One of them had to go. This was not because Nolan Ryan or Jon Daniels dislike one another (they don't) or because any disagreements they had were beyond repair (they weren't). There is a simple truth about power, one that affects men and women, old and young, and every color in the rainbow: dividing it conquers everyone.
That the arrangement lasted for five years was a testament to both. Ryan's resignation Thursday ensured the Texas Rangers wouldn't see a sixth, and it marked the end of a front-office team that rescued the Rangers from bankruptcy and launched them into previously unseen prosperity. Still, everyone in the organization understood a part-time CEO who wants full decision-making authority and a general manager who has earned the right to run his baseball-operations department without oversight could not co-exist with disparate philosophies. And as much as they'd found common ground, and common respect, Daniels and Ryan disagreed enough that this divorce was an eventuality.
For Rangers ownership, this shouldn't have been a tough decision. It was the past vs. the future. Ryan is an icon. He is baseball in Texas. His gravitas in the game matters. The instant credibility he provides walking into any room is palpable. He is also a businessman, and his other interests never allowed him to devote his full attention to a job that demands it. Daniels is invested enough for ownership to understand he is no short-timer. He hired a staff of high-energy executives, built a group of loyal scouts, scoured international markets and found productive players via free agency, trades and the scrap heap.
His one flaw: He isn't Nolan Ryan, and unless the Rangers win a World Series with him at the helm, that will forever be the criticism that sticks to him. It's a manufactured flaw, of course, one based on sentiment above objective analysis. Nobody ever said opinions needed to be fair.
Making this into some sort of war isn't fair, either. People from both camps agree that the size of the chasm between the two was overblown. Ownership understood that the greatest currency in the game today is a good general manager, and with Daniels and his consigliere, Thad Levine, they've got a couple.
Now comes the difficult part: actualizing the plan that fell one out shy of a ring in 2011. This is a vital offseason for the Rangers. They've got a mess of pieces – Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre are superstars, Ian Kinsler an All-Star, Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios good complementary players, Leonys Martin and Jurickson Profar ascendant youngsters – along with a farm system that should allow them to supplement. There are holes, though, and big ones. The Rangers need a catcher, a left fielder, a DH and perhaps a first baseman, and at least one of those must hit for some power.
They were in on Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu, though not strong enough. Sources said they expect Abreu to sign a contract in the vicinity of six years and $68 million with the Chicago White Sox, as FoxSports.com first reported. The timing wasn't great for Texas, with the power bats in the upcoming free agent class scarce.
There are options. Atlanta catcher Brian McCann fits well. Texas could put together a strong package for Miami right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. Daniels often looks for creative solutions to fix problems.
And while a team coming off a 91-win season isn't exactly problematic, keeping it in that vicinity isn't easy. This is Daniels' organization now, his team, his responsibility. He has proven himself canny enough to get the Rangers this far. Someone had to go, and it wasn't going to be him. Now he gets to show it was the right choice.
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