The More They Spend, the Harder They Fall
June 18, 2002
With the Texas Rangers traveling to Wrigley Field to take on the Chicago Cubs, is there a better time to talk about teams that spend with reckless abandon? Perhaps if the Orioles came in for a 3-way dance, all hell would break loose. Everyone knows about the chronic misspending by the Orioles and Cubs over the years, paying players way past their prime the kind of cash worthy of a king. But at least these two teams have turned it around: the Cubs actually have a highly ranked farm system and the Orioles realized that people will go to Camden Yards regardless of the quality of the team, so the payroll has been drastically reduced. The only team that didn't receive the memo on how to improve the bottom line is the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers have learned little from last year's debacle of buying any free agent hitter over the age of 34. With a payroll over $105 million in 2002, the Rangers rank 3rd behind the Yankees and Red Sox and well ahead of the Diamondbacks and Dodgers, ranked 4th and 5th respectively. The Yanks and Red Sox are battling for first place in the AL East while the D-Backs and the Dodgers are separated by 1 game for the top spot in the NL West. Money well spent. The Rangers? Well, the Rangers are in last place, 9.5 games back of Oakland, their closest competition in the AL West.
What went wrong with the Rangers' plan? The problem is that no one in Texas thought to look at what makes teams successful: pitching. The Yankees successful acquisition of pitching over the years is well documented. Pedro Martinez is being nicely compensated in Boston. The Diamondbacks paid their way to the World Series with the best 1-2 punch in anyone's rotation.
The Rangers? They outbid, well, no one, for Alex Rodriguez. A Rod is easily the best all around player in baseball, so even though they overpaid, at least the Rangers received something for their quarter billion. The rest is just sad. Over $14 million is going to starting pitchers Chan Ho Park and Kenny Rogers this year. Right idea, wrong players. Rogers has actually performed well this year, amassing a 7 - 4 record with a 3.48 ERA. The problem lies in the fact that he's 37 years old, has a career ERA of 4.20 and is making over $7 million this year. Couldn't they find a better bargain? Then there's Chan Ho Park. Oh my. Everyone knows that Park's numbers outside of Dodger Stadium are nothing pretty to look at. Dodger Stadium: 84-48, 2.98 ERA. Everywhere else (including this year): 80-66, 5.03 ERA. Park's reward? A big, fat contract from the Rangers, never mind the arm injury that slowed him in the second half of 2001.
Adding insult to injury, Rangers ownership took chances on has beens Carl Everett and John Rocker, this year's pitching edition of Ken Caminiti and Andres Galarraga. Needless to say, Rocker and Everett have not exactly earned their combined $10 million this year.
That's really all you need to know about the sad state of the Rangers. A Rod, Park, Rogers, Rocker, Everett; hardly the 5 guys you'd want to build a team around, but here they are, earning almost $50 million this year and accounting for roughly 45% of the team's payroll. With money being wasted like that, all you can say is "go Twins!"
ROBBIE WATCH: .264 as of June 18th
- Luis Castillo tries to extend his hitting streak, playing 17 of his next 21 games at home. Castillo hits 10 points worse at home however.
- It's no 57 HRs, but it'll do. Luis Gonzalez, again is quietly putting up big numbers, hitting .300 with 15 HRs and 50 RBIs in just 68 games.
- The problem with aging veterans:
Kenny Lofton as of 5/25 : 180 ABs, .317, 43 Rs, 19 SBs
Kenny Lofton since 5/25: 54 ABs, .167, 7 Rs, 2 SBs