It was a day filled with more hope than promise. When pitchers Joe Blanton Tommy Hanson Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett were introduced together at the ESPN Zone in Anaheim on Dec. 12 the numbers on their new Angels jerseys could have been replaced by question marks.

They all had issues with injuries or declining performance but if they could remain physically sound and deliver their typical seasons they would add much-needed depth to the Angels' rotation and bullpen.

Eight months later General Manager Jerry Dipoto's 0 for 4 on those acquisitions looks as unsightly as anything struggling outfielder Josh Hamilton has posted.

Madson the former Philadelphia closer who signed for $3.5 million did not throw a pitch for the Angels. After numerous setbacks in his recovery from Tommy John surgery he was released Aug. 5.

Burnett the former Washington setup man who signed for two years and $8 million had an 0.93 earned-run average in 13 games but sat out three months because of elbow problems and had season-ending surgery Aug. 7 for a flexor tendon tear.

Hanson acquired from Atlanta for reliever Jordan Walden and signed for $3.725 million spent seven weeks of April and May on the bereavement and restricted lists and was 4-3 with a 5.59 ERA when he was demoted to triple A on Monday night.

And Blanton a free agent signed for two years and $15 million pitched so poorly — he's 2-13 with a 5.86 ERA and 26 home runs given up — he was demoted to the bullpen in late July and is now one of baseball's highest-paid mop-up men.

"It's been a disappointing run in regards to our pitching" Dipoto said before the Angels' 11-3 loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night in which Alfonso Soriano hit two home runs for the second night in a row and had a career-high seven runs batted in.

"It obviously didn't work out with Ryan. That was an upside risk we were willing to take. With Joe and Tommy they haven't had the types of years they've historically enjoyed. It's on us as an organization to help them find that again."

They might not have long. The Angels are confident Burnett who had a 2.38 ERA in 70 appearances for the Nationals in 2012 will be fully recovered and contributing in 2014.

But Blanton could be released this off-season with the Angels eating the $8.5 million on his contract and there is a chance Hanson who is eligible for arbitration will not be tendered a contract.

With a thin group of free-agent starting pitchers this off-season the Angels as they did before the July 31 trade deadline will pursue deals for young cost-controlled pitchers trades that will probably take Mark Trumbo Peter Bourjos Erick Aybar or Howie Kendrick to consummate.

Ace Jered Weaver who was pounded for a career-high-tying nine earned runs and nine hits in five innings Wednesday night and C.J. Wilson are under contract through 2016 and the Angels are expected to try to re-sign left-hander Jason Vargas who will be a free agent.

The emergence of right-hander Garrett Richards 25 as a viable rotation option could also minimize the need for Hanson or Blanton. Richards has a 2.42 ERA in four starts since moving back to the rotation and is gaining confidence and poise.

"He sometimes gets stuck in a fastball-slider-cutter mode but he's using more of his pitches his curve and changeup and he's throwing strikes and locating better" Dipoto said.

"His problem hasn't been throwing strikes it's the command of his strikes in the zone. He's come a long way. It's been a disappointing year but to see a young player step forward and potentially solve a need for us in 2014 and beyond is very encouraging."