When Nolan Ryan left the Texas Rangers last October I was among the many fans who had immediately lost hope in the future of our team, now that Jon Daniels was solely responsible for the direction of the club. Once I stopped pouting, I had to ask myself why I had no faith in JD. I had to revisit this notion again last night.
What has Jon Daniels done for me not to trust him? My conclusion? Nothing.
I could come up with a handful of “reasons.”
JD is a Yankee, he was born in New York, which instantly makes him untrustworthy in the eyes of this Texas Rangers fan. He’s also a young kid who majored in Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, he is not a baseball guy. Through the eyes of the media he MADE Nolan Ryan leave and run into the arms of our competition.
None of these excuses are reasonable nor are they concrete enough to not have faith in JD.
Let’s look at valid evidence of his abilities as a General Manager.
Although his first major trade in the 2005 offseason of Alfonso Soriano to the Nationals and Chris Young, Adrian Gonzalez and Termel Sledge to the San Diego Padres was considered by the majority a complete disaster, the following seasons have been nothing short of brilliant and bold.
During the 2006 season he traded Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero and Laynce Nix to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielders Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz. At the end of the 2006 season, the Texas Rangers ranked 9th in combined ERA.
JD knew that something needed to change starting in the offseason. He began making those changes starting with the dismissal of manager Buck Showalter, who had three years remaining on his contract and hired Oakland Athletics’ third base coach Ron Washington.
Daniels wanted a title contention team by the start of the 2010 season and focused on getting young players and top prospects for developing the Rangers’ farm system. The Texas Rangers’ farm system was ranked fourth by Baseball America in 2008 organizations, which was the biggest jump since Baseball America began its ranking of MLB farm systems.
Each season JD has traded, acquired, signed and even let great players leave in his quest for the best team in the game. And this season has not been any different, except the Texas Rangers’ fans didn’t have the illusion that Nolan Ryan was the person really making these transactions.
It’s true that him and skipper Ron Washington felt that with the addition of Shin-Soo Choo to leadoff would help produce more runs since Choo’s 2013 OBP was .423.
Each transaction JD makes is under intense scrutiny from the fans and media. However, with all the moves he has made, the Texas Rangers have only gotten better.
There was absolutely no way ANYONE could have predicted that by the All-Star break the Rangers would have used 50 players, 30 pitchers (including first baseman Mitch Moreland and catcher Chris Gimenez) and 15 rookies. Or that Texas would need to use the disabled list 21 times and have 14 players on it!
JD could not have known that Prince Fielder, Alexi Ogando, Mitch Moreland, Tanner Scheppers, Derek Holland, Jurickson Profar, Martin Perez and Matt Harrison would be among the many on that list. All of whom were key to a winning season.
I’ll be the first to admit that the Joakim Soria trade on Wednesday night had me blaming Jon Daniels for EVERYTHING that has gone wrong this season.
I even went so far as accusing him of intentionally destructing the Texas Rangers from the inside. As if he were some Yankee spy who wanted to tear down “The House That Ryan Built” brick-by-brick, player-by-player.
I was angry. However, more importantly, I was wrong.
The simple truth is that this is a sport, players get injured and baseball is a business.
JD has realized that it is time to admit that the 2014 Texas Rangers are not a contending team.
That hurts. It hurts the players, coaches, staff members and the fans alike.
So, as much as I would LOVE to blame it ALL on Jon Daniels, I can’t. And you shouldn’t either.
No, Jon Daniels is not Nolan Ryan. No, he is not even a Texan. Yes, is a young man who majored in Economics and Management. However, he is indeed a baseball guy. He is an intelligent baseball businessman. He has done everything he can to improve the Texas Rangers and made them a team that everyone was suddenly talking about. He was the person who had people going to games. He is the person who raised our expectations. Nolan Ryan was the legendary face of the Texas Rangers that made us all feel comfortable, no matter how crazy the trade seemed. But, JD was the one making moves that has more people loving the Texas Rangers again.
Since Daniels became GM in 2005 he has made many transactions that have led the Texas Rangers to THREE pennant chases, two wins and two trips to the World Series.
Now, Daniels is making moves to help build another contending team for the 2015 season.
That doesn’t mean we should quit rooting for our team. It only means that we need to accept where the team stands and enjoy the good plays, moments and wins as they happen.
Then, look forward to the 2015 season.