Angels make power play
BOSTON -- The Angels, after Tuesday night’s 6-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox, are 11-3 this month with Maicer Izturis hitting third, but the table-setting switch-hitter will have to relinquish his spot to a more powerful force tonight: Mark Teixeira.
Tony Reagins, in his first year as Angels general manager, did what predecessor Bill Stoneman was never willing or able to do at the trade deadline, pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal for the big bat the Angels have craved for years.
Teixeira will bat third, play first base and wear No. 25 for the Angels tonight in Fenway Park after the Atlanta slugger was acquired Tuesday for first baseman Casey Kotchman and double-A pitcher Steve Marek, a relatively small price for one of baseball’s elite players.
“He’s like, ‘Forget it, we want to win,’ ” Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said of Reagins. “He came after me over the winter, and now Teixeira. He’s very aggressive. I can’t say that’s a bad thing. It’s a great thing.
“A lot of people wanted that extra bat in the lineup. You got it. Believe me, you got it. There aren’t many players who hit like this guy. All I can say is, wow!”
Teixeira, 28, hit .283 with 20 home runs, 78 runs batted in, 63 runs and 27 doubles in 102 games for the Braves. A two-time Gold Glove winner, the switch-hitter ranks fifth in the National League in walks (65) and sixth in RBIs.
He will also be a free agent this winter, so there is no guarantee he will remain in Anaheim.
But in convincing owner Arte Moreno to suppress his aversion to rental players, and in seeking to improve a team that already has baseball’s best record (66-40) and a double-digit division lead, Reagins made his intentions for this season very clear: He’s all in.
“Our goal is to win a world championship,” Reagins said. “The team is playing well, but being able to add a player like Mark Teixeira makes us that much better. . . . I don’t view Mark as a rental player. I view him as a player who can impact us significantly.”
The Angels made a strong push for Teixeira last July, offering Kotchman, pitcher Joe Saunders and a prospect to Texas, but Teixeira was sent to the Braves in a seven-player deal.
Atlanta failed to make the playoffs, but not because of Teixeira, who hit .317 with 17 homers and 56 RBIs in August and September.
“We’re all very sensitive to the fact that we’re not comfortable with a rental player,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. “But this player at this time was very important to us, and this was the only chance to get him.”
The trade will add about $4 million to the Angels’ $119-million payroll this season, the prorated portion of Teixeira’s $12.5-million salary minus the prorated portion of Kotchman’s $1.45 million.
Teixeira, a client of agent Scott Boras, is expected to seek a deal in the $200-million range.
“We can talk about contracts after the season,” Teixeira said on a conference call. “My No. 1 goal is to play great defense and drive in runs for the Angels. . . . I’m very excited to be in a pennant race. It gives you a little extra pep in your step.”
The Angels are averaging 6.1 runs a game this month after averaging 3.7 in May and June, but with Teixeira and Vladimir Guerrero, the Angels believe they’ll have a middle-of-the-order tandem comparable to Boston’s David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.
“The potential we had the first three months didn’t show until the last three weeks,” Hunter said. “But now, this lineup looks scary. This guy can really play.”
Kotchman, a budding star, was hitting .287 with 12 homers and 54 RBIs, and the 25-year-old won’t be a free agent until after 2011.
Teixeira, Scioscia said, “gives us a different look offensively that makes us deeper. Casey is having a terrific year, but Teixeira brings a presence to the middle of the lineup that is tough to put into words.”
Marek, a 24-year-old right-hander, was 2-6 with three saves and a 3.66 earned-run average as a reliever at double-A Arkansas.
Kotchman was pulled off the field by Scioscia during batting practice Tuesday and informed of the trade in the clubhouse. He was neither surprised nor disappointed.
“I’m excited to go to Atlanta and play for Bobby Cox,” Kotchman said. “At the same time, my teammates here know how I feel about them. I love the camaraderie in the locker room here. These guys come to play every day. It was fun to be a part of.”
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
The Angels get their man
This season’s statistics for Mark Teixeira and his career season averages:
*--* 2008 Career BATTING AVERAGE 283 286 HOME RUNS 20 34 RBIs 78 111 DOUBLES 27 36 RUNS 63 93 ON-BASE PCT. 390 373 SLUGGING PCT. 512 536 *--*
MAJOR ANGELS TRADES
Dec. 10, 1971: Jim Fregosi to the Mets for Nolan Ryan, Don Rose, Lee Stanton, Francisco Estrada.
Nov. 28, 1972: Andy Messersmith, Ken McMullen to the Dodgers for Frank Robinson, Bill Singer, three others.
Feb. 3, 1979: Ken Landreaux, Dave Engle, Paul Hartzell, Brad Havens to Minnesota for Rod Carew.
Jan. 23, 1981: Joe Rudi, Frank Tanana, Jim Dorsey to Boston for Fred Lynn, Steve Renko.
March 23, 2000: Jim Edmonds to St. Louis for Kent Bottenfield, Adam Kennedy.