MLB Free Agency: 10 Washed-Up Vets Who Didn't Know How to Retire

Marcelo VillaFeatured Columnist IIIFebruary 29, 2012

MLB Free Agency: 10 Washed-Up Vets Who Didn't Know How to Retire

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    The following 10 veterans once enjoyed blossoming careers in MLB, but Father Time has finally caught up with them, and it's time for them to retire. The only problem is they were signed in free agency this year.

    Age certainly factors into a player's declining years, but poor performances in recent seasons can also put a damper on a career. Leaving the game is difficult when you've played and enjoyed it for so long, but at some point, a player needs to know when to give it up.

    These 10 veterans may have new deals in place, but simply making their respective teams' rosters will be easier said than done.

10. Omar Vizquel

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    Omar Vizquel is one of the greatest fielding shortstops of all time, but it's about time he hang up his mitt and follows his dream of being an MLB manager.

    The 44-year-old has already stated he'll likely retire at the end of this season, and he's expressed interest in managing a team.

    A 23-year veteran and 11-time Gold Glove winner, Vizquel isn't exactly washed up, but he's no longer a necessity for most teams. In a backup role with the Chicago White Sox last season, Vizquel managed to make 58 appearances and played well despite being used so sparingly, but signing him isn't going to make a team into a contender.

    Vizquel signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason, but it's no guarantee he'll take the field with them in 2012. As a spring training invitee, Vizquel will compete to fill out the major league roster, but his contract is a minor league deal.

9. Casey Blake

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    When Casey Blake arrived in Los Angeles with the Dodgers, it seemed as though his career was on the rise again, but a season-ending neck injury prevented that from happening.

    Now that Blake has signed with the Colorado Rockies, the 38-year-old will be given a second chance to revive his career. Pending a physical, Blake is expected to compete for the starting third baseman job with the Rockies if he's healthy enough after suffering a pinched nerve in his neck.

    Neck injuries can sometimes be career-ending, and Blake should be extremely cautious next season. Blake had a nice stint with the Dodgers, but starting over isn't the answer.

8. Jim Thome

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    I'll give Jim Thome the credit he deserves and agree that he's still a dangerous guy at the plate, but when all you can do is pinch hit and be the designated hitter, I'd say it's about time to retire and rest those old legs.

    Thome signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies this season, and it looks like he'll have to spend some time in the field if he wants to play. Ryan Howard could miss some of the 2012 season with an injury, and Thome may have to step up and fill that need.

    Thome still has power at 41 years old, but he's not a complete player at this point in his career.

7. Kevin Millwood

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    A former All-Star with the Atlanta Braves, Kevin Millwood finds himself battling younger pitchers to make a major league rotation.

    Last May, Millwood signed a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox but never got his call-up from the majors and was eventually released. The Colorado Rockies signed him late in the season, and he had a decent showing, filling in for an injury in the rotation.

    The 37-year-old will get his opportunity to revamp his career with the Seattle Mariners, but it's already too late for that. Millwood's stuff on the mound has lost some zip, and while Seattle is the perfect place to shine with a struggling team, I don't think Millwood has what it takes anymore.

6. Rafael Furcal

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    Rafael Furcal should have retired after he and the St. Louis Cardinals won a World Series title last season.

    Going out on top is always the best way to go, but Furcal decided to give it another go with the Cardinals by signing a two-year, $14 million contract. Furcal can still play the shortstop position, but he's not the same leadoff hitter he once was.

    He'll still steal some bases this season, but he's definitely lost a step or two.

    As a fan, I wish Furcal had retired on top, but now he's at risk for having a washed-up season with no Albert Pujols around to save him.

5. Carlos Guillen

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    Carlos Guillen is a former three-time All-Star who will be looking to make the Mariners roster in 2012. But playing for a rebuilding team isn't going to do wonders for his career now.

    Guillen can still hit for average numbers, but he's nowhere near the 21-home-run and 102-RBI batter that he was in 2007. The fact that Guillen is competing to make the roster isn't a good sign, either. Seattle has prospects waiting in the farm system, so this isn't a long-term thing.

    Guillen is an aging infielder with little to offer on offense, and he needs to step away from baseball now.

4. Scott Podsednik

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    Scott Podsednik couldn't stay healthy in the minor leagues for the Phillies last season, and with another minor league deal on the table, I don't see this being the year his career rebounds.

    Podsednik is a former All-Star and World Series champion with the Chicago White Sox, but his career hasn't been anything special since then. The speedster once led the major league in stolen bases for crying out loud, and now he's a has-been contending for a roster spot in Philadelphia.

    I don't see Podsednik making the Phillies roster this season, and retirement should be a more realistic option for him.

3. Jamie Moyer

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    This one is pretty simple. Jamie Moyer is approaching the age of 50 this season, and he's attempting to break into the Rockies' starting rotation in 2012.

    Even though Moyer's pitches appear to be in slow motion at the plate, the old-timer still manages to strike guys out. Coming off of Tommy John surgery, Moyer is hoping to make a comeback with the Rockies after missing all of 2011.

    I commend the guy for lasting this long at the professional level and having the success that he did, but 50 is pushing it. I understand pitchers are durable guys, but Moyer needs to retire.

2. Jason Giambi

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    Jason Giambi was on top of the baseball world before it all came crashing down amid the scandal of the "Steroid Era," and he should have left baseball years ago.

    Giambi doesn't have the same pop in his bat anymore, and he's too old to play first base, so why on Earth did the Rockies re-sign him?

    I'm assuming he's still playing to take some negative attention away from his career, instead of retiring amid controversy.

    Washed up, old and one of baseball's asterisks, Giambi has no place in the majors anymore regardless of whether he used steroids or not.

1. Manny Ramirez

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    Manny Ramirez just doesn't know how to retire, and playing for all these teams isn't helping his career.

    If Ramirez can even make the roster after his 50-game suspension, the Oakland Athletics are willing to pay him $500,000 as a part of his minor league deal.

    The Tampa Bay Rays were stunned when Ramirez abruptly retired early last season, and the results of a positive steroid test were leaked. Ramirez's image has taken quite the hit, and his typical home run numbers have completely vanished in the past five seasons.

    "Mannywood" was cool in L.A., but I'm not so sure Oakland will be thrilled by the 38-year-old's lack of production.