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Nolan Ryan: the bankruptcy is gutting the Rangers

Jul 21, 2010, 3:30 PM EDT

Day two of that fun Texas Rangers hearing down in Forth Worth and the highlight so far — thanks to some live tweeting by SBJ’s Daniel Kaplan — is Nolan Ryan on the witness stand.  Among the tidbits he dropped during his testimony, which concluded a few minutes ago:

  • The team is being forced to deplete its minor league
    system because of the bankruptcy;

  • The bankruptcy is preventing the Rangers from signing international players. Ryan says that because of this “there is a void in our system”;

  • The bankruptcy could prevent the team from buying a new
    video board, priced between $5 million and $12 million;

  • Because of the bankruptcy, other teams are starting to poach Rangers’ scouts;

  • A prolonged bankruptcy could cause the team to lose Josh Hamilton;

  • Bankruptcy aside, the team is running $5 million ahead of budget projections in revenue this year, presumably because they’ve been winning.

  • The team expects to sell playoff tickets this year, which will bring in between $11 million and $14 million.

That’s all interesting, but it’s worth noting that Nolan Ryan has every incentive — not just as the Rangers’ President, but also as
its prospective new owner — 
to get the team out of bankruptcy as soon as possible. That  means that a doomsday scenario for the Rangers-in-bankruptcy is in his own best interests in this particular hearing, because if it’s truly doomsday, Greenberg and Hicks’ position — auction the team yesterday before other bidders can improve their chances at landing the team — should win. That doesn’t mean that he’s not telling the truth, but I’m betting there were a lot of “coulds” and “mights” in Ryan’s testimony today.

The judge seemingly took Ryan’s testimony with a grain of salt. According to Kaplan, after Ryan was done, the judge observed that it was not the bankruptcy that was causing many of these problems for the Rangers, but the fact that they’ve been on a line of credit from Major League Baseball to cover expenses. Including, one assumes, scout salaries and signing bonuses for international players.  Which is not to say that the bankruptcy is a good thing — it’s not — but blaming it for all the team’s financial problems seems pretty questionable to me.

The vast majority of the Rangers’ business issues right now are Tom Hicks’ fault, not the fault of the process by which the court is attempting to ensure that the creditors Hicks stiffed for so long get something approaching fair value in return.  The suggestion that it’s the bankruptcy itself that is the real evil here seems wrong to me.

  1. Jonny5 - Jul 21, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    Nolan Ryan is gonna punch you in the face Craig if you keep up with sassin’ his wuuurds.

  2. geoknows - Jul 21, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Well, I sure as heck haven’t seen any signs of the Rangers gutting their minor league system. It’s not like they gave away a truckload of top prospects for Cliff Lee, and Smoak was already in the majors. And there hasn’t been a wholesale release of players. Plus they still have one of the top systems going. I don’t see how that comment makes any kind of sense.
    Nor do I see how a prolonged bankruptcy could cost them Josh Hamilton. He has two more years of team control before being FA eligible. Unless Nolan is afraid that the bankruptcy is going to take two more years to settle…I guess that would qualify as “long.”
    Or maybe I’m missing something here.

  3. Old Gator - Jul 21, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    I am pulling for Mark Cuban to walk away with this team like I haven’t pulled anything since I was fifteen years old. Now come on – wouldn’t you Rangers fans love an owner with a mouth as big as all Texas, a killer passion to win that would fill the ecological niche vacated by George Steinbrenner, and who is Buddha knows how much smarter than Bud Light? I mean really….

  4. Reflex - Jul 21, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    Hell I have hated Mark Cuban since he created Broadcast.com and defrauded Yahoo in the sale of it. He’s an ass, a liar and a cheat. That said, he’d also make a very good baseball owner in a major market and quite frankly could in my opinion contend with the Yankees annually. The fact that he’s a scumbag only puts him in good company given the current ownership of MLB teams, and we need to find a few more owners like him for the Chicago and LA area teams if we really want to start balancing out the Yanks.

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