Like so many years past, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim began the offseason with a hole in their roster and a high-profile player in line to fill it.

And like every other year, they came up short.

Carl Crawford agreed to a seven-year, $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox this week, marking the sixth time in as many years that the Angels failed to acquire their primary offseason target.

Last year, Angels fans witnessed an epic collapse when the team failed to re-sign John Lackey and successfully trade for Roy Halladay, a deal in which the Angels were considered the front-runners to complete.

While Lackey’s usually stellar numbers dropped off in Boston, Halladay cruised to his second Cy Young Award and helped lead the Philadelphia Phillies into the playoffs.

In 2008, the Angels made Mark Teixeira a sizable offer, but angrily yanked it back when it became apparent they would have to enter a bidding war with the Red Sox and New York Yankees. Tex eventually went to New York where he won his first World Series championship.

I’m sure the Angels had a nice view of him lifting the trophy from their moral high ground.

That same year, C.C. Sabathia was also on Anaheim’s wish list, but they again lost him to New York after placing a foolish 24-hour deadline on their offer.

Before that, the Yankees outbid the Angels for another superstar infielder, inking Alex Rodriguez to a new 10-year deal. A-Rod continues to get booed in Anaheim for his decision, even though he was never close to making the trip out West.

Of course, New York isn’t the only city to beat the the Angels off the field as well as on it. Chicago teams have also swiped superstars out from under Anaheim, with Paul Konerko returning to the White Sox five years ago and Aramis Ramirez re-upping with the Cubs.

That’s six—count’em, six—players the Angels made a high priority and failed to sign. Absolutely pathetic, and there is no indication that this will be the end of the pattern.

Which target will they not sign in the future? First basemen Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder could both hit the market after next season. Maybe the Angels will excite fans with those names before crushing their hopes and dreams yet again.

What of Jered Weaver? The major league strikeout champ will be a free agent in two years, and agent Scott Boras isn’t likely to negotiate an extension. He prefers his star clients to test the free agent market while he drives up the asking price to ridiculous proportions, which often rules out teams like the Angels.

If it comes down to it, would Reagins and owner Arte Moreno be willing to compete for his services? Recent history says no.

The last offseason to see Anaheim successfully woo a good player came in 2007 when Torii Hunter reportedly agreed to a five-year, $90 million deal at a local Del Taco.

But to find the last great player, the last true superstar to don a Halo, you have to look back seven years when the Angels locked up both slugger Vladimir Guerrero and ace Bartolo Colon.

Despite never making a World Series appearance, the pair helped transform the Angels into a consistent threat in the American League. In 2004, Big Daddy Vladdy won the AL MVP; the following year, Colon earned his first Cy Young award.

Those were the good old days.

Now fans are just as likely to see their club refuse to do what it takes to bring in the talent they need to win again. Perhaps even more disturbing, in failing to reach the stars they seek, they also overlook other talented role players.

In 2010 alone, they’ve missed out on catcher/first baseman/DH Victor Martinez; infielders Ty Wigginton, Juan Uribe, and Adrian Gonzalez; and pitcher Jorge de la Rosa. All were available, and all were snatched off the market while the Angels fought against history and the AL East to land that one big fish.

This is becoming a disturbing trend. The Halos are quickly sliding down toward that tier of inconsequential clubs that make a bunch of non-impact moves.

Like the Baltimore Orioles trading for J.J. Hardy or the Kansas City Royals signing Melky Cabrera, the Angels are left with ho-hum deals that excite no one and change nothing about their current standing. The kind of deals you skim past while reading up on the day’s transactions.

Alberto Callaspo was one of those moves, a trade deadline acquisition last season that neither benefited the Angels nor the Royals; it was merely a shuffling of the Titanic’s deck chairs.

After losing out on Crawford, the Angels are expected to turn their attention to Adrian Beltre, the only high-profile free agent left even though he is a player with two good seasons and a whole host of bad ones to his name.

Boras, Beltre’s agent, is sure to demand a salary similar to the one he got from the Seattle Mariners six years ago in the hope the teams will forget he wasn’t worth the paper that contract was printed on during his tenure in Washington.

In a spacious ballpark like Anaheim, away from the hitter’s delight of Fenway Park, Beltre will doubtlessly underperform again.

Crawford, meanwhile, is not just the next stop in a continuing history of failure for the Angels, he’s also the next for fans to boo vociferously. But maybe fans should aim those boos at the sky box that houses Tony Reagins, the man who is as reluctant to sign highly valued free agents as he is to talk about them in the media.

He is, after all, a graduate of the Bill Stoneman “Take Phone Calls and Sit on Your Hands” school of business management.

Yes, Reagins has a had a couple of good pickups over the years. But he is also directly responsible for at least three of above-mentioned blown deals. He was only given a free pass on the Teixeira mishap because of the rise of Kendry Morales, not that the Angels brass had any idea he’d be this good.

The fact that they offered Tex an eight-year, $160 million deal tells you all you need to know about what they though of Morales’s future at first base.

At this point, the most anyone can say for Reagins is that there are still four months to go before Opening Day. The Angels’ fallback targets are few and far between, though, and it will take a lot of work to buck the trend of history this time.

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