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The oddballs of the free agent market

Dec 28, 2009, 12:57 PM EDT

Let’s take the lull in the hot stove season to think about available free agents. Not the best available ones. That would (a) lead to more Matt Holliday and Jason Bay talk, and who needs more of that right now; and (b) it would take some thinking, and today’s the Monday after a holiday and you’re lucky I didn’t call in sick today, so expecting me to really analyze anything is a laugh.

No, I’m talking about the the ones who have had little or no buzz about them to date. Filler. Guys who used to be big names (or guys who think they’re still big names but believe that the game got small). Weirdos and “that guy filed for free agency?” dudes. Guys like:

Paul Byrd: I figured his little show-up-in-the-middle-of-the-season career path would last longer than a year. I don’t see him getting more than a non-roster invite, but he might have something left, and in a world where pitching is supposedly so scarce, you figure he’d get a try;

Vladimir Guerrero: The lack of any noise about him tells you just how bad the market is for DHs these days. This more than anything has me thinking that the players may one day push for the NL to adopt it. The DH is like the desk job for the guy at your office with seniority but who can’t work a file anymore.

Brad Ausmus: He’s been so bad a hitter for so long but he lands someplace every year. My first impulse used to be to mock him, but I don’t do that anymore. I talked to a writer at the Winter Meetings who went on and on about just how much teams love the guy. Not for rah-rah locker room stuff, but because of his preparation and coaching and the way he’s able to focus younger players on the task at hand. He has giant binders on hitters’ tendencies and studies them all the time. He’s almost definitely going to be a manager some day.  Too bad he can’t hit a lick.

Nomar Garciaparra and Carlos Delgado: I think someone should sign them as a package deal and make a run at the 2000 title.

Tony Clark: Clark is still really active in the Player’s Association, serving on the union’s executive board. I wonder how long you can do that without, you know, having a job?

Joe Crede: A third base free agent with Scott Boras for an agent. Just as Matt Holliday’s situation is complicating Johnny Damon’s, I wonder if Adrian Beltre’s is complicating Crede’s.  He, Damon and a lawyer should probably have coffee one day and talk about it.

Miguel Tejada and Gary Sheffield: whoever loses on the Nomar-Delgado derby can go with this duo to try and keep up.

Willy Mo Pena and Dmitri Young:  Young is only eligible for free agency and has basically retired. But who’s to say that Jim Bowden won’t land a GM job somewhere and get the band back together? Sign these two, trade for Austin Kearns . . .

Ryan Freel: Doug Glanville wrote a column in the New York Times over the weekend about how simply being a pro athlete leads to temptations of the flesh, regardless of whether you’re a real player or not (in every sense of the word).  Case in point: Ryan Freel.  Here he was back when he played for the Reds. I can’t access a current picture of him because I don’t want to spring for an eHarmony membership in order to get it.  Suffice it to say, it seems like a long time since he signed that $7 million extension and moved Ken Griffey, Jr. off centerfield.

Matt Stairs, Mike Sweeney, Jim Thome: if you signed one and they shipped you one of the others, how long would it take you to notice?

John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Jason Schmidt: In April 1996, the Braves were the defending World Champions, and this was 60% of their rotation. Greg Maddux officially retired over a year ago, and I’m fairly certain he could still outpitch all three of them.

Oh well, we now return you to rumors about how someone batted their eye in Jason Bay’s direction and how his agent cant tell if they like-like him or just, you know, like him.

  1. Jeff V. - Dec 28, 2009 at 1:46 PM

    How can you call in sick when you can work from your bathroom?

  2. Neon Noodle - Dec 28, 2009 at 1:57 PM

    Can you finish this analogy?
    The DH is like the desk job for the guy at your office with seniority but who can’t work a file anymore, but can kick ass at ___________.

  3. raffy - Dec 28, 2009 at 2:18 PM

    I enjoy most of Craig’s articles, but I don’t think I really get this one. I understand the occasional attempt at humor in a story, but perhaps some insight on some of these guys would have been preferable instead of just mocking the fact that a bunch of them are old. It was the same joke like eight times in a row – This guy was good, but now he is old. That guy was good, but now he is old.
    Many of these players were excellent in their prime, and obviously can’t stay at that level forever (Someday David Wright, Grady Sizemore and Ryan Braun will be old too).
    Maybe you can tell us where some of these older veteran players might land and what they can still offer.

  4. ecp - Dec 28, 2009 at 2:34 PM

    He works from his mother’s basement, not the bathroom.

  5. Kelly - Dec 28, 2009 at 3:20 PM

    I think that’s the point, though, isn’t it? Does it matter where any of them land since none of them have much worth? It’d be more frightening to see any of them attached to the team you like than to read what Craig wrote, which I thought was enjoyable.

  6. raffy - Dec 28, 2009 at 3:30 PM

    if it doesn’t matter where any of them land, then why waste time writing about them.
    Craig just seems a bit smug today in all his pieces. Just finished reading his entries on the Nationals and Mariners signings.
    We get it Craig. Large signings are more significant than small signings. As I said in my earlier comment, I am a fan of this page and his writings – I’m just wondering about the snobby approach of crapping on every signing that isn’t Matt Holliday.

  7. Bobby Townsend - Dec 28, 2009 at 3:55 PM

    If it wasn’t for the extra paycheck and the chance to the 3000 hit mark, Sheffield could care less if he ever stepped foot on another field again.
    Players like Thome and Guerrero have some pop left in their bats and can be a contributor at a reduced rate.
    As for Smoltz, what can I say that I haven’t said already. I hope he enjoys the box of chocolates I sent him for Christmas.
    Nomar is another I wish would just go away. He brings nothing to the table in any capacity. Just another male version of Nancy Kerrigan.

  8. YANKEES1996 - Dec 28, 2009 at 4:38 PM

    These are the stories that begin to surface every year when the Hot Stove begins to cool. Let the boring articles commence due to the fact that nobody can decide what to do about Holliday or Bay. The fact is that the guys on this list should all retire and play golf or something else, in a tight economy where good players are not being actively chased I don’t think your going to find too many GM’s willing to chase these fellows. Where is Jim Bowden when the OLD guys need him?

  9. JQ - Dec 28, 2009 at 5:49 PM

    Your right, Brad Ausmus can’t hit; but he did hit .295 last year which is great for a 40 year old catcher. I’m not keeping score, but which backup catcher played better last year.

  10. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 28, 2009 at 5:59 PM

    In, what, 107 plate appearances? That’s not even a full load for a backup. Yes, nice season, but a severe outlier from nearly his last decade of production. And he’s 41, so it’s not getting any better.

  11. Beanster - Dec 28, 2009 at 9:08 PM

    I thoroughly enjoyed this “oddball” article and the Ryan Freel pic. Thanks Shyster, er, Craig.

  12. JQ - Dec 28, 2009 at 11:00 PM

    How many at bats do you need from a backup catcher. And Yes , that batting average is the best of his career, so maybe he is getting better. Sometimes people take themselves to seriously, especially sports writers. I think it’s preferable to use young ballplayers as backups, but many managers like experience. And Brad has plenty of experience.

  13. coffeetables - Jan 18, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    coffeetables are great for entertainment or card games. I presonally like leather coffetables but just plain wood will do just fine. I cant understand people who do not have coffeetable in the livingroom.

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