Some franchises are ultra-conservative in their approach to running their ball-clubs, while others have a more freewheeling, loose feeling about them.
Depending upon your specific group of players and the coaching staff you have in place, there are ways to make either approach work for your team as you strive toward a winning season.
Over the last few seasons, the Rangers have proved willing to take calculated risks in order to ensure success for their ball-club. Whether that means supporting a troubled player, standing by an embattled manager, or evaluating and taking a risk on a player returning from injury, the current Texas Rangers regime has shown that they are not a timid bunch, and that in order to win in baseball, you have to make it happen, rather than waiting for success to knock on your door.
Prior to the 2008 season, the Rangers opted to trade highly-touted hurler Edinson Volquez, to the Reds in exchange for extremely talented, yet a recovering addict, Josh Hamilton. Though Hamilton has long been considered one of the most talented prospects in recent history, he had derailed his baseball career with a significant battle with drug and alcohol abuse. With that kind of track record, many team would have shied away from Hamilton, but the Rangers were willing to take the gamble on his sobriety and he has rewarded their faith handsomely with two stellar seasons out of the three he has played in Arlington.
When Hamilton had a much-publicized slip in his recovery during 2009, the Rangers once again supported their star. Early in the season, the married Ranger was photographed partying with numerous women in a Tempe, Arizona bar. He was forthright about the incident, admitted that it was an unfortunate lapse, but rededicated himself to his wife, his sobriety, and his baseball career. The Rangers offered continuous support throughout the ordeal.
Prior to the 2010 season, Sports Illustrated broke a story that manager Ron Washington had earlier tested positive for cocaine. Such a revelation might have caused the immediate dismissal of a manager in many franchises, but again, the Rangers showed their willingness to trust the person behind the mistake, and offered unwavering support for their skipper. Of course, the team took appropriate measures, along with Major League Baseball, to ensure such an incident would not happen again, and Washington rewarded the franchises support by leading his players to the 2010 World Series.
The Michael Young situation displays another manner in which the Rangers are not timid. By opting to move Young for the third time in seven seasons, the Rangers have shown that winning comes first, and they are completely willing to risk hurting a player's feelings if management feels a move can improve the club's chances of victory. Though the move hasn't always been popular, Texas management has proved that winning is their greatest interest of all, even if it involves particular risks.
Over the last couple years, they have also taken calculated risks and signed oft-injured players to a deal in hopes of catching the proverbial "lightning in a bottle." Last season's experiment with Rich Harden didn't work out as well as they hoped, but that didn't prevent them from making another gamble, this time on the health of former Cy Young winner Brandon Webb. If Webb can return from his serious shoulder injuries and approximate the pitcher he was a few years prior, then the Rangers will have done well to replace some of the production Cliff Lee provided in the second half of last season.
Another potentially risky endeavor is the rumored transition of closer Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation. Many would rather not risk disrupting the structure of one of the AL's best bullpens from last season, but the Rangers think they have an option to turn Feliz into an ace, and are willing to take the chance necessary to find out.
It remains to be seen how well some of these recent gambles pan out for the Rangers, but so far, this ownership group's track record has proved largely successful. I certainly wouldn't want to be the man to bet against Nolan Ryan.