Angels can't wait to play with Pujols, Wilson

Angels can't wait to play with Pujols, Wilson

DALLAS -- Vernon Wells' 33rd birthday will be remembered by Angels fans as the day they shook up the world, Muhammad Ali style.

Wells had taken his kids to school in a nearby suburb and was back home receiving birthday texts when he began to wonder if people were serious.

"We're getting Albert Pujols? And C.J. Wilson?" the Angels left fielder said, beaming at the Hilton Anatole late Thursday morning. "At first, I thought they were joking."

No joke, Vernon.

The deal with Pujols is for 10 years, includes a full no-trade clause and is worth between $250 million and $260 million, a source told MLB.com. The agreement with Wilson, formerly of the Rangers, is for $77.5 million over five years, a source confirmed.

"You're adding two of the biggest pieces in the market, two guys still young and in their prime who can dominate," Wells said. "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."

Wells, anticipating a big comeback season after a frustrating 2011 debut with the Angels, already was running potential lineups through his mind. Manager Mike Scioscia suddenly has a lot of options.

"Albert's one of the few people who can impact not only guys in front of him, but behind him," Wells said. "If you're hitting in front of him, you're going to see good pitches to hit. If you're hitting behind him, you're going to have a lot of chances to drive in runs -- because he's always on base."

Peter Bourjos, the Angels' brilliant young center fielder, would love to be one of those Pujols table-setters.

"That'd be fun, for sure," Bourjos said when asked about leading off or batting second. "We just got the best hitter in the game. The kind of player he is, he changes the whole dynamic of the offense.

"It's unbelievable. Kind of surreal. I was getting up, still in bed, when I started getting the texts. I was shocked."

Second baseman Howard Kendrick, who unloaded a career-high 18 homers in 2011 and made his first American League All-Star team, is looking forward to partnering with Pujols in the infield -- and observing everything the legendary slugger does with a bat in his hands.

Albert Pujols
Angels sign Pujols, Wilson

"This is awesome," Kendrick said from his Phoenix home. "I'm always looking to get better, and the hitter he is, you can learn so much from him. I'm really looking forward to having him in the lineup, because everyone around him is going to get better pitches to hit.

"Defensively, you're getting a Gold Glove at first base, too. This makes us better. How can it not? And C.J. Wilson, he's a huge pickup, too.

"He's a guy who throws strikes, has a nasty cutter, a good sinker. He knows what he's doing. He's definitely going to make us that much better, and with our ability to put up more runs now ... it's going to be phenomenal.

"I know one thing, our locker room's going to look like New York's."

Lights, cameras and stars in every corner.

Wilson, the second party involved in one of the most monumental days in franchise history, could have as profound an impact as Pujols in Wells' eyes.

"We really haven't had a lefty starter who can eat up innings and be dominant," Wells said. "To see C.J. Wilson with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, I think you can start talking about those four guys like the Phillies' [starters]. These four guys are special."

Wells is convinced Wilson will blend in nicely with the atmosphere in the Angels' clubhouse.

"He's a great guy," Wells said. "He's a left-handed pitcher. You know how those guys are. We'll have fun with him. The clubhouse we have, we have a blast. He'll fit right in."

Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher will be working closely with Wilson -- and observing Pujols' influence on a daily basis.

"I think it's awesome," Butcher said. "Obviously, Pujols coming, and C.J., that's huge. And we also got a quality [setup] reliever in LaTroy Hawkins [on Wednesday]. I'd say we had a productive Winter Meetings.

"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."

For Angels catcher Bobby Wilson, this has been a week he won't forget.

On Monday, he welcomed his first child, Blake Marie, into the world. Three days later, he discovered he was a member of a band of stars and superstars.

"Wow ... unbelievable," Wilson said from his Florida home. "Angels fans have got to be happy about that. We just signed the greatest hitter in the game, and C.J. Wilson, too? How's that lineup look now? And is there a better rotation in baseball than ours?

"I'm really excited. I'm trying to imagine what Spring Training is going to be like. I can't wait to catch all those arms we've got."

A one-day spending spree without precedent in franchise history has lifted the Angels' payroll into an unanticipated realm, estimated somewhere in the $175 million to $185 million range. But that's something for owner Arte Moreno, a man with a pretty firm grip on finances, to manage.

One thing is clear. On the heels of two disappointing seasons watching Texas claim the AL West and advance to the World Series, the Angels have become a force again.

The top half of this division suddenly rivals any in the sport.

"We have to go out and do it on the field," Kendrick said. "But on paper, this team really looks awesome."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.