Sources: Nolan Ryan Could Leave MLB Rangers After Daniels, George Promotions
The MLB Rangers on Friday promoted GM Jon Daniels to President of Baseball Operations & GM and COO Rick George to President of Business Operations. Daniels and George will continue to oversee the day-to-day baseball and business operations of the team under CEO Nolan Ryan (Rangers). In Ft. Worth, Randy Galloway reports the "shift of power" could result in Ryan leaving the ballclub by the end of Spring Training. The Rangers' owners are "now on the edge of a local PR disaster with a large segment of the fandom." But Rangers co-Chair Bob Simpson yesterday denied the promotions were a result of a "possible exit of Ryan from the team, an exit that sources say is coming, if it happens, sooner rather than later." Simpson said, "Nolan Ryan leaving the Rangers would be a tragedy, and something we don’t want to happen. ... We absolutely do not want Nolan to leave. The moves we announced (on Friday) were to preserve Nolan, not to remove him, or remove his power." Ryan has "not confirmed he is planning on leaving the ballclub." Galloway reports while the announcement was made Friday, the promotions "were actually made in late November." Ryan’s title with the team remains as CEO, but sources said that Daniels "now has final say over all baseball decisions and George the final say over business decisions." Simpson: "My definition of CEO is it’s the person in charge. Nolan Ryan will still make the anything-of-significance decisions and bring those to the owners for approval. I say significant decisions because we wanted to remove some of the day-to-day stuff from Nolan." However, despite Simpson’s comments, sources said that Daniels "is now in total charge of all baseball decisions, and has been since late November." The sources added that Ryan "absolutely would not retire from the Rangers, and if he leaves it will be because the owners no longer wanted him in the role he originally had" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/4).
ALL QUIET ON THE HOME FRONT: Galloway noted Ryan had "a very quiet winter," and players’ agents negotiating with the Rangers were "privately asking why Ryan wasn’t more involved." But this "latest move can certainly be perceived as ownership pushing it with Ryan." If that is the case, ownership "would also be pushing it with a vast majority of the club’s massive fan base, a fan base that regards Ryan as a Texas icon who helped transform a rather docile franchise into a viable force." It would be "hard to believe" Simpson and Rangers co-Chair Ray Davis, with "their roots in DFW, would not understand the impact with fans of Ryan leaving, particularly if a power play is involved in any way." It would be a "huge ownership blunder to have the departure, if it happens, to come down to a power play" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/2). In Dallas, Kevin Sherrington notes the "majority of the heavy lifting has been done by Daniels." Ryan’s contribution "hasn’t been as great as most fans like to believe, but it’s not insignificant, either." Just as he "did as a player, Ryan gave the Rangers credibility as team president, a title he no longer owns." Ryan is a "counterbalance to the geek element that permeates Daniels’ side of the power structure." Coming on the heels of an offseason in which the Rangers "suffered what seemed to be one disaster after another, the last thing the Rangers need is the mother of all PR blunders" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/4).
RYAN EXPRESS READY TO PULL OUT? In Ft. Worth, Gil Lebreton writes Ryan's "job powers were quietly amended" with the Rangers' moves. The announcement Friday was "as respectful as it was frank." If he decides to "retire from the Rangers in two months, four months or whatever, however, Ryan’s departure will produce a seismic tremor throughout baseball and, particularly, throughout Texas." But there "remains more" with the Rangers, and Ryan "can remain a part of that." The owners Friday said that they "want him to." The "educated hunch here, however, is that he won’t" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/4).
IN OTHER NEWS: The Rangers announced that individual tickets went on sale Saturday, and as of 4:00pm CT, the club had sold 104,530 tickets, compared to 101,672 on the first day of sales in '12 (Rangers).