New York Mets' 10 Worst Free-Agent Signings in Team History

Alex Giobbi@@alexgiobbiAnalyst IJanuary 14, 2012

New York Mets' 10 Worst Free-Agent Signings in Team History

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    Since free agency began in 1976, the New York Mets have had some hits and misses. Some players, like Carlos Beltran, proved to be good, while others didn't do as well.

    Whether by statistical underperformance, ego problems or injury, whomever was GM at the time really screwed up when they tabbed these people. 

    With the midpoint of the offseason upon us, here are the 10 worst free-agent signings in team history. Be wary, though, some moves will surprise you. 

Chris Young

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    One of Sandy Alderson's premier free-agent acquisitions was starting pitcher Chris Young. Young, who pitched for the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres, was once a top pitcher, but injuries have set him back.

    Young had a sparkling debut for the Mets against Philadelphia, where he had one of the  greatest performances against the team and added some offense, but after that, he only made three starts before succumbing to arm trouble. 

    Young was envisioned to be a stop-gap starter, but unfortunately his achy-breaky arm prevented him from being the starter he said he would be. 

    He did, however, finish with a 1.88 ERA.

Kelvim Escobar

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    Omar Minaya pretty much threw $1 million down the toilet when he tabbed Kelvim Escobar on December 24, 2009. 

    Escobar, who had been a decent starter in Toronto and a reasonably good reliever in Los Angeles, only pitched one game for the Angels in 2009. Afterward, he never threw another pitch.

    One would have to wonder what Minaya was thinking when he signed Escobar.  

Tony Clark

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    Steve Phillips tried to find a few good men when he signed former Detroit Tigers star Tony Clark to a minor league deal. Clark impressed in spring training and made the team, but made his first gaffe when he donned the No. 00 jersey most commonly associated with Mr. Met. 

    Whether switching the jersey to No. 52 later in the year jinxed him or just the fact that he played in the Met Sematary of the 2002-03 period, Clark could not regain his power from his All-Star year in Detroit and was released by the team in August of '03. As a Met, he hit .232 with 16 home runs. 

    Why this is a bad move is because two years later, Clark found his form as a slugger in Arizona, hitting .304 with 17 home runs. He was a mainstay in the desert, despite his low average, and retired in 2009.   

Vince Coleman

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    The Mets had a choice when they went into the 1990 offseason: sign top outfielder Willie McGee or his equally speedy counterpart, Vince Coleman. 

    The Mets signed Coleman and endured a living hell with him for the next two years. Whether it was the fire cracker incident in Los Angeles in which he tossed a lit cracker into a throng of fans, injuring, among others, a 2-year-old; his clubhouse antics, which involved swinging a golf club that hurt Dwight Gooden; or his lack of speed (he only stole 99 bases during his Mets tenure), Joe Mcllvaine decided enough was enough and traded him to the Royals for Kevin McReynolds.

    Another note, he was on the Worst Team Money Could Buy. Wonderful. I'm glad I never saw him play, as I was born a couple weeks after he was traded.  

Kazuo Matsui

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    The Mets have always had trouble with international free agents. This was made very evident by Kazuo Matsui, who signed with the team during the 2003 offseason.

    Matsui had just come off several all-star seasons while playing for the Seibu Lions. He was destined to be a star if he headed west. 

    The Mets won the bidding rights for him and fortunately, in their second-best decision on how to deal with him, signed him for only three years. 

    Matsui nearly alienated promising young shortstop Jose Reyes by asking for three things the then prospect already had. The first was his lineup spot, leadoff. The second was his position on the field, shortstop. The third, was his jersey number, 7. 

    Matsui got two out of three and started off well by hitting a home run in his first at bat. Things went down after that. He couldn't field at shortstop, and soon after switched positions with Reyes, who had been playing second base. Later, it was found out he couldn't hit as a leadoff man, either, so he switched with Reyes again.

    Unfortunately, that never helped, and Matsui floundered once again. He hit home runs in his first at bats in the 2005 and 06 seasons, but that could not help him much, as he was later traded to Colorado for Eli Marrero. 

    One year later, Matsui made it to the World Series with the Rockies

    As of now, Matsui is back in Japan, playing for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Rickey Henderson

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    Rickey Henderson makes this list for a variety of reasons, most of them not due to his statistics. Let's go for the obvious ones. 

    By the time Henderson had finished his glory years in Oakland and the Bronx, he was 41 years old. The Mets felt that a guy like him would be a good fit for their upstart 1999 team and signed him. 

    Henderson actually did better than expected, hitting .315 in his only full season in Queens, but soon afterward things began to unravel. 

    Caught in allegations that he had gone to play cards with Bobby Bonilla in the dugout while the Mets were being eliminated by the Braves in the 1999 ALCS, Henderson regressed in 2000, ultimately being released and signed by the Seattle Mariners.

    After that, he became the all-time leader in walks and runs and reached the 3000-hit plateau. 

    Henderson was signed again by the Mets as a first-base coach in 2007, but his coaching style conflicted with Willie Randolph's and he was not retained. Two years later, he was elected to the Hall of Fame. 

    Isn't it amazing how well free agents do before and after they play in Queens?

Luis Castillo

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    If there was ever a mistake made by Omar Minaya, it was trusting Luis Castillo with the second-base position. 

    Castillo was brought over by trade from Minnesota during the 2007 deadline and started out strong. He hit .296 and played with the form that had been his trademark in Florida. Afterward, he was signed to a four-year deal and basically floundered. 

    His health was in obvious decline, and he had problems hitting. Add on to that the continued fielding miscues, including one in which he dropped a sure out hit by Alex Rodriguez, and you got a train wreck. 

    Fortunately, Sandy Alderson came to the rescue and cut him loose, allowing the Phillies to sign then release him. 

Francisco Rodriguez

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    A year after breaking the all-time saves record with 62, Francisco Rodriguez was signed by the Mets in the hope of replacing their old closer, Billy Wagner. 

    Statistically, Rodriguez was fine; it was his temper that puts him at the bottom. 

    Rodriguez clashed with management, including director of player personnel Tony Bernazard. He also allegedly assaulted his father-in-law in 2010, effectively ending his season. 

    The Wilpons and Sandy Alderson were trying to find ways to keep Frankie Knuckles from earning any bonus money, as they felt that he was starting to become a liability. 

    Fortunately, they found a sucker to take him in the form of the Milwaukee Brewers, who only sacrificed two minor leaguers for the fallen star. 

Bobby Bonilla

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    Bobby Boo was supposed to be the muscle for the Hardball Mets after signing a five-year contract with the team. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition, as he failed under the New York limelight. 

    Like Frankie Knuckles and Vince Coleman, he had a bit of an ego/temper problem, challenging the press to fights and complaining to the official scorers about errors. 

    The Mets got rid of him in 1995 and did reasonably well without him, but then reacquired him for the 1999 season. 

    Like Rickey Henderson, he was caught playing cards while the Mets lost to the Atlanta Braves in the 1999 NLCS. In addition, he was statistical underwhelming. 

    The Mets, as of now, are paying for him, and will be until 2035. That's the one positive of this, because there's a possibility that he drives the Wilpons, despite their cash infusion from the minority owners, into bankruptcy.

Oliver Perez

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    Oliver Perez is one of the worst signings the Mets ever made. Sure, 2006 was great, as he served his part as an emergency starter, and 2007 was a decent year, but from 2008-2010, Perez proved that he was not worth the money given to him.

    A combination of injuries, underperformance and a bit of an ego problem catapulted him to the top of the list.

    First, the injuries. In the years he had his three-year contract, he never had a full season, succumbing to both arm and leg problems.

    Second, the underperformance. Despite shortened seasons, he wasn't able to capitalize, as he almost never won a game during his three years.

    Third, the ego problem. After his three years were up, he felt that he was deserving of a major league deal with a spot in the rotation. Needless to say, the idea never came to fruition as Mets management finally opened their eyes and released him. He signed a deal to play for the Nationals, but was never called up.

    Needless to say, he was awful, and a prime example of a bad signing.