For those than didn’t see my last post on American League ‘staples,’ I chose to compare baseball players to economic products. I also implied that the teams/mangers/owners they play for are comparable to plantation owners, governments, other figures that control a nation’s economic means. MLB clubs have grown/acquired/whathaveyou a certain amount of ‘staple’ players that have stuck with their team since 2003. These players are comparable to a nation’s/region ‘staple’ economic product (e.g. Japan – automobiles sorry Detroit, Cuba – cigars, or France – wine). Since 2003, a number of teams have had ‘staple’ players that characterize their lineups, pitching rotations, and bullpens. I argue that in a lot of cases, these players end up characterizing a club’s success, failure or mediocrity. Regardless of my definition, it always good to look back and assess clubs 5 or 6 years ago to see where they’ve come from. ‘You are who you were.’ Here is the NL 2003.
Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals 2003 – Absolutely Nobody!
This was a good laugh with the Kansas City Royals last post. For the Nationals, it seemed like a mission to break all ties with the Expos franchise. The Nationals have totally erased all linkages to any Expos player. I believe it was with catcher Brian Schneider leaving for the Mets last season that they did this. In doing so, the Nationals were not able to create any ‘staples’ for their franchise. It is a club that is constantly changing. No ‘staples,’ equals no success! The theory works here, yay! Sidenote: Todd Zeile basically ended his career here in 2003 and Scott Downs (current Blue Jay bullpen ‘stud’) started it.
New York Mets 2003 – Jose Reyes and Pedro Feliciano
I wouldn’t call Pedro Feliciano a ‘staple,’ but he was there on the 2003 roster so I had to type him down. Trips, back and forth, between AAA and the bigs have characterized his career. 2003 was a year where the Mets failed miserably, loading up on vetern talent that were past their prime (i.e. Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn, Tom Glavine). The bright spot for the future was Jose Reyes, who took the SS job from Rey Sanchez that year. Reyes was a keeper! We all could see that. The Mets have a nice nucleus of players around him now, the will become ‘staples’ (i.e. David Wright, Santana). They’ve had their success, they’ve just been very unfortunate. Barely missing the playoffs two years straight now.
Milwaukee Brewers 2003 – Ben Sheets and Bill Hall
Managed to put together some pretty good clubs. Sheets has been through some injuries. Bill Hall has been a steady contributor to this team. They made their big run last year on the back of Sheets and Sabathia. Too bad about Sheets being in a contract year, they’ve been doing great things. They have created some new exciting ‘staples’ in the lineup (i.e. Braun, Fielder). A bit better than average were their ‘staples’ since 2003, and that is also how I would also rate the Brewers success.
Los Angeles Dodgers 2003 – Nobody!
Back when Eric Gagne was shutting teams down the Dodgers, they had Fred (Crimedog) McGriff, Brian Jordan and Shawn Green featured in their lineup. The Dodgers could not create great staples around this time. This explains some of their past failures. With a young and potent staff/lineup in 2008 (featuring Loney, Kemp, Martin, Broxton, Kershaw) the ‘staples’ may well be on their way for Dodger fans. Although, until now they have been non-existant.
Houston Astros 2003 – Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Brad Ausmus and Geoff Blum
The Astros are a team that has been able to keep a number of their players around, and they continue to do so. 2003, 2004 and 2005 (when the Stros made the World Series) were their years. The ‘staples’ on their team featured, not just these guys, but the other B’s Bagwell, Biggio and Brad Lidge. They have produced some very strong clubs with these ‘staples’, however, they have been in a decline recently.
Florida Marlins 2003 – Nobody!
Wow! This team is the antithesis of the ‘staple’ thesis if there ever was one. Within the course of 6 years, from 1997 to 2003, they completely overhauled their team. Yet, they were still able to win a another World Series in 2003, without anyone significant left over. The Marlins were projected to finish dead last in 2003. They ended up winning the World Series with a group of unknowns, that are now very well known. Their staff had A.J. Burnett (injured most of the year), Josh Beckett, Brad Penny and Carl Pavano. Their lineup featured Derek Lee, Ivan Rodriguez (aquired that year), Mike Lowell, Luis Castillo and Juan Pierre. It is remarkable, to me, that a team can just go in and out like that. Hard not to make this a sexual reference, but the Marlins are the one night stand of baseball. No lasting success, no lasting ‘staples’, just a crazy Miami party night with a long and nasty hangover.
Colorado Rockies 2003 – Todd Helton and Aaron Cook
They have some pretty solid ‘staples’. Not the players that excelled in 2007 (when they made it to the World Series). They did provide great vetern leadership to a young team that found something late in 2007. These ‘staples’ have guided the Rockies to limited success I’d say.
Cinnicinnati Reds 2003 – Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn
The ‘staple’ theory was alive, and well, in Cinncinnati with Junior and Dunn. It just did not work! Griffey was too oft-injured and at the tale end of his career. Adam Dunn, as good as he is at hitting homeruns, is also good at striking out, and therefore, unable to carry the team. These ‘staples’ did not work out for the Reds.
Chicago Cubs 2003 – Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano
Out of the percievably dominant duo of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, it would be Carlos Zambrano that would have the most positive impact on the Cubs stellar staff of 2003. The Cubs had some turbulant times leading up to recently where new ‘staples’ have emerged. A-Ram and D-Lee have taken them into an era of getting into the playoffs at least. The contributions of Zambrano and Wood to a lesser extent cannot be understated. They contributed to many Cub playoff tastes.
Atlanta Braves 2003 – Chipper Jones and John Smoltz
A team that was known for the ‘staples’ in their pitching staff, came to crumble in 2003. Smoltz was already starting to be reduced to the closing role, and the Glavine/Maddux duo was offically gone, with Glavine leaving to the Mets. Chipper has been a big ‘staple’ for the Braves. He, among others, have seen the Braves make the playoffs in these years with limited success.
Arizona Diamondbacks 2003 – Nobody! Except Randy Johnson who came back
In 2003, the D-Backs were seening an end to their past glories. The team has since remodelled and changed. A young and talented group took them to the playoffs in 2007. Their success has been limited without significant staples until recently with their young players in 2007 (i.e. Young, Upton, Drew, Reynolds, Jackson, Webb). Very good ‘staples’ for the future. I had them going to the World Series last year. I don’t know what happened with them???
San Francisco Giants 2003 – Rich Aurilia, Ray Durham and confusing
Players have left and come back to the Giants (i.e. Ray Durham, Rich Aurilla). I wouldn’t call them ‘staples’ to begin (Durham was traded at the deadline this year). Bonds hasn’t gone away, but he has just not been playing. In 2002, the Giants lost to the Angels in the World Series. They have been pretty terrible ever since. Look at their ‘staples,’ even the front office didn’t really want to keep them!
San Diego Padres 2003 – Trevor Hoffman and Jake Peavy
They’ve had some playoff teams. Their strength, in past years, has definately been their pitching lead by these ‘staples.’ The Padres have always played in pitcher friendly stadiums. Players complained that Qualcolm was too dimmly lit for hitters to see and the dimensions in Petco are not exactly hitter friendly. Good ‘staples,’ but they’ve lacked the offensive production behind them.
St. Louis Cardinals 2003 – Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter and Jason Isringhausen
Can you think of better ‘staple’ than Albert Pujols?? Great player, great guy and a huge part of the 2006 World Series Champion Cardinals. He has had some help, like Scott Rolen who was with the Cards till just last year, Isringhausen (who was solid for them until last season) and Chris Carpenter (unfortunate injury to a very good pitcher). The Cards have put together some very good teams, and Pujols has carried them there. You want a ‘staple’? You can ‘staple’ Pujols, not literally.
Pittsburgh Pirates 2003 – Jack Wilson thats it!
That is it. No one significant. The only players they get on their team with legitimate talent, they trade. Oliver Perez, Jason Bay, Brian Giles. Hard to win like that, but the A’s have done it in the past. No staples, no success whatsoever for the Pirates.
Philadelphia Phillies 2003 – Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell and Brett Myers
The ressurgance of the Phillies culminated with the World Series win last year. They had been floating around the playoff picture for a while, with a very good team. Brett Myers at-bat in the NLDS against Sabathia, shows just how a ‘staple’ player can take on that kind of leadership and determination to greatly effect a team. Like I said, they don’t have to be the best player on the team, they just need be solid. Myers was that and more in the playoffs. Rollins has also been very good for the Phils, not just from a talent perspective, but leadership as well. Burrell will miss hitting in Citizens Bank. He was the first to anchor the middle order of a homerun potent lineup that looks very dangerous for years to come.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this retropective look back. I believe it is always good to look back. It can give good insights into an MLB club’s past, present and possibly but to a lesser extent the future. It has been fun!