Everyone baseball fan has his personal favorite of the most outrageous off season, multimillion dollar free agent signing. A close friend, for example, can’t get over the Chicago Cubs inking .196 hitter Carlos Pena to a $10 million, one year contract. While playing for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010, the 33-year-old Pena struck out 158 times in 484 at bats while also hitting 28 home runs with 84 RBIs.
All I can say is $10 million isn’t what it used to be.
Around Pittsburgh, the consensus is that Jeff Karstens $1.1 million, one-year contract was overly generous given his 2010 stats. Karstens pitched in only 26 games, started 19, finished none, saved none, totaled a mere 122 innings and ended the year with a 3-10 record, a 4.92 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. Although he rarely escapes the fifth inning, Karstens earned nearly a threefold salary increase.
For me, however, the corker is the New York Yankees’ adding Ardruw Jones to its roster. Putting aside his suspected use of PED’s, Jones is an older than his 33 years veteran whose best seasons are long behind him. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, Jones played one year each for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox. Last year with the White Sox, Jones batted .230 with 19 home runs and 48 RBIs.
I confess that no matter what Jones may accomplish with the Yankees, I’ll never be able to view him positively. On a beautiful 2008 Independence Day at San Francisco’s AT &T Park, I saw Jones take a 0-5 collar. In more than five decades of watching major league baseball, I’ve never seen anyone more over-matched at the plate than Jones was that day.
Playing for the league leading Dodgers, Jones struck out swinging three times in a row and then took a called third strike before finally tapping a weak ground ball to third.
A look at the pitchers who handled Jones with such ease isn’t flattering either: Jonathan Sanchez, Alex Hinshaw and Jack Taschner.
But Jones’ ineptitude didn’t keep the Dodgers from winning 10-7 in a fun back and forth game between the two intrastate rivals. And, of course, any summer afternoon watching baseball at AT&T Park is always a memorable day whether your team wins or not.