In The Cheap Seats: Rangers are at it again - doing nothing

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Dec. 6, 2007 - It looks like Jon Daniels and the Texas Rangers are at it again.

Doing nothing.

Oh, that's not entirely correct. Daniels, the Rangers general manager, did trade a minor league outfielder for a minor league infielder at the conclusion of the three-day MLB Winter Meeting for club executives on Wednesday.

That was the Rangers' big splash.

But, with Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Johan Santana sitting out there, just waiting to be traded by the Minnesota Twins, Daniels is unwilling to pull the trigger on a deal that would bring him to Arlington.

We've seen it all before from the Tom Hicks-owned organization. The Rangers sit at the penny-ante poker table while the real deals get done by owners and general managers who aren't scared to be successful.

Daniels did talk to Minnesota about Santana, but apparently is unwilling to part with some of the young Ranger pitchers that it would take to get the deal done.

Yes, that is as absurd as it sounds.

According to the Rangers' own website, Daniels won't give up unproven minor leaguers in exchange for a two-time Cy Young Award winner who is 28 years old. In addition, Santana is also left-handed, which is ideal for the Tom Hicks Palace in Arlington (or whatever they call the Rangers' home field these days).

What is more likely is that Hicks won't restructure Santana's contract and pay him $20 million a year for the next six years. And why should he? Hicks cares nada about winning and mucho about making millions.

As long as the turnstiles keep turning and $7 hot dogs keep getting sold, then Hicks will continue to line the pillow cases in his private jet with hundred dollar bills.

And the Rangers will keep losing.

THEY JUST DON'T GET IT - A little more on the Rangers' situation. Rangers manager Ron Washington has set his sights high next year.

He wants to win - not a World Series, not a playoff series, not a division title, not a wild card berth - Washington wants to win 10 more games. Add that to the pitiful 75 games the Rangers won last year and you get a grand total of 85, which means the Rangers won't make the playoffs again.

Set your goal low enough and you'll hit it.

Washington also believes that the Rangers starting pitching is good enough to compete. Last year, the starters were 42-65 with a 5.50 ERA that was the highest in the league.

If Washington's goal is to NOT make the playoffs again, then the starting pitching is right on course.

IT'S A LONG SEASON, THANK GOODNESS - If we learned one thing from the Mavericks' playoff debacle last year, it's that the regular season record doesn't matter. Good thing, because the Mavs aren't in any type of groove so far.

Sure, their 12-7 record is tied for the fourth-best in the league, which isn't bad, but the Mavs have seemed way out of sync and lethargic all season. They have struggled to win games against lesser teams and haven't executed down the stretch in others.

I strongly believed the Mavericks needed a substantial shake-up after last year, and I think they still are lacking a killer instinct. Maybe they'll develop one before the playoffs, but right now it's a good thing the postseason won't come until April.

TUNA FED - There's no question that former Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells helped assemble much of the talent that current coach Wade Phillips is enjoying. But, Phillips' more aggressive defensive philosophy and his less-confrontational coaching style has been the difference.

I wasn't sure about Phillips when he was hired because he has had no playoff success - none. So, he will still have to conquer that stumbling block in January, but he certainly is pushing the right buttons right now.

Having Tony Romo under center doesn't hurt much, either.

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