Way back in 2006, the Rangers went through a bunch of changes. In 2005, John Hart was the GM, and Tom Hicks owned the team. The 2004 team finished with 89 wins and just out of the playoffs mainly due to poor pitching. The Ranger offense was 3rd in all of baseball in runs scored, but 5th worst in runs allowed.
In 2005 the team barely won 73 games and they were awful. John Hart was still GM, and by July, three fifths of the starting rotation were no longer employed by the team. Then in 2006, they hired the youngest GM in all of baseball John Daniels. All of the talk then was that (DVD) were coming soon to the Rangers; the organization felt that they just needed a little more time and they would be ready to contend with their homegrown talent. DVD, was John Danks, Edison Volquez, and Thomas Diamond, they were ranked 1-3 on the top ten prospects list, along with Eric Hurley #5, and Armando Galarraga at #7 on the list all as the future of the franchise with pitching, and all homegrown talent.
The other names on that top 10 list were #4 Joaquin Arias INF, #6 Ian Kinsler 2B, #8 Jason Botts OF, #9 Taylor Teagarden C, and #10 John Mayberry DH.
Out of that 2006 top 10 list Danks currently with the White Sox has had a very nice career, Volquez was traded for Josh Hamilton has done well with the Reds and the Pirates, Ian Kinsler became an All-Star type talent, Taylor Teagarden has had a nice career, and so has John Mayberry (he Volquez, Teagarden and Volquez are all free agents this year)
Galarraga, had a few years, but last played in 2012, Thomas Diamond had one year in the majors in 2010, was plagued with injuries, and his career was over. Jason Botts was up and down with the Rangers from 2005-2008, but never had much of an impact and is no longer in baseball.
That is an incredible top 10 list in terms of production, with 7 of 10 making significant impact and all playing in the show. However, the interesting part of the story is that the new green GM, Daniels traded every single one of those guys and the trades are incredible if you go back and research who all were involved in those trades. Even Ian Kinsler was eventually traded for Prince Fielder.
The story around baseball today is saying that John Daniels does not want to trade his talent. Well guess what, I think JD learned from his experiences. Out of that 2006 class, Danks, Volquez, Galarraga, Mayberry, Teagarden, and eventually (as stated) Kinsler were all traded. We could go through all the transactions, trades, and who was traded for whom, but the reality is that back in 2006 the best free-agent pitcher Daniels could sign was Kevin Millwood. There were some others in that same class not necessarily listed in the top 10 too, names like Chris Young, Adrian Gonzalez, Omar Poveda, Manuel Pina, Jose Vallejo, and Fabio Castillo. Later they added Shane Funk, Michael Kirkman, Jacob Rasner, Matt Nevarez, and Kevin Lowe.
The reason I bring this up, is that if we know anything about Daniels he is not afraid of making a trade. We also know that he has made some mistakes, (trading Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez for a broken pitcher and a very old bat from San Diego), but sometimes he has done very well. Trades or prospects are much the same, just like in the movie Forest Gump “it is like a box of chocolates”, you just don’t know what you are going to get. In fact, since 2006 the Rangers have not done a lot with free agent pitching acquisitions because the team grew their own. It is less expensive, and outside of adding a Cliff Lee (big hit for JD), or a Jose Guzman (big loss for JD) not much else has been done because of that homegrown talent pool. There were cases where talent were traded for prospects, and those prospects bore fruit.
The current talent pool is not low, it is loaded, and the fact is that the team may have 5-starting pitchers in the minors ready to pop up this year. Luke Jackson, Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff, Alec Asher, and Alex Gonzalez all are about ready, and that is not counting Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez, or Lisalverto Bonilla. Out of those 8 pitchers, I am thinking that with just a tad more experience and development they are the future of the team. Just as “DVD” were projected to be. Meanwhile, Yu Darvish could be Cy Young candidate if he puts it all together and stops messing with his delivery. Derek Holland needs a consistent full season and to stay away from dogs. Matt Harrison may never return but he is under contract for a long time, so if he does come back he will be a Ranger, and don’t forget Martin Perez who had Tommy John surgery and might be back in August but most likely in 2016. Too much pitching, is like having too much money. The huge difference between what the Rangers have now, and what they had in 2006 is 3-starters that are known commodities.
That is an extremely deep pool of talented pitching prospects, so it makes sense to me that John Daniels believes his guys are just worth more than their guys. This gets a little tricky when placing valuations on players because you have to consider the length of contractual control into the equation.
An example might be if Johnny Cueto from the Reds was available for trade. He is a proven commodity and a very nice pitcher. In fact, he would be the #2 man in the starting rotation right now. He also has only 1-year left on his contract. Would he be worth losing Alex Gonzalez and Jose Alfaro? What about if the Padres offered Andrew Cashner who has a couple of years on his contract, but would giving up two of those great prospect pitchers and Joey Gallo be worth it?
At this point Daniels wants to win the trade. Out of the current top 10 on the talent chart, and the eight pitchers mentioned, if 7 of 10 hit as those in 2006 did, over a few years that is truly amazing. Frankly, that was a very special group back then, but this group might be even better, deeper and have even more front line talent, as opposed to role players.
Logic would dictate that Daniels and his scouts believe that theirs, is worth more than what has been offered. Therefore, management does not want to just make trades that can hurt the team in the long run. The only way you make those trades is if you are in desperation, win-now mode. As Daniels looks up and sees Billy Beane trading and doing crazy things in Oakland, the Angels making moves, and the Mariners signing big time free agents there is serious pressure to do something equally large.
At this point that would be a huge mistake in my opinion. The Rangers have the nucleus of a good team, if it can find health for 162 games. They have some guys who might be ready to pop, and they have the luxury of being able to afford to wait. They are not going to be the hitting team of 2010 nor of 2006, but they should do better than last year. A big right-handed bat would be of much more use than an over priced pitcher. A healthy Holland and Darvish can carry a team a long way, you know what you have with Colby Lewis, so if you can win half the games from the other two spots the team can be competitive as it is right now. There is no need for desperation, to overpay, or to give up a ton of talent for someone else’s problems. With time, the talent the Rangers have on the farm just becomes more valuable to the team, and to other teams.
I said this a month or so ago, but I still believe the Rangers should sign Edison Volquez as a free agent, and let’s play some baseball! I say give the kids a chance, and let’s see if our veterans can stay healthy. Unless the right deal comes along, and someone is willing to overpay for the organizations home-grown talent, then why go out and overpay or trade the teams hard-working efforts in development for theirs.
Stay the course, do not panic, and do not give in to media or peer pressure. If they follow that advice, the team will be competitive this year, they may or may not make the playoffs, but will be much improved and looking forward to 2016 when it appears the teams prospects might start paying dividends. Then again, if they collect insurance money for Matt Harrison they could afford to go sign James Shields and make a big trade for that right handed bat!
It has been a long time since 2006, I do not see history repeating exactly the same way. What I do see is that the Rangers have the opportunity to be competitive in 2015, and possibly dominate for years to come if John Daniels can just believe, as I do, that Billy Beane has completely lost his mind!
Only 64 days until pitchers and catchers report, let the countdown begin!