Category Archives: Mark Buerhrle

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.

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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/

Trade Rumor of Interest: Dontrelle Willis May Be Avalilable!

For years, I’ve been saying that the Rangers should make the Marlins an offer they can’t refuse for Dontrelle Willis.  At only 25, Dontrelle is THE premiere young-but-developed lefty in the game today.  The Rangers need a lefty. In his column today, Ken Rosenthal mentions that now that Mark Buehrle is off the market, the D-Train’s value hasn’t been higher in some time, which could open the Marlins’ ears to trade offers.

The same was said last season.  And I have to believe that if Little Jon DanielsHart had put a package together out of some combination of John Danks, Fransisco Cordero, Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench, Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner, Willis would be a Texas Ranger right now.  Instead, we have McCarthy and Cruz left from deals that sent those guys packing.  Wouldn’t you gladly take Willis for as many as four from that list and not have McCarthy or Cruz? 

Before you accuse me of using hindsight that’s 20/20 – I said this last year, in repeated posts on T.R Sullivan’s blog and elsewhere.  When the Rangers didn’t try and the Marlins pulled back from shopping Willis, I suggested the Rangers turn their eye toward acquiring the next-best, developed young attainable lefty – Mark Buerhle (who they had and missed a chance to get).

It’s rare to get a second chance.  If the Marlins’ door is even slightly cracked open, Hicks and Daniels ought to kick it in with whatever it takes.  They should go “All In” if they have to.

Seriously, if it takes sending the entire Oklahoma Red Hawks roster to the Marlins to get Willis, that’s what the Rangers should do.  I truly believe that they’d be more successful over the next 5-7 years with Willis (assuming they resign Dontrelle after 2009 and he stays healthy for most of that time) than they would be with all of the prospects they have at AAA (maybe 3-5 of whom will ever make any meaningful contribution to the Rangers).

OK, that’s nuts, and I am exaggerating to make a point.  But if it took packaging Hurley, Rupe and Botts – I’d do it in a heartbeat.  Botts would be the hardest to let go of, but the Rangers don’t seem to want to bring him up anyways.  Hurley and Rupe – they’re still prospects.  We have NO idea what will become of them, but history shows the odds are stacked against them ever developing their full potential as Rangers or in The Ballpark.  A bird in the hand is worth two prospects in the bush leagues – easily. 

In fact, that offer may not be enough for the Marlins.  OK.  We’ll throw in Tex (we’ll pay 30% of his salary next season) and the Marlins’ choice of Cruz, Tejeda or Kasey Kiker but they have to throw in Mike Jacobs.

Many say Willis is over-rated.  He does need to do better against righties, but he would immediately be the Rangers’ ace… head and shoulders better than any pitcher they’ve had this millenium.  He’d make the entire rotation better by pushing Millwood to #2, lowering the need to sign a free agent this winter from a top-of-the-rotation guy to a mid-rotation winner, while McCarthy, Loe, Padilla, Volquez, Wright, Wood and Mendoza compete for the last two spots.

Robbers Evidence: Bye Bye Buehrle

In several previous posts, I’ve mentioned how Mark Buerhle could have already been a Ranger(https://rangersorrobbers.wordpress.com/2007/04/19/robbers-evidence-exhibit-a-revisited-no-buerhle-no-no/) and should be the free agent pitcher the Rangers sign this winter (https://rangersorrobbers.wordpress.com/2007/06/27/announcing-the-2008-texas-rangers-25-man-roster-2/).

Well, all that’s a pipe dream now as the White Sox resigned Mark Buehrle to a 4-year, $54 million contract

That narrows the field of starting pitchers the Rangers should consider signing this winter (Buehrle topped my list, and I think only Carlos Zambrano could be argued to be a better signing amongst the would-be class of winter free agents).

And without a single starter with a winning record or an ERA under 5.30 going into this week’s All-Star break, a shrinking free=agent pool increases the pressure on Ron Washington and pitching coach Mark Connor to develop at least one (if not two) of the young or trying-to-comeback Rangers pitchers into a contributing starter who can win more games than he loses (in order of liklihood at present:  Loe, McCarthy, Wright, Tejeda, Hurley, Wood, Koronka, Rheinecker, Rupe).  It also makes the return to form of Millwood and Padilla more important, because the caliber of free-agent starter the Rangers can sign this winter just went down unless they ink Zambrano, which I don’t think is likely nor do I think he’d be worth the price as he’s not a great fit for the Rangers or The Ballpark.  That probably means Millwood will be the Opening Day starter again, and he’s really a #2 at best.  Finally, it puts more importance on Jon DanielsHart and Hicks getting a trade done (and done well) with Teixeira – as Tex is the only chip they have left to acquire a pitcher with top-of-the-rotation talent (Chad Billingsly is looking really nice at this point – maybe too nice for the Dodgers to part with after going 1-0 in 2 July starts with a 2.25 era and 14 Ks in 12 IP). 

So congratulations to Buehrle and the White Sox, and to Tom Hicks, the Rangers front office and coaching staff and their pitchers aspiring to be worth a spot in a competitive major league rotation:  TIME TO GET ROLLING!

Announcing the 2008 Texas Rangers 25-Man Roster!

Well, since tonight’s game was rained out and the 2007 season has long been over, I thought I’d finish a post I’ve been thinking about for a while. 

I doubt I’m the only Rangers fan looking ahead to what might be in the cards for Texas in 2008.  If I were GM – and bi-POD Tom Hicks was willing to quit his hypocracy and take some meds for his bi-polar owner disorder to put some smart money where his mouth is – then this is what the Rangers would look like in 2008 (how new additions got here explained in parentheses):

Starters:

  • C –  Adam Melhuse
  • 1b – James Loney (Teixeira Trade) or Nate Gold
  • 2b – Kinsler
  • SS – Young 
  • 3b – Blalock
  • LF – Cruz
  • CF – Torri Hunter (FA)
  • RF – Marlon Byrd
  • DH – Sosa???????

Bench:

  •    C – Laird
  •   U – Catalanotto
  • OF – Botts
  •  IF – Ramon Vazquez

Rotation:

  1. Mark Buerhle (Free Agent)
  2. Kevin Millwood
  3. Zack Miner or Chad Billingsley (Teixeira Trade)
  4. Padilla
  5. McCarthy or Loe

Bullpen

  • R – Vasquez
  • R – Mahay
  • R – Benoit
  • R – Eyre
  • R – Murray
  • SU – Wilson
  • CL – Otsuka

The bullpen looks to be shaping up well.  Otsuka will likely be gone, but I’d keep him unless the offers are too good to refuse (and would then sign one of several FAs that will be on the market this offseason).

The rotation is much better with Buerhle taking the top spot and Miner or Billingsley in the middle, putting Millwood at #2 and Padilla at #4, which are spots they’re more suited for.  Buerhle would be my big signing.  I know his velocity is down.  But we need a lefty, and he keeps reminding me of Kenny Rogers (with a better attitude).  The guy just knows how to pitch and win.  Is it a Championship caliber rotation – no.  But it’s a big step in the right direction.

The offense will be better.  I worry about no big bat to replace Teixeira, but if Hunter could repeat his current season, he’d make up for much of the lost production.  Also, Sosa is listed as a question mark.  He’d have to cut down on his K’s for me to keep him.  If he can’t do that, I’d sign an aging power bat to come in, provide some production, and be a veteran presence while contributing to a building sense for winning.  But knowing next year is a stepping stone toward real, sustainable competitiveness, I like the look of the order and the opportunity for some prospects to show if they can bust out.  If not, I’d chase a big signing after the ’08 season.

My expectation would be for this team to finish somewhere just north of .500.  But expectations for 2009 would be to contend in the West, win it in ’10 and make real runs into the playoffs from 2010 – 2012.

BTW, I also happen to think this is Hicks’ plan because it syncs with his business interests, but more on that another time.

Robbers Evidence: McCarthy as Next Year’s Opening Day Starter? No Way!

Over on T.R. Sullivan’s blog – Postcards from Elysian Fields – blue-blooded, brain-washed Rangers fans are getting their hoped up about Brandon McCarthy.

I like Brandon.  I really hope he turns out to be a 15+ game winner.  I hope I’m wrong and that panther (who posted on T.R.’s blog) is right and McCarthy becomes the Rangers’ Opening Day starter in ’08 (although I’m not sure that’d be saying much).  But anyone who really believes that needs to WAKE UP!  Because you, me and every Ranger fan is getting hosed, and the fact that McCarthy (instead of a quality veteran) is on the roster is evidence of it.

First, McCarthy was supposed to be (as Little Jon Daniels said) “battle tested” and ready to produce now.  So, we shouldn’t have to endure any growing pains with McCarthy – the fact that we are proves that DanielsHart, again, made a dumb trade.  (I’ve merged them together in my mind since Hart is still around as a special advisor to Daniels, and based on Daniels’ bad signings, terrible trades, and complete lack of anything resembling an ability to put together a contending team, Daniels is clearly the Sith apprentice of Hart).

Second, for what we gave up for McCarthy, we could have gotten veteran talent (for example, Buerhle was reportedly available for less last season when Danks was “untouchable” and the D-Train was possibly available for an aggressive deal).  But when Little Jon DanielsHart, anything for a buck Cogen and bi-polar (cheap-stupidspedingspree) Hicks saw a chance to get a supposedly “rotation ready” pitcher who’s very inexpensive, suddenly Danks (along with Massett and Rasner) were more than touchable!

Third, other than maybe Keving Brown, when has a young, talented pitcher ever realized his potential as a Ranger?  Ssome teams (most notably the Rangers) seem to be able to manufacture good to great hitters with extreme frequency, others can’t.  Some systems/teams can produce quality starting pitchers (i.e. the Braves), others can’t.  The Rangers just plain can’t.  The Ballpark, the farm system, the weather, the team mindset and other factors may contribute to this particular Rangers handicap, but it’s real nonetheless.  And it’s about time we all just admit the problem, start the 12-step healing process, which concludes with finding a GM who can trade for proven starters (they clearly won’t sign here – Rocket, Unit, etc., etc.) who have honed their potential into realized talented front-line pitching.

It’s just nuts that pitching has always been the Rangers problem (the start to this season being somewhat of an exception since they can’t hit or field either), but they generally crank out offensive talent at will.  Let’s swap farm systems for 5 years with a team that can produce pitchers but struggles with hitters.   Problem solved – see you in the Series!

Robbers Evidence: Exhibit A Revisited: No Buerhle No-No

We interupt our scheduled posting to bring you a no-hitter of the Rangers by a guy who should be a Ranger right now. 

In a post on March 12, I discussed how the fact that Buerhle isn’t a Ranger instead of McCarthy is evidence of the fact that Hicks, Cogen and Daniels aren’t serious about winning a championship.  Well, congratulations to Buehrle who threw a no hitter against his should-be team and was just a walk away from a perfect game!  Wish it had been the other way around, with Buerhle in a Rangers uniform, but as one commenter said, that would have made too much sense.

Mark Buerhle Celebrates

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