Sometimes the best moves are the ones not made. And the Texas Rangers just made the biggest one by keeping their wits about them and letting Prince Fielder and his girth land in Detroit on Wednesday.
Now I cannot lie, I was one of those hoping the Rangers would have pulled out all the stops and welcomed the Prince into his new kingdom out at the Ballpark. Hell it wasn’t my money, but I was having a hard time trying to rationalize why a few billionaires couldn’t spend a few extra mil to make the team better. Why couldn’t they resign Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Elvis Andrus and Kinsler and keep this thing going? We needed to do something to counteract what the Angels had just pulled off in December by signing both Albert Pujols and former area douche extraordinaire Christopher John Wilson to contracts totaling just in the neighborhood of $345 million, right?
So our first move was to bid on an unknown Japanese pitcher that the Rangers’ front office has been drooling over for more than 2 years. Of course the comparisons of Yu Darvish to Daisuke Matsuzaka and Chan Ho Park will be inevitable until he actually pitches and inning, but I trust in this Rangers’ staff to do the right thing and bring him along the right way.
The second shoe I was waiting to drop was that of Fielder. I just knew the Rangers would make a play on him after signing Darvish to a total contract of just around $112 million. They would just have to get creative and make room. But as the days went on and I started to think realistically, I harkened back to the days of Tom Hicks and HSG and how excited I was to see exorbitant contracts dished out to Alex Rodriguez and the aforementioned Mr. Park. So much money was spent that the rest of the team, including the farm system, was neglected and the only thing we got out of it was annual last place finishes.
Ten years and 1 bankruptcy later we were right back where we started from. The organization had reached that fork in the road. And whereas last time it went left without hesitation, this time they studied the route, looked over their options and only after careful consideration did they choose to go right. It didn’t matter that other teams were passing them and looking to make big splashes by spending ridiculous money and making questionable trades, our team decided that this go round would be different and they weren’t willing to place the future of the franchise in jeopardy for a “win now” mentality that so many teams possess without actually getting better.
The Angels have made the mistake of Hicks by basically bidding against themselves. Then to make matters worse, they spend $77 million on their projected number 3 pitcher. They didn’t get better in any particular area. Vernon Wells and Tori Hunter are still old and the last time I checked, the Rangers were still able to get to their pitchers. Now we’ll be able to get to their third as well.
The Tigers have spent $214 million on Fielder which looks good this year, but what do you do next year when you have a logjam at first base with Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez when he comes back and Fielder? Who can you resign and who do you let go when contract time comes up with some of your star players?
The Rangers learned the hard way and basically laid out a “how to” guide on how to scuttle a franchise. Currently the forward and the additional chapters are being written by the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers. It just seems no one has bothered to pay attention and teams keep doing things the wrong way.
When the dust finally settled and the biggest splash we made was Darvish, I came to grips with the fact that my team had once again done the right thing by doing nothing further. Now they can resign the guys who’ve been here and worry about fracturing the chemistry of the team. And the best thing about the Fielder deal falling through is it may make Mitch Moreland a more focused and determined hitter knowing he was close to losing his job.
Sure the $3 billion contract kicks in in a few years and there will be plenty of cash to supplement the payroll. But that is then and this is now. And now is no the time to make Hicks-ian moves to put us right back in the position we were in before. Now is the time for everyone to trust in our team’s front office, coaching staff and the players we have.
With everything they’ve gotten right, including two World Series appearances, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I think they know what they’re doing.