The Los Angeles Angels came into camp with high expectations a year ago, after a winter splurge that brought them Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, and they'll face the same lofty predictions again this season, now that they have added Josh Hamilton.
While general manager Jerry Dipoto is excited to have Hamilton, one of the reasons he's most optimistic about the upcoming season is the way he remodeled the pitching staff, bringing in two new relievers and three starters.
"We wanted to increase depth in the pitching staff first and foremost, which we've done," Dipoto said. "At the end of the day, the moves we made, whether a high-profile move like Josh Hamilton or a more subtle move like adding a guy like Sean Burnett, make us a lot better. These are pivotal moves."
Last year the Angels' biggest issue was their bullpen, which blew 22 saves, tied for the most in the league. In order to fix that, Dipoto signed Ryan Madson, who is trying to come back from Tommy John surgery. Madson's progress in his rehab will be one of the most important questions for the Angels this spring.
The Angels also added left-hander Sean Burnett, who joins right-handers Kevin Jepsen and Ernesto Frieri and left-hander Scott Downs.
"This is the best group of guys we've put out there as an organization in a number of years," Dipoto said.
The Angels also open camp with three new starting pitchers: left-hander Jason Vargas and right-handers Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton. Although they lack the marquee value of the pitchers they replaced -- Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana -- the Angels are banking on them being effective because they throw strikes and pitch to contact and the Angels have a solid defense.
The defense and offense both got better with the addition of Hamilton.
He gives the Angels the best defensive outfield in baseball, with Mike Trout in left, Peter Bourjos in center and Hamilton in right. And the lineup -- with Trout, Pujols, Hamilton and designated hitter Mark Trumbo filling four of the top five spots -- also figures to be one of baseball's best.
"The top half of our lineup is a tremendously balanced group of players," Dipoto said.
There isn't any competition for everyday jobs in spring training, with shortstop Erick Aybar, second baseman Howie Kendrick, third baseman Alberto Callaspo and catcher Chris Iannetta filling out the rest of the spots. Only a few backup jobs are up for grabs.