What is this blog's definition of dean? The idea goes back to 1986 Topps and their Team Leaders subset. To review, each of the subjects Topps used for their 1986 Topps' Team Leaders cards were the players on each team that was with their team the longest (for example, the 1986 Angels team leader card had the caption "Depicted on Front: Bobby Grich, Dean of the Angels, Continuous Service Since: 11/24/1976.") Well, for this blog's purposes, the player who debuted with his team the earliest, and remained with the team without being traded or released, is considered the "Dean" of his team.
There will be examples below (and I'll make sure to include them on the list below) of a player debuting with his team earlier than the "Dean" being listed, but because he may have been traded, signed with another team, etc, and then returned, the "Continuous Service" thing no longer applies. Case in point, in 2011, Kerry Wood returned to the Cubs after a 2-year run in the American League. Even though he made his MLB debut with the Cubs in 1998, because he went on his two year sojourn with Cleveland and the Yankees, he is no longer considered the Cubs' "Dean" due to his continuous service ending after the 2008 season. Get the idea? Okay, moving on.
This year, not only will I include each team's "Dean," but the person who would be dean if the first person left the team (think of this as first runner-up). Again, this is determined by when the player made his debut with the team. In almost all but five cases, this is the player's MLB debut. The first time I compiled this list, I listed the player in order of least tenured dean to the "Dean of Deans." Last year, the players were alphabetically by city. This year's list will be done in the same fashion. So is the dean of your team last year still the dean of your team today? Let's find out. (Players team status as of Thursday, 08/04/2011; 2010 deans as of 08/06/2010).
- Arizona Diamondbacks-
2011: Stephen Drew (MLB debut 07/15/2006); 2010: Brandon Webb. Webb did not play for the D-Backs in 2010, and signed with the Texas Rangers for the 2011 season (even though he has yet to appear in a game for them). Next in Line: Chris Young (MLB debut 08/18/2006).
- Atlanta Braves-
2011: Chipper Jones (MLB debut 09/11/1993); 2010: Jones. The "Dean of Deans," Chipper is having a renaissance of sorts for the Braves in their first year since Bobby Cox retired. He was voted by his peers to be the backup third baseman for the NL All-Star Team. Next in Line: Tim Hudson (Braves debut 04/04/2005).
- Baltimore Orioles-
2011: Brian Roberts (MLB debut 06/14/2001); 2010: Roberts. He wears #1 for the O's, and he's #1 in continuous service for the team too. He hasn't played much due to injuries in the last two years. Next in Line: Nick Markakis (MLB debut 04/03/2006).
- Boston Red Sox-
2011: Tim Wakefield (Red Sox debut 05/27/1995); 2010: Wakefield. It's not that hard to believe that the knuckleballer who started his career with the Pirates is still in Boston after more than 16 seasons. He ranks third amongst the active deans in terms of longevity with his team. Next in Line: Jason Varitek (MLB debut 09/24/1997).
- Chicago Cubs-
2011: Carlos Zambrano (MLB debut 08/20/2001); 2010: Zambrano. The "Big Z" has returned to form since his personal problems during the middle of the 2010 season. He is one of three players left from the 2003 NL Central Champs. Next in Line: Aramis Ramirez (Cubs debut 07/23/2003).
- Chicago White Sox-
2011: Paul Konerko (White Sox debut 04/05/1999). 2010: Konerko. The Sox' captain has a number of good years on him, and this year has been a renaissance of sorts for the first baseman in terms of his clutch hitting and power. He is one of three players left from the 2005 World Series winning team. Next in Line: Mark Buehrle (MLB debut 07/16/2000).
- Cincinnati Reds-
2011: Bronson Arroyo (Reds debut 04/05/2006); 2010: Aaron Harang. Harang signed with the Padres after the 2010 season. The next two in line of continuous service were also acquired by the Reds. The longest serving home-grown talent on the Reds' roster is Homer Bailey, but that makes him fourth on the list of seniority. Next in Line: Brandon Phillips (Reds debut 004/09/2006).
- Cleveland Indians-
2011: Travis Hafner (Indians debut 03/31/2003). 2010: Hafner. Okay, I made a mistake here (again). Last year, Hafner was actually with the Rangers before being traded to the Tribe after the 2002 seson. Next in Line: Grady Sizemore (MLB debut 07/24/2004).
- Colorado Rockies-
2011: Todd Helton (MLB debut 08/02/1997). 2010: Helton. He's been a mainstay for the Rox for fifteen seasons. He is just as much "Mr. Rockie" in the same way as HOF Tony Gwynn is "Mr. Padre." Next in Line: Aaron Cook (MLB debut 08/10/2002).
- Detroit Tigers-
2011: Brandon Inge (MLB debut 04/03/2001); 2010: Inge. A bit of a quandary here. Inge as DFA'd by the Tigers, but acceted his assignment to Toledo. Does this make the man next in line the new "dean" or is it because he's still with the organization as a whole that Inge keeps the title? It can't be Ramon Santiago because he was traded to, and played for, the Mariners for a couple of seasons before returning to the Motor City. Next in Line: Ryan Raburn (MLB debut 09/12/2004).
- Florida Marlins-
2011: Josh Johnson (MLB debut 09/10/2005); 2010: Johnson. Johnson, the staff ace, signed a long term contract with the team, ensuring that he will remain in Miami for a long time to come. Next in Line: Hanley Ramirez (Marlins debut 04/03/2006).
- Houston Astros-
2011: Wandy Rodriguez (MLB debut 05/23/2005); 2010: Rodriguez. The Astros have seen a lot of turnover and loss of star power these last two years. But Wandy is one of two players remaining from the 2005 NL Champions. Next in Line: Humberto Quintero (Astros debut 06/04/2005).
- Kansas City Royals-
2011: Mitch Maier (MLB debut 09/23/2006); 2010: David DeJesus. DeJesus was traded at the end of the 2010 season to Oakland. The youth movement that the Royals started back in 2007 has now been together for five seasons. Maier, by debuting towards the ed of the 2006 season, is now the Royal with the most continuous service time. Next in Line: Alex Gordon (MLB debut 04/02/2007).
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-
2011: Maicer Izturis (Angels debut 04/05/2005); 2010: Scot Shields. Shields, who announced his retirement in 2011, was the final link to the Angels 2002 World Series team. Maicer is a former Expo who did not join the team that would be the Nationals. And for all six years of the Nat's existence, he's been patrolling the infield at Angels Stadium for the Halos. Next in Line: Ervin Santana (MLB debut 05/17/2005).
- Los Angeles Dodgers-
2011: Jonathan Broxton (MLB debut 07/29/2005); 2010: Broxton. Although both Juan Castro and Dioner Navarro are back in LA, Broxton still holds down the fort in the Dodgers' bullpen and in terms of continuous service. Next in Line: Hong-Chin Kuo (MLB debut 09/02/2005).
- Milwaukee Brewers-
2011: Rickie Weeks (MLB debut 09/15/2003); 2010: Weeks. The high powered offense and of the Brew Crew starts with Weeks, who was voted a starter for the 2011 ASG. Next in Line: Corey Hart (MLB debut 05/25/2004).
- Minnesota Twins-
2011: Michael Cuddyer (MLB debut 09/23/2001); 2010: Cuddyer. Cuddyer's been around the Twins for so long, that he was there when there was talk of contracting the Twins in 2001. He made his All-Star debut in 2011, but has been playing for the Twin Cities since the threat of contraction. Loyalty has its privileges, and the Twin know how to keep their veterans happy. Next in Line: Justin Morneau (MLB debut 06/10/2003).
- New York Mets-
2011: Jose Reyes (MLB debut 06/10/2003); 2010: Pedro Feliciano. Feliciano signed with the cross-town Yankees for the 2011 season. It wasn't that long ago that Reyes was a highly touted second baseman prospect for the Metropolitans. But in eight seasons, he has held court at shortstop at both Shea Stadium and Citi Field. Next in Line: David Wright (MLB debut 07/21/2004).
- New York Yankees-
2011: Mariano Rivera (MLB debut 05/23/1995); 2010: Rivera. He shows no sign of slowing down, and the Bombers are wont to keep him in Yankees pinstripes from now until he reaches the HOF. He still ranks second for tenure among active "deans." Next in Line: Derek Jeter (MLB Debut 05/27/1995).
- Oakland Athletics-
2010: Kurt Suzuki (MLB debut 06/12/2007); 2010: Eric Chavez. Chavez left Oakland for the bright lights of the Bronx for the 2011 season, ending his sixteen-year affiliation with the A's. Suzuki, the young catcher for an extremely young team, is the newly installed dean of the A's because Mark Ellis was traded to Colorado on June 30. He also is now the dean with the least amount of "tenure" among the 30 men featured today. Next in Line: Daric Barton (09/10/2007).
- Philadelphia Phillies-
2011: Jimmy Rollins (MLB debut 09/17/2000); 2010: Rollins. Still the Dean in Philly, and still setting the table for the mashers who dominate the lineup for the Fightin' Phils. Next in Line: Chase Utley (04/04/2003).
- Pittsburgh Pirates-
2011: Ryan Doumit (MLB debut 06/05/2005); 2010: Doumit. Joe Beimel, a Pirate in 2001, did return to the Steel City in 2011. But as the Pirates try to break .500 for the first time since 1992, Doumit remains the team leader in service as the Bucs were on the buying side of the trade deadline. Next in Line: Paul Maholm (MLB debut 08/30/2005).
- St. Louis Cardinals-
2011: Albert Pujols (MLB debut 04/02/2001); 2010: Pujols. Albert has ruled in St. Louis for more than a decade. Will he still be with the team in 2012 as he reaches free agency? Next in Line: Chris Carpenter (Cardinals debut 04/09/2004).
- San Diego Padres-
2011: Tim Stauffer (MLB debut 05/11/2005); 2010: Stauffer. Stauffer leads the Padres in team longevity for the second year in a row. Which is saying something considering that more than half of the present roster consists of first-time Padres. Next in Line: Heath Bell (Padres debut 04/03/2007).
- San Francisco Giants-
2011: Matt Cain (MLB debut 08/29/2005); 2010: Cain. Although Ryan Vogelsong, a Giant in 2000, was the feel-good story at this year's All-Star Game, it is Cain that holds the title of Giants' dean. Next in Line: Brian Wilson (MLB debut 04/23/2006).
- Seattle Mariners-
2011: Ichiro Suzuki (MLB debut 04/02/2001); 2010: Suzuki. Ichiro is now the only player left left from that 100 + win season back in 2001. And after him, and the man next in line in tenure, the roster consists of players who were Mariners beginning in 2009 onwards, and that includes Miguel Olivo, who caught for Seattle's finest in 2003. Next in Line: Felix Hernandez (MLB debut 08/04/2005).
- Tampa Bay Rays-
2011: B. J. Upton (MLB debut 08/02/2004); 2010: Carl Crawford. Croawford was one of the biggest free agent signings before the 2011 season. "Bossman Jr" is now truly the boss in terms of continuous service for the Rays. Next in Line: James Shields (MLB debut 05/31/2006).
- Texas Rangers-
2011: Michael Young (MLB debut 09/29/2000); 2010: Young. Darren Oliver, a Ranger in the 1990's, may have found his way back to Texas, but this is definitely Michael Young's team. Although some on commented on this blog about his "selflessness," leave no doubt that Young has been one of the reasons why the Rangers have been successful these past few seasons. Next in Line: C. J. Wilson (MLB debut 06/10/2005).
- Toronto Blue Jays-
2011: Aaron Hill (MLB debut 05/20/2005); 2010: Vernon Wells. Hill finds himself as the newest Dean of the Blue Jays after Jason Frasor was traded to the White Sox before the trading deadline. Chris Woodard, a Blue Jay from 1999, returns to the team in 2011. Jason McDonald would have been it, except he played for Detroit for part of the 2005 season. Next in Line: Adam Lind (MLB debut 09/02/2006).
- Washington Nationals-
2011: Ryan Zimmerman (MLB debut 09/01/2005); 2010: Jason Bergmann. Livan Hernandez and the recently retired Matt Stairs are former Expos who returned to the organization in 2011. Bergmann is now in the Athletics' minor league system. But it is now Zimmeran who is the Nats' dean. And it's definitely his team...until Strasburg and Harper show up anyway. Next in Line: Jesus Flores (MLB debut 04/04/2007).
If Topps were to do Team Cards again in their "game-changing" 2012 Topps set, maybe they could make the above 30 players the focus of the card, just like it was in 1986. But then again, maybe they should expand the set to more than 660 cards first (another topic for another day). But as of the time I did the research the 30 deans lead their respective teams in continuous service to their organization. And only the GM's can take that title away from them.