Jon Daniels, Executive of the Year.
I haven’t seen an interview with him yet, and you can safely assume there won’t be a press conference centered around the honor, but whenever the time comes that Jon Daniels is asked to comment on having been recognized Friday as Baseball America’s 2010 Major League Executive of the Year, you can count on two things:
1. He’ll probably start with something self-deprecating, like he did after waiting out the standing ovation to kick off his Q&A at Newberg Report Night this July by saying, “Hey, I’m still the guy who traded Adrian Gonzalez” (a distinction he shares with Larry Beinfest and, apparently sometime this weekend, Jed Hoyer).
2. A comment along those lines is the only thing that would precede props from Daniels to his team of directors, advisors, scouts, coaches and instructors at all levels, medical and conditioning personnel, and players.
Two others deserve some props. It’s not the popular thing to do these days to applaud John Hart or Tom Hicks. But it was the former who reached out in 2002 to one of his many Cleveland protégés, Colorado GM Dan O’Dowd, looking for a bright young baseball operations prospect to add to his staff and then who mentored Daniels here, pushing him along the fast track that he recognized he belonged on.
And it was the latter who saw enough in Daniels, when it was determined that Hart’s tenure would end, to entrust the leadership of his franchise to a man who was younger than all but two of the club’s starting nine. Hicks was known during his ownership as someone who loved the big name, the splashiest splash, but he instead made the least attention-grabbing move he possibly could have in promoting Daniels, who had turned 28 six weeks earlier, unless the headline he sought was to have hired the youngest GM in baseball history.
It was a move without which, I’m confident in saying, the Rangers would not be American League champions today, nor as well positioned as they are to be major factors for the next several years.
I’m not sure there’s a GM in the league – particularly taking into account the team of scouting and development and advisory people he’s put together – that I would trade Jon Daniels for.