When the American League playoffs begin this weekend season, the Angels will be outside looking in for the second consecutive season. The Texas Rangers made sure of that.

The defending American League champions used a two-run Adrian Beltre homer to put an end to Anaheim’s wild card hopes holding on for a 4-3 victory. Losing pitcher Dan Haren (16-10) surrendered nine hits over eight innings in his first home loss since June 7.

In tonight’s game, the Rangers will send Colby Lewis (13-10, 4.45 ERA) to the hill against Ervin Santana (11-12, 3.38 ERA). First pitch is at 7:05 PM ET at the Big A.

MLB odds boards opened with Ervin Santana as the small -115 favorite over Lewis, and with the total set at 7.

Texas is peaking at the right time going 8-1 in their last nine games and is 16-6 this month. Anaheim has lost seven of its last 11 a skid that effectively ended their postseason hopes.

Let the finger pointing begin

Colby Lewis Texas RangersEven though MLB betting lines had the listed Angels as 30/1 longshots to win the World Series, 2011 still ranks as a disappointment. After dominating the American League Western Division for a stretch of eight years, Anaheim has now become just another team chasing the likes of the Rangers and Yankees, Tigers, Rays and Red Sox. It’s just a hunch but I’ll be shocked if major changes aren’t made before opening day 2012.

Mike Scioscia is considered to be one of the elite managers in baseball but does his job security come into question now after a second straight failure? Do the Angels need a younger manager who can relate to the future stars like Mark Trumbo or Peter Bourjos or Mike Trout? What about General Manager Tony Reagins who orchestrated some truly awful deals during his tenure while tying up Angel finances in the process?

Unfortunately for Reagins, for every good deal he made (Haren for Joe Saunders) there were the atrocious trades and free-agent signings like Scott Kazmir, Hideki Matsui and the mother of all bad deals Vernon Wells. Even when every other team in baseball passed on the Blue Jays slugger and his obscene contract, the Angel ignored the warning signs and did the deal anyway. Now the team is stuck with a guy making $26 million dollars a year and isn’t even hitting his weight (.218). But look at the bright side. The Angels only owe him $55 million over the next three years.

What makes the Wells deal even worse is that the Angels didn’t need him and they in effect, ended up trading catcher Mike Napoli to get him. After sending Wells to the Angels, the Blue Jays flipped Napoli to the Rangers where he’s hitting .318 with 26 home runs and 69 runs batted in. The Angels catching trio of Jeff Mathis, Hank Conger and Bobby Wilson are hitting a combined .185 with 10 homers.

Some baseball pundits believe that Reagins was just the puppet and Scioscia was pulling the strings. Either way there will be plenty of explaining to do to Moreno who had the fourth highest payroll in MLB in 2011 at $138 million.

You don’t always have to spend to win. The Diamondbacks ($51 million) are proof of that.

The Rangers were another team that didn’t have a huge payroll relatively speaking ($92 million) but used better judgment in in player personnel decisions. While the Angels never did fill a gaping hole at third base, Texas signed free-agent Adrian Beltre (31 homers, 103 RBI’s). The Angels sat quietly by at the deadline as the Rangers picked up veteran reliever Mike Adams.

Harvey’s Take: This will be the first time since 2001 that the Angels have failed to make the postseason in back-to-back years and the streak may continue again next year. They need to get some serious money off the books but not many teams would be willing to trade for the likes of Tori Hunter, Bobby Abreu or Wells for obvious reasons.

The Rangers front office is solid, the manager is wildly popular, and the team is young and talented. It sounds like the makings of a division dynasty. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.