- Mark DeRosa - Cubs (Three years, 11 million): At the peak of free agent insanity, I thought that this wasn't this bad of a signing. If you look at DeRosa's career numbers, and not his fluke three months where he OPSed around .920 he becomes an almost average second baseman. After seeing the deals handed out to actual second basemen like Adam Kennedy and Ronnie Belliard, this deal looks like a panic move. If there's one thing the Cubs have enough of, it's marginal middle infield prospects. It shouldn't have come to signing a marginal utility guy with less than 100 games of experience at second. The Cubs had no need to quickly snap up DeRosa, and they could have easily bided their time and picked up Belliard. This signing is rather insignificant compared with the Cubs ridiculous spending this offseason, but it's the second worse in terms of thought process. Just throwing out a little foreshadowing there.
- Luis Gonzalez - Dodgers (One year, seven million): Sure a one-year deal isn't that harmful, but I just can't see the logic of this signing. First, Gonzalez is most likely finished. His power and patience numbers have declined the last five years, and now he's moving from a very hitter friendly park to Dodger Stadium. Second, this seems like a deal that a team that was desperate for a left fielder would make, quickly signing a player people had heard for well more than he's worth to make sure the team doesn't head into the season without a left fielder--but Dodgers had no need to panic. Between James Loney and Matt Kemp, they could have, at the very least, gotten equivalent production for the league minimum. On top of this, Gonzalez makes no sense on the Dodgers. The team is desperate for a power bat, and they signed a left fielder with almost no power. While a long term signing is far more ruinous to a team's feature, replacing younger, better players with near useless veterans seems to demonstrate a bigger lack of judgment.
- Shea Hillenbrand - Angels (One year, six million): Like Luis Gonzalez, Hillenbrand's contract won't hurt the Angels, it just represents a total lack of player analysis skills. Hillenbrand has seemingly made a career by having a high batting average in the first half. He has a lower career isolated patience than Juan Pierre, and he has a career slugging percentage under .450. So, Hillenbrand is not a good player, but I could understand signing him if a team is absolutely barren at first base. The Angels, however, have several players, Casey Kotchman, Kendry Morales, and Rob Quinlan that need time at first base. Plus, Hillenbrand forces the Angels to use Garrett Anderson's corpse in left. The Angels already had multiple marginal players that needed to play first base or DH, and Hillenbrand is no better than any of them, he's just guaranteed a job. This signing certainly won't ruin the Angels, but it makes no sense.
- Danys Baez - Orioles (Three years, 19 million): As we learned last year, Danys Baez is an easily replaceable middle reliever.
- Alfonso Soriano - Cubs (Eight years, 136 million): It says something about this off season that this contract couldn't even make the top five worst signings. Honestly, the first thing I did when I heard about this signing is call up one of my friends and shared a hearty laugh. Soriano is the type of player that modern analysis teaches us to avoid. Sure, he hits home runs and steals bases, but he can't get on base, and his defense, at least at second, is abysmal. In his two years in Texas, Soriano was worth a total of 7.5 wins, over the same stretch, Craig Counsell was worth over 10 wins.
- Jason Marquis - Cubs (Three years, 21 million): It's been argued that Marquis really wasn't bad last year. If you take out two starts where he gave up a combined 25 runs, his ERA drops to 4.86. A few problems with this.
- 4.86 is still a below average ERA.
- If you did this type of analysis with any pitcher, you get similar results. Just off the top of my head, Odalis Perez would have had a 3.39 ERA for the Dodgers if you take out his two worst starts.
- It ignores the fact that Marquis still deserves credit for a shelling. Let's say 14 runs instead of 25. This brings his ERA up to 5.51
- Jason Marquis played with a stellar defense behind him in St. Louis.
- Jason Marquis struck out 4.45 per nine last year, had a 1.28 K/BB ratio and allowed 1.62 HR/9. If a pitcher had even one of those peripheral stats, I wouldn't want him. Put all of those together, it's a thing of beauty.
- 4.86 is still a below average ERA.
- Carlos Lee - Astros (6 years, 100 million): For the 16 million dollars a year the Astros are paying Carlos Lee, you could have any player not on the Yankees or Red Sox except Todd Helton. Carlos Lee is not an elite player. Prior to 2006 he was a guy you could count on for slightly above average production from a corner outfielder. Even with his improved offense in 2006, Lee was only a six-win player because his defense went in the tank. This sudden lack of mobility makes Lee a player whose only asset is power, and I don't think he has enough of it to age well. While Lee will probably be decently productive for the next couple years, he could hit a bigger decline than any other player on this list.
- Gil Meche - Royals (5 years, 55 million): I think I've beaten this horse enough. Meche has never had an ERA below the league average, and he gets 11 million a year. Sure, he has a little bit of upside, but that means that he's be a nice buy low candidate, not a guy you sign to Darren Dreifort money. The Royals are a team that can't afford to have any bad salaries on the record, and it's far too likely that Meche puts up ERAs in the 5.50 range for the next five years. On the plus side, he showed enough improvement last year, he's young enough that he still has some upside, and he improves his team in 2007 which is enough to put him above the last two entrants.
- Gary Matthews Jr. - Angels (5 years, 50 million): At the start of the off season, I said to one of my friends "I'd hate to be the team that gets suckered into giving Gary Matthews three years, 18 million". While this managed to avoid the title of "worst signing", it's definitely the most inexplicable. Before June 2006 the Angels probably could have easily gotten Matthews for a second tier prospect. I know that Angels G.M. Bill Stoneman is usually unwilling to deal prospects, but he was willing to give up a very good middle infielder, Alberto Callapso, for someone named Jason Bulger who pitched 1.7 innings for the Angels and was then released. I'm sure the Rangers would have gladly traded Matthews for Callapso. This tells me that the Angels truly do believe that Matthews "figured it all out" at age 31, rather than having a contract year related fluke season. On top of this, are the Angels really a better team with Matthews in center and Chone Figgins at third than they are with Figgins at center and some combination of Ron Quinlan, Macier Izturis and Brandon Wood at third?
- I think Charlie from Bucs Dugout most accurately sums up Gary Matthews:
Dave Littlefield sold Matthews in 2001. I have never seen anyone seriously try to claim this was a bad move. Matthews has since been waived by two other teams, most recently in 2004, and traded for John Bale.On the bright side, at least Matthews is a solidly below average player, unlike...
- Juan Pierre - Dodgers (5 years, 44 million): What can I say that hasn't already been said hundreds of times? Pierre's only useful talent is his speed, and for a guy with that skill set, he sure gets caught stealing a lot. Pierre shows no patience, no power, no great defensive instincts, and has a historically bad arm. Within the last six months, the Dodgers have released two players, Jose Cruz Jr., and Jayson Werth, who could have been just as effective as Pierre for a 40th of the cost. I dislike Jason Repko more than almost anyone, and even I think he wouldn't be much worse than a slight downgrade from Pierre. Pierre's success depends entirely on slapping the ball into play and hoping it never gets anywhere near a fielder. As Pierre slows down, this strategy gets less and less effective, so this should be really interesting come 2011.
Jeff Suppan - Brewers (Four years, 42 million): Suppan's success is almost entirely dependant on how good the defense behind him is, so he should take a pretty big hit moving from the Cardinals to the Brewers. Then again, most of the Brewers trouble last year came from running out of useful starters, so while Suppan wasn't the best available option, he should make the team better.
Barry Zito - Giants (Seven years, 126 million): Zito has no right being the best paid pitcher in baseball, his strikeout rate has been declining and his home run rate is increasing, but I think there's some perverted logic going on here that makes this work. The Giants are ages away from competing again, so signing a pitcher for three or four years probably won't help, but who knows what will happen by 2013? Zito is young enough, and his a good enough bill of health that he might actually contribute to the next good Giants team. Plus, he takes the current team from "hopeless" to "almost hopeless".
Only five different teams showed up on the worst contract list. I wonder what that means?