We live in a society where there is emphasis on the now. The present. Today. The term “social media” annoys me; it means “Twitter.” We live in the Twitter world now, where we gather and watch every rumor every day while reporters race to produce content for us to furiously click at.
The Dodgers signed Zack Greinke.
The Red Sox might have signed Mike Napoli, if he can pass a physical. They also grabbed Koji Uehara and Shane Victorino. Then they signed Ryan Dempster.
The Blue Jays acquired all of the players you’ve heard of from the Miami Marlins whose names don’t rhyme with Giancarlo Stanton, and signed Melky Cabrera.
Detroit signed DFW-resident Torii Hunter to a two-year deal.
The two deals that might’ve already been bringing Rangers fans to their breaking points are the Royals’ acquisition of James Shields and Wade Davis for Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi, or the Indians sending Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds for a handful of guys, namely Trevor Bauer, while the Diamondbacks got the shortstop they wanted in Didi Gregorius, thus allowing them to hold on to Justin Upton.
And then the Angels signed Josh Hamilton. And it seemingly came out of nowhere.
Meanwhile, the Rangers have inked Joakim Soria (who will start the season in rehab), traded away Michael Young, re-signed Geovany Soto and Brandon Snyder, and acquired a couple of relievers hardly anyone is familiar with. They also claimed Eli Whiteside, who either invented the cotton gin or played catcher for the Giants – one of the two.
The assumption is that the Rangers have failed on their top four targets. They tried to sign Greinke, failed, tried to trade for Upton, failed, and then missed out on James Shields. When they were done missing out on new difference-makers, they lost out on their own, Josh Hamilton.
It’s not exactly inspiring.
But before we get hung up on what rumors aren’t coming true, perhaps we should take a quick look at Jon Daniels’ history with rumors.
July 8, 2010: Cliff Lee’s wife is planning on looking at houses with the wife of Yankee ace C.C. Sabathia, as the Yankees are in talks to acquire Lee from the Mariners.
July 9, 2010: Cliff Lee is traded to the Texas Rangers.
December 21, 2010: The Angels are on the verge of offering Adrian Beltre a five-year deal.
Jan 5, 2011: After previously losing out on re-signing Cliff Lee, Adrian Beltre is formally introduced as a Texas Ranger.
July 29, 2011: The Texas Rangers are in deep talks with the Padres to acquire closer Heath Bell.
July 31, 2011: The San Diego Padres trade RHP Mike Adams to the Texas Rangers.
December 16, 2011: Sources confirm to Jim Bowden that the Blue Jays have won the bidding for Yu Darvish.
December 19, 2011: The Rangers win the bidding for Japanese sensation Yu Darvish.
July 31, 2012: Does anybody remember Ryan Dempster being a rumored target for the Rangers until minutes before the deadline?
Actually, I’ll stop there. Can anybody remember a widely-reported Rangers acquisition rumor that came true in the Jon Daniels era?
Grab a pen and paper. Write down a 2013 Texas Rangers lineup card that includes Justin Upton and no Josh Hamilton. Now explain to me why every manager in the major leagues wouldn’t throw right-handed reliever after right-handed reliever at that lineup late in games every single night.
Pretend you are Zack Greinke’s agent. Why might you want the free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers to think your client is leaning toward signing with Texas?
Think about what the Rangers equivalent of a Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi package might look like. If the Rangers were rumored to be interested in James Shields, imagine what other teams would have to offer to top them.
I’m not saying every one of these rumors had no basis in reality. I’m sure the Rangers had a level of interest in all of these players. However, history tells us that either the Rangers are used in rumors quite a bit, or they are pretty capable of putting together an alternate plan – in some cases, maybe both.
They definitely had interest in Josh Hamilton, as evidenced by Jon Daniels displeasure with how negotiations ended, and the publicizing of the fact that they did not have the opportunity to match the offer.
The Rangers don’t have unlimited financial resources; they can’t sign every free agent they want. Other teams can top the Rangers in terms of salary they can offer a player. They aren’t the Dodgers.
Something completely different happened with Josh Hamilton. He, for whatever reason, wanted out of Texas. He told the Rangers so a week ago. If the Rangers had been willing to match, they didn’t even get that opportunity.
But right now, if there is a player on the trade market, the Rangers don’t “lose out” on that player. They make a decision about the relative value of that player. If they were so inclined, the Rangers could outbid just about anybody in trade talks. They have a choice to either pay a certain price for a player or not. It isn’t a lack of effort or resources.
When teams acquire players, the Rangers are not sitting on their hands; they simply value what they have over what the other team is offering.
In Josh’s case, he didn’t want to play here. Nobody in the Rangers’ front office could have changed that. You’re allowed to be upset about that. But it’s over now, and Jon Daniels and company are not going to lie down; they have to move on with the plan, or switch to plan B.
It’s December. Texas has been to two World Series and three playoff appearances in the last three years. They might have the best minor league system in baseball. Attendance at the ballpark is at an all-time high. The organization is healthier than it’s ever been.
And it didn’t happen without patience.