That headline applies only if Nolan Ryan walks out that door at all. For those of you who don't have your fingers on the BBQ stained pulse of Arlington Baseball, there's a touch of drama revolving around a potential new Rangers' ownership group and how it will handle the existing management structure. Current and oft vilified owner Tom Hicks would be downsizing his stake in the team (in order to retain any stake at all) by forging a new partnership with a dude named Dennis Gilbert. Gilbert had tried not only to purchase the Dodgers in '03, but also become their GM. Fears that he'd want that same front office partnership with the Rangers had reports saying that Ryan would be submitting his resignation as soon as the Hicks/Gilbert partnership went into effect.
At the moment, that partnership looks to be on the rocks which would put Ryan's departure on hold. But the rumors presented us with an opportunity to grade his stated objective of improving a Texas staff that has been maligned for... well, ever. He not so subtly intimated that he was less concerned with pitch counts than current trends dictated and was trying to make a "tougher" pitching staff. My colleague, Mr. Iracane was skeptical, mainly of the personnel. Despite noting that Ryan was trying to inject some "badassery," he continues:
The pitchers stink. Kevin Millwood and Vincente Padilla might be the worst one-two punch in baseball, while the rest of the rotation would be lucky to post a sub-5.00 ERA. It's hard enough to pitch in the humid bandbox of Arlington, y'all, but the collection of arms assembled by the Rangers in the majors and the minors is stinkeroo.
How droll, Anti-Clooney. In fact the Rangers did post a sub 5.00 ERA. 4.38 to be exact, down from 5.37 the season before. That's an ERA+ improvement of 23. A significant improvement to say the least. The team got 30+ starts from 3 of its starters, and the other two were Uber Creampuff Brandon McCarthy and noted sociopath Vicente Padilla. Can't expect too much from them.
Was it really Ryan's tough talk and his wholesale access to Advil that improved the teams standing on the mound? Elvis Andrus was a huge defensive addition at short and the team as a whole improved there. And if the team is indeed "pushing" their pitchers past the generally accepted limits of a modern arm, then short term results will only be half the story. We could see stray ligaments chicken fried and gravy smothered all over the park next year.
But for now, Ryan did what he said he was going to do. He drastically improved the pitching staff. Rarely do results so clear come so quickly. And not only that but he's still more recognizable than any current player on the team. From both a results and PR standpoint, whoever takes over the Rangers oughta do their best to keep Ryan around for the near future.