Mike Adams was acquired July 31 by a championship-caliber team that as recently as four seasons ago wasn't seriously considered as a desirable destination for players who wanted to win.
The right-hander said as much Tuesday evening while drenched in ginger ale, champagne and beer after helping the former can't-win Texas Rangers oust Tampa Bay from the American League Division Series for the second straight postseason.
"I never would have thought this would have been possible, not with Texas," said Adams, a native Texan who kept track of the Rangers while with San Diego and Milwaukee. "The way they've put the organization together and the way they've made a very competitive team is great. I'm just glad I'm a part of it."
Adams is hardly alone among the first-year Rangers this season. Adrian Beltre, who hit three homers in a 4-3 Game 4 victory, selected the Rangers as a free agent in the off-season because he believed they had the best chance to be a long-term winner.
Mike Napoli, who homered to jump-start a Game 3 win, didn't choose the Rangers but didn't complain after Toronto traded him. He watched last season as the Rangers shot past his LA Angels to win the AL West for the first time in 11 years.
Those three are headed to the AL Championship Series to help the Rangers try to defend their 2010 pennant. There's work to be done before the trio wants to think about next year, but each player will be back on a roster that looks well stocked for a lengthy run as a contender in the AL.
"We set out a few years ago to build something that would sustain over time," general manager Jon Daniels said Wednesday. "We're not there yet, but hopefully we'll be able to look back 10 years from now and say, 'Hey, we did something pretty special.'"
Don't get the Rangers wrong. They haven't looked past Saturday, when the ALCS will open either at New York or at Rangers Ballpark against Detroit.
All the back-patting they did Tuesday has given way to getting ready for the best-of-seven series. The Rangers took Wednesday off and will work out today before learning who will be their opponent in their fifth playoff series in the past 12 months.
Getting to this point was the goal in 2007, when Daniels decided that the Rangers needed to build a core of homegrown talent and supplement it via free agency and trades.
The Beltre signing for $96 million over six years was a significant financial commitment. Several more potentially are ahead as once-young players gain service time and become free agents.
But the majority of the regular positions and much of the rotation were either drafted by the Rangers or acquired as minor leaguers and developed in the Rangers' system.
The farm system remains highly regarded with a wave of young talent that next year should advance to the upper levels.
It's a formula that has produced three straight winnings seasons, two straight AL West titles, a second straight appearance in the ALCS and one World Series appearance.
"We didn't want to be a one-hit wonder," Daniels said. "By no means are we done. We've got bigger goals. Hopefully, the industry says we're on our way to achieving something special and not just a blip on the radar screen."
The Rangers appeared on the radar once from 2000 to 2007. The 2008 season was better, but the Rangers finished with a losing record for the seventh time in eight seasons.
Michael Young, who made his big league debut with the Rangers with two at-bats in 2000, was a part of them all. The past two years have been what he always hoped was possible.
"Now we're seen as perennial winners and perennial contenders," Young said. "That's the way it should be, and we're not going anywhere anytime soon. We're going to keep coming."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760