The Seattle Mariners haven't won a lot of games over the past three seasons, but they've managed to avoid personnel disasters that are befalling the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals today.
Ichiro Suzuki isn't happy with the win-loss record, but he's never complained about his $18 million a year salary, or the way the team has dealt with him.
The Rangers, who made their first World Series appearance in October - and then lost the bidding war for ace Cliff Lee - have managed since to add Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli to their roster.
Along the way, they so infuriated team leader Michael Young that he's asked to be traded.
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Now the Rangers are faced with the prospect of not only moving a man teammates consider the soul of the team, but eating much of the $48 million they owe him over the next three years.
That's a problem.
As for the Cardinals, they've put off negotiating with 31-year-old Albert Pujols so long that they're now faced with a player-issued deadline - a week from today - to come up with a contract agreement with arguably the best player in baseball. If they don't, Pujols has said, he'll decline any trade and become a free agent after the '11 season.
That's a problem, too.
Young is a team-player, a six-time All-Star who's average season is batting .300 with 17 home runs and 87 RBI. Asked to move from shortstop to third base last year, he did so without argument. Asked to become the full-time DH when the Rangers signed Beltre, Young again accepted. Then Napoli was acquired in trade, and told he'd share DH at-bats with Young.
Not only did Young object, he said publicly the team had manipulated him, lied to him and he'd had enough. Hard to see how keeping him with the team now would help Texas return to the post-season.
And Pujols? Though his average season has been - gulp! - .331 with 42 home runs and 128 RBI - he has been among the Top 10 paid players in a season just once in his 10-year career. Pujols never complained, never demanded a renegoiation. Now, however, he's asked for a contract before his spring training begins - and the Cardinals, after months of waffling, have yet to make him an offer.
When the Mariners pitchers and catchers report to camp on Sunday, the focus will be solely on improving a team that lost 101 times in 2010. Felix Hernandez is happy. Ichiro is, if not happy, Ichiro-like in his preparation for a new year.
No, Seattle isn't going to win more games this year than the Cardinals or Rangers - but they won't have the impossible to ignore distraction of unhappy franchise players, either. Sometimes, front offices are too smart for their own good. In Texas and St. Louis, the issues of February aren't on wins and losses. Those teams have turned two of the game's finest assets into liabilities.