February 17, 2004
Why the A-Rod trade was bad for the Rangers

It's interesting to read the reaction to the A-Rod deal in the Dallas press. While these guys all more or less seem to grasp that Tom Hicks is an idiot, they don't quite get why he's an idiot.

Kevin Blackistone:

It's as if Tom Hicks was your uncle who just returned from some exotic vacation at the end of the world and all he brought back for you was some lousy T-shirt.

Kevin Sherrington:

Baseball fans in this area don't care what Hicks did for the Stars, only what's happened to the Rangers.

And this is what they should hear from Hicks: I screwed up.

He says that, and maybe some of the anger dissipates. Maybe some of the lost season-ticket holders find their way back.

Accountability is a rare quality around the Rangers since they went back-to-back-to-back-to-back in last place, and it's time to see some.

Gerry Fraley:

The best player in the major leagues cannot bring an established pitcher in return in a trade. That tells how much of a bind the Rangers were in with the Alex Rodriguez contract as soon as owner Tom Hicks decided to cut the payroll. Boston and the New York Yankees both knew they were dealing from a position of strength. The Rangers are fortunate to get anything for Rodriguez.

None of them mentioned the real reason Tom Hicks was in a financial bind, and none of them mentioned what dumping A-Rod meant he was doing about it. Joe Sheehan explains it succinctly in this Baseball Prospectus premium article. I'll quote the relevant bit:

For what they did here, the Rangers could probably have gotten the same results by aggressively pursuing buyouts of the [Chan Ho] Park, [Rusty] Greer and [Jeff] Zimmerman deals. The Rangers paid those three $22.2 million last year--basically what Rodriguez got. Just Park played, and he did so at below replacement level. It's likely that only Park will play in '04, and God knows what they'll get from him.

The three will make $24.7 million in 2004. Park will make $14 million in '05 and $15 million in '06. I'll say it again: the Rangers made themselves worse in order to subsidize this decision.

Maybe one of these guys ought to ask Tom Hicks why he thought getting rid of Alex Rodriguez but keeping the other three made more sense. It makes no sense to me.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 17, 2004 to Baseball | TrackBack

I'd sympathize, but we Dodgers fans have our own cross to bear at the moment. ;)

Posted by: Linkmeister on February 17, 2004 12:35 PM

Didn't the Rangers have insurance on Zimmerman et. al.? I know the Mets are off the hook on Mo Vaughn due to insurance. Agreeing to pay such a crazy amount to A-Rod in the first place is the problem.

Another thing, the early rumor here was that Soriano and Contrares (sp?) were going to the Rangers. That would have been a more reasonable trade.

Finally, let's not forget that Soriano is a heck of an offensive player, is much younger, and has tremendous upside, if he can ever figure out where the strike zone is (for a while two years ago, he and Shea Hillenbrand duked it out for fewest walks in the AL). He's a 40HR/40SB man. And for a lot less money. The trade wasn't as lopsided as you think.

Posted by: Paul M on February 17, 2004 5:26 PM

As the BP article noted, Soriano will probably be making upwards of $9 million by the end of his arbitration years, after which he'll probably command about $12 million per. The Rangers can then say good bye, or pay up. Throw in the money they're giving to NY to defer some of A-Rod's contract, plus the revenue they'll likely lose, and the deal looks a lot less good for them.

I agree that Soriano is a fine offensive player, and if he continues to improve the trade won't be as bad. But A-Rod is still in his prime - it'd be different if he were over 30. It's just a bad deal that can hope to be not-so-bad and not really transcendantly bad.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on February 17, 2004 6:00 PM

Thanks, Kuff, for pointing out those other contracts, among others like Todd van Poppel.

In all, the Rangers have $56,600,000 for 15 players and other commitments in 2004.

Essentially, Hicks (here now known as A-Hole) is paying the Yankees to take A-Rod because of failed, overpaid players. And the Yanks will be paying Alex an average of $16 million a year, compared to the $48 million a year average for three years with the Rangers.

Tom Hicks was pure arrogance, refusing to apologize.

I now have a 10-year, rollover boycott of all things Texas Rangers, which includes the Stars and his little Frisco minor league team.

What's bad is not that Hicks lied about not trading Alex, but when the season ticket holders were grumbling, the Rangers tried to bring them back, in no small part by saying that Alex would be a Ranger.

Posted by: Tx Bubba on February 17, 2004 8:23 PM

"I'd sympathize, but we Dodgers fans have our own cross to bear at the moment. ;)"

I suspect that Paul de Podesta will help with that. You did get stuck with a lousy owner, though.

Posted by: J. Michael Neal on February 18, 2004 10:27 AM