Notice anything different about the Rangers?
They're all grown up.
It's what a stable ownership, a Nolan Ryan, a bright baseball management group – Jon Daniels, Thad Levine, A.J. Preller, etc. – and a little time will do for an organization.
So, now they're coming off their first trip to the World Series, aided in part by a couple savvy deadline deals, and they're leading the American League West, which, for the better part of a decade, was the Los Angeles Angels' to lose.
The class of the West doesn't wear flip-flops and board shorts, but spurs and a 10-gallon hat.
Big, sturdy free agents come along and the Rangers commit. At a rather weak trading deadline overrun by so-so outfielders and middling relievers, the Rangers look past one of their strengths – Josh Hamilton(notes) in left, Nelson Cruz(notes) in right and the tandem of Endy Chavez(notes) and Craig Gentry(notes) in center – and plunge into the Carlos Beltran(notes) sweepstakes.
This is what confident people in large markets do. It's what the New York Yankees do, and the Boston Red Sox. When they must consider whether they have enough to get by or not, they at least consider the sledgehammer. Prospects are wonderful. But sometimes they're currency.
And this is their window, their chance, because stuff happens. Players get old, get hurt, get average. Ask the Angels.
Lest we forget, the Rangers didn't actually win the World Series last October. They left that out there.
Then Beltran comes along and the Rangers imagine what September and October might be like with Nelson Cruz(notes), Josh Hamilton(notes) and Beltran spread across their outfield and, more important, through the middle of their lineup. They consider if Hamilton can survive a couple months in center field without running himself into the ground. And they consider the decline in team speed if Chavez and Gentry are relegated to the bench, but also if Chavez is really going to bat .336 and OPS .886 for another 60 games.
They are not the first choice of Beltran, who would prefer to stay in the National League with the San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies or Atlanta Braves. But, they're not out of the question, either. More of a long shot, really.
To that end, the Rangers are tending to their bullpen, hoping to acquire a closer – Heath Bell(notes), perhaps – that wouldn't mind setting up for Neftali Feliz(notes) for a couple months on his way to free agency.
But, in the meantime, there's no harm in making a run at Beltran. It's what smart, effective and courageous teams do.
Besides, they just might get him.
The Colorado Rockies are pursuing Minnesota Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey(notes), a 13-game winner last year whose 2011 season has been stuck between the bullpen, injuries and the minor leagues. Once regarded as a No. 3-type starter, Slowey, 27, has made five starts for Triple-A Rochester and carries a 4.68 ERA. Slowey relies primarily on command, though occasionally touches 93 mph with his fastball.
The Twins remain on the lookout for relief pitching. Joe Nathan(notes) and Matt Capps(notes) can be free agents after the season, so the club would prefer to acquire a reliever it can control for two or three years. If the Washington Nationals fail to acquire B.J. Upton(notes) and turn their attention to Denard Span(notes), the Twins probably would ask for Drew Storen(notes) in return.
The glut of outfielders and relievers on the market is making for slow going in some places, one of them being Oakland, where Coco Crisp(notes), Josh Willingham(notes), David DeJesus(notes), Brian Fuentes(notes), Craig Breslow(notes), Michael Wuertz(notes) and even Andrew Bailey(notes) could be had. The A's are playing it cool. "We don't feel any need to do one thing or another," Billy Beane said Tuesday.