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Friday, October 11
Updated: October 12, 3:43 AM ET
Showalter accepts four-year deal with Texas news services

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Buck Showalter, a candidate for several current managerial openings, didn't take the perfect job.

Buck Showalter is a fine manager, but he's not a miracle worker, and it will probably take a miracle for the Rangers to contend for anything more than third place next season.

Yes, the Rangers are going to score a lot of runs in 2003. They scored 843 runs in 2002, fifth-best in the American League, and next season they'll add phenom Mark Teixeira to the lineup.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that the Rangers finished 12th in the American League with a 5.15 ERA. The worse news is that the Rangers' two best starters in 2002 were Kenny Rogers (13-8, 3.84) and Ismael Valdes (6-9, 3.93), and neither of them are under contract for 2003. Valdes was traded to Seattle during the season, and Rogers will become a free agent in a few weeks. If Rogers doesn't come back, Showalter's best returning starters will be Doug Davis (3-5, 4.98), Joaquin Benoit (4-5, 5.31) and Chan Ho Park (9-8, 5.75).

For the Rangers to contend for first or second place, two things have to happen: Rogers has to return, and Buck Showalter has to figure out why Chan Ho Park couldn't get anybody out last year.

And the Texas Rangers, coming off their third straight last-place finish, never tried to sell it as that. They just went after their No. 1 choice.

"We talked about here's our bumps, our warts, our plusses and where the holes are,'' Rangers general manager John Hart said. "We made it very clear that he was the guy we wanted. With the uncertainty of what might happen that somebody was going to strike, it was incumbent on us to move.''

The Rangers gave Showalter, the former Yankees and Diamondbacks manager, a four-year contract Friday.

In seven seasons as a major league manager, Showalter has a 562-505 record. He was with the New York Yankees from 1992-95 and was Arizona's first manager from 1998-2000. Each team won the World Series the year after he left.

"Once you've been tried and tested, there's a great confidence you get from being able to handle the heat,'' Showalter said. "There are lot of things very good right here.''

Showalter also spoke with the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets about their managerial openings this month. The Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Devil Rays had expressed interest in him as well.

Texas and the Detroit Tigers, who hired former shortstop Alan Trammel this week, are the only teams that have hired new managers since the end of the regular season.

Rangers owner Tom Hicks and Hart considered Showalter their top candidate from the outset of their search which started when Jerry Narron was fired two days after the season. That feeling was confirmed when they met earlier this week.

"There was the feeling of a certain comfort zone, with where they were headed and the leadership,'' Showalter said. "I was hoping it would be somebody that I would want as much as they wanted me.''

Since being fired by the Diamondbacks in 2000, the 46-year-old Showalter has worked as an ESPN analyst.

Texas fired Narron on Oct. 1, two days after the Rangers finished a 72-90 season, 31 games behind AL West champion Oakland. Narron was 134-162 after replacing Johnny Oates in May 2001.

Showalter's Previous Jobs
Yankees (1992-96)
Record: 312-269 (four seasons)
Finishes: 76-86 (4th in AL East) in 1992; 88-74 (2nd in AL East) in 1993; 70-43 (1st in AL East) in 1994; 79-65 (2nd in AL East; wild card) in 1995.
Noteworthy: Showalter spent 19 seasons in the Yankee organization, as a player, coach, minor league manager and finally, for four seasons, the major league manager. When he got the Yankees job at age 35 on Oct. 29, 1991, he was the youngest manager since 1914 in team history. Showalter was the 1994 Manager of the Year, but was fired a year later after his team blew a 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series against Seattle.

Diamondbacks (1998-2000)
Record: 250-236 (three seasons)
Finishes: 65-97 (4th in NL West) in 1998; 100-62 (1st in NL West) in 1999; 85-77 (3rd in NL West) in 2000
Noteworthy: Showalter won a division championship in his second season with the Diamondbacks, leading the single-biggest turnaround in MLB history, but was fired a year later. Showalter joined the D-Backs on Nov. 15, 1995 -- 28 months before their first game. He spent two years scouting major and minor league players and preparing for the expansion draft.

Showalter will be the Rangers' 16th manager, taking over a club that struggled all season -- even with All-Star shortstop Alex Rodriguez, who hit .300 and led the majors with 57 homers and 142 RBIs, and an opening-day payroll of $105 million, the third-highest in baseball.

Plagued by injuries, the Rangers used 51 players, including a club-record 27 pitchers. Texas lost 13 of its last 16 games.

"It's exciting to have someone with a proven track record,'' said closer Jeff Zimmerman, who missed all of 2002 with an elbow injury. "Buck demands excellence. He will be good for our rebuilding phase.''

While Narron took a more laid-back approach with his players, Showalter is known as a disciplinarian and one who can develop young players and motivate veterans.

"That's a unique path we think we're on, and the path we think we need to be on,'' Hicks said.

With Hicks wanting a reduction in payroll, Showalter will have to balance a club with veterans like Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez and Rodriguez in the lineup with several young players.

"He is a very disciplined guy. That is something we really need,'' Palmeiro said. "We lacked that a little bit last year. I think we are going to get much better.''

After the Diamondbacks went 65-97 their inaugural season, they went 100-62 and won the NL West in 1999 in what was the biggest turnaround in major league history. Arizona went 85-77 and finished third in the division the next season before Showalter was fired.

Before that, Showalter spent 19 seasons in the Yankees organization as a player and coach. He was just 35 when he became New York's manager and went 312-269 with one playoff appearances in his four seasons. He was the AL manager of the year in 1994, when the Yankees finished first in the AL East in a strike-shortened season.

Narron became the manager when Oates resigned following the team's 11-17 start last year.

Hicks and Hart also spoke with Trey Hillman, the team's director of player personnel, about the job. But Hillman has a two-year deal to manage the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan's Pacific League.

Bench coach Terry Francona, first-base coach DeMarlo Hall and former Detroit and Colorado manager Buddy Bell, a former Rangers player, were interviewed by phone.

Also Friday, the Rangers hired Jamie Reed as their medical director and head trainer, replacing Danny Wheat, who was fired the same day as Narron. Reed was the head trainer in Tampa Bay for its first four seasons.

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