Jon Daniels explains why he fired Jeff Banister as Rangers manager
Jeff Banister became a scapegoat last week for the failures of Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, or at least that’s what was said on Twitter and in angry emails and even in the Star-Telegram.
Daniels has never fared well in approval polls. He and Congress are neck and neck, and Congress didn’t run off Nolan Ryan. Or at least that’s what Daniels has been accused of on Twitter, in angry e-mails and in the Star-Telegram since 2013.
But Daniels’ job is to do what he thinks is best for the Rangers, regardless of the potential public outcry, and changing out the manager became a necessity with Banister’s message missing its mark more and more on a rebuilding team.
If anyone thinks the next three or four weeks will be difficult for Daniels as he sifts through resumes and candidate interviews, it’ll be hard to top the past week when he made the decision to fire Banister after nearly four full seasons as manager.
“It sucked,” Daniels said on Tuesday. “The days leading up to it, it was on my mind and not fun. It was professionally not fun for all the obvious reasons, but more so personally. You have relationships that are real and we spent a ton of time with each other and you care about the guy.
“His family, they relocated here and he’s got a son in high school. They are things that have nothing to do with the business of baseball but had everything to do with real life relationships.”
Daniels said that the Rangers have a list of candidates they would like to interview in the coming days and weeks, though they have not made contact with any of them as they continue with their due diligence.
The list, he admitted, will likely change as they reach out to candidates or as those interested in the position come to them. That is also happening in the early stages of finding a replacement for Banister.
There is no timeline for making the hire. While it’s important, everything is important at this point in their long-range plan. The business aspect of baseball never stops, as the to-do list for an MLB franchise never has only one item on it.
“There’s nothing at a stage where going to talk about specifics publicly,” Daniels said. “We’re trying to be very open-minded and not have any preconceived notions and not eliminate anybody before we give them some consideration.
“We also try to balance it against everything else that’s on our to-do list for this winter. It’s lengthy, not even factoring in the necessary player moves. We can’t mess any of them up. You can’t mess up your farm system or your R&D [research and development]. They’re all equally important.”
The Rangers gave themselves a bit of a head start by ousting Banister with 10 days left in the season, but they had nearly a month’s head start in 2014 when Ron Washington resigned abruptly. It took 18 days to pinpoint eight candidates and interview them before selecting Banister, who was the 2015 American League Manager of the Year in his first season.
He was at the helm when the Rangers won back-to-back AL West titles in 2015 and 2016.
Daniels is working without a blueprint for the 19th full-time manager in franchise history. Interim manager Don Wakamatsu is the only known candidate, and Rangers Hall of Famer Michael Young has said that he isn’t interested in the job despite the Rangers’ interest in him.
“We did nothing before Friday,” Daniels said. “I just don’t think it’s right. It’s not fair. There’s no drop-dead date. We’re going to continue to do everything else we’re going to do this winter. Would I like to have the manager piece lined up before we do any of it? Sure, but we’re not going to put other things on hold.”
So even as the hunt for a new manager tops the Rangers’ agenda, Daniels spent Monday in Arizona at the instructional league and will head to San Diego on Thursday for two instructs games against the Padres at Petco Park.
He will be in Seattle on Friday as the Rangers close out their season this weekend.
The process of finding a new manager will continue Monday on the first day of the off-season.
“We’ll go about our process, we’ll make our decision, and in whatever time frame that requires,” Daniels said.