The Ron Washington Era is off to a stumbling start.
Phil Bennett is coming back to SMU. Bill Parcells has been invited back to the Dallas Cowboys. But, as for your Texas Rangers, everyone seems to be leaving. Since free agency started earlier this month the Rangers have lost center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., designated hitter Carlos Lee, utility infielder Mark DeRosa and pitcher Adam Eaton. It's either a sign that former manager Buck Showalter's 80-82 team really underachieved or, perhaps, that new boss Washington didn't think much of Texas' talent.
The painful departures are Matthews, who established himself as an irreplaceable All-Star center fielder and lead-off man, and Eaton, who further blackens the eye of last winter's trade that sent Highland Park product (and now Padres staff ace) Chris Young to San Diego. It could get worse before it gets better.
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The Rangers also expect to lose catcher Rod Barajas, and their bids on Japanese pitching stars Kei Igawa and Daisuke Matsuzaka fell woefully short. As for the good news, hmmm. Do we really think the signing of spare-part lifer Frank Catalanotto to be the lead-off hitter is positive? If you want to dream, Texas is rumored to be pursuing Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez and A's ace Barry Zito. But at this point in free agency, the Rangers and Washington are trailing 5-1 in the top of the 6th. --Richie Whitt