Rangers built on all the right moves

Updated: October 16, 2011, 3:48 PM ET
By Buster Olney

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A few bits of confetti stuck to Nolan Ryan's shoes, and he had to raise his voice above the celebration that was lingering in the stands on Saturday night. "We really weren't surprised when we found out Cliff Lee was signing elsewhere," he recalled. "We were disappointed, because it had gone on so long, but we weren't surprised. It was a shock that he was signing with the Phillies -- we thought it was going to be the Yankees. But when the Cliff Lee [deal] didn't materialize, we talked about going in other directions."

The Rangers had played in the World Series in 2010 for the first time, and Lee had been their ace. They liked the young pitching that they had put together, the power arms of Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando and others. So even in the aftermath of Lee's decision, the Texas front office thought it had a strong base.

"We thought we were deep in young pitching," said general manager Jon Daniels, standing on the first-base side of the pitcher's mound, just a few feet from the last divots made by Feliz as he got the final outs against Detroit. "We only looked at a couple of other starters, in trade scenarios" -- Zack Greinke and Matt Garza -- "but when those didn't happen, at that point, we were just looking for ways to make our team better."

What they had considered was making a run at third baseman Adrian Beltre, who was coming off a strong season with the Boston Red Sox. Beltre had loved his time with the Red Sox and his first instinct was to go back, but Boston was leery of his injury history and with Beltre approaching his 32nd birthday, the Red Sox offered a limited multiyear deal, something in the range of four years and $50 million. Beltre turned it down, hoping that this was only an initial salvo in the negotiations -- but not long after that, Beltre was blindsided by the news that the Red Sox had traded for Adrian Gonzalez and would shift Kevin Youkilis to third base.