In the wake of several notable Wednesday media reports claiming that (a) ex-superagent Dennis Gilbert has emerged as the "surprise" front-runner in the Texas Rangers' ownership competition and (b) that Gilbert and the esteemed Chuck Greenberg are the last two men standing, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News now reports that Tom Hicks' last-ditch attempt to retain control of the debt-ridden franchise appears to have been thwarted ... and by Major League Baseball, no less.
Hicks' latest push to secure funds for his fledgling ownership group reportedly entailed negotiations with Fox Sports regarding a possible contract extension for the Rangers' broadcasting rights that would have immediately made cash available to Hicks (albeit to the detriment of future television revenues), thereby strengthening his position relative to Gilbert and Greenberg. However, this proposal apparently failed to receive the requisite support from Major League Baseball, and negotiations have since been tabled.
The fact that Hicks aimed to sacrifice future revenues in order to obtain the capital necessary to reduce the franchise's voluminous debt isn't overly troubling, in and of itself -- but it does serve as a warning sign for those fearful of the possibility of Hicks' fiscal irresponsibility negatively impacting the Rangers well into the next decade, which is obviously something that the commissioner's office and the owners have a vested interest in preventing.
For that matter, what assurances do we have that Hicks wouldn't yet again partake in some massive overleveraging down the line if he were to miraculously retain control of the franchise? Put another way, what is to prevent a repeat of this current debacle five years down the line if Hicks is once again presented with a Liverpool-esque franchise ownership opportunity? Talk about easily breeding motivation for the ownership fraternity to ensure that Hicks doesn't get another crack at his old gig.
Heyman's revelation that Gilbert would be a "hands-on owner" isn't really a revelation at all; rather, it's something that we've known for several months now, and a potential asset if utilized properly, since several of his ideas -- including creating a regional television network and building a Mexican baseball academy with the intention of developing Japanese talent -- boast real promise if properly implemented.
There are certainly underlying areas of concern with Gilbert (his reputed egotistical streak, affiliation with Jerry Reinsdorf and desire to own the Dodgers, for starters), but Greenberg is assuredly not faultless either, and in light of where things currently stand, both options are beginning to appear far preferable to a continuation of the Tom Hicks era.
Quick Hits: Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was removed from his start behind the plate for the Dominican Winter League's Toros del Este on Wednesday, citing "tingling and numbing" in his right arm; the 24-year-old backstop underwent season-ending corrective surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in September, and while this setback is hardly a killer, it has to increase the Rangers' sense of urgency to find a viable third catcher, be it arbiration-tendered Ivan Rodriguez or an open-market solution.