months.

Q: What are some teams that you like and don’t like doing business with?
A: I can’t name specific teams, but there are teams that we casually keep in touch with year-round for no trade reasons or anything else, but just to catch up with, and there are some organizations that we don’t do that with.

Q: Is there a plan among MLB to improve the umpiring?
A: They changed the leadership on the baseball operations side this year to Joe Torre, who is in charge of all of baseball ops. He hired two vice presidents, who both have extensive experience working for clubs. It’s one of those deals where they’re not going to tell us specifically, or publicize, their specific training or repercussions for umpires, but I know they are pretty confident. You saw them change one of the umpiring groups recently and that made the news a little bit before the All-Star break. I think they’re going to be a little more proactive in addressing some of this stuff. One of the suggestions that Buck Showalter made was that they should take former ballplayers that want to stay in the game (RA Dickey was his example) and put them in an umpiring school to get them into the system.

Q: Is there any developmental difference between Bakersfield and Myrtle Beach?
A: It is such a better environment for developing players in Myrtle Beach. We’re thrilled going over there. It doesn’t change a guy’s developmental plan. We understand that a guy’s number in the California League are going to be different than the numbers in the Carolina League, but it doesn’t change how we approach certain guys, with the exception that we may be willing to keep a guy there a little longer, where otherwise we would have felt it may hurt a guy negatively staying in a bad environment.

A couple of additional interesting comments from Jon:
- They were looking for a way to bring Chris Davis up even before Beltre got hurt. He said that long-term, Chris could be a corner utility guy, as he can play 1B, 3B, LF, and RF.
- He doesn’t believe in giving free agent relievers big, long contracts (which I totally agree with). He said that it was risky, and that while it works out in some cases, it’s normally not worth the risk.

Like usual, Jon did a great job answering the questions and I would like to thank him for giving us so much of his time.

After the Daniels Q&A, we went to our seats for the game. The Rangers lost to the Blue Jays 3-0, and only got 6 baserunners in a complete game shutout for the Blue Jays’ Brett Cecil. Alexi Ogando started for the Rangers and was doing great until a 3-run 6th inning when Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Travis Snider each drove in a run. Offensively, Craig Gentry was the only Ranger to have multiple hits.

Once again, I would like to thank everyone that made this happen.

Come back next week for trade analyses or my July awards. Also, be sure to check out the Newberg Report minor league recaps this weekend. I’ll be filling in for Scott Lucas’ this Friday through Sunday.

No comments: