Texas Rangers: After Lee and Greinke, Have the Rangers Struck Out This Winter?

John KrenekContributor IDecember 20, 2010

Are the Rangers really going to miss Cliff when he's 39?
Are the Rangers really going to miss Cliff when he's 39?Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

So, Cliff Lee took less money and years to go to Philly, you say?

What? Zack Greinke just got traded to a team in Wisconsin not called the Packers?

The Rangers are now 0-2 in potentially "big" off-season acquisitions, and with seemingly no one left on the FA menu that really fits the team's needs, it would seem the Texas Rangers have regressed after their first trip to the World Series in franchise history.

But, I beg to differ.

Yes, The Rangers missed on potential season-changer in the form of Cliff Lee, but I'm not so sure that's a bad thing.  If Lee was going to sign with the red-shoe warriors, he was going to command seven years at $23 million per year. At age 32, that would make Lee 39 before his contract was up.

As a pitcher who relies almost exclusively off his fastball command and pinpoint accuracy, Lee is one shoulder/elbow/back injury away from potentially losing what makes him great. Given that Lee also missed the first month of season when playing in Seattle, and then missing time with the Rangers due to a back injury, its quite plausible that Lee could go back to becoming the Cliff Lee of 2007, when he posted a 5-8 record, with a 6.29 ERA.

Granted, the previous two years Lee tossed an average of 201 innings, but he also had an ERA around 4.0, and that when he was five years younger. If we as baseball fans have learned anything, its that aging pitchers tend to deteriorate at a faster rate.

Yes, Greg Maddux was still effective as he aged, and Jamie Moyer is still doing his thing at 48, but neither of those pitchers had a moderately substantial injury history, either.

So, did the Rangers really miss out on what could prove to be a $100 million dollar liability?

In my opinion: No.

True, the Rangers have been rejuvenated with the new ownership group of Ryan and Greenberg and a now more-than-interested DFW area teeming with bandwagoners, but the money the Rangers were offering to Lee can now be used to re-sign American League MVP Josh Hamilton, or maybe still make a splash in free agency, by signing the still-available Adrian Beltre.

Either way, the Rangers would likely still have money to spend, plus plug several holes in the field and at the plate. Think of it as two for the price of one.

Then there's the Zack Greinke issue.

With Clff Lee gone, Ranger fans have been clamoring all week about trading for Kansas City ace and 2009 Cy Young winner, Zack Greinke.

However, Greinke was recently acquired by the Milwaukee Brewers for a slew of top-tier prospects, and in a sport where prospects have the value of cigarettes in prison, the Rangers would have been playing a franchise altering game.

The Rangers—as well as several other teams—were in discussion with the Royals about Greinke throughout the winter meetings. Apparently, the Rangers made an offer to Kansas City, but prompted this response from GM Dayton Moore:

"I could give you examples - I won't, but I could - where we've been close to dealing Zack or other players in the past if we got the right pieces. We didn't get the right piece included."

In other words, the Rangers low-balled them.

But was it the wrong choice?

In case anyone forgot, the Rangers lost in the World Series to a Giants team whose home-grown pitching talent absolutely mystified the vaunted Ranger bats. Fortunately for the Rangers, they have a minor league system loaded with potential  Matt Cains and Madison Bumgarners, so why take the risk?

Greinke has had only one exceptional season since becoming a full-time major leaguer (2004), and while he is an innings eater, the 242 K's he posted in 2009 seem to be more exception than rule—he could easily fall back to earth.

Greinke also has some personality issues, as well.

In 2006, Zach Greinke almost gave up on baseball, not because of lack of ability, but because he simply didn't want to play baseball anymore. Eventually, he was diagnosed with social anxiety and depression.

Given the Rangers recent experience with players afflicted by the disease [Khalil Greene], would they really want to take another chance? Social anxiety can be treated, but it is an issue that never truly goes away.

What if Greinke were to arrive in Texas, not like the town or the team, and eventually ostracize himself. It's possible, and so, I think the Rangers are better off without the former Cy Young winner.

So while the Rangers may have missed the boat on the two biggest off-season targets on their radar, have they really failed?

When looking at the big picture, the Rangers have essentially missed on giving a rapidly aging ace a ton of money and years, and saved their loaded farm system from being depleted over an unproven ace.

So tread lightly in your assessments Ranger fans. While the Fightin' Ryans have missed on two aces, they still have house money to play with.

Who knows, maybe they keep their chips and play the table bully next off-season.


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