What’s next? I mean seriously, what is the next horribly depressing news to hit the Texas Rangers? We’ve had an offseason that was widely viewed as a failure, a very so-so start to spring training that has been highlighted by Elvis Andrus tattoo drama and a very unfortunate line drive off of the front runner for the 5th rotation spot, and now Randy Galloway has the city convinced that Nolan Ryan is about to be kicked to the curb by ownership, like the drunk that won’t leave the bar after it’s closed.
It’s enough to drive any Rangers fan to a watered down case of Bud Light, but since my hours have been cut at my part-time gig and the IRS have dragged their feet on my tax return, all I can afford to do at the moment is try to talk myself and others off this Rangers ledge of despair. So here goes nothing.
Nolan Ryan is not the savior of the Texas Rangers. He’s been a very positive influence on the organization over the last five years, but he hasn’t been the sole reason that the Rangers have gone from perennial cellar dwellers to title contenders. It just appears that history is being rewritten a bit to make it feel that way.
Just look at the players that have been at the heart of the Rangers recent success and you will find very few that were added to the organization after the hiring of Ryan. Andrus, Neftali Feliz, and Matt Harrison were added in the Teixeira deal of 2007. Josh Hamilton was traded for in December of 2007, Derek Holland was drafted in 2006, Alexi Ogando was drafted in the 2005 rule 5 draft, and Martin Perez was signed in 2007.
You could even look at some of the decisions that Ryan has been publicly involved in and question if his impact had a positive effect. He stepped on the toes of Cliff Lee’s agent in his free agency negotiations so much so that Chuck Greenberg jumped in to try and save things. In the end it was Greenberg that fell on the sword, but it’s safe to wonder who really was in the wrong on this one. Especially with the hindsight of the Josh Hamilton negotiations, where Hamilton took offense to the Rangers cat and mouse tactics and may not have ever truly gotten over Ryan’s comments about his effort at the plate last season.
I’d guess that no one following the Rangers is questioning the money that they spent on Yu Darvish, but there was a time that Nolan Ryan was the voice in the front office against Texas pursuing a costly pitcher who had no big league service under his belt. Apparently a steak dinner with Yu changed his mind. Sounds like a sound way to make a baseball decision to me.
Zack Greinke was the one guy that Nolan Ryan coveted, saying so publicly just several days before Greinke rejected the final offer from Texas. It seems even as blown away by the Hall of Famer as Greinke may have been, in the end it’s still all about the money.
Yes, Nolan Ryan has been a wonderful steward for baseball since his second stint with the Rangers. Yes, Ryan has brought a philosophy of developing pitchers that has helped fine tune the talent that Jon Daniels, Thad Levine, and A.J. Preller have found, but do you believe that if he leaves tomorrow the Rangers will go away from the foundation that Ryan has built in that area? No, my guess is that this is more about Bob Simpson and Ray Davis trying to keep their talented and young brain trust happy. A groups that Jon Daniels says still reports to Ryan.
No one wants to see Nolan Ryan go. Ron Washington, who was hired prior to Ryan’s arrival, spoke glowingly about the man today, and you imagine his sentiments echo those from others in the clubhouse. It does appear that there’s truth to Randy Galloway’s assertions that Ryan isn’t pleased with the front office shuffle, and ownership will probably need to step in and repair things if they can. That doesn’t mean losing the Texas icon signals a return to baseball hell for this franchise.
It just might feel that way until they prove otherwise.