May 8, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran (left) following victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

The “One Team” MLB Player: Going, Going…Almost Gone

Can you in 10 seconds name three active MLB players who have been with the same team for more than 10 years? Ok, I’ll give you 30 seconds; still no luck? Chances are, if you had several minutes or longer, you would still have a difficult time naming any MLB

player who has been with the same team for more than 10 years.  Baseball fans are usually quick to blame player greed but, in my opinion, there are many owners and general managers, just as guilty for the “revolving door” teams seem to have when it comes to their players.

Free Agency as we know it began around 1976; it began with Curt Flood’s Supreme Court case. Even though he lost his case, it put in place an arbitration system for player’s and owner disputes. So if you take the free agency system and add to it player greed and pride, agent one upmanship and owner and general managers trying to maximize revenue, you have a baseball league that has players flip flopping between teams and in some cases, leagues as well.

The most recent example happened this past week. The Florida Marlins traded their stable of stars to the Toronto Blue Jays for a group of players who are either just getting established or up until now, have not shown the pedigree or talent of players like Jose Reyes or Mark Buehrle. From all appearances, the front office wanted to unload a passel of talent to cut payroll. This after getting the city of Miami to help pay for a new stadium and leaving Marlin fans and players angry and frustrated.  So in this case, blame the owners/front office for dumping players for the sake of dollars.

A recent example of a player appearing to only look at the almighty dollar is Albert Pujols. Now, this may have been a matter of player pride and greed as Albert appeared to be happy and content in St. Louis. But, with the front office dragging their feet and hesitant to give Pujols the length of contract he wanted, he is now a player for another team and another league.

If you’re curious as to who the players are who are currently with the same  team for many years, here they are: Chipper Jones(Braves), Derek Jeter(Yankees), Todd Helton(Rockies), Mariano Rivera(Yankees), Jimmy Rollins(Phillies), David Wright(Mets), Joe Mauer(Twins) and  Chase Utley(Phillies). Let me point out that, Chipper is retiring and Mauer is under contract through 2018. All of these players are All Stars or have been at some point in their career.

I’m not trying to bash free agency but, it seems that team loyalty is a thing of the past for most players.  I understand trying to maximize the dollars they can make in a usually short or injury truncated career but, how many millions is enough? And don’t think I’m implying that only MLB is the only pro league with this problem.  It’s also common these days in the NFL, NBA and NHL.

I wish I could say the Cardinals, players and management, are different but, look at the Kyle Lohse scenario.  Kyle could take the money and remain a Cardinal. But then again, how can the Cardinals only offer a salary that “pales” in comparison to some other major league pitchers with seasons that were less than stellar over the last few years. So who do you blame…Kyle’s pride or the Cardinals cheapness? Does it really matter? We will continue to lose players to other teams, rivals and otherwise and it’s the fan that ultimately suffers. There are worse things to suffer but, as baseball fans, we take respite during the season and embrace the team and players. That gets harder to do when you hardly recognize your team.

Thanks for reading.

Tags: Albert Pujols Kyle Lohse St Louis Cardinals

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