It’s being reported that Rangers owner Tom Hicks has had a falling out
with Dennis Gilbert, the guy who, just two days ago, was called the
front runner to take over the team. This is good news, reports Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, because if Gilbert had come on board, Nolan Ryan was going to resign as team president:
Nolan’s problem was not with Hicks. But if Gilbert takes over — and
even without Hicks as his partner, he will go it alone — Gilbert would
be in charge of the team’s entire operation, business and baseball . .
. Those close to Gilbert say his ultimate goal would be a combined team
president-general manager situation. Total control of all things
baseball has been his dream.
If Gilbert is truly fighting with Hicks now it’s a good bet that Hicks
won’t sell to him, but dear God, Rangers fans have to hope that
Gilbert’s bid doesn’t otherwise get any traction, say, through a forced
sale over Hicks’ objections. Not just because it would mean the end of
the well-loved Nolan Ryan’s career with the team, but because Dennis
Gilbert calling all the shots would be the short road to hell for the
If history shows us anything, it shows us that when owners take an
active role in the actual day-to-day baseball decisions, bad things
happen. The Yankees spring to mind. Yes, they won despite
Steinbrenner’s meddling in the Bronx Zoo era, but it’s no accident that
they didn’t start to rebuild the dynasty until Steinbrenner was
suspended for a year and actual baseball minds took over. Ask any
Orioles fan how life was back when Peter Angelos was more active on a
Just because you’ve figured out how to make a lot of money doesn’t mean
you know how to run a baseball team. Based on Gilbert’s ridiculous
claim that he invented free agency, you can imagine that he has no
shortage of ego. That, combined with no one to call him on any bad
decisions would be a recipe for disaster for Texas.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.