Whether you're ready to drink the Harden Kool-aid, think the Mariners just became the Division leader, or think the Angels will still figure it out and win win win (because that's what they do), it's hard to argue that the AL West race has gotten significantly more interesting in the last week.
So, I ask the fans - where does it leave us Rangers? After the jump are a few quotes from various pundits and bloggers, and then I leave it to you. Who wins the West? What are the standings at the end of the year? Who makes the big in-season acquisition to tip the scales?"I'm not convinced that Figgins is a huge upgrade over Adrian Beltre for the Mariners, and they have yet to acquire anyone to hit in the middle of their order (though they're said to be among the top contenders for Bay, though that runs counter to their defense-first mentality), but the Rangers are also ascendant, having just added the dominant-when-healthyRich Hardento an emergent rotation that should also include top prospectsNeftali FelizandDerek Holland. The balance of power in the AL West is tilting." - Cliff Corcoran, Inside Baseball, si.com
"But pennant-race drama is returning to baseball's only four-team division. If the season started today, the Angels would remain the favorites -- maybe. The Mariners and the Rangers have closed the gap in a hurry and the A's are growing up. The Mariners, in fact, might have wiped out the remaining gap after trading for Cliff Lee.
A division that fielded only one winning team in 2008 boasted three in '09. The Mariners went from 103 losses to 85 wins, resulting in a majors-best 24-game turnaround. The Rangers scared the Angels early, won the season series and finished with a winning season for only the second time in 10 years. Even the A's, at 75-87, could claim that they were the majors' best last-place team." - Stan McNeil, Sporting News MLB writer
(on Lackey leaving the Angels):"...I believe, that this is *not* the end of the world, that over-committing cajillions to 30somethings is generally a dicey proposition, that it's terrific to have 8 of the first 115 draft picks (including 5 of the first 50), that the core group that's been playing .600 ball since May 2006 is not only largely intact, but growing into their prime years; that this organization continues to be as well run as it has ever been, that the offseason ain't over, and that if you were down to your last hundred bucks you'd bet it on the 2010 Angels?" - mattwelch, blogger, Halosheaven.com
(on Cliff Lee to the Mariners): "Cliff Lee does not, on his own, make us a great team. He just adds a handful of wins. I know it's no fun to look at things this way, since everyone wants to daydream about the Felix/Lee 1-2 punch leading us to the Series, but it is something we all have to keep in mind. That said, this division - once again - lacks a strong frontrunner, so these added wins are huge. And Z isn't done. Because Lee only costs $9m this year, we still have at least $10m or so to address other needs, and there exists the possibility that ownership could be convinced to spend even more." - Jeff, blogger, Lookoutlanding.com