Reporting Chris Arnold
What will Nolan Do? That’s the biggest story coming out of Texas Rangers spring training this year.
The announcement of new titles within the organization for GM Jon Daniels to President of Baseball Operations and Rick George to President of Business Operations has caused havoc amongst the rank and file off the field and apparently it threatens the tenure of CEO Nolan Ryan. There are different sides to every story and there may be no right or wrong story. Every side has angle.
The bullet points:
*Ryan’s supposed loss of power.
*Apparent bad blood between JD’s guys and Nolan’s guys.
*Daniel’s need of assurance that he has the power to keep his staff intact.
*The ownership group’s thinking they solved the chain of command dilemma.
*The PR nightmare that has followed.
How did it get to this? Our own Richie Whitt of RAGE is at spring training in Suprise, Arizona.
Richie talked to a source who said what triggered all of this was Nolan naming former Astros GM Tim Purpura to replace Scott Servais as Director of Player Development to oversee the Rangers farm system.
Purpura is an excellent baseball man. He has oustanding knowledge, he’s very qualified. But after Servais was hired away by the Angels to be their assistant GM, JD had wanted to promote rising player development star
Jayce Tinger. Tinger was retained as the Rangers Minor League Coordinator. Ryan’s move apparently angered Daniels staff and put JD in the position of not having ultimate say so over retaining his staff. Nolan apparently met with ownership last November to clarify who had the power. According to Richie, ownership said it belonged to JD. Nolan supposedly accepted the decision back then. Richie also noted that Ownership even went so far as to offer both baseball & business titles to JD. Daniels declined the business title.
So why has Nolan gone absolutely silent since the press release came out last friday? People around him say he does not want to be a figurehead or mascot and he may walk away from the Rangers by the end of the month. Richie’s source also said Ownership would side with JD if Nolan presented a “him or me” ultimatum.
Through all of this i always felt that Nolan would think this out and wind up staying because he was part of that Ownership Group and they love him. Why would he leave if they weren’t trying to push him out? They want him to stay. Is it really that bad? Couldn’t they work this out since they love him and don’t want him to leave?
I’ve been covering sports in DFW for over 30 years. my first Rangers spring training was 1981, day 2 while i was there in Pompano Beach, Florida, the big story was the game was canceled because President Reagn got shot. I’ve covered the Rangers for over 3 decades. I’ve covered 8 World Series and 8 All Star games.
I know people in baseball and I started asking questions, trying to confirm all of these stories. I spoke to a source within the Rangers Ownership group, A guy i’ve known for years who told me it was Nolan who convinced him to invest in and become one of the Ranger team owners. He’s a Nolan guy. He confirmed all of Richies info and at that point i told him it was a shame this was all going to force Nolan to probably walk away.
That’s when my source looked me squarely in the eyes and said Nolan aint going nowhere. he said Nolan would be set financially for the rest of his life by staying. he said the ownership group loves Nolan and he was admit that this thing would work out, that whatever it took for those in the Rangers organzation needed to do to show Nolan his proper respect would happen and Nolan would not be be leaving. Not over this.
My thoughts after that exchange are this: Nolan Ryan is silent because it would be one hellova decision to walk away from an incredible financial situation. Remember, Nolan has money. He will never go broke. And at age 66 he is a legend, but legends did not make $20 million per year in their prime back in the day. I looked up the numbers.
True, Nolan was the first million dollar a year player in baseball history but his biggest salary was as a rangers pitcher in 1992 he earned $4.2 million. His total earnings as a player from 1966 to 1993 combined did not top $30 million. His salary as CEO of the Rangers is said to top $9 million per year. And everyone forgets he also has an ownership share of the team. When his “Rangers Express Baseball” group outbid Mark Cuban in a bankruptcy auction, the price was $593 million. After 2 appearances in the World Series, a flush farm system, a manageable payroll and recognition as one of the top 5 organizations in all of baseball, the team’s value could top $1 billion. Nolan’s ownership share could be worth 9 figures.
Why would he walk away from all of that? To work for the Houston Astros? I don’t think so.
Yes, he has a history with the Astros organization and yes Nolan’is beloved in Houston. But he doesn’t have a warm relationship with owner Jim Crane who competed with Ryan to buy the Rangers. I don’t think Crane would offer him ownership. And the Astros have Jeff Luhnow, another JD “analytics whiz” who has been called the most powerful GM in all of baseball. the Astros worst nightmare would be having Nolan being availble and the public pressure to bring him into the organization. Nolan would not be a figurehead in Houston. But there’s no place for him to run anything.
So what are Nolan Ryan’s options? I think he stays. But the silence is deafening. Will Nolan stay with a CEO title and a reduced role? Or will he take his pride and ride off into the sunset?
What will Nolan do? WWND?
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