Jon Daniels' time to fix the Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Monday morning, Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and his staff will get to work on fixing this franchise.

A manager, starting pitching, corner outfielder with power, re-signing Colby Lewis and finding a No. 5 hitter will be on the agenda.

You can't solve these issues quickly, but for the next four months, Daniels has to.

"There are high expectations as we go into the offseason," Daniels said following the Rangers season, which ended Sunday afternoon with a 4-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics. "We expect to win every year, and we've created that expectation, created that atmosphere and created that culture."

The media-shy Rangers co-owners were nowhere to be found to discuss a 95-loss season and whether they believe in what the baseball people are doing.

This week, co-owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson declined to speak about the state of the Rangers, so Sunday afternoon Daniels was left to explain the plans for 2015.

He will interview three internal candidates, interim manager Tim Bogar, Mike Maddux and Steve Buechele, to replace Ron Washington, maybe this week. Daniels said Buechele, the Triple-A manager, had a phone interview with the Houston Astros.

Maddux, the pitching coach, whose contract ends at the end of October, said he wants to stay with the Rangers but is open to speaking with other clubs about managerial openings. Arizona, Houston and Texas have available jobs.

Finally, there's Bogar who took over for Washington and went 14-8. He's the favorite to win the job full time, and many players praised his communication skills.

Daniels noted his in-game management and work with young players as positives going forward. There could be three to four more external candidates visiting with Daniels and his baseball staff in the next few weeks.

Daniels wants a manager hired by Oct. 20, though he can't announce the hire during the World Series, given the rules against those sorts of things.

Yet, the quicker the decision is made, the better for Daniels.

"We got some tough calls to make," Daniels said. "Usually, when you're talking about cleaning up the roster, it's obvious there are a handful of guys that are easy guys to take off and that gets you down below to where you need to get to. I don't think we really have it that way this year."

It’s no easy fix.

The AL West is better, and, yes, Oakland struggled in the second half, but hey, they're playing in October and the Rangers are not. The Los Angeles Angels won the division, and Seattle was in the race until the final day. Houston's manager, Bo Porter, was fired, and, despite 90-plus losses, there is talent on this team.

Is there talent on the Rangers?


Daniels wants to improve it.

He said starting pitching is the No. 1 priority this winter, but he won't go after top-tier free agents such as Jon Lester, however. "I like a lot of them, at least the guys on the list. I don't expect to play at the top end of free agency this year."

It's going to be a busy offseason for the Rangers, starting with finding a manager and making sure some of the big moves of 2013, Shin-Soo Choo (free agency) and Prince Fielder (trade), return healthy and produce.

"We need it to be a major uptick," Daniels said. "We made a big commitment, and I expect those guys to be healthy and I expect them to be productive."

Guarantees are lacking in this business, but Daniels is confident he can fix it. He's got ownership's support, which is good. Now, he just has to do it.