There is still so much to like about a Los Angeles Angels team that lost 84 games in 2013 and may have been the biggest disappointment in all of baseball.
Mike Trout, the team's 22-year-old superstar who has already established himself as one of the best—if not the best—players in the game, is still under club control for four more seasons. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton may be on the decline and may be well overpaid, but it wouldn't be a huge surprise if either, or both, can still play big roles on a playoff-caliber ballclub. If that duo can stay healthy, the Angels' offense should be able to score plenty of runs.
The top of the rotation is strong with Jered Weaver and C.J Wilson. The bullpen, led by Ernesto Frieri and Joe Smith, should be able to shut down opponents late in ballgames.
General manager Jerry DiPoto, with limited financial resources and a very thin farm system that offers little immediate help or the high-caliber prospects necessary to acquire impact talent, has done a terrific job filling out his roster this offseason. And they may not be done; adding another starting pitcher is still a possibility.
It would be wrong to write off this Angels team based on last year's performance. Unlike the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had a mid-season resurgence after a poor start, not enough went right to get the Angels back on track for a sustained period of time in 2013.
They won eight in a row in late May but followed that up with 11 losses in 15 games. They won 11-of-14 late in the first half but lost all of their momentum with three straight defeats just before the break.
One last surge occurred late in the season, when they went on a 23-9 run to close within two games of .500, which would have at least been a silver lining in an otherwise rough season. However, things ended on a sour note with a four-game sweep at the hands of division rival Texas Rangers.
A quiet offseason may work in the Angels' favor in 2014. No one will talk about them as being playoff contenders. The Seattle Mariners are on the rise with the addition of Robinson Cano, the A's and Rangers are seemingly still the class of the division, and Pujols and Hamilton are done.
Maybe that's all true. But if it's not, the Angels could surprise a lot of people in 2014.