This is a brief look at the way I see it:
1: Texas Rangers: It had to be a boost for Nolan Ryan's ailing heart and the erratic beat of the bullpen when general manager Jon Daniels landed two of the best set up men in baseball: Mike Adams from San Diego and Koji Uehara from Baltimore. Consider their combined numbers this season: 95 innings, 51 hits, 111 strike outs, 17 walks. The Rangers still have a race on their hands with the Angels, but what Daniels did was shorten their rotation's assignment to six innings.
3: San Francisco Giants--Houston's Hunter Pence may have been a better overall fit, but General Manager Brian Sabean sent a message to his pitchers and patrons by acquiring the best pure hitter on the market, Carlos Beltran, and then adding two valuable infield pieces: Jeff Keppinger and Orlando Cabrera. There is no reason why the Giants shouldn't breeze in the NL West, the first step in retention of their World Series title, but also keep the name of Zach Wheeler in mind. He is the young pitcher the New York Mets insisted on in trading Beltran, and is generally ranked the best pitching prospect in the minors.
4: Tie between Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves: The Phillies simply don't miss any more when they set their sights on a player, Pence following Roy Halliday, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. Hidden in Houston where he was expected to carry more than his share of the load, Pence is the perfect complement to a lineup already deep in talent. The Braves, trying to keep within sight of the Phillies in the NL East and retain their wild card lead, landed a catalytic center fielder in Michael Bourn of the disbanding Astros. Bourn brought 32 steals to a team with 42 overall and a .354 on-base percentage to a team with baseball's 26th lowest.
1: Houston Astros--The Astros couldn't get rid of everything they wanted to, but Pence, Bourn and Keppinger pretty much deflated the offense, and starters Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers may still slide through waivers. New owner Jim Crane has obviously instructed GM Ed Wade to rebuild for the future, and while Wade acquired some decent prospects for Pence and Bourn, the Astros will have an expansion look until the future becomes reality---maybe in 2015.
3: Angels--How strange. The Angels have produced one of baseball's best recent records in keeping pace with the Rangers, who they may yet catch and defeat in the AL West, but not since Mike Scioscia and Bill Stoneman changed the philosophy of this organization have I felt that that aura has gone backwards. It is probably too large and mysterious to get at in one paragraph. Maybe I am sensing something that really hasn't changed, maybe all that was needed, is needed, is a power hitting third baseman, a more reliable rotation beyond Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, a younger Torii Hunter and a Vernon Wells who doesn't masquerade as Gary Matthews Jr. One thing is clear: nothing changed on July 31 and we will have to see if the Angels can overcome their shortcomings--tangible and intangible.