I really don't understand all of this gnashing of teeth over how the moves yesterday are saturated with the stench of the Rangers' financial woes. It's very weird. Right now the Rangers have a better #1 than going into last season. They have a better DH than going into last season. They have lowered the payroll while getting better in those two areas. That sounds like win-win-win.
The Ace... The Rangers are now 1.5 Aces behind Yankees/BoSox. They are 0.5 Aces behind Seattle, for the moment, and they are 0.5 Aces ahead of the A's and Angels. Unless you think Ken Hill was an Ace, the Rangers haven't had one since Nolan Ryan.
It wouldn't be better to have Harden-Millwood than Harden alone, IMO. Millwood is league average. Yes, his ERA+ was 127 last year. He relies on the Rangers defense, which isn't a bad thing anymore, but it adds an element of luck to his performance. The Rangers have enough competent young pitchers that league average from a veteran is superfluous at best and blocking the development of more talented pitchers at worst. Even if the Rangers had Harden-Millwood, I would very much hope they would be actively trying to upgrade on Millwood, because Harden isn't enough, and my point is that Harden-Millwood also isn't enough.
The DH... Not excited about losing MaxRam, mostly because I want to believe his inner Edgar Martinez will become a reality sometime before he's 35. However, there is a much, much higher likelihood that Lowell contributes a great deal at DH this year than there is that MaxRam will ever look like Edgar Martinez. Again, Lowell is an upgrade over Hank at DH. Sounds like a step forward to me.
The throw ins.... The Rangers get a once highly promising pitcher, who is still young. And, they improve their chances to pick up another bullpen arm in the Rule V draft. This has expanded the pool of bullpen candidates, which could have the effect of allowing them to move Feliz into the starting rotation. This is what good organizations do with bullpen arms. They stockpile interesting ones and hope a few have big years.
To sum up, the Rangers improved their veteran pitcher while reducing his hit to the payroll by 2.5 M (6.5+3 is 9.5 which is 2.5 less than Millwood's salary). They added an interesting bullpen arm at the cost of his arbitration value. They upgraded their DH without adding a penny. In the end they lost one prospect who's calling card is his hitting but he's had wrist injuries. That's AWESOME... IMO.
What they didn't do... They didn't reduce the uncertainty of the team's performance all that much. You can take it to the Bank that they'll get more out of the DH spot. The sum total of Harden + injury replacements is probably only a little more likely to produce better results over the course of the season than Millwood, because with Millwood's reliance on defense, he could've had ground balls and line drives that happened to be within reach. I really don't see this as much of a reason at all to get all sourpuss on these moves, however.
What else they didn't do.... They didn't overpay for Johnson or Vlad (in years as much as dollars), and they didn't settle for an Andruw Jones (or maybe it's Delgado this year) resurrection; They didn't bring back a clubhouse cancer; They didn't overpay on Lackey.
What they can do next.... They can still upgrade at SP. If Roy F. Halladay would just agree to pitch in Texas, they could improve the rotation in a heartbeat. There are still other options out there. Trading for Harden doesn't make it any less likely that they could trade or sign another top-tier pitcher. Removing Millwood actually makes it more likely they can do that. They can still bring up Smoak. If the Rangers really, truly are convinced by mid-season next year when Smoak is tearing up AAA that he would produce more than either Lowell or CD, the Rangers can bring him up and unleash him. Why? Because they got Lowell for free! Since Lowell would cost another team ZERO dollars, the Rangers likely would be able to flip Lowell for what MaxRam was when the Rangers first acquired him (low-level, defensively challenged, high-upside prospect hitter) or maybe more. Of course, CD has options.
Yesterday was a great day. It would've been a great day even if the Rangers didn't have their financial woes.