My MacBook is on its last leg, so my Internet has been down the last couple of days. Also I work obscure hours during the night, which are primetime writing hours for me, so I haven't been able to talk about the most important issue currently enveloping the Rangers: now former assistant general manager, A.J. Preller, has been signed to a five-year contract by the Padres to be the team's new GM, succeeding the fledgling tenure of Josh Byrnes.
Preller had been in the Rangers organization since 2005, but his roots with President of Baseball Operations -- Jon Daniels -- run much deeper than that. They were roommates at Cornell back in the late 90's, and he worked stints with the Phillies and Dodgers before arriving in Texas, eventually ascending to the senior director of player personnel in 2009.
In no small way, A.J. Preller was an integral piece in aiding Texas to reach American League supremacy in the early 2010's decade.
During his time with the Rangers, he oversaw a staff of 50 amateur and professional scouts, created the team's academy in the Dominican Republic, and played a major role in the acquisitions of several players who fueled the team’s back-to-back pennants in 2010 and 2011, including Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Josh Hamilton, Cliff Lee, Mike Napoli and Alexi Ogando. Similarly, he was a key figure in the additions of Yu Darvish, Leonys Martin, Rougned Odor and Jurickson Profar, the game's consensus top prospect coming into the 2013 season, as well as Jorge Alfaro and Joey Gallo, both staples of this year's prospect lists.
The pinnacle trade, which helped shaped the Rangers as we've known them and know them today, was obviously the coup of the Braves talented farm system back in 2007, which saw all of Andrus, Feliz, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- each who've made significant contributions to championship teams -- and Preller's fingerprints were all over that. We'll never know what alternate route the Rangers organization would have taken if Preller wasn't here during that critical stretch in the club's checkered timeline during the 2000s, but I think it's safe to say Texas could not have been any better, and A.J.'s role during that frame should never go understated.
Now what does this mean for the Rangers?
A.J. Preller's loss is a blow, no doubt. But what could be more damaging is the ripple effects it creates. Jon Heyman reports that "there was an arrangement between San Diego and Texas for Preller not to raid the Rangers of its talented staff," which is encouraging. Though, Padres writer Dennis Linn tweets that some of Preller's targets from Texas "could conceivably allow contracts to expire, then go to Pads," which is equally discouraging.
That's the main point to grasp in all of this, that it isn't just one man -- the GM -- to make a team go. Jon Daniels had Preller, future general manager Thad Levine, countless scouts and crosscheckers all around the country that helped forge Texas into a superpower. Daniels never received proper credit due to the infallible presence of Nolan Ryan while he was there, but it was never JD's sole credit to begin with. He admits as much every chance he gets. A.J. Preller's absence will be felt more than it's seen, but it's going to be more than just him who the Rangers will be losing. That's of equal importance, if not greater.
In the meantime, the Padres made an excellent hire, and Jon Daniels now has himself an ally on the west coast in the opposing league. It would have been ideal to keep this juggernaut front office together as long as possible, but Preller's hire is a national sign to what many of us have been thinking for quite a while now: Texas have an extremely intelligent, high-level front office, filled by a plethora of coveted minds and personalities.
A.J. Preller is the first casualty to this good problem, but he certainly won't be the last.