What is Going on with the Texas Rangers’ Front Office and Their Players?
By Lee Stitzel
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Yesterday Ian Kinsler lashed out at his former team; the Texas Rangers. Kinsler was traded from the Rangers early in the offseason, about three months ago, to the Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder. Apparently, Kinsler has harbored some ill will towards the Rangers over this trade because the infielder ripped into the Texas Rangers organization and General Manager Jon Daniels in an ESPN the Magazine article. Kinsler called Daniels “a sleazeball” and claims that he hopes that the Rangers face a winless season in 2014. Daniels has handled the comments perfectly. He has complimented Kinsler on his Texas tenure and avoided discussing the “name calling.” None the less, this is not the first time former players have attacked Daniels on their way out and it is a source of concern.
As a fan of the name on the front of Texas jerseys rather than the name on the back, I find Kinsler’s remarks, to put it lightly, distasteful. Even if what Kinsler says is justified, I would prefer to see a professional show some class and keep these kinds of comments to himself. I loved Kinsler when he played in Texas and to the day he got traded I was a Kinsler apologist. Yes, he occasionally took plays off mentally and was known to get in ruts where he used his uppercut swing to little effect, but all in all Kinsler was a productive player while in Texas. Kinsler was talented and gave a lot to this organization. I will understand if fans want to boo Kinsler over his remarks when he comes back to visit Arlington but let us not try to rewrite Kinsler’s legacy in Texas. Kinsler is one of the best players ever to don the Red White and Blue.
Hearing this come out months after the trade means Kinsler must have been brooding on the topic for some time. We all know that Kinsler is not the first player to tear into this organization upon their departure. Josh Hamilton went off on the entirety of Arlington when he left for Anaheim. It is conjecture but I wonder if part of this was the way Jon Daniels tried to low ball Hamilton during the offseason. It is pretty common knowledge that Daniels thought he could land Hamilton at well below the price the Angels paid for Josh. Another player that Daniels angered with his offseason antics was Christopher John Wilson. If I recall correctly, C.J. said he was offended by Texas’s low offer before he signed with the Angels.
Another part of Kinsler’s anger towards Daniels was the Michael Young trade. Michael was unhappy the year before he eventually got dealt. Young demanded a trade in the run up to the 2012 season but was not traded until the offseason preceding the 2013 season. Young’s main concern was similar to one of Kinsler’s. Both were asked to switch positions in order to make room for other players. Neither one seemed happy with this. As a fan, I can see both sides of the story. It is a no small task for a major leaguer to change position and asking a star caliber player like Ian Kinsler or Michael Young to move is not trivial.
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On the other hand, the Rangers were correct that the best option for the team as a whole in both cases was to move the players into positions that made the team better on both sides of the ball. Moving Young off third to allow Beltre to play third was a massive upgrade and filling firstbase with Kinsler and giving Profar second in 2013 would have improved the team.
Perhaps I just watch the Rangers more closely than I watch other MLB teams but I cannot think of any other teams who have this many former players taking shots at the organization. Is there actually something wrong with the Texas Rangers’ front office? Jon Daniels is efficient, brutally efficient, with his player evaluation. This is why he lowballed Hamilton and Wilson. He would not offer them the contract they wanted because he did not believe either was worth it. I was happy when both walked in free agency because both ended up overpayed. To be fair, CJ has outperformed my expectations and, with the price of free agent pitching skyrocketing, his deal is fairly reasonable at this point. Unless Hamilton bounces back in a huge way this season, Rangers fans will get to enjoy watching the Angels suffer another bad contract.
Daniels’s evaluation process could be the cause of the dysfunction between the organization and players it lets go. If this is the case then perhaps this a way that the front office can improve. As a fan it is tough to keep hearing former players rip the Rangers so I hope these incidents are just players venting frustration in general rather than there being an actual problem with how the front office deals with players. It is important that the Rangers organization be player friendly and eventually players will view Texas in a poor light if players keep blasting the organization upon departure. It is important for managers to maintain some distance from players since they are effectively the boss but perhaps Daniels needs to think about striking a balance between cold efficiency and personal interaction.