On April 1st, 2006, I was named the Texas Rangers Fan of the Year at the Rangers Welcome Home Luncheon. It was very exciting and I got to do an interview session with Jon Daniels and Buck Showalter. My questions and their answers are below.
1. What players have the best chance of being put on the 40-man roster at the end of the season to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft and why?
Jon: “Grant, you’re about seven months ahead of us right now. Buck and I have a deadline at 11 o’clock tonight we’re trying to figure out still. But two guys I’d put on your radar screen are John Danks and Thomas Diamond.”
Buck: “Travis Metcalf.”
2. Jon, during this off-season, which trade that wasn’t finished was the most disappointing and why?
Jon: “Certainly the one that was the most public and went down the line the farthest was the Josh Beckett trade. In hindsight, looking back on it, we signed Millwood, traded for Vicente Padilla, and obviously traded for Eaton and were able to keep Hank Blalock and keep our young pitching. In the end, it probably worked out best for us but that was the one we really went back and forth on the most.”
3. Buck, can you please describe the perfect player to manage and why?
Buck: “Probably a Mike Young type of guy. Self starters. We’re kind of at the mercy of the mothers and fathers of the world. By the time I get them at 24 or 25 years old, they’ve pretty much formulated how they treat people, go about their business, and handle things. We’ve got a lot of guys on the team that way. The word ‘sincere’ comes to mind. They have a lot of character. It’s important to them to please their teammates and be part of something special. You have to have a certain amount of skill to play at this level but I think the other attributes you bring push you to the next level, which makes you near and dear to other people because of the way they go about their business and Michael is one of those guys.”
4. Jon, what are your 3 proudest transactions as GM or assistant GM and why?
Jon said that number one was the Brad Wilkerson trade, partly because we also got Armando Galarraga in the minors and it was a good chance to get Ian Kinsler in the lineup. Number two was putting together the leadership team, including Thad Levine, Scott Servais, Mark Connors, and Dom Chiti. Number three was signing Kevin Millwood because he brings a lot of leadership along with his pitching skills.
5. Jon, what were your thoughts on the Juan Dominquez trade?
Jon: “One of the questions we’ve gotten is how do you factor in the idea that you’re trading within the division? There are some teams and some management groups that don’t want to do it at all and some guys that are a little more willing to. I was concerned first and foremost with our end of the deal. We got two left-handed pitchers that we like quite a bit, and John Koronka is probably the leading candidate to pitch for us here in Arlington in a week. Great makeup and good attitude. I talked to him on the phone last night and he’s ecstatic to be a Ranger, ecstatic to be back. Hopefully if we do see Juan Dominguez in the big leagues in Oakland, it will mean that Zito, Blanton, and Harden all got hurt.”
6. What is your prediction on who the Rangers will face in the World Series this October and why?
Buck: “I guess it should be Japan. They’re supposed to be the best team in the world now. But that would be a cop-out to say Japan since we can’t play them. I like the Cardinals a lot. I think they’re pretty special. I think Tony does a great job. They don’t have many holes and the ones they do, I think Walt Jocketty and them do a great job with.”
Jon: “I’ll go with the Braves. Fourteen straight division titles, it’s hard to argue with, and they’re building from within like us.”
7. Which players surprised you the most this spring and why?
Buck: “I’m not supposed to be surprised. I’m trying not to be. We had a lot of pitchers in camp that we didn’t know and hadn’t seen throw before. I think Fabio Castro from the Rule 5 Draft with the White Sox in A ball last year went to winter ball and cut it up down there. There was a lot of unknown about what we were going to get there. I thought he was very impressive for a 21-year old young man that, as we speak, we’re trying to figure out how to keep. I say Fabio just because it was an unknown as much as anything. Also, not knowing if Alfonseca was going to be able to get back where he was physically before having arm trouble. I think Coco probably had his best spring in his time as a Ranger. He handled everything from Day 1. I think that bodes real well. I was real ecstatic with the way Otsuka went about his business. He came to Texas when he didn’t have to, came to our camp when he didn’t have to before he went to Japan. It was very important for him. I’m very happy with him.”
Jon: “I was real encouraged by the way Kam Loe came into camp and didn’t let up from where he was last year. And two younger players I held in high regard before camp but really put themselves farther on the map. John Danks at age 20, who got serious consideration to come up here. He was that impressive staring down Barry Bonds in Scottsdale one day and not backing down from him. And Travis Metcalf, who was our player of the year last year in the minor leagues, but was in his first year in big league camp and he more than held his own.”
8. What was your biggest disappointment of the spring (other than Adam Eaton’s injury) and why?
Jon: “I think it was probably that Roger Clemens said he was going to wait until July to decide if he was going to play.”
Buck: “I agree.”
I would like to thank Buck and Jon for allowing me to interview them. I really enjoyed doing the interview and had a great day at the luncheon.