Matt Purke does not sign.

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One game.


One game is how far up Texas
is on Boston in
the Wild Card standings.


One game is how much Ron Washington is over .500 as a big
league manager, for the first time.


One game is what Kevin Richardson’s big league career is now
comprised of, and it was a heck of a night. 
Catching Tommy Hunter for the ninth time in his career (including three
times in Oklahoma City in 2008 and five times as a RedHawk in 2009), he squeezed
the 27th out and met Frankie Francisco on the mound to set off a
round of daps and chest bumps, which has to be what any minor league catcher
dreams of doing when he gets to The Show. 


The 28-year-old also contributed two hits, the first of
which greeted Twins reliever Bobby Keppel as he entered the game and the second
of which greeted Matt Guerrier as he came into the contest.  Richardson
was 1 for 5 lifetime off Keppel dating back to last year, when the two teed it
up in the Pacific Coast League several times. 
His one hit came last July 7 (a night on which Richardson caught Hunter,
incidentally), a line drive single to center field, not unlike the ball he hit off
Keppel tonight, a ball that ended up relayed in the dugout for safe keeping.


One game is what 19-year-old lefthander Matt Purke has yet
to play professionally, and it will now be at least two years before that happens.  And that saddens me.  I don’t know exactly what Texas offered or exactly what Purke’s family
wanted, but you can bet the kid just left more than $3 million on the table.  Several reports suggest it was $4


And he did it on a night when Richardson, 10 years older and never drafted,
contributed to a major league win, eight years into a pro career in which he
has probably earned something like two percent of the amount that Purke had to
have turned down tonight.


I’ll restate that.


I bet the amount of money the high school pitcher Matt Purke
refused tonight was close to 50 times more than the total amount of money that big league baseball player Kevin Richardson
has earned in his eight years in pro ball.


That’s sad. 


And an absolutely crazy decision by the player, as far as I’m
concerned.  The odds of Purke increasing
his draft value over the next two years at TCU are far outweighed by the odds
of him seeing his draft value decrease, for any number of reasons. 


So Purke loses something like $4 million, which he could recoup,
or not, in a couple years.  The Rangers
lose the rights to sign the 14th player selected in June, but will
get the 15th pick next summer (no player chosen ahead of Purke
failed to sign by tonight’s deadline, other than Kansas City’s Aaron Crow, to
whom the deadline does not apply) in addition to whatever pick Texas ends up
with due to its 2009 finish – which means the compensatory pick for Purke will end
up being the better of the Rangers’ two first-round picks in 2010 (though they could
forfeit the later one by virtue of a winter signing of a Type A free agent
offered arbitration by his 2009 club).  If
Marlon Byrd goes elsewhere, that probably means an extra supplemental first-rounder
for the Rangers as well.


But whatever.  June
2010 is a thousand years away.  Tomorrow,
Matt Purke will walk into an orientation session at TCU while Kevin Richardson,
a warrior who has grinded for eight years in
spite of
the money, suits up in a big league clubhouse. 


I’m going to put Purke out of my mind for now, until he toes
the hill against the University of Texas in the spring and then until pick 14A
comes up for Texas in June and presents the Rangers with an opportunity to take
another blue-chip talent with greater aspirations to play pro ball for an
organization that should be in consistent contention by time he’s ready for the
big leagues.


Solid win tonight, against a good team needing victories itself
and on a night when a number of our pitchers were far from their sharpest.  I doubt anyone in that clubhouse knows who Purke
is, including Richardson, who, if given the choice between going back to find $4
million on the table at age 18 and the Gonzaga-Pulaski-Clinton-Spokane-Clinton-Frisco-Oklahoma
City route that has taken him to this night in Arlington, wouldn’t even think
twice, I’m guessing. 


sets the example for an organization full of kids fighting to realize a dream,
no matter whether they arrived as a first-rounder or a free agent, an instant
millionaire or the grateful recipient of a signing bonus that amounted to a plane
ticket to Surprise.  His persistence, and
the big league reward he’s earned for it, should resonate throughout this deep,
deep system of ballplayers with aspirations of their own.


Best wishes to Matt Purke, whenever it is that I think about
him next.  It won’t be Tuesday night,
when I’m at Rangers Ballpark to take in former 30th-rounder Scott
Feldman, who has two fewer wins this year than the big league leader, against former
13th-rounder Carl Pavano, who has made nearly $50 million playing


Meanwhile, Purke will be getting settled in his dorm room
and making plans to hit West Berry
Street sometime this week to buy a Horned Frogs
hoodie, some purple sanitary socks, and an Economics 101 textbook.





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(c) Jamey Newberg



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