What If?

By now everyone is well versed in the comments Ian Kinsler made blasting the Texas Rangers and Jon Daniels. I have no intentions of giving my opinions about Kinsler because that horse has been beaten already. My thought process around this entire saga (soap opera) from the very beginning when I heard the comment has been, “What if Kinsler is right?” What if what he said is 100% spot on and the beginning of the descent back into baseball mediocrity is nigh for this organization?
His perspective is that of the athlete who is actually playing the game on the field and not behind a computer or from a desk, so maybe completely dismissing his comments is as ignorant as him choosing to take his bitterness to the media in the first place. At the end of the day isn’t the player’s attitude and morale the bottom line and all that really matters when it comes to the success a franchise does or does not have? If they aren’t happy and do not want to be here, is success even possible? If writers, bloggers, and other GM’s think that the Rangers are a great organization, but the players don’t want to be in this current environment isn’t it all for naught? These questions are what I kept thinking about the more I heard the Kinsler comments and heard the immediate dismissive tone (and rightfully so maybe) from Rangers fans.

What if Jon Daniels has gotten caught up in smelling his own stuff and has lost

his “edge” or “touch”? Even worse than that is if the players do really hate his guts for various reasons and Washington isn’t able to keep the fence up between his dugout and the front office. It’s a fun bit to pretend that Jon Daniels is a ninja or has Jedi-like abilities, but the reality for all general managers is that the shelf life for success is usually very inconsistent and often fleeting. Another fun twitter exercise is to bag on Nolan for his age, his old-school mentality and his overall disdain for anything metric related, but what if his presence WAS that valuable to the players as Kinsler alluded to? If Nolan in fact was the glue that kept the bridge between the front office, Washington, and the players’ together things could unravel quickly in 2014 and beyond. Nolan choosing to go back to Houston and join an organization that embraces advanced metrics and that new paradigm in baseball management more than most orgs out there may speak more to the personality issues rather than the baseball philosophy differences here in Arlington. What if Jon Daniels has become so incorrigible that he has become blinded by his own ego and desire to prove Nolan and other doubters wrong that rash decisions are quickly approaching? Acting on ego and emotion is typically not a good policy.

Another main theme of the comments was the ego of the team and their lack of intensity and focus since their World Series runs in 2010 and 2011. I think it’s fair to admit that the team hasn’t played with the same swagger and style as they did when they took baseball by surprise in 2010 with a scrappy and aggressive

style. Not that this team has become a group of Roger Dorn’s worrying about their contracts and putting themselves in front of the team, but I believe there has been a subtle difference in their style of play. Could the ego problem be a real issue? Egos and pro athletes are as commonplace as 100-degree August days in Texas and the great managers all have the ability to manage those egos better than the others and shield them from front office distractions during a long season. I’m not worried about this because I believe Ron Washington’s greatest asset as a manager (besides his willingness to bunt early in games), is his relationship with players and clubhouse management.

Let’s just hope that the glue that keeps this franchise rolling is Ron Washington and was not the beloved fireballer now calling Houston his home.

Jeff Johnson

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