What is your opinion of the A.J. Pierzynski signing?
MJH on accountability
Barnett, who was working on a one-year contract, said he had an inkling he would not be asked back. He said the Rangers have been distant since they took him off the road in June.
I’ll admit I’ve been swept up in the allure of the veiled, often secretive processes of the front office. I like to imagine there’s a secret elevator or staircase somewhere that takes Jon Daniels to a long, dark hallway illuminated solely by directional can-lights aimed at gilded pictures of Rangers’ heroes of yesteryear. At the end of the hallway exists two large steel doors with the Texas Rangers emblem centrally embossed. Behind the doors is an oblong room with eight chairs surrounding a circular table. There’s a #hotstove ticker that updates the brain trust with breaking news and secretive baseball intelligence. During the moments that everyone’s Blackberry falls eerily silent, few words are exchanged that are worth their weight in baseball gold. Jon Daniels surveys the crowd and simply mentions a player’s name, which evokes an organized, but thriving analysis of everything from player makeup to personal details.
After a riveting hour of highly classified Rangers #secrets, John Blake ascends from the bowels of the ballpark to a throng of media ready to blog every word. A single bead of sweat descends from the brow of Evan Grant as Blake reveals the Rangers have agreed to terms with Miami in a blockbuster trade for Giancarlo Stanton. Anthony Andro beats everyone to the twitter punch and the news begins to spread like wildfire… a quiet weeping from the back is heard from Jon Heyman as he laments that he is over an hour late to break news.
So maybe I’ve been a bit more than swept up. I’ve idealized an NSA-type front office—the consummate stoic professionals. If you’re drinking the Kool-Aid, you’d have no tangible evidence to prove my tall tale incorrect. Then again, if you follow the Rangers closely, you’ve most likely caught whiffs of something sinister coming from that dark hallway—after all baseball is a messy game.
They say (I have no credible evidence) that once you’ve worked for the machine, you have a different perspective on the inner mechanics of a big company. Without incessant humble-bragging, working for “the man” is quite the eye-opener. Whether it’s corporations, super PACs, or government, they all have a common thread: there’s always a slow leak. I stand by my assertion that no company, no organization is perfect in the long run. How does this have anything remotely to do with the Rangers? Everything.
Wearing our rosy glasses, we extol the vast resume of achievements the Daniels administration. Without rosy glasses, he’s still one of the top 3 GM’s in baseball, he deserves more accolades than he is given credit for. He’s never waivered from his stoic, serious demeanor. I think the space-time continuum would spontaneously erupt if he ever showed emotion under pressure. However, somewhere in the braintrust exists a slight inclusion. I have no first hand evidence to back up my superstition, but small temblors have jumped the needle of the Rangers seismometer.
Drowned out by the tsunami of anti-C.J. Wilson was a little thorn. Rather than turning this into a game of “C.J. said, we said,” I’ll offer this change up (trying to work in baseball lingo): C.J. first came out and said that the Rangers’ offer was half of that which was fielded from other teams. Later, accounts of the contract negotiations deteriorated into Nolan basically extending his hand and saying, “thanks for the good times, the door is to the left.”
Do I think either account is correct? No. I do think that there wasn’t “real” offer ever on the table for Wilson. I think there was a lowball offer for the sake of saying “we made an offer.” We know with 100% certainty that the Rangers braintrust was dead-set on Darvish. They failed to make a real offer to Wilson and they brought a nuke to a Darvish fistfight; they blew every other posting offer clear out of the water, it never was close.
In a perfect world, here’s how I think the Rangers should have handled it: the front office meets with C.J. Wilson before the winter meetings. Armed with a pony-keg of RedBull, Washington, Daniels and Nolan gauge Wilson’s real interest in returning with his agent (and Wilson there as well). After entertaining Wilson’s wishes, Daniels would explain to Wilson (not address his agent, but instead talking to C.J. while his agent is still in the room) the direction the club wants to go in. They’ll be some degree of hurt feelings, but the Rangers have a small parting gift for Wilson: they’ll work with him in order to get him the highest possible contract out of the Angels he can. Unknown to Arte Moreno, the Rangers could have driven the price on Wilson meteorically high. They would accomplish two things: parting on more than amicable terms with Wilson, and forcing the Angels pay through the nose for C.J.
Saying the organization had “egg” on their face would have been bit overstated—but maybe it’s not. Traveling in our Delorean to October 2010, we’re all very amped for our first playoff run since 1999. Quietly, the Rangers don’t invite Josh Lewin back. While I haven’t read his book, “BALLGAME!,” I suspect Lewin was devastated with the news. Lewin had never been with the club during the good times. He was forced to suffer through a decade of crap baseball, Alex Rodriguez, the bankruptcy of Tom Hicks, and other petty baseball related drama. Quiet honestly, I think the timing of not asking Lewin back as a real crappy move. It sure smelled like the organization decided to release the news during the euphoria of a playoff run. Again, does this mar the allure of the best front office in the game? No, but baseball is sometimes a messy game.
…and then we come to the sad saga of Dave Barnett. I wont pull any punches when grading Barnett’s job as a play-by-play announcer; he was a sub-par announcer. He had a difficult time reading balls off the bat and would after botch pretty easy calls. Then, one fateful night at PETCO Park, some neuron firing went horribly, tragically wrong. Barnett would never call another baseball play. He was sent for “medical testing.” You could simply replace “medical testing” with “launched into the sun” to get a more accurate description of what happened. What happened with Barnett will likely never be known. Later in the season Hicks was brought in from AA Corpus Christi to replace Buzz alongside Nadel, solidifying Buzz’s place alongside TAG, effectively replacing Barnett. Barnett was an afterthought after his botched announcing stint, quickly replaced by Busby. After his strange on-air babbling leading to his indefinite departure, there was silence.
Again, I think Barnett was wronged by the Rangers organization by not getting a proper “thank you, we’ll be exploring other options.” Barnett is fine now, announcing UNT Football games, now a distant memory in the minds of the front office. Do I think he should be announcing Rangers games next year? No. He wasn’t a good announcer, but there’s a diplomatic way to cut ties with members of your organization.
I think the front office is being sloppy on the back-ends of transactions. They are hyper-effective in getting the best possible “value,” but lack attention to details in their execution. So-called “burnt ends” are creeping up to throw a bit of dirt on the façade of the Rangers’ front office. Consider the Beltre contract. Beltre is playing in Texas because the Angels wouldn’t sign him, not because the Rangers sealed the deal. Consider our efforts to sign Cliff Lee. Cliff Lee’s negotiations were a disaster from a few third-party sources, never mind the fact Greenberg is no longer part of the ownership group. Consider the public relations nightmare known as Josh Hamilton. For a while it seemed as if Hamilton has ZERO public relations coaching. While he was mentally absent and the team struggling to stay afloat, speculation ran absolutely WILD as to the cause of Hamilton’s decline. A 30 second statement around the start of his slump would have nipped everything in the bud.
Going into the most important offseason we’ve experienced since the Rangers’ rise to prominence, the front office needs to pitch a “perfect game.” The bar has been set higher than it has ever been at any point in the history of this franchise, the front office can’t afford mistakes. If a moment arises when the front offices has a clicking shot-clock to submit the right offer to nail the prized free agent, will they dot their I’s and cross their T’s? Will the Rangers be able to make a tough decision trading away prospects? How will the Rangers treat players they don’t want back? Will the Rangers be able to put any personal preemptions aside to execute a trade? What kind of plan does the front office have going forward? Does Nolan like this gig? Who really has the last word in making a deal? Will the front office have the balls to put the best product on the field? So many questions… this could get messy.
Great post. Worth the read. I thought I was reading Nathaniel Hawthorne for a second.
National Hawthorne? Really?
The Scarlett T might be a good name for something having to do with the Rangers actually.
Nice writing Nompton. Its not personal, its just business.
Well said, Nompton. My response: http://i.imgur.com/fOcRB.gif
That's gotta be a top 5 Rangers .gif right there.
There is no down side to being a class act. Nompton raises excellent points and my thanks to him for putting aside his studies to do so.
Early in the season during one of the "trade Elvis" discussions I suggested the Rangers do much more to make Elvis the real face of the team and to do everything possible to assimilate him into the best DFW has to offer. When a player is looking at 15-20mm per year, the incremental dollars become marginal. I don't know what, if anything, the Rangers have done to enhance Elvis' off field comforts, needs and happiness, but I never see any mention of him in the media outside of the ballpark and sports pages. A few "attaboys" make employees less wage conscious. At Elvis' level there should be much more than attaboys directed to him.
Many players will take less salary to stay where they are happy. Cliff Lee was an excellent example. Weaver also comes to mind. As diligent as the FO appears to be with all things baseball, I hope they are exerting the same efforts for their players off the field.
E. We need him. A gotta have. He is The Strangers now along with Belts.
Thanks for the kind words.
I hope we get Elvis locked in too, for a plethora of reasons.
Excellent read, Nompton.
After I had taken my meds last night, all I could do was yawn and resort to being a misanthrope, but if I'd had any intelligence I would have said "thought-provoking read."
As if that was really me.
Seriously, you guys know that wasn't me, right? It feels a little like I'm being trolled.
(Or maybe I'm so used to trolling and being an ineffective bully with everyone else that now I'm trolling an easier target, myself. I am so confused.)
I apologize, but I'm having a little trouble figuring out what you're trying to say. Are you saying that the front office is a little too ruthless in its dealings with people who are potentially headed out the door?
Our front office has had a series of misaligned attempts at signing people. They aren't "ruthless," they are sloppy. It seems personnel dealings are done very haphazardly. Lewin and Barnett are two easy examples. It's not a matter of being "sweet" or trying to kill em with kindness, it's a matter of having a competitive advantage by using every resource you have to keep players and personnel happy.
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