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Reeves on the Rangers

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Very good column from Jim Reeves today on what Tom Hicks needs to do this offseason...

Which is, in essence, give John Hart a $75 million budget, and then get out of the way...

Hicks has repeatedly told us that John Hart is the smartest general manager in baseball. It's time the owner started acting as if he actually believes that, instead of just giving it lip service.

This is not easy for me to say, but Hicks needs to give Hart the freedom -- and the money -- to fix his team.

Or another way of looking at it: Give The Best General Manager in Baseball enough rope to hang himself.

The Rangers open a 10-game homestand tonight at The Ballpark following the most disastrous road trip in franchise history. Public confidence in ownership and the front office is bottoming out, and you can throw the players into that pot, too.

The fact is, the Rangers cannot compete with a $55 million payroll. There might be some teams who have figured out how to do this -- Oakland, for instance -- but the Rangers aren't there and might never be.

* * *

Hicks needs to do something owners almost never do: Butt out. This off-season he needs to set a budget of at least $75 million, and he needs to let Hart figure out how to spend it.

And for heaven's sake, let his job depend on it. Let Hart and manager Buck Showalter put the roster together under that budget, and if they screw it up, then fire them both and try something else.

* * *

"Unfortunately, we've not just one piece away," Hart said. "I've made a lot of trades. I'm not opposed to getting out and going.

"But the right deal hasn't presented itself, and we elected not to make some deals to give away young players we want to hang onto."

Sound like the same old alibis to you? Me, too. Until Hart actually does something, actually pulls the trigger on a deal or two to bring in some pitching, most of us will remain skeptical, no matter what the history books say.

Problem is, it's hard to tell whether Hart's become gunshy or if he's simply handcuffed by the owner and his empty promises of "financial flexibility." Maybe it's both.

* * *

The record-setting 1-12 trip signaled the beginning of questions about whether the players have quit on the manager. Or, perhaps more accurately, on the front office.