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Thursday, April 11, 2013

W.W.J.D.D. (haha): Getting to know Jon Daniels...


As the Rangers start a 4 game set against the M's with a victory (against King Felix!) in Seattle (I've always loved the late west coast starts even as a kid), here I am still hacking away at the past. When I'm done, if I'm ever done, you should be able to hold your own with ANY Rangers fan (not named Tom Grieve) out there (haha).

Mr. Ranger


Lets just jump right into this one. Let me paint a picture for you, Ranger fans. The year is 2005. The Buck Showalter* led Texas Rangers had just finished third in the AL West with a mediocre record of  79-83.





*side note: Showalter's claim to fame was anytime he was fired, the team immediately won the World Series the year after. The move to hire him was worth it for this, if nothing else. Haha. It obviously did not come to pass.


Anyway, so players like Phil Nevin, Esteban German, Jason Botts, Mark DeRosa, and Kameron Loe (who got rocked by the AAAstros as a member of the M's this week by the way) were hard at work underwhelming us. Fast forward to October 4th of the same year and John Hart (G.M.) suddenly steps down after agreeing to a contract extension just a year prior. If you remember his tenure (2001-2004) it was nothing to rave about. If you don't remember, the Rangers went 311-337 and never made the playoffs over that stretch. To put that in perspective the current Rangers are an impressive 449-367 since 2008 .

 

The Texas Rangers replaced him with Jon Daniels at the tender age of 28 making him the youngest GM in baseball history. If you're wondering who Jon Daniels is or what he looks like...trust me, you know him.







Now, I won't sit here and tell you that we here at 162+ are G.M. material (though our amateur attempts might tell you otherwise haha) or that we'd even know where to begin, but the cupboard here was by no means bare. JD had some pieces to maneuver/work with; to shape/mold into a winner. We're talking about a roster in 2005 that had Mark Teixeira, Michael Young, Adrian Gonzalez, Alfonso Soriano, R.A. Dickey, C.J. Wilson (I kid haha). Not to mention serviceable players such as Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench (Shrek), and David Delucci. What WAS clear to EVERYONE was that this wasn't a "team".


Yea! Rep that Texas, Sori. Haha..

With nowhere to go but up J.D. made many, many, MANY trades and acquisitions via free agency. Some great. Some downright perplexing. Solid moves and averages moves. Some that I've already described in previous posts (Gagne' for Murphy, The Cliff Lee trade, Millwood for Ray for Molina) So, lets examine beginning with...



THE UGLY



He traded away Micheal Young. I'll just start there out of loyalty/principle (haha)



: (



Chris Young, outfielder Sledge and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the San Diego Padres for pitchers Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka, and catcher Billy Killian.


Where to begin. Chris Young went on to fame with the Padres and while he didn't necessarily set the world on fire, that's a guy the Rangers could have definitely used in the years that followed. He's posted a career 3.79 ERA as of today. A-Gon is an elite 1st baseman, 4-time All Star, and 2-time gold glover and current filthy rich member of the Dodgers.
What might have been...


Adam Eaton was a joke. I have no other way to describe him. I remember his first start as a Ranger like it was yesterday. It was at home against the Yankees. He had the Yankees hitless through 3 innings. He never made it through the next inning and his tenure as a Ranger more or less was over in my mind (haha). He pitched a measly 65 innings that year going 7-4 posting a 5.12 ERA in his ONLY year as a Ranger. Aki Otsuka filled a role as closer, I suppose. I seem to remember him taking cues from his 'mentor' Trevor Hoffman and entering games to "Hells Bells" by AC/DC. That's about all I care to remember there. He easily fits in the joke category as well.


YOSHA!!! Many props if you remember what that means.


THE BAD


The Rangers acquired Brandon McCarthy in exchange for John Danks.**


B-Mac was another joke of a pitcher for the Rangers, living on the DL while only pitching 100 innings once and never posting an ERA under 4 in his 3 years with the organization. He finally left for greener (no pun intended) pastures and semi-blossomed with the rival A's to some extent in 2012. Danks went on to be a great, reliable pitcher for the White Sox organization (though missing most of 2012). Yet another arm that the Rangers could have used in the years that followed.



THE GOOD



Edison Volquez ** to the Reds for Outfielder Josh Hamilton

Jesus and his Disciples.


We'll leave it at that with no further explanation.



Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero, and Laynce Nix.



Carlos Lee did next to nothing for the Rangers in his less than half a season. He would go on to sign (what I believe was?) the richest contract in Astros history. HOWEVER, one of the compensatory picks the Rangers received from his departure became Blake Beavan (a key piece in the much celebrated Cliff Lee trade of 2010...he also got rocked by the AAAstros this week, by the way haha). What really made this trade a success was the rise of Nelly Cruz despite the current stigma surrounding him.



You're not seeing things. This clown actually WAS a Ranger.


Alfonso Soriano to the Washington Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge, and Armando Galarraga


While this looks bad on the surface, Soriano leaving freed up a spot for a nice little player you might know...





I'm sorry that I even know the name Brad Wilkerson. Armando Galarraga can hardly be considered a Ranger and is more famous for his Perfect Game that never was...






THE GREAT


One of the centerpieces and maybe the absolute centerpiece of the current Rangers rise to prominence AND actual purpose for this post...


I like to call it the "Great Train Robbery". If you're a Cowboys fan it reminds you of this (even though it hasn't nearly paid the same dividends...yet)






Mark Teixeira and relief pitcher Ron Mahay for catching prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia and minor leaguers Matt Harrison, Elvis Andrus, and Neftali Feliz. 


Wow. Well injuries forced Matty into the rotation in 2008 where he went on to flourish. He added an All Start campaign in 2012. While being paid like an 'Ace' (5 years 55 million) he got the nod as 2013 Opening Night starter a mere 13 days ago. After 2 starts he has since has gone on the DL as a precautionary measure. He's still a crucial piece of this Rangers rotation. 






Elvis. What can you say about Elvis that isn't said for him constantly. Elite shortstop. 100 million dollar man.






Neftali Feliz. Do you remember the Rangers storming out of the gates in 2010 against the Blue Jays and Mariners only to have Frankie Francisco blow 2 saves in 5 games!? Enter Feliz. The rest is history. All Star. Rookie Record for saves (40). Rookie of the year. I guess we'll always second guess whether Wash should have sent him out for the bottom of the 10th in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. Even though Feliz was always envisioned as a starter for us I feel like that experiment went awry. When he returns from the DL in 2013 I'm sure it'll be in a reliever role. Whether or not that should be the case going forward is up for debate.



I'll always find an excuse to post any version of this pic. Haha...

Salty never quite panned out and was traded away in mid-2010. He was responsible for the walk off win on opening day of that same year if my memory serves me correctly. That's something, right? Haha...Tex meanwhile bounced from the Bravos to the Halos before finally winning a ring with the Yankees (yawn). To say the Rangers got the better of this deal from the Braves is an understatement.



Here are some notable Free Agent hits and misses for JD. I'll let you sort (haha)...


Kevin Millwood
Sammy Sosa
Andruw Jones
Kenny Lofton
Milton Bradley
Vicente Padilla
Vladimir Guererro
Mike Napoli
Yu Darvish
Joe Nathan
Eric Gagne'
Adrian Beltre



** side side note: Edinson Volquez, John Danks along with Thomas Diamond were the vaunted "DVD" trio of Rangers pitching prospects. If you remember back that far, these guys were supposed to be the saviors of the franchise in those days.


So what is that you've learned from this exposition, Rangers fans? Well, what I really HAVEN'T illustrated is JD's willingness to spend money. We were very much in the mix for Greinke and Prince Fielder over the winter. The Rangers' name comes up in just about EVERY big move you can name. When Giancarlo Stanton's name comes up they'll be involved. When David Price's name comes up they'll be involved. Other teams see names like Martin Perez, Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, and they're willing to listen. Why is that? For better or for worse everything Jon Daniels has done has brought us here. You can't discount what Ron Washington has done either. He deserves his own post much like the real 'Big Tex' does.

Speaking of, now that the Nolan Ryan situation has seemingly worked itself out we can now get back to focusing on the product on the field. Something that's not lost on Nolan Ryan I'm sure, nor Ron Washington, nor the fans. Certainly not Jon Daniels...



"Everything we are facing is a competition. How are you going to help us win today?"

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