'Tis the season.
Less than two shopping days before tomorrow's 4 p.m. EDT non-waiver trade deadline.
It's the season when the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees usually separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the American League East.
Why? Well, because they have the most resources, whether it be minor-league prospects or their budgets to take on extra payroll.
Boston was looking at Atlanta Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira, as were the Tampa Bay Rays, the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Yankees.
And tonight at Fenway Park, Teixeira is expected to be there ... in the visiting dugout.
The Los Angeles Angels scooped Teixeira out from under the noses of the Red Sox. Casey Kotchman was taken off the field at Fenway Park during batting practice and, along with minor-league pitcher Stephen Marek, was sent to the Braves.
Teixeira, who the Braves acquired a year ago today from the Texas Rangers for five players, was hitting .283, with 27 doubles, 20 homers and 78 RBIs in 103 games. He will hit behind Vladimir Guerrero as the Angels improve their ninth-ranked offence.
The Red Sox contacted the Houston Astros about shortstop Miguel Tejada -- if Manny Ramirez is moved.
In 2004, the Red Sox moved a moody superstar at the deadline, sending Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs. This year, they have Ramriez asking to be dealt. The Sox have a $20-million US option on Ramirez for 2009 and 2010. Ramirez wants a long-term deal.
Where are the Red Sox looking? The market which can handle Ramirez could be counted on one hand -- with fingers to spare -- and only the New York Mets make any sense.
The Yanks, as they did two seasons ago when they added Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle at the deadline, added Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte from the Pittsburgh Pirates on the weekend. Nady was part of one of the most productive outfields in the majors, thanks to all-star Nate McLouth, Jason Bay of Trail, B.C. -- who also could move prior to the deadline -- and Nady.
Seattle Mariners lefty Jarrod Washburn could find himself in pinstripes as well. Washburn earns $10.85 million next season, which is tip money in the Bronx -- especially when the Yanks will be taking $80 million off the books this winter. The contracts of Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, Kyle Farnsworth, LaTroy Hawkins and Abreu all come to an end.
Yanks catcher Jorge Posada is headed for season-ending surgery to repair labrum and capsule damage in his right shoulder, so they are attempting to add Gerald Laird of the Texas Rangers.
And your Blue Jays, who are back on the plus side of .500? Well, their best chip is right-hander A.J. Burnett, in Year 3 of a five-year deal. Yet, Burnett has an opt-out clause on his contract. He has two years, totalling $24 million on his contract.
Burnett is not the average gun-for-hire, rent-a-starter pitcher.
Some teams, who can handle the $4 million remaining on Burnett's contract, may be leery of him staying put.
Most teams think he will become a free agent two weeks after the World Series.
"My guess is the best arms on the market this winter will be CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets," one general manager said. "Burnett would be the next if he opts out. He's at two years, $12 (million) apiece, I'm sure he'll get three or four at probably $15 million per. The law of supply and demand is on his side."
Of course, the Jays say Burnett will not be traded.
Just like B.J. Ryan's elbow was fine, he had a bad back ... just like Cincinnati Reds' Adam Dunn phoned to apologize ... just like ...
With the Angels adding Teixeira, it likely won't matter whatever last-minute additions and changes either the Yanks and Red Sox make before the deadline.
We see Angels in the World Series outfield this October.
The best team in baseball got a lot better yesterday.