ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The reviews are in, and they are not kind.
"One stinker of an off-season," is how one Internet columnist sized up a winter in which the Angels failed to land their top free-agent targets, left fielder Carl Crawford and third baseman Adrian Beltre.
"Not only have the Angels shown they're not prepared to compete financially with the big boys," wrote another, "but they can't even compete financially with the big boys in their own division."
General Manager Tony Reagins, who said he still "likes the club" despite his inability to upgrade it offensively, is defiant in the face of such criticism.
"To say this off-season has been a complete failure, I'm not ready to admit that," Reagins said.
Writers probably wouldn't be carving up the Angels if owner Arte Moreno didn't say after the season that he was willing to do "whatever it takes" to get the Angels back to the playoffs.
There was an impression Moreno would spend big to improve a highly disappointing 80-82 team, and many think he didn't put his money where his mouth was.
The Boston Red Sox signed Crawford, who would have been a perfect fit in Anaheim, to a seven-year, $142 million deal. The Texas Rangers signed Beltre, a slugger and defensive standout who would have filled a gaping hole in Anaheim, to a six-year, $96 million deal, though the sixth year is not guaranteed.
The Angels were prepared to offer Crawford more than $100 million, and they made what Reagins called a "significant and strong" offer to Beltre -- believed to be for five years and more than $70 million guaranteed.
So, where do the Angels go from here?
The team reportedly has some interest in left fielders Scott Podsednik and Johnny Damon, who could bat leadoff. And manager Mike Scioscia told MLB Network Radio on Wednesday that there is some interest in bringing slugger Vladimir Guerrero back to Anaheim.
If no moves are made, Reagins hopes the return of first baseman Kendry Morales, who sat out most of 2010 because of a broken leg, and bounce-back years by Bobby Abreu, Erick Aybar, Alberto Callaspo and Juan Rivera will boost the offense.
But two glaring needs -- the leadoff spot, which Aybar and oft-injured Maicer Izturis failed to adequately fill, and third base, a position in which the Angels go three-deep in unattractive options (Callaspo, Izturis and Brandon Wood) -- have not been addressed.
"What we have to do is play to the level we're capable of playing," Reagins said. "We had a number of guys have down years last year. Our expectation is they'll return to the level they're capable of playing.
"They don't have to exceed it, just play to the level they're capable of. Coupled with the rotation, which will be deeper, and the bullpen, which we've strengthened, I like the direction of the club."