Giving Thanks: The American League West

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We continue our look at what each team — and their fans — have to be thankful for this winter:

Texas Rangers: For the fates, good karma or whatever the hell it was that allowed this team to weather their manager’s cocaine revelations and a steel cage match of a team sale and bankruptcy without it tearing them asunder. Special thanks to the Mariners, for willingly trading an ace within the division and Major League Baseball, which OK’d the deal even though they were subsidizing the Rangers at the time.

Oakland Athletics: Dallas Braden, who stood bravely in defense of the A’s against those who would tread where opposing teams should not tread.  To be honest, though, not a ton to be thankful for. Yes, there’s some good young pitching, but it’s getting no help from the team’s owner who seems to be nickeling and diming his way through the baseball portion of his life, or from Major League Baseball, which couldn’t leave the team in an Oakland-San Jose limbo any longer unless it bent the space-time continuum to make history flow backwards. There are few beasts in this world for whom I feel more sorry than die-hard A’s fans. They deserve better, and they’re not getting it.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Arte Morneo’s anger. It reportedly has him prepared to open the checkbook this winter in pursuit of Carl Crawford and maybe even more. He probably wouldn’t admit it, but when he bought this team he had it in his head that he was going to win all the damn time. A year of not doing it is probably a great thing for Angels fans over the long term.

Seattle Mariners: The sweet, merciful kiss of the season’s death on October 3rd, which put an end to their suffering. They can also be thankful that even if Jack Zduriencik signed Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth and Cliff Lee to league minimum deals, traded for Justin Upton and Zack Greinke and somehow managed to create a time machine through which he brought back Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez circa 1996, no one would have any crazy expectations for this team. Not after last winter, anyway, which leaves the possibility that fans will be pleasantly surprised at what happens in 2011.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.