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How do Thursday's trades affect the Angels?

The fortunes of the Athletics are only half the equation. What about the division rival who is right on their heels?

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The ease of the Angels' remaining schedule is not head and shoulders above what it was a couple days ago.
The ease of the Angels' remaining schedule is not head and shoulders above what it was a couple days ago.
Stephen Dunn

The American League pennant races got shaken up at Thursday's trade deadline, and now that the dust is settling it's time to figure out where everyone stands in the new landscape. While the obvious thing is to look at the teams who actually made the trades, Halos Heaven took an interesting look at the other side. It's only a few paragraphs, but here's the big finish:

Did the A's get better today? Eh.... maybe a little, but the schedule ahead ensures the Angels of a wold without Lackey, Peavy and Price. Pretty nice.

The premise is two-fold. One is that the Angels are getting C.J. Wilson back soon; while he is not the "equivalent" of Jon Lester, as Rev suggests, the point is that they are adding back into the mix a legitimate top-of-the-rotation pitcher who didn't contribute much to their recent hot streak while he was on the shelf with an ankle injury.

The second point is that, due to their remaining schedule, they could get some help from the fact that the big pieces who moved will now not be on their former teams when the Halos face them. It boils down to the fact that they have likely gotten out of facing David Price in their Rays series this weekend, as well as a bunch of starts by Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jake Peavy in their seven upcoming games against the Red Sox. Rev admits that they will still face Lester in their 10 games against the A's, but it will also be an A's team without Yoenis Cespedes.

Fortunately for us, though, I think Rev is being a bit optimistic here. Yes, the Angels won't have to face Price this weekend, but they weren't scheduled to anyway; he was set to go on Tuesday against the A's, so it is actually Oakland who will receive this scheduling benefit. Neither team faces the Tigers again until October, so Price is no longer a factor in the AL West race. Point, Oakland.

Next, the Angels won't have to face Peavy in Boston ... except that Peavy is terrible this year. He had a 1-9 record and an ERA of nearly 5.00 before the trade; facing him is a good thing in 2014, as Giants' opponents are about to find out. Missing out on him is a bad thing, especially if whichever young pitching prospect replaces him shows flashes of brilliance now and then and happens to have one of those games while he is in Anaheim. Lackey has been legitimately good, so the Halos will indeed get a boost from missing him, as Rev suggests.

As for Lester, wouldn't you rather face him in a game against the weak Red Sox than in a head-to-head game against the team you're trying to catch? Seeing him in an Oakland uniform instead of Jesse Chavez is a serious negative for the Angels' fortunes. Looking around the rest of the league, the relocation of Justin Masterson to the NL is not material -- the Angels just have one make-up game against Cleveland, and Oakland is done playing them entirely. The Mariners made improvements, but both clubs have two series left against them so that's a wash. Each team has different interleague opponents remaining, but none of them made huge changes -- for us, the Braves added Emilio Bonifacio; for them, the Dodgers got Darwin Barney and the Marlins picked up Jarred Cosart.

The net effect is this. The Angels get out of maybe two starts against Lackey, but they also face Lester in more meaningful games while cutting the favorable Peavy matchup(s). The A's get out of a one-sided Price vs. Jason Hammel showdown. Without even factoring in Oakland's clear improvement, the A's are getting the better end of the new league environment.

The Angels stood pat at the deadline, and that was probably just fine. They made their moves when they added Huston Street, Jason Grilli, and Joe Thatcher to their bullpen, and those were serious improvements to their roster. They may wish that they'd added a starter now that Tyler Skaggs came down with a funky forearm just hours after the deadline, but we don't need to add that unrelated event to the equation for the premise to remain intact. Not only did the A's get better on Thursday while the Angels stayed idle, but the rest of the league gave Oakland a tiny extra boost in the strength of their remaining schedule.