On the one hand, it sounded huge. Jon Daniels and Rick George get promotions into presidency positions, in Daniels’s case while also maintaining his post as General Manager, a dual title that only Detroit’s Dave Dombrowski could currently claim. They continue to run their departments under CEO Nolan Ryan, who earlier in the day (and for nearly two years) was CEO and President Nolan Ryan.
On the other hand, Daniels tells the press that there won’t be a dramatic difference in how baseball operations conducts its business under the new arrangement. After all, the tripartite structure when Ryan was CEO/President and Daniels was GM and George was Chief Operating Officer wasn’t really changing, even if new business cards would need to be printed. Just about every local beat writer and columnist was quick to interpret the announcement as such.
There were two things that jumped out as I was trying to process what all of this meant, and why it was done now.
The first was Randy Galloway’s take toward the end of his afternoon radio show, when the news broke. He must have said “Keep a close eye on this” a dozen times. He suggested this could be a signal that Ryan, 66, perhaps not all that happy about the turn of events leading up to it, might be considering walking away from the organization, perhaps even before the season ends.
Health reasons? Pace? Family time? Office politics?
Galloway wouldn’t say, or even guess – and refused to suggest there was any sort of power play involved – but he did note in a column up on the Star-Telegram website tonight that “[t]here were rumblings over the winter that Ryan was considering retirement, and at least one player’s agent has been telling other people in baseball he believed Ryan was leaving the Rangers,” adding that “if [Ryan] does leave, it won’t be because he was forced out but because ownership has eroded his position within the team.”
The second thing that caught my attention was a note that Gerry Fraley (Dallas Morning News) and Anthony Andro (Fox Sports Southwest) each had toward the end of their respective stories on the announcement.
Fraley: “[O]wnership has asked [Daniels] to do everything possible to keep the baseball operations team together.”
Andro: “One thing the [ownership] group wants Daniels to focus on in his new role is keeping the organization’s top personnel from leaving for other opportunities.”
Particularly given those comments, it stands to reason, does it not, that moving Daniels into a Presidency role could pave the way for an eventual promotion of Assistant GM Thad Levine to GM, and of Senior Director of Player Personnel A.J. Preller to Assistant GM (or, I suppose, Preller to GM if that’s the shakeout)? Levine has had interviews to run other clubs. If Preller hasn’t, he will.
Theo Epstein, President. Jed Hoyer, GM.
Mark Shapiro, President. Chris Antonetti, GM.
John Shuerholz, President. Frank Wren, GM.
We’re all trying to figure out if it’s possible to keep both Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar, right?
Then, later tonight, I re-read the press release, and noticed something interesting.
Paragraph 1 announced the Daniels and George promotions.
Paragraph 2 noted that they would oversee their operations “under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Nolan Ryan.”
Paragraph 3 contained a five-sentence quote from Co-Chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, covering: (1) the organization’s enormous strides under Ryan’s leadership; (2) Ryan’s impact on Daniels; (3) Ryan’s work with George; (4) the promotions as a reflection of the responsibility Ryan has entrusted to Daniels and George; (5) the strength of the organization’s leadership team, led by Ryan.
Paragraph 4 was Ryan’s own quote.
Paragraph 5 bullet-points Daniels’s tenure. Paragraph 6 highlights George’s achievements. Paragraph 7 concludes the statement with a sentence remarking on what Ryan has accomplished in baseball.
While Daniels and George earned the promotions – and the extra job security that you’d expect comes along with them – the organization was nonetheless intent on focusing much of its Friday announcement on Ryan.
And I have no criticism of that. Ryan has meant a tremendous amount to this franchise in all kinds of ways, and will continue to do so, no matter what his title is, as long as he wants to. To whatever extent this development was his wish, should it effectively keep some key members of the inner circle around, at least for a longer time if not indefinitely, then one more slow clap for the big man.
We shouldn’t lose sight of the folks in baseball operations and in business operations not named Friday but whom Daniels was quick to praise when asked for comment. As he put it, today’s announcement was, “more than anything, . . . a recognition of the work of not just myself or Rick, but our corps under strong leadership and what the organization has accomplished over the last eight years.”
The franchise is in great hands. The roster is strong, the farm system is deep, the coaching staff added a star this winter, the business side is killing it, the fan base is formidable.
And ownership has the financial muscle, the desire to win, and the determination to constantly get stronger, which in pro sports frequently includes finding ways to hang onto key assets.
Nobody was added to the organization on Friday, but while the announcement might be viewed as nominal and little more, it could turn out that the news will ultimately represent addition by delaying subtraction.
And if that’s part of the outcome here, congratulations to Davis and Simpson and the group they lead, to Daniels and George for their well-deserved promotions, and perhaps to a few other folks in the organization who might end up in bigger roles.
And if that really is where this is headed and today’s development ultimately helps this franchise win, then regardless of his official baseball title, Ryan gets a seat in front of the motorcade, and whether he’s CEO or CEO/President or Team Ambassador to Everything, I think we’d all be OK with him adding “grand marshal” to his Texas Rangers job description.