With the offseason signings of veteran superstar Albert Pujols and former Texas ace C.J. Wilson, the 2012 Los Angeles Angels catapult themselves into an instant contender for the American League Pennant.

Morales returns!

First baseman Kendrys Morales was coming off of a 34 HR, 108 RBI, .306 BA season in 2009 and 2010 looked very promising. 

Jerome WilliamsIn front of his home fans, Morales hit a walkoff grandslam homerun to give the Angels a 5-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on May 29, 2010. As Morales ran around the bases, he was celebrating and jumped on home plate. He landed awkwardly and has missed a season and a half due to this injury. Will Kendrys Morales be the same player integrated on a team with some new key pieces? We'll have to wait until April to find that out, but it will be interesting to see how manager Mike Scioscia handles the dynamic of having 3 pure first baseman in 2nd year player and Anaheim, California native Mark Trumbo, Kendrys Morales, and Albert Pujols. You would think that Morales would take the DH role after  a severe injury and he's also can fill in at right field while Pujols is the everyday 1st baseman.

Albert Pujols, 1st baseman, Los Angeles Angels

There will be a logjam at 1st base with the signing of World Series Champion and one of the greatest players in baseball history, Albert Pujols. Pujols had his worst season in 2011 but he came on strong late and the Cardinals shocked the world with a World Series Championship.

Tony Larussa retired as manager and Pujols decided to go in a different direction during free agency. He signed a 10 year deal worth $254 million. The most ever in the majors, surpassing Alex Rodriguez's contract.

Pujols is coming off of a 37 HR, 99 RBI, .299 season but for his career, he has 445 HR, 1329 RBI, and a .328 BA. These numbers are unmatched in the modern day era and Pujols is still only going to be 32 in January. Landing Albert Pujols is the biggest acquisition in Los Angeles/Anaheim Angels history. They have a brilliant pitching staff and now they have a super slugger to go with it.

Top Free agent pitching signs with Los Angeles

Former ace of the Texas Rangers C.J. Wilson will strengthen up a pitching staff that's already strong as he signed a 5 year - $77 million dollar deal with the Angels. Wilson comes over with a 16-7 record and an ERA of 2.94 with 206 strikeouts. There wasn't a huge market for pitchers in the offseason but the Angels not only managed to land the best free agent in Pujols, they managed to snag the best pitcher out there in Wilson.

Offense

The Angels will welcome back Morales and welcome in Pujols as they were a barely average offensive team last season. They ranked 17th in runs per game (4.12), 15th in batting average (.253), 17th in OPS (.714), and 14th in HR (155). Expect the Angels to improve offensively in 2012.

The Angels pickup a very solid catcher in veteran Chris Ianetta. Ianetta hasn't played a full season in his career but he's good for at least close to 350 at-bats and 15 HR and 50 RBI. There's been times where Ianetta has come up with clutch hits for the Colorado Rockies. He's a very solid addition to this team.

We already know the situation at 1st base and around the infield the Angels bring players that are good fielders and are solid contact hitters in Howie Kendrick, Erik Aybar, and Alberto Collaspo. Kendrick is the only starter out of the three that has any legitimate power while Aybar dramaticly improved in 2011, doubling his HR and RBI output of 2010.

Angels in the outfield?

2011 was a season in which no starter had a complete (performance-wise) season. Torii Hunter is one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball but his hitting has suffered as he's reached his mid 30's. Hunter's numbers are almost identical in the last 3 seasons except for one category. His batting average has dropped 37 points in 2 seasons to a fairly average .262. Nonetheless, this is a player that can still produce and his defense is 2nd to none. Hunter is also one of the clubhouse leaders and look for him to be rejuvinated with the signing of Albert Pujols.

A dry well?

The Angels expected big things out of slugger Vernon Wells coming from Toronto. Wells was able to put up 25 home runs but his runs batted in dropped from 88 to 66 and more importantly his batting average plummeted from .273 to .218. Look for Vernon Wells to have a comeback season. He was a lifetime .280 hitter before last season and the Angels can ill-afford to have one of their big bats getting on base a quarter of the time.

Pocket Aces

With the signing of C.J. Wilson, the Los Angeles Angels sport one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. They have 5 starting pitchers with an ERA of 3.68 or under. It simply doesn't get any better than that. This pitching staff that has a 1-2-3 combination of Jered Weaver (18-8, 2.41), C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94), and Dan Haren (16-10, 3.17)  will take them right to the top of the contenders list for the AL Pennant and possibly the World Series.

SBR Sportsbook betting odds currently have the Los Angeles Angels tied for 2nd favorite at +650 MLB odds with the New York Yankees. We'll have to keep an eye on other sportsbooks as we reach the MLB regular season. We're just two months away from spring training.

The Angels also look fairly solid at the present time with setup man Scott Downs (6-3, 1.34 ERA) and closer Jordan Walden (5-5, 2.98 ERA, 32 saves). Walden does present some question marks to a nearly perfect pitching staff. He had 10 blown saves last season. Regardless of the Papelbon signing, the Angels still have a stronger pitching staff than the "untouchable" Philadelphia Phillies. 

Prediction

This is a team that's always a top contender and a threat to any of the other top teams. (ask the Yankees, the Angels own them) in the American League. Los Angeles's stock has skyrocketed with the acquisitions of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. The Angels will most likely be fighting it out with the Boston Red Sox for the AL Pennant.

Record: 100-62