Texas Rangers Trades: Mike Adams and Koji Uehara Enough To Keep Lead in AL West?
It's certainly not breaking news that the 2011 MLB Trade Deadline has come to a close. And just like every year hence, some teams made out big, some teams were ripped off, and some teams chose to stay with what they have.
In the American League West, only one team really made a splash at the Deadline—the Texas Rangers.
Although a first place team for the majority of the season, the Rangers certainly needed help in the bullpen—even their best reliever, Neftali Feliz, has flashed some serious inconsistencies.
And by adding two of the best relievers in the game, the Rangers certainly addressed their biggest weakness.
Many experts thought that the Rangers had the finest deadline deals in all of MLB—as they acquired outstanding relievers Mike Adams and Koji Uehara.
As for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—they did absolutely nothing. Honestly, I'm not going to chastise the Angels for abstaining from the Trade Deadline phenomenon. Let's face it—they're only two games out.
Will the Rangers' two new bullpen pieces be enough to finally add some breathing room and maybe a few games to their AL West lead?
Is the Angels' core group of talent enough to overtake the Rangers—without the benefit of a trade?
The Rangers Upgraded Their Bullpen Greatly
Sure, the Anaheim Angels are a good team. Some might say a "great" team. I feel confident that they view themselves as the latter and not the former. They must. They did nothing to improve trade-wise.
There were rumors that the Angels were pursuing Heath Bell. I found that peculiar, since Jordan Walden sure didn't have much of a problem punishing the Rangers when the Angels took two of three late last month.
Sure, Walden has 7 blown saves, but that's no big...oh wait. Yeah, they should've gotten Bell.
Some teams can get better by not doing anything at all. And a few years down the road, when Joe Wieland might throw another no-hitter, this time as a San Diego Padre, the Rangers scouting staff might want to eat their clipboards after banging them against their foreheads.
Yet, for now, the Rangers improved by filling in their biggest hole. The Angels remained static.
The best team in the AL West (maybe the American League?) improved greatly. The second best team stayed second best.
Jered Weaver and Dan Haren Aren't Enough
The 1-2-3 punch of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana is one of the toughest in baseball. In the aforementioned series between the Angels and Rangers, the Rangers were able to knock Haren out in the fifth inning of game two. The Angels then rallied against Derek Holland in the sixth and knocked around Tommy Hunter as well to take the lead.
That was a game the Rangers should have won. The final game of the three games series was an absolute masterpiece by the team's two aces. C.J. Wilson's two-hitter did nothing but earn him a loss, as the Angels and Jered Weaver won 1-0, with the sole run coming after an Endy Chavez error.
These two teams are very close, and their rivalry is becoming stronger and stronger every year. They have 10 more games against each other and each game will most likely be crucial in the standings.
The second game of the previously mentioned series is a great example of why the AL West will be won by the Texas Rangers.
In their six-run sixth inning, when the Angels knocked out Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter came in to relive and quickly allowed all of Holland's runners to score. Just for kicks, he then allowed two earned runs of his own. Those last two cost the Rangers the game—and the series.
Had it been Uehara to come in or Mike Adams—in all likelihood—those last two runs don't score. Yes, we'll never know for sure, but one thing is certain: the Rangers have more options when their starters get into trouble now.
Prediction: The Texas Rangers Will Win the AL West
Since last month's Major League-high 12 game winning streak, the Rangers have had some problems. Adrian Beltre was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a pulled hamstring. Then Nelson Cruz missed some games with a tight quadriceps muscle.
And injuries haven't been the only problem, as Neftali Feliz has at times shown poor command, and now has blown 5 saves on the year.
Staff ace, C.J. Wilson, has been atrocious in his last two starts. Over that span he's 0-2 with a 11.74 ERA, allowing seven walks and 14 hits over a combined seven and two-thirds innings pitched.
If C.J. Wilson's recent misadventures on the hill prove to be an anomaly, and Adrian Beltre returns healthy, and Cruz is alright, then the Rangers should be headed to the playoffs with ease.
The 2011 Texas Rangers were a team good enough to win the AL West before the Trade Deadline.
However, since then, with the key additions of Koji Uehara and Mike Adams, the Rangers have now turned into a team capable of not only winning their division, but also making some noise in the postseason.
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