COMMENTARY | The Texas Rangers made it official on Saturday afternoon, signing long time Houston Astro, and a guy who was a thorn in their side during the 2011 World Series, Lance Berkman to a one-year deal.
However, the signing of the veteran slugger seems to have brought up more questions than answers, especially learning that Texas gave him upwards of $10 million to reconsider retirement. Oh, and a vesting option for 2014 if he reaches 550 plate appearances.
This was a guy who was very open about walking away from the game. This was a guy who thought it was time he step away and, instead, spend time with his family.
When asked what it would take to get him thinking about one more year in the big leagues, Berkman didn't beat around the bush.
"In a way they have to buy me out of retirement, and I know that sounds crass - I wish it didn't - but it's a big commitment. It can put a strain on the family. If I'm going to play, I'm going to give my heart and soul to the team. But if the carrot's not big enough, the mule isn't going to want to go."
The last time Rangers' president Nolan Ryan decided he was going to the recruiter, it landed Texas another former Houston Astro -- Roy Oswalt.
Ask any Ranger fan how that experiment went. You won't like the answer.
While Berkman is a fine hitter, at least a few years ago, it seems like this is just the Texas Rangers trying to cover up a wound that is bigger than the small band-aid they're trying to use.
Josh Hamilton joined the Los Angeles Angels and Mike Napoli is still trying to work on a deal with the Boston Red Sox. Those two guys alone combined for 67 home runs for this team in 2012. Trying to replace that kind of power with a 36-year-old catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, and a soon to be 37-year-old infielder, Lance Berkman, isn't going to make many fans in North Texas forget about two of their biggest sluggers.
While most won't question the addition of Pierzynski, especially with his ability behind the plate and for the fact that he's better than what Texas currently had with Geovany Soto and Eli Whiteside.
Berkman, however, a guy most Ranger fans remember for calling their team "average" prior to the 2011 season after not being able to re-sign Cliff Lee. Not only that, but he said the Rangers had caught lightning in a bottle and their pitchers were "pitching better than their talent level."
That quote has stuck with a lot of the fan base in the area and they're very good at holding grudges. Fans that will need a big year from the newest member of the Texas Rangers for them to forget all about it.
If the two old timers don't do much for you, rumors are sprouting again about the Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks talking about a deal surrounding Justin Upton. It's the proverbial "been there, done that" rumor that continues to rear its ugly head.
You do have to give credit where it's due, there were moves that needed to be made to cover up a few holes in the offense, but I don't know that anyone believes these are the guys they intend to pass off as power replacements.
Pierzynski can certainly hit you 20-25 home runs every season but with Berkman playing in just 32 games in 2012, not to mention coming off surgery during this offseason, you have to wonder if he's going to be able to give Texas more than 100 games.
This team needed offense, there was little doubt about that. But the biggest hole still remains in their pitching rotation. A rotation that's still void of a fifth starter.
If Jon Daniels and company really want to follow the blueprints to the 2012 season had by the Angels, then maybe they should check out of the 2013 season altogether. Albert Pujols and rookie phenom Mike Trout can only do so much. Thanks to their bullpen, leads that most teams would have been able to hold on to, went down the tubes in record fashion.
A result that left that team in Anaheim watching the playoffs from home.
Everyone wants to use the phrase, "Trust JD (Jon Daniels)." That trust might be wearing thin on a fan base that was left with a bad taste in their mouths after watching their team quit on the final games of the 2012 season.
2013 can be much different than the season gone by. The decision to make it different lies solely on the front office being willing to do what's necessary to get this organization back to where they were in 2011 with just one difference -- being champions.
Todd Kaufmann lives in Arlington, Texas and has covered the Texas Rangers for Sports Page Weekly, a weekly publication in Dallas, Texas, as well as for Through the Fence Baseball where he is the voice of their Texas Rangers podcast.