Jon Daniels and More Diamond Talk

Jon Daniels and the Rangers front office have been doing it right for a long time. Photo Courtesy: Mike Overall
Jon Daniels and the Rangers front office are doing it right. Photo Courtesy: Mike Overall

By Will Martin

For the last 8-9 years my next guest has made amazing happen in Arlington. He’s taken some chances along the way. For the most part since 2007 the moves have been for the better. He has chosen to Hang with Mr. Will and the Blitz Baseball Brigade. And…he is Rangers President and GM Jon Daniels…

Jon great to see you! For starters what goes through your mind when you hear the words ‘Houston Astros/American League?’
Well first of all thanks for having me. You know, I think the Astros are doing it right. I know they are taking some criticism because they probably are not going to contend right out of the gate. Some of the early mistakes we made with the Rangers because we didn’t truly evaluate where we were. You have to line up your vision for the long term goals of the organization.

Houston is doing that with Jeff (Luhnow) and Jim (Crane) and the front office/ownership supporting them. They’re taking a long term approach to this…draft some impact players, get some players from Latin America.

In hindsight, I think something like 80 games out first year. Would it have been any different had we won 70? Probably not. You can’t exactly put that upon your season ticket holder pamphlet and announce it before the season but that’s the reality of it. Houston is taking a long term vision. I think they are going to surprise some teams and play with energy.

Bo Porter seems to push these guys and I don’t think you can take any team lightly when playing in the big leagues.

Take us back to 2006-2007 when you knew you were going to pull the trigger on the deal that brought a quintet of new talent. Part of that being your starter (Matt Harrison), Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia in exchange for Mark Teixeira and I believe Ron Mahay. When doing that actual trade what was your first thought? Were there any concerns?
Well sure, I think anytime you’re trading a big league star…Mark Teixeira was 28 and in his prime. Switch-Hitting power hitting Gold Glove defending All American type makeup…that’s not an easy thing to do.

Tom Hicks-our owner at the time-really supported, really bought into our group’s vision at the time. We weren’t looking for a quick fix.  Then we were strategic in how we went about it. Saltalamacchia had some big league time coming out of Double A as a switch hitting catcher.

Elvis came out of A ball in Myrtle Beach. He was only hitting .220 at the time yet he had premium makeup, premium defensive shortstop pulled the thing together. And then we got the three pitching arms: (Matt) Harrison left hander out of Double A, (Neftali) Feliz was low A ball, big arm and Bo Jones was another left hander who hasn’t had the success the other guys have, but it was a big picture type of deal for us and I think it started setting things up for us along with the draft for what we’ve building.

Kudos to you and the staff for the farm system you’ve built, the team you now have in place. We’re both East Coast guys so I wonder: Do you find it hard to fathom that the DH turned 40 on April 6th and do you think we will see a day where we will see the DH across the board in both leagues or non existent?
I go back and forth on this. I happen to like the DH (Designated Hitter). I know there happens to be a little more strategy in National League rules but I’m not a big fan of seeing kids that can’t hit, you know.

(Heavy Laughter)

The other thing I think the DH does is it keeps some star caliber players in the league when maybe their legs have gone a little bit. Or maybe defensively they’re not where they once were. Some of the guys that fans are paying to see play it keeps them in the league for a longer period of time. I think that is a benefit that we sometimes overlook.

We’re talking with GM/President Jon Daniels of the Texas Rangers. We see each other all the time in North Texas. I always throw crazy trivia his way. Final question…so much has been said about Josh Hamilton…I’m not going to add to that but is there anything you’d like to address to that whole scenario that has not been spoken about through the media? Is there anything fans aren’t aware of?
No, not too much I mean Josh is a great, great player. Arguably the best player on the team for the five years he was here, the best in the league. A huge part of our turnaround and huge part of our success.

We wanted to have Josh back but candidly wanted to have him on our terms and…understandably for him he got a better offer and accepted it. I would say I wish him nothing but the best but that might be a little bit false because we have to compete with him (laughter).

I personally wish him well and hope we come out ahead of him in the standings.

Now starting his 9th year at the Rangers helm. He’s done a lot of things right since 2007. Jon Daniels thank you for this time. Have a great Opening Day sir.
Thanks. Thanks for having me on.