The road to greatness will be all uphill for the Rangers.
Being unable to win the Cliff Lee "SweepStakes", or find a similar starter in trade to beef up their starting pitching rotation, the Texas Rangers will have to look primarily within themselves for help for now.
The looming questions they will have to answer as they head to Spring Training are: how can the Rangers recapture the magic that propelled them to the American League Championship without an ace like Lee? And what will they do with Michael Young?
For my two-cents worth to forever close the book on Cliff Lee: even though we Rangers fans needed a teleprompter to cheer the team on, at least last season, Mr. Lee, we didn't "BOO!!!" your butt off the mound and back to the dugout when you stank up a few of your starts! Good Luck in Jersey-land, Mr. Lee.
Okay I'm done venting, back to the present.
This summer's offseason trading was not what Rangers fans were hoping from their team that had a new found wealth to spend.
All available starting pitchers were picked up by other teams by the time Lee finally announced to the world that he wanted to go back to Philly. At least he didn't go on ESPN for an hour to make his case for Philly (I know, I couldn't resist one last cheap shot!).
Seriously, the ugly side of pro sports reared its head as the Rangers get ready for Spring Training, for the once solid relationship between Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and the team's all-time hit leader Michael Young has fallen apart.
It has festered to a point that Young is asking the team to find a trade for him, which the Rangers will do only of they get quality help in return.
It started this offseason when the Rangers found a way to improve their infielding, and the team's batting and run production, by signing former Red Sox and Gold Glove winning third baseman Adrian Beltre.
Third base was Young's position. Beltre's cannon of an arm tremendously improves the Rangers fielding ability, and an added bonus, Beltre is also a big time hitter.
The Rangers asked Young to except the reduced role on the promise he would be the everyday DH/utility infielder, and still get over 600 plate appearances for the coming season. Which for the good of the team, Young agreed to do.
Young's high on base percentage makes him a good fit for the DH spot, as long as he stays in the No. 2 spot in the batting order. Seemed like he always found away to reach base or drive in a baserunner.
Let's put aside our love for Young for a moment for a reality check.
He will never be close to being the third baseman that Beltre is. If a ball is four feet or more to Young's left or right, its a good bet its going to the outfield. Young just does not have the lateral moves needed to play this position for a team trying to stay in top contention.
Young got disillusioned upon hearing the Rangers were shopping him, but were the Rangers really seriously trying to trade him?
As part of their jobs GM's are on the phones with other teams' GM's almost any given day. If one GM asked the other "Would you trade player X?", the answer is rarely going to be "No", but rather "What's on the table?".
Teams regularly calling for a particular player service does act as a gauge to value that player. So GM's do give courtesies to those calls even though most offers will never see the light of day. After all there will be times when it will be his finger on the speed dial, so they can't shut off any callers.
From what I've deciphered, Young and Daniels were on-the-job buddies. Young had Daniel's ear when it came to the needs of the team. And Daniels could count on Young to get across the voice of Rangers' management to the team.
A true to life fact can be learned from this, your boss is not your best friend.
All this drama is splitting the fan base into two camps, one siding with Daniels and management for the sole goal of keeping the Rangers among the top teams in the league. I can see no fault in Daniels making deals to make the Rangers better, but it's obvious he needs to brush up on his people skills.
The other side believes Young was being disrespected and shoved to the wayside, as his fielding duties were eliminated by the signing Beltre. And was further wronged when Rangers signed catcher/DH Napoli.
In my opinion, Daniels is a genius as a GM at a young age. He has caused the Rangers to completely turn themselves around and climb out of the mud of despair. He is the North Star by giving the Rangers a new direction and a new point of focus, and the team achieved heights which no other Ranger team has achieved.
His job is to continue to look for ways to better the team, friendships be damned.
But Michael Young is the compass set to that North Star! Young is second only to owner Nolan Ryan as the most recognized face of the franchise.
As the longest tenured player at ten years, Young has become the unquestioned team leader in the clubhouse. Young's leadership has kept the Rangers pointed in the right directions that were laid out by the teams management.
The Rangers have been asking for trade partners on Young, but Young's hefty salary of $43 million due over the next three years is a huge challenge to move. Daniels doesn't want the Rangers to be stuck paying half of what Young is owed, and there are only eight teams Young will agree to be traded to.
This whole mess could be resolved if Daniels and Young would meet face-to-face, let Ryan referee if needed. Young needs to be heard by Daniels how he was wronged. And Daniels needs to man-up that he jerked a friend.
Now our Boys of Summer have migrated to Arizona for camp, but Young still sits at home.
Will owner Nolan Ryan intercede and make all things right? Will this media-spawned soap opera come to a good end? Will Young find his appropriate place within the team? And will the Rangers be able to duplicate the miracle of last season?
None of this dirty laundry should have been for the fans' eyes and ears. Hopefully the new ownership of Ryan and Greenberg, and the rest of the Rangers managing staff, will take this event as lesson learned.
The new regime needs to use more discretion with their players, and keep in house problems behind close doors. After all the players are real people too.