ARLINGTON, Tex. — At the annual season ticket holders' picnic at 11 a.m., manager Ron Washington, general manager Jon Daniels, and president Nolan Ryan answered questions from Texas Ranger fans at Rangers' Ballpark in Arlington.
They fielded question about the current state of the Rangers, the bright young future of the team, and if they will be contenders in 2009.
One of the questions addressed to Ryan was if he was indeed interested in buying the Texas Rangers from current owner Tom Hicks. Ryan responded by saying while he was interested in becoming part of an investment group to purchase the Rangers, he doesn't see a sale coming anytime soon.
He doesn't expect this team to be sold until after the 2009 season. This could come as late as spring training 2010. He also said the current sale of the Rangers wouldn't stop the team from signing free agents in the winter.
Ryan was also asked about the possibility of putting a roof on the ballpark. Five years ago, he got an estimate on about how much it would costs for that to happen. He said it would be around $300 million.
Today, that cost has risen to around $500 million. He did talk to a Swedish group who wanted to add shading to the ballpark. The shading actually would lower the temperature inside by about 15 degrees. This, however, would cost around $50-70 million. While closer, it's not exactly in Ryan's price range yet.
Daniels, the GM, talked about contending as well as the possibility of signing right-handed pitcher Ben Sheets. While Sheets is a great name and someone the Rangers were interested in last winter, he has since had successful elbow surgery.
Daniels said Sheets is someone he will monitor, but does not see Sheets pitching in 2009.
"While he was rehabbing here he had not thrown," Daniels said. "He has moved to Florida and began playing catch. But that is just catch. Ben is a long way away, and when his agent is ready, he will contact us."
Daniels was also asked about the progress of any draftees in the June first-year player draft. While not close on first-round pick Matthew Purke (14th overall), and not expecting him to sign until the mid-August deadline, the Rangers have focused their attention to the other picks.
He expects second-round selection Tommy Mendonca (62nd overall) out of Fresno State University to sign within the next week or two. Mendonca is a third baseman and will start in AA Frisco if signed, Daniels said. He expects big things out of the WAC player of the year and says he might be two or three years from making an impact in Arlington.
Washington was also asked tough questions. One related to the injuries of outfielder Josh Hamilton and starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy. Washington said Hamilton will continue to take pregame batting practice with the team and expects him back by next week.
While talking with Josh, he wants it to be known that he will indeed play in the All-Star game if invited. McCarthy, however, is going a little slower. Washington said the Rangers were going slow with him to ensure he is healthy. They don't have a time table for McCarthy, who has pitched reasonably well for them in 2009.
They compared McCarthy's injury of a stress fracture to that of former Orioles pitcher Kurt Ainsworth. Washington went on to say that McCarthy and pitching coach Mike Maddux have watched videos of both pitchers comparing there deliveries and seeing what they can fix.
Washington was also asked about former Ranger Milton Bradley's explosion on the water cooler on Friday afternoon.
Washington said the reason Bradley did not do those things in Arlington was because he and his teammates called Bradley out on the issues he had, and Washington said he believes that was a big part in why Bradley had a great year for them in 2008.
The question and answer session was eventful and full of die-hard Ranger fans asking questions they were curious about. The three in charge of making most decisions ensured that the Texas Rangers will compete at this level in 2009 as well deep in the future.
The future looks really bright for the Rangers, and hopefully many American League West titles are won as well as some World Series Championships.