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15 Dec 12 Angels’ Hamilton latest star in local galaxy | angels, dodgers, stars – Sports …

If it seems like the sports world has been tilting toward Southern California over the past year and change, it has. At least, in terms of star power.

The Angels’ impending signing of superstar Josh Hamilton is just the latest move in what has been a dizzying 374 days that have seen the Angels, Dodgers, Lakers and Clippers swing huge deals involving truckloads of money and some of the biggest names in their sports. And, so far, only the Clippers have converted their acquisitions into postseason success.

Article Tab: Josh Hamilton, shown during practice for the 2012 All-Star Game, is the latest star to arrive in Southern California. He will be introduced by the Angels on Saturday.

The Angels have added Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Hamilton. The Dodgers have acquired Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford. They shared Zack Greinke, who was acquired by the Angels in a trade and then signed as a free agent with the Dodgers. The Lakers picked up Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. The Clippers scored Chris Paul two days after they landed Chauncey Billups.

At the time of the deals, those 12 players had combined for 53 All-Star games, six MVP awards, three Rookie of the Year awards and one Cy Young.

Even more jaw-dropping, the local teams took on a total of $979 million worth of salary. If you throw in the $62 million the Dodgers spent on Korean pitcher Rye Hyun-jin, that pushes it above $1 billion.

For now, though, we’ll just look at established stars who came to Southern California and rank the impact — with five stars being the highest — that they have had so far for their teams. Note: Three players (Hamilton, Greinke and Crawford) haven’t suited up for their new teams, so judgment is being reserved.

Carl Crawford, Dodgers, acquired in a trade Aug. 25, 2012: Crawford was a huge bust with the Boston Red Sox, enduring one awful season and then struggling through an elbow injury for most of 2012 before he was finally shut down to undergo Tommy John surgery. There is a thought that Crawford’s problem wasn’t so much diminished skills as difficulty adjusting to expectations and atmosphere of Boston. The Dodgers, who absorbed $106 million of his contract, hope that’s the case. They are planning on him being ready to play in April, for the first of five remaining seasons on the deal.

Zack Greinke, Dodgers, signed as a free agent, Dec. 10, 2012: Greinke was unquestionably the best pitcher on the free agent market. The Dodgers set their sights on him and got him. However, they also paid $147 million, the most ever for a right-handed pitcher. This is a pitcher who has made exactly one All-Star team and had a 4.17 ERA as recently as 2010. Greinke is one of the better pitchers in baseball, but he’s not a franchise pitcher. Maybe the Dodgers overpaid, but they seem to have an endless bank account, so they probably aren’t worried.

Josh Hamilton, Angels, agreed to terms as a free agent, Dec. 13, 2012: The day after the Angels shocked the baseball world by grabbing Hamilton away from the Texas Rangers, one Vegas oddsmaker had the Angels as favorites to win the 2013 World Series. Sticking Hamilton in a lineup with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout gives the Angels the best trio in baseball. The downside is that Hamilton has had injury issues, and a public battle with drug and alcohol abuse, so this deal could blow up in the Angels faces. Also, in a few years the Angels are going to have two players in their mid-30s (Hamilton and Pujols) making more than $50 million. Owner Arte Moreno just hopes both have new World Series rings by then.

Steve Nash, acquired via trade July 10, 2012, 0 stars: The Lakers lost on opening night with him, they lost the next night when he fractured his left fibula just before halftime, and he hasn’t played since. Nash might return before Christmas, and an avalanche of pressure will fall on him as soon as he does play, because the Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni, not Phil Jackson, largely to help Nash succeed.

Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers, acquired in trade July 25, 2012, 2 stars: The Dodgers picked up the embattled infielder and the $40 million remaining on his contract from the salary-dumping Miami Marlins. Not long ago, Ramirez was considered one of the game’s best young stars, but some attitude problems and eroding skills dropped him on the list. The Marlins had moved him from shortstop to third, and the Dodgers tried to move him back to shortstop, which didn’t work out that well. Still, Ramirez hit 10 homers and drove in 44 runs in 64 games with the Dodgers. In 2013 they might move him back to third, where he’s better suited, and he’ll be only 29, so there’s still hope for him to be productive in the two remaining years of his deal.

Josh Beckett, Dodgers, acquired in a trade Aug. 25, 2012, 2.5 stars: The Dodgers had to take the slumping Beckett, 32, from the Red Sox if they wanted to get Gonzalez and Crawford, who both seem to have brighter futures. So the Dodgers accepted Beckett and his remaining $34 million. He had a 2.93 ERA in seven starts with the Dodgers, which gives reason for optimism that he might be able to rediscover his form in the final two years of his deal. The Dodgers don’t seem to be counting on him, though, as they’ve loaded up their rotation to park him at the back end.

Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers, acquired in a trade Aug. 25, 2012, 2.5 stars: Unlike the other players the Dodgers got in this deal, Gonzalez didn’t have any baggage. He had been just about as good as advertised when the Red Sox signed him. They had to trade him because it was the only way the Dodgers would take Beckett and Crawford. Gonzalez had a disappointing stretch when he came over, but he finished strong and still hit .297. He’s only 30, so there’s no reason not to think that once he gets comfortable with his team in Southern California, he’ll be the star he was for years in San Diego. The Dodgers ought to get their money’s worth for the $119 million investment.

Chauncey Billups, claimed off amnesty waivers from New York on Dec. 12, 2011, 3 stars: Before the Clippers landed Paul, they took another big step in terms of culture change by claiming five-time All-Star Billups off waivers after the Knicks amnestied him. While Billups, the MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals, has only played 23 games for the Clippers since the acquisition, his intangibles have been crucial. His experience as a winner in the NBA commands respect from everyone inside the Clippers’ locker room including the coaches. He’s been a critical player in changing the Clippers’ culture.

Dwight Howard, acquired via trade Aug. 10, 2012, 3 stars: His averages (18.5 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.5 blocks) aren’t too far off his best outputs, but the key numbers within the Lakers’ won-lost record are woeful with him. He has been unable to transform the Lakers’ defense into the tight crew totally expected, and his free-throw shooting has been distracting and demoralizing.

Albert Pujols, Angels, signed as free agent Dec. 8, 2011, 3 stars: Pujols hit .285 with 30 homers and 105 RBIs in his first year with the Angels, which would be an excellent season by almost any standard except his. He got off to a slow start, as did the team, and it cost them a trip to the playoffs. Pujols got his knee cleaned up after the season, and he’s going to be only 33 in 2013, so there is still time for the Angels to get several good years out of him before age inevitably catches up to him, when the 10-year, $240 million contract might really look bad.

C.J. Wilson, Angels, signed as a free agent Dec. 8, 2011, 3 stars: Wilson had a strong first half and made his second consecutive All-Star Game. Even when pitching through an elbow injury in the second half, he still made all 34 of his starts and finished with a 3.83 ERA. Considering the way the starting pitching market goes, the Angels will probably feel good about the $77.5 million deal.

Zack Greinke, Angels, acquired in a trade July 27, 2012, 3.5 stars: The Angels thought Greinke would be the piece that put them into the playoffs, but he wasn’t. Greinke did his part, posting a 3.53 ERA in 13 starts with the Angels, and the team played well once he arrived. Problem was, the April hole they dug was too deep, and the Oakland A’s played too well, so the Angels still came up short. The Angels got their money’s worth for the $4 million they spent to get Greinke, but the success of the deal won’t be known until we see what becomes of the three prospects the Angels traded. The Angels believe that shortstop Jean Segura was expendable because of Erick Aybar and Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg will become middle relievers, at best.

Chris Paul, acquired from New Orleans on Dec. 14, 2011, 5 stars: Paul has been everything the Clippers hoped he would be after pulling off a blockbuster deal to land him right before the start of the 2011-12 season. Paul led the Clippers to the second round of the playoffs in his first season and has them among the best teams in the West. Paul’s a terrific floor general who is always in control and demands the best on both ends of the floor. He’s transformed the Clippers into a contender and a destination for free agents.

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