For the first time in three years, the Los Angeles Angels will not represent the AL West in the postseason and that means they should be active shoppers during MLB's offseason.
Despite returning six starters on offense, the Angels stumbled to an 80-82 record in 2010 as they ended up in third place in the West behind both the Rangers and A's, marking the team's worst finish since 2003.
The free agent losses of Chone Figgins and Vladimir Guerrero created voids at the top and in the middle of the Angels' order that were never filled. The loss of Kendry Morales (.291, 11 HRs, 39 RBI in just 51 games), who broke his leg celebrating a game-winning grand slam on May 29th, robbed the Angels' lineup of its premier bat, creating another hole in an already-weak Angels' lineup.
A prototypical Angels' offense relies on speed, getting on-base, and timely hitting; this year's Angels followed none of those three guidelines.
For the first time since 2001, L.A did not finish in the top three in the majors in stolen bases, ending up 11th, a career-low for the Angels under Mike Scioscia.
Even though the Angels finished third in on-base percentage last season, they fell to fourth-worst in the Majors in 2010, just ahead of the fearsome Pittsburgh offense.
Behind only the Yankees in RBI in 2009, the Angels fell to 19th in that category this year, devoid of a 100-RBI player for only the second time in the last decade.
Priority No. 1 of the 2010 offseason for owner Arte Moreno has to be resuscitating an abysmal offense via an influx of speed and power.
When healthy, Mike Butcher's pitching staff was one of the lone bright spots during an otherwise disappointing season.
Led by ace Jered Weaver (13-12, 3.01 ERA), the Angels featured four starters with earned-run averages under 4.00. Coupled with Weaver, Ervin Santana (17-10, 3.92 ERA) helped anchor a rotation that ranked among the league's best; from innings 1-6, Angels starters had the third-best ERA (3.96) in the AL.
The midseason acquisition of Arizona ace Dan Haren bolstered a staff that already had high hopes for the 2011 MLB season. After toiling away in the midwest for 2.5 seasons, Los Angeles seemed to breathe new life into Haren, who ended the year on a four-game winning streak, finishing with a 5-4 record and a 2.87 ERA in 16 starts for the Halos.
If GM Tony Reagins can find good value for a No. 5 starter in this year's free agent pool, then the Angels' rotation could challenge those of the Rays and the A's for American League supremacy.
The bullpen remains a concern for Mike Scioscia, especially the closer position. With no definitive closer since the departure of Frankie Rodriguez, the Angels handed the reigns to the talented, yet volatile Fernando Rodney, after trading incumbent closer Brian Fuentes to the Twins in late August.
Among all major-league teams, the Angels ranked in the bottom 10 in ERA from the seventh inning on, highlighting the late-inning struggles of a bullpen that quite simply couldn't finish games. After Rodney ended the year with only 14 saves in 21 chances, the Angels will look to retool their bullpen if they hope to compete in 2011.
In order to return to dominance, the Angels must load up on offense and boost a porous 'pen this offseason.