Now that the draft is over, it’s vacation time for the Daniels family.
The gang is all here, with non-baseball adventures ahead once the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox finish up at Fenway Park on Thursday.
In the meantime, though, general manager Jon Daniels is still handling Rangers baseball business, and putting up with the media.
The beat writers cornered him Tuesday in the visiting team’s dugout at Fenway Park before the Rangers looked for a second straight victory behind right-hander Ariel Jurado.
They entered the game five games above .500, and well above preseason expectations for a club that lost 96 times last season.
Daniels, though, isn’t planning a trade deadline blockbuster or getting his ring finger fitted for a postseason ring. The club hasn’t changed its mind-set with 96 games remaining this season.
“I think we said at the beginning of this season that we weren’t going to place limits on the club,” Daniels said. “I think kind of where we are, you get around the winter meetings and there’s almost a need to kind of fit in one of two buckets. You’re either all-in, odds-on favorites, or you’re tanking. We didn’t really view it that way.”
What is the club’s mind-set going forward this season? I think where we go from here is going to be dictated by how the club plays and also the opportunities that are there in front of us. Both the opportunities that we want to continue to develop some of the guys here, and also the opportunities externally. I think we’ll stay true to our mind-set of trying to balance, continue to place a priority on the next few years. I don’t see us looking to short cut anything. But you’ve got to be open-minded to way the club’s played and respect that. These guys have been very good so far. And it’s early. They’ve played really well, and I don’t think it’s been luck. I think they’ve genuinely played well. They’re in every game. They’re a competitive group. We’ve got to respect that.
Would you consider the idea of going out and using real currency to get a controllable starter? I don’t think that’s changed. I wouldn’t view that as a change. We explored that this winter. It’s so early in that stage of things, at least for us. We had the draft last week. We’re trying to get our guys signed. We’ve had some external conversations, but it’s just at the beginning edge of that.
Will a lot of what takes place in the next four weeks will determine exactly which direction you go in? No. Listen, overall we know which direction we’re going in. I don’t think it’s going to change all that dramatically. There’s not going to be a huge swing of a pendulum based on a hot streak, one way or the other. We have a pretty good sense of where we want to go over the next few years.
What’s been the biggest surprise for you this season? It’s really be on both sides. I think the overall offensive approach the guys have bought into coupled with the development of the starting pitching. Even though it’s not five 24-year-olds necessarily, but Jurado’s clearly taken steps. Adrian Sampson at a different stage of his career, different path to get here, has clearly taken steps. I think the work that the staff has done with Lance [Lynn] and Mike Minor, they’ve taken steps. I think these guys have all gotten better.
Do the club have to make a decision (trade, extend, do nothing) on Minor? I’m not really ready to address it publicly right now. I just want to enjoy it. I think Mikey has become one of the better starters in the game. He’s always had that ability and that pedigree, and he had the years there with the injuries and the bullpen and last year was almost a bridge year to get back into the rotation. I just want to enjoy it right now. He’s answering a lot of questions along the way. We’re in the middle of June. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves other than I think it’s a reasonable time here after the draft to step back and recognize the fact that this team has played well to this point.
Is he an elite starter? He’s performed at a high level here recently, no doubt. I thought what he did last night was really impressive from the standpoint of being down 2-0 after two hitters, and he took a deep breath and worked through the eighth in a tough place to pitch. I know they have some injuries, but it’s still a tough lineup. They’re a team that doesn’t swing and miss a ton, but he managed contact really good. He’s been good at that all season.
Is the farm system in good enough shape to add help? I kind of laugh at that question every year because I think just about any team, whether they’re a top farm system or the worst farm system, could acquire, not Mike Trout, but most players on the trade market. Any team that wants to push in has that ability.
Would you give up future assets to add? Most likely if we were to do that it would be for someone with control beyond next year. Our job right now is to explore all the options.
Is it worth it to add help if only guarantee is wild-card game? Yeah. You’ve got to factor that in. I don’t necessarily agree with that line of thinking. What do they say with lotto tickets, ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it?’ There’s value in giving the team an opportunity. And, again, I’m not talking postseason. We’re in June.