Remember when Hicks bid against himself (Boras “owned” him and Hart in those negotiations) and signed Alex Rodriguez to a contract worth 1/8th of a B2 Bomber (The contract he signed is still the most lucrative contract in sports history: a 10-year deal worth $252 million – worth $63 million more than the second-richest baseball deal.)? Well, most Rangers fans thought that was a good thing. Me included.
The team had won its third division title in four years in 1999. Then the 2000 season – the first where Hicks’ ownership had any real impact on team performance since he bought the team mid-season of 1998 – was a huge, last-place letdown. So, in the winter before the 2001 season, adding Alex Rodriguez’s future Hall of Fame bat to the order looked like we had an owner willing to spend whatever it took (as stupid as we all thought that amount of money was) to turn the team around and break through to the next level and actually win more than one playoff game. Of course, in addition to the money, ARod was attracted to the Rangers by the Ballpark and Hicks’ promise that the size of ARod’s contract wouldn’t stop Hicks from aquiring other pieces necessary to become Champions.
Of course we know the rest. Hicks broke his promise to fans and to ARod, and didn’t add the pitching and team depth needed to build a Championship caliber team. Hicks would love to have us believe that it’s all Chan Ho Park’s fault, and while that underperforming multi-millionaire deserves some blame, Hicks could have thrown good money after bad to make up for the Park mistake (or just sent him packing while paying for some of his over-priced contract).
Instead, he names Alex Rodriguez the Rangers’ team captain after his 2003 MVP season (the Rangers’ fourth straight last-place finish – after 3 division titles in 4 years before Hicks’ meddling) in an attempt to appease Alex’s growing frustration with the organization and its owner. Things unravel because – and we should just hate the guy for this – ARod wants to win (how terrible) but Hicks and Hart keep vascilating between winning and rebuilding. Finally, ARod approves a trade to the Yankees (in which Hicks absurdly agrees to pay the Yankees – they are the richest team in baseball – for a large chunck of ARod’s contract). On his way out, ARod, in a somewhat unclassy but still understnadable way, rightly blasts the Rangers organization (his comments mostly aimed at Tom Hicks) for it’s lack of committment and quality.
Fast forward to today.
After more than a year of speculation bordering on hope from the Yankees that Alex Rodriguez would opt out of his contract at the end of this season and leave New York in free agency, the Yankees are suddenly talking about keeping ARod. In addition to ARod’s monster first half, why the sudden urgency? Because if they’re going to keep him, they want to put something together now – so the Rangers and Hicks remain on the hook for more than 40% of ARod’s money!
As AP sporter reporter Jim Litke reports, “Rodriguez gets a $27 million salary this year, but thanks to the shrewd deal general manager Brian Cashman cut to bring him to New York, Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks still has to kick in about $11 million of the total. As one of the tabloids noted, that means the Yankees are getting A-Rod’s services for about 60 cents on the dollar.”
To put Hicks’ stupidity in perspective, Barry Zito is only getting $10 million this year. Mark Buehrle $9.75 million. Brad Penny $7.5 million. Josh Becket $6 million. Johan Santana $12 million. Jason Schmidt $12.5 million. Roy Oswalt $13 million.
Get the point?
Hicks not only let a reigning MVP and future Hall-of-Fame hitter walk, but he also basically agreed to give up enough money to sign an Ace-caliber pitcher (or more) in the process. What if instead, Hicks had kept ARod and signed Bartolo Colon heading into 2004 (Colon signed that winter with Angels for 4 years/$51 million)? WHy in the world would you give up the best hitter in the game AND enough money to sign an ace pitcher?
So wouldn’t the Yankees be even crazier to let ARod walk now when he’s playing lights out and the Rangers are paying enough for the Yankees to sign a free agent pitcher to shore up there rotation next season?
If you agree that the Texas Rangers need a new owner, please add your voice to the petition encouraging Tom Hicks to sell the team: