TORONTO -- Should the Rays make the playoffs, their road to a berth in the World Series could mean squaring off against the Angels, who got stronger on Tuesday with their acquisition of Mark Teixeira from the Braves.
Hoping to improve their offense, the Angels, who have an 11 1/2-game lead in the American League West, traded first baseman Casey Kotchman and Minor League right-hander Stephen Marek to the Braves for Teixeira.
"It makes them better," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, who spent all of his professional career with the Angels prior to joining the Rays in 2005. "I like Casey Kotchman a lot and I think he's a great player, but Teixeira is dangerous from both sides of the plate.
"Everybody's going to talk about Casey's glove, but a couple of years ago, Teixeira was a Gold Glove first baseman. He's one of the best I've seen. They got at least an equal as a defender. They got more power -- and from both sides of the plate. Teixeira's the kind of guy who will work the count. Casey's not a count worker; he's not a pitch seer. Teixeira is."
Teixeira entered Tuesday hitting .283 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs this season. The 25-year-old Kotchman is hitting .287 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs, while Marek, 24, was 2-6 with three saves and a 3.66 ERA as a reliever at Double-A Arkansas.
"I am [surprised at the Angels making a big deal]," Maddon said. "They've never been one to part with youth. And so this is a bit of a radical departure from the past. While I was with the Angels there were no real significant acquisitions. No real names like a Teixeira. We got Alex Ochoa one year. We got Jimmy Abbott one year, though he was kind of on the back side of things. So we never really got that. As much as they hate to see Casey go, they know it's going to augment them."
Troy Percival, who spent most of his career in the Angels organization, also was surprised at the deal.
"Teixeira's a good player and a switch-hitter, but Kotchman is a young player and having a good year," Percival said. "In that regard I'm surprised -- and I happened to work with Marek last year. He's got a big upside also. But if you're the Angels, you just got a big power-hitting switch-hitter that can put you over the top. I think both teams came out OK."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.