|Monday, May 20
Updated: May 21, 2:40 PM ET
Hicks rips into Rangers -- and Rocker
ESPN.com news services
ARLINGTON, Texas -- After watching his team get swept over the weekend by the lowly Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks said he has no plans to take another big financial hit after this season.
The Rangers, again in last place in the AL West despite a $105 million payroll that is the third-largest in the major leagues, lost $31 million last year, and projections are that the team could lose more than that this season.
"I'm not doing it anymore. This is my last year of doing it," Hicks told reporters Sunday during the Rangers' 2-1 loss at Detroit that ended a three-game weekend sweep. "We're going to play within our means from now on, at least break even. Breaking even is at least a start and has got to happen."
Hicks said that means 10-time All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who hasn't played since April 14 because of a herniated disk, will likely get to test the free-agent market. Hicks has no plans to give the $15 million to $20 million a season the catcher's agent, Jeff Moorad, indicated he will seek.
"It's not realistic for that position," Hicks said. "We love Pudge, but my guess is Pudge will test the market."
Alex Rodriguez was signed to a $252 million, 10-year contract -- the largest deal in sports history -- before the 2000 season. Last winter, the Rangers signed No. 1 starter Chan Ho Park to a $65 million, five-year deal and brought home Juan Gonzalez ($12 million for two years), but both players were hurt for much of the first six weeks of the season.
The Rangers are 19-24 and tied with the Oakland Athletics for last place in the division, 10 games behind first-place Seattle. Texas has six games on the road this week against Minnesota and Kansas City. Before losing five of six, Texas was within one win of getting to .500 for the first time this season.
"I've very disappointed," Hicks said. "We've tried real hard to have a competitive team. I think I can understand the reasons. We've had great support, probably a lot better support than we deserved after two last-place finishes. But we've got to get our fans convinced that we're headed back in the right direction."
Hicks took exception to relief pitcher John Rocker's struggles. The left-hander has a 7.53 ERA and a team-leading three blown saves after 17 appearances.
"Rocker's obviously very inconsistent," Hicks told the Dallas Morning News. "Clearly, he isn't in position to be our closer or anybody else's."
Rocker was obtained from Cleveland in December, a move spearheaded by new Rangers general manager John Hart, who witnessed Rocker's struggles first-hand while in the Indians' front office.
Rocker, who will make $2.5 million this year, did not pitch Sunday against Detroit but allowed a two-run homer in the eighth inning of Friday's 6-3 loss to the Tigers, then blew a save opportunity in Saturday's 8-7 loss when he retired only one of four hitters to lose a lead for starter Chan Ho Park. The Tigers swept the three-game series.
"In the set-up role, he did great a couple of times, and he's stunk it up an equal number of times," Hicks told the Morning News. "I think we're all waiting for the real John Rocker to decide who he is. I know if he keeps stinking it up, he won't be in that role anymore."
Rocker's response: "Don't you think I know that? Pretty obvious, huh? A lot of people have to step up a little bit. That's not news to me or anybody else."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.