10 MLB Players in Need of a Change in Scenery
Player turnover is perpetuated every season thanks to the trade deadline and free agency. It's part of the culture of the business of baseball.
The players that find their name on this list, for one reason or another, would be best served if they could remove themselves from their current situation.
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Is there really a reason for Milton Bradley to be in the major leagues anymore?
Obviously a loose cannon, Bradley has spent time with eight different ball clubs in his major league career. After an All-Star campaign in 2008 with the Texas Rangers, Bradley has been on a downward spiral since, beginning with his inability to cope with the pressures of playing in the big market of Chicago.
After a tumultuous relationship with the Chicago Cubs, Bradley relocated to the upper Northwest and the Seattle Mariners. However as could be expected, Bradley was unable to limit his overzealous emotional outbursts.
In 2010, Bradley took a brief two-week hiatus from the team where he spent time with a counselor discussing personal issues and anger.
Though I wish I could say Bradley turned himself around and was a more professional player on the field, that hasn't been the case. In only 28 games for the M's in 2011, Bradley has hit a lowly .218.
If not for another opportunity with a major league organization, it might be time for Bradley to hang them up.
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After a breakout season in 2007, in which he won 19 games and helped lead the Cleveland Indians to the ALCS, Fausto Carmona has been a complete bust.
Since 2007, Carmona has won only 31 games and has an ERA of 5.29. Less than spectacular from a guy who everyone thought would be one of the American League's most dominant right-handed pitchers.
Despite a 5-10 record in 2011, the Cleveland Indians are tied atop the AL Central. If they can find a buyer in a team willing to take a on a project, the Indians could rid themselves of Carmona. He is still young enough (27) to where there is still good value in him. He might not fetch top prospects but could provide some serviceable replacements for the Indians.
Whether it is mechanics or just having to pitch in the offensive happy American League, I'm sure Carmona wouldn't mind a change in scenery sometime soon. Although, he does have $28 million guaranteed from the Indians over the next three seasons.
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Chicago White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham looked at first sight to be a legitimate pro prospect. He excelled in his first experience with the big league ball club. In 2009, he hit .270 in 103 games with 14 home runs and 63 RBI. Not too shabby for a rookie.
Since then, Beckham has struggled. Hitting only .253 with 16 home runs and 78 RBI in that period, it has either been a digression in Beckham's hitting prowess or AL pitching adjusting to him mightily.
I don't think the ongoing Ozzie Guillen saga on the South Side is helping Beckham either. With a change in scenery where he isn't depended upon to live up to high expectations and play as a role player, I think Beckham could become a Michael Young-type player. They have similar builds and similar swings.
In time, Beckham will learn to become a hitter somewhere other than Chicago.
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In his young major league career, the San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley has been at a tremendous disadvantage. Not only has he been on one of the worst teams in baseball, but he has had to play in a ballpark that makes hitting a nightmare.
In his career, Headley is hitting .230 at his home ballpark of PETCO Park, while away he has hit .304. The idea that a player hits better in his home park is disproved by Headley's inability to produce at home. He is a bona fide major league hitter.
He just needs to be playing somewhere that is conducive to hitting—anywhere but San Diego.
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Sometimes it seems like a guy just can't catch a break.
That's how Grady Sizemore has to be feeling. After missing significant time with an array of different injuries that required surgery from 2009-2010, the young star has landed himself on the disabled list once again. He underwent abdominal surgery to repair a sports hernia that will have him out four to six weeks.
Once thought of as the next great center fielder in baseball, the outlook for Sizemore is not as positive as it once was. He was a three-time AL All-Star from 2006-2008 but has failed to keep himself healthy on the diamond enough to put up any significant production (200 games played from 2009-2011).
Sizemore's contract with Cleveland will be up at the end of the 2012 season, and if I'm him, I'm counting down the days until I can become a free agent or Cleveland finds a trade that gets me out of Ohio. I hate to be harsh, but it is a matter of fact that Cleveland is not a city conducive to a winning atmosphere.
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Rumors around the Cubs moving Carlos Zambrano have been present for some time now. Another loose cannon on this list, "Big Z" has no problem letting teammates and coaches know exactly what he is feeling.
It might be exactly what gets him a ticket out of Chicago.
Zambrano, now 30 years old, is due almost $18 million in 2011 and is set to make in an excess of $18 million per year until 2013. What was once the focal point of the Cubs pitching rotation is now a player they inevitably have to move if they want to turn the page.
In 2011, Zambrano is 6-5 and has a less than impressive 4.78 ERA. I think Zambrano is due for some new scenery. He has a large contract, which will limit his options, but with a revitalized Zambrano in a team's rotation, he could prove to be worth every penny.
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Baltimore's Nick Markakis might be one of the most underrated players in the game today, which is why I have him on this list.
Baltimore has to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays for exposure, so Markakis is not only on the losing end of many games but also on the short end of getting recognized for his contributions to his team.
In his six-year career, Markakis has a .297 career average against the rest of the AL East, which is the same as his career mark. He has the inkling of becoming a truly great hitter. From 2007 to 2010, Markakis averaged 45 doubles a season. It shows he has the ability to be a use the entire ball field.
Maybe it's me being selfish, but I would love to see Markakis removed from an Orioles uniform and put into the locker room of a pennant contender so the entire baseball community can see how good this guy is.
The thought that runs through my mind when I think of John Lackey is that the guy cashed in on his talent at exactly the right moment in his career.
Brilliant in his tenure with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Lackey had a .590 winning percentage with the Halos from 2002-2009. Now with the Boston Red Sox, Lackey has struggled to find any real prolonged consistency. In two seasons, Lackey is 21-19 and has an ERA of 5.05 in Boston.
At 31 years old he signed a contract that would keep him in Boston until 2014, with a club option for 2015 if Lackey doesn't miss significant time due to elbow injury. On top of the fact that I think he is on the downside of his career, I have to question both Lackey's decision to want to go pitch at hitter-friendly Fenway Park and Boston's decision to actually bring him in.
Lackey has always been a high H/9 pitcher and Fenway Park, with its unique dimensions, is naturally going to produce a higher volume of hits. It's shown too. Lackey has an ERA of 6.01 at home in his two years in Boston and is allowing almost 10 hits per nine innings (9.95) there.
Lackey needs to get out of Boston and find a home in a ball park favoring pitching if he hopes to remain a top of the rotation pitcher.
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A contract worth $126 million doesn't sound too shabby, but when it keeps you in Washington for seven years, I have to again question the decision making of the player.
Jayson Werth, coming from the powerhouse Philadelphia Phillies to the Washington Nationals in free agency, forgot one thing: a lineup to hit behind him.
In Philadelphia, Werth had professional hitters on all sides of him: Rollins, Ibanez, Utley, Howard, Victorino and Polanco. I don't mean to take anything away from Werth as a hitter, but with the likes of MVP candidates up and down the lineup, Werth reaped the benefits of a superior lineup.
In Washington, Werth will have to be patient. Ryan Zimmerman is rarely healthy but is an awfully dangerous hitter when he is. Prodigy Bryce Harper could be two or three years away from the big leagues, and 2011 first-round draft pick Anthony Rendon has had his durability questioned.
Translation: Werth better get used to watching political commentary in Washington to make the wait till the Nats can compete in the NL East less painful.
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Does any guy need out of a situation worse than Tampa's B.J. Upton?
It's not because Tampa is so bad anymore, rather it's due to a significant disconnect between management and Upton. It wasn't even that long ago that he was considered one of the best up and comers in Major League Baseball!
In 2007, a year before the Rays reached the Fall Classic, Upton batted an even .300, hit 24 home runs and drove in 82 runs. He also had his first 20/20 season, stealing 22 bases in 30 attempts. Much to the chagrin of Rays fan, Upton has not built upon his early career success.
His batting average has fallen off to .232 in 2011, and he has a low OBP of .313. These numbers just aren't acceptable for a player who has the potential and capabilities to put up very respectable numbers for a center fielder. Not quite the power of Griffey, Jr., but a hitter who can be a one man recking crew once he gets going.
The 2002 second-overall pick has had his share of run-ins with umpires and "miscommunications" with manager Joe Madden. He's only under contract with the Rays through 2011, which is why Upton is the most likely but I think still the most in need of a fresh start and a new organization to start it with.