Durrett: Don't bet against Daniels and staff

Can't you just picture Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels at the featured table at a World Series of Poker event? He'd have his sunglasses on and would seem relaxed, even crack a joke or two -- though none involving something about being one strike away twice. Sitting in front of him would be a big stack of chips and he'd be the guy always willing to at least see the blind before considering folding even with a hand that might appear lackluster (Texas will talk to any agent, discuss any player and poke around on any deal it thinks could lead to something that makes the club better).

But good luck getting any kind of read on the cards he's holding.

The Rangers won a baseball pot of sorts Monday, paying handsomely -- sources said it was around the $51.7 million total that was first reported by Yahoo! Sports -- for the right to negotiate with Japanese star pitcher Yu Darvish for the next 30 days. Whether they "won," won't fully be determined until we see if Darvish lives up to all the hype. Ask the Boston Red Sox.

But Monday illustrates what we've discovered the last two offseasons: That the Rangers have the cash to compete in the free-agent market. No longer is Daniels simply playing Texas Hold'em with prospects as chips.

He's got the green stuff, too.

And if the last four seasons are any indication, Daniels and his staff have a tendency to win most of the bets they place.

Daniels played the process like a poker pro. He stayed quiet and the club downplayed its interest. They talked about focusing on retaining their core players and how that was going to be the bulk of their escalating payroll. They barely mentioned Darvish by name. Then they shoved all the chips to the middle of the table to get him. Well, many of them anyway.

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