Imagine for a minute you’re staring into a boxing ring somewhere between Anaheim, California and Arlington, Texas.

The Los Angeles (don’t call me Anaheim) Angels just watched as the Texas Rangers stole left-hander Cliff Lee right out from under the New York Yankees. It was like a stunning left cross that the Angels never saw coming.

While they stare off into space, stunned that the once lowly Texas Rangers just threw their biggest punch in years, and while the stars they’re seeing start to wear off, owner Artie Moreno has to be hatching a plan on how the team responds.

They certainly didn’t expect to lose Kendry Morales to possibly one of the most freakish injuries in baseball history, breaking his leg while celebrating a walk off home run. But the Angels didn’t freak out, they didn’t rush out and overpay the first player available that could take over at first base.

They’ve stood back, weighed their options, and have begun compiling a list of players they could possibly land at or before the trade deadline.

Sure there were plenty of names that have been tossed around recently, but the Angels’ front office is still holding its cards close to the vest and not giving any indication on which direction it plans on going.

We’ve heard several rumors over the last month-and-a-half, and we know there are certain things that are true about what the team needs. So, we can start there and see where we land.

But, before we do, one question needs to be asked. Are the Texas Rangers done dealing? The answer to that, according to one report, is no.

On July 9th, Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reported that the Rangers had, or have, “serious interest” in Chicago Cubs’ outfielder Xavier Nady. Levine says the Rangers have interest in Nady because they “traded their first baseman (Justin Smoak).”

While that might be true, the Rangers filled that hole at first by calling up Chris Davis from Triple-A, so there’s no indication about whether the interest in Nady is still there or if Davis will be the guy for the remainder of the season.

Davis brings solid defense to the position, but his bat is suspect at best. He struggled mightily over the first few months of the season and was demoted to the minor leagues, at which time Justin Smoak was given the chance to be the new first baseman.

Unfortunately for both Smoak and the Rangers, he also struggled, with a batting average that just barely lingered above the .200 mark. He was dealt to the Seattle Mariners in the deal that brought Cliff Lee to Texas.

The Rangers aren’t the only team that will be interested in Nady, but unless the Rangers are wanting a reserve first baseman or outfielder, I don’t know that the interest was ever really that strong to begin with.

As far as the Angels are concerned, there are a whole host of names that they have been linked to.

Derrek Lee (Cubs), Paul Konerko (White Sox), Adam Dunn (Nationals), and Prince Fielder (Brewers) have all been mentioned in connection with the open first base job at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

Konerko’s name seemed to be the one the Angels were most interested in while the White Sox were floundering around in the AL Central. But a big turnaround has all but killed the possibility that Konerko is headed west.

So, with him out of the mix, you still have Lee, Dunn, and Fielder as possibilities. The Cubs are in a selling mode, and would more than likely be willing to deal Derrek Lee, who would be a good fit for the Angels. He brings not only solid defense to the position, but he also gives them a solid power bat in the lineup.

As for Adam Dunn and Prince Fielder, these are probably the least likely of the remaining three names that could be on the Angels’ radar.

Adam Dunn has made it very clear that he does not want to be traded by the Nationals and would like to work out a contract extension with the team. However, over the last few days, those feelings seemed to have disappeared thanks to what Dunn calls a “lack of urgency” from the team. Dunn has also made it clear that he doesn’t want to be traded to an American League team just to be a designated hitter. Though, if he’s traded to the Angels, they would want him as their full time first baseman.

Last, but certainly not least, Brewers’ first baseman Prince Fielder. There’s no question that he’s a player the Angels may “kick the tires” on, but he’s not a player they will get serious about for one reason—Scott Boras.

Earlier today, ESPN’s Buster Olney apparently had some things to say about Boras, comparing Fielder to Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira. Olney suggested that some general managers and scouts around baseball think there’s a 180-degree difference in the two players. Olney also says that Fielder is “one of the worst first basemen in baseball.”

Well, Boras wasn’t going to let that stand and decided to throw his comments to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal . Before I post good ‘ole Boras’ comments, you should know that the Brewers approached Fielder and Boras with a five-year contract extension said to be worth upwards of $100 million. The offer was denied and talks have gone nowhere since.

The main problem that Buster Olney brings up is Fielder’s body size, and he says he has talked to “unnamed sources” that share that concern.

Boras shot back through the aforementioned Haudricourt by saying, “This stuff about a ‘bad body’ is bull. He may be a thick guy but he’s an athlete. He certainly is not the worst first baseman in the league like they say.

“It’s all hearsay. I’m tired of unnamed sources. No one put his name on those comments. Nobody mentioned that he just tied the (Brewers) club record for consecutive games played (274). He goes out there and plays every day. How many guys do that? They didn’t talk about that.

“People who know Prince know about his work ethic, what he’s like in the clubhouse and the attitude he takes out there every day, wanting to win. It has nothing to do with his body type. All of those things boost his value.”

The Angels are in need of a first baseman, that much is true, but the other piece that may slingshot them to yet another AL West crown is a starter to complement Jered Weaver. While a guy like Roy Oswalt might be too rich for the team’s blood, they could look towards a few starters like Ted Lilly, Jake Westbrook, or perhaps Pedro Martinez, who you know has to be watching each race with tremendous interest.

As it stands right now, the Rangers have the ace they’ve needed for so long, and they’re hoping that Cliff Lee is able to keep them in front in the AL West. But, if the Angels land another starter, as well as a guy like Derrek Lee, it could make the race a tight one all the way to the end.

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