Prospects have more than one purpose

After all of the discussion this weekend about prospects and what it would take to get someone like Zack Greinke (now in Milwaukee) and Matt Garza (a possibility on the trade market), I think it's important to understand why building up this farm system was so critical for the Rangers.

Obviously, growing talent from within -- either via draft or trade -- is a big reason the Rangers advanced to the World Series in 2010. Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz, both acquired in the Mark Teixeira deal, were instrumental. So were others that came through the system recently. You certainly want prospects to end up playing for your team and contributing.

It's easy to get excited about prospects and what they might become. And when you see players like Andrus and Feliz and Mitch Moreland do what they did in 2010, there's a tendency to want to keep all of those young players in the system so they help you and no one else.

But prospects can also deliver by becoming valuable trade pieces. The Rangers did not want to trade Justin Smoak. They tried a gaggle of combinations that didn't include Smoak, but the Mariners didn't bite. And when the time came to make their final, best offer, the Rangers pulled the trigger to get Cliff Lee to Texas. Clearly, that was a great trade. Yes, Smoak may end up haunting them in the division for years. But Lee helped get them to the World Series, a critical step for this franchise. That makes it a good deal.

That's not to say the Rangers shouldn't be smart about what kind of package of prospects they deal for Garza or even someone else at the trade deadline in 2011. Jon Daniels and his staff won't give away the farm (and that's likely why the Rangers didn't trade for Greinke, and I don't blame them). But to get a frontline pitcher, you have to give something up.

No, I'm not saying put all the chips you've got in the middle of the table. You don't just trade anybody. But I'm willing to put some of those chips in the middle of the table now. The window for this team just opened. They won the American League in 2010. They have a young core group, and the time to capitalize on what they did last season is now. To do that, they could use another starter with pedigree, and that's why I'm willing to include some upper-level prospects in a deal to get a guy like Garza as we discussed on Sunday.

My point is that prospects are more than just guys that could end up on the field wearing Rangers uniforms. They can also be guys that help the club land critical pieces that can lead to even more success. The goal for this team now has to be to win the World Series. That's the only step left. And I think they need another top starter to get there. So if the right deal is there and it requires parting with some top-notch prospects, I say do it. Now is the time.