I'm thoroughly convinced that there was a good title to be found by playing off the Chuck G. abbreviation and invoking Chuck D. and Public Enemy, but I'll be damned if I can find it. Ah, well. It's still better than Whitt's End, right?
● As we cross the 24-hour mark since word of Chuck Greenberg's ouster was made public, additional details of the circumstances that led to his dismissal continue to filter down through the press, and the gaps in the picture slowly but surely continue to fill in. According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the problems began very shortly after Rangers Baseball Express finalized the purchase of the team on August 12th, 2010, and continued to build until the tipping point was reached in the last month or so, with one of the earliest known issues reportedly being a complaint lodged by the Atlanta Braves against Greenberg -- which ascended all the way to the commissioner's office -- after he terminated High-A Myrtle Beach's long-time affiliation with Atlanta and summarily gave it to the Rangers.
Wilson also reports that the baseball operations department was "taken aback" by Greenberg's close involvement in the daily internal discussions during the winter meetings, says that his last-ditch offer to Cliff Lee did not have the full backing of the team's decision-makers, and confirms the radio anecdote that Greenberg knowingly sold the Ballpark suite that was used by general manager Jon Daniels to entertain associates and conduct business, and was to be one of the perks included in his four-year contract extension; this happened in spite of Nolan Ryan's objections, and, if I had to guess, was one of the final nails in Greenberg's coffin. Bob Simpson indicated that Greenberg was offered the opportunity to remain with the ballclub in a lesser role, but declined and instead made a clean break from the organization by means of selling his equity stake to the tune of a net $20-25 million profit.
As I wrote over at Baseball Prospectus yesterday, there's really no good reason to think that this is going to impact the baseball operations side of things, or even that it's something that we'll all still be buzzing about in three months' time. This is problematic in that the Rangers don't fare well from a P.R. standpoint by axing their ownership's point man, and it does raise some legitimate questions about the public direction of the team's ownership going forward ... but at the same time, if we are to believe the litany of accounts flowing forth about how Greenberg conducted himself behind the scenes, it becomes pretty clear that the situation was untenable, and that his exit was forced with the long-term well-being of the organization in mind. It's unfortunate all the way around, but this may be one of those cases where it's better that this happened now rather than later
● A couple of days ago, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal cited the Rangers' win-now mentality, the lack of an obvious replacement closer, and his tepid response to the idea of starting as reasons why Neftali Feliz should be confined to a ninth-inning role next season. I can buy the conclusion (if not necessarily all of the premises), but then he said this before launching into the point that Feliz should start next season: "Few teams like to pay big money to closers, but the free-agent market will be flooded with such pitchers next offseason, enabling the Rangers to sign one at the right price."
My very rough count of said pitchers indicates there could be no fewer than six available relievers -- and possibly as many as nine -- who amassed 20 saves in 2010, so I can buy the "flooded" part ... but what, exactly, is the "right price?" The going rate for a quality, proven ninth-inning man seems likely to remain in the $8-10 million per annum range, and higher than that for the elite talent; with more payroll hikes forthcoming after the 2011 season as a mere function of retaining the current crop of talent, I think there's going to be some serious question as far as whether it makes good economic sense to drop a big chunk of money on a ninth-inning replacement for Feliz. I haven't dug too deep into the data itself yet to confirm this theory, but it's something that is worth thinking about.
● From the "He's Got The Right Attitude" department, we have this quote from Alexi Ogando, who has made little secret of his desire to lock down a rotation spot -- and has, to this point, backed it up with his Cactus Leagus performance -- in the face of some very stiff competition: "I'm not worried about [the possibility of returning to the bullpen.] If I'm a starter or a reliever, I'm going to go out there and do my job. It doesn't matter if you're a reliever or a starter, every time I go out there I'm trying to do my best."
The sharp difference in opinion on the likelihood of Ogando pulling this off is rather interesting. On the one hand, you can punch up any number of different local media articles that portray Ogando as being a very realistic rotation candidate (usually complemented by effusive praise from Ron Washington); on the other, we have resident scouting consultant Jason Parks dismissing the notion (which, I must admit, I am more inclined to accept as truth than your average pro-Ogando-in-the-rotation piece due to the underlying scouting basis). I find it almost impossible to believe that Ogando will pull out a rotation job over Feliz given the characteristics of each pitcher's skill set, and think it more probable that both will start the year as late-inning guys -- but, really, at this point, I'm probably going to be fine with however the Opening Day pitching staff shakes out, and I'm pleased that everyone involved in this competition seems mentally equipped to handle whatever challenge they're dealt next.