Apparently, Jon Daniels hates the term rebuild. He prefers to call what he is doing a “development phase.”
Rebuild is more accurate. That’s what it is. Daniels rebuilt a losing team into an elite champion. Then he deforested it into a last-place team. Now he is trying to rebuild it.
Jamey Newberg wrote an article yesterday on The Athletic comparing this rebuild to what Daniels did in 2007, with his usual optimistic take. But the biggest difference, and what he didn’t address, is that in 2007 Daniels was overcoming the mistakes of others who came before him. Now, he is attempting to course correct his own massive mistakes. This Rangers fiasco is of his own making.
When you talk of his rebuild of 2007, the biggest impact actually came in the middle of that season. The Mark Teixeira Trade. The deal that single-handedly made Jon Daniels a boy genius.
Two and a half years later, his team was in the World Series for the first time ever.
It was decreed that this was the model franchise. Daniels made a promise to Rangers fans that they would always have an elite-caliber team.
Until it wasn’t.
Everything was going well until Josh Hamilton failed to catch an easy fly ball to punctuate a monumental collapse that saw this team blow a five-game lead with nine games left to play. They went 2-7, Oakland caught them on the second-to-last day of the season, the Rangers ended up settling for a wild card slot, and lost that game to Baltimore in what looked like shellshocked fashion.
Just like that, the wind was out of the elite sail.
Yes, the Rangers won 91 games in 2013. But they were one of the worst 90-win teams in baseball history. They tied for the wild card slot, and lost the wild card game, meekly, totally outmanned. If ever there was a team that was the beneficiary of the unbalanced schedule, it was the 2013 Texas Rangers. They had the good fortune of having two patsies in their division, the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Angels, facing them a combined 38 times. They went 32-6.
Which means, against the rest of baseball, they were a lousy 59-65. They snuck past the bouncer but were carded when they got to the bar. Then 2014 revealed who they really were.
Since 2102, in fact, the Rangers are a combined 486-487.
The Rangers have had a decade with five amazing seasons: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016. But it’s the next five years that it’s all about now
Despite what Jon Daniels wants to call it, he is in rebuild mode.
With both his team and his reputation.