BALTIMORE – When the Oakland A’s acquired Jon Lester on Thursday, Jerry Dipoto was just as surprised as anyone.
Not surprised enough, however, to make a move to keep up with the Angels’ division rivals.
“My first reaction, like any other baseball fan was ‘Wow,’” the Angels general manager said. “That’s Jon Lester. Jon Lester is a stud. We’ve seen him on the postseason stage before. He’s been great. A good move for the A’s. They traded something very real (Yoenis Cespedes) away. They had their reasons. I’m sure Boston had theirs. But we’ll focus on our own team.”
After the trading deadline passed Thursday with the Angels failing to make a move, Dipoto said that he was “not at all” close to anything during the final day.
Dipoto said repeatedly that the Angels had already addressed their most glaring need when they acquired relievers Huston Street, Jason Grilli and Joe Thatcher in the past five weeks.
“We have the ability to run out a starting rotation that is pretty darn good, and has been all year long, a bullpen that should match up with just about anybody in the league and an offense that has been one of the top three run-scoring offenses in the league all year long,” Dipoto said. “We are comfortable with the team we have.”
It’s no secret that the Angels could have used another starting pitcher, but there was a short list of starters who could have made a legitimate impact on their rotation.
At the top of that list was David Price, who Dipoto said he did not even pursue on the last day.
The industry consensus was that the Angels did not have enough prospects to acquire a pitcher like Price or Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels.
The return the Tampa Bay Rays got for Price — Nick Franklin, Drew Smyly and minor league shortstop Willy Adames — was thought by some to be less than expected.
“That’s not for me to judge,” Dipoto said.
With the deadline passed, the Angels essentially know the landscape as they try to overcome a two-game deficit to catch the A’s, who improved their pitching staff markedly at the expense of their cleanup hitter.
“They were good yesterday and they’re good today,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “We knew that. We have a really good team. Our focus has to be on us continuing to play at a high level and continuing to improve.”
Lester is 4-2 with a 4.44 ERA against the Angels in the regular season. He is also 1-1 with a 1.35 in three postseason games against the Angels.
“It’s going to be a battle, for sure, makes their pitching staff that much better,” Mike Trout said. “We always have a tough battle when we face Lester. Now he’s in our division. Gonna be some fun battles, for sure.”
The Angels are hoping that their improvement to the starting rotation comes in the form of C.J. Wilson, who is scheduled to come off the disabled list to start on Saturday. Wilson, who has been out because of a sprained ankle, says he found a mechanical flaw that contributed to his struggles in the six weeks before he was hurt.
“When C.J. is right, he’s a very legitimate top half of the rotation guy,” Dipoto said. “When we can line up C.J. with Jered Weaver and Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago, we are very comfortable with that group. Obviously C.J. is a key ingredient for us.”
Joe Smith gave up a hit to Baltimore’s Caleb Joseph, snapping a streak of 31 consecutive right-handed batters retired. ...
The start time for the Angels’ game at Oakland on Aug. 24 has been moved to 5 p.m. PT to accommodate ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. The game had been scheduled for 1 p.m.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org