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Ken Rosenthal lays the smack down on Showalter

Sporting News baseball writer Ken Rosenthal has a scathing piece on Buck Showalter today...

(It is also linked in the diary section, to the right, but I think it is a big enough story that it is worth including here, as well...)

Some choice tidbits...

But Showalter, after owner Tom Hicks, is the second most powerful man in the Rangers' organization; Showalter's contract extends three years beyond general manager John Hart's. If something happens with the team -- be it a roster move or smear campaign -- it stands to reason that Showalter is at least aware of it, if not behind it.

* * *

Here's a team that should be on the verge of something big. The Rangers control first baseman Mark Teixeira, shortstop Michael Young and third baseman Hank Blalock through 2008. They have top pitching prospects emerging at Class AA. Their payroll is flexible. Their future is bright.

But they're on their way to screwing it up.

Showalter, 49, is exceptionally well organized and possesses a keen baseball mind, but his calculating, manipulative side grates on certain players and superiors. That's why Showalter lasted only three seasons with the Diamondbacks, his second stop after four seasons with the Yankees.

Showalter is the game's most influential manager for a reason -- the Rangers allow it. Hicks, after meeting with Showalter at last year's All-Star break, reversed course and chose to keep Hart as G.M. rather than promote farm director Grady Fuson. The move secured Showalter's power base; Hart operates practically as a G.M. emeritus, welcoming Showalter's input.

Normally the manager is a buffer between players and executives. Showalter blurs that line, fostering distrust. By dumping Drese and by smearing Rogers, the Rangers risk alienating other players -- specifically Teixeira, who might balk at signing a long-term deal. The club largely was inert last offseason, coming off a surprising 89 wins. Maybe there's a twisted logic to their conservative approach; big-name free agents might prefer to play for more relaxed managers.

Drese, 29, won 14 games last season, then posted a 6.46 ERA in his first 12 starts. The Rangers, forever starved for pitching, should have tried to fix him. Instead, Drese went to the Nationals on waivers and now has a 2.08 ERA after four starts. One theory is that Drese was doomed in Texas after he got into a dugout scrap with catcher Rod Barajas, reputedly a Showalter favorite. Young, speaking to a Dallas reporter, called the Drese decision "confusing and shocking."

* * *

Showalter isn't necessarily the wizard behind the curtain, orchestrating every move. But in the end, the Rangers reflect his vision.

At the moment, they're a mess.

This is even more harsh than I've been, in regards to Showalter...

But Rosenthal is just reiterating what has been pretty widely reported for a while now...that Showalter was behind the palace coup that ran Grady Fuson out of town, that Showalter is the guy in control of the Rangers organization, and that Showalter's personality is such that he's most likely going to alienate the players before too long.

It will be interesting to see if this story has legs...a few of the management apologists continue to try to portray this issue as journalists trying to sell stories, as Gerry Fraley or Randy Galloway making things up. But when someone like Rosenthal steps up and blasts away, like he does here...well, it would seem to signal that there is at least some fire behind all the smoke that us "conspiracy theorists" have been pointing at...