We are winding down on the 2016 baseball season and I have been waiting for a certain Cardinals player to turn around their season. Do something positive for the team. I reached a tipping point of sorts today, so I came up with my first Friday Five post in awhile. These are always fun to write, and tonight, this one is going to help me blow off a little steam about my Cardinals.
Every baseball fan has a player, or players that they wish their team had never ever touched. The Cardinals are no exception. While they have been good of late, there have been a few less than stellar signings over the years. One of them took place this year. Luckily Jason Heyward and his .630 OPS is not on the team, or there would have been two of them from this year's squad on my list of five.
Without further delay: Five Cardinals Players I'd Rather Not Have In My Collection
5. Bob Horner - 1988
Horner was a fixture for the Braves infield for much of the late 70s and early 1980s. After finishing the 1986 season in Atlanta he opted to play a season in Japan with Yakult where he hit .327/.423/.683 with 31 home runs and 73 RBIs in just 93 games. The Cardinals had lost Jack Clark at the end of the 1987 season to the Yankees, so Horner seemed like a good option to fill his spot at first and give Whitey Herzog his token big bat in the middle of the line up. Horner lasted just 60 games with the Cardinals and hit a whopping 3 home runs in almost 250 plate appearances. The 1988 Cardinals ended up trading for a few power hitters in season to compensate picking up Tom Brunansky from the Twins and Pedro Guerrero from the Dodgers.
4. Adam Kennedy Part II
Kennedy was originally a Cardinals prospect and number one draft pick. The team called him up at the end of the 1999 season and then packaged him up with Kent Bottenfield in a trade with the Angels for Jim Edmonds. Kennedy was sort of an average player for the Angels for the seven years he was on the team, but he also famously went Reggie Jackson in Game 5 of the 2002 ALCS...
For some reason nobody has yet to figure out, the Cardinals brought him back to the team in 2007 where he clashed with Tony LaRussa, played horribly, and ended up getting run out of town. In fact, he ended up on the Durham Bulls. Just an all around bad signing by the team who had the opportunity to retain Ronnie Belliard from the 2006 team. While Belliard was not exactly an All-Star caliber player, he spent the next three seasons post numbers at, or above, the league average from second baseman and got paid less money than Kennedy. Painful.
3. Wiggy (Ty Wigginton) 2013
Wiggy got paid $5 million dollars over two years to be a bat off the bench for the Cardinals. The problem is that Wiggy only made it 57 at bats into the two year deal. In those 57 at bats he posted a slash line of .158/.238/.193 for an OPS of .431 and OPS+ of 21. That's better than Bartolo Colon batting, but just slightly better. On July 9th, 2013 the Cardinals kicked Wiggy to the curb and Cardinals fans rejoiced.
2. Mike Leake 2016
I had really thought about making Mike Leake first on my list this week since he is the inspiration for this post. When the Cardinals announced his signing I was at a Wendy's in Princeton, West Virginia stopping to eat lunch on road trip to Michigan. I remember tweeting out, hoping that something would hit a snag, and Mike Leake would not get a five year 80 million dollar contract from the Cardinals. Welp, didn't happen. Mike has an ERA of 4.54 and an ERA+ of 90. I guess Mike has four more years to do something, but I wouldn't mind if he got lost in the bullpen or left in an airport on a road trip. A lot of luggage gets lost in Denver, the Cardinals were just there, but apparently Mike made the plane to Chicago. Sigh.
1. Tino Martinez 2002-2003
The Cardinals had Mark McGwire in 2001 for his last season and it was dreadful, so the team signed Tino Martinez to replace him. Tino was a winner and there was some sort of personal connection to Tony LaRussa, seemed like a good fit until Tino couldn't hit home runs anymore. In 2001 Tino hit 34 with the Yankees, 2002 he hit 21, and in 2003 he hit 15. In the two years Tino played for the Cardinals Albert Pujols played left field, but frequently ended up at first base when LaRussa would keep Albert's bat in the lineup moving him to first, and playing a defensive outfielder as a sub for Tino.
I guess being double switch for Kerry Robinson and So Taguchi was not cool in Tino's book who told a New York sports reporter that St. Louis wasn't as good of a baseball town as St. Louis. Not going to argue the point, but it's never a good idea to put down the city in which you are employed as a professional athlete.
I will give Tino some plus points, and the possibility of moving to second on this list if Mike Leake stinks all five years of his contract, for his fight with Miguel Batista in 2003. Batista hit Martinez with a pitch during an at-bat early in the game. Tino had a few words, went to first, and then was forced out at second later in the inning. Rather than running back to the dugout, Tino decided it was time to charge the mound. No video, but there is a picture of the fight.....