It’s easy to criticize Jon Daniels.
He brings it on himself with his elitist attitude and arrogant talk of building a perpetual winner in Arlington, only to see the franchise year by year drift away from relevance.
But you have to give him credit where credit is due.
Where would this team be without Prince Fielder?
Desperately needing a power hitter after replacing Josh Hamilton with Leonys Martin—which is like replacing Sofia Vergara with Roseanne Barr—Daniels made a brilliant move. He traded away a player who had overstayed his welcome in Ian Kinsler for a player who in half a season may have turned himself into one of the all-time Ranger favorites. Of all time.
I applauded the move when he made it. I thought it was Daniels’s best move ever (a short list, to be sure) and still thought it was after Prince’s lost 2014 season.
Where would this team be without Prince Fielder? I think it’s safe to say the Rangers would be slap fighting it out in a classic hissy fit with the Phillies for worst team in baseball. And the Rangers would be winning that fight, or losing, or whatever you would call the worst team in that situation.
If you don’t agree, consider this. The Ranger had one lone representative worthy of the All-Star team.
If they didn’t have Prince Fielder, who else on the Rangers would have come even remotely close to deserving it?
Offensively, there is only one other candidate, one other hitter that is even having close to a non-miserable season. Mitch Moreland. And Moreland plays at the deepest position in baseball. He is having a remarkable season by Mitch Moreland standards. A great season by Texas Rangers standards. But not an All-Star season by American League standards. He’s not better than Pulols or Teixeira or Hosmer or Cabrera or even Fielder.
Pitching-wise, the only one even close to considering would be Yovani Gallardo. Nobody else is even in the conversation. And Gallardo would make it only because every team has to have someone. It’s a law.
Without Fielder, the rulebook would have forced the American League to have included a Ranger.
Remember when five Rangers made it in 2011? Hamilton, Beltre, Young, Ogando, C.J. Wilson. Remember when eight Rangers made it in 2012? Hamilton, Beltre, Young, Kinsler, Andrus, Darvish, Harrison, Nathan.
One made it in 2015.
That, in a nutshell, is all you need to know about how far the Rangers have fallen off the face of relevance. Their face has slid more than Joan Rivers’s ever did.
But this is an article about what Daniels has done right lately. For articles about what he has done wrong, re-read the last 325 blog posts.
Without Prince Fielder, this is the worst team in baseball, easily.
Ian Kinser had a very good season with the Tigers last year, accentuated by the horrible bust Fielder was last season with Texas in comparison.
In fact, Kinsler made the All-Star team himself. But, this year, he is back to being the Ian Kinsler that confounds the beejeebers out of fans. He chalked up 17 home runs and 93 RBIs last year, but has just 3 homers and 39 RBIs so far this year. And Tigers fans are pointing out he sure does hit a lot of pop-ups to second.
But if you look at his career, he has an All-Star worthy season every other year. He made it on 08, 10, 12 and 14. So this is par for the course for Ian.
His .274 average and .375 on base percentage would be quite impressive compared to the other contact-challenged players Banister runs up there. But I would never trade that for what Fielder has done for this team.
He put the team first with his acceptance to be a DH. He brings unbridled joy onto the field every game he plays. He is a leader, a mentor, a guy who inspires everyone else to jump on his very broad shoulders and go along for the ride.
Above all else, he is an honest-to-goodness bona fide major league hitter who is having his best season in an already brilliant career.
Fielder’s on base percentage is .403. Against right-handed pitching, it’s .441.
He is, not just in size but in performance, a man among boys in the Rangers lineup.
I’d hate to think where the Rangers would be without him. Oh yeah, they were without him last year, and look where it got them. Answer: Last place.
Jon Daniels deserves all the credit for the Prince Fielder trade. And all the credit for the wreckage around him.
Which Jon Daniels are we going to see as the trade deadline looms? The one who made the brilliant move for Prince Fielder? Or the one who turned Mike Napoli into Robinson Chirinos, and Josh Hamilton into Leonys Martin, and David Murphy into Ryan Rua, and Nelson Cruz into Shin-Soo Choo, and Michael Young into Elvis Andrus, and the Texas Rangers into the Philadelphia Phillies?
Let’s go into the second half of the season on a positive note.
Great job on Prince Fielder, Daniels. Bravo. Brilliant move.