One of the pre-requisites for being a sports fan these days is being a grade A complainer. No fan base in DFW exemplifies that more right now than those who claim to be fans of the Texas Rangers.
As the team currently hovers around ten games under the .500 mark over two months into the season, the average Rangers fan would tell you that this team is destined for nothing but misery this season and for several seasons beyond. They’d also tell you that there’s one man, and one man only, to blame for this situation: the team’s President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jon Daniels.
Well, the man responsible for driving this truck into a ditch is also going to be the one who tries to drive it out. The club announced Thursday that Daniels would be given a “multiyear” contract extension that will keep him in the Texas front office past when his current deal expires after this season.
To clarify my stance on him, Jon Daniels is a great general manager. I was merely putting the spotlight on so many Rangers fans online who like to think that this team was good and only good when Nolan Ryan was around. Or that Daniels and his staff place no emphasis on developing young pitching. Those claims are simply untrue and are just flat out lazy and indicative of people who only halfheartedly follow baseball.
Yes, this team isn’t in the greatest spot now or in the foreseeable future, but this team is about to wrap up its most successful decade in franchise history and there are basically two constants both on the field and off it: Jon Daniels and Elvis Andrus. We only have Elvis Andrus because of the insane genius of the Mark Teixeira trade back in 2007 by Daniels.
Unfortunately, Neftali Feliz couldn’t get a third strike or Nelson Cruz couldn’t catch a relatively routine flyball out to right field on a late October night back in 2011, so we’re naturally all a bit critical of the way the Rangers haven’t really come close to getting back to that same stage ever since.
A manager and a half (Ron Washington and his interim replacement Tim Bogar back at the end of 2014) have left, countless players have come and gone (even some fan favorites likes Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and the aforementioned Cruz) but Daniels is still here trying to get this ship on the right path.
An interesting note, “JD” is the second longest tenured GM in major league baseball behind only the New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman. The man with four championships under his belt and twenty years at his position is the only person with more time on the job as a major league general manager than Jon Daniels.
When Daniels was hired as GM before the 2006 season, he was only 28 years old and was the youngest GM in the history of the sport. The Rangers had a very exciting, but misleading, 2004 campaign that saw them finish with an impressive 89 wins. 2005 saw them regress to a 79-83 record and everyone was left wondering what exactly the team was working with. Daniels and the rest of his front office staff made a great slew of moves that have impacts that still resonate on the field today.
This franchise’s highest level of sustained success was under the watch of Daniels. He extended their championship window for as long as he possibly could with several “all in” moves in the last three years, but the Rangers did not come up with the play necessary to make those moves worth it in the end.
This franchise isn’t in the situation it’s in now because of bad trades, it’s here because they had to move on from players who didn’t produce in the playoffs in 2015 and 2016. Daniels put all of the pieces in place for this team to succeed, but the players didn’t do what it took to come out on top.
There’s no better option to get the Rangers back to whatever level of winning baseball fans want than Jon Daniels. The man knows how to handle acquiring young talent when he knows that’s the approach. The team is being very transparent in acknowledging that is where they are at this point. This week’s draft and next month’s trade deadline will be incredibly important moments in this team’s history when we look back three to five years from now.
One thing I know: I’m glad that Jon Daniels will be here to design this team’s roster in his way. You should be on board as well.
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