Is the courtship of C.J. Wilson a smokescreen?

Remember when New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman admitted his team pretended to have an interest in signing Carl Crawford simply to drive up the price the Boston Red Sox had to pay?

Something about the way the Angels are approaching this C.J. Wilson courtship smacks of such a ploy. Why else would they be so obvious about the whole thing? Why dine with his agent at the Pfister Hotel -- where dozens of media members in town for the GM meetings happen to be staying -- rather than sampling some of the other fine restaurants Milwaukee has to offer, where they could get a private little booth in the back?

Why profess to so many reporters that your interest in Wilson is "serious?" Would we otherwise assume that their interest is "frivolous," or "just for fun?" Or, have they been so public about their admiration simply to drive up the price the Texas Rangers will have to pay to keep their best starting pitcher? Hmm.

Sliding Wilson after Jered Weaver in the Angels' rotation, followed by Dan Haren and Ervin Santana isn't a bad thing, of course. It would give the Angels the best rotation in the American League, especially if No. 5 starter Jerome Wiliams keeps it going.

But at what cost? They've already said they want to keep the payroll in the $140 million range and signing Wilson would eat up most, if not all, of GM Jerry Dipoto's spending money. They'd still be short a late-inning reliever, a catcher and a patient bat -- all professed needs, according to Dipoto.

Where there's smoke, there's probably some fire. Wilson is a local guy (grew up in Fountain Valley, lives in L.A.) and probably has genuine (or is it "serious?") interest in pitching in his backyard. Most pitchers like Angel Stadium anyway, because of its generous dimensions and cool nighttime temperatures.

But sometimes, where there's smoke, there's just smoke.