There’s a misperception out there that once the curse of Tom Hicks’ debt collecting army has been replaced by Chuck Greenberg’s giant, fruit-producing wallet that expensive free agents will instinctively flock to the Texas Rangers like the salmon of Capistrano (gratuitous "Dumb & Dumber" reference). That won’t likely be the case. At least not immediately.
Assuming the deal actually overcomes the last remaining obstacles and gets finalized in the first part of the season, Greenberg will probably need a long, uninterrupted sleep followed by a full day of sweat-inducing checkbook balancing before he’s able to walk outside and enjoy the sunshine.
That’s why picking the Rangers to win the West this season sounds like an unfair expectation. If you set the bar there, anything less will appear to be an underachievement. Let’s not forget that this team’s payroll will resemble a bottom-feeding catfish near the bottom of the payroll rankings this season. Let’s also not forget that several extremely young heavy-lifters on this team will make roughly $400K this season. That’s a biweekly paycheck for most Yankees.
The Rangers’ new ace wasn’t exactly purchased on the Boardwalk portion of the board. Rich Harden was picked up with a St. Charles Place vibe. Sure, he has the chance to be Marvin Gardens, but the point is that he represents a shrewd signing by a team unable to do anything more than gamble on a slightly damaged-but-talent heavy risk/reward proposition -- not an undeniable ace acquisition.
Contenders aren’t typically constructed under nearly unfathomable financial duress. Lofty expectations almost seem laughable when you truly put the picture in the frame here. The fact that people are picking the Rangers as the fashionable dark horse to win the West speaks volumes about the job that Jon Daniels, Thad Levine, A.J. Preller, Scott Servais and the great Nolan Ryan have done with a tuna can budget.
I’m as excited as anyone about the future of the Texas Rangers. But don’t expect instant domination as soon as Greenberg gets behind the wheel with Ryan riding shotgun. At least wait until you can’t see Hicks’ rioting debt collectors in the rearview mirror before you start planning the parade route.