Surprise positional outlook: Front office
OK, so it's not really a "position" on the field. But the Rangers' front office is a huge component at spring training.
First, they've assembled parts of the 2012 team. And it's a different one than 2011 in a few ways. The biggest offseason acquisition was Yu Darvish, of course. But the 25-year-old Japanese star isn't the only new face. Joe Nathan is now the team's closer, altering the bullpen.
The Nathan move has caused ripples elsewhere. It allows the Rangers to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation and with the starting depth, Alexi Ogando could end up back in the bullpen if everyone stays healthy. We'll see.
The reason the front office makes this outlook is that it will have a hand in the decisions made at spring training the next six weeks. When Tommy Hunter's groin injury popped up at the end of last spring, the baseball operations staff, along with the coaching staff, went over the options and determined that Ogando would go into the rotation. That was a big decision, and one that isn't simply made by the coaching staff.
|RANGERS POSITION OUTLOOK|
| Jan. 23: Catcher |
Jan. 24: First base
Jan. 25: Second base
Jan. 26: Third base
Jan. 27: Shortstop
Jan. 30: Left field
Jan. 31: Center field
Feb. 1: Right field
Feb. 2: DH/Utility
Feb. 3: Bench
Feb. 6: No. 1 starter
Feb. 7: No. 2 starter
Feb. 8: No. 3 starter
Feb. 9: No. 4 starter
Feb. 10: No. 5 starter
Feb. 13: Middle/long relief
Feb. 14: Late-inning relief
Feb. 15: Coaches
Feb. 16: Manager
Feb. 17: Front office
Daniels and his staff are already considered some of the top management folks in the big leagues, thanks to how they built the Rangers from a last-place team into back-to-back AL champions. They've put their faith in Darvish, convincing ownership to put up the $51.7 million posting fee and then pay the pitcher another $60 million for six years. Spring training will be the first taste that they'll get to see how that investment looks.
That investment, of course, doesn't happen without Bob Simpson, Ray Davis and the Rangers board, which has given Daniels the financial backing to make some more moves this offseason.
Spring is also a chance for the management team to see some more of the club's minor league talent. Some of that talent gets to spend part of spring training with the big club. But as you walk the back fields, you'll find scouts and even upper management checking in on some of the younger players throughout the organization.
So don't forget about CEO and president Nolan Ryan, Daniels, assistant GM Thad Levine, A.J. Preller, Tim Purpura, Don Welke, Josh Boyd, Kip Fagg, Jake Krug, Matt Vinnola and a host of other key folks that will help make decisions that will no doubt impact the club's results in 2012.
Even before this spring, the front office was a big part of getting the club into contention. Here's a look at some of the key decisions made that led to this point.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.