Should Jon Daniels be held accountable for the Rangers' slide?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If you're a fan of the one-sentence paragraph -- and I know you are, you little imp -- there is no greater contribution to the genre this year than Randy Galloway's masterpiece in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Here are some of the one-sentence paragraphs presented as if they were song lyrics.

I have a theory
I have a theory

Blame game?
Is it too early for the blame game?
The players
Is it too early for the blame game?
Yes, but that's never stopped us before

I have a theory
I have a theory

Blame game?
At the moment, it's an easy answer
Nolan Ryan
Jon Daniels
Dang you

I have a theory
I have a theory

Put some Moog behind it, maybe a little rhumba beat … song of the summer, man, song of the summer.

Galloway says that maybe it's time for the Rangers to cut ties with Jon Daniels if things don't work out. It's a miserable column, sure, but there's a kernel of an interesting idea buried in there. Mainly, this: If we were to review the job done by Jon Daniels between November, 2012 and right now, how would he rate?

Right now the Rangers are 3½ games behind the Oakland A's in the West. They were up three games on the A's last year at this time, so it's not like the West has already been won. But the odds are pretty decent that the Rangers will need to play a one-game playoff again this season, which is a drag for a team that went to the World Series in back-to-back seasons recently. Something's not working the way it used to.

Here's part of the problem with the Rangers:

Tm OPS+
BOS 114
DET 111
LAA 111
OAK 109
CLE 107
TBR 107
BAL 101
TEX 100
LgAvg 100
SEA 99
TOR 98
MIN 91
KCR 90
NYY 89
HOU 88
CHW 81

That would be the Rangers milling about with the Mariners in league-average land, once you adjust for park. Really, it's not a huge problem to be league average, especially when the pitching is top-tier, as it's been for the Rangers this year. But it was kind of foreseeable. The Rangers were losing Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli. Even if it was smart of the Rangers not to lock them up, they were both big contributors to the Rangers' offense over the past couple seasons. They might have been unlikely to repeat those contributions, but without them, a decline in Ranger scoring was predictable.

The cavalry? A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman. The former has done well, having a standard Pierzynski season. The latter was a disaster, hitting relatively poorly before being injured. The Rangers had a lot of production to replace, and they didn't do much to replace it. There was a little too much trust in David Murphy, who was never as good as he was as a 30-year-old in 2012, and way too much trust in Mitch Moreland, who is hovering around replacement level for the fourth straight season.

Really, when you think of all the young first basemen who have come through Arlington in the last decade -- from Adrian Gonzalez to Travis Hafner to Carlos Pena to Chris Davis to Justin Smoak -- it's almost surreal that it's been Moreland who's been given the extended shot over four years. When adjusting for age and league, it's not like he even had a serious prospect sheen to him.

Ian Kinsler declining, Nelson Cruz getting suspended, Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus underachieving ... I'm less concerned with these developments from Daniels' perspective. There were arguments to make for those moves and non-moves.

But when it comes to 2013, Daniels could have put together a better win-now team. It would have taken some hits to the farm, or financial commitments that would look bad in a couple years, but there was a way to do it. The Rangers look set up for the future, but they knew they were good in the present. Baseball doesn't always reward the teams who look set up for the future. This was supposed to be the Royals' world by now, remember. A win-now mentality makes sense for a team as talented as the Rangers.

Daniels was too prudent. He was too measured, too logical. And you know what that did to the Rangers? It brought them to an 81-64 record, which is still in line for a playoff spot and the third-best record in the American League. What kind of surrealistic nightmare did I stumble into? The crime of Daniels was to build a really good team, while maintaining flexibility for the future? I ... no.

With the benefit of hindsight, Daniels would probably be a little more aggressive in his search for a hitter. But if the problem is that Daniels is a little risk-averse because his team was already good, that's not a fatal flaw.

Hinting that it might cost him his job, like Galloway? Get out of here.

No, seriously.

Just go.

It's not you, it's me.

Okay, it's you.

Daniels is still one of the brightest minds in any front office. His offseason inactivity might lead to a playoff spot, just not the one he was targeting. There have been worse missteps in the annals of general-manager history. And maybe we can wait a month to see just how big of a misstep it really was.

For more on the Rangers, please visit Lone Star Ball

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