One of the more enjoyable parlor games of the early part of this offseason has been wondering whether or not the Rangers are going to get in on the bidding for Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.
There aren't too many spots in the lineup where the Rangers could actually stand to improve themselves, but first base is one of them and those two players would look mighty good in the middle of an already killler lineup. They are clearly luxury items instead of neccesities, but teams that have had the success that the Rangers have had over the last two years have a right to pamper themselves.
Alas, it looks like Nolan Ryan isn't one to let us continue to enjoy our fun and games. He put the kibosh on the fanciful dreaming about Fielder launching balls into the Arlington night on Thursday when he said the team wouldn't be making offers on the two platinum free agents.
"We truly believe Mitch’s career is ahead of him," said Ryan. "Making a seven-or-eight year deal for Fielder or Pujols is not something our organization is prepared to do. I very much expect Mitch Moreland to be our first baseman next year."
Those who want to find wiggle room in Ryan's comments will say that he left the door open to a contract of seven years and that he didn't defnitively say that Moreland will be their first baseman. Ryan hasn't really proven himself to be an obfuscator in the past. He was pretty clear about what the Rangers would and wouldn't be willing to do in the Cliff Lee pursuit last year and the team followed those pronouncements down to the letter.
Since Ryan is feeling so chatty, we'd love to hear what it is about Moreland that the team finds so fascinating. He's had a couple of good months over a season and a half and they didn't need much convincing to stop playing him this season because it was clear they have better options. There's definitely room for improvement in his game, but giving him enough rope to do that is difficult when you're trying to win pennants and that elusive first World Series crown.
That doesn't mean you have to run out and get a Fielder or Pujols. The Rangers need pitching more than they need more oomph in the offense when there are limited dollars to spend on the open market. Using Moreland as an excuse not to do things doesn't make much sense, though, because he's clearly a player who can be improved upon as the Rangers look to build their 2012 team.