Two quick things: first, Baseball Time in Arlington has, to the best of my knowledge, finally scored its first mention on Baseball Prospectus (an achievement which I have not yet figured out a way to monetize, unfortunately), and second, if you're wondering why so little attention is being devoted to the Cactus League games themselves around here ... well, ask yourself the question, "do I really care all that much?":
● The sale of the Texas Rangers to the ownership consortium fronted by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan has reportedly reached an "impasse," with the likelihood of the deal being completed by Opening Day now being doubtful; one source stated that the stalemate had existed "for weeks, if not longer, further remarking that "baseball has been deluding itself ... no idea how long it can go" (Maury Brown, The Biz of Baseball)
[Much of this update derives from Daniel Kaplan's three-day-old Sports Business Journal report, in which he details the displeasure on the part of Hicks Sports Group's creditors; the current structure of the deal would compensate these entities with only $230 million, a figure no less than $70 million short of what they are currently seeking. Said one financial source of the delays: "I don't even think a deal gets done at $300 million from the banks' perspective. It feels like they are spinning their wheels." Another source references a conference call last week between HSG's creditors and Major League Baseball that, in his/her own words, went "very poorly." Great.
So, this all represents a stark contrast to Greenberg's insistence that "everything is going smoothly," although in his defense, it's not like he's really in a position where he can say anything else. The truth undoubtedly lies somewhere in the middle, somewhere between sanguine and pessimistic, and the sooner everybody comes to terms with that reality, the better. Will throw this thought out there for consumption: given the reportedly heavy debt load attached to this deal, perhaps a little tapping of the brakes is merited before expectations get too crazy regarding increased spending on team payroll.]
● ESPN.com's Keith Law on Rich Harden, whose early-outing fastball velocity of 83-86 mph on Tuesday afternoon prompted some consternation on his part: "His arm used to be fairly free and loose, but his motion is severely restricted and he's visibly favoring his right shoulder, reducing his velocity and his command. The best case scenario for Texas is that he builds up strength over the course of March so that he can at least work with an average fastball when the bell rings next month, but this early look was very discouraging." (Keith Law, ESPN.com)
[Think the consensus from the trenches was that Harden wasn't 100 percent physically on this day, and it's conceivable that this was the root cause behind his shortcomings; actually, scratch the conceivable. More like probable. Harden still merits very close observation, however; losing him for any extended period of time to injury hardly constitutes a complete death knell to the Rangers' post-season aspirations, but it sure as hell makes the mountain that much more difficult to climb.]
● From the keypad of Jason "El Magico" Parks, whose arrival in Surprise on Monday -- luckily for us -- brings more valuable perspective to the table: "Developmental note of the day: Neftali Feliz's poor second inning of work was a bigger positive than his dominant first inning of work. Setbacks are vital parts of the developmental process, and Feliz's inability to locate his fastball today will only force him to work harder refining his fastball command and inconsistent curveball. Even 96 mph fastballs with wiggle will get ripped if left over the heart of the plate." (Jason Parks, Baseball Time in Arlington)
[A few more astute observations from The Professor: "[Taylor] Teagarden clocked today with a 1.65-second pop time. Best time I've ever clocked ... Was able to watch left-hander Geuris Grullon throw another bullpen [session] today. As I've said before, I absolutely love to watch this kid pitch. He really struggles with mechanical consistency, and I really question his ability to make adjustments, but the movement on his fastball is enough to keep me interested. If Grullon had any pitchability he would be a monster.
"Right-hander Neil Ramirez has been in Surprise since November working on his conditioning. He's defintely in the best shape of his professional career. It's great to see the dedication from a player that had some people questioning his dedication. If his command takes a step-forward his plus potential curve and plus fastball could allow him to start moving fast." Coincidentally, Scout.com's Jason Cole -- whose coverage from Surprise has been nothing short of brilliant this spring -- has served up a typically strong (subscriber-only) interview with Ramirez which merits checking out.]