How to fix the Rangers’ ownership situation
A lot has been made, both here and on other websites, about the situation regarding the Rangers’ finances. A couple of reports have the Rangers operating as normal, with no help from MLB other than the $15 million “line of credit” Tom Hicks asked for in June.
Another report, which surfaced in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram this weekend, stated that the Rangers have been taken over by Major League Baseball. Tom Hicks has continuously denied this point, although he might just be covering his tracks or in denial if that is, in fact, the awful truth. The last team to be under the operation of Major League Baseball was the Montreal Expos, who were operated by MLB from the winter of 2001 until the middle of 2006 – after they had moved to Washington and become the Nationals.
First of all, I don’t think the club is going to move. It’s highly unlikely, considering there doesn’t seem to be a market that could support the Rangers the way this market could. I believe that the D-FW market can be one of the best, but there are a variety of problems that need to be solved before that can happen.
But those problems are for a different column. This column is focused on what to do about the Rangers ownership right now. In that article by Jim Reeves, team president Nolan Ryan (who somehow doesn’t even actually have a contract!) said that a sale probably won’t be completed until April or May at the earliest, which means this team might be MLB-controlled until 2011 or even 2012.
A quick history lesson: In 2003, the MLB-controlled Montreal Expos (who played 22 “home” games in San Juan, Puerto Rico) were part of a five-way tie for the Wild Card lead on August 28. MLB, however, decided that it could not afford to call up any young players at the September 1 roster expansion date. Orlando Cabrera, the shortstop for Montreal who was traded to Boston the next season, said that the restriction imposed by Major League Baseball was one of the main reasons he wanted to leave the franchise.
MLB did not get that drastic this year. There are quite a few contracts coming off the books for the Rangers this year, but MLB was reportedly why the Rangers did not sign first-round draft pick Matt Purke, although Hicks has repeateadly denied this being the case as well. Fan favorite Marlon Byrd is among those players who don’t have contracts with the team next year, and it doesn’t look like there will be a chance to resign the popular player with the financial trouble the franchise is in right now.
Another hot topic has been the $12 million option Kevin Millwood is on the verge of vesting as he sputters towards the finish line. There have been rumors floating out there that it is possible that MLB could order the team to shut Millwood down the rest of the way in order to save that $12 million. (Of course, there is no way that that figure could be used any other way to help the team.)
Millwood, though, is reportedly going to be pushed back until at least next Tuesday (which could also see Dustin Nippert start on six days’ rest).
Clearly, the Rangers are in disarray. Is it affecting their play on the field? Hard to say, although the recent three of four slide has been maybe the most discouraging stretch of the season other than maybe games four through 11.
Perhaps if a candidate emerged with some deep pockets, this team could get some momentum going and make one last run.
Might I suggest a certain Mavs owner with a perchant for smart investments…?
Downtown ballpark, you say? Some space around where Reunion Arena used to be…
Expos info via Wikipedia