MLB's All-Offseason Acquisition Bust Team for 2013
General managers around baseball have this recurring nightmare every offseason.
It's the one where they go out and add established major league talent to their respective rosters in an attempt to plug holes and upgrade specific positions from the previous season, only to watch those new additions wilt under the spotlight and become part of the problem, not the solution.
While some GMs have been able to keep that from becoming a reality, others are living the nightmare in 2013, as they sit back and watch the "bust" label get firmly affixed to the back of those player's jerseys.
As seems to be the case every season, there are enough of those nightmare-inducing players to put together an All-Bust team.
Who fills out this year's roster?
Let's take a look.
Catcher: David Ross, Boston Red Sox
It's been more than two months since David Ross got into a game with the Boston Red Sox, last playing on June 14.
While Ross didn't ask for the pair of concussions that has caused him to miss 68 of the team's first 126 games, the fact is that he has missed more than half of the teams games at this point—and that makes him a bust.
In the first season of a two-year, $6.2 million deal to split time with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ross started off strong, going deep three times in his first 15 games while posting an OPS of .832. Then he suffered his first concussion, against Toronto on May 11.
While he'd return on May 25 and play in eight games before suffering his second concussion on June 14 against Baltimore, something clearly wasn't right with Ross. He'd go 3-for-22 in those eight games (.136 BA), striking out 13 times while walking only once.
Finally free of symptoms and cleared to return to action, Ross is expected to catch Jake Peavy in San Francisco on Tuesday. Still, with the amount of time that he's missed, it's going to be nearly impossible for Ross to shake the bust label in 2013.
First Base: Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians
2013 Stats (With Cleveland)
Mark Reynolds' sizzling April (.301 BA, 1.019 OPS, 8 HR, 22 RBI) was the highlight of his tenure in Cleveland, as the 30-year-old hit only .187 with seven home runs, 23 RBI and a .569 OPS from May 1 to August 4.
Manager Terry Francona told the Associated Press (via USA Today) that the team had no choice but to cut ties with the veteran slugger: "It was becoming harder for Mark to be able to handle not playing. So it was time to do what we did."
Reynolds has since signed with the Yankees, hitting a home run in his first at-bat with the team and settling into a platoon with Lyle Overbay at first base. While Reynolds still has a chance to salvage his season, he was a gigantic bust with the Indians.
Second Base: Emilio Bonifacio, Toronto Blue Jays
2013 Stats (With Toronto)
A bit of an afterthought in last winter's blockbuster trade between Miami and Toronto, Emilio Bonifacio never seemed to get comfortable with the Blue Jays—which is why he's playing in Kansas City now.
The last time Bonifacio had a batting average above .230 was on April 12 (.250), while his OPS was last above .600 (.620) on April 15. Over the next four months, up until he was traded to Kansas City on August 14, Bonifacio posted a .218/.264/.306 slash line with the Blue Jays.
To be fair, Bonifacio certainly had some value to the Jays, spending time at six different positions, including all three spots in the outfield.
But that versatility doesn't make up for an absolutely horrendous approach at the plate in 2013:
That's not good, and Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos didn't hide his disappointment in the 29-year old's play during his time north of the border, as he told Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star:
“I think we expected him to be a better player, a better player overall. I think there’s no doubt about that. We thought we’d get more out of him offensively, defensively, all of it. That didn’t happen.”
And the search for a long-term answer at second base in Toronto continues.
Third Base: Kevin Youkilis, New York Yankees
I admit it—Kevin Youkilis had me fooled.
I was an ardent supporter of the Yankees signing the 34-year-old free agent a month before he reached an agreement with the team and sung his praises once again after he signed a one-year, $12 million deal with the club.
While Youkilis was great for the first few weeks of the regular season, hitting .279 with a .796 OPS through his first 16 games of the season. Then his back acted up, limiting him to one game on April 27 before hitting the disabled list for the first time this season.
After missing 30 games, he'd return on May 31, but that return was short lived. Two weeks after his return, it was announced that Youkilis needed back surgery, a procedure that was expected to keep him out of action for 10-to-12 weeks.
While he's making progress and is on the road to recovery, he still has not been able to swing a bat and doesn't expect to be cleared to do so until the end of August, as he told Michael J. Fensom of the Newark Star-Ledger earlier this month.
When you factor in a rehab assignment, likely to the team's minor-league complex in Tampa, you're looking at mid-September as the earliest that he'd possibly return to action.
Playing in less than 50 games this season when he was being counted on to not only replace Alex Rodriguez at third base but to fill in at first base as well makes Youkilis one of the biggest busts of the season.
Shortstop: Yuniesky Betancourt, Milwaukee Brewers
Yes, Yuniesky Betancourt has only logged five innings at shortstop for Milwaukee this season, spending most of his time at either first base or third base, but for the purposes of our list, the 31-year-old counts as a shortstop, the position he's spent the bulk of his nine-year career.
You may look at his power numbers and wonder how he can be considered a bust, but that production has all but disappeared since April:
Since that torrid start to the season, Betancourt has hit .181 with seven home runs, 22 RBI and a .505 OPS.
While he's certainly served a purpose in Milwaukee this season and didn't cost the team much to sign late in spring training, he's essentially been invisible in the team's lineup for four months.
Betancourt has been a bust in every sense of the word.
Left Field: Jason Bay, Seattle Mariners
After being spurned by Josh Hamilton, Seattle figured it had nothing to lose by signing veteran Jason Bay to a one-year, $1 million dollar deal, betting that a change of scenery would rejuvenate the former All-Star's career.
Early in the season, that looked to be the case, with Bay posting a .273/.365/.418 slash line over 63 plate appearances in April.
Then it all fell apart, as he'd manage to hit only .179 and struggle to get on base with any consistency over parts of the next three months, eventually being designated for assignment at the end of July and released in early August.
Center Field: B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves
Signed to a five-year, $75.25 million deal this past winter to replace Michael Bourn in center field, the Braves were banking on B.J. Upton's potential production—especially after trading for his brother, Justin—to finally equal the lofty expectations that the 28-year-old outfielder has failed to meet over his career.
Instead, Upton has regressed in a Braves uniform, to the point that Atlanta gave serious consideration to demoting him to the minors so that he could work out his issues and get back on track.
Upton wound up on the disabled list in mid-July with a strained right adductor muscle and, upon his return on August 3, he looked to be back on track, going 10-for-21 in his first five games. He's gone without a hit in 19 at-bats since.
His batting average has never sat above .200 after any game this season, while his OPS has been above .600 only once, a .602 mark at the end of games on August 7.
Of the 301 players with at least 200 plate appearances this season, Upton ranks 285th in wRC+ with 58, behind such offensive juggernauts as Jayson Nix and Chris Stewart of the Yankees, according to FanGraphs.
With four years left on his deal, Upton will have plenty of opportunities to shed the bust label. But until that happens, Upton's deal not only stands as the worst of this past winter, but it has a chance to be one of the worst of all-time.
Right Field: Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels
What a difference a year makes.
Heading into games of August 20 last season, Josh Hamilton had slightly better numbers as a member of the Texas Rangers than he does this season with the team's division rivals, the Los Angeles Angels:
While some regression was to be expected, nobody expected this.
It's the 2012 version of Hamilton that the Angels thought they were signing to a five-year, $125 million deal over the winter. Instead, they got a Hamilton that nobody's ever seen before.
In the past, when opposing pitchers found success against Hamilton, he'd adjust at the plate, forcing them to adjust on the mound. This year, there are no adjustments being made on his part, as he's chasing pitches down-and-away consistently, the same trend we saw begin to develop towards the end of 2012.
That's not good, and Hamilton has a lot of work to do before he can come close to justifying the $100 million left on his contract.
Starting Pitcher: Josh Johnson, Toronto Blue Jays
Expected to solidify Toronto's shaky rotation along with Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson has only made things worse for Toronto's pitching staff.
While Johnson is striking out a career-high 9.2 batters per nine innings of work, this has been a season to forget, both for the Blue Jays and for Johnson.
Johnson has allowed four earned runs or more in half of his 16 starts, going six innings or more only seven times. Those 16 starts are another issue altogether, as the 29-year-old has landed on the disabled list twice, making it six times in his career and bringing up legitimate questions about his durability.
While some of his issues are due to bad luck and poor fielding, evidenced by his 4.62 FIP and 3.59 xFIP (via FanGraphs), it doesn't change the fact that opposing batters are smacking Johnson all over the field, to the tune of a .305/.363/.488 slash line with 15 home runs and 31 extra-base hits.
With free agency looming just around the corner, Johnson couldn't have picked a more inopportune time to struggle as badly as he has.
Relief Pitcher: Joel Hanrahan, Boston Red Sox
The key piece in a six-player trade between Boston and Pittsburgh before the season, Joel Hanrahan was a two-time All-Star closer expected to solidify the ninth inning for the Red Sox, who could no longer rely on Andrew Bailey at the end of games.
Instead, Hanrahan lasted only nine games and was lost for the season to Tommy John surgery in early May.
He allowed earned runs in four of his nine appearances and had only one, his first of the season against the Yankees on Opening Day, in which he didn't allow a baserunner.