MLB: 10 Players Who Need a Fresh Start
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and besides the teams that are looking for a fresh infusion of talent, there are also a number of players who could possibly benefit from a change of scenery.
Some deserve a chance to play for a contender. Some need to try a different system, and some simply need to escape the scrutiny of a bloated contract for which they haven't properly performed.
There are some players in a bad situation, trapped in the depth chart, or a on a team that doesn't value their skills properly.
There are likely numerous players that fit this description, but I've tried to narrow it down to a select group of ten.
With no more further adieu here are the ten players that need a fresh start.
Most of the players that need a new start have ridiculously large contracts that haven't been justified by their performance.
Meet Francisco Rodriguez, aka K-Rod.
In his 2008 walk year, Rodriguez set the record for most saves in a season with 62. His ERA was 2.24 and he struck out 77 in just over 68 innings.
Fast forward to today, where K-Rod sports a 3.65 ERA and has only 20 saves to his name through June 28th.
His performance as a Met has been okay, but not the dominant star the Mets and their fans were expecting. He has an option for that will vest if he finishes 55 games. The Mets seem unwilling to pay Rodriguez the 17.5 million dollars he is owned in 2012, and will try to deal him to avoid the contract vesting.
K-Rod hasn't lived up to his name in New York, and hopefully time on a new team will do him and the Mets some good.
BJ Upton is a player with tremendous talent who still hasn't found a way to put in all together in a single season.
His best year came in 2007 when he hit .300 and clubbed 24 home runs. Since then, his average has plummeted and his home run numbers haven't been duplicated.
Perhaps Upton's problem is the constant apparent demand for Rays players to be the next "phenom." The time for this appears to have passed and while he can still be a good player, the Rays seem to be expecting super stardom, which might not be possible from Upton.
There are a multitude of teams that would love to have a player of Upton's pedigree on their roster. The Rays might be better off promoting one of their many prospects to fill BJ's potential void in the outfield.
Upton would benefit from a new team that expects production, but not other worldly performance.
Never has a player been blamed for a teams short comings, more than Barry Zito has for the Giants.
Even after winning the World Series, the Giants and their fans can't help but blame Zito for the team's problems. They're world champions, there's nothing to complain about.
To be fair, Zito has not pitched like a 126 million dollar man, but is that honestly his fault? He was given a huge contract in a weak starting pitchers market and has been just okay.
Since joining the Giants, Zito's record is bit under a .500 and his ERA is around 4.00. He's not worth 20 million a year but he's better than just a scapegoat.
Nobody needs a new team more than Zito but his contract makes it very difficult to find a suitor. The Giants aren't going to cut him loose for nothing, but also are not likely to be agreeable to what a potential trade partner might offer.
I hope for Zito's sake he can pitch well over the next month. I also hope the Giants will be willing to trade him to some team that will appreciate Zito instead of crucifying him for every single breaking ball he hangs.
Once pitchers leave the Angel's, they just can't keep it together can they?
John Lackey joined the Boston Red Sox last season after putting together five straight years of double digit wins and an ERA under four.
His first year in Boston was okay, but not up to his career standards. In 2011, its been a nightmare. Hampered by injuries, Lackey has an ERA over seven and only 34 K's in 59 innings. He's quickly pitched himself into the fifth starter spot in the rotation and is being pressed by up and coming minor leaguers on a daily basis.
Lackey is due 15.25 million dollars per year through 2014, so moving Lackey might be difficult for the Red Sox. I hazard a guess that it would probably do Lackey some good to throw in a less hitter friendly ball yard.
Hanley Ramirez is another of the prodigious talent club that needs a new home. Ironically both him and Upton are currently playing Florida.
Ramirez has the skills to be an annual 30-30 guy but his 2011 has been atrocious. His average is .206 this year, 100 points below his career average. That is a down year. He has only four home runs this season despite never having a year with less than 17 before.
He's been criticized as a lazy player who doesn't put in his full effort. This might be true, but Ramirez is still a very good player, possibly a top ten player in the league when performing at his full potential.
Plenty of teams would like a shot at him and he should welcome a trade with open arms if it happens.
Ramon Hernandez is a good player in a less than favorable situation.
He is hitting over .300 but is stuck in a platoon situation with the Reds' Ryan Hanigan. Because of that Hernandez has only tallied a little over 150 at bats this season. He calls a fair game but isn't getting a fair share of the playing time.
The Giants are a team looking for a catcher and Ramon Hernandez would be happy to go the San Francisco. He began his career across the bay in Oakland and a return to that area would see Hernandez gain both the lion-share of the catching duties and a nice change of scenery.
Injuries have set Mark Ellis back, as of late.
His own injuries cost him two weeks, and it also cost him his position. Mark Ellis is a perennial Gold Glove candidate, but was replaced by rookie Jemile Weeks due to injury.
Though Mark Ellis has returned Weeks' play has given him the second base position and put Ellis essentially out of a job.
Ellis is not having a great season but could benefit a playoff contender with his veteran presence. The A's are in a youth movement and Ellis was likely out at the end of the season anyway.
The A's could do themselves and Ellis a favor by trading him to a team that could give him playing time and give him a chance to jump start his season.
Update: Mark Ellis Was Traded to Colorado Rockies on June 30. Full story here.
Swisher has been a fan favorite ever since he joined the Bronx Bombers in 2009. He had two very good seasons there but so far, in 2011 he has been anything but.
His home run numbers are way down this year despite playing in a stadium known for inflated power numbers. With the offensive explosion from most other Yankees, Swisher has been rather overlooked. He is out of a contract after this season and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Yankees try and flip him for some starting pitching.
Swisher is a fun loving guy who just may have worn out his welcome in New York. A move to a smaller media market (so anyone other than the Mets) would do Nick well.
Vernon Wells is very blessed.
He was blessed with the skills to be a professional baseball player. Blessed to be given a massive contract and blessed to be traded to the Angels.
Do blessings come in fours?
Wells is making more than an 25 million dollars per year over the next four seasons. So far dollars signs aren't adding to up to value for the Angels. Wells' .205 average isn't really cutting it, nor are his 24 RBI in 53 games.
I can't imagine another team taking on his massive contract, but another fresh start, if possible is really needed by Vernon Wells.
Maybe the Angel's would consider trading him for...
I feel bad for Carlos Lee, okay not that bad, he does make 19 million dollars this year.
He's been stuck in a bad situation for a while and unless the Angel's feel like another charity case (see Vernon Wells) he's going to be there for the duration of his contract.
Lee's power numbers are way down and his defense is as shoddy as ever. Carlos Lee used to be a prodigious slugger, now he's been reduced to a comical after thought.
He needs a move to a small market young club, much like the Astros, but without a giant contract hanging over his head.