When the Texas Rangers signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year, $252 million dollar deal in the 2001, Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane was asked if the Rangers would dominate the AL West.
His answer? “No, not really.”
That year, the Seattle Mariners (A-Rod’s former team) won the division with 116 wins and the A’s came in second with 102. The Rangers finished last with a 73-89 record despite a 52-home run, 135 RBI season from Rodriguez.
So with the news breaking today that the Los Angeles Angels signed slugger Josh Hamilton to a 5-year, $125 million deal, are the Angels now the undisputed favorites in the AL West?
Nearly everyone thought the same thing last year when the Angels nabbed Albert Pujols from the Cardinals. They thought the same thing last year when pitcher C.J. Wilson bolted from the Rangers to join forces with Pujols. And they thought the same thing again when rookie Mike Trout went on an unbelievable tear in the month of June.
The Angels finished third in the AL West with an 89-73 record, behind the Rangers and the A’s, despite a strong second half from Pujols, a record season from Trout, and a 13-win season from Wilson.
Why didn’t it work? Why couldn’t a team that was blessed with three top-tier players even win their own division and make the playoffs?
Money can buy you good stats, and money can buy you media attention and more butts in the seats.
But the only thing that money can’t buy you is wins and a championship. Simply purchasing the best stars in the game and plopping in the lineup will not necessarily lead to champagne celebrations at the end of the year. The Los Angeles Dodgers can attest to that.
So I’ll bet anyone that if you asked Billy Beane if Hamilton’s signing makes the Angels runaway favorites in the AL West, his answer would be the same as it was 11 years ago.
“No, not really.”