Strengths: Power and baseball’s best player. There is a lot of pop in this lineup. As many as four guys could theoretically smash 35 or more home runs. One of those four, Mike Trout, is barely in the infancy of his career but is already baseball’s best player. The front of the rotation shapes up pretty formidably as well, with Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson. The falloff is pretty dramatic thereafter, however.
Weaknesses: Pitching depth and bad contracts. The rotation is very much a question after Weaver and Wilson. The epic failures of Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton were a big reason for last season’s struggles. Allowing the quietly solid, if unspectacular, Jerome Williams to depart is a bit of a head scratcher too. It’s not like there was a surplus of guys who were both versatile and durable on the staff. The specter of decline also seems to be hanging over Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Unless they rebound significantly in 2014, their contracts could be albatrosses to a club who has grown used to success and the recruiting ability that comes with it.
Off-Season Needs: Shore up the bullpen and the back of the rotation. The Cubbies might be willing to part with Jeff Szamardzija if Mark Trumbo was involved. Cheap bullpen help may not be quite as simple, as most of the proven names on the market will be commanding a good chunk of money. Heck, Brian Wilson just got ten million for 2014 after throwing fewer than 20 innings in 2013. Joe Smith is a nice addition, but also a bit overrated after a nice 2013. An interesting option might be looking across the ocean to Japan. In 2006, Takashi Saito came to the Dodgers at age 36 with no fanfare, and for chump change, and proceeded to pitch wonderfully. Why can’t the Angels find similar magic?
2014 Outlook: Not good. Not bad either, but not good. The Rangers are legit. So are the A’s. Seattle looks more like a contender than not after signing Robbie Cano. That’s not to say the Angels can’t hang, but three tough teams in one division is a lot to overcome. They may win 85-88, but that won’t be enough for a playoff berth.