Rangers made first big move; who’s next?

List of trade-dead­line tal­ent is im­pres­sive

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - FROM WIRE RE­PORTS

When Oak­land out­fielder Ra­jai Davis heard that the Texas Rangers had acquired Cliff Lee from Seat­tle last week, he re­acted the same way as many oth­ers around base­ball did.

“They’re try­ing to make a real run, huh?” Davis said. “They’re not play­ing around.”

The Rangers are in the mid­dle of a messy own­er­ship change that in­cludes a ran­corous bank­ruptcy pro­ceed­ing, but that didn’t stop them from mak­ing the first ma­jor splash be­fore the July 31 non­waiver trade dead­line. Texas added Lee to a team that will carry a 4½-game lead in the AL West into the sec­ond half of the sea­son, which be­gins tonight.

“They were al­ready do­ing a pretty good job be­fore I got here,’’ Lee said. “Big of­fense, good arms and they have lead­ers. I’ll do my part to help.’’

The Rangers, who are in Bos­ton to open a four-game se­ries, are look­ing for their first play­off ap­pear­ance since 1999. Adding Lee to a for­mi­da­ble of­fense lets ev­ery­one know they’re se­ri­ous. Lee was 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five post­sea­son starts last year for the Phillies. But more im­por­tant, he was 2-0 against the mighty New York Yan­kees in the World Se­ries.

So who will be the next team to make a ma­jor move?

The Los An­ge­les An­gels are look­ing to add a big bat to stay in con­tention with Texas, and the AL Cen­tral-lead­ing Chicago White Sox have sim­i­lar de­signs.

“The prob­a­bil­ity of big guys mov­ing at the dead­line is al­ways a risky propo­si­tion to try to hand­i­cap,” An­gels man­ager Mike Scios­cia said. “Things can change from week to week.”

One thing we do know is that the win­ner of the Na­tional League pen­nant will have home­field ad­van­tage for the World Se­ries, af­ter the NL beat the Amer­i­can League 3-1 on Tues­day for its first vic­tory in the All-Star game since 1996.

All three NL di­vi­sion lead­ers at the break — the San Diego Padres (last World Se­ries ap­pear­ance: 1998) in the West, the Cincin­nati Reds (1990) in the Cen­tral and the At­lanta Braves (1999) in the East — must be con­sid­ered sur­prises, at least to vary­ing ex­tents.

“I think we have the pitch­ing to hold up down the stretch,” said Cincin­nati slug­ger Joey Votto, ar­guably the first-half MVP of the NL. “We’re where we are be­cause of our pitch­ing.”

None of the six first-place teams hold leads of more than 41⁄

2 games, the first time that could be said since the dawn of the wild-card era. No fewer than 10 teams in the NL and eight teams in the AL are within five games of a post­sea­son slot.

Dead­line deals

The list of avail­able tal­ent is im­pres­sive. It could in­clude, in no par­tic­u­lar or­der, Hous­ton Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt; Cleve­land pitch­ers Fausto Car­mona, Jake West­brook and Kerry Wood; Mil­wau­kee all-stars Prince Fielder and Corey Hart; Washington slug­gers Adam Dunn and Josh Willing­ham; Bal­ti­more pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and in­fielder Ty Wig­gin­ton; and Chicago Cubs lefty Ted Lilly.

There is no short­age of con­tend­ing teams look­ing for help. The Padres, Giants and Rays need an im­pact bat. The Yan­kees and Tigers need help in the sev­enth and eighth in­nings. The Phillies, Mets and Twins are in des­per­ate need of start­ing pitch­ing.

Help is on the way

Plenty of teams in the com­ing weeks are go­ing to get the boost of an ad­di­tional im­pact player with­out hav­ing to make a trade. Nowhere is that more true than in Bos­ton, where the third-place Red Sox, over­whelmed by in­juries, are due to re­turn sec­ond base­man Dustin Pe­droia, pitch­ers Josh Beck­ett, Clay Buchholz and Manny Delcar­men, catch­ers Vic­tor Martinez and Ja­son Varitek, and cen­ter fielder Ja­coby Ellsbury within the next month.

Other teams ex­pected to get crit­i­cal pieces back be­fore long are the Rock­ies (short­stop Troy Tu­low­itzki), Phillies (sec­ond base­man Chase Utley and third base­man Placido Polanco), Mets (cen­ter fielder Car­los Bel­tran), Dodgers (left fielder Manny Ramirez) and Reds (start­ing pitcher Edin­son Volquez).

New Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee

John Smierciak AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cincin­nati first base­man Joey Votto is among the league lead­ers in home runs and RBIs and has led the Reds into first place in the NL Cen­tral.

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