It was only fitting that Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher whose name is more or less synonymous with the Texas Rangers, would swoop in to help save the club from Tom Hicks two-and-a-half years ago. But his tenure in the team's front office may be coming to an end.
The Rangers announced late Friday that general manager Jon Daniels is now general manager/president of baseball operations and that chief operating officer Rick George will become president of business operations.
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The organization took pains to point out that while George and Daniels will be handling day-to-day operations, they will be doing so "under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Nolan Ryan." But the announcement has fueled speculation -- which was reportedly confirmed to Randy Galloway by an anonymous source within the club -- that Ryan is on his way out.
Star-Telegram columnist Gil Lebreton interpreted the announcement as a sign that Bob Simpson and Ray Davis, the team's owners, are trying to push Ryan out the door, albeit in a gentle way.
The Morning News' Kevin Sherrington provides a more nuanced take. Ryan's presumed departure is a byproduct of Simpson and Davis' need to entice Daniels, a young and talented GM who deserves more credit than Ryan or anyone for the making the Rangers a perennial contender. In doing this, Ryan is cut out of the loop and becomes a figurehead, which he doesn't want. So he leaves.
The word now is that Ryan will be gone after spring training. It remains to be seen if the Ryan Express will be pulling out of town.