Mac Engel

Forget 2017, Rangers GM must retool for a successful start in new park

We are at that time in July when Jon Daniels goes for it with a memorable move. It feels like he will do it again.

Although it should have been done months ago, the first “go-for-it” move executed by the Rangers GM/president should be trading pitcher Yu Darvish before it’s too late. He also needs to move catcher Jonathan Lucroy even though he is going to get pennies on the dollar. A contending team will want outfielder Carlos Gomez, both for his bat and his expiring contract.

JD can’t stop there. A team will take Mike Napoli. JD needs to ask pitcher Cole Hamels, who is accustomed to pitching in games that matter in September, if he wants to go as well.

Who knows? Maybe in a flurry of texts, DMs, FaceTime chats, phone calls and Facebook messages, JD will find a sucker willing to take on Shin-Soo Choo and his contract.

And, finally, JD has to approach Adrian Beltre to gauge his interest in waving his no-trade clause to move to a contender. Beltre is the face of the franchise, but at 38 and without a World Series ring on his Hall of Fame résumé, playing for a team with that chance may be the priority.

Since the Rangers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 World Series, JD has repeatedly made bold moves. He ended up with relevant teams, a couple of division winners and playoff stinkers.

As the All-Star break nears, it’s on JD to take a swing in the other direction.

The Rangers should focus on competing for a World Series when they move from their dilapidated dump to the new Arlington Tax-Friendly-Voters Ballpark.

The last thing JD and co-owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson will want are Groupon seats in August 2020.

JD told the Star-Telegram’s Jeff Wilson that the team is not going to sell.

“’Whether it’s a combination of team performance or what happens or if somebody really comes calling for a player, for us to go the other direction would take a unique circumstance,” Daniels said.

There is pride, and there is stupid pride.

JD is wasting his time in an effort to show the world he’s right. The better play is to be real about the mess menagerie he has created and stockpile young players to replenish a farm system that has been drained by trades in recent seasons.

Before we slap JD around the Nolan Ryan statue for building this $178 Million McMess, we need to at least acknowledge that he shed a label of being unable to move prospects for real players. This was a guy who at one time was too skittish and ended up missing out on landing Josh Beckett for Hank Blalock.

And he put too much of a value on infielder Jurickson Profar when he could have dealt the prospect for real major league players. The Rangers are stuck with Profar, praying he will come around and be a decent player when they should just dump him and let him begin anew elsewhere.

Since then, JD has made bold moves to acquire men like Hammels, Cliff Lee and an assortment of others with varying degrees of success.

As a GM, he is confident in his own skin. Why wouldn’t he be after his bosses all but announced, “We trust this guy more than Nolan Ryan” in regard to personnel decisions.

JD haters want to dismiss any and all success attained by the Rangers as accidents by a man who simply benefited from pulling one over on his bosses. This isn’t a dumb guy. He’s had his bone-headed mistakes (Nelson Cruz, Profar, Ryan Dempster, etc.) and been played for an overpaying fool too often by agent Scott Boras. But JD has had a slew of good moves and good teams to show for it.

He just never built a World Series team after 2011.

Try as he may, both he and his bosses should know they can’t buy their way through this. The only team that can is the New York Yankees, and even their record of succeeding with that philosophy was spotty.

That the Rangers were able to string together consecutive division championships is a testament to the weak state of the American League West, as well as to the ability and talent of the Rangers’ organization. A baseball division title should still mean something.

That’s not happening this season, nor is a wild card.

Rather than sell us another empty box of hope, JD owes it the fans and his bosses to acknowledge what we all see: Despite the presence of nice talent, the Rangers are a collection of decent parts that do not comprise a good team.

This doesn’t have to be a tear-down in the traditional sense. There are competent pieces to make this more of a remodel. Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo are solid players. Martin Perez is a competent piece with No. 2 ability.

The Rangers can be a wild card contender without the bloated payroll and still infuse their farm system with talent. That’s the only way a Rangers World Series flag will ever fly.

The 2017 Rangers aren’t good. At this rate, the 2018 Rangers won’t be either.

If JD is as good as his bosses think he is, bold moves are necessary so that when the team moves into Arlington Tax-Friendly-Voters Ballpark there will be no empties in August.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

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