The Cat is Back
The Rangers are waffling this offseason. Having been aggressive last offseason and regular season only to post another third place finish, it seems the Rangers refuse to man up despite hiring a new manager.
Perhaps you saw little effort was made to resign Mark DeRosa. Now, he had his first great season and those aren't always followed with a second. Also, he wanted a permanent position which the Rangers couldn't grant but the Cubs were more happy to provide. And $13 million over four years is a little much for a utility player.
Except, then, the Rangers turn around and sign Frank Catalanotto to a three year deal worth $13.5 million. That's right. A utility player. But it is almost the righting of a wrong.
Perhaps you recall a few years ago when the Cat came within thousandths of winning the batting title over the unstoppable Ichiro. Yet, the Rangers let him walk, much like DeRosa, without a fight. Now, he's proven that breakout year wasn't a fluke and he's back. Only, now, Texas will be paying more than if they had kept him in the first place.
So why am I okay with DeRosa walking but not Cat that offseason? Simple. DeRosa slowed the last month or so suggesting maybe he was a one year wonder. Cat, in contrast, got better as the year progressed, suggesting he had staying power. Instead of pitchers figuring him out, he was unlocking their secrets.
The problem with this signing is it is viewed as part of the solution of filling the leadoff hole Gary Matthews, Jr., is about to vacate. That's right. The Rangers have resigned themselves to not being in Matthews', or Carlos Lee's, market. Okay. Matthews could have been a one-hit wonder at the plate. But the Rangers know how few guys there are that can play center in the Ballpark. It's a huge position for this team. One worth the $10 million annually Matthews is being offered.
So if this is the tack the Rangers are going to claim to be taking, they better back it with big moves. Supposedly, they want dollars to aggresively invest in pitching again this offseason. Well, they are leaving potential holes in center and at LF/DH, of which the Cat only fills a small part.
So they better make this offseason count. It better include the likes of Zito and a second-tier free agent pitcher and a trade for the likes of Javier Vasquez or Tim Hudson. It better include committing serious at bats to young guys full of potential like RF Nelson Cruz and LF/DH Jason Botts, while sparing us the veteran spares this team has historically flopped with season after season. Let's face it. The fans don't want guys with potential to be like the Rangers' Drew Bledsoe. We want guys with the potential to be like Tony Romo.
So Tom Hicks needs to show he is allowing his employees to work a plan. He needs to realize that failure to participate in a seller's market in pro sports leaves one in mediocrity. He needs to realize he must be aggressive because with the Mavs once again poised to play deep into the summer and with the Stars showing potential to do the same the Rangers may finally have to be a legitimate product to draw fans. And failure to field a winner now means guys like Michael Young ansd Mark Teixiera may start to look elsewhere come 2008.
So the time is now. It's time for the Rangers to quit dipping their toes into the market and dive in to play.