Prince Fielder's new deal has albatross potential, but the Tigers hope it doesn't turn out like one of John's picks for the worst contracts of the free-agent era.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
As your mind reels at the size of Prince Fielder's payday, take a look at this list of 10 free-agent deals that didn't work out well for the teams that handed them out, which originally ran on February 20, 2007.
The Game One showdown between star southpaws, and tonight's matchup features a recently phoaled Phillie.
In yesterday's chat, Bronx Banter's Alex Belth asked me, "Is there any particular pitching matchup that you are looking forward to in the series?" I responded that the matchup I was most looking forward to was between CC Sabathia and Ryan Howard, particularly given the prospect of the big man pitching three times for the Yankees in a seven-game series, and the slugger's less-than-sterling reputation against southpaws. "I think that matchup will tell us something about what's going to happen over the next four to seven games," I wrote.
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John reviews the biggest deals from this winter, and names his list of the ten worst free agent signings of all time.
Enough big-money contracts were given to free agents this past offseason to make anyone's head spin. Barry Zito and Carlos Lee became beneficiaries of two of the only 14 nine-digit contracts in baseball history. The Giants lured Zito across the bay from Oakland for seven years and $126 million, while the Astros got Lee, the slugging left fielder and Panamanian cattle rancher, to stay in-state by signing him away from the Texas Rangers for six years and $100 million. In all, nine free agents signed contracts worth at least $45 million despite the class of available players being considered below average. However, the deals given to Zito and Lee were as much head scratchers as head spinners.
While Zito is seemingly coming into the prime of his career at 28, he has been on a downward trend since 2004. In his first four major-league seasons from 2000-03, Zito was 61-29 with a 3.12 ERA in 119 starts, and boasted nine-inning rates of 7.2 hits, 10.9 baserunners, 7.2 strikeouts, and 3.4 walks. Over the past three seasons, Zito went 41-34 with a 4.05 ERA in 103 starts and his nine-inning rates were 8.3 hits, 12.5 baserunners, 6.6 strikeouts, and 3.7 walks. PECOTA doesn't expect Zito to suddenly transform back into the pitcher who went 22-5 and won the American League Cy Young Award in 2002, projecting mediocrity in his next five seasons. Most telling is that PECOTA projects Zito's worth, in terms of MORP, from 2007-11 to be $34 million. Conversely, the Giants will be paying him $80 million in that span.
A rematch of what remains the only good thing to come out of the new
playoff format, 1995's Yankee/Mariner series. No Joey Cora this
time, so we're unlikely to see anyone go from home to first by way of Redmond.