Someone named Chad Matejicka posted his "Top 20 MLB Free Agent Signings" so far. It's a cute idea in theory, I guess. Everyone loves "Top 10" lists. But then again, that's when there are 10 items. 20 is a bit much. I mean, when counting your top 20 signings, who exacly are you going to exclude? By opening yourself up to such a large number, you're forcing yourself to reach for signings like, say Ryan Dempster. And hey, sure enough...
The list is in no particular order, which really doesn't help us at all. We basically have a list of 20 guys who happened to be free agents this season, and have accomplished somewhat more than Manny Ramirez. Well, that was easy. Can't possibly screw up anything like that, right? (That's the sound of sarcasm and foreshadowing all mixed together. Actually, not so much a sound, as this is all being typed, not said, but you get the idea.)
So, the regulars are on there: CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Francisco Rodriguez, etc. And of course, there are the outfielders whose prices dropped to insanely low prices, like Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn, and Pat Burrell. That part was easy.
But then there are the bad signings. I'm not even talking about Dempster; it gets worse than that. Much worse. I begin with the beginning: the first two deals mentioned in the article are those of Milton Bradley and A.J. Burnett.
Matejicka notes that Bradley is "often injured and troubled," which should begin to explain why this signing was really bad. Bradley had a surprisingly healthy year last season, but that was in Texas, where he spent most of his time at DH, a luxury he won't have in Wrigley. Instead, the Cubs committed three years to a guy who has a history of getting hurt and in trouble, and whose numbers last year were aided by a small ballpark. Had the Cubs waited just an eency bit longer, they could have had Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell or Bobby Abreu at a much lower price. The Damaso Marte signing (not on this list) was far better.
As a Yankee fan, I hate the Burnett signing. He's never lived up to hs potential, mostly due to his ridiculous injury history. They gave him five years and tons of money, yet they'll probably not get what they paid for. They'll be lucky if he pitches for half of those five seasons. That's an awfully large contract, and a pretty poor signing.
But that's not all! Also on the list is Raul Ibanez, whose contract is larger than Bradley's. Although Ibanez doesn't have the same history, he is much older, and not quite as good or young as, say, Abreu. While not horrible, the Phillies overpaid for Ibanez, and it's hard to call this anywhere near a "top signing."
Let's go a little further and find... Randy Johnson, who snookered eight million bucks out of the Giants for this year. Seriously? This was a great signing? If this had been a list of 20 free agents that signed great deals, I'd understand (until eventually finding Dunn and Abreu on the list), but no, Matejicka is looking at this from the teams' persepctive. And paying eight million dollars for a 45-year old, cranky, injury-prone pitcher is his idea of a great deal? Come on, even Kyle Farnsworth's deal is better.
Brad Penny and John Smoltz made the list. They were shrewd moves if they pay off, but if they don't... well, does a gamble really qualify as one of the top free agent signings? Couldn't this list have been shaved down a little bit? If you're reaching for Penny and Smoltz, don't you think you made a bit of an all-inclusive list? What's next: Top 55 U.S. States?
Kerry Wood is on this list. I don't get this one bit. The Indians are paying over $10 million for a guy who has been utterly decimated by injuries throughout his career, who was forced into a closer role because he couldn't pitch enough innings to be a starter, and had just one pretty good season. But Matejick adds: "One solid year is not enough to sell me." Then why is he on your list?! What is his purpose?
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