Not too long after the Boston Red Sox raised the Commissioners' Trophy above their heads, Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto set out on making some significant tweaks to the roster, knowing full well that it may be his last offseason in Anaheim given his expiring contract and two disappointing seasons.
Now with just two weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Tempe for the start of Spring Training, the Halos still look like an incomplete team despite several changes to the major league roster.
Key to this is a starting rotation which, beyond Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, is still lacking the quality and depth that two-time defending AL West champion Oakland rolls out on a daily basis.
DiPoto and the Angels were long rumored to be in talks with free agent righty Matt Garza to slot in behind Weaver and Wilson and ahead of the group that includes Hector Santiago, Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Mark Mulder and Joe Blanton.
However, Garza spurned the team to sign a four-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Angels find themselves looking at what may likely be either Paul Maholm or Bronson Arroyo for the shorter deal and lack of draft pick compensation that comes as a penalty for signing either Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez.
In the bullpen, the Angels retooled for the third straight offseason after the bullpen struggled badly following a season-ending injury to Sean Burnett and the trade of Scott Downs to the Braves. About the only thing to go right for the Halos out of the pen was Ernesto Frieri solidifying his role as the closer and the breakout season of hard-throwing righty Dane De La Rosa.
DiPoto's tweaks included the signing of sidearm specialist Joe Smith away from the Indians and the acquisition of Fernando Salas in the trade that brought David Freese from the Cardinals and sent Peter Bourjos to the Midwest.
Offensively, DiPoto is banking on Freese to stay healthy and rediscover the form that netted the third baseman the 2011 World Series MVP and a 2012 regular season which included 20 home runs and 79 RBI in 144 games for the Cardinals.
The team is also looking for rebound seasons from Albert Pujols, who played hurt throughout the first half before being shelved for the year due to plantar fasciatis, and Josh Hamilton, who never was comfortable in his first full season in Anaheim and had a season very similar to the 2011 campaign of Vernon Wells.
Bourjos is only the second biggest name the Angels sent packing in the offseason. The biggest was slugger Mark Trumbo, who will spend nearly eight months in the Phoenix area after getting dealt to the Diamondbacks in a three-way deal that brought back former farmhand Skaggs from Arizona and Santiago from the Chicago White Sox.
The Angels also added veteran outfielder/designated hitter Raul Ibanez on a one-year deal in the hopes of getting the same production that the Mariners got from him in the first half of 2013.
The moves left a foursome of Hamilton, Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun and J.B. Shuck in the outfield with Ibanez as a potential extra for left or right field should they need to give two of the others a day off at the same time.
Of particular concern is the lack of a backup to play first base should Pujols go down again. The Halos did ink Carlos Pena to a minor-league deal on Friday with an invite to camp, but the slugger is a lesser version of what Trumbo was for the Halos over the last two seasons and is nowhere near the player that hit .282 with 46 homers and 121 RBI for Tampa bay in 2007.
The team is also taking fliers on outfielder Brennan Boesch and infielder Chad Tracy to fill out a bench which had basically no significant offensive threat in 2013 and was frighteningly thin heading into this season.
As it stands right now, the Angels might be fighting for second with Texas and behind Oakland in the race for the division title. However, if they can get one more decent arm, even for just one season, then they could look at potentially getting into the wild card game. For now, the grade is incomplete.