The fourth-quarter meetings of major league club owners that ended Thursday will be remembered as the beginning of expanded replay and, in theory, the end of most umpiring issues.
But before the heavy lifting was done in a meeting that included team general managers and presidents, the Nolan Ryan Era officially came to an end when co-majority owner Ray Davis was unanimously approved as the control person of the Texas Rangers.
Ryan, who resigned Oct. 31, wasn’t on hand to pass the torch, but Davis essentially said that there is nothing to pass along.
The Rangers will continue to operate as they have the past eight months since the ownership group headed by Davis and Bob Simpson reorganized the front-office hierarchy, though without CEO Ryan as the liaison between baseball operations and the money men.
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General manager Jon Daniels and Rob Matwick, who will be taking over the business side, will report directly to ownership when needed. In theory, that means whenever Daniels is burning up the phone lines this off-season.
“I want to thank the commissioner and the owners for their confidence in me, and I also want to thank Nolan for being our control person the past three years,” Davis said. “We’re excited to go forward with Jon and his baseball team and Rob Matwick on the business side.
“We have a lot of work to do between now and Opening Day, but we’re going to work hard at it. We’re excited.”
Commissioner Bud Selig, who became an unabashed supporter of Ryan during the Rangers’ ride through bankruptcy court and eventual sale to a group backed by Davis and Simpson, announced that Davis had been approved by the owners.
It was procedural move, nowhere near the level of approving a new owner, and Selig treated it as such, while also again praising Ryan.
“I love Nolan, and Nolan is great for baseball and I have enormous respect for him,” Selig said. “Nolan resigned, and Ray Davis has taken over. He’s certainly in a position where he should take over. I don’t have any problems with that at all.”
It was apparent that Davis, who ranks No. 296 on the Forbes list of America’s richest people with an estimated net worth of $1.9 billion, didn’t want to say anything to the media. He met with only two media outlets, one national and one local.
Daniels described Davis as “understated,” but, along with Simpson, committed to turning the Rangers into world champions and sustaining that level over the long haul.
“Hopefully we’ll win the World Series,” Davis said.
The Rangers didn’t make much progress toward that during the GM meetings, which ended Wednesday, but they think they have a better idea of the direction they will take the rest of the off-season.
The reported price tags for the key free agents, who in virtually every case come with the penalty of losing a first-round draft pick to sign them, are inflated. The trade market for a middle infielder has been slow, in part because the top free agent is a second baseman, Robinson Cano.
Things should begin to gain steam leading up to the annual winter meetings Dec. 9-12 down the street at Walt Disney World.
“It’s always beyond what you want to spend at the beginning. It’s just whether it ends up there,” Daniels said. “I think we’ve got a little bit better of an idea about what’s realistic and clubs’ priorities and things of that nature. We don’t have any announcements forthcoming.”
They will, eventually, and the process to get there hasn’t changed just because Davis is the club’s new control person.
“It shouldn’t change much,” Daniels said. “It’s the same decision-making process. Obviously, major decisions we’ll make as an organization and up through ownership.”