Now that we’ve completed celebrating the best in baseball, it’s that time again to recognize among the Thanksgiving leftovers the worst in 2017, on the field and off. Our annual Top Ten Turkeys List:
10. ALEX GORDON
In 2016, the Royals signed their homegrown franchise player to a club record four-year, $70 million contract and they are already greatly regretting it. In 2017, Gordon was quite possibly the worst hitter in baseball, given his salary and the power/production expected from a corner outfielder. His .208 average was third lowest in the majors among qualifiers and his .608 OPS was the absolute lowest. He also hit but nine homers, his lowest total since his injury-filled 2010 season. He’s owed $20 million in each of the next two seasons.
9. YULI GURRIEL
Ah but for one stupid, insensitive gesture. Gurriel emerged as a real force for the Astros in 2017, a key component in their world championship run. But no matter what he does for the rest of his career he is going to be forever remembered for his racist gesture at Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish after he’d hit a home run off him in the third game of the World Series. Using his fingers to slant his eyes, he was caught on national TV cameras mouthing the word “chinito”, a Spanish term for “little Chinese”. “I didn’t think anyone would think (bad) about what I meant with all those kinds of things and that,” Gurriel said later. Rob Manfred did. The Commissioner suspended him for seven games starting off the ’18 season.
8. MATT MOORE
The best thing about Matt Moore’s 2017 season was that he religiously took the ball for 32 starts, which was the primary incentive for the Giants to pick up his $9 million option for 2018. Problem is he didn’t pitch very well in most of them. You could make the case that Moore was the worst starting pitcher in baseball last year – certainly his 5.52 ERA was among qualifiers. He also led the majors in losses (15) while surrendering 200 hits, including 27 homers, in 174 innings. Not surprisingly, he also had the second highest WHIP (1.53) in the majors.
7. CURT SCHILLING
You can always count on Curt Schilling to get on this list by sticking his foot in the political mud and saying something stupid — and this year was no different when he asserted that the Orioles’ Adam Jones was full of it when he said he was targeted by racist taunts at Fenway Park. In May, Jones reported he was berated with the ‘N’ word a number of times and had a bag of peanuts thrown at him by an obnoxious fan in the Fenway bleachers in one of the worst cases of fan abuse he’d experienced in his entire career. Two weeks later, Schilling, on Breitbart Radio Network, said: “I don’t believe the story for this reason: Everybody is starving and hungry to sit in front of a camera and talk and be social justice warriors.” We’re beginning to think Schilling may be the first player in history to talk his way out of being elected to the Hall of Fame.
6. BRUCE MAXWELL
Mirroring Schilling on the other end of the political jerk syndrome there was A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell, the only major league player to take a knee as part of the national anthem protests. But no sooner had Maxwell been hailed for his “courage” by his fellow protesters, he got himself arrested after allegedly pulling a gun on a food delivery driver at his Arizona home. Reportedly, Maxwell reeked of booze and made anti-police rants when arrested. In retrospect, the national anthem protest movement probably wishes they’d had a better lone representative for their cause from baseball.
5. METS UPPER MANAGEMENT
There’s just no getting around what a horrible year it was for the Mets and while injuries played the major part in it, upper management has to be held accountable for the way everything was handled and the fact that there is nothing coming in the Mets farm system for the foreseeable future. In particular, the Mets’ brass should be ashamed for the way they treated Terry Collins at the end. Bad enough they forbade him from discussing the elephant in the room – injuries – during the season, but at the end there were the leaks in the press, knocking him, and finally that last game at Citi Field when the Mets paid tribute on the scoreboard to everyone from the ticket takers to the ushers as Collins, the man who led them to the World Series two years earlier, watched forlornly from the dugout. Maybe someday the Mets will learn how to fire a manger with some dignity.
4. JEFF LUHNOW
If you thought Astros GM Jeff Luhnow should be getting accolades for winning the World Series – the first in Houston’s history – sorry to disappoint you. Luhnow, the king of analytics among his fellow GMs, will tell you that was the reason for the Astros’ success when, in fact, it was anything but. Of the key players on the Astros, Dallas Keuchel, George Springer and Jose Altuve were signed before Luhnow got there, while Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Lance McCullers were all no-brainer No. 1 picks, the product of owner Jim Crane’s decision to “tank it” after the 2011 season. And while Yuli Gurriel may have turned out to be an inspired Cuban free agent sign, it is offset by Luhnow’s decision to release J.D. Martinez in 2014. For his part, Luhnow capped off the regular season by firing eight longtime professional scouts, presumably to replace them with even more analytics geeks.
3. JOHN COPPOLELLA
You’ve got to have done something truly egregious to get what is the equivalent of the “death penalty” – permanent banishment from baseball – from the Commissioner. Coppolella, the disgraced fired Atlanta Braves GM, joined Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson and a small group of others with lifetime bans from the game after brazenly violating all sorts of international signing rules, with unreported and inflated bonuses to amateur players while illegally circumventing the international bonus pool rules. In meting out Coppolella’s punishment, which included 13 Braves prospects, including their top prospect, Venezuelan shortstop Kevin Maitan, being declared free agents, Commissioner Manfred said just stripping the Braves of their prospects was not sufficient punishment for the misconduct that was committed by the organization.
2. DAVID PRICE
Two years after signing his record seven-year, $217 million deal with the Red Sox, David Price has become the last angry man in Boston. Maybe it was frustration over his underwhelming return (3.84 ERA) for that money, but Price had no cause for cursing out and embarrassing classy Hall-of-Famer Dennis Eckersley on a team flight in July. Price’s beef? Eckersley, one of the team broadcasters, expressing the word “yuck” in regard to Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez’s statistics. OMG! Making it worse, Red Sox manager John Farrell cowardly said nothing to Eckersley after other team officials apologized to him. And then there was the incident earlier in the season when Price was heard in the clubhouse screaming “—- them all. All of them” in reference to the reporters covering the team. Nice.
1. NOAH SYNDERGAARD
Say hello to the poster boy for one of the worst, most disappointing seasons in Mets’ history. You could make the case that no one was more responsible for the Mets’ 2017 demise than Noah Syndergaard, who was being counted on to anchor their vaunted rotation but instead, through his own fault, led the injury parade that cost manager Terry Collins his job. Bad enough that Syndergaard decided on his own to bulk up with some 17 pounds of extra muscle mass over the winter, but then when he started experiencing tightness in his pitching shoulder he refused an MRI and proceeded to tear a lat muscle that effectively cost him the whole season. Now it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll ever fulfill that great promise the Mets held for him.
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