The Ron Washington Attraction
In case you haven't heard, The Texas Rangers tried to go Far Eastern last week. Reportedly, the club put in a bid of $27 million for posted Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. The righthander supposedly has five pitches and is expected to be an ace immediately in American baseball.
Local columnists have suggested general manager Jon Daniels had no choice but to get Matzusaka to Texas, no matter what it took.
Well, it's not to be. The Red Sox reportedly bid at least $42 million for his services. That amount is just for the rights to negotiate with the phenom. All told, once the negotiating is said and done, Boston will likely have committed $100 million to acquire the Japanese righty for three to five years. Thank God it's them and not the Rangers.
The Rangers have numerous rotation holes to fill and can't afford to commit that amount to one guy. Hell, they're still paying part of A-Fraud's salary. And this is a pitcher who has never pitched in the major leagues. The history of such pitchers has not been grand with guys like Hideo Nomo and Hideki Irabu. It's a classic case of buyer beware.
Besides, with Ron Washington holding down the managerial office, the Rangers don't have to be stupid. Glamourous players now want to be in Arlington. Need an ace? Who needs a Japanese question mark with Barry Zito available. Sure, Zito has said for years he would never play for Texas. Well, never say never. Washington was popular with the players in Oakland. Now Zito wants to come here. I say whatever money it takes, get him here. His ace to Kevin Millwood's second fiddle would be a deadly combo for opponents next season.
And you have to think if Zito is interested, his former teammate Mark Mulder would be interested as well. Now he had a very bad, injury riddled year last season. So there is risk. But this is a former Cy Young contender who may come at a lower cost.
Then, think forward to next year. Say Gary Mathews, Jr., signs elsewhere. No problem. Seems former Athletic Tori Hunter wants to play for Ron Washington again as well.
So why throw your money into the unknown when Washington is attracting known acheivers to your team? And that's not the only way he could help.
Washington comes from a baseball club that learned to thrive with young players, giving them every opportunity to succeed, especially if they could play great defense while learning to hit at the major league level. Committing to young hitters frees up money to go after Zito and Mulder and spend the tens of millions a year it would cost.
This allows you to take a long look at hitters like RF Nelson Cruz and DH/LF Jason Botts knowing your pitchers can't help cover any offensive deficiencies. This would keep the Rangers from making another Travis Hafner-type gaffe in trades in the interest of giving at bats to a veteran hitter.
It also enables to team to commit to guys like John Danks and Robinson Tejeda at the rotation's back end and let them develop.
So why chuck millions at a unknown import with the magnetic personality of Ron Washington on your side.