Richard Justice: ‘Jon Daniels Did Better Job Filling Needs Than Any General Manager’
The Rangers drafted Russell Wilson in December because team president Jon Daniels felt the Super Bowl-winning quarterback could help Texas win a World Series – not because Wilson will bat .300 or hit 30 home runs this year, but because he’ll inject the ball club with a winner’s mentality.
“All (Daniels) wanted out of it was to have his players associate with a guy whose makeup, everyone says, is off the charts,” MLB.com columnist Richard Justice said on The John Feinstein Show. “It’s interesting. It’s an outside-the-box thought to just have your guys around a guy that everyone says has a champion’s heart.”
But what if Wilson, who will be in uniform when the Rangers host the Indians at Surprise Stadium in Arizona on Monday, dives for a ground ball and comes up with a sore elbow in practice? Shouldn’t he be concerned? And shouldn’t the Seahawks be concerned?
“Yeah, but you know what? Boys will be boys,” Justice said. “There’s risk, but players get hurt all the time. I think for him – and he’s going to address all this – he’s just a jock. And he’s out here having some fun and getting another view of a different world – a world he’s familiar with, but (not) at this level.”
The Rangers, who came up short in the World Series in 2010 and 2011, have ended the year with disappointment each of the last four seasons. Last year, in fact, they missed the postseason altogether – by one game – finishing behind Cleveland and Tampa Bay in the Wild Card standings.
A so-so offense should improve drastically with the additions of Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder, who will join Elvin Andrus, Adrian Beltre, Alexis Rios, Geovany Soto and highly touted prospect Jurickson Profar.
“The Rangers have aspirations of winning the World Series,” Justice said. “There’s no general manager, I don’t think, that did a better job filling his needs than Jon Daniels did. He needed offense, (and) he went out and got Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder. So they feel like they’re in a very good place.
“But the era we’re in – where 25 teams probably think they’re going to the postseason with a break here and there – history’s proven maybe they could. Who knows?”
Elsewhere in the AL West, Seattle is hoping to reverse its fortunes – literally. After going 71-91 last year, the Mariners signed Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract in the offseason. A 91-71 record just might be enough to reach the playoffs – but even with Cano, that’s no easy task.
In fact, Cano has already said the lineup needs another right-handed bat.
“Well, that’s life,” Justice said. “You went for the money. No one’s going to begrudge you that. That’s what players do in free agency. You only get one crack at it in most careers – one crack at a big one.
“They can be a good team – if their young guys (produce),” Justice continued. “The Yankees have questions about old guys, but the Mariners have questions about young guys. What is (Dustin) Ackley going to be? What is (Brad) Miller going to be? What is (Mike) Zunino going to be? They have to hit on all of those things – because you can’t buy a championship in free agency. (That’s) the one thing we’ve learned the last few years – you just can’t do it.
“So, we don’t know what the Mariners are going to be. But as you look at the American League West today, you’d say Oakland and Texas (is) a coin toss at the top, I think the Angels are going to be better, and the Mariners are better than the Astros – and that’s all we know right now.”