The 10 Most Embarrassingly Run Franchises in MLB
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Running an MLB franchise is a daunting thought, especially considering where your keeper-league team finished last season.
Mine missed the playoffs. But that's not important, so I digress.
Does it say something that seven of the 11 teams on this list hail from the National League? Does that make the American League superior?
Do all 10 teams deserve to be on this list?
Taking a look at each team's overall performance spanning the last decade or so, and taking into account recent transactions and decisions, here are your most embarrassing MLB franchise heading into the 2013 season.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Boston Red Sox
Crawford is now a Dodger, along with Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto.
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After starving 86 years for a bite of the World Series trophy, the Red Sox won two within the past decade.
However, the word "embarrassing" is an understatement when describing their 2012 season.
The Sox recorded their worst winning percentage since the 1965 season, juggled a manager that never fit and unloaded heavy and mismanaged contracts of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.
GM Ben Cherington has promised controlled spending this offseason, which would be wise considering another expensively, ugly contract is being banked by John Lackey (five-years, $82.5 million) and a potential extension for Jacoby Ellsbury looms.
Boston has lacked an identity over the past season and a half due to overspending by departed GM Theo Epstein.
10. Toronto Blue Jays
Was Rios a beneficial piece during his time in Toronto?
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Before you throw your arms up in the air and say, "What is this guy thinking!?", let's consider the past.
The J.P. Ricciardi era in Toronto (2002-2009) did not receive positive reviews by baseball fans across the northern border.
Sure, the Blue Jays played consistent .500 baseball over those eight years; their season winning percentage only dropped below .463 once and never rose above .537. But in the AL East, a team has to play better than average baseball to compete.
Vernon Wells had a couple above average years but nothing more, and Alex Rios never truly panned out to his star potential.
Thankfully for Toronto, new GM Alex Anthopoulos has crafted a Blue Jays team around power hitter José Bautista, and the megadeal with the Marlins was given the stamp of approval by the MLB.
Could this be the year for the Jays?
9. New York Mets
Despite the Mets' struggles, R.A. Dickey and his knuckler danced through the 2012 season.
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The New York Mets have become a team unable to handle the pressures of the big city.
Too many September collapses and inept squads have caused the slow but steady decline of attendance ratings at Citi Field.
Furthermore, GM Sandy Alderson's relationship with Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff allegedly forced the team to bail on resigning Jose Reyes after the 2011 season.
The Mets haven't been to the playoffs since 2006, and for a team built to win, that's a huge disappointment.
8. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies will be grateful to have Tulowitzki back at full strength in 2013.
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What song do Colorado Rockies fans sing before the bottom of the ninth inning?
Nobody knows. There's never any of them left.
The key for Colorado is to continue building around Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.
Next on the docket, is to find some pitching!
How this hasn't been a priority for the Rockies is a mystery; a starting pitcher has not recorded a winning season since Ubaldo Jimenez and Jason Hammel (barely) did so in 2010.
Pitching will be the difference between a fourth or fifth place finish in the NL West and a potential playoff berth.
7. Chicago Cubs
Starlin Castro is a essential young piece to the Cubbies future.
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Is it fair to put the Cubs on this list? Is it?
They came one game away from the World Series in 2003 and won the NL Central in 2007 and 2008, but since then have been run into the ground due to, how should I say, insufficient funds.
When the Tribune Company, who bought the Cubs in 1981, sold the team to the Ricketts Family in 2009, they had filed the team for bankruptcy and handcuffed new ownership in the process.
The Cubs were a very young team when they dropped 101 games in 2012. President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer, two former Red Sox products, are hoping for a quick turnaround.
Or dare I say hoping to "Reverse the Curse" in Chicago.
6. Seattle Mariners
Felix Hernandez is the ace of the Mariners pitching staff and the team.
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What happened to the days of Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez?
Where is the Mariners team that won 116 games in 2001?
It's all gone. Instead, Seattle has a team that has finished last in the AL West during seven of the last nine seasons.
If playing in, arguably, the second-most competitive division in baseball (after the AL East) wasn't hard enough, eight managers have written the lineup card for the Mariners since their last playoff berth 12 seasons ago.
In fact, no manager has lasted more than three years in Seattle since Lou Piniella left to coach the Tampa Bay Rays in 2003.
Maybe that's why Ichiro wanted out so bad.
5. San Diego Padres
Chase Headley had a breakout year in 2012, driving in 115 runs.
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Surprisingly, the San Diego Padres have recorded winning seasons in five of the last nine years.
However, a team lacking superstar talent can only travel so far. The Padres have made the playoffs just twice in the last 14 seasons, and in those two appearances won only one game in total.
The team clearly hasn't had a fan base as strong as the Tony Gwynn years and has suffered. Adrian Gonzalez was beginning to garner that sort of attention but was shipped to Boston before that could fully develop.
The Padres are one of many teams on this list hoping to benefit from young players in the next few years.
4. Houston Astros
The Astros won only 20 road games all season.
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The Houston Astros have had a falling out of sorts.
Since their World Series appearance in 2005, in which the Chicago White Sox swept them, the Astros have had five different managers.
Recently, they have settled uncomfortably into the deep basement of the NL Central while posting the MLB record for the worst regular-season winning percentage in consecutive years.
And there isn't much hope in the near future.
A remarkably horrific 111-213 over the past two seasons, the Astros are longing for the days of Bagwell, Biggio and Clemens.
A shift to the American League can't hurt. Or can it?
3. Miami Marlins
Reyes spent just one year in Miami despite the six-year contract he signed last December.
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I'm not sure one could locate the Miami Marlins' business plan if it was circled and starred several times in red ink.
A new face, a new ballpark and a new manager went the disastrous route in 2012.
The Marlins finished in last place in the NL East, Ozzie Guillen was out as manager after just one season and the dumping of key players has enraged fans in Miami.
The most notable mishap has been the signing of José Reyes to a six-year, $106 million deal last offseason and then including him as the centerpiece in the trade with Toronto.
Owner and Team President David Samson has come under scrutiny after the payroll purge but insists "better days are coming."
2. Kansas City Royals
Eric Hosmer is hoping youth will soon prevail in K.C.
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Over the past 18 seasons, the Royals have compiled just one winning record.
They haven't risen above third-place in the AL Central since 1995 and haven't made the playoffs since their 1985 World Series victory.
Kansas City has suffered tremendously due to their low payroll and an inability to pull in the necessary revenue from a small-market location.
Consequently, the team has relied on its youth movement for talent and has found success in players like Carlos Beltran, Zack Greinke and Alex Gordon. All-Stars such as the two former didn't stick around for too long, however, especially when the team felt the need to rebuild.
It's a long road ahead, but eventually the Royals will find the next George Brett.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates
The demise of the 2012 Pirates was heartbreaking, especially for Pedro Alvarez.
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Is it time to deem the Pittsburgh Pirates cursed or has it just been successive years of mismanagement?
After last season's collapse, the Pirates ensured their 20th consecutive season with a losing record.
The team was atop the NL Central at the All-Star break and was on its way to its first playoff berth since 1992.
Instead, the Bucs became the only major league team to find itself at least 16 games over .500 two-thirds of the way through the season and finish with a losing record (Jayson Stark of ESPN).
Majority owner Robert Nutting and GM Neal Huntington are still working on the proper formula for a winning team in Pittsburgh.
My guess is it involves Andrew McCutchen.