What are the first signs that augur the New Year you ask, and by that I mean of course, every new year: mimosas and good wishes; confetti and long kisses; internecine prospecting wars? Well...No, its the Newberg 72 stupid, you know, the top 72 prospect rankings published by Jamey Newberg, the lawyer with a fan blog indefatigably peddling his TX Ranger enterprise: book work (‘bounded’ emails), contract work ("hot sheets"), police work (Josey Wails APBs). Now, of late, I've been in a bit of a writing slump, blogging over at Lonestarball and even more recently over at minorleagueball to get my groove on; one always needs little fugues here and there to lick a writing funk – pulp fiction meets sardonic (angry?) nuevo journalism always makes for a satisfying cure-all.
Anyways, while “Robbie Ross” is normally an interesting discussion topic as far as it goes, it was the the 2010 Newberg72 thread over at Lonestarball.com that started the ingress - a little baiting, vivisection, hijacking - you know the drill. The web is nothing if not a stage right? And what better entertainment than watching Newberg swoon for more authentic (pre-web?) times past when identities were, he recalls, more transparent, less shifty, than the unaccountable avatars shouting foul language at him from all sides. I like the new age myself; Simulacrum is for cool kids.
And, wow, I almost forgot to mention thus but, I’m wriing a book. Well, really, it’s more like a group of blog entries (precisely like this one in fact, if not one and the same) about minor league baseball fans/blogs that will be serialized and repackaged as it were when completed. Should you like to be on the list to be contacted when they are collated, loosly bound and available for purchase, drop me an email. Due to my very recent arrival on scene on the prospecting landscape, the price is very reasonable, negotiable even. The notable figures against which I’m writing are, let us say, entrenched. So, as you might expect, I’m willing to relentlessly skewer any and every local writer with the aim of not only elevating my reputation in this cut-throat field, but also, of course, to exponentially increase the traffic to this blog (the more hits, the more I get paid). Sadly, even if you, dear reader, might actually be a subject somewhere therein, the royalties are mine alone. Free shipping though.
Ok, where was I. Before I get to a "dissection" of the Newberg 72, here is a cryptic summary of future M&M projects with a few predictions for the new year:
1. Easy Eddie piece
2. “Not a Prospect” piece: Geuris Grullon
3. Updated Game notes: 2nd half 2009 minor league season
4. Updated Player Rankings: Starters thru Org guys
5. "Internet Prospecting": rules of the road
PREDICTIONS (likelihood of)
6. Updated Player Profiles: 40%%
7. Starting the Minor Moosings website: 0%
8. Switch to Wordpress: 80%
9. Listen to hundreds of games in 2010: 0%
10. Founding of: “Scouting Consultants: - Cole, Parks, Goyo”: .08%
11. Founding of: “Tripp Physical Therapy Associates”: 98%
12. Litigation with “Vincent Lopez Serafino Jenevein, PC”: 100%
(coincidently, I used to live on Bryan street right above a Thai place just outside downtown)
13. Finally making bank on that Josey Wales photo (enough for legal fees at least): 99%
14. The revelation of my inside source in the Dominican? 100% (Rhymes with Antigua)
OK so I'm finally going to dust off a summer article that I never finished asking "Wherefore Art Thou Edwin Garcia?" which examines why top 30 shortstop prospect Edwin “Easy Eddie” Garcia is something like (top 30 catcher) TomasTelis' dark matter talent-twin who no one can actually see, especially various and sundry Internet Prospecters (IPs) claiming some pointed powers of prospect prognostication, which is to say: always ignore the stuff you hear about prospects coming out of Instructs and the back fields of spring training; it is assuredly less important than the stuff you don't hear, and as misleading as scripting a prospect's future based on a scrimmage, batting practice, a bullpen session, a winter ball stint for Obregon or a windblown Jurickson Profar homer -Nary a word on the kid the last 2 years ; Very nice prospect. (this last sentence-qua-paragraph is dedicated to BBTIA.com, and a salutary warning).
The second thing is that I'm going to dust off the always fun "NOT A PROSPECT" (NAP) series (which started and ended as a series of one, analyzing Reinier Bermudez). The motivation for which – simmering for a long while – was the inevitable progression of zero-pitchability Lefty reliever Geuris Grullon into the top 40 of the Newberg72. Poor Newberg, he’s slightly awkward and always untimely when it comes to picking the right doppleganger: Geuris Grullon over Juan Grullon; Leury Garcia over Eddwin Garcia). After GG's deplorable 2009, and a third straight year in short-season ball barely pitching 25 innings, Newberg has moved him into the top 40 (‘10:39; ‘09:54; ‘08:60) taking a page from the book of Ron Washington, and playing it by the gut it seems. This is a perfect entree into the desultory NAP series that might eventually include say, the likes of Christian Santana, and it should be noted that I do take requests. Another semi-regular (or one-off) series could embody themes of ghosts, haunting, abandonment, forlornness, involving say, Easy Eddie, Juan Grullon, Randol Rojas, Alex Gonzalez, Ruben Sierra , Trevor Hurley, etc...
Talk of Easy Eddie makes for a nice transition to the N72 (see what I did there - same thing that happens to English and Spanish in the TexMex frontier, though, I will say that the meaning of "Goyo" in Mexican Spanish never changes, whether north or south of the border, for those with limited Spanish skills who have a professed interest in the matter). If the N72 were an alley, and you screamed Easy Eddie's name into it, what would you have? The echo of course, but just a squeeky ni’gh inaudible sound, rather than the noise of the shouted name itself as that would simply be too much explicit recognition. Though, I will say, you might also hear the faint tendrils of a previous and rather ominous conversation between Eddie and someone from the ever-present if ever-powerful Newberg-MJH-Lucas Prospect Syndicate (NMLPS), something that sounded vaguely like: "Your dead to us, Easy Eddie. Dead". With friends like Newberg...as for MJH, well, he seems to have gone rogue, and I’m always looking over my shoulder for fear that he’s picking off helpless IPs around the country and I’m next.
Whatever the case, and to my surprise, in a list full of, err, umm, surprises, Eddie's Dominican prospect doppleganger Leury Garcia has somehow leaped into the top 30 despite the fact he is merely 1/2 the prospect (unlike (D)irk Nowitski, all "D"). Leury will likely never make it out of AA. That would make his ceiling as a prospect about that of a 3A player, no?
So If Easy Eddie (~top 30) is the most glaring omission from the N72, what are a few of the other surprises. Ruben Sierra Jr. (~top 40) is quite a doosie as well. Oh and before I go on, I should get this out of the way: Numerical rankings are irrelevant. Ok, now that this is settled, the surprises. Well, they can be classified in two ways: 1. Discreet surprises ("JPro at six!@?"; "A fifth outfielder at 31?"; "Tony Doyle after Brennan Garr, really?!"; "Sierra Jr who?"; “Tevor Hurley? You mean Eric?”); 2. Analytical clusterfuck (picks, 27-72). Without actually purchasing the book, and having no real explanation about the analytical framework that may or may not undergird the list, I can only say “WTF?” to the bottom 50, inscrutably arranged as they are. There _are_ tiers lurking around in that list, or so it is claimed, hidden from plain view as it were, and, by all indications, of suspect efficacy.
So, since there are no templates, measures, frameworks, explication (even in his own LSB thread oddly enough), data sets, pie charts, strategems, or some intricately reasoned "Philosophy of a Humble(d) IP" put forward, the easiest way to parse the list is in this bipartate manner:
1. Discrete surprises
Omissions altogether: Easy Eddie (top 30); Ruben Sierra (top 40); Trevor Hurley (top 40)
Inclusions: Jose Felix, Alexi Ogando, Miggie de los Santos, Christian Santana, Ryan Tatusko, Eric Hurley, Whittleman
Felix: Paired with Eli Sarmiento to made up one of the singularly worst defensive catching duos in HighA if not in all of A ball. Also had a horrible year at the plate, his area of strength. Org guy. Ogando/Miggie: the only 2 people on this list without Visas, with Ogando likely ending up in Japan in 2010 unless Noobie has some official info stating otherwise. Santana: NAP. Tatusko: 25yo HighA reliever, org guy. Eric Hurley: no basis to rank him at all until he is ready to compete for a ML spot. Whittleman: Org guy
Miscast starters: Kasey Kiker (middle reliever) and Danny Gutierrez (setup)
2. Everything Else (27-72)
A. Loogies, Middies everywhere. If your maximum ceiling as a prospect is a LOOGY or a low-leverage reliever, you should not be considered a high value/high ceiling player. You should have your own list, a list that lacks projection, no? Lets call this list, SansTools. Its always amusing to see one appear in any top 25. If you believe in them as potential closers or setup men, or still have faith in them as a fringy starter, different story: I. (Snyder), Phillips, Young, Ortiz, Nam; II. Garr, Reed, Murphy, Jones, Miggie
B. Lack of any consistent approach to the valuation of teen prospects, 16yo LA and 17yo US players (12 players appearing haphazardly, 6-71+: Profar, Sardinas, Alvarez, Escobar, Erlin, Blackwell, Rojas, Strong, Perez, McBride, Sierra, Lane). If one doesn’t have some consistent way to establish value for these types of players, then isn’t really better to leave them off altogether, rather than, I don’t know, haphazardly inserting them? Just wait for their debuts and let their performance establish their value rather than guessing. For an oblique aspect of this problem in the LSB N72 thread, see his dismissal of the use bonus figures (or any other way really) to attmpt to do this.
C. Travesties: Doyle at 70 (top 20); McBride/Strong, 66/71 (top 40); Carlos Melo at 56 (top 30); Engel Beltre in the top 10 (not top 30); Robbie Erlin, 48 (top 30); Trevor Hurley, UR (top 40)
D. Valuation of Career reserves: 5th OF prospects (pinch-runners, defensive replacements) Gentry at 31; in front of 4th OF prospects (~80game platoon player ceilings)Golson/Paisano, 51/53.
E. everyone else not on the list past 49: Keith Campbell, Johnny Gunter, Kyle Ocampo, Alex Garcia, Kevin Arrendell, Ovispo de los Santos, Adalberto Flores, Winston Marquez, Justin Miller, Zeke Rijo, Juan Grullon. Justin Miller is a 2010 breakout candidate to be sure, but then, many on this list are.
Ok so, you ask, why purchase the this book at all, a collection of email “reports” (that you might already have in your inbox), bounded as it were, coupled with maudlin and impressionistic prospect tales? Well, I can think of a few reasons, so here are the “Top 4 Reasons to Purchase The Newberg Report, Bound”:
1. Recrudescent Whittleman Mancrush (RWM- an official DSM disorder): “He’s really making solid contact these last 2 games. I think he might finally be putting it all together his third year here at Frisco. “
2. Wistful Americana: “ One day young Martin skirted the edge of the sugar cane fields abutting his neighborhood waving goodbye to his dad who was taking a long walk to the local petroleum plant, the regions only source of employment. Somewhat distracted, he turned to see his friends screaming at him from across the hard-packed earth of the local baseball diamond. He spied their ball in the undercover, picked it and threw a canon over their heads and into an adjacent yard. It might have been a 100 yard throw, straight as a string , with what some claim was late life and a hint of armside run. So it began. A local boscan slipped him a 20 and the rest is history, our history. Martin Perez, superstar.”
3. Tool Talk: “Roaming the back fields looking for hidden prospect gems, I spied ( “Derek Holland, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus , Christian Santana, Wilmer Font...”), a relative unknown. He was (“taking grounders, throwing a bullpen, taking BP, showing leadership that belied his age”) in a way that I hadn’t seen before, and am not likely to see ever again, until next year’s book of course. I’m not sure if I can describe this in any pointed way, but, you know, when you see a baseball player, and well, you say to yourself, ‘he has something, he has it, he..has...IT’? Well, he does, what ever that is, whatever that thing is that a real baseball player has, he has it in spades. I was the first to mention him by the way, back in my email of 10/15/07 (link); Goldstein hopped onto this player’s prospect train much later though we are still very good friends(link). Sickels was late to the game a well, but, well, I was finally able to bring him on board (link) after my last instructs report (link).”
4. A keen prospect eye: “The Newberg always seems to be ‘in’ on the right prospects, his analysis is untimely, that is to say, he spies those obscure kids on the back fields, and picks’em like a hard liner to 3b. Despite the very large signing bonus that they received coupled with the extensive (draft/J2) coverage that followed them – neither being a true measure of a player’s value of course – The Newberg Knows. Buy his book. “ Newberg interviewing Goldstein speaking about Newberg in the 3rd person, 11/15/09, at his house over black coffee and (...Migas, wait that is San Antonio, so for Dallas...) spinach-sausage keish.