3/26/13, "Rangers, Free to Spend, Don’t Spend Freely,
" NY Times, Tyler Kepner
The Cardinals won that night, and the next, and now Berkman is here, at
37, with a chance to make amends. He gladly reminds teammates that he
has what they wanted. “It’s fun to dig these guys on occasion about it,”
Berkman said. “Those are bragging rights that will last for a long
considered retirement after last season, when he played only 32 games
and had two operations on his right knee. He was not a priority for the
Rangers, who had hoped for much bigger moves after losing the American
League West to Oakland on the final day of the regular season
dropping the wild-card game to Baltimore.
The Rangers tried to retain the star outfielder Josh Hamilton. They
negotiated with the free-agent starter Zack Greinke. They explored
trades for starter James Shields and outfielder Justin Upton. The
off-season seemed full of possibility.
“We all know that you don’t win by making announcements in the winter —
but they’re fun,” General Manager Jon Daniels said. “We all like doing
them. We all want to put the big gift under the tree.”
Berkman was not exactly coal in the stocking. Two years ago, he hit .301
with 31 homers and 94 runs batted in. Mickey Mantle is the only
switch-hitter in major league history with a better career on-base
percentage than Berkman’s .409 (minimum 3,000 plate appearances).
But with last season’s injury, and his own ambivalence, Berkman was not
in high demand. When all their targets wound up elsewhere, the Rangers
had to overwhelm him with a one-year, $11 million offer....
The Rangers made other short-term commitments, signing catcher A. J.
Pierzynski to replace Mike Napoli and the setup man Joakim Soria to
replace Mike Adams. They also traded Michael Young, the team’s career
leader in hits, to Philadelphia for reliever Josh Lindblom and a
It was an off-season without sizzle. But it was consistent with the
Rangers’ sensible approach under Daniels, who was promoted this month to
president for baseball operations but still reports to the chief
executive, Nolan Ryan....
Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, the Chicago Cubs, the New York teams, the
Los Angeles teams, even Seattle and Cincinnati have absorbed
significant risk in keeping their stars or chasing free agents. The
Rangers, hardened by the lessons from Alex Rodriguez’s first free agency
in 2000, never act out of desperation....
The Rangers have enough depth in young position players — Leonys Martin,
Mike Olt, Jurickson Profar — to expect to stay competitive this season
and beyond. Daniels has a track record of acquiring talent in midseason,
and believes the players will trust him to do so, if needed.
Yet he knows, deep down, that the fans and the core of the team probably
expected more this off-season. Smart shopping and careful long-term
planning feel only so satisfying in a competitive industry."...
Ed. note: Tyler Kepner can tell a story, has a way with words. However, my experience with his pieces since being a national columnist is as follows: I read along happily thinking all of it might lead to a larger point, or an opinion that might involve a tiny bit of risk for Mr. Kepner. But it never does. Which is fine, I've gotten the message by now. Nothing in the world will change as a result of Mr. Kepner's articles.