For 13 years, the American League has dominated its National League counterparts, including 13 straight All-Star game victories and 9 of the last 13 World Series rings.
Arguably, the 21st century's most dominant team is the Boston Red Sox, as the only team to win multiple World Series trophies in this young century.
During the 2008-2009 offseason, the Red Sox signed four "high-risk, high-reward" free agents: John Smoltz, who had been an elite pitcher and also spent his entire 20 year career before Boston with the Atlanta Braves; Brad Penny, another former elite pitcher whose injured shoulder had signifigantly hindered his career; Takashi Saito, an All-Star closer in the Japan League and with the LA Dodgers; and Rocco Baldelli, the Rhode Island kid with potential who keeps receiving physical and mental blows from his mitochondrial disorder that causes extreme fatigue, and multiple injuries.
As of September 10, only Baldelli and Saito remain on the Red Sox roster. Smoltz and Penny both had some good starts, but their shakiness eventually outruled their positives, and both were released.
Smoltz went 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA, an opponents' batting average of .343, and a WHIP of 1.70 with the Red Sox. He also had 40 innings pitched. In those innings, he gave up eight home runs.
Smoltz was released by Boston after a terrible start against the New York Yankees on August 6.
He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals a few days afterward. He had a great first start with the Cardinals, and is currently 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA. His batting average against is now .232 with the Cardinals.
Penny was better but started to wear down toward the end. During his last four Red Sox starts, he went 0-4 with a 9.11 ERA. With regular starter Tim Wakefield returning from the DL, Penny was relegated to the bullpen. After the acquisition of Billy Wagner from the New York Mets, Penny was granted his release. He finished his Red Sox career with a 7-8 record with a 5.61 ERA in 131.2 innings of work. His opponents' batting average was .299, and he had a WHIP of 1.53.
After clearing waivers, Brad Penny signed with the San Francisco Giants. So far, he has started two games and gotten wins in both of them. He has a 1.20 ERA, giving up just two runs. Penny's opponents' batting average is .154 and his WHIP is 0.67.
Both Smoltz and Penny have had success in the NL after performing terribly for the American League's Red Sox. But pitchers aren't the only ones affected.
Julio Lugo was signed before the 2007 season to fill the void left at shortstop after the trade of longtime staple Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs in 2004. Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, and Alex Gonzalez all saw time in the void, but none of them ever stayed in Boston for more than a year.
Red Sox general manger Theo Epstein had been watering over Lugo since he terrorized the Red Sox when he played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from from 2003 to 2006.
The Red Sox signed Lugo to a four-year, $36 million contract. It turned out to be one of the worst transactions the Red Sox have ever made.
Despite grossly overpaying Lugo, he failed to hit or get on base, and was continually on the DL.
On July 12, 2009, Lugo was designated for assignment by the Red Sox. He was traded to the Cardinals on July 22 for Chris Duncan, who was outrighted to Boston's AAA team, the Pawtucket Red Sox. Almost exactly one month later, Duncan was released by the Red Sox, and is currently a free agent.
Lugo finished his Red Sox career with a .256 average, 10 home runs, 110 RBI, a .324 OBP and a slugging percentage of .361 for an OPS of .685.
With St. Louis, Lugo has been on a torrid start. He's been hitting .301 with two home runs, three triples, seven RBI, a .371 OBP and a slugging percentage of .505 for an OPS of .876.
So in short: three former Red Sox players who were terrible with Boston, have all been off to torrid starts for two different NL teams? Coincidence, or is there something more brewing here? You decide, Red Sox nation.