Coming into the season, many people had the The Angels Angels of Anaheim as the best team in the American League West. Our own Drew Fairservice even predicted them to win the World Series. Then, in April, they got off to a rather horrible start. Albert Pujols looked to have fallen off a cliff in the first year of a massive ten-year contract and the rest of the team seemed to be falling with him.

Then of course, the angels called up phenom centerfielder Mike Trout, Pujols started hitting and the rest of the team hit its stride. Had they stood pat at this year’s trade deadline it’s very likely that they still would’ve competed with the Rangers for the AL West title, but yesterday evening they made sure of it.

Last night, the Angels sent prospects Jean Segura, a middle infielder, and righthanders John Hellweg and Ariel Pena to the Milwaukee Brewers for right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke. The move comes just days after Brewers GM Doug Melvin made it clear that he would be trading Greinke, an impending free-agent, before the trade deadline on Tuesday.

The trade gives the Angels without question, the best starting rotation in the American League. Greinke, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson can compete with anybody’s top three starters and although Dan Haren and Ervin Santana have struggled this season both are capable of being mid- to top end-starters. With the emergence of Mark Trumbo, Trout and the continued good play of Pujols, on paper at least, the Angels once again look like the team to beat the American League.

Greinke has a 3.44 ERA so far this season in 21 starts, but seems to have been the victim of both bad luck and bad defense so far in 2012. His 2.51 FIP and 3.8 fWAR are both tops in the National League.

The Brewers, for their part, made out pretty well in the trade considering the Angels only get Greinke for two months and will not receive compensation if he signs with another team in the off-season. Segura routinely ranks in the prospect experts’ Top 100 prospects, while Hellweg is a gigantic righty with tons of potential. Pena is perhaps best known for his collapse during the futures game a few weeks ago in Kansas City, but does have some potential.

Even with a perhaps higher-than-expected price tag, it’s hard to blame the Angels for making a deal that looks like it will put them over the top. Even if you’re not a believer in fielding independent stats, Greinke is still one of the top 10 pitchers in Major League Baseball. Three prospects with tons of potential is a lot to pay for two months of one pitcher, but as we are wont to say on these virtual pages, flags fly forever.

And the rest:

For a more in-depth look at the prospects acquired by the Brewers in the Greinke trade Marc Hulet has you covered [FanGraphs].

Matt Klaassen asks whether or not it was a good trade [FanGraphs].

More Greinke trade analysis! [RJ Anderson and Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus].

The Giants acquired an aging middle infielder? Quelle surprise! [RJ Anderson and Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus].

Some stray thoughts [Dustin Parkes, Getting Blanked].

Josh Hamilton is being booed by his home fans [Drew Davison, Foul Territory].

Dustin Pedroia is pissed [Scott Lauber, Boston Herald].

The Brewers could be even worse than already expected [Jeremy Warnemuende,].

Jesus Montero can’t hit righties [Jesse Sakstrup, The Hardball Times].

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