We're gonna be here awhile.

“The
Cowboys got nothing more than a huge handful of Minnesota smoke.  And who knows if there’ll
ever be any fire.  Love that steal for Minnesota.

 

“[G]ive
it a year, or two, maybe three, then allow us to gather once again for a replay
of Thursday’s events.  Roll will be called as we are taking names and checking
close to see who is doing the beaming and the gloating.  We definitely will find
out whose train was really robbed.”

 

― Randy Galloway,
Dallas Morning News, Oct. 13,
1989

 

So many easy punch
lines. 

 

After those three years
he had so proudly calendared, as Dallas was in the midst of its first of three
Super Bowl title seasons out of four, Galloway was probably neither beaming, nor
gloating, nor owning up to the fact that he’d pounded his chest ridiculing the
Cowboys for the Herschel Walker Trade and congratulating the Vikings for pulling
off such a slam-dunk heist: “It’s a textbook example of how the strong fleece
the weak in a blockbuster trade,” Galloway had declared.  “All they had to do
was find somebody dumb enough to fall for it.”

 

Thank goodness the
Cowboys were dumb enough.

 

Nineteen years later,
Galloway wrote, in the September 24, 2008
edition of the Fort Worth
Star-Telegram
: “What the Rangers will attempt to sell you for ’09 is
a strong farm system.  What can’t be sold is the idea any pitchers on the farm
will arrive ready to go before 2010, and even 2010 might be overly optimistic.” 

 

And two days after that:
“No one is re-inventing the game here.  Any good baseball man can attempt to
build through a minor league system.”

 

A familiar, hollow
Galloway theme.

 

And this: “The next
Arlington excuse for keeping Daniels will come next week when Baseball America names the Rangers’ farm
system as No. 1, or at least in the top three out of 30 clubs.  That’s nice, but
a good farm system can be judged only by how many major leaguers eventually
surface, and in this case, how many pitchers show up.  Prospects are nice.  But
the final verdict on prospects comes much later.”

 

Yes, Randy, it does.  In
some cases not as much later as others, though. 

 

In 2006, Texas drafted Chris Davis and Derek Holland out of junior
college, signing Davis that summer and Holland the following
spring as a draft-and-follow.  Two years later, Davis not only arrived in the big leagues but
served notice that he’s going to be a force for a long, long time.  Holland finished his first
full pro season in Class AA, and will probably show up right at the top of that
number one farm system in baseball when the industry lists come
out.

 

I wouldn’t expect
Galloway – or any other local columnist – to have known a year ago whether Derek
Holland was a Rangers farmhand or a linebacker who came over from the Vikings in
1989.  I wouldn’t expect Galloway to know today
who Martin Perez or Wilfredo Boscan are.  Or Michael
Main.

 

But he’s telling local
sports fans that building through the minor leagues is simple, if not
meaningless, in part I guess because the payoff isn’t immediate enough for
tomorrow’s column, or this afternoon’s throwaway talk show segment between
football rants.

 

Galloway chided the
Cowboys for trading the 27-year-old Walker for that “huge handful of Minnesota
smoke”: five players (linebackers Jesse Solomon and David Howard, corner Issiac
Holt, defensive end Alex Stewart, and tailback Darrin Nelson) and seven draft
picks – a first-rounder plus six conditional picks not only tied to the status
of the five players, but spread out over four drafts. 

 

With those picks, some
of which were packaged in trades for more draft picks, Dallas brought Emmitt
Smith and Darren Woodson aboard.  And Russell Maryland and Kevin Smith. 

 

And three Lombardi
Trophies.

 

Dumb
enough.

 

Now, the Rangers haven’t
won a Commissioner’s Trophy.  Or a playoff series.  Or, in the last nine
seasons, a playoff-clinching game.  But that’s not the
point.

 

The point is
this:

 

Jon Daniels made a
decision a month or two into the 2007 season to implement a plan.  A long-range,
methodical, disciplined, meticulous plan.  At the heart of the plan was a
commitment to building from within, a systematic approach centered on the
revitalization of the Rangers farm system and dedication to challenging young
players and giving them opportunities to succeed here. 

 

For all the outcry that
Galloway and others are encouraging, consider the
following:

 

1. Despite the decision
to trade Mark Teixeira, Eric Gagné, and Kenny Lofton (not to mention Eddie
Guardado) for much younger players, most of whom had not even reached AA when
acquired, the Rangers went from a 46-59 record (.438) at the July 31, 2007 trade
deadline to a 29-28 mark (.509) the rest of that season, and were better overall
in 2008 (79-83) than in 2007 (75-87) even though virtually every key member of
the 2008 pitching staff and starting lineup either missed a month or more, or
played through lingering injuries that probably should have sidelined them. 

 

Forget 2008’s extreme
valleys (April and August) and peaks (May through July) and look at the bottom
line.  Texas
got younger this year, and got better, and the club developed an identity of
resilience that should get only stronger going forward.  This is where the early
2007 plan was supposed to be all along.

 

2. The Rangers had the
league MVP over the first half (Josh Hamilton).  They had what was probably the
league MVP over the second half before he got hurt (Ian Kinsler).  They have a
young corner infielder with elite power (Chris Davis) and another on the way
(Justin Smoak).  They have two of the top 10 upper-level pitching prospects in
baseball.  They have four catchers with significant value, one or two of whom
are likely going to be moved at some point for pitching. 

 

Other than Gerald Laird,
all the above players are under club control for at least the next four
years.

 

3. As the 2007 season
got underway, the Rangers farm system was the 28th strongest out of 30,
according to Baseball America
Following that season, the system had vaulted to number four.  A year later, the
buzz is that Texas will be given BA’s number one or number
two tag this off-season.

 

“That’s nice,” Galloway
says, but consider this: Coming into 2008, the top two farm systems in baseball
according to BA belonged to Tampa
Bay and Colorado.  In 2007, Tampa Bay and
Boston.  In
2006, Arizona
and the Dodgers.  In 2005, the Angels and Dodgers.  In 2004, Milwaukee and the Dodgers. 

 

Notice anything about
those teams?

 

While BA has yet to
reveal its Organization of the Year, the publication has already issued 2008 Top
20 Prospects lists for each of the minor leagues, from AAA down to the
rookie-level circuits.  Oakland and Atlanta tied Texas for the most players (14 each) on the
various league lists (and several obvious winners were left off because they
lacked innings or at-bats because of promotions).  Looking solely at the top 10
players in each ranking, Texas had 11 players
show up; San
Francisco was next with eight.  Focusing only on each
league’s top five, Texas had five, while
Oakland and Florida had four
each.

 

4. While not as
important as the improvement in Arlington and the depth of prospects on the
farm, Rangers minor league clubs won a lot in 2008.  Despite aggressive roster
turnover throughout the system, four of six affiliates reached the playoffs
(five of seven if you count the organization’s primary Dominican Summer League
entry), and collectively the seven clubs went 431-331 (.566). 

 

Winning helps build
winners. 

 

5. Scouting director Ron
Hopkins and his team of crosscheckers and area scouts are cooking, and have been
since before the 2007 plan was launched: Taylor Teagarden, German Duran, Doug
Mathis, Renny Osuna, Johnny Whittleman, John Mayberry Jr., and Steve Murphy in
2005.  Chris Davis, Derek Holland, Kasey Kiker, Danny Ray Herrera, Marcus Lemon,
Chad Tracy, Jake Brigham, and Brennan Garr in 2006.  Michael Main, Julio Borbon,
Neil Ramirez, Blake Beavan, Tommy Hunter, Matt West, Jared Hyatt, Evan Reed,
Kyle Ocampo, Andrew Laughter, Mitch Moreland, Tim Smith, Josh Lueke, and Ryan
Falcon in 2007.  Justin Smoak, Robbie Ross, Tim Murphy, Joe Wieland, Corey
Young, Clark Murphy, Mike Bianucci, Joey Butler, Jared Bolden, and Matt Thompson
in 2008.

 

6. The Rangers hired
A.J. Preller and Don Welke away from the Dodgers after the 2004 season (and
brought Welke back in 2007 after he left to work with longtime associate Pat
Gillick in Philadelphia in 2006).  Their impact on the
long-term plan cannot be overstated.  Not only are they overseeing the
franchise’s significant resurgence in Latin America, most of which is on the
pitching front, but their familiarity with kids like Neftali Feliz and Engel
Beltre from their amateur days meant that when it came time to close the July
2007 trade deadline deals with Atlanta and Boston, the Rangers were going on far
more than 66.1 pro innings or 125 relatively underwhelming at-bats when they
insisted on those two teenagers.  Preller and Welke knew the players, knew their
upside, knew their character, probably knew their
families.

 

7. A plan put in place
in 2008 by the organization as a whole, steered by Nolan Ryan and executed by
Rick Adair and the Rangers’ minor league pitching coaches, saw a significant
number of starting pitchers challenged with heavier workloads and multiple
in-season promotions.  By and large, the pitchers responded well.  In some
cases, extremely well.

 

8. And then there are
those July 2007 trades. 

 

If Dallas hadn’t traded
Herschel Walker, there’s probably no Emmitt Smith and no Darren Woodson and no
stretch of Super Bowl dominance. 

 

If Texas hadn’t traded
Mark Teixeira, he finishes the 2007 and 2008 seasons here, and even with the
production he would have given this club, it wouldn’t have been enough to close
the 16-game deficit in the Wild Card chase or the 21-game gap in the division
this year, or the 19-game deficit in both races in 2007.  Texas would have gotten
two 2009 draft picks for him, one likely in the late first round and another in
the supplemental first.  Instead, we have Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz,
Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones.  Four will play in the big leagues,
possibly five, and two or three could star.  And if Texas hadn’t traded
Teixeira, we wouldn’t yet know whether Chris Davis could play at the big league
level.

 

If Texas hadn’t traded Eric Gagné, he finishes the 2007
season here, and (especially if he limped down the stretch as he did in
Boston), we
probably let him go for nothing.  Even if we offered him arbitration, however,
as the Red Sox did, the compensation for the Type B reliever would have been one
supplemental first-round pick this past June.  Boston used its compensatory pick
(45th overall) to take Rice righthander Bryan Price, and signed him
for $849,000.  Instead, we have David Murphy (whom Boston paid $1.525 million to sign), Engel Beltre (whom
Boston paid
$600,000 to sign), and Kason Gabbard. 

 

If Texas hadn’t traded Kenny
Lofton, he finishes the 2007 season here, and we let him go for nothing. 
Instead, we have Max Ramirez.

 

Randy, you do realize
that flipping Teixeira, Gagné, and Lofton for nine young players last summer
rather than recouping three draft picks for losing them actually accelerated the process by years. 

 

You do realize that. 
Right?

 

And that would have been
true even if only one or two of the players acquired took steps forward in
2008.  In actuality, eight of the nine (Gabbard being the lone exception) did
so.

 

Yes, the 2006 John Danks
trade looks awful right now.  There’s no getting around
that.

 

And Jimmy Johnson
forfeited the first pick in the entire 1990 draft by taking Steve Walsh in the
1989 supplemental draft.  With Troy Aikman already in place. 

 

Repeating your words of
warning to the fans a week ago: “What the Rangers will attempt to sell you for
’09 is a strong farm system.  What can’t be sold is the idea any pitchers on the
farm will arrive ready to go before 2010, and even 2010 might be overly
optimistic.” 

 

Don’t tell ESPN’s Keith
Law it can’t be sold, Randy.  In a piece he wrote this week about Holland, the
lefthander who signed out of junior college in 2007 but will probably be in
Rangers Ballpark before the next time you are, Law said this about the pitcher,
and the company he keeps: “Holland is so polished and has been so dominant that
he might appear in the majors by mid-2009, but that just puts him in the vanguard of the strongest
and deepest crop of pitching prospects of any organization in the game,
something that is to the credit not just of general manager Jon Daniels but his
amateur and international scouting staffs as
well.

 

And the system’s
pitching instructors.

 

This long-term plan
doesn’t work without continuity.  Continuity in guidance, and in
execution.

 

Galloway, now 10 years
into a Star-Telegram stint that
followed 32 years with the Morning
News
, said when he changed papers that the Morning News was uncomfortable with, even
scared of, his penchant for infuriating its customer base.  The folks at the
Morning News “don’t like angry
readers,” said the self-proclaimed iconoclast in an October 1998 D Magazine article about his departure for
what was at the time the largest contract ever paid to a newspaper writer in
this market.  “And boy, I could make them angry.”

 

Isn’t that basically
what this, like so many other Galloway themes,
boils down to?  He wants to make you angry.

 

The great Blackie
Sherrod, who penned the Morning
News
counterpoint alongside Galloway’s column on the Herschel Walker Trade, offered
this: “So, the humble suggestion here is that the Jaybirds had to trade Mr. Walker – the sooner the
better or watch his value decrease and, in the case of injury, vanish
altogether.  Whether they made a profit will not be immediately apparent.  Like
one detective said to the other on a stakeout: Might as well loosen our belts
and get comfortable.  We’re gonna be here awhile.”

 

Yep.

 

Jon Daniels was smart to
trade Mark Teixeira when he did.  He was smart to trade Eric Gagné and Kenny
Lofton when he did.  Time will tell whether that trio of deals will collectively
be his Herschel Walker Trade.  Still, however popular or unpopular those moves
were at the time, they were made out of a commitment to a long-range plan, a
plan that is working not only because those tough decisions were made, but also
because the Rangers have a general manager and a baseball operations crew and a
team of pro scouts (not to mention amateur scouts) and minor league coaches and
instructors in place who are talented at spotting young talent, and developing
it. 

 

As Sherrod said, we’re
gonna be here awhile. 

 

That is, it may very
well take a while for this plan to play out all the way.  There’s still plenty
of work to be done.  But if it continues to work the way it has the last 18
months, the idea is not just that the Rangers will contend again, but that when
that time comes, we’re gonna be here
awhile
.

 

That’s not good enough
for Galloway (whose Herschel-to-the-Vikings column featured the after-jump
headline “Cowboys wear smiles now, but they blew Walker deal”), who will surely
write another version or two of the same column before December’s Winter
Meetings, suggesting as he did last week that “Nolan Ryan blundered . . . by
keeping the GM and the manager for next season.” 

 

He’ll roll the same
stuff out again, hoping to make you angry, declaring as he did in 1989 that the
weak are getting fleeced by the strong, only he had it backwards 19 years ago,
and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that he’s got it backwards again.  We’ll
call roll in a year, or two, maybe three, and check to see who is doing the
beaming and gloating.

 

The right people are in
place in Arlington, making the decisions that, for the
last year and a half, have had this franchise on track to being good again. 
Contrary to what Randy Galloway would have your friends and co-workers
believe.

 

Steal a Galloway line and suggest to them one thing:

 

Hear him out if you
must.

 

But don’t be dumb enough
to fall for it.


 

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

 

2 Comments

Mr. Newberg for President.

Great article. Simply Great.

Keep going Mr. Newberg.

All the way from Colombia, South America, best wishes.

Jamey

I love reading your site. I also like to listen to Randy and I think you take him way to serious. He acts like a fool and believe his ratings show he does what he wants to do.

Keep up the good work!

AL

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