Even this early, even before the All-Star break of July, it’s already a sleazeball of a season for the Texas Rangers.
But speaking of Jon Daniels …
Despite the clear evidence of GM incompetence associated with roster management for the 2014 campaign, we know there will be no hot seat for Daniels.
Jon is the love child of Bob and Ray, two baseball-stupid owners who are as much to blame for this season, and last season, as Daniels himself. Bob and Ray, of course, gave Daniels all the power two years ago.
Jon has since gagged on his own power trip.
But what about those injuries? Been a bunch of them this season, huh?
Ron Washington is certainly excused for this season, based on both the injuries and Daniels’ screwups. Jon owes Ron and Ron’s entire coaching staff an apology for this mess.
But does Daniels get an injury excuse for 2014?
Let us examine five pieces of solid evidence, and then judge on the excuse question.• No. 1. Nellie Cruz.
This was Daniels’ ultimate mistake, and can be ranked as the biggest mistake made by a major league GM for this season.
Cruz, of course, is a prime American League MVP candidate for the Orioles, and works very cheap. His contract is one year, $8 million.
The killer is Nellie wanted to return to Arlington, and play for the same money the O’s offered. Daniels said no. Daniels lowballed his offer down to $6 million.
Cruz had already been humiliated when his quest for a $30 million contract had no takers over the winter. He overplayed the market and lost. But if he had to work cheap, he wanted it to be in Arlington.
Daniels had a lineup that was an obvious bat short going into spring training. Add a Prince for top dollar, add a Choo for top dollar, and another bat was still needed.
What was Jon possibly thinking in blowing off Cruz?
Well, since I read it in the Star-Telegram, it must be true. Daniels didn’t want to give up his first-round draft pick and he wanted to give Mitch Moreland “another chance.”
Daniels’ track record with No. 1 draft picks is a joke over the last decade. He hits on the international market, but so far he totally flunks top picks in the regular amateur draft.
And Mitch? For the “another chance” answer to be true then Daniels has to be suffering from “Chris Davis phobia.” Could Mitch leave here and be another Chris?
What Cruz has done with the Orioles makes Daniels look awful.• No. 2. Those lineup injuries.
You read and hear it regularly from the media excuse-makers:
The Rangers are playing without three key starters.
It’s a laughable attempt to protect and serve Jon.
The Rangers are only missing one key starter. Prince Fielder.
And that absence is a big blow, although Prince, of course, was a flop before he went down.
But in no way should Geo Soto at catcher and Jurickson Profar at second base be considered “key starters.”
In fact, while Soto might be a tad better at handling pitchers due to his major league experience, former minor league journeyman Robinson Chirinos is giving the Rangers more at catcher than could be expected from Soto. Throwing, receiving, hitting, run production, the works, Robbie is better.
Mix in backup Chris Gimenez and the Rangers are much better off at catcher than they would have been with Daniels’ chosen two to start the season, Soto and J.P. Arencibia
At second base, if Profar came back right now he would not start ahead of rookie Rougned Odor, who is simply a better player. Profar is far, far removed from any “key starter” consideration.
Bottom line: The Rangers have had one major lineup injury. Fielder.• No. 3. Daniels’ lineup decisions that backfired.
Jon didn’t want Nellie. So thinking his outfield was cemented, he went with a DH platoon of Moreland and rookie Michael Choice.
(Don’t buy into the reports Cruz demanded to be an outfield starter for the Rangers. It’s not true.)
You know Mitch’s history here, but more revealing is the Daniels decision to keep Choice in the major leagues, particularly based on what Oakland GM Billy Beane said when he traded Choice to the Rangers last season for valuable backup outfielder Craig Gentry.
The divisional opponent you have to beat told us Choice was not advanced enough to be an option this season, but the Rangers make him a platoon starter and the kid now has 200 ABs for the season, showing some power but a batting average far below the Mendoza Line.
Besides catcher and DH, Daniels’ other lineup decision was to force-feed once again Leonys Martin into center field, with the same ongoing results. The talent is there, but the baseball instincts are not.• No. 4. The pitching.
If all had gone perfectly to plan this season, the rotation would now have a fivesome of Yu, Holland, Colby, Harrison and Perez.
Derek Holland and his human-tripping dog wrecked the plan early on. The medical history on Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison was iffy at best. Perez was a maybe if he could improve on his finish in 2013.
It’s valid to criticize Daniels for knowing he was at least a starter short going into spring training due to Holland’s absence, and he did nothing.
But unlike with Nellie Cruz, who was begging to come back to Arlington, acquiring a front-line starter is a tough negotiation.
When Harrison blew out and then Perez blew out, rotation wreckage happened. Daniels’ plan was to fill any rotation gaps from within (Scheppers, Ross, etc.). He once again figured wrong.• No. 5. No excuses accepted for Daniels.
Check the AL West. The A’s lost two key young rotation guys before the season started. And then lost a gamble on their bullpen closer. The Angels have had rotation upheaval, lineup injuries and some bullpen nightmares. The Mariners had rotation injuries early, and they still don’t hit. But, man, the pitching is good.
Then there’s Houston. Wanna bet the improved Astros don’t finish last in the division this time?
The evidence suggests one thing:
Daniels is now challenging Jerry Jones as the worst GM in town. Jon’s power trip has quickly run out of road.