Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Bust debate: Five more to consider
There are still three full months left in the season (and three seasons left on his contract), but there is no denying Adam Dunn has been a free agent bust for the White Sox so far. Dunn made our list of the biggest free agent busts in Chicago history, and you can vote for your own lists of busts.
Many of the busts on our list are easy. But a glance around Chicago sports today brings up several debatable cases with money and expectations playing major roles in determining whether they are busts. Here's a look at a few:
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs OF: Does Soriano's albatross of a contract make him a bust? Signed to an eight-year, $136 million contract before the 2007 season, Soriano was productive in his first two seasons, and he carried the Cubs to the playoffs in 2007 with 14 homers in September in the first of two straight trips to the postseason. But he has been a disappointment the past three years, in and out of the lineup with injuries and playing shoddy defense in left field. Since making the All-Star team in his first two seasons with the Cubs, Soriano has averaged .253 with 19 home runs and 56 RBIs. And the Cubs are stuck with Soriano for another three seasons (he will be 38 years old when his contract is up).
Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs OF: Is Fukudome a disappointment if he was making $1.5 million as a fourth outfielder rather than $12 million a season starter? The Cubs won the bidding for Fukudome when he came over from Japan in 2008 and gave him a four-year, $48 million deal. Aside from a standout first half of 2008 when he made the NL All-Star team, Fukudome has been an average player. He is a .338 career hitter in April, but is a .261 lifetime hitter with little power and he has never driven in more than 58 runs in a season.
Alex Rios, White Sox OF: The White Sox claimed Rios -- and his $70 million contract -- off waivers in 2009, and he struggled mightily, batting .199. He rebounded in 2010, batting .284 with 21 home runs and 88 RBIs with 34 stolen bases. But he is back to his 2009 form, batting .221 with 6 homers and 20 RBIs this season.
Chester Taylor, Bears RB: Signed to a four-year, $12.5 million contract (with $7 million guaranteed), Taylor was brought in to give the Bears a 1-2 punch in the backfield with Matt Forte in Mike Martz's system. A former 1,000-yard rusher, Taylor complemented Adrian Peterson well with the Vikings, averaging 44 catches and almost 400 receiving yards in his final two seasons in Minnesota. But Taylor never found his place in the Bears' offense last season, averaging 2.4 yards a carry and 20 receptions.
Carlos Boozer, Bulls F: The Bulls' biggest free-agent signing last summer, Boozer missed 23 games with injuries, but when he played, he produced in the regular season, averaging 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds. Then came the playoffs. Hampered by a turf toe injury, Boozer averaged 12.6 points on 43 percent shooting and was a major defensive liability. He was roundly booed and sat on the bench late in games in favor of Taj Gibson. Boozer helped the Bulls to the best record in the NBA, but his struggles in the playoffs have to be a concern for the Bulls, who are tied to Boozer for four more years.