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Article:Baseball Notebook: End of Line For These Free Agents?

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Time is running out for the free agents who aren't signed yet. Pitchers are particularly in jeopardy of not finding a team since the first spring training games start this week, and pitchers need about two weeks to get in game shape. Some of these players should have been out of baseball for two or three years. Listed below are some of the better known players that may be on the brink of ending their careers:

Barry Bonds

Barry "Balco" Bonds probably would have been signed by now if not for his legal problems. Bonds has to be particularly frustrated since he is only 65 hits from 3000 hits and with him becoming 44 in July time is running out fast on him. He needs 4 RBI's to reach the 2000 RBI mark which would have made him the fourth player with over 2000 RBI's. Only Hank Aaron (2297), Babe Ruth (2217), and Cap Anson (2076) are in the 2000 RBI club. Latest reports are that Tony LaRussa was interested in obtaining Bonds, but told Bonds they had everything but money, and the Cardinals front office was not interested in signing Bonds. Bonds may have to decide what he wants most: having 3000 hits or playing for a lot less money.

Jeff Cirillo

It is surprising that a .296 lifetime hitter who hit .319 just two years ago is without a team. Cirillo hit .261 for the Twins and .200 for the Diamondbacks last season so that may have ended his chances of playing major league baseball again.

Bartolo Colon

Injuries may have ended the career of Bartolo Colon. He has a lifetime record of 146-95 and an ERA of 4.10. He has won at least 15 games in five seasons and has been a 20 game winner twice. In 2005 he had a 21-8 record for the Angels but in the last two seasons has been 1-5 and 6-8. Over the last two seasons the Angels have paid him $30 million to win a total of seven games. There is not much market for a pitcher who has allowed opponents to hit .306 and .320 the last two seasons against him. He has not been effective since his 21 win season in 2005. With Colon earning $68.8 million during his career he should be financially set for life.

Julio Franco

Franco would love to be playing in the major leagues on the 23rd of August when he turns 50, but with only three doubles and a home run in 90 at-bats last season I will be surprised if a major league team signs him for the 2008 season. With Mark Teixeira and Scott Thorman ahead of him in the depth chart at first base, there is no reason for the Braves to sign him.

Freddy Garcia

At 31 Garcia has time on his side and has 117-76 record with an ERA of 4.07. After winning 17 games in 2006 injuries limited him to pitching 58 innings last season with a 1-5 record. He has won at least 13 games in six different seasons. There may be a team out there who may still sign Garcia but hopefully they will get more than the one win the Phillies got out of him in 2007 for $10 million.

Shawn Green

It looks like Green has reached the end of the road after only driving in 46 runs his worst RBI season since 1996 when he was with the Blue Jays and drove in 45 runs. His .430 slugging percentage last season was the lowest of his career in a full season. He hit over 40 home runs four times, and drove in over 100 runs four times. Apparently, he will be ending his career with 328 lifetime home runs and 1071 RBI's with a .282 batting average. His name will be on the Hall of Fame ballot in about five years but doubt he will make it with those numbers.

Ryan Klesko

It is hard to believe Klesko will be 37 in June, but that may be part of the reason no team, as of today, has signed him for the 2008 season. His 2006 injury, which limited him to 4 at bats in that season, coupled with his 6 home runs in 362 at bats in 2007, may spell the end of his career. In 2001 with the Padres, Klesko fell only seven stolen bases short of having a 30-30 season.

Corey Koskie

This is a story that goes beyond statistics or money. Since he suffered post-concussion syndrome in 2006 when injured in a fall while chasing a foul popup, Koskie has not played. Even if healthy, he would have lost his third base position to Ryan Braun, so the Brewers bought out his contract and released him. Koskie has been ridiculed by fans who say he was not playing because he was home with a headache.

After the injury, Koskie tried to bat one time and it looked to him like the pitcher was behind a screen and knew he couldn't run bases if he had reached base. His neck had whiplashed on the play. In a story at espn.com, Jerry Crasnick reports that Koskie leads his three sons in prayers each night and that one son prayed that God would heal his head. Koskie may like to play again someday, but his first priority is to recover from the brain injury that caused his intelligence scores to drop so he may not even be mentally capable of playing baseball until the brain injury is better.

Kenny Lofton

Lofton's age may be the prevailing factor in the reluctance by any team to sign him. He still is probably better than a lot of outfielders who will be playing in majors this season. Lofton will be 41 in May. It is unlikely that his salary demands are exorbitant since he played for $6 million in 2007. His .299 lifetime average and 21 steals last season in 25 tries show he is still capable of helping a team.

Jose Mesa

Mesa started playing in major leagues when he pitched for Orioles in 1989. He will be 42 in May and has a 80-109 record with a 4.36 ERA. His 321 saves is 13th best alltime. Mesa has only batted twice in 19 seasons.

Eric Milton

The career of Milton has been in downward spiral since he was 14-6 for the Phillies in 2004. Since 2004 he has been 16-27. That is not much of a return for Reds who have paid him over $25 million for those 16 wins over three seasons.

Russ Ortiz

Ortiz is 110-82 in his major league career with a 4.42 ERA. In 2003 and 2004 with the Braves he compiled a 36-16 record. Since 2004, he has a 7-22 record and in the last three seasons has had ERA of 6.89, 8.14 and 5.51. Since leaving the Braves opponents have hit .313, .333 and .295 against his pitching. It may be time for Ortiz to retire and enjoy spending some of the $15 million the Diamonbacks paid him for his 5-16 record while with them in 2005 and 2006.

Akinori Otsuka

It would not be a major surprise to see a team sign Otsuka before opening day. He was 2-1 last season with the Rangers, and had a 2.51 ERA. Hitters only hit .218 against him, but he did have problems saving games, as he blew 3 saves in 7 opportunities after blowing 4 saves in 36 opportunities in 2006. Otsuka is too good to not be pitching in 2008. He did turn 36 in January so that may be a factor in him not being signed yet.

Mike Piazza

Piazza only played in 83 games for the A's last season and hit 8 home runs and drove in 44 runs while hitting .275. With Piazza turning 40 in September, it is doubtful any team will sign him now. His .414 sluggging percentage was the lowest of his career since his first season when he slugged .319 in 1992. Piazza has 427 home runs and 1335 RBI's and a lifetime batting average of .308. Even if Piazza never plays again we should be hearing his name announced as a Hall of Famer in five or six years.

Reggie Sanders

Age has finally caught up with Sanders. He is now 40 and has played in 93, 88, and 24 games in the last three seasons showing he is not capable of being an everyday player. He has 305 lifetime home runs with 983 RBI's and a lifetime average of .267.

Aaron Sele

Sele has a 148-112 record with a 4.61 ERA. Hitters hit .358 against him in 2007 making it highly unlikely any team will take a chance on signing him.

Sammy Sosa

Sosa had a great year in 2006, driving in 92 runs for the Rangers. He doesn't turn 40 until November, so he should have one more good season in him. Teams have probably noticed he had driven in 63 runs before the All-Star game and only 29 after. He hit .333 with runners in scoring position and two out. Bleacherreport.com reports that Sosa would like to play for the Royals but the Royals have no interest in signing him.

Over the winter, Sosa requested a $7 million contract to play in 2008 after playing for $500,000 last season for the Rangers so he may have priced himself out of the market. If he never plays again he will finish with 609 home runs, 1667 RBI's and a .273 batting average. Unless he has squandered the $124 million he has made in his career he should be financially set for life.

Jeff Weaver

When looking at Weaver's stats, it is a wonder he has even been in the majors the last two seasons. After having a 14-11 record for the Dodgers in 2005 he has been 15-27 combined while pitching for the Angels, Cardinals, and the Mariners. His ERA with the Angels was 6.29, 5.18 with the Cardinals and 6.20 with the Mariners. He has only pitched over .500 baseball twice since his career started in 1999. Opponents hit .315 against him last season. He has a 93-114 record with a 4.72 ERA over his career. In 2002, he was part of a three team trade that ended up with him going to the Yankees and the A's sending Jeremy Bonderman as the player to be named later to the Tigers.

David Wells

With David Wells turning 45 in May it almost certain that his career has come to a screeching halt. He has a 239-157 lifetime record with a 4.13 ERA. With hitters hitting .314 and .316 against him in the last two seasons he is not fooling anyone. If Wells does pitch this season, he will be 6th in wins among active pitchers with 239 wins. On May 17, 1998 he pitched a perfect game in Yankee Stadium, defeating the Twins 4-0. On June 18th, 1999 David Cone pitched a perfect game in Yankee Stadium defeating the Expos 6-0. Wells has never pretended to be an athlete but he has pitched well enough to probably garner some Hall of Fame votes but not enough to be admitted.

Rondell White

White has had a good career but not the kind of career expected from him. He has 198 home runs, 768 RBI's and a .284 lifetime batting average. His career started with Expos in 1993, and in his 14 years, he has batted over 500 times only twice. Since the start of this century, his high in home runs is 19 and for RBI's it is 67. Last September he said he was 99 percent sure he was going to retire. I think it is safe to say it is 100 percent now.

Bob Wickman

Wickman started his career in 1992 pitching for the Yankees. Wickman has a 63-61 record with a 3.57 ERA and 267 saves. At 39 it looks like his career is over.

Preston Wilson

Wilson won't be 34 until July. He is another player that never reached the level expected of him. He has 189 home runs and 668 RBI's and has a .264 lifetime average. From 1999-2003, he had seasons of 26, 31, 23, 23, and 36 home runs. After having 36 home runs and 141 RBI's for Colorado in 2003 he had 6 home runs and 29 RBI's in 2004 due to playing in only 58 games. In 2000 he was a member of the 30-30 club while playing for the Marlins.


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