Next piece of Rangers' title puzzle
By acquiring Choo, GM Daniels will be big step closer to delivering a championship
Rangers Reach Deal With Choo
Jon Daniels, the anti-Jerry Jones, has a ruthless pragmatism that makes him one of baseball's best general managers. He makes decisions based on logic rather than emotions -- the way the Dallas Cowboys owner tends to do.
Daniels is always thinking about the next move. He can do that because he has an aggressive mentality, a well-stocked farm system and a couple of billionaire owners backing him who are intent on keeping the Texas Rangers positioned to win a title.
He showed his mettle again Saturday.
The Rangers have reportedly agreed to terms on a seven-year, $130 million deal with free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who's expected to hit leadoff and play left field for the Rangers.
That's a lot of cash for a player who turns 32 in July, but the Rangers are trying to win it all.
The Rangers have won 90-plus games each of the past four seasons, a feat only the Tampa Bay Rays can match in the American League. But they don't have the ring Daniels' covets.
They choked away the World Series in 2011 after twice coming within one strike of winning it all, and they gagged in the final two weeks of the 2012 season to blow the division lead.
Last season, they won 91 games and tied for the second wild-card entry with the Rays. They lost the tiebreaker game to become the first team in eight years to win that many games and miss the postseason.
That's when Daniels went to work.
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Without Hamilton and Napoli, and Kinsler being inconsistent much of the season, the Rangers dropped from first to eighth in MLB in runs scored. The Rangers scored two or fewer runs in 54 games.
The Rangers' pitching was worthy of a division champion; the offense was not. If not for a 17-2 record against the pathetic Houston Astros, the Rangers would have essentially been a .500 club.
So Daniels has gone out and fixed the lineup with a couple of bold moves.
He traded Kinsler for Prince Fielder in November, adding significant power to the lineup. The addition of Choo gives the Rangers a versatile offensive player who will enhance their lineup in a number of ways.
Choo excels in on-base percentage, finishing fourth in the big leagues (.423) last season. He stole 20 bases and hit 21 homers and 34 doubles. More than one-third of his 162 hits went for extra bases.
He is not some singles slap hitter. Choo drives the ball, having hit at least 20 homers in three of the past five seasons.
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"That's a joy. Any scout that doesn't get excited about a player he's going to sign or any coach who's not excited about working with a player or someone in the front office that's not excited about a deal makes you wonder. That's what we do. It has to play out on the field, but it's fun."
Choo should give the Rangers an offense worthy of winning a championship this season. Or next season. Or the one after that.
No team is significantly better than the Rangers in the American League. But winning the offseason, as we've seen, means nothing; the Rangers must prove it on the field. Choo will help them do it.