We’re all familiar with the comments Ian Kinsler made in a recent Sports Illustrated interview (if you aren’t, click here). There’s a whole lot of juicy stuff in that article to talk about, but the quote that is getting the most play is this one: “Daniels is a sleazeball. He got in good with the owners and straight pushed Ryan out. He thought all the things he should get credit for, Ryan got credit for. It’s just ego. Once we went to the World Series, everybody’s ego got huge, except for Nolan’s.”
This isn’t the first time Daniels has had negative comments made about him by former players. The most notable is Michael Young, who made it clear he was not happy with the way he was treated by Daniels in the past several seasons of his Rangers career. So, let’s try to look at it objectively, is JD a sleazeball?
Urban Dictionary has the following definition of sleazeball: “a person who lies, cheats and steals to get what they want. A person who knowingly violates rules to prosper as long as they don’t get caught. A person who manipulates others to join in their unethical behavior. A person with no character. A person with no ethics, or is unethical. A dishonest person.”
In the interview, Kinser gives a little background when he says that Daniels got the favor of ownership and then used that to push Nolan Ryan out of the front office. We can also assume part of Kinsler’s issue was that he was not informed of the trade by JD himself but instead found out through social media. Daniels has said the trade was finalized while he was on an airplane and he had no way of notifying Kinsler at the time. For his part, Daniels admits that the notification of Kinsler was handled poorly and he regrets that he was not able to inform Ian himself.
Let’s look at the accusation of Daniels currying favor with Rangers ownership and using that to push Ryan out. Those who follow the Rangers know there have been a lot of rumors about a power struggle between the Ryan people and the Daniels people. It was obvious back in the spring of 2013 that something had to give. Did Daniels use his influence with ownership to oust Ryan? Possibly. But let’s look at the past history of the legend himself when it comes to how he operated.
First, there is the curious case of Jackie Moore who was hired by Ryan to be the bench coach for manager Ron Washington back in 2008. He was apparently hired without Washington being allowed to interview him or sign off on the hire. Ryan hired him and plopped him in Washington’s lap. Not the usual way of doing business for a major league team. Moore served as bench coach until 2013 when his contract was allowed to expire by the team. Let me repeat that, Moore was NOT FIRED (despite what Randy Galloway wants you to believe), his contract was simply not renewed. After his contract was allowed to expire, Moore went on a rather infamous (and unprofessional) scorched earth rant against the Rangers front office.
Second, if the accusation of sucking up to ownership to get a high profile member of the front office ousted sounds familiar, it should. It’s the same thing Ryan himself did a few years ago to Chuck Greenberg. The rumor at that time was that Ryan felt Greenberg was sticking his nose into areas of the team that it didn’t belong, trying to insert his opinion and influence over areas of baseball operations that were Ryan’s domain. Is this deja vu or what??? Ryan went to ownership with a “him or me” proposal. Greenberg got the axe and Ryan assumed more power. Fast forward to the present. Daniels is now accused by Kinsler of sucking up to ownership to get Ryan ousted. Why? Because he felt Ryan was sticking his nose into the baseball operations side of things that were now Daniels domain. We don’t know if JD told ownership “him or me,” but the end result is the same. Ryan is out and Daniels is the main man.
Funny that Kinsler had no issue with what Ryan did to Greenberg, in fact, he makes some comments in the article about how Nolan has gold coming out of various bodily openings.
Lastly, there is the issue of Ryan’s very questionable personnel moves. There are two players that we know of to be primarily Ryan driven signings, Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. How did those two signings work out for the Rangers? With that record, is it any wonder that ownership felt Daniels was the better man to guide the ship?
Then there is the issue of Kinsler himself. This is a guy who was happy to sign a 5 year, $75 million contract extension, making him one of the highest paid second basemen in the game. No sleazeball comments then, no sir. This is a guy, who states in the article, he really didn’t think it was his job to help lead the young players, he felt he needed to just worry about his own performance on the field. This is a guy who openly admits that he refused to move to first base when the team asked him to do so to make room for Jurickson Profar. Would the team have been better with Profar at second and Kinsler at first instead of the oft injured Mitch Moreland? Short term, debatable. Long term, assuredly. It certainly didn’t help Profar, who struggled at the plate while being shuffled all around the diamond so Ian wouldn’t have to change positions. So, Kinsler blocked a move to protect his own interests, knowing it would hurt the development of a young teammate and probably hurt the team overall? Per the definition, you might call THAT the act of a sleazeball.
The reality is that Jon Daniels has done what every high level executive in a company does. They make moves that they feel are in the best interests of the company while protecting their own job security. Daniels had already seen Ryan run Greenberg out of town and could read the writing on the wall. Ryan never recovered from having his role with the team decreased in the spring of 2013, a move that was really more about keeping highly respected baseball minds like Thad Levine and AJ Preller around than it was elevating Daniels. He wanted to run the team his way and something about how Daniels went about his job grated on Nolan.
In the end, Daniels is a man who wants to protect his position with one of the most respected franchises in baseball. He wants to win and that sometimes means trading prominent players. That sometimes means allowing the contracts of coaches to expire who are not giving their manager sound advice. That means getting Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Going back to the beginning, remember that Michael Young was not a Jon Daniels fan when he left the Rangers, and probably rightly so. In the end though, Young has come back to the franchise and has even made statements that he now understands why JD made the moves he did, even though he may not have appreciated them at the time.
So, who’s the sleazeball? Daniels? Ryan? Kinsler? The bottom line is it doesn’t matter. JD is a really smart guy, who has a track record of making solid personnel moves over time. I’ll take that sleazeball as my GM any day.