Hello, Halos!

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Gentlemen, change your narratives:  the Red Sox collapse/Rays surge story is kinda stale, what with the Rays’ surge being arrested of late.  Now you gotta figure in the Angels who are tied with Tampa Bay, a mere two and a half back of Boston.

On September 2nd, Boston was nine games ahead of Tampa Bay and 9½ in front of the Angels in the wild-card standings. Since then the Angels have gone 12-7. Normally that’s not enough to catapult oneself into a race, but the Red Sox have cooperated nicely with that 5-15 of theirs.  When you open the door someone is going to walk in.

Which also means that there isn’t one single thing anyone can point to with the Angels and say “HERE’s why they’re back in it!”  There are a lot of things happening. Peter Bourjos has had a really nice second half at the plate, most specifically in the power department. Nine homers, four triples and 11 doubles since the break. Overall, a subpar offense on the season has turned into a pretty decent and occasionally downright swell offense in September.  With their rotation, that’s more than enough to take advantage of what the Sox have given them.

I don’t know if they’ll make it. They have two series left: against an Oakland team that has given them a fair bit of trouble this season and against the Rangers who are playing even better than the Angels are right now.  But they have a puncher’s chance. And, given the 1-2-3 of Weaver, Haren and Santana, if they do make it, they’re going to be able to give the Yankees fits in the first round.

Yankees acquire James Paxton from Mariners

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The Yankees announced that the club has acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners in exchange for three prospects: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a solid return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worries about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field, and Paxton’s durability. Paxton has made more than 20 starts in a season just twice in his career — the last two years (24 and 28). The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.