15 WORST Players for the Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have had too many bums!
In the days of the old Brooklyn Dodgers, fans affectionately called the team “Dem Bums,” until they finally won a World Series in 1955. Then there were no more cries of “Wait ‘til next year!” But since the Dodgers came west in 1958, a Dodger bum is just that – a player who either didn’t earn his salary, caused too much trouble or made mistakes at critical times in Dodger history.
Most of the players on this "bums list" were signed as free agents by the Dodgers, though not all of them. However, many of these players came with at least great potential – and then, in the vernacular, stunk up the joint.
Therefore, you won’t find on this list pinch hitters, utility infielders or crafty veterans trying to tack on one more season. Few people expect much from such players. Nor will you find any young players that came up from the Minor Leagues for a short time and then disappeared. There are way too many of those players to be put on any such list. And they aren't bums either, because everybody can't play Major League Baseball. Furthermore, out of respect for the departed, no deceased players are on this list.
As a final note before we begin the list, let’s keep in mind the Dodgers have spent in recent years well over a billions dollars on free agents, many of whom have ended up on this list or soon will, yet they haven’t made it back to the World Series since 1988. It appears the Dodgers have not learned the adage: You can’t buy a pennant.
Be that as it may, the new ownership of the Dodgers, led by Magic Johnson, is spending bales of money on the quest for a world championship. So, should the Dodgers be called Yankees West?
Now here’s the list of the 15 WORST Players for the Los Angeles Dodgers:
1. Carl Crawford
Carl Crawford, nicknamed “The Perfect Storm,” is an outfielder who came to the Dodgers in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox in August 2012. Keep in mind, at the end of 2010, Crawford had signed a seven-year, $142-million deal with the Red Sox. But Crawford had Tommy John surgery just days before the deal was made and wasn’t even able to play when the Dodgers got him! Well, maybe he never should have played at all for Big Blue because, other than showing a few flashes of his former self, offering a good combination of speed and power, Crawford did nothing but disappoint. When he could play, he’d knock in runs and steal bases, but he spent most of his time on the disabled list. It seems Carl Crawford was another MLB player who couldn’t stay healthy beyond the age of 30. And since the Dodgers have plenty of young talent in the outfield these days, they cut Crawford in June 2016, even though they still owed him about $35 million on his contract. It seems “The Perfect Storm” was, for the Dodgers at least, nothing but a tempest in a toilet bowl!
2. Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson, alias “The Beard” for one obvious reason, started his Dodger career pitching set-up at the end of the 2013 season, and he was pretty much “lights out” as they say, posting a 0.66 ERA in 13 innings. Not bad for a guy who had two Tommy John surgeries. So the Dodgers signed him to a one-year contract plus an option year. But in 2014 The Beard wasn’t the same pitcher, as he seemed to have lost his 98-mph heater, becoming a junk pitcher in the process. His ERA soared to 4.66 and he gave up 49 hits in 48 innings. After the end of the season, the Dodgers decided to eat the $11 million player option, which Wilson had snatched – of course. Yum-yum, eat ‘em up, Dodger Blue! So what’s The Beard’s real nickname? The Bust, what else?
3. Matt Kemp
Matt Kemp began his Dodger career in 2006, compiling good numbers, but 2011 was his breakout season: .324, 39 HRs, 126 RBIs and 40 SBs. On offense and defense, Kemp was Mr. Everything; he played just about every game too. After the season, Kemp signed an eight-year $160 million extension and boasted he would become baseball’s first 50-50 man. Dodger fans wondered if he would become the Dodgers’ version of Willie Mays. Then 2012 Kemp had hamstring trouble and hurt his shoulder late in the season. Consequently, he accomplished about half of what he did the prior year. The following year, Kemp pulled his hamstring again and his shoulder still bothered him; he suffered a serious ankle injury too. His numbers were abysmal. In 2014, it appeared Kemp had lost a step and could no longer play center field. Although Kemp had a good second half, the Dodgers lost confidence in him and traded him to San Diego. Anyway, Kemp’s nickname was “The Bison.” Well, this bison went extinct with Dodger Blue!
4. Jonathan Broxton
Jonathan Broxton threw a pitch that seemed to equate with his 6-foot-4, 300-lb frame: a 100-mph heater on which few hitters could lay wood. Oh, yeah, and he also threw a slider. A very average bender. Then, in July 2008, when Broxton became the Dodgers’ closer, he impressed just about everyone, especially when he tossed that unhittable blazing fastball. Nevertheless, even with his best pitch, Broxton blew two critical saves – one in each series - against those fightin’ Phils in the 2008 and 2009 NLCS. Anyway, JB pitched in the All-Star Game in 2010, saving the game – barely – but he was never the same afterwards. Why? He lost his fastball. In 2011, elbow trouble plagued JB throughout most of the season, after which he became a free agent. Simply put, Jonathan Broxton was a one-trick pony who came up lame!
5. James Loney
James Loney looked like a winner when he came up with the Dodgers in 2006. He hit for a good average, showed some power and played good defense. In 2007, Loney hit .289 with 13 homers and 90 RBIs, generating great optimism with Dodger Blue. Perhaps Loney’s biggest claim to fame while a Dodger was hitting a grand slam in game one of the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs in 2008. Loney continued putting up good numbers - though not stellar ones - until 2011 when he hit .288 with 12 homers and 65 ribbies. These were very disappointing numbers, as everybody thought Loney would - like most ballplayers - continue to get better. Then in 2012, Loney really tanked, hitting a lackluster .254 with 4 HRs and 33 RBIs. No wonder the Dodgers shipped him to the Red Sox in August 2012. Seemingly, the best thing about Loney was that the Dodgers never signed him to a long-term contract. As for Loney’s nickname, many Dodger fans may have called him James “Loony.”
6. Russell Martin
Russell Martin began his major league career with the Dodgers in May 2006, showing an impressive combination of defense, power and speed. Then during the 2007 season Martin was Mr. Everything for the Dodgers – as a catcher at least, but he was no Mike Piazza! In that year, Martin made the starting lineup of the All-Star team; he batted .293, hit 19 home runs, knocked in 87 and stole 21 bases. Wow! Even Piazza didn’t steal bases! Unfortunately, Martin’s production dropped steadily thereafter, until 2010 when he hit an impotent .248, with five homers and 26 ribbies. These stats aren’t even mediocre, though he was injured the last part of the season. After the conclusion of the 2010 season, Martin signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees, and in January 2011 Martin said in an interview that his last two seasons he had been bothered by “distractions” and just hadn’t been trying very hard, resulting in diminished returns for Dodger Blue. (Martin refused to elaborate about these distractions, saying they were personal matters.) Well, Russell Martin, now that you’ve defected to other teams, your nickname is Russell “Our Not So Favorite Martin.”
7. Manny Ramirez
Manny Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers in July 2008 and quickly endeared himself with fans of Big Blue, providing plenty of homerun pop, ribbies and batting average, and leading them to the National League Championship Series (NLCS). Dodger fans soon labeled him “Mannywood,” and a section in the left field bleachers was named after him. Yes, Dodger fans certainly loved Manny in those halcyon days! Then, after the end of the 2008 season, Manny signed a two-year $45 million contract. At the beginning of the 2009 season, Manny began the season looking fairly good, though he no longer seemed the phenomenal slugger from the year before. Then in May 2009 “Mannywood” was suspended for 50 games for taking performance enhancing drugs. After the suspension, Manny continued playing moderately OK, ending the season at .290 with 19 homers and 63 RBIs. But again, the Dodgers were defeated in the NLCS. In 2010, Manny became a singles and doubles hitter, hitting only 8 home runs and landed on the disabled list three times with leg injuries. Clearly, Mannywood was now past his prime. Maybe more “juice” could have helped him! At any rate, on August 30, 2010 the Dodgers traded Manny Ramirez to the Chicago White Sox, ending the short era of Mannywood. If Manny had led the Dodgers to the World Series, perhaps he wouldn’t have ended up on this list.
8. Darren Dreifort
Darren Dreifort had one of the greatest sliders of all time and a 95-mph fastball. When he started pitching for the Dodgers in 1994, he was a short reliever, and then in 1999 they moved him to the starting rotation, a move they probably never should have made. As a starter, Dreifort never won more than 13 games a season, and never had an ERA below 4.00. Nevertheless, apparently seeing unhittable sliders in their minds’ eyes, before the 2001 season the Dodgers signed Dreifort to a five-year $55 million free-agent contract. Then Dreifort started having injury trouble, including two Tommy John elbow surgeries, as well as hip, shoulder and knee trouble. Whew! You’d think the guy had fought in Iraq! During that entire contract, he never won more than four games in any season and didn’t even pitch in two out of five of those seasons. If the Dodgers had kept Dreifort as a reliever, maybe his body would have held up better. Maybe. As for Darren Dreifort’s nickname, Don Drysdale was known as Big D and Don Sutton was Little D. Therefore, forevermore, Darren Dreifort will be nicknamed "the Big Dump."
9. Delino DeShields
Delino DeShields never lived up to the Dodgers’ expectations of him becoming a quality leadoff hitter in the middle 1990s. After the 1993 season, Delino was acquired in a trade with the old Montreal Expos in exchange for – get this! – Pedro Martinez, one of the best starting pitchers in recent decades and perhaps of all time. During Delino’s three seasons with the Dodgers, he never hit above .256, though his on-base percentage stayed around .350 until his final season, when it plummeted to .288. It seemed that Delino would have a good week and then lie fallow for another. Also, during the playoffs in 1995 and 1996, Delino was a nonentity. He just never got it going for the Dodgers and, of course, the infamous and lopsided comparison with the player for whom he was traded will haunt him forever. Therefore, should he be crowned Delino “De Bum”?
10. Jason Schmidt
Jason Schmidt will almost certainly go down in Dodger history as one of the worst free agent signings of all time, and that list includes lots of stinkers, let me tell you! After the end of the 2006 season, this hard-throwing, right handed, starting pitcher signed a three-year, $47 million dollar contract. During the 2007 season, his record was 1 and 4 with a 6.31 ERA. A dismal return on the Dodgers’ investment, right? Schmidt almost certainly would have done better if his shoulder hadn’t given him trouble. In fact, during the 2008 season, Schmidt didn’t pitch at all! Two operations later and numerous rehabs in the minors and Jason Schmidt finally made it back to the majors in 2009. He compiled a 2 and 2 record with an ERA of 5.60. As slow as Jason’s fastball was – 85 to 87 mph - he might as well have been throwing with Martha Stewart’s arm! Think about this: Three wins in three years at $47 million dollars! So far, I haven’t found a nickname that equates with the Dodgers’ profound disappointment in this player.
11. Andruw Jones
Andruw Jones who could be called Mr. Whiff, because in 2008 he struck out more times then he got base hits or walks, as well as batting an abysmal .158 with 3 homers and 14 RBIs in 209 at-bats. Such a spectacular fiasco has never been seen during the age of free agency. Naturally, the Dodgers expected more after signing Jones to a two-year contract at $36 million, and the “boo birds” at Dodger Stadium serenaded Andruw every chance they got. What the Dodgers received for their money was a slow-afoot, Pillsbury doughboy who couldn’t hit his shoe size. Andruw Jones is yet another baseball player who lost his pop in his early 30s. There have been quite a few of those. Remember Eric Karros and Will Clark? But at least those guys contributed in other ways. In fairness to Jones, he did have some knee trouble, which probably affected his performance. Anyhow, Dodger fans must wish Mr. Whiff had stung somebody other than the Dodgers for 36 million smackers. Ouch! (The Dodgers released Andruw Jones on January 15, 2009.)
12. Carlos Perez
After being traded to the Dodgers late in the 1998 season, left-handed starting pitcher Carlos Perez pitched well enough to impress Dodger management, and the following off season the Dodgers signed him to a three-year $24 million contract. Unfortunately, as bad luck or bad baseball juju would have it, by the next season the 29-year-old pitcher had lost at least 5 mph on his fastball. Consequently in 1999, Carlos posted a limp-wristed 2 and 10 record with a 7.47 ERA, the highest ERA that year among starting pitchers in the National League. The next year, Carlos continued to appall Dodger management and fans, throwing a 5 and 8 record with a 5.56 ERA, giving up 192 hits in 144 innings! In spring training the following season, the Dodgers had seen enough and sent Carlos packing, while taking up the yin-yang the final $8 million on his contract.
13. Milton Bradley
Milton Bradley was a switch-hitting outfielder with power and the ability to hit for a high batting average, as well as good defensive ability and base-stealing speed – a five-tool player according to some analysts. The Dodgers made a trade for Milton at the beginning of the 2004 season, quite possibly smacking their lips. But they soon learned why the Cleveland Indians had grown tired of him. Milton had a very bad temper and an outspoken nature. (Milton had had an altercation with Cleveland’s manager, prompting his exit). His first year with the Dodgers, Milton put up some decent numbers – 19 home runs and 67 RBIs and a .267 batting average. However, in 2005, because of injuries, Milton’s at-bats dropped precipitously and so did his numbers. But his bad behavior paved the way for his departure. During a ballgame at Dodger Stadium, Milton, while playing right field, got into an altercation with a fan who had thrown a water bottle at him. The game had to be stopped and Milton led from the field while yelling at the fan. Milton was suspended for the final five games of the season. So, what’s Milton Bradley’s nickname? Milton Bummer, of course, or Milton Ballistic, take your pick!
14. Darryl Strawberry
Darryl Strawberry was the so-called Straw that Stirs (the offense). Eventually the Dodgers would learn the inaccuracy of that nickname. The Dodgers signed Strawberry as a free agent after the 1990 season. The contract: five years at $22 million. At the time, this was a monster deal. Strawberry was regarded as one of the greatest sluggers in baseball, having hit at least 26 home runs per year while playing eight seasons for the New York Mets. Many thought he would surely make it to the Hall of Fame. His first year with L.A., Strawberry hit 28 homers and knocked in 99 runs. Nothing great but certainly acceptable production. Then the next two seasons Strawberry battled a back injury which eventually required surgery. He hit only five home runs each of those two seasons. Then, during spring training in 1994, Strawberry seemed physically fit and ready to bat clean-up for the Dodgers with a lineup that featured young Dodger sluggers Mike Piazza and Eric Karros. Alas, this never happened because Strawberry suddenly departed. It soon became known that Strawberry was addicted to cocaine. Now the Dodgers knew what he was doing with that darn straw. The Dodgers promptly released him, and in early 1995 Strawberry was suspended from baseball for cocaine use.
15. Tom Niedenfuer
Tom Niedenfuer had a decent career with the Dodgers, pitching short relief from 1981 to 1987. In 1981, he helped the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the World Series. In 1985, he saved 19 games, his MLB best. But Niedenfuer will forever be known to Dodger fans as the goat of the 1985 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. In game five, Tom Niedenfuer gave up a walk-off home run to light-hitting Ozzie Smith. Two days later in game six, slugger Jack Clark came up to the plate with two men on and first base open, so manager Tommy Lasorda should have walked Clark. The rest, as they say, is baseball history, as Niedenfuer gave up a three-run homer to Clark, then the Dodgers lost the game and a chance to win the 1985 NL pennant. Incidentally, ever since that series, the St. Louis Cardinals have been the nemesis of Dodger Blue. And it appears safe to suggest that Tom Niedenfuer will never forget the 1985 NLCS!
Okay, there’s the list of the 15 WORST Players for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Of course, there will be adjustments to this list in the coming years. If you think anybody else should be here, please let me know.
© 2009 Kelley