Nolan Ryan laughs. Ron Washington shrugs. Jon Daniels shows diplomacy.
What’s all this about?
Well, here’s one way to look at the Texas Rangers out here this spring:
Coming off a historic September/October on-field collapse a season ago, they followed that by totally tanking the off-season when it came to roster upgrades, and, oh, yeah, the club’s executive Einsteins also decided a ticket-price hike was a great idea for 2013.
Another way to look at the Texas Rangers this spring:
Over the past few years it’s been one of the best, if not the best, organizations in the majors for constructing a successful baseball model and then having high end results with the product on the field.
The stupidity of raising ticket prices under the current conditions is a head-scratcher and shows disrespect to a faithful fandom, but
Winning cures all.
A February ago, with the Rangers in the Arizona outback tuning up for the regular season, they were coming off back-to-back World Series appearances, plus they had the Yu Darvish adventure to sell.
Did I mention trust?
Daniels, and Washington, and Ryan do have a track record for success.
But the quote from here the other day that grabbed some attention was Nolan saying, “I laugh when I hear these comments, that [the off-season] was a disaster, and the worst off-season in the history of our organization.”
Ryan then praised Daniels and the baseball front office for “taking a step back and saying what we had formulated for the off-season hasn’t materialized, so we needed to step back and look at the landscape and figure out what we have to do to improve our ballclub.”
What followed, in the opinion of Ryan, was a strong rebound. But even he admitted he couldn’t say the current talent is equal to what the Rangers came to spring training with a year ago. Of course, it’s not. Not even close on paper.
Later, Nolan was asked what he would “sell” to the fans back home about the ’13 club, as it stands now.
“My sale would be simply that this is a competitive ballclub that will compete strongly for our division,” he answered. “That’s what any club hopes to have every spring training. I feel we have that.”
For Washington, however, the off-season subtractions, additions or failures don’t matter.
“They give me a ballclub to take to Arizona, and the rest is up to me and the coaching staff,” he said. “And what I’ve got out here, no matter what might be the opinions of others, I like.
“It’s a very good team. Some things have to break right for us, I know that. Really, it’s about some pitching things that need to happen. But that’s no different than any year. This is a very good team. I believe that.
“It’s maybe different than a year ago, but let’s do remember what happened at the end of the season a year ago. You can’t judge anything until it’s time to do the judging.”
As the general manager, Daniels was in charge of the winter baseball work, the same as he was for the World Series teams.
“Where we are right now this spring, we can sell a good baseball team to our fans. There’s a lot of talent in this camp,” he said. “But I do want to stress this is a 365-day job, so what happens in November and December of the off-season doesn’t dictate how the roster will end up at some point in the regular season.”
Don’t take that as a statement of “our powder is dry,” or “financial flexibility,” because between the Mavericks and the Cowboys those two descriptions are rotten in the Metroplex.
But the Rangers do have an ownership willing to spend, and the ownership hip pockets were certainly not tapped in the off-season.
Daniels: “I hope by now everyone realizes we have proved we will do what we have to do to improve the club. Right now, I like our club. But we’ll see.
“Our goal is to get to September in good shape, and then into October, and we will do what we feel we have to do between now and then.”
In averaging 93 wins the past three seasons, the Rangers have been where they wanted to be in the stretch-run month.
Admittedly, even those of us who viewed the past off-season as “awful” (cue the Nolan laugh), have to concede one thing:
Until further notice, let it be that this spring.