Where Are They Now?
It is rather astonishing how many once promising athletes and potential Hall-of-Famers are without jobs in 2008. Whether it's because of injuries, age or the Mitchell Report, there a a handful of players who have not been able to attach themselves to a team - or at least hang on to a team.
Take for instance, Freddy Garcia. Here's a guy who was 17-9 and struck out 135 for the White Sox in 2006. The right-hander, who is also a two-time All Star, has a career record of 117-76 and finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2000 with the Mariners.
But in '07, his first and only season with the Phillies, Garcia went 1-5 and had an ugly 5.90 ERA in 11 games started. On August 30, he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery, also ending his Phillies career. His last start came on June 8, and he only last 1 2/3 innings. As a free agent heading into 2008, Garcia was not signed by any team, though the Mets and Red Sox both showed interest during Spring Training. Currently, Garcia is still rehabbing that shoulder, but should be ready to pitch (at least healthwise) in a few weeks. But will anyone want to take a chance on a 33-year old vet?
Even former sluggers like Mike Piazza and Barry Bonds couldn't get signed. Piazza wound up retiring, and Bonds is in the middle of courtroom dramas and may as well be retired.
Look at Sammy Sosa. What a story he is. He may very well be on his way to Cooperstown. His magical season with Mark McGwire in 1997 is still fresh in everyone's memories. Yet, he was out of baseball for all of 2006. Then, surprisingly, the Texas Rangers signed him to a one-year contract before the 2007 campaign, and watched him smack his 600th career home run (he now has 609). But as a free agent, no team decided to take a chance on soon-to-be 40-year old slugger. I find it a little strange that the Rangers would bring him on for a one-year comeback, and then he goes back into hiding.
Right-hander Jeff Weaver, was the primary reason for this post. Weaver, who has finished a season with a better than .500 win-loss record once in his career, was signed by the Brewers to a minor league deal in April, and had until today to either bring him up to the big club, or release him - they chose the latter. For Triple-A Nashville, Weaver was 2-4 with a 6.33 ERA and a 30/27 k:BB ratio. So clearly, cutting him was the right move.
However, Weaver is still not even 32 years old yet, and should be a somewhat serviceable piece for some team, either in the rotation or the bullpen. Weaver was a first-round pick by the Tigers in the 1998 first-year player draft. Overall, in nine career seasons, Weaver is 93-114 with an ERA of 4.72. He's always had electric stuff, but his command and his control have caused him to become a troubled member of the clubhouse, and now he is without a team.
Preston Wilson, Reggie Sanders, Kenny Lofton, Rodrigo Lopez, Eric Milton, Akinori Otsuka, and Ryan Klesko are some of the big name players who are left on the scrap heap, and may never see another major league contract again.
Statistical and biographical information courteous of baseballreference.com
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