Thursday, December 8, 2011
We've been through this before
When the news broke today of the Angels' crazy 10-year-deal with Albert Pujols, I was sound asleep. I can sleep through anything if I'm tired enough.
While reading about it those first groggy minutes of wakefulness, I kept coming back to one thing. Well, two things really.
The first: What the hell happened in St. Louis that would let Pujols give up all that he established there? I can't help but feel that some day he will be sorry for this move.
But the second thought is what stuck with me the most. And that is: the Angels have done this before, and haven't been too successful at it.
OK, maybe they haven't done it on this scale. Pujols is the superstar of superstars. And C.J. Wilson is pretty good, too, although I've already mentally voted him as "the free agent most likely to crash-and-burn."
But perhaps these names mean something to you: Rod Carew, Joe Rudi, Lyman Bostock, Reggie Jackson, Bobby Grich, Doug DeCinces, Mark Langston, Dave Hollins, Cecil Fielder, Bartolo Colon, Vladimir Guerrero, Bobby Abreu.
All of those players were established major league stars or standouts who signed free agent deals with the Angels over the last 30-plus years. Most of them came during the Gene Autry ownership era when the Angels gleefully dove deeper into the new free agency pool than any other team.
But none of those players ever won a World Series title with the Angels. Sure, some brought California/Anaheim/Los Angeles some division championships. But no Series.
Here are a few other high-profile names: Fred Lynn, Tommy John, Dave Winfield, Bobby Bonds, Bert Campaneris, Jack McDowell.
All of those players were established major league stars or standouts who came to the Angels in trades, some of the blockbuster variety. None of them brought the Angels a World Series title.
In fact, if you look at the one World Series championship that the Angels won -- in 2002 -- the team is shockingly devoid of star free agents or acquisitions. Most were homegrown players. Any free agents were under-the-radar type players like Scott Spiezio.
So, what am I trying to say?
Well, it's certainly not anything about scrappiness or chemistry or intangibles. I like stars on my team as much as any other fan.
It's just that throwing loads of cash at players strikes me as a desperate move. The Marlins, for all the moves they've made, are a desperate organization. If they don't succeed in this new stadium with all these flashy players in front of a very, very fickle fan base, I don't want to see their future. It won't be good.
The Angels aren't as desperate. They have a decent fan base. They have some key homegrown players in place that should complement their head-turning signings. But doing anything that reminds me of what they did in the late '70s would raise a red flag if I was an Angels fan.
But I'm not an Angels fan. I'm a Dodgers fan. And I'm writing about this only because I'm sure there are some Dodgers fans out there pouting about the "rival" Angels (I don't consider them rivals) signing Pujols, while the Dodgers have signed this:
Listen, I'm not terribly thrilled about these dudes either -- why do you think I haven't written about any of them yet? But you can't let offseason moves determine your attitude about how your favorite team is going to do in the coming year.
Just look at the last 10 years of World Series champions. The Marlins, the White Sox, the Cardinals (twice), the Giants. And there are plenty of teams like them that may not have won the Series but at least reached it.
Sure Pujols was part of both of those Cardinals teams -- as a homegrown star. But superstar signings guarantee nothing -- except for a few more butts in the seats.
Pujols' signing doesn't affect me. Not a Cardinals fan. Not an Angels fan. Not one of the trillion Pujols player collectors. Will he appear as a photoshopped Angel in Topps Series 1 or will he appear as a legitimate Angel in Series 2? I don't care.
But if his signing creates a few more Angels bloggers?
Well, then it'll all be worth it.