The Reds signed Daryle Ward and Jacque Jones to minor league contracts and Cliff Floyd joins his eight major league team in San Diego. These are typical end of the cycle type deals with teams looking for a genie in a bottle. Floyd is actually decent, but is now 36. Jones? What happened to him anyway? And Ward? He's only a pinch hitter, a position that never made sense to this old Fan.
Jones wasn't that bad a player. His Win Shares were always in the middle of the pack of major league outfielders. He had more Win Shares than Pat Burrell in 2006 when he hit 27 homers for the Cubs. Then he had a season last year that paralleled Andruw Jones. He started with Detroit and had 13 hits in 90 official at bats (.165). They released him and he hooked up with the Marlins where he was even worse. He had five hits there in 44 at bats (.105). This is from a guy with a .277 career Batting Average who hit over .300 twice when with the Twins. Is he washed up at 33? This year will tell.
Daryle Ward is also 33 and doesn't have a position because he's a pretty lousy fielder. So he has become a pinch hitter, a National League anachronism where you hire a guy who has had some nominal success coming off the bench to hit for the pitcher in the middle of the game. It has always seemed to the Fan to be a waste of a roster position. Any of your bench players can be that pinch hitter and you simply run up the guy who's had the hottest hand. Ward is another of those players whose reputation for doing this specialized job has prolonged a career beyond the curve. He's been below league average for Batting Average, On Base Percentage and OPS for his entire career. Oh, but he's a good pinch hitter.
Cliff Floyd, on the other hand, has been above league average in all those categories which makes him a decent pickup as a hitter for the Padres. The only problem is that he was a DH in Tampa for a reason. He has been below league average as a fielder for his entire career. So what is he going to do in San Diego? Don't tell the Fan that he's the new pinch hitter! Argh!
In other news, we now know why Ben Sheets wasn't signed by anyone. It turns out that he has a torn something or other in his elbow. The poor blighter. He's been as good as any pitcher in baseball and he can't get a break with his health. Oh well. Hopefully the Brewers will pick up the tab for his surgery and maybe we'll see Sheets in 2010.