On Halloween in 2005 Theo Epstein resigned from the Boston Red Sox. Attempting to avoid the media upon his departure, Theo wore a gorilla suit as he left Fenway Park. As we know, he wasn’t gone long. He came back just a few months later in January to resume his duties as the General Manager of the Red Sox. When he return, ownership gave in to several of Epstein’s requests. When it was all over, Theo had more power and Independence. Theo moved all of the baseball operations to the basement in Fenway, creating virtual island for him to run the team.
Oct 5, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels before the game against the Baltimore Orioles in the 2012 American League wild card playoff game at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Why do I bring up Theo? Shortly after Theo Epstein had exited Fenway Park in a gorilla suit, Jon Daniels had become the youngest GM GM in baseball history at 28 years and 14 days. Fast-forward to the beginning of the 2013 season, I could picture Jon Daniels doing the same thing. Daniels, like Epstein has done his time and was no longer the young GM he was learning the game. Daniels has become one of the best GMs in baseball. He has helped turn around a bankrupt franchise, lead them to 2 World Series and build a farm system the entire league is envious of.
Over the past 2 seasons, there has been an increased tension with “ownership” Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels. Like Theo, Daniels was seeking more power and authority to build the team he thought would be a winning team.
Also, like Theo, Daniels realizes that sometimes you need a down year to allow player development instead of trying to win it all every year.
You see bits and pieces of what Daniels and the Texas Rangers are doing. Players like Luis Sardinas, Jurickson Profar, Joey Gallo and Jorge Alfaro as some examples. To give credit where it is due, Nolan included, the whole Texas Rangers organization has created a farm system that is producing quality players at every position. No longer will the Texas Rangers be a team that must seek big off season signings to fill holes. They can now look from with in, or use their assets to trade up in the off season. Now, in the offseason, Daniels is holding all the cards with the right players and is able to make the moves the Rangers need to be better from year to year.
At the beginning of 2013, without a resignation or a gorilla suit, Daniels was named present of baseball operations and Nolan Ryan was let pretty much just as a figure head as CEO. On paper, Daniels was supposed to report to Ryan, but more than likely, that was the start of Daniels independence.
After Bob Simpson had what seemed to be an emergency meeting with Nolan before the season started, it was pretty much the first step toward the departure of Ryan. Many knew once the season was over, Ryan would be leaving. This time, but in a reversal of what transpired in Boston, it was Nolan Ryan time that left in a “gorilla suit” on Halloween.
Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Now that Daniels has full control of baseball operations, he has created his own island. This offseason he’s made waves with two big transactions. Maybe it is a bit of house cleaning. With the middle-infield jammed with talent, it came as no surprise that Daniels dealt one of them. Though it was a surprise to see it was Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder. This was truly a Daniels trade. Trades like this didn’t happen under Ryan. That goes the same for the Craig Gentry/Michael Choice trade. Daniels could continue his aggressive offseason work and some how acquire another pitcher such as David Price.
With the dust now settling from the Ryan departure, Daniels is showing he has full control of baseball operations. He’s made some bold moves this offseason and I expect many more moves over his time with the Texas Rangers. Only time will tell if they are good or bad. I expect they will mainly be good. I love and miss Nolan Ryan, but sometimes change is needed to move forward.