The Last Six Off Seasons
By Ben Dieter
Source: MLB Daily Dish
The Texas Rangers have done a lot of moves at the trade deadline during the season over the last five years, but I thought I would take a look and see how Jon Daniels and his crew have done for this team during the off-season to kind of see if we have our hope in the right place, expecting a big name free agent to sign with the Rangers over the next few months.
Jon Daniels had been the Rangers GM for a couple of seasons by this point, and he had made a few deals. In 2008, the Rangers needed outfield help, and Daniels traded away a young pitcher named Edinson Volquez to the Cincinnati Reds for a former top pick in one Josh Hamilton. As we all know, that turned out to be a great off-season move for the front office, as Hamilton was a five time all-star and an AL MVP during his time with the Texas Rangers. Daniels also went out and got Milton Bradley that off-season, and Bradley had one of his best major league seasons with the Texas Rangers, posting a batting average of .321 and for the most part staying away from all the off the field trouble that had plagued him in the past and continued to plague him after he left Texas. So I would say that 2008 was a successful off-season for the Texas Rangers front office.
The Rangers brought a young phenom shortstop named Elvis Andrus to the majors in 2009, and the big question was what was the deal going on between Jon Daniels and Michael Young. We all remember the public fight that Young put up with the front office after winning a gold glove at short stop in 2008 and then being asked to move to third for 2009, but after all the dust settled, Young did just that. Elvis went on to have a decent rookie season, and Young did pretty good at third base as well. Daniels went out and got minimal help for the team during the 2009 off-season, signing Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones and Kris Benson to small contracts. I think Vizquel had the biggest impact since Andrus was a big fan of his and grew up really looking up to Vizquel. Benson and Andrus did not have a massive impact on the team, and also Bradley walked away after that season. All in all, as far as picking up an impact player, I would have to say this year was not a massive success, but the minor league system was ranked #1 in all of baseball, so they were headed in the right direction.
In 2010 the Rangers made their first ever World Series as a franchise. The team was going through financial difficulty and would eventually file for bankruptcy later that season, but that didn’t stop Daniels and crew from bringing in a few impact players in 2010. Daniels signed Colby Lewis, Vlad Guerrero and Rich Harden. Now we rember what a disaster Harden was, but the Rangers would not have made the 2010 World Series without Vlad and Colby in my opinion. Vlad killed the Angels that season and he hit very well in Rangers ballpark. Colby was great and he was even better during the post season run. Of course later that season came the trade deadline acquisition of Cliff Lee, but the Rangers wouldn’t have been in the position they were in without guys like Vlad and Colby. This may have been one of Daniels most successful off seasons as a GM.
The big blow this off-season was the fact that Lee decided not to return to the Texas Rangers for anymore seasons. That hurt, as all of us were holding out hope that he would return for a second run at the World Series. That didn’t happen, and the Rangers moved on. They signed free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre (much to the chagrin of Michael Young again) and moved Young to DH, and then the traded for Mike Napoli. Both moves turned out to be brilliant, as Napoli would have been the MVP of the World Series that year if the Rangers would have won. But lets not talk about that. Again, this was a great off-season with some moves that really helped the club, and I give Daniels credit for making them. I would call this one another successful off-season for the Rangers.
The Rangers let free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson walk in leu of trying to sign Japanese phenom Yu Darvish, which I would say was a good choice. C.J. was a good pitcher for the Rangers, but Yu is and will be better. The Rangers also signed free agent closer Joe Nathan, and that again turned out to be a good move. The season ended terribly for the Rangers, but I would once again say that the off season was a bit of a success for the Texas Rangers.
Well this is the most recent one and probably the worst of all. The Rangers traded away the face of the franchise for next to nothing, and then let Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Mike Adams and Koji Uehara all sign with other teams while missing out on several guys that they said they were really interested in like Zack Greinke and Nick Swisher. The Rangers did sign A.J. Pierzynski and Jason Frasor among others, but they did nothing to replace the sticks of Napoli and Hamilton. This was probably one of Daniels worst off seasons, and his most recent, so it is the one that sticks with us the most.
We will have to wait and see what this off-season will bring us, but if we look at Daniels track record, I think it will be a good one. I sure hope I’m right.