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Jon Daniels is Good, But He’s Not Irreplaceable

Say what you want about Randy Galloway. The guy knows how to get people talking.

Mister Wimp Free Sports Talk caused quite the stir last week in the Star-Telegram when he suggested that, above all else, Jon Daniels needs to be the first one held responsible for a Rangers season that has become heartbreaking in a hurry for everyone who wasn’t already wanting it to stop getting in the way of their Cowboys. And that if anyone needed to be fired for this season, it was the general manager.

Thus spurred the outrage toward one of the few in talk radio who has actually covered major league clubhouses regularly in his lifetime, accusing Galloway of outright trolling to saying he shouldn’t wait until year’s end to conclude his radio career.

Galloway certainly has his haters, especially among those who blindly follow a certain AM radio station that might not be in existence had people like him not started sports talk in North Texas. But just because someone says something outlandish to sell papers doesn’t mean there might not be some validity to his words.

Let’s get this out of the way: No one is denying all the good work Jon Daniels has done as general manager of the Rangers, from fleecing the Braves in the Mark Teixeria trade to correctly bidding on Yu Darvish to having patience with Ron Washington (up to this point).

And let’s face it, compared to another team living next door, the Rangers can consider themselves lucky they have a real GM at all.

But let’s be honest. Anyone who would think that Jon Daniels is infallible, or even so much better than any other GM in MLB, is setting themselves up for disappointment in the long run.

With the good has come the bad, like dealing away the likes of John Danks and Adrian Gonzales. I won’t even get into the Chris Davis issue  because that can be argued in so many ways.

And specifically, when you look at this year, I don’t see how you can’t look at the moves Daniels didn’t make. Moves that even I have to admit would have put the Rangers in better position rather than just signing the likes of Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski.

I’m guessing many still agree that letting Josh Hamilton go was the right thing. But how much better would they be if Mike Napoli was still here? How much less complaining about David Murphy’s lack of production be if Daniels had pulled the trigger and traded for Justin Upton?

Anyone who assumes that this winter JD will be Mister Whiz Kid again and make all the right moves to guarantee another World Series run, remember:

It’s clear that any trade during the winter meetings will have to include Perez, Profar or Leonys. Virtually every club out there is demanding one of those, and JD has constantly refused, instead forcing Washington more or less to keep Profar on the roster when there remains no place to put him full time. If he’d been willing to part with one of them, Upton might be wearing a Rangers jersey right now.

Yet he was willing to part with Mike Olt when the Rangers still have no production at first base to get a starting pitcher (an area they haven’t struggled in) who so far has a 4.94 ERA with Texas?

And free agents coming here? Well, I’ve never been big on rebuilding that way anyway, but there haven’t exactly been a lot of those coming here, have there? How much does the GM have to take responsibility for that?

As I’ve said before, Daniels seems to be quickly becoming not well liked among players. A few already in the Rangers clubhouse refuse to talk to him, only to assistant Thad Levine. And once again, hearing the grumblings in other clubhouses from people like Cliff Lee after the Michael Young trade, it looks like more than a few others don’t seem to care for the way the Rangers do things either. And that can’t be good for luring them to Arlington.

Some here continue to brush this off, saying money and the chance to win the World Series will simply lure people here no problem, But the Rangers don’t overpay anymore, the Giants and Cardinals have proven there are other teams you can win on, and oh yeah, how many players has that idea brought in here again? (Aside from Adrian Beltre, who never would have even spoken with the Rangers if the Angels’ Jerry DiPoto hadn’t had a brain fart.)

I’ve been worried for about a year now that Daniels has been getting too much of an ego, starting to believe his own press a bit much. Those promotions he got over the winter may not have helped. Remember, pride always cometh before a fall.

I’m not outright saying JD needs to be fired. But I won’t say getting rid of him would destroy the franchise. Slip Levine into that job, retain the same scouts and player development director, and my feeling is the Rangers wouldn’t miss a beat.

Remember, all the things JD’s supporters are saying about him are pretty similar to what was said about Theo Epstein. Yet the Red Sox were willing to let him go after their debacle of 2011. Two years later, the Red Sox have returned to the top, while Epstein – well, it is still early, but the Cubs haven’t been exactly shaking up the world.

Nor did the Rangers when they lured away the previous golden boy in John Hart, who was supposedly a genius for building Cleveland into a contender. His time in Texas – well, Galloway called him the Empty Golf Shirt for a reason.

Daniels has definitely had a body of work better than Hart’s. But if this season ends the way it’s looking more and more, even he can’t be excused from blame.

And if the Rangers do decide such a change is needed, we may ultimately see he was more expendable than many thought.

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One Response

  1. Rowdy,
    I’m not quite sure what point you were trying to make here.

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