Texas came up just a bit short in bidding for Daisuke Matsuzaka’s negotiating rights, but as the Dallas Morning News’ Jim Reeves writes, “what’s $24.11 million between friends?”

That the Rangers misjudged the Matsuzaka market by some $24 million and finished a distant fourth in that race might be cause for some minor embarrassment at The Ballpark in Arlington, but it shouldn’t last long.

“There was about a 24-hour period when I let myself think we had a shot, before reality set in,” general manager Jon Daniels admitted by phone as he drove to the airport in Naples, Fla., on Friday morning, en route home from the GM meetings.

Daniels (above) and Tom Hicks had allowed themselves to believe that their $27 million offer to the Seibu Lions would not only be competitive, but had a chance to be the top bid on the table. They badly underestimated the “big boys,” something they can ill afford to do on a regular basis.

As some wag in Boston suggested, if you’re trying to put a price tag on that five-game sweep by the Yankees in Fenway Park late last season, you can start at around $50 million.

This is the how the big boys play, Jon Daniels and Tom Hicks. Are you sure you want to sit in on this game?

OK, Matsuzaka always seemed like a pipe dream for the Rangers anyway. Let’s get real here. Where do the Rangers go next? Will Hicks, with his “player-specific” mantra, allow Daniels to take that $27 million, plus whatever the Rangers had earmarked to offer Matsuzaka in a contract, and spend it elsewhere? Don’t count on it.

The question is whether the Rangers have the gonads to ante up in the big boys’ game. If you’re hoping that Barry Zito is going to wind up in Texas, you’re setting yourself up for more heartbreak. It was nice that Zito phoned new manager Ron Washington and indicated he would now consider the Rangers, but friendship will only go so far. Zito will take the best offer, and that’s not likely to come from Hicks and Co.

The Rangers may be more likely to spend bigger bucks than they want to on Vicente Padilla, because they’ve seen him pitch successfully in The Ballpark, and on Adam Eaton, who might cut them a slight discount because he was only able to give them half a season last year.

Along with chronicling the no-news-is-no-news vibe surrounding free agent-to-be Tom Glavine, Newsday’s David Lennon reports the Mets are amongst the bidders for the negotiating rights to Japanese LH Kei Igawa (above), most recently of the Hashin Tigers.

The Mets signed utility whiz Damion Easley to a one-year contract yesterday, an event that’s almost as exciting as imagining Jay Bell coming out of retirement.

Baseball Think Factory’s tireless Repoz links to an LA Times report indicating the Angels are interested in free agent OF J.D. Drew, also an alleged target of Boston. Proving that I have to get up much earlier to beat Repoz, he’s also linked to a story about someone named Pujols and a crack bust. Sadly, not that Pujols.

And if Saturday’s props for Repoz weren’t plentiful enough, he’s written in to let us know that Peter Abraham of the Journal News has fallen prey to the considerable charms of The Hold Steady. Strangely, there’s been no word from Peter about the awesome Beaver Brown CDR I burned for him. There’s no accounting for taste in this world.