Front office plans for Rangers' future
Organizational meetings gather club's brain trust
ARLINGTON -- A keynote address from owner Tom Hicks about the need for stability, a visit from Dallas Cowboys scouting legend Gil Brandt and a bowling tournament highlighted the Rangers' first organization-wide baseball meetings since 2000.General manager Jon Daniels brought in every employee who works in baseball operations: all front office staff, Major League and Minor League field personnel, trainers and medical staff and all professional, amateur and international scouts. "I'd say we had about 90 people," Daniels said after the four-day meetings came to an end on Friday. "They were tremendous meetings. It was a chance for everybody to get together and meet each other and get on the same page. Some of these people work on their own little island and this was their first time to be in Arlington and see the ballpark. "It was a very honest assessment of the organization. It wasn't like we handed everybody a checklist of everything we're going to do. We talked philosophy; good baseball talk by good baseball people." Plus one football executive who helped the Cowboys become one of the NFL's most successful franchises. Brandt was the Cowboys scouting director from 1960-89, during which time they won two Super Bowls and played in three others. "He talked a lot about what made them successful," Daniels said. "In their first year, they were something like 0-11-1 and they sat down at the end of the year to discuss what it would take to [have] success long-term. "They decided they would have to build from within through scouting and they ended up revolutionizing the draft, looking in-depth at makeup and using the computer. He talked about finding your own competitive advantages and trusting your own people. It was great just to listen to him." Daniels made it clear the Rangers want to continue to emphasize scouting and player development. He didn't get a chance to do much of that in his first year because of all the adjustments and moves he had to make in his new job. "I didn't nearly have the time," Daniels said. "I've made more of an effort the last month to make it a priority, spending more time with scouting and player development people and this was a big first step." The Rangers also want to stress stability, something Hicks brought up in his opening address. The Rangers haven't had a major baseball summit since 2000, and since then they've had three GMs, four managers, four scouting directors and four player development directors. "It was a great meeting," Daniels said. "I feel energized."
He needs that energy because the Rangers still face a busy offseason. Negotiations with Barry Zito hit a lull while agent Scott Boras was busy dealing with the Boston Red Sox over Daisuke Matsuzaka, but they could pick up again this coming week. The New York Mets are trying to arrange for Zito to visit the Big Apple soon.The Rangers continue to talk with Mark Mulder, but he's getting married on Saturday and then headed for Tahiti on a two-week honeymoon. That will likely delay a resolution to that situation. Free agent reliever Eric Gagne, who has agreed to a one-year contract, is expected in Arlington on Monday to undergo a physical and the Rangers could officially announce his signing on Tuesday. Gagne could end up being the closer in 2007 if he's healthy, but the Rangers aren't necessarily shopping Akinori Otsuka, who had 32 saves last year. "I wouldn't characterize it that way," Daniels said. "We've fielded a lot of calls going back the last couple of weeks. Aki did a heckuva job for us last year; we're not looking to move him. We're always listening, but I'd love to have a strong bullpen. Aki was a big part of that last season and I expect him to be a big part of it next season. "It would have to be something pretty significant for us to consider it."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.