What the heck was that? Rangers conference call edition

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The ears of the baseball world perked up around 8:45 p.m. ET this evening when Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News — and other Rangers beat writers — announced that majority owner Chuck Greenberg was going to be hosting a conference call at 9 p.m. ET.  A Lee announcement?  Something big?

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Anthony Andro was passing along notes as Greenberg spoke.  Unfortunately, there weren’t many notes to pass along.

The call started a couple minutes late and Greenberg revealed next to nothing.  The Rangers have made a couple of different offers to Cliff Lee, but they’re not going to talk about details with the media.

Greenberg called the proposal a “substantial commitment in years and dollars” and said that Lee is now “weighing his options.”  That’s something called front office-speak.

All of this seems a little fishy.  Greenberg and Co. flew down to the left-hander’s Arkansas home this afternoon with a “we want an answer” attitude, but now they’re playing coy.

Nick Nelson, Twins blogger and Rotoworld contributor, opined on Twitter that the conference call was meant as a smoke screen.  Nelson might be right.   The Rangers can now tell their fans “hey, we tried” when Lee is cracking a grin and buttoning up a pinstriped uniform in a couple of days.  It’ll be Lee’s fault, or the Yankees’ fault, not the fault of a limited payroll.

The Yankees have made a seven-year offer worth about $23 million annually and the Rangers were hoping to keep him at five years when this all began.  Even if the conference call wasn’t a front, the Red Sox created a YES Network-fueled monster when they signed Carl Crawford to that seven-year, $142 million contract yesterday.  The Yanks are pissed off and ready to spend.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.