No one expects the Angels to win. They sat out the playoffs last year — for the fourth consecutive year — and they pretty much sat out free agency too. After owner Arte Moreno dropped $375 million on Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, the Angels' largest expenditure this winter came to $16 million, for setup man Joe Smith.
Of course, spring expectations too often are driven by winter glitz. Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle can tell you all about that, as stars in hype with the Miami Marlins in 2012 and the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013. "Winning the winter" guarantees nothing in baseball, except a fat payroll.
With that in mind, here are some questions and answers as major league teams open camp:
Who won this winter?
In 2008, after finishing in third place in the American League East, they spent $423.5 million on first baseman Mark Teixeira and pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. In 2009, they won the World Series.
The Yankees finished third again last season. They just spent $490 million on nine players — including $175 million on Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka, $153 million on center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and $85 million on catcher Brian McCann.
Does that make the Yankees favorites to win the World Series?
No. The entire infield is questionable — shortstop Derek Jeter is 39 and coming off injury, Teixeira's OPS has declined for five consecutive years and he is coming off injury too, and the Yankees have patchwork replacements for departed second baseman Robinson Cano and suspended third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
For the first time since 1997, the Yankees will play without Mariano Rivera as their closer. David Robertson should replace him capably, but the setup void created by Robinson's promotion could lead to middle-relief uncertainty. The starting rotation — Sabathia, Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova and David Phelps — is no better than third-best in the AL East.
Is Tanaka the best pitcher in the world not named Kershaw?
You would have thought so, given his undefeated season last year in Japan, the breathless tracking of his free agency, and the Yankees' putting up more money for him than any team has committed to sign any major league pitcher besides Kershaw and Justin Verlander.
The Dodgers are not shy about opening their wallet, but their scouts did not see Tanaka as a long-term ace in the majors. A good pitcher, yes — but, for them, a guy who would battle Hyun-Jin Ryu for the No. 3 rotation spot behind Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
The Yankees desperately needed Tanaka and bid accordingly, but still it was startling to hear General Manager Brian Cashman say this of Tanaka last week on ESPN Radio: "We view him to be a really solid, consistent No. 3 starter."
Where did the best hitters end up, if not with the Yankees?
In the AL West. The Seattle Mariners spent $240 million on Cano. The Texas Rangers spent $130 million on outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and acquired first baseman Prince Fielder — and the $138 million remaining on his contract.
Cano, Choo and Fielder all bat left-handed. That could make left-handed reliever Sean Burnett a pivotal player for the Angels this season. He gave them 9 2/3 innings amid injury last season, the first of a two-year, $8-million contract.
What hitter might get the biggest contract next winter?