Bob Sturm has a blog post up, comparing the WARPs of guys who were here in the system when Jon Daniels took over the Rangers to the WARPs of guys who are here now, in an effort to determine how much better the Rangers would be if Daniels had done nothing but keep the players he kept in place.
As he acknowledges, this assumes moneywhipping a few free agents, which makes this not necessarily realistic. Nevertheless, using this set of assumptions, he concludes that the Rangers would be 30 games better if Daniels had simply done nothing but kept the status quo.
There are some problems, though, with the methodology. Sturm omits Marlon Byrd, Nelson Cruz, Matt Harrison and Scott Feldman from the "here and now" group, which would make the numbers better, and also counts Mark DeRosa's full WARP while placing him in RF for the Rangers (when much of DeRosa's value comes from playing 2B). Ditto Adrian Gonzalez, whose WARP is enhanced as a result of being a very good defensive 1B, but who Sturm puts at DH...the folly of this is revealed by seeing that Gonzalez is considered to be 1 win better than Milton Bradley, even though Bradley was (even adjusting for parks and taking into account playing time missed) the better offensive player, which is all that matters for a DH.
If we re-run the numbers with these adjustments made, it makes a significant difference:
I used Laird instead of Teagarden (Sturm's choice), since Laird had the higher WARP3, and I adjusted DeRosa and Gonzalez downwards, to reflect that the fact that they aren't getting credit for the positional adjustment. I used Murphy and Cruz, together, since the two of them were never on the roster at the same time, replaced Boggs with Byrd, and went with Vazquez at 3B (since he played the most 3B last year, and since he had a higher WARP than Blalock, who Sturm used).
Despite the huge hit at 1B, this is pretty much a wash, with Fern getting a 1.5 win edge.
Feldman and Harrison replace Hurley and McCarthy from Sturm's original Daniels rotation, which makes this a little bit closer.
I think it is only reasonable to include Guardado in the mix here, if you are going to include guys like Wright and Bradley in the Daniels pool under these rules. I also think it is worth noting that R.A. Dickey had more innings as a starter than a reliever, but then, if we did that, we'd have to plug him in instead of Hurley above, and add someone like Kam Loe, and it would end up the same anyway.
So...realistically, at the end of the day, the entire difference between the "Fern" team and the Daniels team is three guys:
The Danks thing has been beat to death. Francisco Cordero was signed after last season as a free agent by the Reds, and I don't remember a whole lot of clamoring for folks to bring him back.
And I don't think anyone is asking for a do-over on the Mark Teixeira trade right now. And if you do want him back, he's a free agent right now.
That's it, though. Soriano left, but his production has been matched by Marlon Byrd. DeRosa is gone, but we've got David Murphy. Volquez had a great year last year, but Josh Hamilton (in terms of WARP) was better.
This is the reality...the difference between these two groups is a closer who would have been a free agent prior to 2008 anyway, a first baseman whose replacement is in place and who brought a ton of talent in return when he was dealt, and John Danks.