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Rosenthal says the Rangers can sign Lee and Victor Martinez

Nov 12, 2010, 12:29 PM EDT

cliff lee in delivery

Ken Rosenthal writes today that he thinks the Rangers could be bigger players on the free agent market than some of us are giving him credit for:

The defending American League champions, major-league sources say, are in strong enough financial position to add not one but two top free agents — left-hander Cliff Lee and catcher Victor Martinez.

That would be something.

But man, I’m skeptical.  While that big new TV contract impressed all of us when it was announced, others have reported that it’s fairly backloaded, and that the front-end of it was going to be largely devoted to debt service connected with Chuck Greenberg’s purchase of the team.  I don’t have any independent intelligence on that, but some people I talk to who know a few things about the Rangers believe that the TV deal isn’t going to launch them into a new world of payroll expenditures so quickly, even if they do bump it up a tad.  And signing Lee and Victor Martinez would certainly be a new world.

Anything is possible — that’s whey we love the hot stove season — but I’m having a hard time seeing the Rangers landing Lee alone — due to the money and the competition involved — let alone getting him and another top-end free agent like Martinez.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Nov 12, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    “Major League Sources” = Texas Rangers front office people who want Lee to think they can afford to still keep getting Free Agents after they break the bank for him.

  2. Adam - Nov 12, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    I don’t see why they couldn’t. I read that their payroll last year was $55 million and they were looking to go up to around 90. That’s a 35 million dollar bump, minimum, which could pay for those two. Granted you have to figure in arbitration raises, but it is possible.

    Will they? Probably not, but that’s just because the bidding could get ridiculous.

    • bigharold - Nov 12, 2010 at 2:34 PM

      The Rangers salary was 65 mil last year. If you assume that they are going to sign Lee AND Martinez the Ranger would need to bump payroll to over 90 mil just for them alone. They’re already paying Young 16 mil a year. Aside from the fact that the Rangers are leveraged and they will need to address that which will eat a lot of the new TV contract, your looking at tying up almost half their payroll in just three players. Also, in two years Hamilton becomes a FA, then Kinsler. Then what?

      The Rangers have money to spend but I think that Lee will be too rich in terms of dollars AND contract length. Martinez maybe. Both of these guys are just a bit long in the tooth to be risking the kind of money each will command. The rangers won’t say that because they want to keep the fans engaged. They just made the WS so a lot will be expected. They can’t throw in the towel on Lee without at least appearing to put up a good fight. I’d be amazed if the offered him more than 15-16 million a year. The Yankees are likely to offer him something in the 20 mil/yr range and would likely go 5 years.

      I’m not saying the Yankees are a lock to get Lee but like the man said; … the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong .. but that’s the way to bet.

      • rangersfan31 - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:27 PM

        “Rangers payroll was 65 mil last year.”
        It was well documented that their complete payroll was 55 million and stayed at that position all year throughout all of the trades that they made. They were able to do this by acquiring players, like Cliff Lee, Francoeur, Molina, and Cantu by offering more prospects than each deal required so that the team they were dealing with would pay the remainder of the salaries of the players the Rangers were acquiring. It’s basically like offering more prospects for cash considerations.

        “I’d be amazed if the (typo) offered him (Lee) more than 15-16 million a year.”
        The fact that you seem to think that this is the same Rangers ownership group as under Tom Hicks is absurd. The new ownership group, Rangers Baseball Express, headed by Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg have vast monetary resources. Ryan and Greenberg are not even the majority owners, they are more of Spokespersons than anything. The ownership group actually consists of 18 investors, some of whom are from giant Texas energy corporations. They also do not have any debt anymore. The price they paid for the Rangers, $593 million, included $208 million over the actual price of $385 million, which went towards fully paying off all of the Rangers debt incurred mostly by Hicks Sports Group’s de-levering of assets by acquiring other franchises like the Dallas Stars and Liverpool United.

        Furthermore, the Rangers had greatly increased attendance numbers during the regular season and just made a deep run in the playoffs. Dallas/Fort Worth area stores are literally having trouble keeping Rangers merchandise in-stock even three weeks after they lost in the World Series. So will the Rangers have problems competing with any franchise for Cliff Lee? The answer resoundingly no.

  3. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 12, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    Man, I’d love to see the NYY lose out. I’m sick of them landing whoever they want.

    • bigharold - Nov 12, 2010 at 2:38 PM

      Get a barf bag handy, .. just in case.

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 12, 2010 at 3:30 PM

        LOL!!! big Harry strikes again!!

        I don’t really like the idea of Lee in NY. It doesn’t make me all warm and fuzzy. I like the idea of him working for Mr. badass pitcher Nolan Ryan. How cool is that?

  4. rangersfan31 - Nov 12, 2010 at 5:11 PM

    Craig, the following below is an excerpt from a reply of mine regarding a comment on this page about your article. I have decided to post it on here as a main comment because it is an example of good sports writing, an art form you are apparently not aware of. I have read a few of your articles that have reinforced this notion of mine. It seems you are great at reporting that someone else is reporting something, or reporting about something you heard someone say that someone else said (rumors). You then run with that and state your own opinions regarding the subject without doing any research to back up said opinions. You write like a 15 year old girl who just had her first period, gossiping about how you heard Johnny dumped Jennifer without finding out for yourself. I’m sure you’ll reply to this by saying, ‘it’s my blog and I’m just expressing my opinions.’ To that I would say, “Who is the idiot who hired you to write about baseball?” NBC.com needs you relieve you of your duties and employ someone in your place who will treat their medium, and the game of baseball, with respect.

    Comment Reply Excerpt:

    “Rangers payroll was 65 mil last year.”
    It was well documented that their complete payroll was 55 million and stayed at that position all year throughout all of the trades that they made. They were able to do this by acquiring players, like Cliff Lee, Francoeur, Molina, and Cantu by offering more prospects than each deal required so that the team they were dealing with would pay the remainder of the salaries of the players the Rangers were acquiring. It’s basically like offering more prospects for cash considerations.

    “I’d be amazed if the (typo) offered him (Lee) more than 15-16 million a year.”
    The fact that you seem to think that this is the same Rangers ownership group as under Tom Hicks is absurd. The new ownership group, Rangers Baseball Express, headed by Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg have vast monetary resources. Ryan and Greenberg are not even the majority owners, they are more of Spokespersons than anything. The ownership group actually consists of 18 investors, some of whom are heads of giant Texas energy corporations. They also do not have a large sum of debt anymore. The price they paid for the Rangers, $593 million, included $208 million over the actual price for the team of $385 million. This extra 208 million dollar sum went towards fully paying off all of the Rangers debt incurred mostly by Hicks Sports Group’s horizontal expansion and de-levering of assets by acquiring other franchises including the Dallas Stars, Liverpool United, and the Mesquite Championship Rodeo.

    Furthermore, the Rangers enjoyed greatly increased attendance numbers during the regular season and just made a deep run in the playoffs. Dallas/Fort Worth area stores are literally having trouble keeping Rangers merchandise in-stock even three weeks after they lost in the World Series. So will the Rangers have problems competing with any franchise for Cliff Lee? The answer resoundingly no.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Nov 12, 2010 at 5:22 PM

      If you have such a high opinion of your own writing that you feel it needs a more prominent place, and if you have such a low opinion of my work, I suggest you stop wasting your time here and begin a blog of your own where you won’t have to associate with such inferiors.

      And if and when the Rangers are outbid for Cliff Lee, I eagerly await your analysis of what went wrong.

      • rangersfan31 - Nov 12, 2010 at 5:42 PM

        Good point, I should start my own blog. This was the first time I have read your blog and I simply had to say something, for your sake if for nothing else. Constructive criticism, although self-admittedly a little over the top in this instance, can be a great cause of improvement.

        The Rangers might indeed be outbid for Cliff Lee, but it will not be because they do not have the financial fortitude to compete with a winning bid. It will be because they do not think Lee, who turns 33 next season, is worth the amount of money and years that he ends up agreeing upon.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Nov 12, 2010 at 8:28 PM

        “The Rangers might indeed be outbid for Cliff Lee, but it will not be because they do not have the financial fortitude to compete with a winning bid. It will be because they do not think Lee, who turns 33 next season, is worth the amount of money and years that he ends up agreeing upon.”

        What a perfectly unverifiable assertion. If they get Lee, you’re right. If they don’t get Lee, you’re right. Way to go out on a limb there.

        The fact is, you have no idea what the Rangers’ intentions are, nor do you have any special insight into their financial flexibility. Every so-called Rangers’ expert thought Chuck Greenberg would have the purchase of the team wrapped up last December too. Why? All of those investors. All that energy money. Chuck Greenberg himself called me personally in December when I suggested that was unrealistic and told me that I was wrong. And what happened? It ended up dragging on for months, all over a dispute over an amount of money that was less than what Cliff Lee is expected to command on the open market this winter. And you assume that it’s simply a matter of their will?

        We’re all guessing. My guess is informed by some intelligence gathered upon talking to people who know a little about how the Rangers operate. Unless you’re holding out on us, your guesses are based on Ranger-friendly reporting and, based on your handle, a rooting interest.

        And it appears that your criticism of my writing is based on one day of reading, so forgive me if I don’t take that particularly seriously either.

    • handsfour - Nov 13, 2010 at 4:20 AM

      Are they still paying A-Rod, and if so, is that money included in the $55 million?

  5. roycethebaseballhack - Nov 12, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    Not used to seeing my fellow Rangers Amigos dish it so harsh, man! Is this what we’ve come to? Is this what riding your team into the World Series does to a fan? No wonder those Yankess guys are That Way, you know? Take your angst, and multiply by 27. I might need to lie down and ponder that, one. This is cause for some alcohol-fueled introspection.

    Look, “31”…Craig is all grown up, and contrary to rumor, does not still live in his parent’s basement and is capable of defending his own actions. He might even still be licensed to defend yours. We need more Rangers representation here, so I would urge you to swim around and read more of our man Craig’s work over the last few years, and I think you’ll see he pays more than cursory attention to the finer details of The Great Game. But keep in mind: baseball is a talkin’ sport. Half the fun of the Hot Stove Season is wild speculation on which side the coin falls on. Its only just starting, as far as our man Cliff is concerned, so we might all have to be a bit thick-skinnned about the whole thing. Especially, if some band of unwashed pagans outbid us for him.

  6. rangersfan31 - Nov 12, 2010 at 6:46 PM

    I’m just asking that before someone posts an opinion, that they research the backgrounds of the assertions they are making. It’s okay to express your opinion or stand up for you team, but everyone should do so in a substantiative manner. Blogs have turned into a bunch of fans just arguing blindly, instead of informed debate. I believe this has been promoted by many head bloggers and their posts.

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