Los Angeles Angels Must Have Strong Start To 2014 Season

Albert Pujols Josh Hamilton

Tim Heitman – USA TODAY Sports

Over the past couple of years, the Los Angeles Angels have started off their season with slow start, often digging themselves in an early hole that they find themselves trying to get out of for the rest of the season.

So, with a fresh and a revamped roster, the Halos must get out to a quick start to keep themselves remain in playoff contention throughout the year. Yes, playoff contention, because the AL West has become a vastly improved division, with teams such as the Oakland Athletics winning the division crown the last two years.

This past offseason, the Seattle Mariners made several moves to improve their team, most notably signing second basemen Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract and inking outfielder Corey Hart and reliever Fernando Rodney to deals.

The Texas Rangers also didn’t sit pat in the offseason, as they made a blockbuster move by trading second basemen Ian Kinsler for Detroit Tigers first basemen Prince Fielder. The Athletics made some key moves as well by acquiring some pitching helping via trade and free agency in relievers Jim Johnson and Eric O’Flaherty, and starter Scott Kazmir.

As for the Angels, they did make several roster changes this past offseason, as they dealt outfielder Mark Trumbo in three-team trade  with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox that had them receive two young arms in Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs.

The Halos continued to address their pitching staff issues in the offseason as they signed relievers Joe Smith and Brandon Lyons. They were not done there, as they filled a big need at the hot corner by acquiring St. Louis Cardinals third basemen David Freese, along with reliever Fernando Salas, in exchange for outfielder Peter Bourjos.

So, for the majority of the ball clubs in the AL West, the offseason was a time of revamping and retooling for what is expected to be a competitive 2014 season. With that said, it is critical that the Angels begin the 2014 regular season off to a strong start with what is expected to be an even more improved division.The Halos will need their improved pitching staff to bounce back from last year’s disastrous season, where they ranked in the bottom of the league in several important pitching categories.

They will also need hitters Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols to produce near, or somewhat close to, the high level of play that helped them earn the lucrative contracts that each has signed with team over the past two offseasons. A quick start will also be important for manager Mike Scioscia and general manager Jerry Dipoto, as the last two seasons the Angels have failed to meet the lofty expectations set by the high-profile offseason acquisitions made by the team.

Ultimately, the importance of a strong start cannot be understated, as a lot lies on the line with many aspects for the Halos, who have not been to the playoffs since the 2009 season. If Los Angeles is able to begin the season on the right foot, it would be a step in the right direction for the organization’s goal in not only getting to the postseason, but a step closer to reaching their larger aspirations of a World Series title.

Bob Garcia is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him Twitter @Bgarcia90, “Like” him on Facebook , or add him to your network on Google.

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