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Acquisitions Propel Rangers to ALCS…Again!

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For the second straight season, the Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays to advance to the ALCS.  For the second straight season, their success was largely based on recent player acquisitions.

In 2010, Rangers GM Jon Daniels made several key moves in both the offseason and prior to the trade deadline, including the additions of Colby Lewis, Bengie Molina, Jeff Francoeur, and the biggest splash, Cliff Lee.  Lee and Lewis earned wins in five of Texas’ eight total postseason victories, and Molina and Francoeur had big hits that led to the club’s first ever American League pennant.

Despite the Rangers’ well-publicized failure to retain Lee for 2011 and beyond, the front office remained vigilant.  Daniels resisted the temptation to shell out the nine figures necessary to lure Carl Crawford to his home state, and opted to sign Adrian Beltre away from Boston for $85 million.  When an opportunity arose to jump in on a three way deal with the Angels and Blue Jays, Daniels pounced, landing Mike Napoli in exchange for reliever Frank Francisco.

While Napoli’s addition gave the offense a boost, the loss of Francisco, combined with the transition of Alexi Ogando from set up man to starter left a large hole in the bullpen.  Daniels responded.  The Rangers dealt for two of the top relief options available in Mike Adams and Koji Uehara in July.  Seemingly never satisfied, Daniels didn’t stop there, and dealt for lefty-specialist and former closer Mike Gonzalez.

Fast forward to the 2011 ALDS.  Napoli and Beltre hit six of the team’s eight total home runs and propelled Texas past Tampa Bay by razor thin margins.  The added bullpen depth gave Ron Washington favorable matchups to work with, and Texas held off the Comeback Kids.

It’s easy to look ahead to next year and expect the Rangers to once again have a good team.  It’s easy to wonder what will happen to them if C.J. Wilson departs as a free agent.  It’s also easy to imagine that the front office will respond accordingly, and make the right moves to send the Rangers deep into October again in 2012.  After all, possibly the best acquisition they have ever made was not a player.  The best move in franchise history may have been the chance they took in signing a young and inexperienced general manager named Jon Daniels.

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