"I know the media and, therefore the fans, are really looking with excitement at the Trade Deadline and stuff like that, but it doesn't mean you do something crazy just to make a headline," Stoneman, the Angels' interim general manager, said on a conference call. "That's not what it's about. It's about putting yourself in position to win as many games as you possibly can."
The Angels ultimately added a stopgap third baseman until David Freese returns around the middle of August (Conor Gillaspie), a left-handed-hitting left fielder (David DeJesus), a right-handed-hitting left fielder (Shane Victorino) and a left-handed-hitting designated hitter (David Murphy) to pair with the young, right-handed-hitting C.J. Cron.
They only gave up three middle-tier prospects -- shortstops Eric Stamets and Josh Rutledge, rookie-level starter Eduar Lopez -- and they didn't take on much salary.
But they also took a backseat.
The first-place Astros added Scott Kazmir and Carlos Gomez, the division-rival Rangers traded for Cole Hamels, the Blue Jays added Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, and the Royals picked up Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. The Angels never felt motivated to keep up.
"What your competitors do really shouldn't impact what you're trying to do because you're always trying to improve," Stoneman said. "No matter what somebody else does, it doesn't really stop you or accelerate you, because you're always trying to move forward."
The Angels could still use a seventh-inning reliever; a consistent, veteran arm who can form a bridge to setup man Joe Smith and closer Huston Street. They can acquire one in August, when players must be offered through waivers before being dealt, but they seemingly don't feel the urgency to do so.
Still, the Angels have plenty of payroll flexibility remaining.
"We're going to keep looking," Stoneman said. "You're always looking."
Stoneman was thrown into the fire earlier this month. He's 71 years old, eight years removed from stepping down as the Angels' GM and essentially out of the loop in an advisory role ever since. But Angels owner Arte Moreno and president John Carpino asked Stoneman to take over through the end of the season when Jerry Dipoto abruptly resigned on July 1, because he's always had a good relationship with Mike Scioscia and because he has the mild-mannered disposition that could help keep operations running smoothly.
Stoneman relied heavily on assistant GMs Matt Klentak and Scott Servais. But it's worth wondering if the Angels were hurt by the absence of Dipoto, who had a better rapport with the 29 other GMs.
"I don't know," Stoneman said. "We conducted calls with everybody. I gotta tell you, at least half the guys I know very well. Making contact with the guys I knew very well was very easy. In some cases it was like picking up where you left off. Everyone here in the office had contact with the guys on the other clubs."