The Angels' big grab at the trade deadline has pushed the ball back into the Rangers' court.
By MATT MOSLEYFS Southwest
Rangers owned the Angels at the trade deadline for two years running, but that run may have ended early Friday evening. The news that the Milwaukee Brewers traded pitcher
Zack Greinke to the Angels in exchange for three prospects delivered quite a punch about 30 minutes before first pitch at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Now, we wait to see how Rangers GM Jon Daniels and his associates will respond. It didn't help that bonus-baby Yu Darvish coughed up a three-run lead in a 9-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Friday. By all accounts, the Rangers and Angels were the last teams standing in the Greinke sweepstakes, and the folks from Anaheim came out on top. Folks who know a tad more about minor-league prospects than yours truly were quick to point out how the Angels cut into their already talent-thin system to make this deal. But to me, that's little consolation when you take a peek at the Angels' potential playoff rotation.
No matter where you stand on Greinke, you have to admit the '09 A.L. Cy Young winner is an immense talent. I said Friday afternoon on local radio that the Angels were a great fit for Greinke because they already have an ace in Jered Weaver and a pretty strong No. 2 in former Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson, although we know what happens to him in October.
Because Greinke's past struggles with social anxiety disorder, some have wondered how he would function in major markets such as Los Angeles or Dallas-Fort Worth. But I think not having to be the No. 1 pitcher will help Greinke relax and simply concentrate on doing his job every fifth day. For that reason, the Angels are a better fit than the Rangers. He would've immediately been the No. 1 pitcher for Texas, and that certainly places him under a lot more pressure.
By all accounts, the Rangers lost out on Greinke because of their refusal to part with left-handed pitcher Martin Perez or Class AA third baseman Mike Olt. A source told FoxSportsSouthwest.com on Saturday the Brewers were most interested in Perez because they have 34-year-old third baseman Aramis Ramirez (.287/.351/.494) under contract through 2014. I confirmed a report the Rangers offered infield prospect Leurys Garcia, soft-tossing left-handed pitcher Chad Bell and right-handed pitcher Justin Grimm to the Brewers for Greinke.
If the Rangers believed Greinke had a great chance to put them over the top in the postseason, either Perez or Olt would've been included in the offer. But it never felt like that was the case. Daniels will do everything he can to win a World Series, but he's not going to risk the organization's future on a rental player of Greinke's ilk. The Rangers were willing to part with a tremendous young prospect in first baseman Justin Smoak before the deadline in 2010 because they believed Cliff Lee was a legitimate ace who could carry them in the postseason. That turned out to be one of the best moves in the history of the organization despite the fact Lee returned to the Phillies in free agency.
That said, the Rangers certainly have to re-evaluate their deadline strategy in the aftermath of the Greinke signing. The Angels, who trailed the Rangers by four games in the division heading into Saturday, have a much more formidable rotation with Greinke. When you combine his arrival with what Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo have brought to this lineup, it's worth taking a peek in the rear-view mirror.
The Rangers have to decide what they would be willing to give up in a trade for Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson or the Rays' James Shields. Neither one is a clear-cut Game 1 starter in a postseason series. That's why I believe the Rangers have something else up their sleeve.
It could be a position player that no one has discussed. Or Daniels could take a hard run at Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. That would be the type of haymaker that would make the Rangers the clear favorite to win the World Series. But as crazy as it sounds, I'm not even sure including Jurickson Profar, Olt and Perez would get that done with the Mariners.
They didn't have any trouble trading talented young starter Michael Pineda to the Yankees, but the Mariners have insisted that Hernandez is untouchable. We'll see if they maintain that stance as the deadline approaches. My guess is they will.
At this point, the Angels would appear to have an advantage over the Rangers in a head-to-head playoff meeting. But a lot can happen between now and October when you think about injuries and other factors. Perhaps Darvish and Derek Holland will find some consistency by then. Holland was brilliant in the second half of last season and he's the owner of the greatest postseason pitching performance in Rangers history.
And let's not forget that Matt Harrison made the All-Star team and continues to be a steady presence in this rotation. This is no time for the Rangers to panic, but the Angels certainly got their attention Friday.