The balance of power in the American League has shifted. Gone are the days where the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox dominated the American League exclusively, forming the biggest rivalry in the game, both on the field and in the front office.
In are the days where the true American League power lies in the American League West, where the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers reside -- along with the Los Angeles Angels, who are doing everything they can to dethrone the Rangers as kings of the West.
Unlike the Yankees and Red Sox, who followed similar blueprints to success, being very aggressive both on the trade front and the free agent market, the Rangers and Angels have been built in completely different fashions -- and that difference was highlighted by the Zack Greinke sweepstakes.
Much of Texas' talent is home grown. Though Elvis Andrus and Matt Harrison were acquired via trade, they were acquired as very raw prospects, as the Rangers were essentially forced to deal off their superstar Mark Teixeira. Josh Hamilton was acquired in a relatively small potatoes deal for Edinson Volquez, and then blossomed upon arrival to Texas.
The Rangers haven't looked to build a team that can win only in a two-three year window; instead, the Rangers have built an organization top-to-bottom that attempts to be the best in baseball, both at the major league and the minor league level. And hey, to date, the Rangers have succeeded, as they've gone to back-to-back World Series, and had the No. 1 rated farm system according to Baseball America.
Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels are very cognizant of that, and there's little doubt that they value their young, minor league talent greatly, and rightfully so. They've made it incumbent upon themselves to build from within, and add via free agency and trades, such as Mike Napoli and Mike Adams, which weren't blockbuster deals, when the time is right.
The Rangers were very much in on Zack Greinke. The Rangers, had they been willing to include Martin Perez with Justin Grimm, would likely have Zack Greinke. Instead, the Rangers passed on two-plus months of Greinke for six cost controlled years of Perez and Grimm.
You can question Texas' decision all you'd like (and I'm one of the people who thinks Texas should have sent Perez and landed Greinke), but the decision is perfectly in line with the organization's recent philosophy to build mainly from within, and to use those resources in the best way possible.
Los Angeles' decision to acquire Greinke for its best prospect also fits in perfectly with Jerry Dipoto and Arte Moreno's blueprint.
After two years of being beat down by the Rangers, the Angels went ahead and signed Texas' C.J. Wilson...right after they signed St. Louis Cardinals legend Albert Pujols. If the Angels ever signaled they are in a win-now mode, they did so this offseason. Pujols' and Wilson's contract are also structured that way -- backloaded to afford Dipoto the luxury to add some salary over the next two years.
After dealing Jean Segura and graduating Mike Trout to the Major Leagues, Los Angeles' farm system is easily among the worst in all of baseball. But for Moreno and Dipoto, that's perfectly acceptable. The Angels don't care right now how their farm system looks. The Angels only care about winning the World Series in the next two or three years.
Let's also be quite fair, too. The Angels have a very good chance to go deep into the playoffs this year. The Angels now have a rotation consisting of Jered Weaver, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and C.J. Wilson, and each of those pitchers could easily be No. 1 starting pitchers for most teams. The Angels have Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo (who still may come back to earth yet) and a slew of average hitters.
Regardless of how they were constructed, Dipoto and Moreno succeeded -- and they've built a team that can win in the immediate future.
Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan have done the same, though. And they've done so while refusing to mortgage the future.
The difference between the two front offices is quite simple: the Angels were and are willing to forego future value to win right here, and right now. The Rangers just aren't willing to do that, unless the price is absolutely right.
Is there an answer to which philosophy is right? Well, if the Angels win a World Series title this year, their moves and actions will be justified. If they don't, then that's the risk they were willing to take -- but it'll sure look ugly in a few years.
Likewise, the Rangers might have saved themselves assets for the future, but unless they capture a World Series title in the next few years, the Rangers and Rangers fans could be left wondering what would have happened in 2012 if the team added Greinke at the expense of Grimm and Perez.