Commentary

Rangers endure winter of discontent

Josh Hamilton's exit highlights disastrous offseason in which Texas can't close

Updated: December 14, 2012, 12:52 PM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers' offseason, thus far, has been an epic failure.

[+] EnlargeJosh Hamilton, Jon Daniels
AP PhotoJon Daniels (right) and the Rangers were the talk of baseball heading into the Winter Meetings, but Josh Hamilton's deal with the Angels was yet another blow to Texas' offseason.
Don't let the front office or Rangers' apologists persuade you otherwise. Maybe a month from now we'll view the offseason differently.

Maybe not.

Most fans indulge in hope, faith and optimism while viewing their hometown team through rose-tinted Ray-Ban. Those of us who deal in reality understand the Rangers have taken a step back.

In the American League West, the Oakland A's have a better starting rotation and the Los Angeles Angels have a better lineup and bullpen.

The beauty of sports, of course, is that winning the offseason guarantees nothing. Heck, the Angels were supposed to win last season and didn't even make the playoffs.

But there's no way to look at the Rangers' offseason and come to any conclusion other than it has been a disaster.

No one wants to hear about how the Rangers made competitive offers to Zack Greinke. Or how Josh Hamilton didn't give them a chance to turn down the five-year, $125 million deal the Angels offered after he turned down the Rangers' deal for $100 million over four years.

If the Rangers wanted him, then they should've signed him. They've had a couple of months to get a deal done.

Signing Hamilton was never high on my list because once a player quits on a team when it needs him most -- and that's what Hamilton did last season -- you always wonder when he'll quit again.

Again, that's reality.

The Rangers are supposed to be one of the best organizations in baseball and they have set a new standard of excellence with three consecutive trips to the playoffs.

We must hold them to it on and off the field.

Jon Daniels remains a terrific general manager, and the Rangers have a deep farm system and a couple of billionaire owners who allow them to compete like a big-market team, as they should.

For now, the Rangers are reeling.

Understand, this isn't really about Hamilton signing with the Angels and teaming with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to give Los Angeles one of the game's best lineups.

[+] EnlargeZack Greinke
AP Photo/Damian DovarganesZack Greinke appeared to be on his way to Texas before the Dodgers swooped in. The Rangers' backup plan also fell through when James Shields was traded to the Royals.
It's not even about Mike Napoli and Koji Uehara signing free-agent deals with the Boston Red Sox. Or Michael Young, the face of the franchise, getting traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for next to nothing.

This is about Daniels and the Rangers not being able to close any deals after all the chatter about how they controlled the recent winter meetings. The reality is the Rangers have lost a bevy of big-time contributors from last season's team and haven't replaced any of them.

Highly touted prospects Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt will have significant roles this season. Who knows how well they'll perform?

Just a few days ago, the Rangers were supposed to be on the verge of signing Greinke and trading for outfielder Justin Upton -- at least if you listen to folks who are supposed to know these things.

And if they could get Hamilton for the right number, then the Rangers would have an offseason for the ages -- even if you think Hamilton quit on Texas three different times in the last three weeks last season.

But the Los Angeles Dodgers money-whipped Greinke and the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired a much-needed shortstop in a three-team trade that didn't involve Upton, who was yanked off the market.

James Shields, for years a quality starter for the Tampa Bay Rays was supposed to be the fallback plan if the Rangers couldn't get Greinke signed. Well, he was dealt to the Kansas City Royals.

Now, Hamilton is gone to the Rangers' division rival.

Can you say golden sombrero?

And just like that, you could easily argue the Rangers won't make the playoffs next season. Unless, of course, you can continue to trust in Daniels.

He has been adept at making key trades and moves that had the Rangers playing in the World Series in 2010 and 2011.

Daniels didn't just suddenly become incompetent. Still, this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business.

The Rangers didn't win a ring when they had a chance, so it's not like fans have memories of a championship parade or banner-raising ceremony at the ballpark to ease the disappointment.

All they have is faith that Daniels and Nolan Ryan will do something of note to make the Rangers a better team before pitchers and catchers report in February.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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