By David Mullen
You paid $80 for a second deck seat on the third base side after you just dropped $20 to park your car. A program is a bargain at $5. Want to try a few of the new items on the Texas Rangers concessions menu this year?
How about “The Dilly Dog” for $10? It is a hollowed-out Fort Worth’s Best Maid pickle stuffed with a jumbo hot dog, deep fried and served on a stick. I guess it is the perfect food if you are in a pickle.
Then there is the “The Triple B.” It is a bun full of bacon, brisket and bologna smothered in barbecue sauce. Doesn’t that make it a “The Quintuple B?” It will cost you $18.
Still hungry? Try the Lay’s Home Plate Chicken Sandwich, which is a giant chicken breast incrusted with Lay’s potato chips and, of course, deep fried. It is served on an oversized bun with lettuce, tomato and spicy mayo and even more potato chips. At $27.50, it may be the most expensive chicken sandwich in America. It certainly is the most expensive chicken sandwich in Arlington.
Throw in a couple of beers or sodas and a day at the ballpark can easily approach more than $150 per person. A family of four or more had better have a good credit rating.
Your tickets, parking, concession and merchandise sales, combined with revenue from broadcast media, in-stadium signage and other sources go to funding a payroll, controlled by Rangers GM Jon Daniels, of more than $127 million. That is for a team not expected to win 80 games this year, and a franchise building a new $1.1 billion stadium so it will be better positioned to compete in the Major Leagues.
To paraphrase the late Robert Palmer, “They’re so bad, there’s no telling where the money went.” Daniels must be accustomed to paying full retail price.
Let’s break down the Rangers payroll, based on MLB Players Association numbers as compiled by USA Today, beginning with starting pitching. Lefthander Cole Hamels pitched in 24 games last season and won 11 with a 4.20 ERA. Joining the team in 2015, Hamels has never pitched a shutout as a Ranger. He will be paid $22.5 million this season. Equated to this year’s salary, that is an average of more than $2 million per win.
One-time All-Star Matt Moore, who was acquired in the off season from the San Francisco Giants, has a 51-48 career record. He will make $9.25 million this season. No-time All-Star and converted reliever Mike Minor, who has a career 44-42 record and missed all of 2015 and 16 due to a shoulder injury, signed a free agent contract for $8.3 million per season.
Martín Pérez, who had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and elbow surgery in 2017 because he lost a bull fight on his ranch in Venezuela this off-season, started the season on the disabled list. He will make $6 million this season.
Throw in $4 million free agent acquisition Doug Fister, on his sixth major league team with a career record of 82-85, and the Rangers’ five starting pitchers will earn more than $50 million this season. That’s a lot of two-foot long ballpark “Broomsticks.”
Second Baseman Rougned Odor, who had the worst on-base percentage in baseball last year, will earn more than $3.3 million this season. The man beside him, shortstop Elvis Andrus, will earn more than $15.3 million in 2018. Future Hall of Famer Adrián Beltré, who turns 39 on Saturday, April 7, will make $18 million. He seems to be the only player on the roster worth it.
And then there is Shin-Soo Choo. Like so many Rangers, he is a player without a position or steady spot in the batting order. In his four-plus seasons in Texas, the sometimes outfielder, sometimes DH has hit .260 with 64 home runs and 216 RBIs. That’s an average of 16 homers and 54 RBIs per season. Choo, who will go down as “Daniel’s Folly,” will make $20 million per season.
Because they have yet to become arbitration-eligible, top performers like outfielder Nomar Mazara and power hitting first baseman Joey Gallo will make a relatively paltry $560,000 this season. At least the Rangers got now retired first baseman Prince Fielder’s $24 million annual salary off of the books.
The old adage is “your get what you pay for.” That sign does not hang in the Texas Rangers front office. This team will cause you plenty of heartburn this season — while emptying your wallet — even if you don’t sample the new ballpark fare.