SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Shiraz Rehman loved working in the energy business, and Enron was at the center of it all in 2001.Rehman -- the Rangers' new assistant general manager -- was just out of McGill University and working as "trader" in the London office. Everything was going well until that
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Shiraz Rehman loved working in the energy business, and Enron was at the center of it all in 2001.
Rehman -- the Rangers' new assistant general manager -- was just out of McGill University and working as "trader" in the London office. Everything was going well until that one day in November, when a guy in a pinstriped suit got up on a desk in the middle of a huge room to address hundreds of unsuspecting employees.
"Gather around people, please gather around," Rehman remembers the guy announcing. "As of 5:30 this evening, you are all redundant. Please gather your belongings and leave expeditiously."
Rehman was handed his last paycheck as he walked out the door.
He might still be looking for oil futures rather than baseball talent if Enron had not gone bankrupt. But baseball has always been his passion and it is why he is now in his new role under Jon Daniels.
"Baseball is always what I loved most," Rehman said.
Rehman's degree from McGill was in finance and accounting, but he also was a four-year letterman in baseball. He worked in an accounting firm while coaching youth baseball on the side. He earned an MBA at Columbia while stalking Major League general managers for a job. He once spent 30 minutes walking with Daniels at the Rangers' Spring Training complex and offered to work for them for free.
Daniels, an assistant general manager at the time, turned him down.
Rehman's resume suggests he is a numbers cruncher and analytics geek, but that is hardly the case after 14 years in the game with the Red Sox, D-backs and Cubs. Certainly, he knows how to use a computer and has learned much from cutting-edge executives like Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
But his mentors also include traditional "baseball lifers" like Bob Gebhard, the late Kevin Towers, Joe Maddon, Randy Bush and AJ Hinch. Rehman and Hinch, then the D-backs' farm director, once worked out a deal.
"I was going to teach him how to use Microsoft Excel and he was going to teach me how to evaluate catchers," Rehman said. "I have been really fortunate to be around so many talented executives and managers. I have tried to learn from everyone and their style, and make it my own."
His job with the Cubs this past season was assistant general manager, strategic initiatives. Which means?
"Take a look at anything and everything we do in baseball and find a way to see if we can get better and get a competitive advantage," Rehman explained.
That is part of what he will do with the Rangers. Much of it will be what normally falls to the assistant general manager, including salary negotiations, arbitration, roster management and Major League transactions.
But the Rangers are also putting a greater emphasis on research and development, an all-encompassing area that refers to just simply finding better ways to run their baseball operations. Much of that began with trying to find better ways to evaluate and find talent, but it has also grown to other areas. One specific aspect over the past year is finding ways to help the Rangers' young players get better.
"There is a lot of low-hanging fruit in player development, in trying to help each player improve themselves in the Minor Leagues," Rehman said. "It can be something simple and easy."
Rehman is not with the Rangers because he is a numbers geek, or because he is a traditional thinker. He is a talented baseball guy who was part of the Cubs' front office when they won a World Series in 2016.
The Rangers could use that talent.
• The Rangers have decided not to bring back Class A Advanced Down East manager Spike Owen. The former Major League infielder had been in the organization for 10 years. He was the Rangers' third-base coach in 2016 while Tony Beasley was recovering from cancer.
• Minor League catching coordinator Chris Briones and baserunning coordinator Damon Mashore are also not being brought back in 2019. Mashore is the brother of former Rangers assistant hitting coach Justin Mashore, who was let go at the end of the season, too.
• The Rangers were amused to see Eric Gagne -- one of their Minor League pitching instructors -- reach out to help Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel with his problem of tipping pitches. Assistant farm director Paul Kruger called Gagne afterward.
"I told him, 'Why don't you hit our guys?'" Kruger said. "But he is good at that."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.