Many of us have sat tirelessly through Fantasy Drafts trying to assemble the best squad possible. Some of us have done the same in front of our televisions with video game controllers in our hands, trying to field a team of perennial All-Stars and uber prospects to destroy our simulated challengers. But what about building a team of All-Time Underachievers?
Inspired by the catch phrase of the one and only “Comic Book Guy” Jeff Albertson, I set forth on my quest to compile the greatest collection of crappy imaginable. Using my 1983 Card Collecting Rookie Year as the starting point, the main criteria for making this squad was a career of sucking, with a hint of personal preferences tossed in to spice things up a bit. The process was surprisingly harder than I imagined, but still, I managed to field a terrible team. I present to you the (Comic Book Guy voice) “Worst. Team. Ever.”
Owner: Peter Angelos
Since purchasing the Baltimore Orioles in 1993, Peter Angelos has turned the once proud franchise into a complete disaster. Even with a 98 win season and AL East Title in 1997, the Orioles have managed a 1059 – 1317 (.446) during Angelos’ time as owner. While a penny-pinching small market owner could very easily have earned this position, Angelos earns the nod through moves like trying to block the move of the Montreal Expos to Washington and refusing to even attempt to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox because it would cost too much. MLB gave you $75M for a 10% stake in the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network – the least you could do is spend that money on fielding a better team ya cheap bastard!
General Manager: Allard Baird
Small market or not, Allard Baird earns his position as the man responsible for building the worst team ever through his history of horrible decisions in Kansas City. Some would argue that Baird did the best he could when dealing superstars Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran, but I am not one of them. Of the six players acquired through those two trades, only Mark Teahen remains an everyday player. Angel Berroa didn’t deserve the 2003 Rookie of the Year Award and his recent decline proves that. Toss in the fact that Baird shipped 2005 World Series MVP Jermain Dye to Colorado for Neifi Perez and signed Juan Gonzalez when everyone knew he had nothing left in the tank and you see why he’s heading up this team. Of course, I couldn’t let him do the job alone, so Bill Bavasi will be working alongside as his Assistant GM…
Manager: Buddy Bell
Originally, Wally Backman was brought on board to steer this ship, but he only lasted four days! In his place is one of Baird’s former hires. There are certainly other men who could have been put in charge of this rag-tag bunch, but no one can match Bell’s remarkable continued employment. Three teams have allowed the man with a career 463 – 657 (.413) record to guide their club, with Colorado and Kansas City each giving him an opportunity following a 109 Loss season in Detroit. While he managed to do marginally well in Townsend’s town (161 – 185), he has successfully undone all the positives left behind by Tony Pena in Kansas City. Atta boy Buddy!
Catcher: Mark Parent
13 Seasons, 474 Games, 1303 AB – .214/53/168 .268 OBP
I have always maintained that I would love to be a journeyman catcher and Parent is the epitome of why. His career home run and RBI numbers are close to a single season from Big Papi. All of his offensive shortcomings would be acceptable if he was a defensive stalwart like Mike Matheny, but Parent didn’t even have that going for him.
Backup: Kevin Cash
4 Seasons, 114 Games, 332 AB – .172/7/31 .221 OBP
A personal favourite as a former resident of the Greater Toronto Area. Cash was hailed as the Catcher of the Future with the Jays and for three seasons he was given ample opportunity to seize the position. Instead, he was pretty much a guaranteed out.
Defensive Specialist: Matt LeCroy
LeCroy was a fantasy players dream – a guy who qualified at catcher who could hit the ball and got regular at-bats, serving as a DH and first baseman with the Twins for the bulk of his career. His abilities behind the plate, however, were less than spectacular. I’m pretty sure that I could steal second off LeCroy and I’m a 200 pounder who can’t run to save my life. Watching him airmail two throws into center last season for the Nationals solidified his place here.
First Base: J.R. Phillips
7 Seasons, 242 Games, 501 AB – .188/23/67 with 180 strikeouts
Representing El Gigantes, Phillips was a minor league stud with major league holes in his swing. For years he was supposed to take over for Jack Thomas Snow at first and be the power hitting corner infielder every team dreams of. Instead, he struck out a whopping 36% of the time he stepped up to the dish and earned himself a birth on this terrible team.
Second Base: Billy Ripken
12 Seasons, 912 Games, 2729 AB – .247/20/229
When I sent the roster for this team out to my fellow Bugs & Cranks staffers, Billy Ripken’s place on this team earned a few return emails questioning my sanity. Ripken’s inclusion on this squad is one of my personal picks, since I would argue that he is known for being Cal Ripken’s kid brother and the guy with the best baseball card ever than anything else. Some have claimed he was terrific defensively, yet there are no Gold Gloves. While I know that isn’t the only mark of a defensive stalwart, you would think if he was that good he could have managed one over 12 years. Bottom line: if his last name wasn’t Ripken, he wouldn’t have lasted as long as he did.
Third Base: Brandon Larson
4 Seasons, 109 Games, 291 AB – .179/8/37 with 86 strikeouts
Another member of the squad who was heralded as his team’s saviour at a position of weakness, Larson was given a number of opportunities to seize the hot corner in Cincinnati and failed to do so repeatedly. Striking out 30% of the time doesn’t help the cause.
Shortstop: Dale Sveum (Team Captain)
12 Seasons, 862 Games, 2526 AB – .236/69/340
Milwaukee writer Jeremy Happel insisted I remove Sveum from this team, but there was no way. Sveum’s career numbers are extremely misleading as 25 of his career home runs and 95 of his 340 RBI came in one remarkable season, 1987, where he had to have been allowed to hit from a tee. For half of his 12 seasons, Sveum hit below. 200 and was under .220 on two other occasions. Perhaps it should be renamed “The Sveum Line”…
Left Field: Brad Komminsk
8 Seasons, 376 Games, 986 AB – .218/23/105 with 258 strikeouts
You gotta love obscure, journeyman outfielders from the 1980’s! Komminsk played for six organizations over his eight years. I’m pretty sure striking out every fourth at bat had something to do with that.
Center Field: Ruben Rivera (Unanimous Selection)
9 Seasons, 662 Games, 1586 AB – .216/64/203 with 510 strikeouts
Rivera’s name was put forth by a number of staffers here at B&C, as his transformation from New York Yankee phenom to a man who struck out in nearly 33% percent of his plate appearance and was responsible for the worst bit of base running legendary announcer Jon Miller has ever seen was too much for anyone to overlook. Rivera cemented his position on this list by being bold enough to once steal Derek Jeter’s glove and bat and attempting to sell the pair on eBay. It also doesn’t hurt that San Diego let All-Star center fielder Steve Finley walk after acquiring Rivera from the Yankees in the Hideki Irabu deal. Good call!
Right Field: Ryan McGuire
6 Seasons, 368 Games, 631 AB – .211/7/55 with 155 strikeouts
Much like Kevin Cash, McGuire was another player I was repeatedly told would be a future All-Star thanks to TSN’s insistence on televising Montreal Expos games in the mid-90’s. Unfortunately, he turned out to be more Ryan Minor than Mark McGwire, striking out 25% of the time collecting a meager 133 hits for his career and completing our free swinging outfield of dreams.
Utility Men: Tomas Perez & Rafael Belliard
I agree that every team needs a guy who can fill in at numerous positions and serve as a defensive replacement. That being said, there are far better options than these two, which is why they have wound up here.
Perez: 11 Seasons, 781 Games, 1886 AB – .240/24/180
Perez was another supposed Prized Prospect to come out of the Toronto Blue Jays organization in the ’90s. After four uneventful seasons in Toronto, he moved on to enjoy six more with Philadelphia before spending 2006 with Tampa Bay. While you can’t expect much out of a utility infielder, shouldn’t you be able to expect a little better than this? Where is Miguel Cairo or Luis Sojo when you need them?
Belliard: 17 Seasons, 1155 Games, 2301 AB – .221/2/142
The long-time Pirate and Brave Belliard somehow spent 17 seasons in the majors serving as an “All Glove, No Stick Guy” without much glove and is someone current Blue Jay Ryan Roberts would do well to model himself after. The even more impressive thing from Belliard’s career is that Atlanta kept resigning him. After 10 years in Pittsburgh, the Braves would repeatedly give the pint-sized Pueblo Nuevo native short-term deals when no one else had any interest in signing him.
With the position players set, it’s time to see who’ll be staring down batters from 60′ 6″ away, beginning with the Starting Rotation.
Dewon Brazelton (8-25, 6.38)
While Brazelton’s less than mediocre record alone would earn him a place in this rotation from hell, it’s the additional facts that cement his position at the top of the list. The third overall selection from the 2001 Draft, Brazelton was picked before fellow first-rounders Mark Teixeira and former Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby, as well as current All-Star and MVP Candidate Grady Sizemore and San Diego pitcher Chris Young, both of whom went in the third round. Mix in some serious behavioural issues while with the Devils Rays and you can understand why Tampa’s 2005 Opening Day starter gets the call on this band of miscreants.
Ben Hendrickson (1-10, 7.41)
Somehow, a couple of my fellow Bugs and / or Cranks lobbied against “Big Ben” being a part of this team, stating that his meager 14 MLB appearances wasn’t enough to go on. I say that is exactly why he should hold down the second spot in this wretched rotation – it only took 14 appearance for the Brewers and everyone else to realize this kid wasn’t going to be “the pitcher to take the Brewers to the promise land” as his Baseball Reference page sponsor claims. Something about giving up 79 hits and 48 Earned Runs in 58 innings screams Worst Team Ever, don’t you think?
“Hard Luck” Anthony Young (15-48, 3.89)
The man with the best ERA on the staff was actually a far better pitcher than his record indicates. His ERA under 4.00 is a much better indicator of his skills. That being said, there was no way I could leave the man who went a combined 3 -30 in ’92 and ’93 off of this team. Young’s struggles were national news during those two seasons, which means his place on this team was a guarantee.
Matt Young (55-95, 4.40)
Not an entirely horrible pitcher over his 10 year career, Matt Young earned his place on this team more or less through one game. During a 1992 Red Sox road game in Cleveland, Young threw a no-hitter… AND LOST! Now, the dormant Sox bats from that game deserve some of the credit, but this is still a remarkable accomplishment. The salt in the wounds for Young was that because Cleveland was ahead, they didn’t need to come to bat in the bottom of the ninth. As such, his performance is not recognized as an official no hitter according to Major League baseball. Welcome aboard Matty!
Bryan Rekar (25-49, 5.62)
Rekar managed to make his way onto this squad by being a member of some mediocre teams during the course of his career. After spending from 1995-1998 with the Colorado Rockies, he was a member of the Tampa Bay Devils Rays during their initial four seasons before ending his career with two brief appearances with Kansas City in 2002. The statistics from his final season say it all: 7 IP, 12 hits, 12 earned runs, 6 BB = 15.43 ERA.
Onto the bullpen!
Closer: Shawn Chacon (1-9, 7.11, 35 Saves)
Chacon was a personal choice after his one awful year as the Rockies closer. The scary part is that even with a 7.11 ERA and 9 loses, Chacon still managed to save 35 games! The team only won 68 all year… Regardless, the numbers don’t lie – Shawn Chacon was a horrible closer, thereby earning himself his place on this team.
Aaron Myette (6-12, 8.16)
One of the long relievers on this collection of craptastic, Myette’s inclusion makes me extra proud, as he is a fellow Canadian and was part of the 2004 Olympic Squad that finished 4th. At this point, please feel free to send along your remarks about how terrible a baseball nation Canada must be for this guy to be on our Olympic team. Just remember though, we do have the reigning AL MVP…
Chris George (14-20, 6.48)
The lefthanded half of our long relief / spot starter tandem, the former Kansas City Royals prospect made his way onto this squad by allowing 300 hits and 171 Earned Runs over his un-lustrious four year career.
Eric Ludwick (2-10, 8.35)
Just because you can never have enough lefthanders available, especially with a rotation like this one, the original St. Louis Ludwick has found a new home. Ryan’s brother gets extra points for being traded for some well-known talent, first going from the Mets to the Cards for Bernard Gilkey and then accompanying fellow flameout Blake Stein and TJ Mathews to Oakland for MARK McGWIRE! How’d that one work out for ya Mr. Moneyball?
Dennis Springer (24-48, 5.18)
What team of terrible would be complete without a knuckleballer, especially one whose knuckleball failed to knuckle more often than not? Dennis Springer also makes this team as he is one of those guys who evokes the “Why the hell do they keep sending this guy out there?” response Victor Zambrano has revived in Toronto.
Dennis Tankersley (1-10, 7.61)
As much as everyone argued that 1-10 Ben Hendrickson shouldn’t be included on this team, no one said a word about the selection of the 1-10 Tankersley. Could it have been his 2003 campaign in San Diego,where he managed to achieve the ultra-impressive Infinite ERA?
1 Game Started – Zero IP, 3 Hits, 4 BB, 7 Earned Runs
Somehow, he managed to get 6 more starts and 3 more relief appearances the following year before falling off the face of the Earth.
Ryan Glynn (9-20, 6.24)
Another member of this squad who made his way through Toronto at one point or another, I recall watching Glynn pitch for the Jays and hearing the commentator (the horrific Jamie Campbell) remark that Glynn only had two pitches, a fastball and a changeup and that he was having difficulty with each. I have a fastball and a changeup! Shouldn’t that automatically remove you from a teams plans? It didn’t, as Glynn resurfaced in Oakland the following year before moving onto Japan this season.
Mac Suzuki (16-31, 5.72)
Speaking of the Land of the Rising Sun, the final piece of a puzzle of putrid is another member of the “Why do they keep marching him out there?” Club. Suzuki was given 67 opportunities to start over his 6 year career and managed to come out on the losing end of a decision nearly 2/3 of the time. But if he needs to look at things on the bright side, he has more victories than Myette, Tankersley, Ludwick and Glynn put together!
That’s it… Now the fun begins.
Part of the fun of compiling a collection of craptacular like this is hearing what everyone else thinks, so send your comments along and tell me who you would add and subtract if you were fielding your own Worst. Team. Ever.
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