ARLINGTON, Texas -- There's a tendency, after your biggest rival makes a major move, to believe you have to counter it no matter what. But is that the smartest way to run a club?
Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels and his staff are always looking for ways to improve the club. They want a good starting pitcher. The manager wants a good starting pitcher. They need a good starting pitcher. Josh Johnson (if the Miami Marlins will trade him) and James Shields could now come into clearer focus. But the Rangers weren't willing to match the Los Angeles Angels' package for Zack Greinke. They weren't including some of their top prospects, including Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, for a two-month (or three, if you include the postseason) rental.
We'll see whether they are willing to part with Olt or someone else to get a starting pitcher under club control longer. Johnson's deal is through 2013. Shields has club options that can take his deal through 2014. Knowing you're getting something beyond 2012 makes it more appealing to part with better prospects.
But just because the Angels got Greinke doesn't mean the Rangers have to include that additional prospect -- or raise their offers -- more than they would have if someone else had acquired Greinke. That's not the way they should operate. And they don't. They have to put what they feel is the proper value on their prospects and the player they're trying to get and not allow that to change just because their division rival got a top pitcher.
The Angels made the move hoping to help them secure a playoff spot. They are fighting for one of the wild-card spots at the moment. They could, of course, still win the division. But they are five games back and, despite the Rangers' pitching injuries and the offense's inability to fully click, Texas has kept that lead at about five games for months now.
Texas still needs some pieces to improve its standing in the postseason. That wish list is led by starting pitching and the Rangers have four days to come up with something. Maybe that's one of the remaining starters on the market. Maybe it's fortifying the bullpen and moving Alexi Ogando to the rotation. Maybe it's something no one is even talking about.
But they should do a deal because they are comfortable with it and feel as if it's the best chance they have to improve the club for October. They shouldn't do it just because the Angels got Greinke. And they won't.