Jays, Dodgers, Angels have underachieved
Surely you've heard of the Mendoza Line, referring to players hovering around or below a .200 batting average. Now, courtesy of spending sprees gone bad for several teams throughout the Major Leagues, we have something I'll call the "Marlins Scale of Disaster."
OK, so it isn't catchy, but you get the point. Both Los Angeles teams (the Dodgers and Angels) and the Toronto Blue Jays threw so much money around during this past offseason that they resembled a bunch of hip-hop artists at a night club.
Either that, or the 2012 Miami Marlins.
You may recall that those Marlins were projected to do great things after spending, spending and spending some more before falling down to earth by the end of the summer.
The bottom line is, just like those Marlins, these Dodgers, Angels and Blue Jays are in disarray. They are all sit below .500 through the opening two months of this season. Plus, they all have us asking a couple of questions: In order, which team is in a bad state, and in order, which team has the best chance of turning its season around by October?
As for the team with the most issues, the answer is ... Los Angeles, more specifically, Southern California's American League bunch. Then comes the Dodgers, followed by the Blue Jays.
As for the second question, stay tuned.
About the Angels: Just a year after throwing $331 million at two players (slugger Albert Pujols and pitcher C.J. Wilson), the Halos were at it again this past offseason. They gave a free-agent deal worth $125 million to 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton, which meant he joined 2012 AL MVP runner-up Mike Trout and three-time National League MVP Pujols. Suddenly, the Angels were loaded on offense, and their pitching rotation began with 20-game winner Jered Weaver and Wilson.
The result? The Angels' 11-21 start is their worst ever as a franchise. While Hamilton is in an offensive rut, Trout is discovering there really is a sophomore jinx. Not only that, Pujols is way closer to the Mendoza Line than he is to his career average of .323.
In addition, only the 5.76 ERA of the Houston Astros and the 4.71 ERA of the Blue Jays are worse than the Angels' 4.68.
It makes the Dodgers look tolerable. Then again, believers of that Big Dodger In The Sky would disagree, especially after their new ownership group went on a spending spree during the offseason. When it was over, the Dodgers had the NL's most expensive roster at $216 million.
They are last in the NL West at 13-19.
Prior to Chris Capuano's return Monday night after missing 16 games to a calf issue, four Dodgers starting pitchers were on the disabled list, including former AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke. This is not to let Dodgers hitters off the hook. With outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier among those lacking power and clutchness at the plate, the Dodgers are scoring-challenged.
The Blue Jays are just challenged. They weren't supposed to be, not after increasing their payroll from 2012 by nearly $37 million. They made a couple of high-profile trades involving 19 players, and they sprinkled in some impressive free-agent signings.
In the end, the Blue Jays began a season for the first time with the likes of reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey and accomplished starters Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. They also got All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and slick-hitting Melky Cabrera.
The Blue Jays are last in the AL East at 13-21.
You can blame the post-2011 Marlins for this trend of going back to the early George Steinbrenner days of throwing millions at folks in an attempt to buy instant success. Technically, the Angels should join the Marlins here, because the Angels also used their pocket books two offseasons ago with Pujols and Wilson.
So I'm declaring that the Marlins started it all when they thought giving $191 million to Heath Bell, Buehrle and Reyes before the 2012 season would lead to great things -- and quickly.
The Marlins went 69-93 last season for last place in the NL East. In case you're wondering, the 2012 Angels also didn't win the World Series after they finished third in the AL West at 89-73.
That said, the Dodgers have the best chance out of this year's three of becoming the anti-2012 Marlins this season.
For one, it's easier to rise from the ashes in the highly competitive NL West than the AL West, where the Angels' archnemesis from Texas shows no hint of collapsing. For another, several of the Dodgers' aching pitchers should heal well enough to contribute down the stretch. And, goodness knows, Kemp is better than this: one homer at the moment despite averaging 27 per season during his eight-year career.
The Angels? They still have Hamilton, Pujols and Trout, and as long as they remain healthy, they likely will become their old selves before long with mighty stretches at the plate.
It's just that the Angels' pitching appears to be in shambles, and the same goes for the Blue Jays. But here's something encouraging for the Jays: While playing vs. Tampa Bay on Monday night, Toronto trailed by seven runs before it surged to an 8-7 victory.
Maybe that's a sign.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.