The West Is (Number) One

Josh Hamilton, the prize hitter on the free agent market, is a Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim. And so continues the movement of baseball’s greatest talents to the west. While it is true that Hamilton was already in the West Division of the American League, it shows that the old powers of the East Coast baseball establishment are no longer what they were- the money and the power is now out west. Consider:

  • The Dodgers are going to make so much money from their cable deal that they are now a financial force greater than even the Yankees ever were.
  • The Angels now have three players (Albert Pujols, Hamilton, and Mike Trout) who have had a claim at one point or another of being the best in baseball, as well as Mark Trumbo, one of baseball’s best young hitters (assuming they don’t flip him for pitching or prospects now).
  • The San Francisco Giants have won two of the last three World Series.
  • And the Athletics have lots of good young pitching, which, of course, can be the great equalizer.

What does this mean?
Well, for one thing, it means that staying up late will be a treat in the coming years. The struggles between the Dodgers and Giants will be grand opera, narrated by Vin Scully. The Athletics will have to once again find a sling in order to take down Goliath. The Rangers will have to do all they can simply to avoid falling into the basement of the AL West (thankfully, they will still have the Mariners and Astros to beat up on).

For another, though, it means, once again, that television and the ever-increasing riches in baseball- for all teams but definitely more for some than for others- have changed the game. The Los Angeles teams now are able to tap into more money than they had before, while established eastern powers like the Braves are trapped in bad deals. The big advantages that team-owned stations like YES and NESN once gave are now no longer so big. It’s a brave new world.

Finally, did anybody else hear that the Red Sox signed Ryan Dempster? Yeah, I almost missed it too.