It’s an extremely unfortunate situation when a team is the second-best team in baseball but also the second-best team in its own division. That is the current case of the 2014 Los Angeles Angels, who saw the talent gap between themselves and the Oakland Athletics widen before Thursday’s trade deadline. And it isn’t that the Angels got any worse yesterday, because they didn’t. It’s just that the Athletics improved the team by such a large amount at the deadline that even the Angels’ current two-game deficit in the AL West seems nearly insurmountable at this point.
Los Angeles actually had a successful trade deadline, relatively speaking, as the team bolstered its bullpen with Huston Street, Jason Grilli and Joe Thatcher. So, in a way, the Angels’ bullpen issues are solved. But now a bigger problem has arisen, as Los Angeles has to compete with Oakland, who boasts a starting rotation with the likes of Jon Lester, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija, with their own rotation, a group that includes Hector Santiago, Matt Shoemaker and Tyler Skaggs. Skaggs, who was pitching brilliantly Thursday night, had to leave the game against the Baltimore Orioles with an injury, so he might not even be included in the rotation for the foreseeable future.
That’s not to say that the Angels’ current rotation can’t compete, because they can. It’s just that the Angels’ rotation can’t compete with Oakland. The Angels are one of the best offensive teams in all of baseball, posting top-10 numbers in a slew of categories. Los Angeles can score with any team in baseball at any given time, and that will undoubtedly keep the team afloat in the AL West. At this point, however, it seems to be a mere battle for second place. The Angels currently hold an 8.5-game lead over the Seattle Mariners and, despite Lloyd McClendon‘s club improving at the deadline, the M’s don’t stand much of a chance against the Angels.
Mike Trout and company might be the second-best team in all of baseball, but chances are that the Angels won’t even win the AL West. It seems odd at the possibility of such a good baseball team playing in the Wild Card game, but such is the life of a team in a division with a juggernaut like the Athletics.
So while the Angels improved the team at the trade deadline, the AL West contenders actually ended up trade deadline losers thanks to the blockbuster deals made by the Athletics.