It's hard to imagine how the Los Angeles Angels' individual pieces didn't add up to a playoff team.
The list of pluses is a long one. The Angels signed a future Hall of Famer, Albert Pujols, added one of the best free agent pitchers available, C.J. Wilson, acquired a closer, Ernesto Frieri, early in the season, got a 20-win season from Jered Weaver, watched Mike Trout blossom into one of the game's best players and then added a former Cy Young Award winner, Zack Greinke, in midseason.
But an 8-15 April and a 5-13 run to start August dug holes that the Angels were unable to climb out of and into a playoff spot.
"We've had a lot of guys that have had very good individual seasons," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "We've had at times a team that has jelled together and played extraordinarily well. Over a 162-game season, you're going to have highs and lows, ebbs and flows. But at the end of the day, we played in a very good division and came up short."
The division landscape doesn't figure to change much next season (albeit with the addition of lowly Houston), but the Angels might. Greinke is a free agent this winter. Dan Haren and Ervin Santana will not have options in their contracts picked up, leaving the possibility of three vacancies in the rotation for Dipoto to fill this winter.
A bullpen that blew 22 saves (tied for the most in the American League) needs rebuilding, and the Angels will try to figure out a way to fit a new contract for outfielder Torii Hunter into the 2013 picture -- and take outfielder Vernon Wells out of it. Wells has been a colossal bust since being acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays before the 2011 season, and he is still owed $42 million over the next two years.
Of the great expectations the Angels carried into the 2012 season, Pujols said, "That doesn't hand you the championship -- you still have to go out there and perform. We knew what kind of ballclub we had. But at the same time, we knew we had to go out there and perform and do the best we can to try to be in the postseason and see if we can bring a championship trophy back to the city of Anaheim.
"Obviously, that didn't happen. There's always next year. Hopefully we can learn and have a better start than we did this year."