Jon Daniels is a GM, not a “sleazeball”

Posted Wednesday, Mar. 05, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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engel That Ian Kinsler projects the image of a diva-brat is not the surprise; the stunner is that he called his former GM a “sleazeball,” and then bravely assumed we would all be stupid enough to believe his comments were “a little out of context.”

Do tell: What is the proper context in which to call Jon Daniels a sleazeball? Is sleazeball a new, hip way to pay a compliment?

“If you have an opinion, just own it,” Daniels said.

I like Ian, mostly because he was candid to a fault. It’s OK to dislike the GM who traded you. Poor choice of words, but neither you nor your former GM is vying for Mr. Congeniality.

In the words of the great Adele Azeem, Let it Go; let the $57 million guaranteed remaining on the contract the GM you call a sleaze gave you comfort you in this your time of need.

Kinsler is a product of an entitled system of American youth baseball. It pampers players from the first time their mom and dad’s check clears and pays their way to traveling All-Star teams and Little League seasons that often last longer than the majors. Failure is not an option because they already paid in full.

Daniels is ruthlessly pragmatic, and feelings aren’t always a priority. These qualities may not endear him to the Josh Hamiltons and Ian Kinslers of the world, or their agents, but they are not bad characteristics for a GM.

Kinsler got his feelings hurt; Daniels did his job.

Whether dealing Kinsler to Detroit for Prince Fielder was the right move — call me highly skeptical of acquiring a contract with seven years remaining — is not the issue.

The issue is whether Jon Daniels is a sleazeball.

In my best Mike Wallace, I asked JD, “Are you a sleazeball?”

“I’ve gotten that question a few times — my friends had a good time with it,” he said. “And some people who probably aren’t saying it to my face. It is what it is.”

Baseball is loaded with sleazeballs, and JD might be politically savvy, but he’s not some sleaze. He’s a baseball GM, and sometimes feelings get hurt because his role is as management.

One day after the former Rangers second baseman’s comments to ESPN The Magazine created a dust storm here in the suburban desert, the Rangers GM appeared none too bothered. A little annoyed. Of course, his outward emotions have the range of a stop sign.

He said he left Kinsler a message, but he doesn’t expect to hear from him.

The grace period he had in succeeding John Hart as this team’s GM, and the fawning created by a pair of consecutive World Series appearances, is not necessarily all gone, but the man has been bloodied. For the first time since he took over nine years ago, the Rangers are his.

With Nolan Ryan gone, it all falls on JD now.

“I don’t think of it that way,” he said. “The results are the judge and jury.”

Law of averages say these things are going to happen to a general manger who is in his position long enough. Former Rangers GM Doug Melvin might eventually win the World’s Nicest Man Award, but Juan Gonzalez never forgave him for dealing him to the Tigers in 2000.

JD is not a dumb guy. After nine years on the job, he has evolved, and matured, into this role. The man has made a lot of good deals, and a lot of bad deals. He is good at his job.

Only a few know exactly what JD’s role was in Ryan’s departure, but my gut tells me that he wanted authority in baseball personnel. He wanted his title, and the responsibilities that come with it. That’s what he has now.

Even if you have a Nolan Ryan bird feeder, the No. 34 painted on your house and named your kid The Express, JD deserves a large part of the credit for the overall state of this organization.

After nine years on the job, JD still doesn’t look old enough to shave (he does). After nine years on the job, the reality is the man has done a lot of good. He has the bruises, and pennants, to prove it.

Even Ian Kinsler, when rationality joins his inner monologue, would have to concede as much to this “sleazeball.”

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Mac Engel, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @macengelprof

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