Alright, I've had some time to digest the news that Jon Daniels is replacing John Hart, to think about the implications.
And all in all, I'm cautiously optimistic about Daniels as G.M.
And it isn't just because he isn't John Hart, although that definitely does help.
Looking back at Hart's four year stint as g.m., it is hard to come up with a whole lot positive to say. John Hart may be the most unpopular front office type in DFW sports history. The local media hated him (and he hated the local media), the fans turned on him (online polls at the DMN website both last year and this year showed over 90% of fans wanted him gone), and the Rangers players, if you believe the rumors, couldn't stand him.
The Hart legacy in Texas is as the guy who signed Chan Ho Park to a franchise-crippling contract, who gave up draft picks to give Jay Powell, Todd Van Poppel, and Juan Gonzalez awful contracts, and who traded away Alex Rodriguez and Travis Hafner for woefully subpar returns.
He made a few nice deals -- the Chris Young trade, the Urbina trade, the Everett trade -- but after those three deals, the list of positives quickly dries up. And you expect a lot more than that from the highest paid g.m. in baseball, the guy Tom Hicks repeatedly referred to as one of the most brilliant minds in baseball.
So now, we turn the page on John Hart, and have to hope that, like Mark Shapiro in Cleveland, Jon Daniels in Texas will quickly establish himself as one of the best young executives in the game.
I'm not going to run down the Jon Daniels bio. I expect Jamey Newberg will have a lengthy report on Daniels tomorrow morning, and he's much better qualified than I to talk about Jon Daniels the person, Daniels' background, and Daniels' role with the team the last few years.
Instead, if you are wondering about Daniels' baseball philosophy, I'd point you towards this interview he did with Baseball Prospectus. And I have to say, I have to be impressed with a g.m. who can speak on using regression analysis to break down what sort of hits were generating extra runs in hitter-friendly parks, and who talks about incorporating proprietary metrics into evaluating player defense. The first thing Daniels mentioned in the press conference when talking about evaluation was statistical analysis, something that statheads like me always find reassuring.
Like Grady Fuson, the old g.m.-in-waiting, Daniels seems to be part of the new breed of baseball execs who are comfortable with the beer and tacos philosophy of fully incorporating both statistical analysis and scouting information in running a team. Fuson was a scout who seemed to be comfortable with the numbers/stats side of things, and Daniels seems to be a numbers guy who understands and respects the importance of scouting, but either way, they are two sides of the same coin. They are guys who are going to seek as much information as possible, from whatever source, in making their decisions.
I'm not going to proclaim Daniels as a savior. There are still issues with this team. If Hicks keeps the team on a $55 million payroll, and if Daniels is going to simply rubber-stamp whatever Buck Showalter wants, the Rangers aren't likely to be any better off than they were with Hart in place.
But for the first time since the Palace Coup last summer, I'm feeling optimistic about the Rangers' front office situation. I'm hopeful they have a guy in place who will be his own man, and run the baseball side of this team the way it should be run.
And for the first time in a while, I'm starting to look forward to this offseason.