SDI Remastered: The Smartest Guy In The Room
Jon Daniels, the General Manager of the Texas Rangers, IS the smartest guy in any room of baseball minds. You need proof? Here you go.
When “JD” took over in October of 2005, the Texas Rangers had a team that could not compete, were strapped for payroll, and had a depleted minor league system. He quickly traded a few veteran players such as Alfonso Soriano for younger players, but more importantly, he freed up roster spots on the 40 man roster for younger, talented players such as Ian Kinsler. JD then traded for Nelson Cruz, while clearing up more salary in the same move. He then fleeced the Atlanta Braves for Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Elvis Andrus, for Mark Texeira and Ron Mahay. He traded for Josh Hamilton, who we all know became the 2010 AL MVP. Mr. Daniels had taken a team in disarray and started to mold it into a competitive team, without the luxury of an owner willing to spend money correctly. Along the way, he also bolstered a minor league system that has become the envy of most of Major League Baseball.
Flash forward to 2011. Fresh off of a World Series appearance, new ownership and a renewed fan interest, the Rangers still had questions in the offseason at catcher, in the bullpen, and what to do with Michael Young. This is where the genius of JD comes in. He traded for Mike Napoli, who had fallen out of favor in Anaheim, to shore up catcher and DH, and he DIDN’T trade Michael Young. He signed Adrian Beltre, avoided salary arbitration with every eligible player (which is a nasty business), and signed Yorvit Torrealba.
After the bullpen started to meltdown, JD then went to work again. Not only getting Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez from Baltimore, JD went after another reliever. It was reported far and wide that the Rangers’ target was San Diego closer Heath Bell. However, JD fooled everybody and traded for Mike Adams, who has become a trusted 7th and 8th inning set-up man.
So, Ranger fans, the team on the field is the vision and execution of one Jon Daniels, and his staff. The bullpen, which struggled for the first half of the year, is now the group who shutdown the Tigers for 8 1/3 innings in Game 2 of the 2011 ALCS. Mike Napoli has become a fan favorite and has his name chanted during his at-bats at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Adrian Beltre, hit 3 home runs in the clinching game in the ALDS. Michael Young is considered the MVP of the team. The starting staff is relatively young, talented and according to the national media, they all have “filthy” stuff. The bullpen has gone from question mark, to strength. Nelson Cruz made history last night. And on and on and on and on.
All of these moves come down to one guy……the smartest guy in the room.