The Angels won the offseason, bringing prized free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to Anaheim. The regular season, however, has proven far more troublesome. Of course, in a year when the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles have been among the best stories -- and teams -- in baseball, the Angels are hardly the only team with deep pockets in deep trouble as the hunt for playoff spots heats up.
"This is obviously the moment where we have thrown our hat in the ring," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said when his club made its double swoop for Pujols and Wilson. With the first spots in the 2012 MLB Playoffs already being clinched, the Angels appear likely to be watching from home in October -- regardless of where they have thrown their hats.
After missing the postseason for two years in a row, the Angels brought the three-time NL MVP to SoCal on the second-richest contract in baseball history, a 10-year deal worth $254 million. With the acquisition coming just six weeks after Pujols won the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, the expectations for the Halos immediately skyrocketed. Further establishing themselves as the American League's offseason champs (edging the Detroit Tigers, who brought slugger Prince Fielder to Motown), the Angels nabbed star pitcher C.J. Wilson from the Texas Rangers, who finished atop the AL West in each of the last two seasons.
In the National League, the Miami Marlins was the team throwing its money around and its hat in the ring, spending nearly $200 million on three free agents. With a new manager (Ozzie Guillen), a new ballpark and three new All-Stars -- Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle -- the Marlins were tipped by some to top of the NL East and widely expected to bring the playoffs back to South Beach.
If the season ended today, however, neither of these teams would qualify for the playoffs. The Angels are in third place in the division eight and a half games back from Texas while sitting 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. Detroit trails Chicago in the AL Central by two games and is six games out in the Wild Card race. The woeful Marlins meanwhile, are competing with the Mets to stay out of the NL East cellar. Looking back, the majority of biggest offseason spenders aren't on track to make the playoffs.
Here are the 15 biggest deals signed by free agents before the 2012 season. Which have paid off?
Albert Pujols, Angels
10 years, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/08/albert-pujols-to-angels-mlb-cardinals-mlb-report_n_1136512.html" target="_hplink">$254 Million</a>
Prince Fielder, Tigers
9 years, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/24/prince-fielder-tigers-agr_n_1228698.html" target="_hplink">$214 Million</a>
Jose Reyes, Marlins
6 years, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/07/jose-reyes-signs-with-marlins-mets-love-money_n_1135496.html" target="_hplink">$106 Million</a>
C.J. Wilson, Angels
5 years, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/08/cj-wilson-angels-agree-deal_n_1136690.html" target="_hplink">$77.5MM</a>
Yu Darvish, Rangers
6 years, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/19/yu-darvish-rangers-agree-6-year-deal_n_1215801.html" target="_hplink">$60 Million</a>
Mark Buehrle, Marlins
4 years, <a href="http://eye-on-baseball.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22297882/33746136" target="_hplink">$58 Million</a>
Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies
4 years, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/12/jonathan-papelbon-phillies-contract-mlb-source_n_1089865.html" target="_hplink">$50 Million</a>
Aramis Ramirez, Brewers
3 years, <a href="https://twitter.com/ken_rosenthal/status/146372899987652609" target="_hplink">$36 Million</a>
Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
3 years, <a href="http://eye-on-baseball.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22297882/33891349" target="_hplink">$31.5 Million</a>
Heath Bell, Marlins
3 years, <a href="http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7320028/2011-free-agents-san-diego-padres-free-agent-heath-bell-miami-marlins-finalize-27-million-deal" target="_hplink">$27 Million</a>
Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees
1 year, <a href="http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/01/yankees-agree-to-terms-with-hiroki-kuroda.html" target="_hplink">$10 Million</a>
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals
2 years, <a href="http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cardinal-beat/cardinals-sign-all-star-beltran/article_d74d0942-2cb2-11e1-8aa9-001a4bcf6878.html" target="_hplink">$26 Million</a>
Edwin Jackson, Nationals
<a href="http://eye-on-baseball.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22297882/34668020" target="_hplink">1 year</a>, $11 Million
Jason Kubel, Diamondbacks
2 years, <a href="http://danny-knobler.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/8590096/33950138" target="_hplink">$15 Million</a>
Francisco Cordero, Blue Jays
1 year, <a href="http://www.lonestarball.com/2012/1/24/2730760/blue-jays-sign-francisco-cordero-1-year-4-5-million" target="_hplink">$4.5 Million</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/astros-blue-jays-trade-10-players-francisco-cordero_n_1689631.html" target="_hplink">(Traded to Houston in July)</a>