BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers announced Tuesday afternoon that Greg Maddux will join the front office as Special Assistant to the General Manager, a title he has held the past two years with the Cubs.  Maddux is the younger brother of Mike Maddux, the Rangers’ pitching coach.  Greg Maddux pitched in 23 big league seasons all in the National League for the Cubs, Braves, Dodgers and Padres.  He won at least 15 games for 17 consecutive seasons, winning 20 games twice.  He won 20 in 1992 for the Cubs and 20 a year later for the Braves.  He was also a very good fielding pitcher, winning 18 Gold Glove Awards for fielding excellence in his career.  In his 22 year career, he won 355 games, with a 3.15 ERA and 3,371 strikeouts.  The 355 wins rank him eighth all time and post-1920, he is second only to Warren Spahn in wins.

Jim Crane, a Houston business man, was one of the suitors when the Rangers were put up for sale by Tom Hicks.  He went through the process of “due diligence” to finalize his bid for the team.  Obviously, he liked what he saw of how the Rangers were being operated.  Crane is now the new owner of the Houston Astros.  Shortly after taking over the team, he axed General Manager Ed Wade.  Tuesday, he asked for and received permission from the Rangers to interview assistant General Manager Thad Levine for the vacant position with the Astros.

Andrew Friedman, the current General Manager of the Tampa Bay Rays has also been contacted for an interview.  He is thought to be the favorite, and why not.  The Rays have made the playoffs three times in the last four years and have appeared in the World Series in one of those years, while playing in the tough American League East.  He has accomplished all this for a team with one of the two worst stadiums and one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.  The general thought is that Friedman does not want to leave the Rays, having already turned down the Angels General Manager’s job when it was open earlier this fall.  However, Friedman is a native Houstonian and may want to return home.

In any event, if Friedman does not take the job, Levine is thought to be a front runner.

These two announcements come on the heels of Johnny Narron being hired away from the Rangers Monday to become the hitting coach for Milwaukee.  Narron, the brother of former Ranger manager Jerry Narron, was basically the co-hitting coach for the team in 2010 with Clint Hurdle.  Since Hurdle left last off season to manage the Pirates, the Rangers have twice passed over Narron to name first Thad Bosley, then Scott Coolbaugh as the team’s hitting coach.  Narron has been with the team for four years, and has been involved in the handling of Josh Hamilton off the field.

Lastly, former Rangers’ manager Bobby Valentine has been named manager of the Boston Red Sox.  He last managed in the Majors from 1996-2002 with the Mets, and has managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan for seven years.  He most recently has been a commentator on ESPN.

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