With the Tigers clearly looking like the best team in the A.L. Central, the competition to get back to the World Series just got tougher yesterday. It’s got nothing to do with the pesky Royals either. It has everything to do with the teams outside of the Central. The Los Angeles Angels have now created their own Murderers Row when they signed Josh Hamilton to a relatively reasonable 5 year deal worth 125M dollars. Pairing Hamilton with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols is going to make it tough for any pitcher to navigate through the top of that order unscathed.
Oct 5, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers second basemanIan Kinsler
(5) and Texas Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton (32) talk to each other after the game against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning of the 2012 American League wild card playoff game at Rangers Ballpark. The Rangers lost 5 to 1. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Still, a killer lineup is no guarantee, and there is some question as to how well the Angels rotation is going to stack up. It’s not just the Angels that are improving though. It’s the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s the Tampa Rays. And it’s the ability of the Rangers with a deep and talented farm system to get better in a hurry. Texas has trade pieces that nobody else has right now, and let’s not forget that they are still a pretty good team anyway. The Angels deal with Hamilton is likely to spur on some action from the Rangers front office, which has been relatively quiet, and staunch in holding onto it’s prospects. It might be time to part with some Jon Daniels.
Let’s not forget about the Oakland A’s either. The A’s were the surprise team of the American League last year. Well, if you don’t count the Orioles. I don’t expect either team to really repeat what they did last year, but the A’s have themselves a quality pitching staff, and the Orioles have some talented players in their own right.
The funny thing about baseball in the American League right now is that the Yankees and Red Sox right now appear pretty irrelevant. Even with Boston signing Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, and Ryan Dempster, is anyone truly afraid that they are going to tear up the American League? The Yankees seem to be on a fiscally responsible thought process right now, and appear to be taking a back seat in general. They’ve made no substantial moves. But every time people want to count them out, they seem to just win. Let’s not forget, the Yankees won the A.L East last year.
While it is pretty clear the Tigers are kings of the Central right now, the playoff road could be a difficult one to travel. These teams likely aren’t done yet either. Especially the Angels. Their glut of outfielders is going to allow them to acquire another pitcher to help.
It’s a good thing that the L.A. Dodgers are a gluttonous baseball pig right now as well, otherwise, every good player would likely be signing in the American League. The American League teams have an embarrassment of riches right now with it’s combination of aggressive spending teams, and teams overflowing with youthful talent. While it should make the American League exciting to watch next year, the Tigers smooth path towards another World Series opportunity gets more obstructed by the day.