Of all that general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday, and he said a lot about how deep into the organization the Texas Rangers’ rebuild will be, the biggest takeaway for many came when he declared his approach to free agency this offseason.
This isn’t the offseason, he said, for the Rangers to go “all-in.” Free agents will be added in the hopes of fielding a competitive team in 2019, but that seems to be false hope.
Of all that Daniels said, that should have been the least surprising. After all, the Rangers are rebuilding.
Naturally, a certain segment of the fan base couldn’t handle the news. That segment always wants the Rangers to spend big money, and thinks that Daniels is the biggest idiot Cornell University has ever produced.
So, those fans’ reactions on social media were anywhere from disappointed to apoplectic. Some say they won’t be going back to the ballpark until the Rangers start spending and winning, perhaps afraid to leave all that fair weather in their sports world.
Oh, and Daniels should have been fired when manager Jeff Banister got it, if not sooner.
Back in the real world, here’s what’s happening and has been happening since last offseason, though the Rangers didn’t officially declare this until June, and has been mentioned twice in this story already:
They are rebuilding. Rebuilding. Rebuilding. Rebuilding.
And what’s one of the traits of a rebuilding team? It doesn’t spend lavishly in free agency.
Also, a rebuilding team endures the growing pains of young players who are expected to be core members of future championship teams. The farm system is upgraded, and the prospects aren’t rushed.
Do rebuilds stink? Heck, yes.
Daniels and ownership, the people who allegedly approve his decisions, don’t want to field a losing team, but they are making that sacrifice in the interest of building a long-term winner.
A long-term winner, like, oh, the Rangers from 2009 to 2016. Five playoff appearances, one tiebreaker for the playoffs, and one losing season on the back of good trades, help from the minors and, when the time was right, quality free-agent signings.
For instance, the time was right after the 2010 season for the Rangers to spend $96 million over six seasons for third baseman Adrian Beltre.
The cost of winning is what has the Rangers in their current state. All the people who want the Rangers to spend now also wanted them to trade top prospects for Cliff Lee, Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Yovani Gallardo, Cole Hamels, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran.
Not all of those trades worked out. None of them worked, since the ultimate prize is a World Series title. But just imagine the outcry if Daniels hadn’t gone for it all those winning seasons.
The same people would have howled, just as they are now about the lack of spending.
The good news is that there are Rangers fans who understand what a rebuild entails and are willing to go through it. They remember 2007, when the Rangers traded away their good players as part of a rebuild, and 2010, when the Rangers went to the World Series.
The past three World Series winners went through a rebuild, and it was much more painful than what the Rangers went through this season.
Of course, the Rangers have to hit on the player development, especially starting pitchers, and the position players who are in place to become cornerstones of winning teams must continue to develop.
There are no guarantees the rebuild will produce a World Series. That’s when Daniels’ job could be in jeopardy, because, in theory, the owners will have started spending and expecting 40,000 fans at night at the new Globe Life Field.
In the meantime, the anti-rebuild/anti-Daniels crowd has a choice: Leave their fair weather and enjoy the potential sunshine down the road, or stay at home.
The rebuild is happening with or without them.