It used to be at this time of the year, just after the trading deadline passed, that we were all shaking our heads about the bottomless money pit the New York Yankees had at their disposal to afford a new player for whatever need arose and how the Boston Red Sox raided the piggy bank to try to keep up.
No more. Now the strategic roster additions (and the endless pile of money) are no longer in the American League East, but in the American League West and the protagonists of oneupmanship are the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels. They are the tit-for-tat twosome stockpiling more nuclear weapons for the stretch run in order to put a stranglehold on the division and for sure a playoff spot.
Investment players in the off-season, the Rangers and Angels are just making sure right now that they have the goods to go all of the way. At the same time, because they are in the same division they are keeping a wary eye on each other. Got to protect the home flank before more grandiose thoughts intrude.
Despite their off-season spending that netted them very pricey Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, the Rangers went insurance shopping at the trade deadline and plucked another starting pitcher from the list of those available. Texas traded for the Cubs’ Ryan Dempster, who has been throwing great and earlier this season set a team record for consecutive scoreless innings. As a bonus, they brought in his catcher, too. Not so long ago Geovany Soto was the National League rookie of the year, but Chicago got tired of waiting for him to match his debut season. In-between, the Rangers signed free agent Roy Oswalt for additional mound backup.
No one can say that Rangers President Nolan Ryan is sitting on his hands. The last two years in a row Texas has been the American League representative in the World Series, but lost both times. Clearly, the Hall of Fame pitcher wants to become a Hall of Fame executive and is committed to bringing that elusive Series title to Texas.
Meanwhile, the Angels have not sat around playing checkers. They were not willing to concede anything to Texas and recognized if they wanted to catch up they had to spend big. So in the off-season they did just that. LA was the biggst spender in free agency, locking up the grandest prize in Albert Pujols, with a long-term $240-million deal and grabbing pitcher C.J. Wilson from the Rangers. The Angels were buttressed by rookie phenom Mike Trout, but they also approached the trading deadline with wallets open and obtained pitcher Zack Greinke. You can never have too much pitching, right?
So here we go, with two months left in the season, the Rangers, who started the year on fire and have come back to the pack a bit, versus the Angels, who started the season slowly, mirroring Pujols’ sluggish beginning, now on fire along with their star. Regardless of how the regular season plays out, it will be anti-climactic if the Rangers and Angels don’t meet in a full-fledged playoff series war. It would surely bring back memories of Red Sox-Yankees.
Topics: Albert Pujols, American League East, American League West, Boston Red Sox, C.J. Wilson, Chicago Cubs, Geovany Soto, Hall Of Fame, Los Angeles Angels, Mike Trout, New York Yankees, Nolan Ryan, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Dempster, Texas Rangers, World Series, Yu Darvish, Zack Greinke