Spring training is less than a week away and there's still some big-name players looking for work.…
Top Remaining Free Agents (Part Two)
Kenny Lofton, OF: Journeyman—he's played for nine teams since 2002—continued to stare down Father Time by hitting .296 with 23 stolen bases in 490 at-bats last year at age 40. So why is he still on the market? Well, he's too pricy for a non-contender and he gets grumpy when he's not playing everyday, which makes him a risky bet for a contender. Plus, who wants the most hexed player of this generation on their team come playoff time? Look at his track record: He played for the 2002 Giants (blew a 3-2 lead in the World Series), 2003 Cubs (blew a 3-1 lead in the NLCS), 2004 Yankees (blew a 3-0 lead in the ALCS) and the 2007 Indians (blew a 3-1 lead in the ALCS). The first team to blow a 4-0 lead in a best-of-seven series will have Lofton, you can take that to the bank.
Trot Nixon, OF: Still oozing with intangibles, but the tank appeared empty last season, when he hit a career-low .251 with 20 extra-base hits, including three homers, in 306 at-bats. For comparison's sake, he had 16 extra-base hits and six homers in just 149 at-bats in 2004. Told The Boston Globe recently he's healthier than he's been in years—he had back surgery after the 2006 season—and that he's willing to play first base as well as right field, but between his health issues and reduced power, it'd be difficult for anyone to rely on him as a regular.
Corey Patterson, OF: By far the youngest player (he turns 29 this year) on the list. His presence here is likely a matter of his agent, Scott Boras, misreading the market for a speedy outfielder (82 steals in 100 attempts the last two years for the Orioles) with minimal plate judgment (his career strikeout-to-walk ratio is more than 4 ½-to-1. Still not a bad bet on a one-year deal.
Sammy Sosa, DH: Emerged from forced retirement to sign a $500,000 deal with the Rangers, for whom he delivered 46 extra-base hits and 92 RBI in 410 at-bats for the Rangers. But he barely played down the stretch (82 at-bats after Aug. 1) and his diva-like tendencies make it unlikely he'll embrace a part-time role. Plus, he reportedly wants $7 million to play this year. Uhh, not likely.
Mike Sweeney, DH: Another injury-prone 30-something with leadership qualities. Back and knee issues have limited Sweeney to just 134 games the last two seasons, but the 2005 season (when he hit .300 with 21 homers and 83 RBI) is a reminder he could provide quite the return on a minimal investment. Of course, DH-types aren't exactly in demand in the AL, so Sweeney will likely have to settle for a pinch-hitter role.
Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at email@example.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.
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