Five biggest flops of 2012
Five major flops of 2012
There is always an element of risk involved when making offseason moves. One can scout players endlessly, one can watch them put up incredible numbers and one can identify their absolute perfect position in the club. But whilst all that is certainly a very good idea, there is simply no way to guarantee anything. Sometimes hitters do not adjust to a new league quickly or at all. Sometimes they have a dip in form and sometimes their previous form was only ever an anomoly. So it is always a gamble. General managers can almost always be trusted to know what they are doing, but sometimes they will look incredibly stupid. (And, to be fair, sometimes they do make utterly ridiculous moves. Every offer ever given to Alex Rodriguez leaps to mind.)
It is always easy to say what has and has not worked after the fact; it is much harder to assess who will have a good year before hand and even harder to assess exactly what that year will be worth in monetary terms. It is the same impossible job as the weather forecasters and like the weathermen they are heavily criticised when things go wrong, but rarely get the credit when everything goes well.
Do not then interpret this list as a judgement of those who failed. Rather read it as a measured assessment of where and how things went wrong for certain teams. Remember that many of the big offseason moves were quite successful and that in most cases there is little the GMs involved could have done better. Fate was not on their side, however, and they are saddled with what is termed as a 'flop'. These were the five most notable.
This is a case where one does start to wonder what an otherwise very good GM (just look what the Oakland A's did this season) was thinking. Manny Ramirez was already someone about whom the phrase 'washed up' leapt to mind as well as 'drugs cheat'. It was because of the latter that he would have to start the season with a fifty game suspension. And to be fair, the A's only offered him $500,000 and on the condition that he made the major league club after his suspension. But he failed to hit a single home run in 17 games at AAA (though he did hit .302 with 14 RBIs) and was released.
Bobby Valentine looked like a decent choice to take over the Boston Red Sox at the start of this season. He had never been wildly successful, but he had a career record over .500 and had led the New York Mets to the NL pennant in 2000. It was hoped that he would be the man to lead the Red Sox back to the top after the heartbreak of Game 162 the previous season. To say that he did not work out would be an understatement, however. A year marred by rebellious players ended with 93 losses and a last-place finish in the AL East.
I know it's harsh to say that an American League pitcher with an ERA under four was a 'flop', but it is almost a full run higher than his ERA last year. The Los Angeles Angels were looking for a really dominating starting pitcher to push them past the Texas Rangers this year. Instead they got an average starter which meant that they had to trade for Zack Greinke later in the year to fill that role. In the end it was too late and they finished in third place. The good news for the Angels is that he is signed through 2016, however, so there is time left for him to turn it around.
I have disagreed quite strongly with some of Dayton Moore's moves in the past, but trading Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez was not amongst them. The Kansas City Royals needed pitching last winter as they do this one and with the season Lorenzo Cain had at AAA Cabrera was clearly dispensable. Exchanging him for a starter with a decent record and even a no-hitter under his belt was clearly a good move.
But it did not work out, at least for the Royals. Sanchez put up utterly shocking numbers, going 1-6 with a 7.76 ERA and and a WHIP over two. He was dealt to the Colorado Rockies in midseason for Jeremy Guthrie. That did at least provide a happy conclusion as Guthrie finished the year as the team's best starter.
Francisco Liriano has not been a consistent force in the American League since he missed all of 2007. But he has not been terrible either and does have a no-hitter in that time. The Chicago White Sox picked him up in mid-season this year in an attempt to shore up their rotation ahead of the stretch run. It did not work out as was hoped, however. Liriano did go 3-2 in his twelve games, but it was with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.518 WHIP. And the White Sox themselves collapsed utterly in the last fortnight of the season to allow the Detroit Tigers to not only come back to win the division, but to do so comfortably.