Being labeled as an expensive failure is inevitable now. The Los Angeles Angels made the biggest single-day free agent splash in baseball history last winter and had the fourth-highest payroll in the majors this season -- but they did not make the playoffs.
"Failure is a relative term," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "We could win 90 ... games, I don't want to call that a successful season, but I don't know that I'd deem it a failure. We came up short. That's for certain. And we have to figure out how to not come up short next time."
Improving a bullpen that blew 22 saves this season (the most in the American League) would be one good way. Dipoto will also have some work to do on the rotation. Zack Greinke, obtained from the Milwaukee Brewers at midseason, is a potential free agent likely to have big-money offers from a number of teams.
Keeping Greinke takes on added importance if the Angels (as expected) buy out the option years in the contracts of Dan Haren and Ervin Santana, creating two openings in the rotation.
Team leader Torii Hunter is also a free agent this winter after having one of the best seasons of his career at age 37 (and serving as a valuable mentor to rookie outfielder Mike Trout).
"We have a variety of decisions to make in the short term with contract options and pending free agents. That's something we'll address early in offseason," Dipoto said before the Angels lost 6-1 to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. "Building pitching depth on the major league club and from an organizational perspective -- we have to address that. It remains to be seen how easy that will be to do, but you can turn over a lot of stones."