ARLINGTON, Texas – While Nolan Ryan contemplates what he wants to do now, the Rangers don’t have to contemplate who’s in charge of the baseball decisions in Arlington. That’s GM Jon Daniels. Period.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The reality is that the club benefited greatly from the various opinions and backgrounds of the decision-makers on the baseball side. Ryan, with his years as a Hall of Fame pitcher, had his philosophies, and Daniels and his crew had theirs. That combination resulted in disagreements, to be sure. That’s to be expected. But it also provided a more complete picture for all parties involved, forcing both sides to make impassioned and reasoned cases before a decision was made.
However, there comes a time when one person has to make a call. For years, that was Ryan. But after titles were altered last offseason, that became a lot more murky. "President of baseball operations" was added to Daniels' business card, leaving Ryan uncertain of his role.
Then all this talk of “camps” started coming out, with some in the “Ryan camp” and others in the “Daniels camp.” It made it seem like two vastly different factions trying to get along on a wilderness adventure. I don’t think that imagery was entirely accurate, either.
But it doesn’t matter now. You can forget the “camps.” They don’t exist anymore.
When former owner Tom Hicks took a chance on Daniels – and it was a risk in that Daniels was 28 years old and had never run a team – he wanted someone who was creative and willing to do what it took to get the team to the next level. Daniels did that.
He and his staff were the architects who engineered a turnaround that resulted in two consecutive World Series appearances and a team that’s become an annual contender. The Mark Teixeira trade. The acquisition of Josh Hamilton. The signing of Yu Darvish. Those were huge moves that put the club on an upward trajectory.
Daniels and his staff have made mistakes, too. Last offseason is an example. They lost out on some big fish, and the decision to pay Lance Berkman $11 million didn’t pay off.
But that group has a lot more doubles, triples and homers than strikeouts.
Don’t misunderstand. Ryan deserves credit for the successes, too. But the club is still in some of the big hands that helped guide it from the lean years to the best period in franchise history. Ryan’s departure means Daniels moves even more into the pressure cooker. He becomes more of a public face for the franchise. He’ll likely have to answer more questions and come under greater scrutiny. That’s part of the job.
It’s a job that he’ll now have to do without Ryan in the office down the hall.