Monday night, it was announced that the Texas Rangers had officially won the negotiating rights to posted Japanese starting pitcher Yu Darvish. The announcement concluded days, or even weeks of speculation, although it didn't come as too terribly big of a surprise. While the posting process is a secretive process, based on as much as anybody could know, the Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays were thought to be the favorites.
So it wasn't a huge shock. There was just this one thing. Ken Rosenthal is probably baseball's most highly trusted news-breaker. He seems to be trusted far more than Jon Heyman, and while there are other good reporters, they're either worse than Rosenthal or lower-profile. And just last Tuesday, Rosenthal wrote this article, with the following headline:
Rangers not fishing for Fielder, Darvish
Okay, so headlines aren't always written by the body author. How about some of the text?
The [Rangers'] payroll flexibility, sources say, is not as significant as many in the industry previously believed. Thus, the Rangers are exploring more cost-effective moves for pitchers [...]
None would be nearly as expensive as Fielder, who is likely to command a free-agent deal of at least $150 million, or Darvish, whose price likely will exceed $100 million when combining his posting fee and contract.
The Rangers submitted a massive bid and won the rights to negotiate with Yu Darvish. As the Rangers were preparing that bid, Rosenthal's sources told him the Rangers didn't have as much money as people thought. Those were either sources from within the Rangers' organization, or they were sources who were informed by people in the Rangers' organization.
Now, it's possible that Rosenthal's sources were right on at the time, and that Rangers ownership then suddenly changed direction. It's also possible that the Rangers really don't have that much money, and won't get Darvish signed. But it's easy, very easy, to imagine this as a deliberate misdirection. It's easy to imagine the Rangers trying to trick people into believing that they don't have much flexibility. Especially when it comes to something like the posting process.
Dipoto: Angels won't be big spenders this winter
Some of the body:
After a string of winters highlighted by fruitless pursuit of top-tier free agents, though, the new GM gave every indication the Angels won't be targeting the biggest names on that market and will instead look to be "creative" in finding solutions that don't directly involve Angels owner Arte Moreno reaching for his checkbook.
The Angels, of course, signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson over the same Thursday breakfast. Pujols was the best free agent hitter on the market, and Wilson was the best free agent pitcher on the market.
Again, it's possible that the Angels weren't thinking big at the time that the article was published, and then things changed later on. We cannot rule that out. But it's also possible, and I think more probable, that we're looking at a smokescreen. That the Angels realized there's not much benefit to being honest.
And there's not. Certainly not when talking to the media, about certain things. And sometimes not when talking to other teams. Being honest can serve to reduce a team's advantage, and teams are all about using any advantage they can get.
As fans, we can learn a lesson from these things. Or maybe not learn - these are more like reminders of something we already knew. And that's that, yeah, you really need to take everything you read and hear with a grain of salt. Teams have no obligation to be honest with their fans when they're still trying to get something done. Nor do they have any obligation to be honest with their competition. All of the rumors that you read - where do you think that they come from? Inside sources can still mislead, or be misled.
There is truth to some things, there is less truth to others, and sometimes it can be all but impossible to tell. You could say that, above a hot stove, you'll find a lot of hot air.