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Los Angeles Angels: 2013 Was a Year of Success! No, Really!

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COMMENTARY | There are those out there who see the glass as half empty and those who see it as half full.

I am somewhat of an oddity in that I see the glass as half full of crap.

Despite my relatively disgruntled perspective, when I look at the year that the Los Angeles Angels had, I see a deep and profound success that transcends wins and losses.

Obviously, based on their record, the season was a disappointment. They were supposed to be a playoff contender, but then came injuries, bad luck, more injuries, shoddy defense and questionable manager moves. The only thing missing was a swarm of locusts.

Even with their seven plagues, they still managed to have one of the best offenses in the league and they finished closer to .500 than seemed possible.

Their pitching staff was terrible, and the free agents and trades made before the season all fell apart. It became clear that the signing of Josh Hamilton was money that should have gone toward a pitcher like Zack Greinke -- or even Edwin Jackson or Kyle Lohse.

Moving Forward

However, baseball isn't about one season. Fans are in it for the duration and a bad year or two here and there can be quickly forgotten when the ship gets righted. In 2012 and 2013, the Boston Red Sox had about as terrible a 14-month period as any team in history and then won the World Series.

As much as fans (and admittedly writers like me) complain about Arte Moreno, he has constantly spent money trying to improve the team and under his ownership, the team has made the playoffs five times -- that's more than it had in its entire history before his arrival.

The real problem it seemed was when Arte "allegedly" forced baseball operations to make moves in what seemed to be headline battles with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Stealing Vladimir Guerrero away from the Dodgers was brilliant. But then came the Vernon Wells trade and the Albert Pujols and Hamilton contracts.

Those two free-agent signings were not only terrible baseball moves, but they cost the team their first-round draft pick in each of those years. This is part of the reason their minor league talent is among the worst in baseball.

Hope Springs

This is where my optimism for the Angels comes in. The season was a disaster on the field and even a myopic, narcissistic egomaniac can see that Arte's interference was hurting the team. A lot.

And now it seems the team has changed its perspective -- somewhat drastically. The Angels made trades at the trade deadline that acknowledged that they didn't think they were making the playoffs -- something everyone else already knew, but acknowledging such is a huge step toward recovery.

So far this offseason, the team has stood fast on its decision to not sign any free agents that would cost it draft picks. This is smart long-term baseball -- something very new to the Angels.

The Trades

They traded away Peter Bourjos and a minor leaguer for David Freese and a reliever -- helping to solve two problems at once. It was a bit of an overpay, but if Freese's down season in 2013 was just a product of back issues then he could bounce back and even out the trade rather quickly.

Then came the most hope-inspiring move of all: the trade of Mark Trumbo. By all accounts, Mark is one of the really great guys in baseball and his home run power is matched by only a few players in the league. Moving a player like him represents a real baseball-over-business attitude in the Angels' front office.

Sure, it stinks for the fans because they really loved him, but you know what they're going to love even more? Winning games. And the two pitchers that the Angels got in return will definitely help more than Trumbo ever would.

Free Agency

The team also brought in Raul Ibanez to be the DH against right-handed pitchers -- a low-risk signing that should essentially replace Trumbo's production at the plate.

The Angels still have about $15 million available before they hit the luxury cap and it appears that they are pursuing another starting pitchers -- but none who would require draft-pick compensation.

These are the kinds of moves that league's shrewdest front offices have been making for a decade. There's plenty of cause for the team, its players and, most importantly, its fans -- going into next season and the seasons beyond.

So much so, that it's hard to believe we're actually talking about the Angels.

Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a baseball writer. He is also a humor columnist at Through The Fence Baseball.

You can find him on Twitter @JedRigney.

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