They just didn't expect it to happen with the Angels already lapping the rest of the American League West.
Adding Mark Teixeira to this admired juggernaut -- a perfect baseball storm -- is basically like what it would have been like for Paul, John, George and Ringo to have added a fifth Beatle.
But this is not about a club with a 65-40 record and an 11 1/2-game division lead.
It is more about a club that scored a total of four runs in being swept out of last fall's Division Series. It is about backing up Vladimir Guerrero with a switch-hitter who is on pace for his fifth consecutive 30-homer, 100-RBI season, and causing playoff foes to lose sleep.
The Braves' motivation of course was different. They unhappily fulfilled the necessary other half of pre-trading deadline transactions -- a team coming apart at the seams, trying to gainfully downsize.
A matter of hours earlier, Atlanta general manager Frank Wren had lived up to his name by frankly saying, "The reality of the way things have gone recently and the number of injuries we're battling, I think it paints a pretty clear picture of what we should do and what we need to do. We're in a position of great strength because we have the best player."
Wren naturally meant Teixeira, with whom he made the best deal possible. He got some future -- reliever Stephen Marek is of closer stock -- but also got an immediate replacement first baseman in Casey Kotchman, another 25-year-old with a nice resume already.
Thus, the Angels maintained one tradition and started a new one.
Still the trade market's stealth buyers, the Angels quickly and decisively swooped in for Teixeira hours after Wren formally placed him in the window, and just as the rumor mill was starting to churn out possible scenarios.
The M.O. should be familiar by now. Even the FBI may already have a file on it, to help profile the next serial dealer.
Take the winter of 2003-04, when the marquee name on the table was the free-agent Guerrero. Chips flew across the felt for months, but the Angels, not even perceived in the game, snapped him up two weeks into the new year.
Or just go back a few months. Torii Hunter's ticket out of Minnesota was supposed to be punched by numerous teams, but none other than the Angels, who of course wound up signing him over some tacos at roughly the same time he had a wine-and-dine date with the Dodgers.
The new wrinkle is the when
. Which also brings up the who
In his nine seasons with the Angels as the architect of some very fine teams, GM Bill Stoneman was not a trading-deadline player. For several reasons -- primary among them opposition to the prospects-heavy price typically asked at this time of the year, and a reluctance to tinker with team chemistry -- Stoneman wasn't concerned with July 31.
The new GM, Tony Reagins, is a Stoneman disciple, but clearly has his own ideas. And when given the opportunity to acquire a 28-year-old with two Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves, Reagins thinks, "Not a bad idea."
"We're pleased to bring Mark into the Angels family," Reagins said. "He is a tremendous player and we feel he will impact our club in a very positive way."
Reagins' willingness to part with Kotchman tipped his future hand: The Angels aren't renting Teixeira for the rest of this season, but will sign the potential free agent to a long-term contract.
Furthermore, that development may already be in motion. I wouldn't be surprised if in quickly deliberating the move, Moreno, Reagins and manager Mike Scioscia were joined by Scott Boras, agent to the stars.
Boras may not yet have had a chance to compile one of his legendary dossiers on Teixeira, but even without the usual tome could argue for the value of inserting him in a lineup behind Guerrero.
Guerrero has warmed up a bit after a slow start, leading the Angels with 17 homers and tied for the team lead at 54 RBIs with Hunter and, yes, Kotchman. Which of course means that Teixiera (20 homers and 78 RBIs) immediately becomes the Angels' new team leader in both categories.
One reason Guerrero hasn't been able to embark on his usual reign of terror is an absence of consistent at-bats. When he hasn't been walked intentionally -- he's tied for the AL lead in that department with 11 -- he has been pitched around.
Being a natural bad-ball hitter has helped with that. Having a hard-ball hitter behind him now will help even more.
Teixeira just hopes he doesn't foul up a good thing. For the Angels, whose lead is nearly double
the composite leads of the Majors' other five division leaders, life indeed has been very good.
"They have the best team in baseball," Teixeira said on his way to joining them in Boston. "I'm not going to go over there and make them any different, other than just hopefully add a few more runs. They have all the pitching they need, they have great defense."
All they need now is some clever songwriters with a YouTube account. Like Andrew Hall and Tyler Crawford, the guys who wrote and performed a smash tribute to Teixeira soon after his trade at last summer's deadline from Texas to Atlanta.
The National League, it just ain't fair-a
The Atlanta Braves got Mark Teixeira
Yep, definitely needs a re-write.