Commentary

Daniels made right call on Kinsler

What's good for Rangers must take precedent over what's best for any player

Updated: March 4, 2014, 5:03 PM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

Ian Kinsler spent several seasons with his locker in the Texas Rangers' clubhouse next to the one of his good friend Michael Young, the epitome of a leader.

Over the years, they no doubt talked about life and family and baseball. Apparently, few of those discussions revolved around leadership.

If they did, Kinsler wasn't listening.

Kinsler, traded to Detroit in the offseason, has made it clear he doesn't like general manager Jon Daniels, the man who signed him to a five-year, $75 million extension in April 2012.

[+] EnlargeJon Daniels
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezRangers general manager Jon Daniels can be perceived as cold and calculating, just as every good GM should be.

In an article in ESPN The Magazine, Kinsler said he hopes the Rangers go 0-162 this season. Then Kinsler called JD a sleazeball, in part, because the GM asked Kinsler to move to first base to make room for Jurickson Profar.

You know, the same way the Rangers traded Alfonso Soriano in December 2005 to make room for Kinsler, who hit 23 homers at Triple-A.

But Kinsler is really mad because JD and the Rangers asked him to be a leader and teach the youngsters how to be pros, the same way Young mentored Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and others over the years.

In the article, most of Kinsler's venom is directed at JD. Frankly, that should make Rangers fans ecstatic.

A general manager must be cold. And calculating. The GM can't allow sentiment to control actions.

What's good for the team must always take precedent over what's best for any player. The general manager must be the ultimate pragmatist, dealing in reality -- not fantasy -- every time a critical decision must be made.

In essence, a good general manager must be the anti-Jerry Jones.

How much criticism has Jones received over the years for being too loyal or handing out contract extensions to players far closer to the end of their careers than the beginning?

That won't happen in Texas as long as JD is running the show.

Understand, you're not ever going to like every move Daniels makes -- and they won't all work out -- but he doesn't spend much time reminiscing. Adrian Beltre and Andrus are the only regulars left from the 2011 team that twice came within one strike of winning the World Series.

JD and his front-office buddies are forever focused on acquiring the next wave of talent. It's why he traded a quality role player in Craig Gentry to Oakland for a young, talented outfielder with upside in Michael Choice.

This is the same general manager who let Josh Hamilton walk after a season with 43 homers and 128 RBIs rather than pay him $25 million a year for five years. Heck, JD let Joe Nathan, a quality closer and a better man, leave this offseason.

Then there's JD's treatment of Young. First, JD asked Young to move from shortstop to third base to create room for Andrus to play. When the Rangers unexpectedly acquired Beltre, he asked Young to move to DH and first base.

Young, as you would expect, wasn't happy.

Too bad.

JD did what he had to do to make the team better. Before last season, he traded Young to Philadelphia. The Phillies traded Young to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August, and he announced his retirement a few weeks ago.

See, JD made the right call on Young, just like he made the right call on trading Kinsler. He dealt a 31-year-old player scheduled to earn $16 million who hit .277 with 13 homers, 72 RBIs and only 15 stolen bases last season for one of the game's premier sluggers (Prince Fielder) coming off an average season with a swing made for the Rangers' ballpark.

In the process, JD made room for a top prospect in Profar, who will earn $500,000 this season.

Maybe Profar becomes a star. Maybe he doesn't. We would have never found out if Kinsler was still here.

Some player is always going to be mad at JD. Mitch Moreland is probably mad that Fielder is the first baseman and he's slated to be a platoon DH. If Alexi Ogando gets moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen, he's probably going to be mad.

Such is life for the general manager of a quality club.

JD is never going to be a cuddly dude, and that's OK. When the Cowboys ruled the NFL in '70s and '80s, general manager Tex Schramm had few friends on the roster.

Manager Ron Washington makes it easier for JD because the players love him. Notice Kinsler didn't take any shots at Washington.

Daniels is the bad cop. Washington is the good cop. Each helps the Rangers win.

If Kinsler wasn't so selfish, he would understand that.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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