By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
While Beltre, who led baseball with 49 doubles last season, should provide a healthy hitting environment for Hamilton in front of him as did All-Star DH Guerrero last year, the Rangers are counting on Young to again swallow his pride, change positions and accept a diminished role. Most important, they need him to drive in runs as DH and something called part-time super utility infielder, in which he could play first, second and third base on any given night. The sight of Young jogging to take his position at first base was jarring in Surprise, but his unhappy squawking has quieted for the moment.
"I'm just working on trying to learn a new position, trying to get better as a baseball player," Young says.
After not speaking to each other all spring, Daniels initiated two separate talks with the veteran in camp's last week. The general manager apologized for a lack of communication, and Young seemed to accept the apology, giving Daniels credit for the face-to-face time.
Says Daniels, "As of this time I don't expect Michael to be traded, no."
Just with the substitution of Beltre's two Gold Gloves for Young's visibly deteriorated range and reactions at third, the Rangers are instantly a better defensive team. With Andrus and Beltre, there may not be a better left side of the infield in all of baseball.
"We have a couple questions on this team, yeah," Kinsler says. "But we're way better off than last year. And look where we went from there."
Your Texas Rangers?
While neither side will talk openly about the shocking annulment of a marriage between Ryan and Greenberg that once seemed so perfect, it's easy to sum up what transpired: The man who hired Ryan was ultimately fired by Ryan.
"Chuck did a lot of good things in a short time here," says a team source in Surprise. "But he got carried away with stuff. His ego got the best of him. He started out staying on the business side, which is his expertise. But then he got a little taste of being out front with the media and all that, and that not only rubbed Nolan the wrong way but also the co-owners that Nolan brought to the party."
In the annals of one-hit wonders there is Eddie Stanky, who managed the Rangers for one game—a win—in 1977 before judging the job too stressful and promptly quitting. Last season Jorge Cantu went 0 for 8 in the playoffs and in his 33-game stay in Texas had just one homer, the tie-breaking wallop in the eighth inning that clinched the West for Texas in Oakland on September 25. In baseball there was Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych, whose zany mound antics earned him "The Bird" nickname and a 19-9 record in 1976 before he went a modest 10-10 over the next four seasons. In 1996 the Orioles' Brady Anderson hit 50 homers, followed by consecutive seasons of 18. The Baha Men had their only hit—"Who Let the Dogs Out?"—in 2000. Despite never finishing in the Top 10 of a PGA tournament or ever playing in a major, Ben Curtis somehow won golf's 2003 British Open. And in February, 20-year-old Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500. Seemingly destined to be a star-studded member of the one-hit wonder club, Bayne has dropped to 44th in NASCAR's points standings and led only six laps all season.
Greenberg's fall is so shocking because his rise was so smooth.
With Tom Hicks' financial missteps having steered the Rangers into bankruptcy, Greenberg arrived as a savior. While last summer interested buyers such as Dennis Gilbert, Jim Crane and Mark Cuban refused to promise to retain Ryan as part of their ownership group, Greenberg immediately hand-picked the Texas legend to co-lead his charge. In a Fort Worth court room on a late night in August, Greenberg and Ryan outbid Cuban and bought the Rangers with the help of money from North Texas oil and gas men who loved Ryan's legacy and learned to—at least temporarily—lean on Greenberg's business expertise. Greenberg vowed to handle the business side of the operation while leaving the baseball decisions to Ryan and Daniels.
Ironic to the last drop and revealing one of the strangest flow charts in the history of modern business, the only reason Ryan is with the Rangers is because of Greenberg, yet the only reason Greenberg isn't with the Rangers is because of Ryan.
"From Chuck's perspective and mine, we had a difference of opinion and styles," Ryan said at an awkward, mostly uninformative news conference to announce Greenberg's resignation as CEO/managing general partner March 11 at Rangers Ballpark.
Reached by phone last week, Greenberg refused to talk specifics of his departure. He would only say that he and his family will continue living in their new house in Westlake and that he has no plans to be at Rangers Ballpark for tomorrow's opener or on Saturday when the team will be presented with their 2010 American League Champion rings.
"I gotta take the high road," Greenberg said.
According to the source, Greenberg irked Ryan and Daniels when he took a last-second, impromptu and otherwise unauthorized recruiting trip to Arkansas to visit Lee after the Rangers had told the pitcher's agent they were done dealing. During the Lee courtship Greenberg was anything but in the background, doing interviews with local and national media outlets and talking openly about the Rangers' desire for the free-agent pitcher and the financial strategy they were using to lure him back to Arlington. There wasn't one incident that severed the Ryan-Greenberg relationship, but the Rangers' management didn't approve of Greenberg bickering via the media with Yankees President Randy Levine. They didn't appreciate the way completion of Daniels' new contract was dragged out. And in February when Greenberg tried to diffuse the Young situation by publicly promising he'd be on the team in 2011, the source says the front office—including Ryan and normally anonymous lead investors Ray Davis and Bob Simpson—had enough.