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Two seasons ago, the front office of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vowed to become more aggressive to bring back a winning squad. After missing the playoffs for two straight seasons, they wanted to be active in the free agent market to build a contender. Two seasons later, the Angels have gone 167-157 without sniffing the playoffs. So what exactly has gone wrong for the franchise?

In 2012, the team brought in Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson as the two biggest free agents in the game. Both signed huge, long term deals that were supposed to instantly put them over the top. The team started off slowly, but once rookie Mike Trout was called up, the Angels went on a roll. Unfortunately, they were stuck in the gameís toughest division, and despite finishing with 89 wins, they were left at home.

Hamilton has struggled.
Photo by Keith Allison, used under creative commons license.
As disappointing as 2012 was, 2013 was a lot worse. Trout continued to be the most impressive player on the roster, but Josh Hamilton joined Pujols and Wilson as mostly disappointments acquired through free agency. All three are signed long term, so the flexibility for the franchise might not exactly be there.

So how can the Angels be fixed to compete in the American League West and ultimately, the World Series? For starters, do not expect them to be major free agent players this offseason. With about $140 million already on the books, production is going to have to come from within. This is an older team with a rather weak minor league system, so the likes of Wilson, Pujols and Hamilton are going to have to start playing like the All-Stars they have been in the past.

Pitching was a huge issue for the Angels in 2013, as only Wilson was able to stay healthy enough in the rotation all season long. Jered Weaver figures to be the ace of the staff, and he did pitch well enough after a broken left elbow to give the franchise hope that he still has a lot left in the tank. After those two, things get really shaky. Garrett Richards will probably be in the rotation, but that still leaves two spots open for grabs. The team is targeting Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka, but he is certainly not a guarantee.

Trade pieces include Mark Trumbo, Howie Kendrick and Peter Bourjos. If the Angels are going to make a splashy move, it will involve at least one of these players. The problem is, none are huge stars that will command a lot of value. Kendrick seems the most valuable, especially since he plays a premium position at second base. He has been a consistent fantasy baseball player for some time now, and he is equally valuable for teams. If they can flip him for a solid rotation arm, the Angels could improve quite a bit there.

Spending so far has not worked out exactly as planned for the Angels, but year three could do wonders for them. On paper, they are still one of the top teams in baseball. However, some consider them nothing more than a fantasy baseball squad. This is a big offseason for them, but a few moves could turn them into the 2014 version of the Boston Red Sox.