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What is Jon Daniels Thinking?: How the Texas Rangers GM Has Taken His Team Out of Contention

Chance AzbellContributor IJanuary 26, 2008

It's been over a decade since the Texas Rangers last made the playoffs. 

Not exactly the definition of success. 

The Rangers have never been the same since Doug Melvin was replaced.  During the Melvin era, the Rangers made the playoffs three times, although only winning one playoff game.  Since then, the Rangers have been plagued by over-paid players, veterans way over their prime, and horrible GM moves made by Jon Daniels. 

In the mid 90's, the Rangers were a solid team making the playoffs three out of four years.  They had power in the middle of their line-up with Rafael Palmerio, Juan Gonzalez, and Dean Palmer, strength behind the plate with Ivan Rodriguez, and a decent pitching staff. 

What happened since then? 

In 2001, John Hart signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10 year, $252 million contract, which tied up space in the salary cap that could of been used on other young talented players.  Another big mistake made by Hart was signing the likes of Chan-Ho Park to a huge contract.  Signings such as these have made it very difficult for the Rangers to get back on that winning track. 

Obviously, in this age of free-agency, you are going to lose players and make some bad decisions on signing them.  Why is it that the Rangers seem to let go all of the wrong players, and sign the wrong ones too?  It all comes to the GM Hart and as of 2005 Jon Daniels.

Owner Tom Hicks and Hart realized their mistakes with Park and Alex Rodriguez.  Park was let go and A-Rod was traded for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias.  Arias, who spent last year on the DL, has yet to prove himself and Soriano, although not a defensive star, helped fill the void of A-Rod in the middle of the line-up. 

After just two seasons he was traded away to the Nationals by Jon Daniels because he felt they could not sign him to a long-term contract. 

However, Daniels may have sold Soriano at too low of a price.  In return, the Rangers got Brad Wilkerson who, over the past two season, has been plagued by injuries and, when healthy, split time in the outfield and batted in the low to mid .200's.

Daniels has also yet to pull off a trade in the Rangers favor.  Two years ago in his first year as GM, he traded away the Rangers best young pitcher, Chris Young, and upcoming slugger Adrian Gonzalez to the San Diego Padres for pitchers Akinori Otsuka and Adam Eaton.  Eaton is no longer with the team and Otsuka has split-time between closer and set-up man.  Meanwhile, Young and Gonzalez have become All-Star quality players. 

The Rangers now have a huge gap at first base vacated by the trade of Mark Teixera.  Daniels has also traded away closer Francisco Cordero for a chance to make a run at the playoffs with outfielder Carlos Lee, who signed with the Astros after the season.  Cordero went on to lead the national league in saves in 2007.

So where does Jon Daniels go from here? 

He better start thinking about getting a new job, to be honest. 

He has yet to make a good free-agent sign or pull off a decent trade (with the exception of last years trade with ATL for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hasn't proven himself to be an everyday catcher yet.)  However, so far in this offseason he finally has his starting rotation pretty much set in stone, but still has failed to land a big time free-agent picture to anchor the staff.  He also still needs to address the looming void left by Teixera.

Better luck in 2009 Rangers fans. Daniels still has not done enough to make this team a playoff contender.  My prediction, the Rangers go 80-82 and finish in the third in the AL West behind the Angels, and Mariners.

Until Daniels is gone, it might have to stay that way. 

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