There will be some well-known major league stars missing, when the major league season starts in 2012:
Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez needs 156 hits to reach 3,000 hits, but it looks like he won’t be getting that chance, if he isn’t signed in the next few days. Rodriguez may be asking too much to be a regular at the age of 40 and having 21 years of major league experience.
First Baseman: Derrek Lee is 36 and had a great second half in 2011, so I am surprised that he hasn’t found a team yet. He hit .323 after the All-Star game, but one stat that may have hurt him, could have been his .206 batting average with runners in scoring position. Unless he is signed soon, Lee will finish his career with 331 home runs, 1078 RBI and a .281 lifetime batting average.
Shortstop: Miguel Tejada who will be 38 in May has been linked as a steroids user, but never hit more than 34 home runs in a season. However his 34 home runs and 150 RBI season in 2004 may indicate that he did use steroids. His 2011 stats show why he wasn’t signed this off-season. He hit only 4 home runs and drove in 26 runs in 343 plate appearances. His .239 batting average and .270 OBP didn’t help either. It is doubtful that he will ever be a Hall of Famer with his steroids links.
Left fielder: Johnny Damon: Damon at 38 is 277 hits short of 3,000 hits and it is looking like he will never achieve that goal. He may need those 3,000 hits, to ever be voted into the Hall of Fame. I am really shocked that Damon has not been picked up by a team this off-season.
Right fielders: J.D. Drew at 36 seems to be content to retire. Guess he saw it was evident that no team was going to pay him the $14 million a year salary, that he earned with the Boston Red Sox the last five years. Earning $108 million in his career probably has something to do with his decision. Drew only played in 140 games or more three times in his 14 year career. He hit more than 25 home runs only twice and drove in more than 73 runs twice in his career. He only totaled 795 RBI’s during his career, not much for a player that earned $108 million in his career. Drew may be one of the most overpaid players in the history of the major leagues. Team loyalty meant nothing to Drew, since he left the Dodgers on a technicality that enabled him to garner the huge contract with the Red Sox.
Magglio Ordonez at 38 won the AL batting championship with a .363 batting average for the Detroit Tigers. However his average dropped to .317, .310, .303 and .255 in the last four years. He has not hit more than 30 home runs since the 2002 season with the Chicago White Sox.
Designated Hitters: Vladimir Guerrero at 37 is one player, who I just knew would be signed as a free agent this off-season, but now it looks like his 16 year career is over. He is 410 hits short of 3,000 hits but his other numbers are good enough, for him to be voted into the Hall of Fame. He never won a batting title, but hit over .300 thirteen times. He hit over 30 home runs eight times and drove in 100 runs in ten times. He is only two years removed from the 2010 season when he drove in 115 runs. His .318 lifetime batting average is good for fifth among active players. His nine All Star appearances and 2004 AL MVP should insure his being voted into the Hall of Fame. Guerrero, like J.D. Drew should have no financial security problems, having earned $125 million during his career.
Hideki Matsui will be 38 in June. He is undoubtedly the best power hitter to come out of Japan. Matsui had career lows in home runs with 12 and RBI with 72 in 2011, plus all his percentage numbers were career lows in 2011. Matsui should not be hurting for money, having earned $83 million during his career.
I can’t help but wonder what kind of offers these players have received during the off-season. If they are receiving much smaller offers, than they are used to they may be content to retire, rather than play for two million dollars or less in 2012.
Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan Rodriguez should be locks for the Hall of Fame, but Rodriguez may encounter some opposition for having been linked with steroids.
There is still one or two of these players that may decide to play for less money or in the case of Rodriguez play as a backup, so he can play again in 2012.