Ken Rosenthal weighs in on Jon Daniels as g.m., and joins the chorus of folks who believe Daniels is the g.m. in name only:
Jon Daniels is the least-qualified general manager in major-league history. But the suspicion among many in baseball is that he won't truly be the Rangers' G.M.
"It'll be an NFL-type setup," one rival general manager predicts. "The manager wants to be the G.M., and he was looking for a cap-ologist."
The manager, of course, is Buck Showalter, who wielded an inordinate amount of influence even under veteran G.M. John Hart.
Daniels, 28, has only five years of major-league experience -- one as a Rockies' intern, four in the Rangers' front office.
He has never run a department, but did negotiate multi-year deals for several prominent Rangers.
Naturally, owner Tom Hicks says Daniels will be in full control, which, if true, means the Rangers are taking an awfully big risk.
Those who know Daniels speak highly of him, praising his intelligence and humility. His biggest challenge will be managing not only Showalter, but Hart loyalists like personnel director Dom Chiti and special assistant Tom Giordano. Hicks also might take a more active role.
It's possible that Daniels could follow the path of Red Sox G.M. Theo Epstein, who won a World Series at age 30. But Epstein operates with a larger payroll, works in a more traditional chain-of-command and is backed by strong ownership.
Daniels lacks that type of support. He'll be hard-pressed to "Buck" the system.
Sense a theme amongst outside commentators?
Rosenthal does raise a good point, though, one that I don't know has been touched on enough. The Rangers organization, as it is currently situated, is filled with strong personalities, starting with Hicks at the top. You mix in Dom Chiti, Orel Hershiser and Buck Showalter, plus guys like Michael Young and Mark Teixeira in the clubhouse, and you have a potentially combustible mix.
The question that will have to be answered is, what is going to happen when one of those strong personalities has to be overruled? What is going to happen if Buck pushes Daniels to give Rod Barajas a 3 year, $10 million deal? What if Tom Hicks gets a wild hair and decides that Scott Boras client Jeff Weaver is worth 5 years, $45 million? What if, this spring, Dom Chiti decides John Hudgins' highest and best use is as a long reliever in Frisco?
We don't know what the answer to those questions will be. We don't know if Daniels is going to stand up to the folks around him, to overrule Buck Showalter, to advise Tom Hicks that a signing would be a bad use of money (or, conversely, that it would be a good investment and worth expanding the budget for).
And more importantly, we don't know what would happen if Buck Showalter were to go over Daniels' head, and appeal directly to Hicks if he doesn't like what Daniels is doing. Is Hicks going to make the mistake that, say, Drayton McLane made in Houston, interfering with the chain of command and allowing those below the g.m. on the organizational chart to undermine the g.m.'s authority? Or is Hicks going to follow through with what he said at the press conference, and give Daniels the ultimate decision-making authority on any baseball issues?
Those are the questions we don't have answers to just yet. But those are probably the questions that will dictate how successful Jon Daniels is in Texas.