BY CLAYTON RICHER – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
As the 2012 baseball season gains full steam heading into the stretch drive there are still teams jockeying for the final playoff berths in their respective divisions. I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the best and worst free agent signings. During the off-season all the free agent hype was focused on the likes of Albert Pujols, Yu Darvish and the Prince Fielders of the world.
However there have been a few players that have provided better bang for your buck without having to mortgage the farm.
Ryan Ludwick has had a nice bounce back season after signing a one-year $2.5 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds. Ludwick has smashed 25 homers on the way to hitting .270 with a monstrous .911 OPS for the Big Red Machine. This season’s stat line is a far cry from the .237 average and .674 OPS he posted with the Padres and Pirates in 2011.
The Red Sox signed veteran outfielder Cody Ross to a one-year deal worth $3 million to crush balls over the Green Monster. Ross did not disappoint hitting .272 and blasting 18 homers with 60 runs batted in for the controversial inconsistent Red Sox.
Ryan Doumit signed a one-year $4 million deal with the cellar dweller Minnesota Twins. Doumit has been a valuable asset splitting time behind the dish and manning the outfield. Doumit is currently hitting .290 with 14 round trippers and 59 runs batted in for the offensively challenged Twins.
Speedster Juan Pierre signed a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies that will work out to a salary of $800,000. Pierre has provided a nice luxury off the bench and as a spot starter in the outfield for the Phillies. In 348 plate appearances Pierre has batted to a tune of .304 with a team leading 31 swipes on the base paths.
The Rays have got bargain basement value out of closer Fernando Rodney. The Rays signed Rodney to a one-year deal worth a modest $1.75 million dollars for a spot in the bullpen. Rodney has been lights out since taking over the closer role from the injured Kyle Farnsworth. Rodney has a miniscule era of 0.77 and an American League leading 39 saves in 41 chances for the surging Rays.
Jonathan Broxton was having a career year for the Kansas City Royals before being dealt to the Reds at the trade deadline. Broxton signed a one-year, $4 million deal with Kansas City and immediately took over the closer role from the injured Joakim Soria. Broxton posted a 2.27 era with 23 saves in his brief tenure in K.C however Broxton has struggled in minimal innings with the Reds since the trade and a new role in the bullpen.
Some other honourable mentions are Paul Maholm, Jason Kubel, Darren Oliver, Raul Ibanez and Bartolo Colon prior to his 50 game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
The above names don’t bring the sexiness and entourage like some of the big name signings but they definitely provided good value and should be in line for a considerable raise come season’s end.
And with all good things come the bad…
The Miami Marlins attempted to make a big splash in the free agent market with the inception of their new ballpark. Miami signed proven closer Heath Bell to a three-year, $27 million contract to close out games for the fish. Bell imploded and was eventually removed from the closer’s role. Bell has been better of late but still owns an eye gouging era of 5.69. Bell managed to save 19 games but blew six save chances in the process. Rumours have been swirling that the Marlins are looking to rid themselves of Bell and his contract.
Toronto Blue Jays signed second baseman Kelly Johnson to a one-year deal worth $6.37 million. Johnson got off to a hot start but has appeared lost at the plate since the midway point of the season. Johnson is batting .227 with 14 home runs and a team leading 131 strikeouts at the dish. Johnson is tied for the fourth most strikeouts in the American League.
Carlos Pena returned to Tampa on a one year deal for $7.25 million hoping to rekindle his power stroke in the friendly confines of Tropicana Field. Pena is batting below the Mendoza line at .193 with 16 home runs and an OPS of only .670. It appears Tampa will be searching for a new first baseman in the offseason if they want to remain competitive in the AL East.
The aging Jimmy Rollins re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason at three years for $33 million. Rollins numbers aren’t terrible but below his career norms as he is hitting .238 with 14 home runs however did still manage to swipe 22 bags to date. The best years appear to be behind Rollins as he turns 34 later this year.
Some other overpriced stats for your viewing pleasure: Yu Darvish has an era of 4.51, Prince Fielder has only 22 home runs, C.J Wilson is 9-9 and Albert Pujols is second on his team with 28 home runs and soon to be third if Trout keeps swimming upstream.
So there you have it my list of over and under achievers with a month left to go in the 2012 baseball season.
Clayton Richer is a baseball writer for Baseball Hot Corner, his interviews and blogs can be found daily at www.baseballhotcorner.com as well you can also follow him on twitter MLBHotCorner
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