Major League Baseball already has plenty of talent. In 2012, we saw a new wave of young talent that blew people away. It seemed like the rookies were getting more attention than the veterans who paved the way for them. Two in particular being teenager Bryce Harper and twenty year-old Mike Trout.
Bryce Harper debuted in April for the Washington Nationals. It seems like ever since he stepped onto the baseball diamond, he has been the talk of the National League. He spent most of the time making unbelievable catches, but Harper was also a threat with the bat. He hit 22 home runs and drove in 59 runs. Not too bad for a 19 year old playing in the National League with Matt Cain, RA Dickey, and Roy Halladay in it. Harper helped take his team to the playoffs, but unfortunately they fell short to the Cardinals in one of the craziest series in postseason history. Harper did win the NL Rookie of the Year.
Mike Trout came into a team that had huge expectations. The Los Angeles Angels had acquired both CJ Wilson and Albert Pujols in the offseason. Somehow, Trout managed to garner more attention than Albert Pujols, pretty impressive in your first year. Trout has an incredibly impressive first season batting .326, hitting 30 home runs, and driving in 83 runs. He was even in the running for MVP and was only beaten out by Miguel Cabrera who got the triple crown for hitting. Unfortunately, the Angels did not make it to the postseason, but Trout’s individual performance was recognized by MLB when he was awarded the AL Rookie of the Year.
It has been officially announced today by ESPNDallas that former Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton has signed a five-year deal for $125 million with the Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers have already been informed and we are now just waiting for an official announcement from the Angels. That is a SERIOUS lineup for the Angels: Pujols, Trout, Trumbo, and now Hamilton. Wow, the Angels clearly are a hitting team. Hamilton stayed on the market for so long because of his previous battles with drug and alcohol. Now he can make a fresh start and get a World Series title that has eluded him all those years in Texas.
There was a time when if you were a fan, you lived for the day when your team would play their biggest rival. The players would always seem to play with a little more heart and the fans would always get extra pumped up. What happened to the days when Boston and New York baseball fans couldn’t even sit together? What happened to the days where players would feed off the crowd and steal a base or turn a single into a double just because they were playing their “arch-rival”? Those days seem to be gone.
It is evidenced by the newly acquired Yankee, Kevin Youkilis. Youk, as so many fans know him as, used to be a guy about the rivalries and playing with a little more effort to embarrass the teams his team was in competition with. Youk was one of the biggest Boston Red Sox player involved in one of the most heated sports rivalries. Now, he is playing for them and fans that used to curse him when he would get the big hit off a Yankees’ pitcher will be cheering for him. Where is the loyalty?
Can fans overlook the bitter hatred for a player if it helps make their team better? In reality, it all depends on how the player performs for their team. If the player hits a grand slam in a playoff game, they will become a new fan favorite. However, if the player strikes out in the bottom of the 9th when the team is down a run and there is a player on third, well things might not work out as well. However, what about the players? Does this mean they have no loyalty to the team they had so many memories with?
Kevin Youkilis is definitely not the first player to go to their rival team. In fact, he is not even the first to leave Boston for pinstripes in New York City. Boston cannot forget when Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens went to the Big Apple to win the World Series. However, Youk is different. He was always the guy who played for the fans and lived for the big moments against big teams. People tuned into his at-bats because there was always a possibility a pitcher might try to throw at him and a fight would ensue. He was a player who helped these rivalries live up to all the hype. It seems that once he puts the pinstripes on, he wipes away all the fun of hating division rivals.
He may not have a job at the moment, but Josh Hamilton put himself in the history books this season. Hamilton, known for his power, blasted four home runs during a game against the Baltimore Orioles. With those four homers, he also set the American League for total bases. Hamilton did it on May 9,2012 capping a 9 year drought when Carlos Delgado was the last player to go deep for times in a game. It was a great moment for Josh and all those who are currently struggling with addiction in that it shows there is hope. He got clean and now he has a great career for himself including a moment in baseball history. Hamilton has openly struggled with substance abuse which has made teams weary of signing him despite his talent. I am sure that someone will see that the talent outweighs the risk of signing this superstar.
After an underwhelming season, the Miami Marlins traded all the stars they acquired just one offseason ago. The Marlins were moving into a new ballpark and wanted the baseball world to take them seriously again. The franchise had not been competitive in almost a decade, when in 2003 they won the World Series. Owner Jeffrey Loria decided the best way to get noticed was to spend a whole lot of money on every top free agent in the winter including batting champion Jose Reyes, pitcher Mark Buerhle, and closer Heath Bell. Bell had a horrible season and was traded to Arizona at the end of the zone. Midseason, the Marlins started to unravel and traded away Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante. However, the shocking trade was the one that sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and pitching ace Josh Johnson. In return, the Blue Jays sent troubled shortstop Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, and other prospects. However, at the Winter Meetings Escobar was traded to cross town rivals Tampa Bay Rays. It doesn’t sound like the Marlins will even have a full team for the 2013 season.
Winter Meetings have been going and more and more deals have been made between players and teams. Some have decided to stay and others have departed for other teams. Here are some notable transactions:
♦ The New York Mets have actually done the right thing and signed third baseman and de facto captain David Wright: 8 years for $138 million [Congrats for finally getting it right Wilpons!]
♦ The Seattle Mariners have signed left fielder Jason Bay: 1 year for $22 million [the rest owed to him by the Mets after they cut him]
♦The Washington Nationals have signed pitcher Dan Haren: 1 year for $13 million
♦The World Series champs San Francisco Giants have resigned second baseman Marco Scutaro: 3 years for $20 million
♦ The Boston Red Sox have signed center fielder Shane Victorino: 3 years for $39 million
♦ The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed infielder Eric Chavez [leaving the Yankees with no third baseman option]: 1 year for $3 million
♦ The Chicago White Sox have signed infielder Jeff Keppinger: 3 years for $12 million
There are still many deals set to take place and it looks like players will end up in places that no one expected them to.