We wind up our Surprise positional outlook with the management team.
Today's position: Front office
OK, so it's not really a "position" on the field. But the Rangers' front office is a huge component at spring training.
First, they've assembled parts of the 2012 team. And it's a different one than 2011 in a few ways. The biggest offseason acquisition was Yu Darvish, of course. But the 25-year-old Japanese star isn't the only new face. Joe Nathan is now the team's closer, altering the bullpen.
The Nathan move has caused ripples elsewhere. It allows the Rangers to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation and with the starting depth, Alexi Ogando could end up back in the bullpen if everyone stays healthy. We'll see.
The reason the front office makes this outlook is that it will have a hand in the decisions made at spring training the next six weeks. When Tommy Hunter's groin injury popped up at the end of last spring, the baseball operations staff, along with the coaching staff, went over the options and determined that Ogando would go into the rotation. That was a big decision, and one that isn't simply made by the coaching staff.
Decisions this spring will also be a collaborative effort, influenced by general manager Jon Daniels and his staff. That includes what happens in center field, who wins the final few spots on the roster and how things line up in terms of depth at other areas. We seen the last few springs that deals can be made in February and March, too.
Daniels and his staff are already considered some of the top management folks in the big leagues, thanks to how they built the Rangers from a last-place team into back-to-back AL champions. They've put their faith in Darvish, convincing ownership to put up the $51.7 million posting fee and then pay the pitcher another $60 million for six years. Spring training will be the first taste that they'll get to see how that investment looks.
That investment, of course, doesn't happen without Bob Simpson, Ray Davis and the Rangers board, which has given Daniels the financial backing to make some more moves this offseason.
Spring is also a chance for the management team to see some more of the club's minor league talent. Some of that talent gets to spend part of spring training with the big club. But as you walk the back fields, you'll find scouts and even upper management checking in on some of the younger players throughout the organization.
So don't forget about CEO and president Nolan Ryan, Daniels, assistant GM Thad Levine, A.J. Preller, Tim Purpura, Don Welke, Josh Boyd, Kip Fagg, Jake Krug, Matt Vinnola and a host of other key folks that will help make decisions that will no doubt impact the club's results in 2012.
Even before this spring, the front office was a big part of getting the club into contention. Here's a look at some of the key decisions made that led to this point.