2007 Free Agent Review

Back on January 16, 2007 I wrote a column here entitled “2007 Free Agent Signings: The Good, The Iffy, & The Ugly.” In it I took a look at the most noteworthy free agent signings of last winter, how it would impact each team, and whether I thought it was a good signing, an iffy signing, or an ugly signing. It was a fabulous article.

So now with the 2007 regular season over, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of my comments on each of these players as well as what category I put them into and what category they ended up in after it was all said and done. Since some are now in new categories, I have reordered the players in alphabetical order. Without further ado, lets take a look:

Moises Alou, New York Mets (1 year – $8.5 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “They should be very happy with their investment, especially if he can play at least 120 games.”
· Outcome: While Alou did have a nice year at the plate this season hitting .341/.392/.524, it was unfortunately only for 87 games. Those are very impressive numbers, especially for a guy who turned 41 this season. But the problem is the Mets paid that money for a full time player and instead they got a guy who played only half the season. This is a difficult ranking because he didn’t play much, but when he played he was very good.
· New Ranking: The Iffy

Rich Aurilia, San Francisco Giants (2 years – $8 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “…they got a player relatively cheap who put up very productive numbers in 2006…”
· Outcome: Well I guess the old saying “you get what you pay for” is true in this case. Aurilia was dreadful in his first year back with the Giants hitting .252/.304/.368 with 5 homers and 33 RBI in 99 games. This was a dramatic drop-off from his .300/.349/.518 with 23 homers and 70 RBI stat line the previous year with Cincinnati. Sure the Great American Ballpark is a hitters park, but that’s still too big of a drop.
· New Ranking: The Bad

Mark DeRosa, Chicago Cubs (3 years – $13.3 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “This is a rare situation in which a team seems to have actually gotten a good deal for a player rather than the other way around.”
· Outcome: The Cubs got just what they wanted from Mark DeRosa in 2007. He had a very nice line of .293/.371/.420 with 147 hits, 28 doubles, and 72 RBI in 149 games. That was virtually a mirror image of what he did the previous year in Texas. I’m glad I finally got one right on with Mr. DeRosa.
· New Ranking: The Good

JD Drew, Boston Red Sox (5 years – $70 million)
· Original Ranking: The Ugly
· Memorable Quote: “I just have a feeling Sox fans will be hating him before too long.”
· Outcome: Well I was kinda right on this one. Drew started off miserably for the Sox and the fans let him know it real quick. But to Drew’s credit, the typically made of glass outfielder did turn it around at the plate a little hitting .270/.373/.423 with 11 homers and 64 RBI in 140 games. Drew did end up having some very low numbers considering how much he is paid and the fact that he’s surrounded by great hitters. So considering those to factors along with his paycheck, I’m going to stick with my original ranking.
· New Ranking: The Ugly

Eric Gagne, Texas Rangers (1 year – $6 million)
· Original Ranking: The Iffy
· Memorable Quote: “…they did the smart thing and only signed him for one season in case the injury problems continue.”
· Outcome: This will be a tough one to grade considering he didn’t even spend the entire season with Texas. While he did again struggle with injuries (becoming the JD Drew of the pitching world – its great that they are on the same team now) he didn’t pitch too badly when he was healthy with Texas posting a 2-0 record, 2.16 ERA, 16/17 in saves in 34 appearances. After all it wasn’t his fault Texas never gave him save chances. So since Texas traded him to Boston (where he had a rough go posting a 2-2 record, 6.75 ERA, and 0/3 in saves) that pretty much makes this a bad deal overall for them since they didn’t really get their money’s worth.
· New Ranking: The Ugly

Marcus Giles, San Diego Padres (1 year – $3.2 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “…Giles will be a great fit to the top of their order and for not a lot of money.”
· Outcome: Ugh. I guess a reunion with his brother Brian wasn’t a good thing for the Padres. Giles had a horrible year. He hit only .229/.304/.317 with 10 stolen bases and 39 RBI in a whopping 116 games. The guy didn’t even get 100 hits on the season. Even though he only ripped the Padres off for $3.2 million (they were smart enough to only sign him to a one year contract), I still have to take this one as a big loss.
· New Ranking: The Ugly

Carlos Lee, Houston Astros (6 years – $100 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “…over the past three seasons…Lee has averaged a .290 batting average, 33 homers, and 109 RBI. Now you are going to put him in Houston with the most right handed hitter friendly park in baseball?”
· Outcome: Another big win for me (and the Astros) on this one. Lee had a huge year for Houston hitting .303/.354/.528 with 43 doubles, 32 homers, and 119 RBI. The addition of Lee finally gave Lance Berkman some protection in the lineup that he had been missing for so long. Even though the Astros were poor, Lee was a star.
· New Ranking: The Good

Kenny Lofton, Texas Rangers (1 year – $6 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “The Rangers were able sign a bona fide and more importantly, proven, leadoff hitter for cheaper than most teams.”
· Outcome: Apparently the Rangers didn’t want to hang on to any of their free agent signings in 2007. During their fire sale they gave up this ageless speedster to Cleveland where he helped ignite their offense. In 136 games (between the two teams) Lofton hit .296/.367/.414 with 86 runs, 38 RBI, and 23 stolen bases. Normally I’d say that was well worth $6 million but not if you don’t hang on to him!
· New Ranking: The Good

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox (6 years – $52 million)
· Original Ranking: The Iffy
· Memorable Quote: “I’m just leery about this signing. I know he had a great career in Japan but I think over $8 million per year for six years for someone who has never pitched in the Major Leagues is a lot.”
· Outcome: Well when you’re wrong, you’re wrong. For a hair over $8 million the Sox got a pitcher to pick up 15 wins and strikeout 201 hitters. Sure his ERA was a little up there at 4.40, but most of that was tacked on in the second half where he wasn’t quite as sharp as the first half. Regardless I am saying that this one worked out for the best.
· New Ranking: The Good

Gary Matthews Jr., Los Angeles Angels (5 years – $50 million)
· Original Ranking: The Iffy
· Memorable Quote: “But to think a 32 year old can match that (career highs) over the next 5 years might be a stretch.”
· Outcome: While Matthews did essentially put up the same homer (18) and RBI (72) totals as the previous year, his hitting line took a major hit. In 140 games Matthews hit .252/.323/.419 which is not what the Angels were looking from their $10 million a year investment. And the bad thing for the Angels? The 33 year old isn’t getting any younger and his contract isn’t getting any smaller.
· New Ranking: The Ugly

Gil Meche, Kansas City Royals (5 years – $55 million)
· Original Ranking: The Ugly
· Memorable Quote: “…I sincerely hope they didn’t sit down with $55 million burning in their pockets and say with a straight face that Gil Meche is their man.”
· Outcome: I read back over some of the articles I wrote about this Gil Meche signing and, wow, was I harsh. But in my defense at the time it looked to be an asinine signing. I will now admit that I was very wrong and that considering how Meche performed (3.67 ERA and 9 wins for a poor Royals team) compared to the market prices, the Royals made a nice signing. I will now light myself on fire.
· New Ranking: The Good

Mike Piazza, Oakland A’s (1 year – $8.5 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “A move to the American League is exactly what Piazza needed to extend his great career.”
· Outcome: While I do agree with my quote above, Piazza’s move to the AL wasn’t as joyous as I was expecting. Without his normal daily wears and tears of catching, Piazza still only managed to play in 83 games and post a mediocre .275/.313/.414 line with only 8 homers and 44 RBI. I’m not sure where Piazza will end up in 2008, but I’m going to guess its not Oakland.
· New Ranking: The Iffy

Jason Schmidt, Los Angeles Dodgers (3 years – $47 million)
· Original Ranking: The Good
· Memorable Quote: “…bringing in an ace…really solidified them in a division that as a whole beefed up on pitching this winter.”
· Outcome: I thought this was a good, but expensive, signing by the Dodgers before the season started. I guess we will never know how it could have turned out as Schmidt only started six games going 1-4 with a 6.31 ERA due to a horrible shoulder injury. I really don’t have anything else to say as there is no defending my original ranking.
· New Ranking: The Ugly

Jeff Suppan, Milwaukee Brewers (4 years – $42 million)
· Original Ranking: The Ugly
· Memorable Quote: “To me it just seems like a lot of money and a lot of years to spend on a veteran with so many young pitchers they could give a shot to.”
· Outcome: I still stand by that statement. Granted the market has sky rocketed for mediocre pitchers, but I just think four years and $10 million per is a lot to spend for a club trying to stay young. Suppan had a year going 12-12 with a 4.62 ERA in 34 starts predominantly against a weak NL Central. These numbers are below his average over the past few years so coupling that with his salary I am going to stick to my initial answer.
· New Ranking: The Ugly

Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants (7 years – $126 million)
· Original Ranking: The Ugly
· Memorable Quote: “…the fact that he will now be the highest paid pitcher ever is a little ridiculous…I think this one will come back to bite the Giants in the end.”
· Outcome: Boy was I right on with this one and I couldn’t be happier about it. I really have nothing against Zito as a person, but as I’ve said many times, I do have something against his contract. Giving that much money to an above-average pitcher just doesn’t sit well with me. Does an 11-13 record and 4.53 ERA in a pitcher’s park sound like it’s worth $18 million per year? I didn’t think so. So I stand by my original ranking and raise my glass to Zito in hopes of an even worse 2008. Because at this rate, his extreme failure may be the only thing keeping teams from handing out ridiculous contracts like this.
· New Ranking: The Ugliest

If you count all of that up I had six right and nine wrong. So my final ranking of my performance:

The Iffy.

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One Response to 2007 Free Agent Review

  1. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptOutcome: Apparently the Rangers didn’t want to hang on to any of their free agent signings in 2007. During their fire sale they gave up this ageless speedster to Cleveland where he helped ignite their offense. In 136 games (between the … […]

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