The Most Overhyped Acquistions of the Past Decade
Sports is all about winning.
Winning on the field. Winning in the front office. And winning in the always-popular offseason, where trades and free agency reign supreme.
Problem is, it's nearly impossible to win at all three.
After seeing several big-name stars change uniforms over the years, I'm giving you the 12 who may have gotten great fanfare but failed to live up to the expectations or hype that most of us had thought these moves would have.
12. Ben Wallace, Chicago Bulls (2006)
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Acquired: Via free agency, signing a four-year, $60 million contract in 2006.
Met with some surprise after the Bulls inked the one-dimensional Ben Wallace to a $15 million/year deal, it doesn't mean fans weren't happy to get the big man to help anchor the defensive paint.
In the five seasons prior to Wallace moving from Detroit to Chicago, he averaged 12.8 rebounds a game—leading the league twice—while collecting four Defensive Player of the Year awards in the process.
In his one-and-a-half seasons in the Windy City, Wallace dipped to 9.7 boards per contest before being shipped off to Cleveland midway through his second season.
11. Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants (2007)
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Acquired: Via free agency, signing a seven-year, $126 million contract in 2007.
It wasn't as if Barry Zito was the most dominating pitcher in the game when he signed the dotted line with the Giants back in 2007, but with a win-loss record of 78-51 in the previous five seasons—including a Cy Young-winning season in 2002—and three All-Star appearances, he was a prized possession.
The majority of the hype came from the fact that Zito's deal was the biggest handed out to a pitcher in MLB history at the time, adding pressure that the lefty couldn't live up to going 62-78 over the life of the deal—although he did get himself two World Series rings in the process.
10. Mario Williams, Buffalo Bills (2012)
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Acquired: Via free agency, signing a six-year, $100 million contract in 2012.
Before there was all the talk about how much of a freak current South Carolina defensive stud Jadeveon Clowney is, many of the same people feared the ridiculous athleticism of Mario Williams in the same way.
Built like a tank at 6'6", 292 pounds, Williams earned his spot atop the NFL draft board in 2006 when the Texans picked him No. 1 overall.
He didn't disappoint in Houston, where he went to two Pro Bowls and helped shape the team into a consistent playoff contender.
That success led to a big deal with the Bills last offseason—which makes Williams the highest-earning defensive player in the league this year. Although he racked up 10.5 sacks last season in Buffalo, he failed to impact the defense in the same way he did while with the Texans, making it quite the disappointing season for him.
9. Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks (2010)
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Acquired: Via sign-and-trade, receiving a five-year, $100 million contract in 2010.
For the Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire, it's simply a case of being careful for what you wish.
While playing alongside former two-time MVP point guard Steve Nash in Phoenix, Stoudemire flourished, averaging 19.8 points and 8.4 rebounds, along with four All-Star game nods in his eight seasons with the Suns.
Hoping to become the centerpiece of a franchise, "STAT" ditched the desert for the concrete jungle in New York City in 2010, getting himself a huge payday in the process.
His time in New York has been filled with injuries, drama and an unexpected twist as the team acquired an even bigger star, Carmelo Anthony, in 2011, slipping Amar'e back into the sidekick role again.
8. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels (2012 and 2013)
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Acquired: Both during free agency, with Pujols signing a 10-year, $254 million deal before the 2012 season, and Hamilton getting a five-year, $125 million deal before 2013.
Unfortunately for the Angels and their fans, they have the distinction of finding two of their players on this list. This happened in back-to-back offseasons thanks to the front office tossing money at prized free agents Albert Pujols (2012) and Josh Hamilton (2013).
With both former league MVPs—Pujols in '05, '08 and '09 and Hamilton in '10—there were a lot of expectations and celebration when the Halos were able to maneuver themselves financially to pair them together.
It hasn't worked out though as they've both struggled, not showing any signs of their former selves while being passed by teammate Mike Trout as one of the best players in the game.
7. Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia Flyers (2012)
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Acquired: Via free agency, signing a nine-year, $51 million contract in 2011.
When the Flyers signed goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to a huge deal before the 2012 season, he seemed to have all the goods to lock down the often-rotating door at the position for the team in the preceding seasons.
It didn't really go down as expected.
Though he was solid between the pipes at times, the flaky Russian was benched on occasion and lacked the consistency to warrant such a big deal, leading to Philly buying out the remaining years on his contract this summer.
The sting of shipping former captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles and leading scorer Jeff Carter to Columbus to clear cap room to sign Bryzgalov in 2011 only makes the move that much worse.
6. Fernando Torres, Chelsea (2011)
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Sending absolute shock waves through the sport of soccer, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich dug into his deep pockets to hand over the largest transfer amount in British soccer, acquiring Fernando Torres from former club Liverpool in 2011.
After scoring 65 goals in his 102 games for Liverpool from 2007-11 as well as helping the Spanish national team win both the '08 Euro Cup and '10 World Cup, Torres was quite the hot commodity.
He has failed to impress since coming to Chelsea though, scoring just 15 goals in his time in West London, and falling out of favor with his new coach, Jose Mourinho.
5. Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia Sixers (2012)
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Acquired: Via a four-team trade involving the Lakers, Sixers, Nuggets and Magic in 2012.
Coming off of an All-Star season in 2011-12, in which he showed that he had the skills to be a dominant big man in the league, Sixers fans were stoked to see Andrew Bynum make his way to Philly in a trade before the 2012 season.
There was just one major issue: Bynum injured his knee bowling and required surgery, keeping him out of the entire '12 season.
So instead of building on a second-round appearance in the 2012 playoffs, the Sixers saw their prized center sit on the bench and do weird stuff with his hair—all while collecting nearly $17 million in the process.
4. Toronto Blue Jays (2012)
Acquired: Received Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and John Buck in a trade with the Marlins, while signing R.A. Dickey to a three-year, $36 million deal before the 2013 season.
As I mentioned in my opener, sports is all about winning.
But there's a major difference between winning in the media and winning on the field.
Unfortunately for the 2013 Blue Jays, they found themselves as the offseason champions, adding big-name guys during the Hot Stove season but failing to produce during the regular season.
When a team gets five guys who have each made at least one All-Star appearance in their careers in one offseason, expectations are going to soar.
But with a 58-73 record up to this point, earning them a last-place finish in the AL East, the Jays have failed mightily.
3. Tim Tebow, New England Patriots (2013)
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Acquired: Via free agency, signing a two-year incentive-based deal before the 2013 season.
While quarterback Tim Tebow might be one of the good guys in sports, becoming an icon during his time at Florida, where he won two national titles ('06, '08) and a Heisman trophy ('07), he's done nothing in the NFL to warrant such love.
As a media darling, Tebow's popularity has soared, while his playing time has drastically decreased.
Joining the Patriots this offseason and playing behind Tom Brady, that wasn't going to change much regardless. But fearing that the guy might not even make the team, well, that's something that few people really believed would happen.
2. Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers (2012)
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Acquired: Via a four-team trade involving the Lakers, Sixers, Nuggets and Magic in 2012.
The addition of then six-time All-Star center Dwight Howard was supposed to take the Lakers from a possible contender to the team to beat in the Western Conference.
But for anyone who paid attention to last year's NBA season, things don't always work out the way many people think.
Immediately seeing then head coach Mike Brown canned just five games into the season hurt, as did a supposed feud with fellow superstar Kobe Bryant. But when the Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni to take over, that's when things got really sour for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
With a contrasting style of play, D12 failed to mesh with his teammates, finally letting his frustrations show in what turned out to be his last game as a Laker during the first-round sweep to the Spurs.
1. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (2004)
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Acquired: Via trade with the Rangers for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias before the 2004 season.
Look, anytime a team adds a seven-time All-Star, one-time league MVP and a guy who, at the time, was generally regarded as the best in the game, one would think that player would excel and help lead his new team to great feats.
Sure, Alex Rodriguez has had some amazing years in New York, even getting himself a World Series ring with the Yankees in '09, but I still think that the third baseman failed to live up to what he was capable of doing in the Bronx.
More than just the well-documented postseason struggles, Rodriguez has added unnecessary baggage to the Yanks clubhouse, often standing out for things unrelated to baseball and failing to lead the way as he was expected to.
His current looming suspension is just the latest in a series of mishaps since joining the most recognizable team in all of sports.
It's a shame, he could have been great.