Rangers fans everywhere must be frustrated. Each of the last three offseasons the Rangers, and Jon Daniels in particular, seem to be good for one big move. In the offseason leading up to the 2011 season it was Adrian Beltre. In the run up to the 2012 campaign it was Yu Darvish and prior to this past season it was basically nothing.
This year looks like more of the same. One big splash, no Prince Fielder weight pun intended, and very little else. Jon Daniels loves to grab a fistful of relievers and bench players in order to get a few good value players. Neil Cotts and Jason Frasor certainly fit that bill last year. He also seems to talk to every free agent and talk about every possible trade. The Rangers are linked to most free agents and are considered contenders in every possible trade. It makes sense; Texas has money and prospects. If anyone could land and afford David Price it would be Jon Daniels. If anyone could give Shin-Soo Choo a seven year and 150+ million contract it would be the Rangers.
I cannot speak for the rest of Rangerdom but I bought the hype this year. The Fielder for Ian Kinsler deal happened and I bought the whole thing, hook, line and sinker. I thought this had to be the year that Jon Daniels pulled all the strings. I thought he would make big signings and even throw in another trade to really add the icing to the cake. I went so far as to actually think Texas might be in on Robinson Cano. In my heart I knew there was no chance but after Daniels dealt away Kinsler I felt anything was possible.
The harsh reality has set in over the past two weeks; one big Texas target after another has fallen off the board. Jacoby Ellsubry, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran all went to New York. Mike Napoli opted for Boston. Every possible catcher went elsewhere and Daniels ended up with J.P. Arencibia. Texas again did nothing at the winter meetings. Daniels appears ready to do nothing for the remainder of the offseason as well. Needless to say, the last few days have seen the air come out of my offseason sails. One never knows, we could wake up tomorrow and find that Daniels has signed Choo or Nelson Cruz. He could pull of another lopsided trade or orchestrate a three team deal, but today it does not feel like Texas will make any more moves. Considering the list of names Texas was in on but missed it is hard to get overly excited about Texas hauling in Choo, Cruz or Mashiro Tanaka. It is possible but it is also difficult to not feel pessimistic about the odds.
The real question is where does that leave Texas for the coming season and beyond? I have never had anything but complete faith in Jon Daniels and I urge you to have the same level of confidence. Winning a championship takes some portion of luck whether players and front offices like to admit it or not. The most important thing a general manager can do is to put the team in a position to succeed. Jon Daniels has done that. This team has been within striking distance of a championship for four straight seasons now. It is not fair to ask Jon Daniels for any more than that. If Josh Hamilton catches a pop fly in Oakland the 2012 season likely tells a different story. If Texas beats David Price in the 2013 play-in game we probably feel differently about this team.
That being said, last year’s team was not good enough, so when Jon Daniels started off the offseason with a big splash like he did it makes sense that it would feel like Daniels was going to radically change the team. He has not and he probably will not. Daniels believes in this core group of players. I believe in this core. You should believe in this core.