The Miami Marlins signed a number of big name free agents in an attempt to excite a Miami fan base with a new stadium and a perception of improved players. They even traded a couple journeyman players to the White Sox to bring over a flamboyant manager in Ozzie Guillen. Like bamboo growing under their fingernails, the Marlins could not win and midway through the season they cried uncle, trading away many of the players from their roster to build for the future. The majority of their free agent signings or veterans still left on the team were traded to the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of the season to obtain a haul of prospects.
The Boston Red Sox felt they needed more sizzle with their players, going on a free agent spending spree with the signings of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. They had a television base to entertain and you can’t do that with vanilla players like Dustin Pedroia. They also hired a flamboyant manager in Bobby Valentin to add spice to the glitz. Bobby was just the opposite of their two time World Series manager Terry Francona. They felt Francona had lost control of the locker room. Before the season ended they would have a better definition of losing control of a locker room. By the time mid-season arrived many of their free agent signings were traded to the Dodgers as their second collapse in two years proved that last year was not the anomaly but the norm.
Now that the season is almost one month old the Toronto Blue Jays are finding out the same players who lost for the Marlins are also losing for the Blue Jays. Jose Reyes is injured for a couple months, something the New york Mets were very familiar with and Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle are not making the Jays starting rotation the juggernaut many had thought it would be. It appears some things never change no matter what laundry you pick to wear the next day. The Jays find themselves in last place with a 9-17 record, nine games behind the first place Red Sox.
The Marlins are not winning, but no one expected them to win. They picked up a number of good players in Nathan Eovaldi, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino and Adeiny Hechavarria to help them for the future. The current ownership group has burned their bridges with the fan base and it may be in the best interest of the Marlins that they sell the team before they have an opportunity to screw up this rebuilding process. They currently have the worst record in baseball at 6-19 with one of the most entertaining power hitters in baseball in Giancarlo Stanton. They claim to be spending money in other areas to help build the franchise, but they are at the bottom in signing international talent and last year they almost lost first round pick Andrew Heaney because they didn’t want to pay him the first round slot bonus money they were allocated. Myworld would like to know in what area they are spending resources to improve the team?
The Dodgers found that acquiring Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Rameriz and Josh Beckett did nothing to their team to add to the win total in 2012, but it did do a lot to make them the second highest salaried team in the major leagues. It was felt next year once the players got used to each other the wins would come. Next year has arrived and the Dodgers are no closer to winning, finding themselves just above the San Diego Padres in the NL West with a 12-12 record, 2.5 games behind the leader. If I’m spending over $200 million for my team I would want a team playing better than .500.
The Dodgers believe that when Hanley Ramirez comes back from the disabled list they will be much stronger since he will fill the shortstop hole. When Hanley Ramirez played winter ball last year the team he played for did not put him at shortstop despite the Dodgers objections. The same was true for the championship Dominican Republic WBC team. The Dodgers feel they can win with Hanley at shortstop, even though his Latin compatriots felt their teams could not win with Hanley at shortstop.
The Boston Red Sox seem to be the only team to have benefited from the roster shakedowns. Relieved of huge salary burdens by trading Crawford, Gonzalez and Beckett to the Dodgers they have been able to tinker with their roster and found that signing vanilla role players to fill their lineup can lead to victories. Vanilla players like Daniel Nava, Mike Carp and Mike Napoli have been added to the 25 man roster to play alongside their previous players of vanilla quality like Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia to put the Red Sox in first place in the AL East. Myworld does not see that lasting as the season progresses, but it is better than the view they had in the standings the last couple years.
So what can be learned from these salary dumps and acquistions. To paraphrase a Martin Luther King statement, ”It is not the dollars in a contract but the content of a player’s character that will help create a winning atmoshere for a team”. Large contracts generally build complacency. You want players who are not driven by large contracts, but deserve them just the same, players who are driven by their will to win even after they earn the big bucks. And you don’t want those players who just talk about their will to win, but show it on the practice fields and the batting cages. Talk is cheap. Action is defining.
It is still early in the season and a lot can happen to change things. Time will tell if the Dodgers and Blue Jays can turn things around despite their big acquisitions.