Category Archives: Fans

Should the Rangers Sign a Free Agent Pitcher This Winter, or Not?

(View this post at the soon-to-be new home for the Rangers or Robbers blog.)

Similar to early-season views on Torri Hunter, I and many others expected the Rangers sign a Free Agent starting pitcher this next Winter to add to the rotation for 2008. But with the upsides of failing fast now in full effect at the Ballpark, I’m not sure they should.

The earliest the Rangers window for being a true contender will open is 2009. So why not let all the young arms in the Rangers organization get every chance they can with as many innings as possible in the “Bigs” to become winning pitchers for ’09 and beyond?

Millwood and Padilla are the only pitchers (and 2 of only 5 Rangers total) under contract past this season. And, with one of the league’s 5 lowest team salaries after dumping Teixeira, Gagne, Lofton and Mahay’s salaries ($22.2 million annualized), the Rangers certainly have all the flexibility and tons of money available to rebuild their rotation and fill holes in their lineup and bench.

But the Rangers also have a large collection of highly touted prospect young arms. While I’m not at all confident in the Rangers’ ability to turn prospects into winning major league starters, the law of averages has to kick in sometime. Doesn’t it? I mean, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every so often.

So would it be better for the Rangers to let the remaining 3 spots in their rotation be filled by those prospects, instead of filling one with a free agent signing?  (Of course, Millwood and Padilla’s seasons make them less than surefire long-term locks for any rotation and they could be traded away, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

I include McCarthy and Gabbard on the Rangers’ prospects list, as they still haven’t completed a successful transition to the majors and are not bona fide winning starters. Then there’s Tejeda, Loe and Wood who’ve had plenty of chances to get some traction already (not to mention Rheinecker and Koronka – who’re about out of chances). Are they worth more time in the rotation to see what could happen? Or are they meant for the bullpen? And then there’s Volquez, Hurley, Rupe, Harrison, Galarraga and Mendoza coming up from the minors.

That’s at least 13 pitchers who are touted to have various levels of major league potential. At least two or three of them should become major league winners, right? Again, the law of averages has to work in the Rangers’ favor at some point, doesn’t it.

Plus, the list of pitchers who’ll be free agents this winter doesn’t look too exciting and looks pretty old (ages for next season in parentheses: source MLB Trade Rumors):

Carlos Zambrano (27)
Curt Schilling (41)
Jason Jennings (29)
Koji Uehara (33)
Freddy Garcia (32)
Kenny Rogers (43)
Jon Lieber (38)
Bartolo Colon (35)
Joe Kennedy (29)
Tomo Ohka (32)
John Thomson (34)
Kip Wells (31)
Wade Miller (31)
Livan Hernandez (33)*
Randy Wolf (31) – $9MM club option for ’08
Paul Byrd (37) – $8MM club option for ’08
Jeff Weaver (31)
Tom Glavine (42) – $9MM player option for ’08
Kris Benson (33) – $7.5MM club option for ’08
Jaret Wright (32)
David Wells (45)
Eric Milton (32)
Kyle Lohse (29)
Matt Clement (33)
Rodrigo Lopez (32)
Josh Fogg (31)
Byung-Hyun Kim (29)
Odalis Perez (31) – $9MM club option for ’08
Brett Tomko (35) – $4.5MM mutual option for ’08

If the Rangers can sign Carlos Zambrano, they should. He’s a true ace who could at 27 could anchor the Rangers’ rotation for years. But like so many aces before him, why would he come to the Ballpark and the Rangers? It would take crazy money for him to pass on the numerous great offers he’ll get from teams who will be contending for years to come.

So, short of a miracle signing of Zambrano, I think the Rangers best move may be to stick with the arms they have and see how these prospects play out. Then they’ll have the trade deadlines next season and the winter of ’08-’09 – when they’ll have a more clear picture of what they have in the guys they have – to shore up any holes in the rotation.

The problem there is that they’ll likely still have several large holes. But we’ve got time to wait and see.

Reflecting on Barry Bonds’ Home Run Record

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Rangers programming to reflect on Barry Bonds’ feat of becomming the all-time home run leader.

So much has been written and said about Barry Bonds, Balco, steroids, home runs, etc. that I doubt I’ll add anything new. Instead, I want to share some questions that, while they’ve probably been asked before, I think are worth pondering.

  • The Babe and the Hammerin’ Hank achieved their record milestones against the peers of their time. In the Babe’s time, not much was known about nor was there much emphasis on physical training. By Hank’s era, guys had work out routines and fitness programs. During Bonds’ era, players became dedicated athletes with year-round training programs and diets based on ever-improving science guiding training to increase stamina or build targeted muscle groups or develop “muscle memory” or enhance “fast twitch” muscles for speed while diets were paired with training from hich protein shakes for building mass to carbs for endurance. Somewhere around halfway through Bonds career, a bunch (my bet is a majority) of players used performance enhancing substances of some sort or another. So if he did use performance enhancing substances and so did many if not most pitchers he faced, isn’t that fair? Isn’t he just competing against his contemporary peers?
  • Bonds has gotten a lot of bad press for being a difficult guy. But it seems he has the respect of a lot of his teammates and players current and past. Those who know him best, speak highly of him. Couldn’t be more obvious that he’s a family man. He hasn’t mistreated animals, done narcatics, raped women, gambled millions, killed anyone, been in a drunken rage or DUI accident, punched a fan or choked his coach. Other athletes have done all these things, and more, and haven’t been as negatively judged by the public. It seems to me that Barry’s paying a high price because he doesn’t like or get along with the media. I’ve worked with the media, and can tell you that most of them are jerks. So maybe we shouldn’t believe all that we hear and read from reporters who generally don’t like it when someone doesn’t bow before the power of their pen (or microphone)?
  • Barry may have the best eye and discipline at the plate of anyone ever. Sure – pitchers pitch around him. But they pitch around a lot of power hitters, many of whom are also big strike out victims. It was only his 4th year in the majors when Barry had 93ks and 93 walks. In the 18 seasons since, Barry’s averaged almost 2 walks for every 1 strikeout. In 2004, he had a record 232 walks, beating his own record of 198 from 2002 when he beat his own record of 177 from 2001. Thus, he has the top three seasons for walks, and is the all-time career leader. He eclipses Babe Ruth’s 4th-ranked season of 170 walks in 1923. He’s had 9 seasons that rank in the top 91 EVER for walks in a season. Do performance enhancing substances help a batter develop a keen eye for the strike zone? 
  • It’s alleged that he started using steroids sometime between ’98 and 2000. But before that, he’d averaged more than 31 HRs a year, including 46 in ’93 – his first season as Giant. From ’90 to ’97, he’d averaged 36.25 hrs. If he’d continued at that pace from ’98 through ’06, he’d have hit 297 HRs (adjusting for his injury season in ’05). That would have put him at 671 HRs entering this season. That’s within 85 HRs of the record, which – especially if he plays a few more years as a DH in the AL – would have been easily attainable for him (especially when you deduct the 23 he’s now hit this season which would have put him within 62 of the record under this scenario). So even without the widely questioned power surge, Bonds quite likely would have reached 756 home runs within another two seasons. So does that still make him the best HR hitter of all-time?

Speaking of which, he just hit 757 while I was writing. So I’m gonna go, and I haven’t gotten to his basestealing, defense, clutch hitting, etc.

Personally, I’ve long thought that he’s a jerk who’s cheating his way to the most prestigious record in sports.

But lately, I’ve started wonder if that’s unfair.

While guys like Bonds, McGuire, Juan Gonzalez and Sammy Sosa’s physiques changed rapidly and dramatically, we fans, the All-Powerful Players Union, the Commissioner, the Owners, the media – we all applauded  because we love us some offense and especially home runs! So if in the end, the investigations show that Bonds did use a performance enhancing substance(s) and that so did many of his contemporaries, don’t we all share some stake in the shame of the “steroid era”?

Just questions worth pondering.

Mark Teixeira Trade Rumors – Yankees (Red Sox, Braves, Angels, Dodgers) Getting Serious?

Local ESPN radio hosts mentioned that rumors are flying all over the place that as the Yankees may not be dead yet, Cashman is getting more serious about getting a firstbaseman. And as the Rangers and Yankees have been scouting each other for a while for reasons ranging from Bullpen help to possibly Sammy Sosa, they’ve gotten to know each other’s talent pretty well. And while the Yankees were on the sellers-buyers fence at the All-Star break, they’re pulling their typical post-break magic and are suddenly above .500, in 2nd place and only 8 behind Boston. They’ll be buying this month!

In the meantime, rumors have also started circling that the Red Sox may grab Teixeira.  That sounds far fetched to me.  As do rumors about a possible trade with the Ranger-killing Angels.

But, there are substantiated rumors that the Dodgers are interested.  And suddenly the Braves have been mentioned to be in the mix.

Hmmmm.  Has Little Jon DanielsHart finally gotten smart?  The richest teams in baseball are suddenly rumored to be interested in Tex?  That’s every GMs goal when they’re shopping a player, with a Yankees-Red Sox bidding war being a GM’s dream!

Or is more likely that Tex has told Scott Boras what he wants, and they’re not sitting around waiting for Hicks and Daniels to screw things up by their incompetence when it comes to generating buzz and “selling” a player?

Either way, these kinds are rumors are great news for the Rangers, as Tex talk had gotten too quiet for a while. 

Certainly, coming back from the DL red hot in his first 4 games helped. But going hitless since won’t help. If Teixeira really does want to go play for a winner now, he needs to stay consistent. But the multi-million question remains – can DanielsHart finally orchestrate a trade that helps his club more than the team he trades with.  Or will Cashman or John Schuerholz or Theo Epstein give Hicks and DanielsHart another schooling like Cashman, Doug Melvin, Kevin Towers and Jim Bowden already have in recent years?

Looks Like Teixera’s Playing to Make a Point – Trade for Me!

It’s only been three games since his return, but Mark Teixera’s a notoriously slow starter.  Not after this return for the DL!

His extra innings heroics last night and combined .333 AVG and sick 1.262 OPS since his return look like someone playing with something to prove – that he’s worth picking up in a trade NOW.  Combine those numbers with a .349 AVG and 1.099 OPS in May and an off-the-charts .364 AVG and 1.390 OPS in seven games before getting hurt in June, and Tex is clearly showing some extra motivation.

After some refreshing honesty last week about wanting to play for a winning team paired with reports from the likes of Ken Rosenthal saying that interest in Tex has been low, and you can bet that Boras has motivated his client to go out and prove himself fast if he really wants to play for a winning team ASAP.

And Rangers fans should be all for it.  If Teixeira’s able to keep this up, teams will come knocking and even Hicks and Daniels shouldn’t be able to screw up a deal to get some significant value in return for Tex.

Maybe the Rangers will be able to get some starting pitching in return for Tex after all.

Click here or on the link at the top of the page to read and sign the Rangers Fans Against Hicks Petition!

Is Mark Cuban Head-Faking His Way Toward a Bid for the Rangers?

All the talk I’ve heard about Mark Cuban’s bid to buy the Chicago Cubs rates him as a serious underdog.  That’s a shame for the Cubs, because the quality he brought to the Mavs has players knocking down their door to play in Dallas and he would likely bring the same zeal and committment to quality to the Cubs.  But word has it that Selig and cross-town White Sox owner Jerry Rheinsdorf don’t want Cuban in Chicago.

Meanwhile, the Rangers desperately need a new owner.  If MLB (lead by Selig and Rheinsdorf) turn Cuban down in Chicago, it would make it much harder for them to reject a Cuban bid to buy the Rangers someday.  Hicks isn’t selling – yet – but once “Where’s the Glory Park” is built, I’m hoping he’ll sell the team and hold onto the surrounding  real estate (much like Ross Perot, Jr. did with the Mavs – check out this great, must-read post comparing Perot and Hicks on the Hitless Wanderings blog). So can we hope that Cuban’s real goal is to be in a prime position to buy the Rangers if/when Hicks is finally done ruining the Rangers while milking them and Glory Park to line his billionaire, don’t-really-care-about-winning pockets?

If you’d like to help excellerate Hicks’ departure as owner, sign the Rangers Fans Against Hicks Petition:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/rangersfansagainsthicks/

Quality Start for the Rangers Fans Against Hicks Petition

7/17 Update:   Petition picking up steam – now up to 22 signatures in just 5 days.  Keep spreading the word!

Only 5 signatures in 2 days, but that’s with only one post and no e-mail campaign yet. Please spread the word about the petition to pressure Tom Hicks to sell the team to a new owner who will maintain a consistent strategy and care more about winning than money.

Read more and sign the petition here:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/rangersfansagainsthicks/

NOTE: ONLY YOUR COMMENT TO THE LAST QUESTION OF THE PETITION (IF YOU PROVIDE ONE) WILL BE SHOWN PUBLICALLY. ALL OTHER RESPONSES, INCLUDING YOUR NAME, WILL BE KEPT STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL UNTIL THE PETITION IS SENT TO TOM HICKS EACH TIME ANOTHER 100 SIGNATURES ARE ADDED. NAMES AND COMPLETE RESPONSES WILL BE PROVIDED TO TOM HICKS WHEN THE PETITION IS SENT TO HIM. YOUR SUPPORT OF THIS EFFORT IS GREATLY APPRECIATED AND YOUR PRIVACY ON THIS SITE AND THE PETITION SITE WILL REMAIN STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.

Alex Rodriguez Contract Extension, and Tom Hicks’ Contribution to the Yankees Future

Let’s all reminise for a moment before getting to the current ARod situation and how Hicks’ stupidity is still at the heart of it all.

scalex_rodriguez_photo.jpg

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:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/rangersfansagainsthicks/