Jim Reeves puts the wood to Tom Hicks today, in his column on the Rangers' dying playoff hopes and their reluctance to get pitching help. Some choice excerpts:
Problem is, this is a team that is scared to death of signing or trading for a significant pitcher. Been that way since it threw away $65 million on Chan Ho Park almost four years ago.
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It's not that the Rangers don't toy with the idea of adding a starter or a setup man to the bullpen every day. As we speak, general manager John Hart is very likely staring at the big board in his office, the one that lists every available pitcher in the big leagues.
And then he looks at the other boards, the ones that list the players the Rangers would give up and the ones they "might" let go in the right deal.
"There's all sorts of things afoot," owner Tom Hicks said. "John and J.D. [assistant GM Jon Daniels] have a war room up there with every kind of trade possibility imaginable.
"I talked to John [Monday] morning for an hour about it. But we're not going to do something stupid, just to create instant success."
Oh, no. Heaven forbid the Rangers enjoy some instant success, something that might rush the rollover Ten Year Plan. Why do something today when you can put it off four or five years down the road?
"We want to win this year if we can, but we have several holes to fill," Hicks said, and yes, it sounded as if he has already given up on 2005.
For instance, when very available Florida starter A.J. Burnett, probably headed for Baltimore, was mentioned, Hicks pointed out that he'll be a free agent in the off-season.
"So why wouldn't you wait until the fall?" Hicks asked.
Here's a clue, Tom.
In case you hadn't noticed, YOUR TEAM IS DYING FOR PITCHING RIGHT NOW.
Here's another reason: Your core players, the ones you've built your team around, are desperate for a sign from this organization that it's playing to win. And they're getting tired of waiting.
"I'm not expecting anything," one of them said Monday night. "Why would I?"
Wait until next year? What if Mark Teixeira gets hurt? Or Michael Young? Or Hank Blalock? What then, put off trying to win for yet another year?
This chance might never come again.
"I've heard of 20 different [possible trades] but not if they want certain young pitchers we want on our roster next year," Hick said. "What we're not going to do is anything that will keep us from being competitive for the next couple of years."
Safe, conservative strategy. It won't win anything, but "competitive" always sounds good.
"We've got a handful of guys who are untouchable," Hicks said. "Beyond that, we'll do anything we can to improve the team, but it won't be just for this year.
"We're not going to do rent-a-players. It'll be for guys who'll be here this year and next year and the years beyond."
He even trotted out the old "financial flexibility" cliché again.
I disagree with a lot of Reeves' points -- I don't think trading for A.J. Burnett right now would be a productive move -- but the underlying problems he identifies are valid.
And you know, all those holes Hicks talks about being needed to be filled were around last November. The reason where there are multiple holes, instead of just one or two, to fill is because the Rangers sat on their hands this offseason, and did nothing to improve the team.
And I think that the most worrisome quote in the whole column is the one from the player, dismissing the chances of the team doing anything to improve. It is certainly beginning to sound like the leaders of this team have lost faith in the front office.
As almost a balance to the Reeves column, Tim Cowlishaw covers much of the same ground in the DMN today, albeit focusing more on the problems with the lack of pitching and less on the problems in the front office.