Archive for category Baseball
A power-shift is taking place in Major League Baseball.
This hasn’t happened overnight. The Texas Rangers have been a title contender for a number of years now, but other teams are starting to join them. And they’re taking a page out of their free-spending East Coast rivals book.
The perennial powerhouses in New York and Boston are struggling and fighting amongst themselves. The Yankees had the largest payroll by over $22 million, and bombed out of the playoffs. They have an aging lineup with the majority of the team in their 30’s, with a few in their 40’s. Things aren’t going to get better anytime soon, as their biggest contracts are still locked up for years, and most of those players are at the tail-end of their careers. Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter are all coming back from surgery, and due to make over $50 million dollars combined. Those three players nearly cover the entire Oakland Athletics team payroll.
The Red Sox aren’t in any better shape with their third manager in as many years. Additionally, they traded away fan favorite Kevin Youkilis, after former manager Bobby Valentine questioned his commitment to the team. They started 2012 with a splash acquiring free agents Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. But Crawford’s terrible early season form, followed by injuries lead to him to be labeled a bust and a villain to the Red Sox faithful. Not soon after the Red Sox had a fire sale, and shipped Gonzalez, Crawford and Josh Becket to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This wasn’t a bad move for the Sox because it allowed them to clear over $250 million dollars off their books. However, these are steps for rebuilding and are taking the Sox out of contention next season.
Where the Yankees and Red Sox have taken a step back, the Los Angeles Angles and Dodgers are picking up the slack.
The Angels made headlines last year by signing Albert Pujols to a 10 year contract worth $240 million. They reinforced their starting rotation by signing Texas Rangers all-star pitcher C.J. Wilson. The Angels followed this with a mid-season pick up of former Cy Young winner Zach Greinke. Pujols had an off-year by his standards, and the Angels disappointed by not even reaching the playoffs. They did lose some big name pitchers in the off-season, like Greinke to the Dodgers, and Dan Haren to the Washington Nationals. However, they reloaded in a big way by adding former MVP Josh Hamilton. Hamilton has had injury problems over the years, but there is no denying his ability when he’s healthy on the field. Over the past three seasons, he has hit 25+ home runs, nearly 100 RBI’s, with a batting average of .285, and that’s while missing a number of games. Hamilton’s numbers should improve as he is protected in a line-up that includes: former MVP Albert Pujols, MVP runner-up Mike Trout, and Home Run Derby participant Mark Trumbo. He shouldn’t have the same adjusting period as Pujols, who moved from the National League to the American League, because he is staying in the AL West division. The Angels still need some help in the bullpen. The recently signed Joe Blanton and Sean Burnett should help, but some more moves could be on the horizon to help improve the 18th best earned run average (ERA) in the MLB. With the past two years signings, the Angels have shot up the payroll list and are estimated to fork out more than $175 million dollars next year.
The noise the Angels made seems like whispers compared to the uproar the Dodgers made.
In the beginning of last year the Dodgers were a mess. Their owner was going through a messy divorce, which led the MLB to take over operations for the club. However, owner Frank McCourt pulled off the sale, or robbery, of the century. He was able to sell the team, on the verge of bankruptcy, for not $1, but $2 billion dollars, to a group that included Irvin “Magic” Johnson. After the sale, the new ownership wanted to make some waves. They raided the Red Sox for Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett. They added high-profile shortstop Hanley Ramirez from the always giving Florida Marlins. They bolstered their bullpen, by signing Greinke and Korean lefty Hyun-jin Ryu. The spending spree was skyrocketed by a television deal, which rivals that of their east coast counterparts. The Dodgers payroll at the beginning of 2012’s season was $114 million, and has now gone up to $207.9 million in 2013. Don’t be surprised if they add a few more names to their already impressive roster.
Money doesn’t always equal championships. The Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Buffalo Sabres all had the highest payrolls in their respective sports in 2012. Yet none of them won a championship. So while nothing is guaranteed for the Angels or Dodgers, one thing is evident, the West Coast is establishing itself as the new power in baseball.