HOUSTON -- Never underestimate Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and his front-office crew.
The past 19 days reminded us yet again. More times than not, Daniels, Thad Levine & Co. get it done, and that's all you can ask of the men in charge of making the big decisions.
The lineup needed a right-handed bat -- the Rangers have needed one all season, not just since Nelson Cruz was suspended Monday. But Daniels didn't panic and overpay for a bat before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Even with the offense experiencing a resurgence and running the bases like the 1980s St. Louis Cardinals, Daniels slyly waited until after the deadline, put in a waiver claim on outfielder Alex Rios and waited until the final minutes to find out how badly the White Sox wanted to shed the $12 million remaining on this year's contract and the $13 million for the 2014 season.
Bad enough to take Triple-A Round Rock shortstop Leury Garcia when the original asking price was Jurickson Profar or a package of pitchers Martin Perez and Luke Jackson. A trade that wasn't supposed to happen came down minutes before the White Sox had to decide whether to keep Rios or let him go.
The final tally for a top-of-the-rotation pitcher and a right fielder who can hit for power and steal bases?
That's some pretty good wheeling and dealing right there.
Manager Ron Washington, who had hinted for weeks that he'd like another bat, couldn't hide his giddiness over the addition of Rios to go with Garza.
"They've done an excellent job," Washington said of the Rangers' front office. "We felt like we needed some pieces. We needed a pitcher; he went and got us a pitcher. Of course we're playing pretty good and we lost Cruz. We certainly discussed around the trade deadline that we would like to have another bat. What he does is goes out and gets us another bat and a player that can play. Not only a bat, but this guy is complete. He can do everything. We just added to the organization."
Daniels talked at a news conference on the day of the non-waiver trade deadline -- when he didn't acquire a bat -- about how shallow the pool was for veteran hitters. He noted that, aside from a backup catcher, an impact hitter didn't move July 31.
All the while keeping a close eye on Rios, scouting him earlier this week and then getting it down to where it was just the Rangers who were able to negotiate a deal with the White Sox.
A master stroke.
"We’ve said it a million times," Daniels said. "Whether it’s the offseason, the trade deadline, August, there really are no deadlines in this game. There are, but you’re trying to get better 365 [days per year].
"It just so happens that last month and here again in August there are opportunities that presented itself. Because of the work [of] everybody in the organization and ownership supporting us, we were able to get it done."
Don't forget the team on the field putting together a 9-1 stretch to get back into first place in the American League West. That alone probably increased Daniels' determination to get a deal done.
"Now it's up to us to finish this off," Washington said. "[Jon] certainly did his part."
Are the Rangers good enough to win the division, the pennant and everything else that's out there?
"We always thought we had as good a shot as anyone in the AL," Washington said. "We just improved our club. We've got to play. I'm not going to sit here and say this put us over the hump. We've got to play."
In 2010, Daniels traded for Cliff Lee and outfoxed the New York Yankees for the best pitcher on the market. It gave Washington the key extra piece that pushed the Rangers to their first World Series appearance.
Daniels struck again Friday. No one should be surprised.