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Building a Champion: Carl Everett

I ain't never seen a dinosaur.
I ain't never seen a dinosaur.
Between 1991 and 1995 Carl Everett was continuously listed among Baseball America's Top 100 prospects. That accomplishment, and that he did it while playing for 3 different franchises, says a lot about him. There is no denying Carl's ability to hit a baseball, but issues with teammates and media have led many teams to ship him out at the first opportunity they got.

Everett intially struggled to establish himself as a major league regular in Florida, and in New York with the Mets. In 1998, however, he was traded to the Houston Astros, and found a home. He appeared to be just another league average outfielder until 1999, when he broke out to the tune of 25 HRs and 108 RBIs, all while swiping 27 bags.

Following his breakout season at the age of 28, the Astros traded Carl to Boston for another Everett. In Boston, Carl took advantage of Pesky's Pole to post a career high 34 home runs, becoming one of the best hitters in the game. In fact, during 1999 and 2000, Everett hit more HRs and out-slugged the White Sox' Frank Thomas.

It was in Boston, however, that Everett became widely known as a malcontent. He had always been described as "fiery," but a contentious Sports Illustrated article and precarious relationship with the Boston Sports Media led to him being considered one of the most toxic players in the game.

After a another lackluster year in Boston, Everett was again traded; this time to Texas, where he was again just an ordinary league-average-type outfielder. The first two months of the 2003 season saw Carl once again posting numbers among the best in baseball. He was named to his second All-Star team, and once again traded mid-season; this time to Chicago.

In his half a season with the White Sox in '03, Carl was seemingly the only one who didn't quit as the Twins took control of the AL Central down the stretch. He even seemed to be something of a clubhouse leader. He was entering free agency, however, and the White Sox could not afford to pick up the $8M price tag he figured to make at arbitration, nor did they want to see him play 135 games in center field, where it was clear that Carl had lost a step.

Everett signed a deal with the Montreal Expos largely because they were the only team willing to give him a multi-year deal, but nobody wants to play in Montreal, and certainly not Everett. He showed up to camp out of shape, and only seemed to come the the park every day so he could collect his check. Even though he was playing center field in '03, he now looked like a statue in left field while with the Expos. Both the Expos and Carl wanted out.

Opportunity presented itself in the form of season ending injuries to Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez. Chicago, one of the few places where Everett was accepted -- or maybe I should say tolerated -- once again came calling. At the time, I was against the deal for '04, but thought it could prove to be a shrewd move for '05, when Magglio Ordonez and another White Sox slugger (Carlos Lee or Paul Konerko) figured to be gone. Everett was predictably bad in '04, struggling to keep his overweight frame healthy enough to play baseball.

He returned in '05 ready to play, vowing to hit .300. And in Spring Training plus the first few weeks of the season it looked like he just might be able to reach his goal. He was the Sox offense in April when Konerko and Jermaine Dye struggled with averages below the Medoza Line. The Sox would not have made the playoffs, or won the World Series without Everett. -- That's something I have to occasionally remind myself, as he became one of the worst hitters on the team down the stretch in '05.

Today, Carl Everett is a Mariner. He shouldn't be counted on to post a high OBP, or play any more than a handful of games in the field, but he will give you a few brief splashes of power. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see him reacquired this season should Brian Anderson struggle, or one of the other outfielders get seriously injured.