The Biggest Regret of All 30 MLB Teams so Far in 2012
When teams prepare during the offseason for the upcoming regular season, they do all they can to put the best product on the team with the goal of winning a World Series championship.
At least in theory, that is.
In 1786, writer Robert Burns penned the poem To a Mouse, in which he wrote:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley
To put in layman's terms: "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."
In baseball, plans are often made with the best of intentions, only to see those plans suddenly go awry. Or, in some cases, things weren't done by teams that they later regret.
We will take a look at each team's biggest regret thus far in the 2012 season, either through decisions they made or actions they didn't take.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Not Finding Pitchers Better Suited for Chase Field
Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ has never been kind to pitchers throughout its history, and for Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers, that's been especially true for them this season as well.
Thus far in 2012, the Diamondbacks' team ERA away from home has been far better—over a run better, in fact.
On the road the D-Backs feature a stellar 3.39 ERA, second-best in the National League. At home, however, their 4.56 ERA is second-worst in the NL. Only the Colorado Rockies and their Project 5183 pitching staff is worse at home.
New free agent acquisition Trevor Cahill offers up an example of the home/road woes suffered by the D-Backs. At Chase Field, Cahill sports a high 4.97 ERA in 11 starts. On the road, Cahill features a 2.79 ERA in 13 starts.
Cahill came from spacious O.co Coliseum in Oakland, where just about everything stays in the park. GM Kevin Towers may not have thought that to be a huge factor, but for Cahill it certainly has thus far. So too for the rest of the staff.
Atlanta Braves: Not Locking Michael Bourn Up Long-Term During Offseason
Center fielder Michael Bourn is likely to get a huge paycheck this coming offseason. However, that money may not be coming from his current team—the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves opted to let Bourn play out his final arbitration season, paying him $6.845 million for the 2012 season.
Bourn has been outstanding, hitting .290 with an NL-leading 33 stolen bases, providing the Braves with a great option along with Martin Prado at the top of the batting order.
However, Bourn employs Scott Boras as his agent. Boras is well-known for advising his players to test the free agent waters.
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver was the exception to that rule last year, signing a five-year, $85 million contract to stay in Anaheim and potentially leaving millions on the table by not heeding Boras' advice.
Considering what Bourn may be worth now, the Braves will likely regret not pursuing that long-term deal last offseason.
Baltimore Orioles: Passing on Deals for Starting Pitching at Trade Deadline
The Baltimore Orioles, much like the Oakland A's, are clearly one of the surprises in the American League thus far in the 2012 season.
However, one of the weaknesses within the O's this season would be their starting pitching.
Orioles' starters rank ninth in the AL with a 4.69 ERA. Every team currently contending for the postseason the the league has a better ERA out of their starters.
There were several rumors associated with the Orioles in terms of looking for starters before the non-waiver trade deadline, and Duquette strongly hinted that the O's would be buyers.
There was a reported deal involving Philadelphia Phillies starter Joe Blanton, however, Orioles vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette would not pull the plug on the deal.
However, the deadline came and went, and no deals at all were forthcoming.
The O's continue to stay in the hunt, and in fact would have a Wild Card berth wrapped up if the season were to end now.
But not getting that additional starting help could come back to haunt them.
Boston Red Sox: Not Doing More to Purge Its Clubhouse of Possible Cancers
After last September's epic collapse and the explosive investigative report released by Bob Hohler of The Boston Globe, the Boston Red Sox decided to use a band-aid to fix a ruptured vessel.
The Sox parted ways with manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein, but largely left intact the roster itself, which was the actual cause of the scandal to begin with.
Ever since, the Red Sox have had to deal with the media storm that has cast a cloud over the franchise, and players are left having to continually discuss clubhouse chemistry and secret meetings and all kinds of other issues that have nothing to do with what's happening on the field itself.
GM Ben Cherington should have been given complete autonomy to do whatever was necessary in righting the ship and ridding the team of possible cancers. Now, the Sox are looking at a third straight season out of the playoffs and the first losing season since 1997.
Chicago Cubs: Trading for an Injured Ian Stewart
It appears that the Chicago Cubs may not have done their due diligence with regard to third baseman Ian Stewart.
The Cubs traded Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu to the Colorado Rockies for Stewart and minor-league pitcher Casey Weathers last December.
Stewart was awful in 2011 for the Rockies in 2011, hitting just .156 in 48 games and spending much of his time in the minors.
Stewart didn't fare much better in Chicago this season, hitting just .201 with five HR in 55 games before landing on the disabled list with a sore left wrist.
If the Cubs had known about the severity of the injury, I'm not so sure they would have sent two young stars in Colvin and LeMahieu to Colorado.
Chicago White Sox: Signing John Danks to a $65 Million Deal
The 2012 season could very well be one of the finest seasons turned in by Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams in his 12-plus seasons at the helm.
Many questioned Williams' decision to hire Robin Ventura to replace the departed Ozzie Guillen, especially with no previous managerial experience of any kind at any level.
Looks like that's turned out okay thus far.
Others questioned trades that occurred over the winter, but none of them have had an adverse affect on the play of the team thus far in 2012.
Williams pulled off the deal to acquire third baseman Kevin Youkilis, giving up next to nothing in return. And, he brought in starter Francisco Liriano and reliever Brett Myers.
All of the moves have added up to a two-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, and it appears the two-team race in the division will be must-see TV over the final six weeks.
One decision that might end up biting Williams, however, is the decision to give left-handed starter John Danks a five-year, $65 million contract.
Danks was shut down following his start on May 19 after posting a dismal 5.70 ERA in nine starts. After attempting rehab for several weeks, Danks underwent surgery on Aug. 6. to "arthroscopically repair a capsular tear and minor debridements of the rotator cuff and biceps in his left shoulder," according to ESPN.
Danks is hoping to return by spring training, but is not rushing anything at this point.
So much for Year 1 of that deal.
Cincinnati Reds: Not Naming Aroldis Chapman Closer Earlier
Not much has gone wrong for the Cincinnati Reds in 2012 thus far, posting the second-best record in baseball and enjoying a 6.5 game lead in the NL Central Division over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Not even the absence of first baseman Joey Votto has slowed them down—the Reds are 24-11 since Votto last played on July 15.
The only regret the Reds might have at this point is that they should have named Cuban flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman at the start of the season.
After pitching primarily in the seventh and eighth innings during the first six weeks of the season while named closer Sean Marshall struggled, Chapman took over full-time and has literally been lights out ever since.
Chapman's current 16.5 K/9 rate if held through until the end of the season will set a new all-time record, breaking the record set by Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen last season (16.1).
Cleveland Indians: Signing Grady Sizemore
In the three years prior to the 2012 season, Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore underwent wrist surgery, major microscopic knee surgery, minor surgery on the other knee and two sports hernia surgeries.
And yet the Indians signed him to a $5 million contract anyway.
True to form, Sizemore went down once again, this time to a back injury that required surgery. There is still no timetable for a return for Sizemore.
Six surgeries in three-plus years—what do you think the chances are that the Tribe even considers signing Sizemore again?
Colorado Rockies: Project 5183
It's a project that has thus far seen a pitching coach walk away from his duties and caused a shifting of duties in upper management.
Project 5183 is the infamous undertaking created by the powers that be in Colorado. Implemented by GM Dan O'Dowd in mid-June, it works on the premise of a four-man rotation with a strict 75-pitch limit. There is then a level of starters ready to take over in the middle innings as well.
How well has the plan worked? Well, pitching coach Bob Apodaca abruptly resigned in late June, saying "I'm fried," at the time of his departure.
And now, O'Dowd himself has been re-assigned, now assuming control of farm system operations but keeping the title of GM.
And how has Project 5183 helped the pitching staff? Well, since the All-Star break, Rockies pitchers have a 5.64 ERA, actually worse than their overall season ERA of 5.37.
Detroit Tigers: Keeping Delmon Young
The Detroit Tigers have fought their way back into a battle in the AL Central Division with the Chicago White Sox, just two games out of the lead heading into action on Tuesday night.
Already without the services of Victor Martinez for the year, they brought in free agent first baseman Prince Fielder, and were largely content with using Delmon Young in left field and at times as a designated hitter.
At the end of the season when they do a review, they will likely rue that decision.
Young embarrassed the Tigers in late April when he embarked on a drunken, racially-charged verbal assault of four tourists outside a posh New York City hotel in late April.
Young was arrested and charged with aggravated harassment in the second degree, a hate-crime misdemeanor.
No amount of apologies or anything else could make up for Young hurling anti-Semetic epithets to tourists who were talking to a panhandler who happened to be wearing a Star of David.
That behavior has no place in society, let alone baseball.
The fact that he still even still has a job making millions galls me to this day.
Houston Astros: None
When Jim Crane was approved by MLB owners to assume ownership of the Houston Astros last November, he clearly knew he had an uphill battle on his hands.
For one, the team was coming off a franchise-worst 106-loss season. And, he was looking at switching leagues and divisions in one more year, adding a whole lot of miles and extra team expenses for his trouble.
Bringing in new general manager Jeff Luhnow, the Houston Astros set out on a conservative plan to rebuild a tattered farm system and build at the major league level using homegrown talent and prudent free agent signings.
So far, so good. Astros fans will need to be patient, but Luhnow and Crane are indeed sticking to their plan.
Kansas City Royals: Trading for Jonathan Sanchez
After what transpired last week with regard to the 50-game suspension levied against San Francisco Giants left-fielder Melky Cabrera, I suppose the Kansas City Royals could be given credit for getting him out of town.
But for Jonathan Sanchez? Really?
Sanchez was a complete bust in Kansas City, posting a 1-7 record in 12 starts with a truly awful 7.76 ERA. Sanchez pitched into the sixth inning just three times in those 12 starts before finally getting shipped out of town, with the Colorado Rockies sending the equally-disappointing Jeremy Guthrie to Kansas City.
Los Angeles Angels: Not Finding a Quality Closer During the Offseason
When the Los Angeles Angels acquired Ernesto Frieri from the San Diego Padres in early May for infield prospect Alexi Amarista, Frieri did wonders for a bullpen that had largely struggled through the first month of the season.
However, despite the fact that he was unscored upon for over two months, Frieri has never been given the full-time opportunity to close for the Angels. Manager Mike Scioscia still used Scott Downs in certain situations to close as well.
With the struggles seen by LaTroy Hawkins, Hisanori Takahashi and others, it would have made much more sense for the Angels to have gone after a reliable closer during the offseason. Even if the Frieri transaction was viable after acquiring a closer, the Halos would have had a killer lefty-righty set-up situation with Downs and Frieri leading into the ninth inning.
Now, the Angels' bullpen is in disarray once again, ranked 12th in the American League with a 4.04 ERA.
Yes, the starting pitching has been inconsistent over the past several weeks, but not having that final piece in the bullpen threw everyone else into situations previously unchartered.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Not Finding a Viable First Base Option
The Los Angeles Dodgers are battling the San Francisco Giants at the top of the NL West, and are currently facing off their long-time rivals in a three-game series ending on Wednesday.
With the Giants reeling from the news that one of their offensive stars—left-fielder Melky Cabrera—is now lost for the rest of the regular season after testing positive for high levels of testosterone, the Dodgers have a golden opportunity to capitalize.
If only they had the power at first base.
To be fair, GM Ned Colletti's hands were somewhat tied during the offseason with the uncertainty surrounding ownership. Big money was not at his disposal.
In addition, he did try to land Houston Astros first Carlos Lee, who declined to sign off on the trade in late June.
Instead, they have had to rely largely on the combination of Juan Rivera and James Loney, who have combined to produce a .244/.291/.355/.645 slash line.
Heading into the final weeks of the season, that could prove to be a major deficiency—not that it hasn't already.
Miami Marlins: Signing Heath Bell
The Miami Marlins made a huge splash during the offeason, committing almost $200 million to three players—Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell.
Reyes and Buehrle have made contributions, but Bell has been simply abysmal.
On two occasions during the season, Bell has been demoted from his traditional role as closer, with his last save coming on July 6. A 5.81 ERA with six blown saves finally did Bell in.
Milwaukee Brewers: Inability to Find a Winning Combination in Bullpen
The Milwaukee Brewers probably thought at the beginning of the season that their bullpen would be one of their strengths heading into the 2012 season.
They thought wrong.
Re-signing Francisco Rodriguez to a one-year, $8 million contract seemed like a good idea, especially with closer John Axford coming off such a strong season.
Neither one of them have come close to what they produced last season.
The Brewers' bullpen is ranked second-worst in the National League with a 4.76 ERA and they lead the league with 23 blown saves.
The Brewers already have quite a few holes to fill for the 2013 season—GM Doug Melvin will now be forced to re-evaluate his closing options as well.
Minnesota Twins: Not Making Deals at Trade Deadline to Bolster Pitching Staff
The Minnesota Twins were thought to have quite a few chips for contending teams at the trade deadline, yet aside from shipping Francisco Liriano to the Chicago White Sox, they were strangely quiet.
GM Terry Ryan had made it clear that just about everyone on his roster would be available for the right price. The question is—what kind of price was he looking for?
It's understandable that Josh Willingham didn't go anywhere—he's been the driving force behind the offense all season.
But for a general manager who was insistent upon improving a pitching staff not to make insignificant moves was indeed unexpected.
New York Mets: Signing Frank Francisco to Serve as Closer
This past offseason, New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson made several moves to shore up a shaky bullpen, including signing Frank Francisco to a two-year, $12 million contract.
Francisco was a major contributor—and not in a good way—to a Mets' bullpen that ranks last in the National League with a 4.98 ERA.
Francisco posted a 6.06 ERA, 1.78 WHIP and three blown saves along with countless appearances that led to many anxious moments before actually notching a save.
Alderson would no doubt love a do-over on that decision.
New York Yankees: Trading for Michael Pineda
The New York Yankees gave away a top prospect catcher for a pitcher who came into training camp overweight, needed season-ending shoulder surgery before he ever threw a pitch in a regular-season game and who is apparently very stupid.
Michael Pineda was arrested and charged with driving under the influence on Monday morning in Tampa. Apparently, Pineda was tiring of his rehab assignment and tried putting a little spice into his activities. That spice turned out to be a DUI charge that gives the Yankees even more headaches than they had before.
Oakland Athletics: Not Finding a Quality Shortstop Earlier in the Season
The Oakland A's are still battling for one of the Wild Card slots, just a half-game behind the equally surprising Baltimore Orioles for the second slot.
On Monday, the A's acquired shortstop Stephen Drew from the Arizona Diamondbacks for prospect shortstop Sean Jamieson.
Drew went hitless in his first game with the A's, extending his hitless streak to 0-for-19 and dropping his average to .187.
That's 11 points lower than the man Drew is replacing in the lineup—Cliff Pennington.
Drew is still working his way back from a horrific ankle injury last year, so next season will probably be a better indication of his true value. However, for now, the A's may have just settled on a replacement because of their inability to find a more suitable option earlier in the season.
Philadelphia Phillies: Not Pulling the Strings on a Cliff Lee Deal
The Philadelphia Phillies were apparently engaged in discussions with the Los Angeles Dodgers regarding former Cy Young Award pitcher Cliff Lee.
The two teams were unable to come to terms on a deal, and now the Phillies have seven players under contract for next season for over $100 million. Considering their almost-last place standing in the NL East and a team that's aging quickly, they may come to rue that impasse.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Not Finding More Offensive Help for Andrew McCutchen
The Pittsburgh Pirates are desperately trying to hold on in the National League Central, now 7.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds and barely holding in to their lead in the race for the Wild Card slot.
Andrew McCutchen is starting to show signs of slipping, hitting just .208 in his last 13 games, his lead in the batting race over the suspended Melky Cabrera now down to just eight points.
Of more importance, however, is that the Pirates are slipping as well—now only 8-11 in the month of August. The Pirates briefly held the lead in the NL Central last July before completely collapsing in the final two months of the season.
GM Neal Huntington brought in Gaby Sanchez and Travis Snider to help out offensively, but help isn't what either has given much of—with a combined one home run and six RBI from them since they were acquired in late July.
Huntington may look back at this season in the winter and regret not finding better protection for McCutchen in the lineup.
San Diego Padres: Trading Anthony Rizzo
It appears that the San Diego Padres may have given up on first base prospect Anthony Rizzo a little too soon.
Rizzo was miserable in his go-around at the major level last year for the Padres, hitting just .141 in 49 games. The Padres shipped him off to the Chicago Cubs for young pitcher Andrew Cashner. Two minor leaguers were exchanged by the teams as well.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer regarded Rizzo more highly than Padres GM Josh Byrnes, and Hoyer's feelings may have been right.
Rizzo tore it up in the minors before being called up by the Cubs in late June. In 48 games thus far, Rizzo is hitting .294 with nine homers, 27 RBI and an .806 OPS.
The Padres got what they wanted in acquiring Yonder Alonso from the Cincinnati Reds, and Alonso thus far has hit .272 with six HR and 42 RBI.
But Rizzo could be the guy that got away.
San Francisco Giants: Trading for Melky Cabrera
The San Francisco Giants are still pondering over what they're going to do in left field for the rest of the regular season, courtesy of the supreme stupidity of one Melky Cabrera.
Cabrera's 50-game suspension and now apparent conspiracy to commit fraud cast a pall on a Giants' franchise that's still reeling from the rumors and allegations surrounding Barry Bonds and other players who committed the same selfish acts as Cabrera.
Seattle Mariners: Not Getting More for Ichiro Suzuki
The Seattle Mariners have been playing outstanding ball now since the All-Star break, sporting a 23-13 record in the second half after a 36-51 record before the Midsummer Classic.
It could be that right fielder Ichiro Suzuki could have been part of the problem rather than the solution.
The Mariners didn't make wholesale changes before the trade deadline, dealing away reliever Brandon League to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Suzuki to the Yankees.
The only regret might be that the Mariners didn't try to get more for Suzuki, only getting back borderline prospects Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell in return.
Suzuki is hitting close to 50 points better in a Yankees' uniform, so a chance seems to have done him well. The Mariners' play overall has been a far sight better without Suzuki in the lineup, however.
St. Louis Cardinals: Not Trading for Middle Relief Help
The back of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen has been solid with both Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte holding down the eighth and ninth innings.
It's getting to that point that can at times be a problem.
The Cardinals brought in lefty Brian Fuentes to help out, and Joe Kelly will likely help fill a role in the 'pen now that Jaime Garcia is healthy once again.
However, Fernado Salas, Marc Rzepczynski have been inconsistent all year long. Edward Mujica has been solid thus far with nine scoreless appearances, but one more reliable arm to help out in the middle innings would have been a nice pick-up for a team fighting for their playoff lives.
Tampa Bay Rays: None
The Tampa Bay Rays did absolutely nothing at the trade deadline, and now they're beginning to peak at the right time once again.
Struggling to a 45-41 record before the break, the Rays were patient, awaiting the return of slugging third baseman Evan Longoria and allowing their strong, young pitching staff to continue being a dominant staff.
Their lack of activity is now paying off. The Rays are 23-13 since the All-Star break, Longoria has hit two HR with nine RBI in the 12 games since his return, the pitching staff has indeed been outstanding and the Rays are positioning themselves once again for a playoff spot for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
Texas Rangers: Not Signing Josh Hamilton to a Long-Term Contract in Offseason
He can be maddeningly streaky at times and is prone to injury, but Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is still a huge bat in the lineup, and the Rangers may rue the decision not to lock him up.
Hamilton is a free agent at the end of the season, and with his 34 HR and 102 RBI, he will absolutely command a huge payday during the offseason, despite his streaky style of play.
Can Hamilton be replaced in the Rangers' lineup? Maybe, but now it's going to cost the Rangers a lot more to find that out.
Toronto Blue Jays: Trading for Sergio Santos
The Toronto Blue Jays may have thought they had their man when they traded for closer Sergio Santos.
What they got was a man who needed a complete clean-out of his right shoulder instead.
Santos was shut down early in the season after just six appearances and notching just two saves. He was shut down in late April after experiencing inflammation in his shoulder.
Santos continued rehabbing but the pain never went away. Finally, he went under the knife in late July to clean up fraying around his labrum. Santos is expected to fully recover in time for spring training, but his injury forced manager John Farrell to juggle the bullpen to find the right combination.
Washington Nationals: None
The Washington Nationals are on top of the baseball world right now, sporting baseball's best record and enjoying a seven-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
Their pitching staff has been tremendous, Adam LaRoche has been outstanding in returning from shoulder surgery last season and Michael Morse and Jayson Werth are both back healthy and contributing as well.
GM Mike Rizzo stood pat at the trade deadline, and rightfully so. He wasn't about to mess with the chemistry of his current on-field product, and his non-activity is paying off.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.