The Lone Ranger
Since firing Texas Rangers manager Buck Showalter a week ago, general manager Jon Daniels has been quiet about a replacement. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo took his name out of contention this week, leaving us with best guesses of veteran retreads Lou Piniella and Dusty Baker, bench coach Don Wakamatsu and former UT-Arlington (How 'bout those Mavs?!) standout Trey Hillman. We know a little about the 29-year-old Daniels, but this will be his first hire, and I'm not alone in thinking this should be his call and his call only. What we do have is a report card on Daniels' first year.
Watching--OK, more like yawning while it was on in the background--last night's first game of the American League Championship Series reminded us that the Oakland A's will pitch former Ranger Esteban Loaiza in the series, while the Detroit Tigers will counter with former Ranger Kenny Rogers. Those goofs aren't directly linked to Daniels, but these two are:
Trading Alfonso Soriano for Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge and Armando Galaragga: In retrospect, Daniels should've simply forced Soriano to play left field. Soriano did that in Washington, producing baseball's first season of 40 homers-40 doubles-40 steals and leading the league with 19 outfield assists. Wilkerson struck out 116 times in only 95 games, Sledge was quickly traded, and Galaragga went 1-6 in the minors. Ouch.
Trading Chris Young, Sledge and Adrian Gonzalez for Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka and Ben Killian: Young, from Highland Park, flirted with three no-hitters and was baseball's best road pitcher this season. When "more pitching" has been the franchise's battle cry for 35 years, giving away a 27-year-old of Young's caliber is nothing short of a catastrophe. Worse, Gonzalez hit 20-plus homers in San Diego. And for what? Eaton spent most of the season injured and is now a free agent unlikely to be re-signed. Otsuka proved to be a steady closer, but hardly worth the value of a starter. Double ouch.
With Soriano in left field and Young and Rogers on the mound, the Rangers might not be playing in the ALCS. But guaranteed they'd be better than 80-82. In fact, Showalter might still be employed. --Richie Whitt