DALLAS — This wasn’t just an extraordinary day in the history of the Angels’ franchise. This was the day the Angels shaped the entire baseball landscape, not to mention the outlook of the American League West. By signing the greatest player of this era, Albert Pujols, and plucking an ace from the division-rival Rangers, C.J. Wilson, the Angels have set them up to be a World Series contender for years to come and have probably altered the strategy for several other AL clubs in the process.
What happens to Mark Trumbo? Does Albert Callaspo get traded? How do they create space for Pujols? Which number does Wilson wear (Jered Weaver has No. 36)? Those, and many other questions, are still to be answered.
But before that, here’s one more look at the big day, with a collection of what people around baseball were saying about the Angels’ Winter Meetings coup …
Angels owner Arte Moreno on Pujols (statement): “This is a monumental day for Angel fans and I could not be more excited. … Albert’s career performance clearly speaks for itself. He has proven to be the best player of his generation.”
Wilson: ”It’s a big swing in the balance of power in the [American League] West. I thought I was going to make a little bit of a difference, but [Pujols is] obviously going to make a huge one. Nobody saw that coming.”
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto: ”I can’t say in my wildest dreams I thought we’d be sitting here today. And, again, that is a tribute to C.J. Wilson, Albert Pujols and Arte Moreno, and the people on the Angels side. A lot has to go into making trades, signing players, and you always have to be prepared. I used the term, make sure you keep your peripheral vision clear, because you’re going to have to adjust along the way. In this particular regard I think we wound up in a situation where once we get through these physicals we’re going to be in a very exciting position for the organization.
Angels right fielder Torii Hunter on Pujols: ”This is the piece we’ve been looking for. I’ve been looking for this my whole career. When Barry Bonds was playing, I said I’d love to hit in a lineup with him. [Pujols] is him — best hitter, best to play the game. This gives us a good chance to win.”
Angels left fielder Vernon Wells (celebrating his 33rd birthday on Thursday): “You’re adding two of the biggest pieces in the market, two guys still young and in their prime who can dominate. This gives us a legitimate chance to get to the playoffs and farther. … I’m a fan right now. This is exciting for the game and the Angels. I can imagine how our fans are feeling. What a birthday gift this is.”
Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos: ”It’s unbelievable. Kind of surreal. I was getting up, still in bed, when I started getting the texts. I was shocked.”
Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick: ”I know one thing, our locker room’s going to look like New York’s.”
Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher: ”Our fans are absolutely going to love these signings. I know our players are going to be excited as well. I think we got significantly better with a big bat and adding pitching depth. We just put an exclamation point on our winter.”
Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine: ”The division just got significantly better. A team we have tremendous respect for and has been our main competition just got better. The challenge in the American League West just got bigger. But we feel our team is up for the challenge.”
Cardinals principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr. on Pujols leaving (statement): ”We are disappointed that we were unable to reach an agreement to keep Albert Pujols in St. Louis. Albert is a great champion and we will always be thankful for his many achievements in a Cardinals uniform, as well as his contributions to the St. Louis community. I have the highest regard for Albert both personally and professionally, and appreciate his direct involvement in this process.”
Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday on Pujols leaving: “I was surprised. I recognized that this was a possibility, but I think when something like this happens, you’re always going to be surprised that it didn’t work out.”
Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay on Pujols leaving: “It’s part of the business. It’s what happens. Albert’s earned the right to pursue free agency, and that’s where he decided go.”
Cardinals infielder Skip Schumaker on Pujols leaving: ”To be honest with you, all along I thought the Cardinals had the upper hand. Just because of what he’s done for the city, what he’s done for our organization, two World Series titles. He’s an absolute icon, a god in St. Louis. So I thought there was a strong chance he was going to come back. But you never know because of the free-agent market and how much a team really wants somebody.”
Cardinals right-hander Kyle McClellan on Pujols leaving: ”It’s definitely going to be different. You don’t know if you ever could imagine him in another uniform. But that’s the way it goes. He’s a free agent. He has a decision to make and that’s part of the game. He’s going to do just fine over there. He’s going to look fine in that Angels uniform after everyone gets over the shock of it looking so different.”
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino on Pujols’ deal: ”Every team has got its own reasons for doing what it does. Ten-year commitments are major commitments and risks, but I’m sure the Angels have their reasons for doing what they’ve done. It just makes for an even keener rivalry between the Red Sox and the Angels.”
Cubs general manager Theo Epstein on Pujols leaving National League Central: “I’ll just say, if he left, it’d probably be a good thing for us in terms of developing young pitching. You get a young pitcher up there and he’s working on his third pitch and working on his fastball command and you tell him to get ahead strike one and all of a sudden, instead of a Triple-A hitter he’s got Albert Pujols there and it leaves the yard 420 to right-center field and it’s not good for his confidence.”
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik on Pujols: ”That’s a very special talent that they acquired and just makes it more difficult for everybody in the division.”
Reds GM Walt Jocketty on Pujols leaving NL Central: ”I think it’s a positive. When they lose a guy of that stature, it’s pretty amazing.”
Indians GM Chris Antonetti on Pujols joining the AL: “I would’ve preferred he stayed in the National League.”
Athletics assistant GM David Forst: ”I can’t handicap what this means for the Angels, but certainly when you end up with all the best players in the game in your division, that’s not what you want.”
Reds manager Dusty Baker: ”They talk a lot about the Yankees, and now the Angels, looking at what they’ve done over the last six, seven years, are kind of like the Yankees of the West.”
Royals manager Ned Yost on Pujols: “A player of that caliber is going to make any lineup better. The Angels have always been a quality team, they’ve always been a tough team. With their pitching and now with their added offense in the middle of the lineup that they have, it’s going to be a very, very formidable team in that division and in the American League.”
* Angels land
* Players, execs around the league react
* Castro: Pujols leaving St. Louis hurts
* A look
at the dreaded nine-figure deal
* Redbirds must move on
* Pujols’ former teammates stunned
** Pictures of Wilson and Pujols courtesy of The Associated Press.
*** Lyle Spencer, Matthew Leach, T.R. Sullivan and several other MLB.com reporters contributed quotes.