The Rangers' lead in the AL West has been built on taking care of business within the division, as Texas has a 41-16 record against division opponents and a 33-37 record against the rest of baseball. Other AL teams may complain that the Rangers and A's gained an extra advantage when the rebuilding Astros were moved into the division, but Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram points out that it's really the Angels' surprising decline that has made the AL West so lopsided. The Halos expected to contend this season but instead have the seventh-worst record in baseball and only a 19-35 record against inside their division.
Here are a few items from around the AL West…
- Also from Galloway's piece, he notes that the Rangers rate four Astros starting pitchers as "double-plus prospects" but a Rangers source wonders if the young starters' development is being harmed by Houston's league-worst bullpen. “The owner down there [Jim Crane] needs to get off his wallet and spend some money for some veteran bullpen guys next season,” the Rangers source said. “Those kid starters have a future, but they are being beaten up mentally by pitching well and never getting a win out of it.” Houston manager Bo Porter recently said that the Astros will look to add relief pitching help this winter.
- The Angels will try to reload after their disappointing 2012 but they'll have little payroll space to maneuver, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez notes. The Halos already have $126.5MM committed to the 2014 payroll and $111.725MM committed for 2015, and that's not counting raises for notable players who will become eligible for arbitration.
- How much would (or should) a team pay for Mike Trout's 2014 season? Fangraphs' Dave Cameron tries to calculate what Trout's single-season value would be worth if the Angels outfielder was suddenly a free agent and could only pursue a one-year deal for next season.
- The Rangers and Cubs both far exceeded their international bonus pool limits this summer and will face only limited penalties for it, a move that Baseball America's Jim Callis suspects could be copied by others. "More teams may try to exploit that loophole until an international draft closes it," Callis writes.
- If MLB.com's Jane Lee could undo any move from the Athletics' offseason, it would be the decision to let Jonny Gomes leave in free agency, Lee writes as part of a reader mailbag. Keeping Gomes would've allowed the A's to keep Cliff Pennington (rather than deal him in the trade that brought Chris Young to Oakland) and thus improve the club's infield depth and save some payroll space at the same time.