Nolan Ryan’s future with the Texas Rangers has been in question ever since the club elevated GM Jon Daniels to a position that would seem to make him untouchable, at least where Ryan’s concerned. If Ryan has a problem with Daniels no longer reporting to him, we’re left to wonder exactly what the issue is, especially as the Hall Of Fame pitcher has yet to comment on the matter. Ryan’s silence, in the view of Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, “is a hubristic response unbecoming a CEO whose organization is in crisis mode….since no one else seems inclined to say it, then, here it is: Nolan Ryan is acting like a big baby.”
Ryan’s position in this fight – a fight he picked, mind you – is far weaker than anyone seems willing to acknowledge. There is no other team in baseball that would hand Nolan Ryan its reins. None. The Houston Astros might invite him on board as a figurehead, but with George Postolos as CEO and Jeff Luhnow as GM, they have no room for anything more. Considering Ryan’s job with the Rangers now involves more than that, if it’s input he truly craves, his current situation is better than any with the Astros. And unless Ryan wants to leave Texas – and one friend says that at 66, with children and grandchildren and business to look after, he wouldn’t consider going elsewhere – it’s Rangers or bust.
Daniels, on the other hand, has spent 7½ years turning the Rangers from habitual doormat into a major league and player-development force. Certainly Ryan has helped. His strengths (gravitas as one of the great players ever and respect from some of the game’s bigger names) complement Daniels’ (shrewd trades and signings, respect among Texas’ player-development staff and a keen mixture of statistical know-how and scouting savvy), and they’ve made a good team, which is why Ryan’s hissy fit was so surprising. If Daniels’ ascending to president meant promotions for lieutenants Thad Levine, A.J. Preller and Don Welke, too, it would keep in place the Rangers’ successful hierarchy.
Should ownership cower to Ryan’s demands, the message to Daniels is clear: We have chosen sides. At which point Daniels would find there is a rather strong market for his services.