Mac Engel

Daniels deserves credit for Rangers’ success

Winning the American League West does not end the Curse of Nolan Ryan, but the division title validates that one person does not need The Express to hold his hand to make a baseball decision.

According to baseball lore, the only way to remove a baseball curse is to win a World Series. This is per Babe Ruth, the Black Sox and a billy goat, among others. Dismiss and make fun of curses all you want, but ask the fans who love the Red Sox and White Sox whether they believe. Or, if you dare, ask a Cubs fan.

Along the same lines of baseball tradition, there is the matter of distributing credit to those in charge of the Texas Rangers, which will certainly include the general manager in this season of validation.

The no-brainer is Jeff Banister, who should be named the American League Manager of the Year. That is going to happen.

Pitching coach Mike Maddux has not been given nearly enough (any?) credit for the wonderful job he did, particularly at the start of the year when his rotation had Wandy Rodriguez and his staff hammers were Yovani Gallardo and Colby Lewis.

The Rangers are lucky to have a man who, though he may never be in the Dave Duncan strata of pitching coaches, is as good as any at his job.

Maddux is the one Ranger not to be poached by another team; it is a matter of time before another club hires him to be its manager. Maddux should not be one of these lifer position coaches. He’s too smart not to be given a chance. He should not be eternally stuck in the “friend zone” of big-league coaches.

Co-owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson merit commendation for the opening of the wallet, and not salary dumping in July when this team was on the verge of remaining stuck sideways.

They have been all-in, and especially their general manager, and their patience and spending were rewarded with a trophy and an AL West title T-shirt featuring the Dallas skyline.

The division title may never absolve how a certain Texas Rangers icon was kicked out the door, but it does at least validate the decision to give JD the keys to the Ballpark. No matter how passionate of a Nolan guy you are, JD merits recognition for what he did this season.

Granted, he had the blessing of employers who dug in on their decision to make him baseball boss No. 1, which comes with it the approval to increase the payroll at every turn. Nonetheless, JD deserves credit for this team’s success.

The GM was justifiably crucified for the horror show that he assembled last season, the first without Nolan.

There was good reason to believe that, without the Nolan Ryan Protection Plan and JD running all things baseball, the Rangers would return to the days of a John Hart train wreck.

JD has had his share of screw-ups, but he deserves the credit for rebuilding a team that has been the single biggest surprise in baseball.

So many of the moves that bombed in ’14 — the Prince Fielder trade, the signing of Shin-Soo Choo — worked in 2015. The decision to keep Delino DeShields on the 25-man roster after they selected him in the Rule 5 draft may have been made out of desperation, but it worked.

Sending second baseman Rougned Odor to the minors and then recalling him during the season was a godsend.

A bullpen that was such a disaster early was remade by Daniels to the point where it became a strength.

The trade for Cole Hamels negated the loss of Yu Darvish as this team’s celebrity ace, which was never more apparent than on Sunday in the division clincher. The last time we saw such a performance was when Cliff Lee embarrassed the New York Yankees in the ALCS back in 2010.

All of it worked, and now the Rangers will play the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL Division Series beginning Thursday.

Defeating the Blue Jays won’t alone end the Curse of Nolan Ryan, but this season at least proved the GM doesn’t need the guy with the statue to build a division winner.

Well done.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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