It's about stinking time!
The Angels, after days if telling the baseball world they weren't ready to empty the cupboard for a temporary fix - and a shot at a possible 2nd World Championship - didn't. And yet the team sees itself as L.A.'s team did set itself up as the team to beat down the stretch, acquiring power-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves for first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Stephen Marek.
If all the excitement the deal is generating around the Major Leagues seems a bit premature, one thing is for sure, the Angels, who seemingly never could pull off a last minute deal during the regime of former general manager Bill Stoneman pulled off what looks to be the deal of the year in getting Teixeira. In only giving up a relative career journeyman in Kotchman and a pitcher with a losing record and an ERA approaching four at AA Arkansas, it looks like the post-season excitement will once-again remain in Anaheim this October.
Although in the final year of his current contract - and as a client of often vilified super agent Scott Boras - the bringing in of Teixeira for little to no long-term player personnel cost begins to look like a genius move for the leaders in the American League West. Even if he walks at the end of the year (and any client of Scott Boras is likely to do just that), the Angels have upgraded considerably without losing the one thing the team was unwilling to part with. Any part of what is thought to be, top to bottom, the best pitching staff in the big leagues.
With Teixeira comes one thing the Angels have not had in a season that finds them maintaining the best record in baseball... a bat in the line-up to protect Vladimir Guererro. Now, with Teixeira projectded to bat behind Guererro in the order, when the play-offs roll around, teams will no longer be as likely to pitch around the man who had been the team's only legitimate power threat.
And if all things go according to plans, with all that additional World Series revenue the Angels hope to collect come October, maybe owner Arte Moreno won't hesitate to pay the going rate for the player who is expected to be worth between 15 and 20 million a season in 2009.
Yes, it's about stinking time!
In a related story, The Los Angeles Dodgers have been mentioned repeatedly today as possibly the team to step up in the Manny Being Manny Sweepstakes, now the the Boston Red Sox are seriously shopping their on-again/off-again head case and perennial all-star, left fielder Manny Ramirez. According to a report by ESPN's Peter Gammons, future Hall-Of-Famer Ramirez has officially worn out his welcome as Boston's lovable loon, and is on the block for any team willing to make the Sox a semi-credible offer.
Of all the teams interested in Man-Ram, the Dodgers have as much to offer as any almost-contender in the hunt.
What would the Dodgers have to give up to get a power-hitter of Ramirez' caliber (and oft-questioned) character? Pitching, hitting, defense... probably all three. It is the Dodgers' hopes that the Red Sox would settle for less talent and more peace of mind in the removal of Manny Ramirez from their plans for another World Championship. In July of 2004, the Sox set the precedent for chemistry over chaos when they traded a disgruntled Nomar Garciaparra, then the face of the franchise, at the trading deadline and went on to win their first Series since Babe Ruth was a pitcher.
Maybe they would be more interested in the same kind of a move for Manny. After all, he's sure to fit right in with a clubhouse lead by wound-tight second baseman Jeff Kent, a bunch of talented youngsters who haven't yet figured out how to win at the big league level, and of course that former Boston favorite, yep you guessed it, Nomar Garciaparra.
I can't wait to see how this all plays out.