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Rangers need a new ace to reign in Daniels

So where were we?

Oh yes, we are dealing with a Rangers team sinking lower than the Titanic, on the way to possibly suffering the most losses in franchise history the way things are going.

We’re seeing the excuse of injuries overshadow the hard truth that the replacements for all the departed All-Stars are simply not playing up to snuff.

We see a guy who wasn’t even among their top 30 prospects batting fifth for them in the last game before the All-Star Break.

We’re seeing a clubhouse so devoid of energy and belief in itself that it’s driving the normally affable Ron Washington to extreme frustration.

And all thanks to the moves by Jon Daniels, who has put his desire to have his mark alone stamped on this club overshadow what made sense from a baseball standpoint.

Something has to change quickly, and while the likely scenario is that Daniels will fire Wash at the end of the season (I don’t believe anything he says in any interview right now), one can only hope that a different choice can be made.

Daniels has not made many good moves since at least 2012, but that doesn’t mean he still can’t make good decisions. The thing is, most of those decisions were made when there was a better structure in the front office and Daniels didn’t have what practically amounts to full autonomy.

I’m not about to say that Daniels should be outright fired. At least not yet. But he does need to be fettered.

Yes, it’s been less than a year, but it seems pretty clear already that giving Daniels so much authority in the organization was a mistake. There is no one who can help keep his ego in check and prevent bad moves from happening. Ray and Bob need to strip Daniels of the president’s position, leave him to focus just on being the general manager, appoint a new team president that can serve as a supervisor to Daniels and a liaison for the clubhouse that the players can look up to.

Now, I’m not going to be idealistic and say that Nolan Ryan can return here. That ship has sadly sailed, Nolan is settled down in Houston, and while I believe burnt bridges can be rebuilt, it would take a lot of work that this franchise doesn’t have the time for.

But there is good news in that there is someone else out there who could fit the position admirably. He’s already in the organization. He’s definitely someone you would think those in the clubhouse would respect.

And he’s the pitching coach’s brother.

Greg Maddux, a Hall of Fame inductee this year and currently one of at least three former big leaguers serving as “special assistant to the GM,” comes off as one of the brightest people to have played the game. You’d pretty much have to be to dominate on the mound like he did despite being just 6-0, 170 without overpowering stuff in one of baseball’s most hitter-friendly eras. You can’t fake four Cy Young awards, just like you couldn’t fake 5,714 strikeouts.

It’s only starting to be revealed – for those who can see it – what a commodity the Rangers had in a team president who had played the game at such a high level along with being a shrewd businessman. While Maddux doesn’t have the full business experience Nolan has (does he even have a line of beef products?), the baseball aspect cannot be overlooked.

This is a guy who can look at possible moves and see from the perspective of field experience whether certain players will work on a club besides Daniels’ hard line attitude of just plugging in stats together. Someone who can see if it will work from a chemistry perspective whether the human being will fit in.

But there is also the area of the club respecting him. This is an intangible that should not be overlooked. Whatever official responsibility Nolan had, it paled in comparison to how he helped build up the players to do what many though they couldn’t. Daniels might have drafted or signed pitchers, but it was Nolan that told them they needed to not worry about the heat or pitch counts or all the other things blocking pitchers’ confidence on this club for so many years. They listened to someone they knew had been in the trenches, especially for 27 years.

Could Maddux do this? Maddux pitched for 10 years under Leo Mazzone, who built not just one of the best pitching staffs in baseball but one of the most durable. Braves pitchers did not suffer major arm injuries under his watch. Mazzone was a disciple of Johnny Sain, the man who basically revived the career of Tommy John himself by convincing him that throwing every day would build up his arm following the surgery that now bears his name. If anyone can keep up the practice of stressing confidence over coddling, it would be him.

The army of Jon Daniels Lovers and Apologists are quickly buying into this theory that players are nothing but numbers, that you just plug in these stats with these and it’s going to work, and if it doesn’t well, that wasn’t my fault, the player just failed.

It doesn’t work like that in real sports. These are human beings, and while completely becoming buddy-buddy with employees can lead to issues as well, there is still the need to treat them as something more than tools in a shed.

That’s what Nolan brought, in addition to keeping the general manager in check. And it’s what the club has lacked in these months since his banishment.

Maddux will be officially inducted into Cooperstown later this month. If there is any sanity in the Rangers organization, he will have the title of team president added at some point before the next free agency period begins.

And maybe this train can get on the right track again before we end up permanently taking the jokes from Astros fans that we were dishing out last year.


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