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Worst Deals in Diamondbacks History

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Let's be clear about this particular list. It benefits entirely from 20/20 hindsight. Some of these deals were troublesome when they were announced, but others did seem to make sense at the time, based on past performance. We don't care any more: the mantra is "What have you done for me lately?" and so these have been analyzed purely on the results which were actually produced. Suggestions of any I may have missed are welcome, though I doubt there'll be much argument over the top choice...

  1. Russ Ortiz: 4 years, $33m. By the time we finally get him off the books, Ortiz will have been paid more than a million dollars, every time he took the mound for Arizona. Or, to put it another way, $240,000 per inning. Pardon me while I vomit. He made 28 starts, posting a 5-16 record and an ERA of 7.00, before being dumped half-way through the second year.

  2. Richie Sexson: 1 year, $8.7m. Thanks to a couple of injuries, he had just 90 at-bats for Arizona. Was on pace for a 50-homer season, but missed 139 games, then bolted to Seattle at the end of the year. And we also traded Lyle Overbay and Chris Capuano, among others, for him. Overbay has posted OPS+ of 127, 113 and 126 in the three seasons since, while Capuano was an All-Star in 2006.

  3. Todd Stottlemyre: 4 years, $32m. Hardly worse than Ortiz's contract was the Stottlemyre one, especially allowing for inflation since 1999. Over its lifetime, he started just 39 games, with an ERA of 4.77. Stottlemyre tore his rotator cuff two months in, and an apparently endless list of ailments followed. He missed all 2001, getting a nerve relocated because of tendonitis, and never made a dozen consecutive starts without hitting the DL. The sorry saga ended in June 2002, when he had surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow.

  4. Matt Mantei: 4 years, $22m. We paid Mantei for four seasons as our closer, 2001-04, and got a single, half-decent one: in 2003 he had 29 saves. The other three years, he managed a total of six, injury limiting him to a mere 43.2 innings of work. Including his "good" year, we got less than a hundred innings for our $22m, rivalling the Huge Manatee on a cost per pitch basis.

  5. Bernard Gilkey: 2 years, $10.5m. The figure quoted here is approximate; when we traded for him from the Mets in mid-1998, cash went in both directions. We got 161 games from him before dumping him mid-2000, eating the remainder of his contract. During his AZ time, Gilkey batted .246, because of eye problems, with less than thirty extra-base hits and eleven HR for all that cash. We should have taken heed of his Men in Black cameo, where he gets nailed by a fly-ball.

  6. Travis Lee: 4 years, $10m. Back in October 1996, before we'd ever played a game, we pounced on Lee after the Twins failed to give him a contract, signing someone who'd never played in the majors to an eight-figure contract. Expected to be the franchise face, Lee fizzled, posting an OPS+ of 90. The most valuable thing he ever did for Arizona, was be part of the trade that brought Curt Schilling here.

  7. Jason Grimsley: 1 year, $825K. Though paying that much for 27.2 innings of below-average relief pitching isn't good, this makes the list less for financial reasons, than the staggeringly-awful nature of the off-field scenario which unfolded. Previously, AZ fans could snigger complacently at the BALCO-infested locker-room over by the bay, but Grimsley's exposure by the Feds single-handedly derailed the entire 2006 season.

  8. Shawn Green: 3 years, $20m. The trade which brought Green to Arizona in January 2005 was not awful in itself, with Green filling a need in RF. However, the contract extension tied into it proved to be a complete albatross: Green had lost more than 130 points of OPS from 2002 through 2004, and even the move to a hitter's park only delayed the inevitable. The team also failed to notice the presence of a younger, cheaper, better alternative of Carlos Quentin. Pawning Green to the Mets, even with $6.5m in cash, was near-miraculous.

  9. Luis Gonzalez: 3 years, $30m. This extension Luis got in 2003 would undoubtedly rank higher, except it was, to some extent, a make-up deal. Gonzo's 57 homers [if you exclude the tainted Sosa, McGwire and Bonds - and I know I do - the eighth-most all-time] in 2001 cost just $4.3m. While unquestionably nice, the results proved more charitable than a wise investment of resources. Gonzo hit only .268, with fewer homers over the three years combined than in that World Series season.

  10. Matt Williams: 5 years, $45m. Like Lee, this was one of those contracts signed before the Diamondbacks started play, and was clearly intended to make a statement. Unfortunately, the statement turned out to be that Arizona were an easy mark for players past their prime. OPS+'s of 99, 121, 85, 94 and 102 followed, which averages out at almost exactly 100. Even allowing for Williams' good hands, definitely far short of being worth $9m a year.

Honorable mentions: Jay Bell (5 years, $34m), Mark Grace (3 years, $7.75m, 96 OPS+), Shane Reynolds (1 year, $1m, 2 innings). The good news is how clear we currently are of many contenders for future inclusion on the list. The Johnson contract could end up rolling snake eyes, but equally, may end up a brilliant move. If Tony Clark has another dismal season, then his contract extension might merit honorable mention, but basically, the cash only counts as a misuse of pocket change in the baseball scheme of things.