Cliff Lee and The Jon Daniels Era


I think everyone was pretty skeptical when the then 28 year old Jon Daniels was announced as the new General Manager of our beloved Rangers. As the youngest GM in baseball history taking over a losing team, he had a lot to prove. I wanted to give a brief outline of what he did to turn a 72 win team into a back-to-back pennant winner.

He took over in 2005 and immeadiately traded slugger Alfonso Soriano to the Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, Termel Sledge, and Armando Galarraga. This move was extremely confusing at the time, as Alfonso Soriano was a pretty productive player. He would go on to hit 46 home runs in our Nations Capital while Galaragga would go on to throw an almost perfect game for the Tigers in 2010. As confusing as this move was, it did have some huge upside. It vacated 2nd base so that a young rookie named Ian Kinsler could get his chance to play, and we know how extremely well that worked. It also freed up some payroll so that Kevin Millwood could receive his decent sized contract.

The next move didn’t work out so well for JD. In December of that year he sent Chris Young, Termel Sledge, and future All-Star 1st Basemen Adrian Gonzalez to San Diego for Adam Eaton, and Akinori Otsuka, neither of which really panned out. This is the one that upsets me the most, seeing as how the Rangers are having a problem getting decent, steady production from 1st Base. Gonzalez would go on to become awesome blah blah blah.

If you were to look at all of his trades and transactions and rate them solely on the numbers, the one that is panned the most is sending top prospect(at the time) John Danks to the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy, who was plagued with injuries and didn’t produce much on a Rangers team that needed strong starting pitching.

There have been other important trades that should probably be included in this, i.e. getting Nelson Cruz from Milwaukee, or Josh Hamilton from the Reds, but the next trade is exciting and needs to be discussed.

The most important trade in Texas Rangers history, in my opinion of course, was when JD acquired Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe from Seattle for Blake Beaven, Justin Smoak, Matt Lawson, and Josh Lueke. This trade catapulted the Rangers atop the AL West and eventually to the first World Series appearance in franschise history. Everyone knows they lost the World Series(sad face), but something that everyone doesn’t know is how this traded impacted the organization. In 2009 the average game attendance was 26,617 and it stayed that way until roughly the trade deadline in 2010, when this trade happened. The Rangers ended up with an average game attendance of 30,928, which is extraordinary considering the three months prior attendance was down by roughly 5,000 people. Then in 2011 attendance again rose to an average of 36,382, some of this could be simplified pretty easily, people like to go see a winning team, but I still think that this trade which showed the willingness and eagerness of the FO to do what it takes to win contributed to a lot of it.

From there the Rangers lost the WS and Cliff Lee signed a $120 million deal with the Phillies, but his and Jon Daniels style of baseball moves impacted the club more than anything else. Last year it was Mike Adams and Koji Uehara that made the impact, this year it could be anybody. We have a lot to be thankful for as Rangers Fans, and a badass GM like Jon Daniels is definitely someone worthy of our thanks. Until next time, Go Rangers.