Texas Rangers: Give Ian Kinsler Front Office Job, Heal Wounds of Jon Daniels Era

Former 2B Ian Kinsler is back with the Rangers, but this time in the front office as a special assistant to GM Chris Young. Photo Courtesy: Mike LaChance

By Wiley Singleton

Chris Young’s first offseason as GM has been an incredible success. He added a plethora of established pitching, including the best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom. He also added lefty slider specialist Andrew Heaney, who was second in the league last year in strikeouts per 9 innings. Former Red Sox ace Nathan Eovaldi was penned to a deal too. Former Twins ace Jake Odorizzi was acquired via trade for next to nothing.

This myriad of experienced arms will join Martin Perez and Jon Gray. Perez had a career year last season, finally finding his vaunted 2011 top prospect form. Perez transformed from mediocre to very good when he started mastering his control. He kept hitters off balance last year with his change-up. He pounded the zone with his cutter and stayed ahead of hitters.

Jon Gray missed a big chunk of last season. He was in a knee brace for about half his starts. But the starts where he was 100% he was elite.

The rotation is injury prone but very good. Average sinkerballer Dane Dunning will be a reliable arm that will join the rotation to eat up innings when the inevitable injuries occur.

For decades the Rangers have lacked pitching. The insane Texas heat was cited as a big reason free agent pitchers never wanted to come to Texas. When Buck Showalter managed the Rangers in the early 2000s, he was asked by his GM which players to target. Buck suggested they sign no one, and instead spend the money on a roof for the stadium. That never happened, much like Chris Moltisanti’s trip to the Meadowlands. The Texas heat continued to beat down on the Ballpark in Arlington and the Rangers were relegated to overpay for the likes of Chan Ho Park.

The new stadium features a roof and air conditioning. The dimensions are also more pitcher friendly. The old Rangers stadium, The Ballpark in Arlington, was known as a hitters park.

The Rangers lineup was solid last season. Top hitting prospect Josh Jung will be the Opening Day starter at third. That position has been a blackhole for the Rangers since Adrian Beltre retired. Andy Ibanez, hard washed Todd Frazier, hard washed Asdrubal Cabrera… the parade of stooges on the hot corner mercifully comes to an end this season. The middle of the infield is set for years with Semien and Seager. Seager had the most outs due to the shift last season. The shift is a defensive tactic originally devised to counter the best hitter ever, Ted Williams. Williams was a left-handed pull hitter. Cleveland skipper Lou Boudreau implemented this tactic in July of 1946, stacking multiple players onto the right side of the diamond. Although once a unique tactic, it has become more pervasive in the metagame than multiple queen openers in StarCraft II. The tactic has reached such a consistently high usage rate it bordered on the absurd. Screaming line drives were turned into tepid outs as the shortstop playing 30 feet into the outfield grass stole hits from power hitters. Goofy defensive alignments were omnipresent. Fielders consulted dopey positioning cards in between every hitter instead of just manning their position. Ultimately MLB decided this was not the way the game was supposed to be played and banned the shift. Now teams must have two infielders on each side of second base. This is a good change and no one will benefit from it more than the Rangers franchise man, Seager. First baseman Nate Lowe won a silver slugger last season. Catcher Jonah Heim is solid and plays great defense. The outfield leaves a lot to be desired. Outside of Adolis “El Bombi” Garcia, the Rangers lack hitting ability in the outfield. This is the team’s biggest weakness, other than the injury prone nature of the rotation.

GM Chris Young has fulfilled the wildest dreams of Rangers fans. He added a ton of experienced arms, including the best pitcher in the league. He then righted a significant wrong of the Jon Daniels era: the Ian Kinsler trade.

Kinsler was given a special advisor job to help guide the Rangers back to a pennant like he did in 2010 and 2011. This move is more about righting old wrongs than it is Ian’s talent evaluating ability.

Ian being traded for Prince Fielder marked the end of an era in Texas. The Rangers have not won a playoff series since that trade. Ian was the soul of the team and trading him for the absurd caricature that was Prince Fielder was one of the worst moves in franchise history. Giving Ian a position with the front office is an official acknowledgement that Jon Daniels was a stooge and the Chris Young administration will be different.

Chris Young took a bleeding organization with no identity and addressed a major problem that had been eating away at the team since the 70’s. He appeased and honored a spurned legend and brought him back into the fold after he was cast aside for Fat Albert signed to the worst contract in baseball.