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Rangers betting on youth for future

3/5/2013 - MLB Texas Rangers

Nolan Ryan saved the Texas Rangers in the early '90s, when the Texas icon's pitching prowess gave the club credibility.

Hired in 2008 as president of the Rangers, Ryan came to the rescue again when he teamed with Chuck Greenberg in 2010 to save the franchise from bankruptcy and buy it from Tom Hicks. In the process, he put together a dynamic ownership group with billionaires Ray Davis and Bob Simpson serving as co-chairmen.

The point: We all know Ryan's importance to the Rangers.

You can't write this franchise's story without several chapters about Ryan's contributions.

That said, there's nothing wrong with ownership putting additional trust and responsibility in Jon Daniels and the men he deems most valuable to the franchise's long-term success.

The Rangers named Daniels president of baseball operations Friday, which sets up nicely for assistant general manager Thad Levine to eventually become the GM, and A.J. Preller, senior director of player personnel, can continue finding players all over the globe.

In the process, Ryan appears to have had some of his power usurped, although he remains the club's CEO.

No matter how we spin it, this is JD's organization -- and that's how it should be. Don't forget, Greenberg resigned seven months after he helped save the franchise. The Rangers have survived front office discord before, and they will again.

Now, Ryan has lost a little authority. Frankly, it makes sense.

JD is 35. So is Preller. Levine is 41. Ryan is 66.

It's not that Ryan is too old to continue making a significant contribution to the organization. His credibility is second to none in MLB, but the reality is his age makes Ryan's role a year-to-year proposition.

And if you have to choose between having a terrific 66-year-old run an organization and three terrific guys -- none of whom is older than 41 -- you have to bet on youth every time.

If not, you can expect to eventually lose them, just like Scott Servais left the Rangers last year to join the Los Angeles Angels.

That's just how the business works.

As much as Ryan has done for the Rangers, JD has made the vast majority of key moves that helped the Rangers advance to the World Series two of the past three seasons.

Still, Ryan holds a vital role in this organization.

He brought pitching coach Mike Maddux and Tim Purpura, senior director of player development, to the Rangers.

He also brought a mindset to the Rangers. It was Ryan's idea to institute an organization-wide strategy that would give pitchers the physical stamina and mental resolve to consistently pitch deep into games.

The "jet stream" and heat in August and September are no longer acceptable excuses for failing to pitch well.

More important, Ryan is the sage voice of reason.

He comes from the perspective of a former player, and that's good. It's not the most important aspect of management, but it matters.

Ryan makes JD and Levine consider things from a different perspective, which is good. Too many like-minded people eventually leads to disaster.

Ryan can still do all of that in a slightly different role, but it will require not giving in to his ego.

Hey, we all have egos; there's no shame in it. But Ryan is no different from any of us. Any change in his title is going to be disappointing -- even if the logic makes sense.

Change is always difficult, and it doesn't matter whether we're talking about giving up cigarettes, creating new eating habits or following a workout regime.

If it were easy, as mama used to say, everyone would change.

The Rangers' goal has never been to just win a championship. JD has always said the Rangers want to have a 15-year window as a contending club.

Maybe longer.

A stable ownership group and front office is the best way to achieve that -- and if that means a Texas icon must take a lesser role for it to happen, that's what must occur.