Right now, many will argue that the Texas Rangers are the more complete squad of the two World Series combatants. They’re probably right. The Rangers have a serviceable starting rotation, a dynamic lineup, and a lights out bullpen. The hero of this postseason, Nelson Cruz, hits seventh for Texas. In other words, its talent runs deep. And, with a group like that, it should come as little surprise that the Rangers are making their second World Series appearance in a row.
However, for most of organization’s history, things mostly went like they’ve gone for the Rockies during their existence. Like the Rockies, the Rangers have a long history of fielding mediocre teams, failing to adequately draft and develop players, and disgracing the art of pitching. For a long, long time, Texas was viewed as a franchise that would never produce a winner. Just a little over a year ago, Texas couldn’t even meet payroll and was mired in bankruptcy. Now, just a short time later, it appears as though the Rangers are on the verge of becoming baseball’s next dynasty, a franchise awash in cash and talent at the major league level and throughout the minors. They are the most effectively run franchise in baseball and the Rockies would be wise to take note of what they’ve done.
First and foremost, the credit for the Rangers’ turnaround must first be given to their GM, Jon Daniels. When Daniels first arrived in Texas he ruffled more than a few feathers with the curious trade of Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young for Adam Eaton. However, since that bad deal, Daniels has done a masterful job of building a winner. He pretty much robbed the Braves of five big league caliber players when he gave them Mark Teixeira for basically one season. Three of the players acquired in the Teixeira deal are difference makers for this current Rangers’ squad. He also dealt for baseball’s modern day version of The Natural, Josh Hamilton. And, over the last couple of years, no GM has done a better job than Daniels of improving their team at the trade deadline. Last year, he outfoxed the Yankees to pick up Cliff Lee, who carried them to the World Series. This year, he went out and grabbed Mike Adams, Mike Gonzalez and Koji Uehara to sure up their bullpen, which has been huge for them so far this postseason. More importantly, Daniels was able to fix his team both years without having to give up any of the organization’s top prospects.
While Daniels has been outstanding, the Rangers do more than just make good decisions. Daniels surrounds himself with outstanding baseball minds like assistant GM Thad Levine. If that name sounds familiar, it should. Levine was the Rockies’ assistant GM until 2005 when he left for the Rangers. In fact, Daniels also got his start with the Rockies. Perhaps it’s time they bring Levine back and give him Dan O’Dowd’s job.
There is also the man running the show, Nolan Ryan. Everyone is aware of Nolan’s baseball career, but not so many are aware of what a tremendous business man the K Express has become. Let’s just say that Nolan has done a good job of taking care of his money. His unique skill set makes him the perfect man to head up the organization. He’s a baseball man with an understanding of how to run a business. He can influence change on how the organization handles its pitchers and how it manages its checkbook. And, if there is any question about how effectively he can run an organization, just ask Astros’ fans how their team has fared since the old fireballer left.
The Rangers also have an abundance of wealth. Nolan Ryan is the figurehead of the organization, but the best kept secret about the Rangers is Ryan’s other partners, Ray Davis and Bob Simpson. Davis and Simpson prefer to remain under the radar, but they have some very deep pockets. These two guys are the reason why the Rangers’ current ownership group was able to outbid Mark Cuban for the team. They are also the reason why the team was able to steal Adrian Beltre this offseason and were major players in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. On top of that, DFW is one of the largest markets in the country and the Rangers just signed a very lucrative TV contract. Their resources may not quite be what the Red Sox and Yankees have, but they’re close. Combine that with an excellent scouting department and a stacked farm system and you have the recipe for baseball’s next dynasty. Of course, Albert Pujols might have something to say about that.