Taking stock as we near the season’s midpoint

Hard to believe that the MLB season has almost hit the halfway point.  In fact, today’s action brings an end to interleague play and provides a great opportunity to make some statements about where things stand after three months of action.

As positive surprises go, you can’t get much better than the A.L. Central-leading Detroit Tigers, rebounding from last season’s disaster to lead their division currently by 4 games.  The Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners somehow continue to push the Los Angeles Angels for the A.L. West division lead.  And, though the Los Angeles Dodgers are running away with the N.L. West, as expected, the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies (under mid-season replacement manager Jim Tracy) are making surprising runs at a wildcard spot.

Conversely, the Chicago Cubs, expected to run away with the N.L. Central and contend for that long-elusive World Series Championship sit with an ugly record of 35-37, though still only 3.5 games out of first place.  The cellar-dwelling Cleveland Indians in the A.L. Central and Arizona Diamondbacks in the N.L. West entered the season with playoff aspirations but now appear likely to dismantle at the trading deadline and look to rebuild.  And the pathetic Washington Nationals, with a 22-51 record (a .301 winning percentage) may still challenge for one of the 10 worst single season records in major league baseball history.

But beyond the team records, this is also a good time to review which teams scored during this past offseason’s free agent frenzy and which flushed their cash away on non-contributors.  And the underrated Jon Heyman of SI.com has made it easy by providing his list of the best and worst free agents, 15 of the best and 10 of the worst to be exact.

Trevor Hoffman of the Milwaukee Brewers, one of this season's best free-agent signings

Trevor Hoffman of the Milwaukee Brewers, one of this season's best free-agent signings

Always fascinating to go back and see which teams picked up bargains out-performing their deals or (in the case of the big-money teams) at least are getting their big money’s worth out of their winter free agent haul.  Not surprisingly, many of the best free agent signings have been major conributors on contending teams.

And then there are the busts. 

I won’t spoil it by giving you the name of the worst free agent on the list, but click on the link to see the player that Heyman calls “an absolute train wreck”.  Heyman also points out that “no one should give this man a three-year deal”, one that of course his regretful team gave him this off-season.  Oh, and his manager just let him know this past Friday that “you’re not a player, you’re a piece of s—”.  Wheee! 

Baseball is a high-stakes game with clear winners and losers as the 162-game season unfolds.  Well-spent money can help a team win a championship.  But spending it unwisely can be an anchor that few teams can overcome.  Do it often enough as a GM and you probably won’t have to worry about it much longer.

Jim Hendry, are you listening?

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~ by acm213 on June 28, 2009.

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