August 2, 2011
Rangers, Braves fortified
Two of the biggest trade deadline acquisitions — Hunter Pence going to the Phillies and Carlos Beltran joining the Giants — came from teams already well-positioned to reach the playoffs. The Rangers and Braves are teams that were in more precarious spots but should play into October after their recent moves.
Texas added two of baseball's top setup men in Mike Adams and Koji Uehara, fortifying a bullpen that ranked 11th in the American League in ERA. Those additions should help the Rangers hold off the Angels in the AL West.
The Braves won't catch the Phillies in the NL East, but adding center fielder Michael Bourn should keep them at the head of the wild-card standings.
Texas added guns
No team did a better job addressing its needs than the Rangers, who are being pushed by the Angels in the AL West.
They improved their lineup from 2010 by adding Adrian Beltre and neatly absorbed the departure of Cliff Lee through the emergence of Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando's move into the rotation. But the bullpen was a major issue — both getting leads to Neftali Feliz, and at times Feliz's performance. Mike Adams and Koji Uehara are terrific additions that should pay off in the regular season and playoffs.
The Giants (Carlos Beltran) and Tigers (Doug Fister) also made nice moves that are going to make them tougher to catch. But the Rangers went for strength in numbers, always a good strategy.
Phillies add veterans
Los Angeles Times
The old joke used to be there was no such thing as a New York Yankees prospect. If you were any good, the Yankees would hype you and then trade you for a veteran. Now the Yankees keep most of their prospects, and the Phillies happily swap theirs for veterans — Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and now Hunter Pence.
Pence isn't going to win any MVP awards, but he is a talented hitter that deepens a Phillies lineup in which Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino all are slowing down. In fact, Pence is now the only Phillies regular under 30. For now, that is good enough for October, and for a Philadelphia team that has a 91/2 game lead on a playoff spot.
Rangers, Giants stronger
The two clubs that stand out most are last year's World Series teams, the Rangers and Giants.
By fortifying their bullpen with perhaps the two best setup men in baseball in Mike Adams and Koji Uehara, the Rangers distanced themselves from the Angels, who did nothing to improve their team. Even if they falter and let the Angels win the American League West, the Rangers are in good shape to secure a wild-card berth.
The Giants will get an offensive boost from Carlos Beltran, whose OPS is 130 points higher than that of any other outfielder on the active roster. With its stellar pitching and the addition of Beltran, San Francisco should be able to wrap up the National League West.
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