Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Baseball Talk and Stuff...



From the “you can’t write fiction this funny” department: Juan is activated, hurt again


Juan Gonzalez, sidelined all season because of strained right hamstring, was activated by the Cleveland Indians from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday. Hours later, he reaggravated the injury while running out a grounder in the first inning -- his first major league at-bat since May 21, 2004.

Batting cleanup and assigned to play right field, Gonzalez hit a bouncer to third base -- and pulled up lame about halfway down the first-base line. Television replays showed him wince as he slowed to a jog.


Rangers win 9th straight


• The starters have won all nine decisions during the streak, compiling an ERA of 2.18. They've averaged nearly seven innings per start; Rogers allowed a run in seven innings Tuesday.

• The offense has hit .328 and averaged eight runs per game. Tuesday, five of the eight runs scored after two outs.


Rogers secures Pitcher of the Month ….I assume….

FWST Soccer Insider

Robby Gordon backs off Danica

Not that I was interested, but in case you were, here are Pictures of Danica

Mickey says “what about RT?”


So what about right tackle?

Reminds me too much of right cornerback last year - a lot of guys, but no guy.
Bill was posed the very same question on Sunday following the fourth of five mini-camp practices out here at The Ranch. After all, right tackle and probably safety are the only two unsettled positions as the Cowboys head into June, just less than two months away from the start of training camp.

His response?

"I think we'll have a good competition there," Parcells said.

Good?

Good as in close or good as in the competitors are playing so well that choosing a starter will be difficult?

After watching five practices, that is hard to say.


Eva in bed with trophy


The NBA premieres a TV ad that got an assist from TNT analyst Doug Collins. In it, Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria is in bed with, and kissing, the NBA championship trophy as she wears San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker's jersey. Collins' role: In a shot of Longoria at a Spurs game this season, he said she dated Parker — outing their romance.


Sam Smith on Larry Brown’s dealings

Perhaps, by now you are familiar with the Newberg Report (Newbergreport.com ). On that site, you can find Mike Hindman’s minor league recaps, which I generally check out. Well, today, Mike wanted to address our segments from yesterday about Hicks and the incredible shrinking payroll. As you will read, he appears to be completely opposed to our views, but anyway, check it out:


In the midst of a nine-game Rangers winning streak, I got to hear yet another round of money talk from the local sports media yesterday that I just don’t follow. What generated yesterday’s belly-aching session were some ill-advised comments from Rangers president Jeff Cogen who, like his boss, doesn’t appear to understand that talking publicly about payroll and attendance issues is a losing proposition in that it only invites more attacks on their credibility.

A few months after Tom Hicks indicated that team payroll would be tied to attendance--(saying "if our revenue grows in the off-season, our payroll will grow with it" which, quite honestly, sounded a quite a bitt like a threat)--Cogen told the DMN’s Evan Grant this week that he was disappointed in ticket sales this year, noting that the Rangers haven’t seen the "bandwagon" reaction that might be expected for a winning club.

The Ticket’s Bob Sturm and Dan McDowell, appropriating patented Randy Galloway "arguments" (or rants, depending on how persnickity you are about what constitutes an argument) and speaking for all of us I guess, enlightened Cogan by explaining that the reason the fans aren’t supporting the streaking Rangers in overwhelming numbers is that we are all exceedingly disappointed in the fact that Tom Hicks failed to throw a lot of money around this offseason.

Frankly, I don’t know if that is true or not, and that’s not my point here. I’ll get to my point in a minute. But, but my guess is that it is not true. I would say that most fans probably care a whole lot less about how much money the club spends than they do about how well it performs on the field (especially in a front-running market like D / FW), but I could certainly be wrong about that.

Let me think about it for a minute....

"Son, I’m so proud that you graduated near the top of your class and earned that scholarship to college. As a reward, I got us two tickets to the Rangers game tonight. Just you and me. And we’re going to take in many more games this summer before you go away to school."

"Hell no, Dad. I don’t want to have anything to do with the Rangers until Tom Hicks spends more money on the Rangers than Drayton McLain spends on those damn Astros!!"

Hmmm. Yeah: that’s probably it. I’m wrong. Everyone is completely obsessed with this payroll issue. Randy Galloway IS the voice that speaks for all of the Metroplex.
But let’s put aside the issue of whether or not Tom Hicks "lied" about what he’d do with his "financial flexibility" in the wake of the Great Shortstop Dump and the expiration of the contracts of Rusty Greer and Jeff Zimmerman and whether that has anything to do with attendance.

Let’s get back to my point about the payroll issue in general which is, basically this:

"SO WHAT?"

In spite of the seemingly endless stream of media commentary on the issue of Tom Hicks’ apparently miserly ways, I have yet to hear anyone explain to me how it has hurt this baseball team. And even though no one who has provided me with this information, I've takent it upon myself to look and I still haven't found any. In fact, I have a suspicion that Hicks’ thrifty approach to the free agent market last winter–for whatever reason–could very well prove to be a key to the Rangers winning the AL West.

If the Rangers had made moves this past offseason to shore up what were the perceived shortcomings of the ballclub, you likely would have focused on the rotation first. You could have spent $25.5 million for three years of Eric Milton (as the Ticket’s Greg Williams frequently advocated this winter). Milton is 3-6 with a 7.05 ERA. Or maybe you would have preferred Jaret Wright, who is 2-2 with a 9.15 ERA for the low, low, low price of three years, $21 million. Obviously, you could have done better (e.g. Derek Lowe or Carl Pavano), but they were much more expensive and ultimately, the going rate on starters—no aces in the group, but a decent collection of #2's and #3's--was 3 or 4 years at about $8 million a year. No thanks.
You might have added a big bat at DH. Say, Carlos Delgado for $48 million over 4 years (and yes, I know all about the positional brouhaha). That might have been nice. But then again, if you believed (as I did) that what the Rangers needed more than a big bat was a leadoff hitter who could work counts and put together a high OBP, the acquisition of Delgado would have prevented the Rangers from ever discovering what David Dellucci could do at the top of the order. And do you really believe that the Rangers are sitting on top of the AL West after two months without that development? Maybe you do, but you won’t convince me of that.

Wait a minute, you say, they could have signed Delgado and started Dellucci in a left field platoon with Kevin Mench. Oh really? Delgado’s OPS this year is .977. Mench’s is .967. Do you really think that, in the long run, this club would have been better off with Kevin Mench taking about 20% of the at-bats in left field? Maybe you do, but you won’t convince me of that either.

No matter how convinced you are that Tom Hicks is a "liar" and that the Rangers’ "financial flexibility" should be exercised somehow at every opportunity, even if you must overpay or if the target of spending doesn’t fit your needs, I would think that you would have to admit that last winter it was almost certainly impossible to forecast the one thing that this ballclub really needs to fortify its pennant drive.

Dominant setup relief pitching.

The last four years should have taught Texas Rangers fans that paying big bucks in the off season for available relief pitching isn’t a great idea. Expensive signings like Jay Powell, Todd Van Poppel, and Jeff Nelson haven’t held a candle to cheap pickups and minor leaguers like Ron Mahay, Carlos Almanzar and Frankie Francisco. But nonetheless and as silly as it seems, let’s assume that Hart should have foreseen that he needed to pick up still more proven big-league relief help last winter. The choices were pretty limited. He could have signed Steve Kline (2-2; 5.30 for Baltimore, where he has publicly stated he is miserable) or Billy Koch (released in spring training by Toronto). Nothing there. Obviously.

So yes, I agree that Hicks has not yet exercised his "financial flexibility" (unless you count going out and nailing down Michael Young, Hank Blalock and Chris Young on multi-year deals and you probably shouldn’t). But as often as I am forced to think about it (for those of you who don’t live in the Dallas / Fort Worth media market, that statement won’t make sense; for those who do, you know exactly what I mean), I still can’t come up with a moment when, even in hindsight, doing so would have made this team much better than it is. And as an added bonus, we’ve discovered so much about guys who might not have gotten a shot had the Rangers gone out and spent a bunch of money (e.g. Chris Young, David Dellucci, Kevin Mench).

Looking ahead, I fully expect the Rangers to add a piece or two to the mix, but I doubt very much that payroll will play any part in those moves. What will be decisive will not be money, but–as I suggested in another report recently--prospects. Ultimately, it will be more a decision about how this ballclub is operated in the years to come than about short--term dollars and cents.

Last year, Kansas City G.M. Allard Baird extracted a high-ceiling pitching prospect named Denny Bautista from the Orioles for...36 year old Jason Grimsley. That’s roughly the equivalent of getting Paul Quantrill for Edison Volquez. If Bautista is the price for Grimsley, then you might reasonably argue that the market for Ugie Urbina or Danys Baez is John Danks or Thomas Diamond. And that’s fine. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to win.

But realize that the price for Mike Sweeney might also be John Danks or Thomas Diamond, no matter how much of his salary you are willing to swallow. You still want both if it means that you lose Danks and Diamond?

Maybe you do want both, but then the cupboard begins to look a little empty and suddenly, you are getting close to committing yourself to years of fishing in the free agent market for pieces to patch together a ballclub.

And at that point, you have little choice but to try to squeeze another year out of Ken Caminiti because you don’t have a Hank Blalock ready to go. You have to overpay for Eric Milton because you don’t have a Chris Young. You have to try to plug in a Herb Perry or 50 year old Andres Gallarraga because you don’t have a Jason Botts. You don’t have 1st, 2nd, 3rd round picks because you signed Todd Van Poppel and Jay Powell and CHoP. Maybe you do, but I don’t want that to be the future of my club. I’ve seen it. It’s ugly.

You can’t sign someone to a $50 million dollar contract every year and when you do, you better be right. It better be what you really need. You can’t trade for every player on the market in July and when you do, you better be right. It better be what you really need.

In the long term, I agree with those who argue that it is ridiculous for the owner of the Texas Rangers to treat this like it is a small market club, but I’m not so sure that he is doing so in spite of a few of his admittedly disturbing comments and in spite of the fact that this club’s payroll currently ranks in the bottom third of all payrolls in big league baseball. And I doubt anything that happens this summer will change my mind about that even though I’m constantly battered by a barrage of media luminaries who tell me that I should. I’m pretty sure that decisions to not make a deal will have much, much more to do with John Danks, Thomas Diamond and Edison Volquez than with the dollars in Tom Hicks’ pocket.

I like the way this club is assembled– a lot– and I’m glad that the Rangers didn’t try to fix their perceived weaknesses this past winter so that they have the ammo (both money and prospects) around to address their actual needs as they stampede towards a possible division crown.

I know I’m going to be attacked for appearing to defend the Rangers just as I do any time I say anything remotely positive about the club, but I’m really trying to be objective here. I’ll reserve my judgment on the whole "financial flexibility" issue vis-a-vis Tom Hicks until I see him refuse to make the right baseball move because of money. So far, I haven’t.


I realize it was lengthy, but I did not want to pick and choose what I ran, so as to mislead his debate. I will not pick apart his debate point by point, but allow me just a few things:

1) I may be overly sensitive, but I think it is just a bit condescending to assume we could not arrive at these opinions without “appropriating” them from Galloway. I can assure you Dan has never listened to Galloway, and I check him out periodically, but I am able to construct my own opinions. In this line of work, “appropriating” is a nice way of saying “stealing”, so forgive my sensitivity to that.

2) I really hate the logic that since Player A and Player B were signed by someone else, and since they are having poor seasons, then Player A and Player B would have been poor signings in Texas. Nothing is more apples and oranges. When you suggest that EVERY available free agent that the Rangers passed on could not have helped this club, then you give the appearance that you would bless any and all of their actions. This team has holes, which no one wants to hear when they win 9 straight, but baseball is a long marathon, and holes are generally exposed. There is a reason that contenders generally spend more than $53 million, and those that don’t, generally don’t because they CAN’T. The Rangers fall in neither category in my opinion.

Anyway, I enjoy the debate, as arguing is my career choice. Make you own decisions, gentle reader…



Enjoy the pictures of Grubes …I mean it…

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Three things stick out about Hindman’s article:

1. He doesn't like the Ticket. First he clowns on Bob and Dan. Then he says Galloway is giving you guys your talking points. Then he clowns on Greggo. It makes it difficult to accept his opinion when he so openly has an agenda for the Rangers and against Ticketdome.

2. If you were to list all the possible free agents and how they are doing this year, you would surely get a wash. Some are doing great (i.e. Clemens) and some not so great (see his list). To just say that because a couple of them are not performing well after ONLY 50 GAMES means you were right to not sign them is missing the point.

3. The idea that people say to themselves, "I don't think I will go to the Ranger game tonight because I have issues with their small payroll" is also taking the argument out of context. It is not necessarily a conscious decision. Like any good advertizing, you don't choose to buy something or go somewhere because you think "I remember that beer commercial and it was funny", but rather because it is in your head and you subconsciously like it.

PS Baseball sucks.

Gang of Idiots said...

Normally,

I find you (Sturm) to be easily the most informed personality on the ticket.

And I can sort of relate to some of your gripes with the front office yesterday. I just thought the timeliness of such a rant was a little questionable. I mean, Dan, was really fired up on the air yesterday.

I can see both sides of the argument, but tend to side more with Hindman when it comes to us spending money on the team.

I know you can't unequivocally compare offseason signing by other teams with how those potential signings would have done here. But I think Hindman has illustrated the point that those signings would not have exactly fit for what the rangers are trying to accomplish. I think we are doing it the right way by developing our farm system and signing the guys we want for our future to long term deals.

The ONLY real problem I had with management's offseason moves was signing Barajas to such a pricey deal when Laird would have been the better option to begin with.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I don't go to baseball because I won't pay high prices for good tickets for.... a day of relaxation... just not enough excitement for me. Free tickets? Yeah.. I'm there.

Also.. Really disappointed that the Eva Longoria link has no pictures...and really no story about Eva Longoria. Don't bother clicking it... you'll be disappointed.

Bob Rocks.
Jerad

meredith said...

Why people aren't going to Rangers games:

1. DFW is a winner's town. If it's September and the Rangers are in first place? Tickets will sell. Otherwise? Nada.

2. After working 8-10 hours at a beatdown job, what is the likelihood of someone wanting to sit on I-30 for anywhere between 40 minutes to 2 hours to go to a baseball game?

Sure, the front office's lack of spending and seeming dedication to making money instead of spending it may play a part, but not as much as those other two.

Gang of Idiots said...

Yea, that's the main problem I had with Bob and Dan's argument yesterday about the Rangers being a top 5 media market for baseball.

We are consistently right around average as far as attendance goes.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/TEX/attend.shtml

2004 -- 6th out of 14 in AL
2003 -- 7th out of 14 in AL
2002 -- 6th out of 14 in AL

Even when we were winning divisions, our attendance was only 5th and 4th in the American League.

I know that TV dollars wise we are right at the top, but the fans aren't going to really show up regardless of whether we win or lose. So I understand why we are going with a smaller budget. I expect that will rise as we become a more legit contender

Anonymous said...

I see where Hindman is coming from and can appreciate his points, and I did not get to hear BaD yesterday, but I can guess where the "ranting" was based. If the idiots at the top of the Rangers organization are going to continue to make such stupid public comments, they deserve to be railed by the local media. I have been to two games this year, both through free tickets from work, and will probably go to a couple more, but subconsciously, I am still pissed that the Rangers let Delgado go. Also, the more that Hindman and Newberg get pulled in to functions at the Ballpark "sanctioned" by the Rangers, the more you will see them defending the actions by said Rangers. Incidentally, I don't think Hindman or Newberg dislike the Ticket since they share each other's thoughts periodically in print (Newberg) or on the air (Hardline), as applicable.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen Hindman say anything kind about the Ticket. His points on BaD Radio sampling from Galloway were rather insulting. How would he feel if he were accused of sampling something Jamey would normally write about?

The last poster is right though, as much as I love the Newberg Report, you have to start taking everything Newberg and Hindman say with a grain of salt as they become closer and closer to a part of the organization.

I think Morriss' blog is much more impartial, although certainly pessimistically slanted.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's all part of being number #1 in the ratings. Good Lord, dare we say that the Ticket is DFW's verion of the media New York Yankees, or Darth Vader?!?!

Anonymous said...

This team is not going to make it down the stretch without help. The staff has been pitching out of their minds and the Angels are playing a tough part of their schedule without the Impaler and the Rangers only have a 1 game lead. This team needs help and Hicks is not going to bring it in. Where is Danny Graves? Is he not exactly what the Rangers need to come in and shut down the eight inning? And you dont have to give up anything for him but money. Even Tex and Mike Young will say, "we have a serious chance to compete if we can bring in the right pieces." If Hicks thinks he can give Ranger fans an ultimatum, then he shouldnt be an owner in this league. What would Cuban or Jerry Jones do in this sitution?

T.O.ed Mike

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the picture of Grubes.

I enjoyed them real hard.

Mike Hindman said...

A few points:

1) I was wrong to use the word "appropriate" and I immediately wrote Bob an apology when this blog entry was brought to my attention this morning; it does imply theft and that was not my intention; as I told Bob in my e-mail to him this morning, I should have said something like "reminiscient of something straight out of Randy Galloway's playbook";

2) I love the Ticket; listen nearly all day every day I can. I think Bob is probably the best-informed sports broadcaster in this market.

3) I have no affiliation with the Rangers; I have never met Tom Hicks; I've never met John Hart; I've never met Buck Showlater; I've never participated in or contributed to the Rangers organization in any way, shape or form. I have allowed some of the minor league clubs to republish my stuff and I've written a few things for some of them to use in local publications, but it has always been free of charge;

4) I too loved the photo of Grubes.

Baby arm,

Patrick said...

Hindman says:
"Obviously, you could have done better (e.g. Derek Lowe or Carl Pavano),"

Well, duh. So better players cost more, in general, huh? Money doesn't buy championships, but having good players certainly doesn't hurt, and good players generally cost more than poor players.

Let's see how this looks in August, and see if another bat, another starter, or another reliever might have come in handy. I bet it might.

Gang of Idiots said...

I know one thing. Danny Graves definitely isn't the answer.

What leads you to believe that Graves would all of sudden become a great setup man when his ERA was 7.36 this year?

This is exactly the reason a lot of ranger fans don't know what they are talking about when they constantly criticize management. I've got no problem with pointing out things they should do or have done differently, but those kinds of ideas do not help your argument.

Anonymous said...

Hindman is the Mickey Spagnola of the Rangers, No?

Anonymous said...

^Apparently...

Hey Mike, has anyone on the Rangers ever done anything wrong in your opinion?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Patrick. I bet my wife and kids that in August we will be asking God/Scott Boras for a pitcher, and someone that can hit a double with a man in scoring position. Comparing Delgado to Mench is awesome.

Mike Hindman said...

Hiring Oscar Acosta, was a bad move. Signing Todd Van Poppel, signing Chan Ho Park, signing Jay Powell, signing Brian Jordan: all bad moves.

I think that refusing to play the best, major-league ready catcher in the system is ridiculous (while I sort of see why they were afraid to go into the season counting too much on Laird, there's now no reasonable basis for not bringing him up and playing him every day).

The Travis Hafner -for-Einar Diaz trade was horrendous. They try to say that it brought us Ryan Drese, but I seriously doubt that Cleveland would have refused to deal us Drese for Myette had Hafner for Diaz been a part of that deal--both Drese and Myette were busts when that thing went down.

I think that their attempt to "sneak" Ben Kozlowski through waivers last fall was inexcusable. An unnecessary and absolutely foolish risk.

As much as I like Drew Meyer, he was a horrible pick at #9 overall in 2002.

Quitting on Doug Davis was stupid.

That's what I can come up with off the top of my mind.

Anonymous said...

Graves was one of the premier closers in this league for the past 6 years. He had 41 frickin saves last year and was run out of Cincy this year because of the altercation with the fan. I think if you use him in certain situations(righty vs. righty) he could be a huge addition to the late innings bullpen.

T.O.ed Mike

Maldini said...

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Para exponer opiniones libre y respetuosamente sobre nuestros colores y su actualidad en fichajes, polémicas y demás.

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Nos vemos.
Maldini