I'm posting today's TROT COFFEY report on the website, though typically these go to the mailing list only. We're about to jump into heavy COFFEY season, so if you don't want to miss these in the future as trade season starts to heat up, all you need to do is take about five seconds to jump on the free list -- click "SUBSCRIBE" at the top of this page and you'll be halfway done.
(* 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:
· Texas claimed righthander Phil Irwin off waivers from Pittsburgh on Wednesday, filling the club’s lone vacancy on the 40-man roster. The 27-year-old, whose lone big league experience came in one big league spot start for the Pirates two weeks into the 2013 season, has fanned eight batters per nine innings while walking only 1.7 per nine in his six minor league seasons (3.25 ERA). He was sidelined for the entire second half last year after a nerve issue in his elbow required surgery, and early this season was converted wholesale to relief for the first time in his career. Irwin, who has reported to AAA Round Rock, will have one option remaining in 2015.
· Before a rough outing his last time on the mound, Irwin had posted a 9-5-0-0-0-8 line over his previous five relief appearances. He’ll move into the inventory from which the Rangers continue to have to reach for big league reinforcements.
· I almost used the word “decimated” in that last sentence, but since historically it means to reduce by one-tenth, I don’t think it’s the right word. Can I make up the word “semi-mated”?
· The list of solid national writers who have written columns since Prince Fielder’s deactivation suggesting that the Rangers take this opportunity to shop Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios and Joakim Soria and Mitch Moreland and forfeit the number 30 pick in next week’s draft to sign Kendrys Morales RIGHT NOW is lengthy. Maybe the reflexes in my knee are completely shot (did I sleep on them wrong?), but I just don’t get it. It’s May.
· Bill Ladson (MLB.com) hears that the Rangers have asked Washington about right-handed-hitting first baseman/corner outfielder Tyler Moore – a player the Nationals drafted three times in four years before convincing him to sign – but that “nothing is serious” as far as trade talks go. Moore, incidentally, doesn’t hit lefties as well as righties, historically, and I’ll take this opportunity to say again that I’m sad San Diego traded Kyle Blanks to Oakland.
· Evan Grant (Dallas Morning News), who was among those endorsing the idea of signing Morales even though it would cost Texas its first pick in the draft to do so before a week from now, thinks that “if the Rangers make a trade this year, it is going to be a weird kind of blockbuster in which they trade young talent for young talent.” I like the idea. Even with Ian Kinsler’s departure, there clearly remains a logjam in the middle infield here – and Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas have done nothing this month but boost their value significantly – and I’d love to see a trade in which the Rangers used someone like Sardinas to go get a young catcher who’s just about ready, for instance. I want to be on the receiving end of the next Derek Norris trade, or the next Wilson Ramos trade.
· Sardinas to the Giants for Andrew Susac? To the Astros for Max Stassi? Sardinas wouldn’t be enough, but how frustrated are the Mets with Travis d’Arnaud?
· Or does Houston love Stassi enough that it would entertain the idea of trading Jason Castro (into his arbitration years and two-plus years away from free agency)? Do the Astros think of Jonathan Villar as a long-term solution at shortstop? Sardinas, Alec Asher, and Ryan Rua for Castro? Doubt it.
· No, I’m not any less fired up about Jorge Alfaro. If he gets to Texas in two years and the Rangers have a problem figuring out how to get everyone playing time behind the plate, sign me up for that “problem.”
· And I’m not down on the Robinson Chirinos/Chris Gimenez tandem that has been tremendous, with Geovany Soto set to return before too long and J.P. Arencibia not yet a sunk cost. But I would like to get a both-sides-of-the-ball guy in here to tie things down here with Chirinos and bridge things until Alfaro arrives.
· Then again, maybe I just need to pull out another Maya Angelou quote and cool my jets on this idea: “We need much less than we think we need.”
· I’d still like to see Sardinas, whose value has to be at its highest right now, traded in the type of deal Grant proposes – for another young player at a position where Texas has more of a need than it does in the middle infield.
· Ron Washington said in a radio interview a couple days ago, when asked about the craziness of this rash of injuries up and down his roster: “My starting rotation is starting to put it back together. My offense is getting more consistent. We have enough to win.”
· “We have enough to win.”
· He may or may not truly believe that, but that’s not the point: That, right there, is Wash at his best.
· Another Wash point that I thought was worth noting: Eric Nadel talked yesterday about how much the skipper loves the confidence that Sardinas and Odor are playing with, how nothing about the game scares them, and I’ve heard him say basically the same thing about Nick Martinez. It’s meaningful, as Nadel points out, because Wash is typically not quick to lavish praise on young players publicly. But he’s been gushing about his two newest infielders in particular.
· Jim Bowden (ESPN/XM) lists David Price, Cliff Lee, Jeff Samardzija, Justin Masterson, and Huston Street as July trade candidates. (Not James Shields?) Today’s not the day to get too deep into what it might take to get Price, just as it’s no time to talk about who the Rangers could sell off at the trade deadline.
· Rios, at the season’s one-third mark, is on pace to hit .325/.356/.486 (career bests in the first two categories) with 66 extra-base hits, 30 stolen bases, and 103 RBI, and I will go ahead and say this, after watching him on a daily basis for more than half a season: I think Rios is a very skilled player whose production exceeds his value.
· Texas sent cash to Kansas City for journeyman infielder Jason Donald, who will report to AAA. The Rangers have now acquired two of the four players – Donald and righthander Jason Knapp – that Philadelphia sent Cleveland for Lee and Ben Francisco in July 2009.
· Donald’s other career footnote is that he hit the ground ball to Miguel Cabrera that should have completed Armando Galarraga’s 2010 perfect game.
· Cubs AA righthander C.J. Edwards, the key for Chicago to last summer’s Matt Garza trade with Texas, has been sidelined since April 20 with a tight shoulder. Tests revealed no structural damage, but it’s now been nearly six weeks since he’s pitched.
· Nationals AA lefthander Matt Purke had Tommy John surgery yesterday.
· Speaking of young catchers and unsigned Rangers draft picks: Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost is a sure first-rounder next Thursday night, and some industry publications have him going as high as the top 10 picks — with Baseball America’s John Manuel slotting as high number four overall (to the Cubs) in his mock draft from last week (in the latest Manuel mock, released today, Pentecost is slotted 12th to the Brewers).
· Pentecost was the Rangers’ seventh-round pick in 2011, with widespread reports at the time that the player and club were close to a deal before he opted to go to college. Kiley McDaniel (Scout.com), who raves along with others about Pentecost’s combination of catch-and-throw skills and above-average bat speed, tweeted just last week that the “Rangers had a deal with him but it fell apart late due to [an] iffy physical.” (This Online Athens story published four days before the August 2011 signing deadline — which includes a handful of quotes from Pentecost himself — indicates that he had in fact agreed to terms, pending the physical. The story notes that Pentecost dealt with a stress fracture in his throwing arm late in his senior season.)
· The Rangers’ sixth-round pick in that same draft, outfielder Derek Fisher, and their 45th-round pick, lefthander Brandon Finnegan, neither of whom signed, are also projected by various outlets to be first-rounders next week.
· Yes, if Fisher or TCU’s Finnegan is available at the number 30 slot, Texas is permitted to draft either one again. See the Tyler Moore note above.
· Manuel has Texas taking Georgia high school righthander Spencer Adams at number 30, though hoping that Missouri high school outfielder Monte Harrison falls instead. In the previous BA mock, Manuel had University of Kentucky first baseman (and lefthander) A.J. Reed going to the Rangers at 30 (with Adams going 22nd). Reed, who leads the NCAA in home runs, was named National Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball Magazine/Louisville Slugger.
· Yu Darvish, apparently past his neck stiffness issues, is slated to return to the mound Sunday against the Nationals.
· Tanner Scheppers in his AAA inning last night: home run, groundout, double, single, home run, flyout, groundout. One swing-and-miss, according to Scott Lucas.
· I wonder, if the C.J. Wilson experiment hadn’t paid off so well (Scott Feldman was a very different situation), whether the Rangers would have stayed on this course of trying highly effective relievers (Neftali Feliz, Alexi Ogando, Robbie Ross, Scheppers) out as starters. I get that starting Ross and Scheppers in April was more out of necessity than anything else, and I absolutely get the concept (financially, if nothing else) of making sure you don’t have a frontline starting pitcher right under your nose, but I hate the idea that those four parenthesed pitchers might have been devalued (if not physically affected) by the experiments, and I really hope that that doesn’t turn out to be the case.
· The Rangers are 20-22 with Prince Fielder, and 8-4 without him.
· The Angels are 3-5 with Josh Hamilton, and 27-18 without him.
· Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall told Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports) that he spoke with Braves advisor John Hart before hiring Tony LaRussa to be Arizona’s chief baseball officer last week, though it wasn’t an interview but instead Hall using Hart as a sounding board.
· Rosenthal wonders if the “confident, aggressive” Odor could “develop into the Rangers’ version of Dustin Pedroia” (the player I’ve compared Odor to for a couple years). According to Jon Heyman (CBS Sports), an executive from another club calls Odor “a poor man’s Robbie Cano.” One scout tells Phil Rogers (Chicago Tribune) that Odor reminds him of Rod Carew. Joel Sherman (New York Post) notes that the Mets wanted Odor when they were shopping Carlos Beltran to Texas (presumably in July 2011, when New York ended up shipping Beltran to the Giants for righthander Zack Wheeler), but Texas refused to include the then-17-year-old, who was making his pro debut with Short-Season A Spokane.
· The Cardinals sold outfielder Joey Butler to Japan’s Orix Buffaloes. The Braves signed outfielder Brandon Boggs and righthander Kameron Loe to minor league deals. The Grand Prairie Airhogs of the independent American Association signed outfielder Jason Botts (who played in Mexico for most of the last two years), and he has homered four times in his first 14 games.
· The Yankees released righthander Yoshinori Tateyama from their AAA club. The Cubs did the same with lefthander Tommy Hottovy. San Diego outrighted outfielder Alex Castellanos to AAA after designating him for assignment and getting him through waivers.
· If you’re interested in supporting Keeper of the Game, a local program that supports, among other foundations, the Diamond Dreams non-profit organization developed by Rangers minor league hitting instructor Scott Coolbaugh and others in memory of Scott’s brother Mike to promote safety in youth baseball and provide support to members of the local baseball community in need, you can go to http://www.kelleyathletic.com/keeperofthegame/ and help give back.
· With starts by Darvish, Scott Baker, Martinez, Colby Lewis, Nick Tepesch, Baker again, Joe Saunders, and Martinez again, and with nearly half of its projected roster on the disabled list, Texas just took three of four on the road from Detroit, owners of baseball’s second-best record, and then took three of four on the road from Minnesota.
· The team is playing well. The manager thinks he has enough to win. In two months, the GM may not agree, and is regularly aggressive enough to do something about that.
Or maybe we need much less than we think we need.
For now, keep winning series, and things could get real interesting, especially with 29 games left against the A’s and Angels, who are teeing it off against each other this weekend.
Sign Kendrys Morales? Sure — a week from today.
Until then, keep that number 30 pick, which the Rangers also had a year ago and turned into Travis Demeritte. And that, in past years, has turned into David Wells and Chris Sabo and Brian Jordan and Travis Fryman.
And Mike Schmidt.
This is no time to look for a different course to veer off onto.
It’s no time to panic, and it’s no time to sell.