Mike Sweeney's Glove
There are a large number of baseball players who have spent years, or even an entire decade, in the major leagues without ever reaching the playoffs or being able to win a championship.
Some get lucky with a trade deadline move or waiver claim that places them directly in the path of a ring. Cody Ross was one of the lucky ones this past season, collecting his World Series ring with the Giants after playing in San Francisco for only a few short months.
Other players are not so lucky. Mike Sweeney spent 16 years in the majors, 13 of those on a very bad Royals team. He got a quick taste of the playoffs with the Phillies in 2010 but did not get past the NLCS.
Currently a free agent, Sweeney will likely end his outstanding career without ever having played in a World Series.
Sweeney may be a cautionary tale for other veteran players who are stuck on bad teams. The following is a list of players who are likely to, or probably should, request a trade to a contender before time catches up with them.
In the 2009 offseason, Brian Roberts signed a four-year, $40 million dollar contract extension with the Baltimore Orioles, keeping him there through the 2014 season.
However, the Orioles have languished in the basement of the AL East the entire 10 seasons Roberts has played there. Only once did the O's end up higher than fourth place in the division when in 2004, they crept up to third place.
Roberts is a very good player who, as a result of the Orioles decade-long dysfunction, has never seen the postseason. He is not getting any younger either. At 33 years of age, a trade may be Roberts' last hope to play in the postseason.
In 2010, Jose Bautista had a breakout year, hitting career highs in batting average (.260), RBI's with 124 and home runs with 54. Those 54 homers blew away every other MLB player. The next closest total was Albert Pujols with 42 home runs.
Currently, the Jays are in final days of pre-arbitration negotiation with Bautista, who is just a week shy of six years in the majors. That week would have given him free agent status.
Instead, Bautista waits to see if the Jays are willing to pay him for his 2010 performance or see if they think it was just a fluke.
The Blue Jays have been a bad to mediocre team for a long time now. So if Bautista does not get what he feels he deserves, it may be time to ask for a trade.
Jason Kendall is signed with the Royals through the 2011 season. In his 14 year career, Kendall spent a lot of time with bad teams, including the Pirates and Brewers. As a result, he has not ever made it to a World Series.
The Royals have made a number of moves this offseason, including trading pitcher Zach Greinke, which indicate they will not contend in 2011. With a year left on his contract and no hope of the Royals going anywhere, the 36-year-old Kendall is running out of options if he ever wants to get a ring.
If Kendall wants to win, he should ask to be traded.
If you look in the dictionary under "Huge Waste of Talent," there will be a grinning mug shot of Magglio Ordonez in his Tigers uniform. The Tigers had one good year with Ordonez in 2006, but they lost the World Series to the Cardinals.
Since then, the Tigers have done very little and still, Ordonez signed a one-year deal this offseason to stay with them in 2011. Ordonez will be 37 years old heading into his 15th major league season and still does not have a ring. And this is a guy who has hit over .300 11 times in 14 seasons.
It is currently obvious that Ordonez wants to stay in Detroit. But perhaps by midseason, when the Tigers are still going nowhere and Ordonez sees his biological baseball clock ticking, he may then ask to go to a contender.
After 10 seasons of spectacular performances, Ichiro Suzuki can join Magglio Ordonez in the "Huge Waste of Talent" category. Hitting over .300 every single year, Suzuki seems to have wasted those ten years on a bad to mediocre team.
The Mariners did make it to the ALCS in 2001, but they lost to the Yankees. Suzuki has not seen the playoffs since.
Signed through 2012, Suzuki's only hope of winning may be to request a trade. And there is likely not one of the remaining 29 teams who would not love to have him.
Travis Hafner, 33, has spent nine years in the majors without reaching a World Series. The Indians currently have him signed through 2012 with a 2013 option.
In the past decade, the Indians have been up and down. Currently, they appear to be in the midst of another down swing, lingering consistently in the basement of the AL Central.
Having some injury troubles in the past, Hafner is past his prime as well, although he still put up solid numbers in 2010. Other teams in need of a DH may see Hafner as a viable option. And if Hafner is looking to play for a winner, he will need to get out of Cleveland.
Signed with the Mariners through the 2013 season with an option for 2014, Chone Figgins had a very bad 2010. That was not what the Mariners were expecting. Then again, a third place finish in the AL West was probably not what Figgins was expecting either.
The Mariners made a big deal last offseason about becoming a contender when they basically robbed the Phillies in a trade for Cliff Lee, sending them three useless prospects in return. With Felix Hernandez already on-board, it did appear the Mariners might have a shot.
But the season quickly went downhill for the Mariners, who continue to be a mediocre team.
As for Figgins, he is a lifetime .287 hitter in nine seasons, so the .259 average he posted last year was unusual. It is possible that a change in scenery may be what Figgins needs to get back on track.
A 12-year veteran, Ryan Dempster is signed with the Cubs through 2011 with an option for 2012. In seven years with the Cubs, Dempster has averaged a 3.86 ERA and also made the move from reliever to starter in 2008.
The 33-year-old Canadian pitched in both the 2007 and 2008 NLDS with the Cubs, losing the series both times. The Cubs have made a few offseason moves in an attempt to improve their team, but they will still probably not be able to contend in 2011.
With the clock ticking on Dempster's career, he will need to ask for a trade if he wants to win.
Grady Sizemore has a unique situation. Once touted as a young player with enormous potential, Sizemore has been plagued with injuries since the 2008 season. A sprained ankle, groin injury, plus elbow, hernia and knee surgeries are just a few of the highlights.
After sitting out most of the 2010 season, Sizemore will be looking for a comeback. He is signed with the Indians through 2011 with a 2012 option.
Whether or not he will be healthy enough for that comeback remains to be seen. But if he really wants a shot at resurrecting his career, Cleveland may not be the place to do so. Then again, even if he wants to be traded, will any other team take a chance on a guy that appears to be made of glass?
If Sizemore rebounds before the trade deadline, it may be possible.
Marlon Byrd, 33, has never been in a playoff game. And if he stays with the Cubs, that is probably not going to change.
In his nine-year career, Byrd has averaged .282 at the plate and was selected to his first All-Star game in 2010. The Cubs crash landed in fifth place in the NL Central last year and they have Byrd locked up through 2012.
Known as a nice and intelligent guy, Byrd would be wise to ask for a trade to a team that may actually contend.