COMMENTARY | The Detroit Tigers have fewer -- or maybe just smaller -- free-agent busts than baseball's big-market teams.
The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and many others have far more notable ones. The common denominator for all Tigers' flops, however, is that they came up lame. You know what they say about hindsight, of course. But here's my 20-20 take on the five most consequential Tigers free-agent flops, including the potential recipient of this year's ignominious distinction.
In the case of Vina, the money was small, at least by 2004 standards. The Tigers thought they were getting a bargain when they signed the two-time Gold Glove winner and former NL All-Star to a two-year, $6 million deal. (In contrast, Dean Palmer, who will be discussed later, had signed a five-year deal for $7 million per in 2000.) What they ended up with was anything but. Vina played in 29 games during his career as a Tiger, hitting all of.226.
The Tigers were unable to see what those "in the know" knew. Vina had leg issues before he signed the contract, but he hid them from the Tigers in order to pull in another $6 million before officially biting the infield dust. He was subsequently named in the congressional investigation into steroid use in baseball as a participant, a charge he only partially denies.
Who? After a solid career with the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A's, Moore signed a, for the day, relatively large three-year, $10 million contract entering the 1993 season. After that, it was downhill all the way for Moore. His average three-year ERA was 6.05, but in his final season Moore hit rock-bottom, going 5-15 with a 7.53 ERA. To add insult to injury, he came out on the short end of 10 consecutive decisions before he was released from his, and everyone else's, misery. His 7.53 ERA remains one of the worst in major-league history among pitchers who worked at least 100 innings.
The heretofore mentioned Palmer would be more accurately described as a half flop. He hit well during the first two years of his $35 million contract, after which he was nowhere to be seen.
After a nice little career with Oakland, Kansas City and St. Louis, Paquette signed for $4.5 million for two years in 2002. He appeared 83 times over those two seasons before retiring from the game.
While he was technically not a free-agent acquisition due to the fact that his previous team was the one he plays with now, Valverde shopped his wares on the free-agent market and found no takers before re-signing with the Tigers. The jury is still out on this season, of course, but many are predicting that Papa Grande's once dominating split-finger fastball will not be rejoining him in the Tigers' bullpen.
A lifelong follower of theDetroit Tigers, Mike has covered sports, automotive, government and interfaith issues for publications and websites including "The Detroit News," Internet Auto Guide, Opposing Views, American Thinker, Examiner and A Common Word.
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