The second trade Jon Daniels made as the youngest general manager in baseball history was to deal Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez to San Diego for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka. It was not a good deal for the Rangers. It was a very good deal for the Padres.
This was on the heels of his first deal, trading Alfonso Soriano to Washington for Brad Wilkerson, which turned out to be even worse.
So, it’s fitting that Daniels’s last act as general manager might have been his best. Getting Chris Young back. This time to replace him as general manager.
Daniels eventually got his sea legs and went on to architect the most success era in Texas Rangers history with back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, remarkably, he pulled it off with his team in bankruptcy.
He beat out everyone for the rights to Yu Darvish for the 2012 season and assembled what Eric Nadel at the time called the best Rangers opening day lineup ever.
Jon Daniels was the Golden Boy.
Until The Great Collapse of 2012. Until the Rangers blew a five-game lead with just nine games to play. Until Game 162 of the season with the Rangers and Athletics now tied for first and the Rangers blew a 5-1 lead into a soul crushing 12-5 loss.
And just like that, the Jon Daniels magic was gone.
The Ranger would make just two playoff appearances, with a combined 586-609 (a .490 winning percentage), in the next eight seasons, finishing in last place three times (including two in the last three years), culminating with the worst record in the American League in 2020.
What had started out with the promise of a perenial contender crashed into the dock with a talent-void major league roster, a barren farm system, and a failed track record at drafting and developing, especially pitching.
Jon Daniels lost his fastball. He could no longer get hitters out. It was time to step off the mound and hand the ball to someone else.
That someone is the six-foot, ten-inch product of Highland Park High School and Princeton University, Chris Young.
After retiring following a 13-year career, Chris Young had made quite a reputation in his two years as senior vice president for baseball operations for Major League Baseball. He was, in fact, interviewing for the General Manager role with the Mets. Then the Rangers opportunity came up and he took that. It’s a chance to stay home, guide the hometown team he grew up worshiping.
It’s the chance of a lifetime.
So now, the 41-year-old Young brings badly needed new blood into a franchise that seems to be in freefall.
Daniels, who is signed through 2022, will retain his title as President of Baseball Operations.
Chris Young steps into the game with bases loaded, no outs, and a 3-0 count on the hitter.
Good luck, Chris.
A new era in Rangers baseball begins. There is hope. This is a good day.