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Worst Free Agent Signings

Why should I always be positive, with my Hall of Fame articles and trade ideas and the like? Time to verbally punish those who made what appear to be the worst signings in baseball. What is the point? So we can see at the end of the year who started to earn their contracts, and who continued to fall flat on their faces. I will also include the few sentences I wrote about each free agent acquisition from my previous website, Baseball Rants so we can see how right or wrong I was back in February and March. I'm not going to rank these signings; I'm just going to list them.

Steve Finley, CF, LAA, $6,000,000 for 05'
AB: 215
HR: 8
2B: 13
SB: 6/9
BB: 19
SecAvg: .302
Iso: .200
VORP: 3.4
EqA: .252
WARP1: 1.4
MLVr: -.064
FRAA: -2
Finley has scuffled offensively and defensively, and besides his SecAvg and Iso, all his numbers look pretty poor.

Steve Finley, CF: Finley is hard to read. Rob Neyer says there is no one to compare him to at age 39. BP tells me his defensive range is nonexistent, but everyone who watches him says otherwise. He may be an upgrade in center over injured Garret Anderson (who it pained me to watch in the ALDS last year) or he could uh...not be. He'll probably hit though, so that's a plus. He could also fall apart completely in the next two'll be fun to watch either way.

Looks like Finley is doing a little of both, scuffling and sticking around.

Orlando Cabrera, SS, LAA, $6,000,000 for 05'
AB: 229
HR: 4
2B: 12
SB: 4/4
BB: 15
SecAvg: .205
Iso: .122
VORP: 4.4
EqA: .232
WARP1: 2.3
MLVr: -.153

Cabrera is playing defensively, which is a plus, but his value is tied up entirely in defense and an ability to not get caught stealing. The bat just is not there.

Orlando Cabrera, SS: Better than Eckstein? Yes. Better than Renteria? No. Overpaid? Only by like most of his salary. Cabby's glove is deteriorating fast since his back injury a few years back, regardless of how many Sox fans tell you he's a huge part of the reason we won the World Series...his bat and plate patience do leave something to be desired as well. Anaheim has spent more money on worse things though cough Colon cough.

I've heard nothing about Cabrera's back pains this season, so maybe he is not having any problems in that regard, and is able to field well. He sure as hell can't hit this year though.

Jose Lima, SP, KC, $2,500,000 for 05'
ERA: 8.16
DERA: 8.30
K/BB: 1.19
K/PA: .105
K/9: 4.50
BB/9: 3.80
H/9: 11.53
HR/9: 2.40
BABIP: .318
VORP: -22.3
WARP1: -0.8
PRAA: -22

I think this is a situation where the numbers speak for themselves.

Jose Lima, SP: Lima Time! Did well enough in 2003 and 2004, so maybe he can get away with pitching decently enough in 2005. If the Royals luck is anything like 2004's then Lima is going to have a career high ERA, and that is saying something considering some of his past seasons.

Eric Milton, SP, CIN, $5,333,333 for 05'
ERA: 7.46
DERA: 7.63
K/BB: 1.95
K/PA: .123
K/9: 5.27
BB/9: 2.7
H/9: 12.34
HR/9: 2.83
BABIP: .328
VORP: -18.7
WARP1: -0.7
PRAA: -27

He gives up way too many homeruns, he doesn't strikeout enough people for the walks he gives up, and he has not had a real good season in a few years, which isn't a good sign. So the Reds gave him 3 years and $25 million, you know so he could make as much money as Matt Clement. Damnit people. Eric Milton is vastly overrated, and going from one home run park to a worse home run park is not going to help his league leading homeruns allowed total from 2004. Did I mention he's making as much money as Matt Clement?

Russ Ortiz, SP, ARZ, $7,350,000 for 05'
ERA: 5.45
DERA: 4.75
K/BB: 0.78
K/PA: .094
K/9: 3.96
BB/9: 5.08
H/9: 10.89
HR/9: 1.24
BABIP: .317
VORP: 1.0
WARP1: 1.5
PRAA: -2

Well...he has a positive VORP!

Russ Ortiz, SP: All I heard about Ortiz the past few seasons is how he is nowhere near as good as his record suggests, how his peripherals don't support his ERA, and anyone silly enough to sign him long term deserves a kick in the goods. Well shine your kicking boots D-Backs fans, you're the lucky new owner of Russ Ortiz and his lack-of-talent baggage (very expensive baggage by the way). I'm not sure Paris Hilton could afford this kind of baggage. Did I just make a Simple Life reference? I think I need counseling. I blame the D'Backs for this.

Edgar Renteria, SS, BOS, $8,000,000 for 05'
AB: 230
HR: 5
2B: 8
SB: 3/3
BB: 15
SecAvg: .196
Iso: .117
VORP: 8.5
EqA: .253
WARP1: 0.7
MLVr: -.071
FRAA: -9

As a Red Sox fan, I don't even want to get into this with Renteria. The numbers don't lie. At all.

Edgar Renteria, SS: When the Red Sox and Cardinals were trying to outdo each other on's Insider Rumor Page, I was overjoyed when the Cardinals topped the Sox offer of 4 years $32 million with a 4 year $36 million offer. Then the Red Sox had to go and offer 4 years for $40 million. I'm thinking Renteria looks more like the very first part of his career and 2004 than he does 2002-2003. Extremely overrated defensively (never trust Gold Gloves!) and not much of a slugger outside of 2003. I'm kind of leery of this deal, but I guess the Sox have the money to spend...hopefully it doesn't hurt them. Renteria is most likely an upgrade over Cabby though.

Cristian Guzman, SS, WAS, $4,200,000
AB: 208
HR: 1
2B: 5
SB: 1/3
BB: 10
SecAvg: .111
Iso: .058
VORP: -14 (Last in MLB)
EqA: .154
WARP1: -0.7
MLVr: -.460
FRAA: -3

Looking back, I'm glad I was overly angry in my Baseball Rants Nats preview on Guzman:

Cristian Guzman, SS: "Hi, I'm a shortstop who hits below league average, usually can't defend too much except for my completely out of place 2004, and I enjoy strolling down the streets of Washington D.C. while being significantly overpaid and expected to improve and provide production. Sadly, no one will give me a job...wait, no Jim, you'll hire me? And give me more than I'm worth? This is too good to be true!"

Adrian Beltre, 3B, SEA, $11,400,000
AB: 238
HR: 5
2B: 13
SB: 1/1
BB: 9
SecAvg: .160
Iso: .177
VORP: -3.9
EqA: .226
WARP1: 1.4
MLVr: -.180

Beltre has never impressed me besides 2004, but I figured he had turned some kind of corner. I never expected 2004 to happen again, but some sort of middle ground where he was productive but well overpaid was in the making in my mind.

Adrian Beltre, 3B: Sure it helps the lineup a lot. But Beltre may never see his astonishing 2004 numbers again. His numbers probably won't take a hit from pitcher friendly Safeco since he played with Los Angeles, but they may suffer some from the NL to AL switch. Not to mention none of the good pitchers are on his team, so he's going to have to face them.

Honorary mention, but not as "worthy" as these players for lack of playing time and/or injury. I don't feel right classifying these as worst free agent signings for a few reasons. Benitez wasn't an injury risk; Ordonez's knee works fine, but he has a hernia, Jaret Wright has not wreaked enough havoc out in the Bronx due to injury, Paul Wilson's got something else going on entirely, and Nomar wasn't supposed to tear his groin from his bone. Ick. And Juan Castro is starting due to the demotion of Jason Bartlett in Minnesota, so I can't really call him worst if they weren't going to play the other option...

Magglio Ordonez
Juan Castro
Jaret Wright
Armando Benitez
Paul Wilson
Nomar Garciaparra

And the award for best free agent signing of the season so far goes to...

Pedro Martinez, SP, NYM, $10,875,000
ERA: 2.56
DERA: 2.70
K/BB: 6.29
K/PA: .334
K/9: 10.14
BB/9: 1.61
H/9: 4.93
HR/9: .663
BABIP: .226
VORP: 30.7 (6th among pitchers)
WARP1: 2.8
PRAA: 15

Pedro Martinez, SP: The best pitcher on the free agent market, the Mets took him from the Red Sox with a guaranteed fourth year and a boatload of cash. Regardless of all the talk that Pedro's best days are behind him, he is still one of the best pitchers in baseball. Pedro's best days are so far above what everyone else is capable of that when he is brought down to Earth he is still among the elite. He will have to be watched at 100 pitches though, as that is the obvious place to stop him. If healthy the Mets won't regret a single penny spent. For everyone who says that Pedro is done, realize that his 3.90 ERA was the worst of his career. Kris Benson gets raves and a raise for being league average, and we complain about a 3.90 ERA! Ugh...