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GM Daniels gets one-year extension despite Rangers' woeful record

6/19/2007 - Texas Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas -- General manager Jon Daniels' immediate
future with the Texas Rangers was settled Tuesday with a one-year
contract extension.

Now Daniels has more time to figure out how to improve
baseball's worst team.

Rangers owner Tom Hicks gave the 29-year-old Daniels an
extension through the 2009 season despite a 26-43 start that left
Texas with the worst record in the major leagues. While
disappointed with the record, Hicks is confident in baseball's
youngest GM.

"Jon's got some hard decisions to make as we go into the next
month to the trading deadline on how we improve the team," Hicks
said. "I wanted to make sure he felt properly empowered to make
the changes he felt fit to make."

Daniels is only halfway through his second season since becoming
the youngest GM in major league history when he replaced John Hart
in October 2005. The Rangers went 80-82 last season, then fired
Buck Showalter and replaced him with rookie manager Ron Washington.

Since taking over a team that last went to the playoffs in 1999
and has never won a postseason series, Daniels has put an emphasis
on the organization's scouting and development, including
broadening the organization's presence in Latin America. Last
winter, Daniels conducted the Rangers' first organization-wide
meeting of coaches, scouts and administrators in several years.

"What we tried to do was win and develop at the same time. ...
It's the hardest thing to do in professional sports, try to execute
two plans at once," Daniels said. "There are a lot of good things
going on that I'm proud of that don't get as much publicity, and
for good reason."

With the Rangers stuck in last place and the trading deadline
six weeks away, Daniels faces plenty of big decisions with other
teams already showing interest in Texas players.

Relievers Eric Gagne and Akinori Otsuka are signed only through
this season, as is 40-year-old center fielder Kenny Lofton. Teams
will also inquire about first baseman Mark Teixeira, who is
eligible for salary arbitration after this season and can become a
free agent after 2008.

"Barring a significant turnaround, we'll be in the position of
listening to other club's interest in our guys. It's not the
position I want to be in, but it's the position we're in," Daniels
said. "What we're trying to do is evaluate what gives us the best
opportunity to acquire the best talent going forward."

Hicks and Daniels have both said they would like to see
Teixeira, a switch-hitting slugger who was the Rangers' fifth
overall pick in 2001, remain with the team throughout his career.

"We recognize the reality of the system and how it works that
it may or may not be possible for Tex to stay with our club long
term," Hicks said. "If somebody makes an offer that could improve
our team longer term, we have to make a decision whether to gamble.
... It's a situation Jon faces this season, this offseason and next
year" until Teixeira's contract is done.

The extension for Daniels doesn't immediately affect Washington,
whose two-year contract is through 2008 and includes an option for
two more seasons. Hicks referred questions about the manager to
Daniels.

Daniels said Washington, a coach for Oakland the past 11
seasons, is "an integral part" of the organization. Daniels said
any discussions concerning Washington's contract "will probably be
after the season."

Daniels' extension comes two weeks after the amateur draft in
which the Rangers had six of the first 80 picks and selected a pair
of standout high school pitchers in the first round.

"Our goal is to be one of the premier development organizations
in the game. We got a ways to go, but we've made progress,"
Daniels said.

"It's all about confidence and credibility," Hicks said. "Jon
has the ability and the skills and I think he's going to get better
every year. ... One thing this organization needs is stability.
There are a lot of things Jon started two years ago that are going
to pay dividends."

This year, the Rangers have been hampered by a starting rotation
that has a 6.80 ERA with top two pitchers Kevin Millwood and
Vicente Padilla struggling.

Millwood (3-6, 7.62) struck out a season-high 10 Sunday in
Cincinnati, but that was his first win in eight starts since April
-- a stretch that has included two stints on the disabled list.
Padilla, given a new $33.75 million, three-year contract after
winning 15 games last season in Texas, is 3-8 with a 6.57 ERA.