7 'Problem Child' MLB Players Who Will Struggle to Find New Homes This Winter
In professional sports, there is nothing worse than a player who becomes more of a burden on his team and less of a blessing. This type of player isn't very common in baseball, but when it pops up, it's usually pretty bad.
These players may not intentionally cause hardship on their teams, but the mark they leave is one that takes a lot of stain remover.
This player could be a problem because of their attitude, work ethic or, as is the case most of the time in MLB, more time spent on the disabled list than on the field. In other cases, players achieve this "problem child" status by drawing some bad attention towards their team.
As we can all imagine, outfielder Melky Cabrera's (pictured) 50-game PED suspension didn't do the San Francisco Giants any favors.
Seeing as how baseball season is slowly coming to a close and free-agency speculation is about to begin, there are some players who could be in for a rude awakening once it comes time to renegotiate their next contract this winter.
Because of their checkered pasts, finding a new deal could be easier said than done.
No. 7: Carlos Zambrano
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After a tumultuous 11 seasons with the Chicago Cubs that saw him throw a tantrum and prematurely retire following a bad start in 2011, Zambrano appeared to be en route to a fresh start after being traded to the Miami Marlins last winter.
At first glance, despite low run support, the move appeared to benefit the big Venezuelan. Over his first eight starts, he was 2-2 with an incredible 1.96 ERA.
However, the honeymoon was short-lived. Zambrano's struggles returned, and just before the July 31 trade deadline, he was banished to the bullpen. On the season, he is just 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA and horrific 1.50 WHIP.
Seeing as how his contract is up at season's end and he won't be doing any team any favors with his ineffective stuff at just 31 years old, Big Z probably isn't looking at anything better than a minor league deal this winter.
No. 6: Carlos Lee
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At one point in his career, Carlos Lee was a phenomenal power-hitting outfielder and an RBI machine. Today, he is overpaid, overweight and relegated to playing first base, not to mention that his power has pretty much deserted him.
In a season split between the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins, Lee is hitting .266 with 73 RBI but just nine home runs.
He may not be a problem child in the most literal sense of the word, but his lack of effort in controlling his weight and staying in game shape is enough of a red flag. At 36 years old, he'll be lucky to get a contract with any team this free-agency season.
No. 5: Carl Pavano
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Ten years ago, it could be argued that Pavano was one of the better young pitchers in the game. Playing for the Marlins in 2004, he went 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. That winter, he signed a four-year deal with the New York Yankees worth $39.95 million.
This contract turned out to be one of the worst in baseball history. Pavano would go just 9-8 with a 5.00 ERA and 1.45 WHIP over the course of the deal. He spent most of his time on the disabled list during his New York tenure, even missing all of 2006.
The worst part is that his teammates questioned his work ethic, as he never really appeared to take his constantly being injured seriously.
Though he would somewhat bounce back with the Minnesota Twins in 2010, going 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, the old and oft-injured Pavano has returned. This season, in just 11 starts, he has gone 2-5 with a 6.00 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.
At age 36, it's a safe bet that he's looking at two options: minor league deal or retirement.
No. 4: Roberto Hernandez
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Formerly known as Fausto Carmona, Hernandez didn't join the Cleveland Indians until August of this season due to visa issues plus a mandatory suspension for identity fraud.
Once seeming like an ace in the works after going 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.21 ERA in 2007, Hernandez has gone into a tailspin ever since.
Putting all of his aforementioned controversy aside, the fact of the matter is that Hernandez just doesn't seem to have the hunger to pitch anymore. The spark just appears to be gone.
Given the events in his life leading up to the 2012 season, he should be more focused than anyone, just looking to prove critics wrong.
Instead, he has gone 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, not exactly numbers to show to potential suitors willing to provide a second chance.
No. 3: Daisuke Matsuzaka
When the Boston Red Sox paid $51.1 million just to negotiate with Matsuzaka, the team was expecting to receive a pitching ace who would help shut down opposing teams. In the end, the man known as "Dice-K" was signed to a six-year, $52 million deal.
While Matsuzaka's second year in Boston was quite good—he went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA—signing him could now be considered one of the worst decisions in Red Sox front office history. Like the aforementioned Pavano, he has spent much of his time in MLB on the disabled list.
Over the past two years, he has gone 4-9 with a 6.58 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. This season alone, he is 1-6 with a 7.68 ERA and 1.64 WHIP.
One thing that Matsuzaka does have going for him is that he's only 32, so there's still the faint possibility of a team rolling the dice on him. Still, given how fragile he has been since coming to the States, something tells me that an ice-cold free agency will lead him to return to Japan.
No. 2: Melky Cabrera
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Out of all the times to get some bad publicity, Melky Cabrera picked the worst in his last season before free agency.
At first glance, it looked as though he was having a career season with the San Francisco Giants, batting .346 with 11 homers and 60 RBI. Then, the bomb dropped: On Aug. 15, it was revealed that Cabrera had tested positive for testosterone and would be suspended 50 games.
To add insult to injury, it was later revealed that Cabrera had attempted to create a fake website to help justify his use of the hormone. Though the Giants won the NL West division crown without him, the loss of Cabrera due to a drug suspension is hard to ignore.
That said, once he hits free agency, I wouldn't be at all surprised if teams passed on him completely. To test positive for a banned substance is one thing, but to try and get around a suspension in such a deceitful manner is a horse of a different color. Why throw money at the man if you're not sure you can trust him?
No. 1: Delmon Young
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Young may be a talented power hitter, as he is currently batting .268 with 18 home runs and 72 RBI for the Detroit Tigers. However, his lack of plate discipline and resulting .299 OBP are giant red flags.
More importantly, Young's attitude can sometimes be downright despicable. Earlier this season, he was arrested in New York and charged with a hate crime after getting drunk and assaulting a man in his hotel while also making anti-Semitic remarks.
Sure, the home-run power is there, but is Young really worth the headache?