Ryan proud of Rangers' rise to prominence
Sustaining a winning tradition from within is club's priority
DETROIT -- The state of the Texas Rangers is in tip-top shape as they try to ascend to the World Series for the second time in as many years, Nolan Ryan, the team's president and spokesman, said on Tuesday night prior to Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Tigers at Comerica Park.The Rangers underwent a change in ownership last year and, even more recently, a change in the power structure of the organization. Yet they went into Tuesday night's game leading the best-of-seven series, 2-0. "It's a testament to the people we have in our organization and their focus on trying to be a winner," Ryan said during a 15-minute sit-down session with the media in the visitors' dugout. "We're trying to put the best product on the field we possibly can. Due to that, the fans have been very supportive of us. Just a lot of positive things have happened for the Rangers over the last couple of years." Last postseason, the Rangers won the first AL pennant in club history but lost in five games to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. The franchise was founded as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961 and moved to Texas 10 years later. It's tough to be a fan this time of year, Ryan said. "I compare it to the Texas Giant, the roller coaster at Six Flags," Ryan said about the amusement park that is near Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. "My emotion level goes from top to bottom real quick at times. I'm thinking about going over there and riding it this winter so I can have that feeling." Last year's team had Cliff Lee on the mound and Vladimir Guerrero as designated hitter. This year, the Rangers have third baseman Adrian Beltre. The Hall of Fame pitcher and all-time strikeouts leader with 5,714 believes this season's squad is better. "It's a more balanced ballclub," Ryan said. "I feel better about our ballclub at this time this year than I did last year. We've added veteran presence in our bullpen, and we're defensively a better club. Plus, we have more strength throughout our lineup than we've ever had." To be sure, there are still significant challenges, Ryan acknowledged. This past offseason, Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels tried to re-sign Lee when he declared free agency. That didn't happen; Lee signed with the Phillies. This offseason, Texas will be in the same position when C.J. Wilson, its top starter, becomes a free agent. The idea for Ryan is to keep the Rangers competitive for the long haul by building from within the organization. They'll try to keep Wilson, but up to a point. "That's our philosophy, to build within our system," Ryan said. "If there's a specific need, if there's somebody out there we think fits, then we'll certainly consider trying to do that." About Wilson, in particular, Ryan added: "Right now, we're not even thinking about those things. We're totally focused on trying to get to the World Series and win the World Series. There are going to be clubs out there with a lot of resources that are always going to be looking for pitching. When you have someone of C.J.'s caliber going on the market, you know there are going to be challenges there."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.