Mike Adams and Koji Uehara have provided the Texas Rangers with exactly zero guarantees toward defending their American League pennant and returning to the World Series.
The bullpen was strengthened Saturday and Sunday before the non-waiver trade deadline with the two right-handed set-up relievers, and it was transformed from a team weakness into one of the best in the league.
Games, in theory, have been shortened to six innings, because the combination of Adams, Uehara and Neftali Feliz has the potential to be an impenetrable line of defense.
In theory. There isn't much margin for error with the LA Angels only two games back in the AL West. There is no margin for error in the playoffs.
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"The Angels are a very good club, very good pitching staff," general manager Jon Daniels said. "And if we're fortunate enough to get to the postseason, that's a dogfight every night. You need multiple guys to pitch in the back end of the bullpen. I think we put together a bullpen capable of doing that."
The acquisitions made the Rangers the big winners at the trade deadline for a second straight season. They received Cliff Lee a few weeks ahead of the annual deadline in 2010, not to mention three other trades that bolstered the lineup.
That worked out pretty well. The hope is that Adams and Uehara will make another significant impact.
"That's exactly what we needed," manager Ron Washington said. "Now it's up to those guys and us to make sure they're ready every night to go out there and win some games."
Texas Rangers: A bullpen that has faltered too many times late in games was solidified with two right-handers who thrive when games are on the line. Mike Adams and Koji Uehara are a combined 4-2 with a 1.57 ERA, a 0.739 WHIP, 17 walks and 113 strikeouts in 92 innings. The trades cost four good young players, but the Rangers want to win now.
Philadelphia Phillies: The favorites to win the National League crown acquired Hunter Pence, the best player available at the deadline, and plugged a hole in right field that was created when Jayson Werth bolted in the off-season. The Phillies' offense, which was hitting .251 entering Monday, needed a boost.
Cleveland Indians: The AL Central is wide open. The Indians paid heavily to get Ubaldo Jimenez from Colorado, but he upgrades their rotation and is scheduled to debut for them Friday at Rangers Ballpark. Even Kosuke Fukudome is an upgrade for an offense that is missing Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore.
San Francisco Giants: The defending world champs are hitting .239 and have only one player with more than 10 home runs. Enter Carlos Beltran, who had 15 homers and 30 doubles with New York before the Mets unloaded him and much of his ample salary. Jeff Keppinger and Orlando Cabrera offer help in the middle of the infield.
Atlanta Braves: Another Houston salary dump, Michael Bourn, gives the Braves a leadoff hitter and a speedy element atop their lineup. He had 39 steals and a .363 on-base percentage entering his Atlanta debut Monday. The Braves had 42, and their leadoff hitters this season had only a .309 on-base percentage. Bourn makes them better.
Houston Astros: Well on their way to a 100-loss season, the Astros took significant strides toward ensuring 100 more in 2012. Their best two players were dealt. Their most expensive players remained. The prospects acquired might prove to have productive careers, but they won't be impact players for a while.
New York Yankees: They stood pat, something they almost never do. They tried to get Jimenez from Colorado and Wandy Rodriguez from Houston, but chose to keep some quality prospects. Rafael Soriano is healthy, helping the bullpen, but the Yankees had the resources to make a splash with, say, Heath Bell.
Chicago Cubs: The season is lost despite a high payroll and a series of moves in the off-season. But all those pricey veterans remain to play out a string of meaningless games. Alfonso Soriano, for instance, would have been next to impossible to move, but teams expressed interest in Marlon Byrd and Carlos Pena.
Los Angeles Angels: The top of their rotation is terrific, and their lineup is showing signs of life. The one area that has been a concern this season is the bullpen. The Rangers upgraded theirs, but the Angels didn't enter into an arms race with the team they trail by two games in the AL West.
Cincinnati Reds: They were the anti-Indians. Like the AL Central, the NL Central is hardly decided. The Reds, who won the division last year and entered Monday 6 1/2 games out, were thought to be in on multiple players but ended up doing nothing. It could end up being the right move, but one hot streak could leave the Reds full of regret.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760