Even someone who delights in the misery of others would feel the slightest touch disheartened for Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks (pictured above). In a league where most owners run their clubs with the business acuity of a 3rd world kleptocrat, Hicks has done everything in his power to win. He’s overpaid for high-level free agents (Jose Canseco, A-Rod, Eric Gagne), he’s developed talent via the farm system (Hank Blaylock, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young), and regardless of anything he does, the team has gotten almost entirely and consistently worse. You have to chuckle to keep from hysterically laughing.
I don’t know if you guys know how completely screwed Texas is. Rookie manager Ron Washington, less than a half-season into his tenure, is on the verge of an outright player rebellion, the likes and haste of which hasn’t been seen since the days of Buck Showalter. Mark Texiera, a cost-controlled perennial all-star, and the best 1st basemen in the American League, said that he would like to leave Texas to go play in his home state of Maryland. Do you have any idea how messed up a franchise must be to have its best player rather be in Baltimore? Have you seen The Wire? I don’t have the statistics on me, but I’m pretty sure that the crime and violence there are comparable only to present day Baghdad. And don’t even get me started on their baseball team. Baltimore’s, not Baghdad’s.
Whatever, the fact is, poor Tom Hicks has gotten some pretty bad advice from some pretty stupid people over the past ten years, and that’s what is holding his team back from dominating one of the generally weaker divisions in baseball. So Tommy, if you can hear me*, here’s how to fix the Rangers. Consider me a consultant, minus the whole 10,000 dollar fee.
1. Rid Baseball of Jon Daniels
Currently in the Gaza Strip, internal strife between rival Islamic militants from the Fatah and Hamas political parties have taken up the practice of throwing their rivals off the roofs of buildings. Hicks might do well to follow their example with his own General Manager Jon Daniels, who in three years has had the worst GM tenure this side of Dave Littlefield, with the Carlos Lee fiasco being perhaps the final infamy. Since life is really an interactive cartoon, Daniels won’t die, but he’ll certainly be injured enough to leave the club, and won’t degrade any other clubs with his presence. Then again, if you want to be sane about the whole thing, Hicks can just fire Daniels and attempt a blackballing, but that’s boring, and is certainly more so than watching the current Rangers.
This is probably happening any day now, but should be re-emphasized. Guys like Kenny Lofton and Eric Gagne can help a team win now, and can be traded to truly desperate teams for a king’s ransom. Now is your turn to find out who you can screw.
3. Draft 50 pitchers
The Rangers have zero viable starting pitchers. There are 50 rounds in the MLB draft. Ere go, Texas should draft 50 pitchers, and the 1st 20 rounds should be used on hard-to-sign prospects. Prep phenoms Rick Porcello and Matt Harvey were both available to be taken in the 1st and 2nd rounds for the Rangers, and they chose to let them slide. Keep this in mind 3-4 years from now when they’re cost-controlled and causing damage. Remember kids, the slotting system is for cowards and poor people—pay the young guys handsomely.
4. Spend, spend, spend on starters.
This is where Hicks can really shine. An old southern investment banker, this bastard has money to burn. 18 Million for Carlos Zambrano? 20 Million for CC Sabathia? 25 Million for Johan Santana? Why not all three! Starting pitching has been the Rangers’ Achillies heel for years, and along with drafting pitchers every pick for a few years which ought to wield maybe one or two viable starters, and those that don't might be pretty solid bullpen arms. That seems to me like a pretty good club.
Now, there are other sundries that could help. Bringing in Chuck Norris for promotion would make a fine one. Regardless, I hereby end the season of the 2007 Texas Rangers. They tried out some interesting ideas in the pre-season, had a nice run of it for about the first four games. Enormous size is apparently a big deal in Texas, but the size the steak of consecutive seasons with the playoffs not made is probably not seen as a positive. Make the right moves, spend those Texas dollars, and the club will be a lot less funny. It might lead to some very big things.
* From the outstanding musical “Tommy” by The Who. And if you try any of that Abbot and Costello routine on me there will be trouble.