COMMENTARY | The Philadelphia Phillies have had mixed results with free agency since it all started in 1976. First baseman Richie Hebner was their first significant signing in December of that year. Pete Rose was their best in December 1978.
But the Phillies have had their share of stinkers as well, and here in ascending order is my list of their five worst, courtesy of statistics from baseball-reference.com:
5. David Bell, 2002
David Bell had a decent 12-year career in the majors, hitting .257 with 123 home runs. The biggest knock on his Phillies career is that he wasn't worth his four-year, $17 million contract. He was signed in December 2002 after hitting 20 homers while playing a solid third base for San Francisco the previous season. He went on to hit 38 homers in his four years in Philadelphia.
Now, Bell did have a solid 2004 season, hitting .291 with 18 homers and 77 RBIs. Additionally, he was bitten plenty by the injury bug. But by the economic standards of the time, he's looked at as a bust.
4. Lance Parrish, 1987
Lance Parrish was a tremendous power hitter and team leader during his 10 seasons in Detroit. He was a six-time All-Star and a central figure as catcher on a 1984 Detroit Tigers championship team that was one of the best of the last 35 years. He arrived in Philadelphia with considerable hype as a power compliment to Mike Schmidt. But his two seasons in Philadelphia were largely forgettable, hitting .245 with 17 homers in 1987 and .215 with 15 homers in 1988.
3. Adam Eaton, 2006
It's hard to remember another Phillies player other than the mercurial Dick Allen who had a more difficult time with Philadelphia fans than Adam Eaton. Folks, this pitcher was booed when he was introduced during the 2008 world championship celebration at Citizens Bank Park. Eaton made more than $15 million is his two Phillies seasons, winning 14 games and losing 18, giving up more than six runs a game. But considering he wasn't exactly Cy Young during his time before Philadelphia, it's probably more appropriate to put the onus on the Phillies for paying him so well in the first place.
2. Mike Jackson, 1999
Mike Jackson had some great years in the bullpens of the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians, and actually started his career as a starter and reliever in Philadelphia. The reason he's so high on this list is he signed again with the Phillies for $3 million to pitch the 2000 season. Problem was he got hurt and never pitched a game. The Phillies didn't bring him back, and he squeezed out three more seasons elsewhere.
1. Danny Tartabull, 1997
Danny Tartabull was a prolific power hitter for much of his career, banging out 262 homers in 14 seasons. The Phillies signed him for $2 million after he had slugged 27 homers and drove in 101 runs for the Chicago White Sox in 1996. But his Phillies career lasted a grand total of three games in which he failed to get a hit. He did record four walks and two runs before an injury ended his playing days.
Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Phillies follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards. He covered the 1980 World Series, the first championship in Phillies history.
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