Which MLB player most seems to have overstayed their time in the bigs and should get out?

May 10, 2010

Giambi should walk away

Dom Amore

Hartford Courant

A few years ago, when the steroids controversy was raging around Jason Giambi and he was struggling to get a hit for the Yankees, he declared he was not a quitter and he would not be driven from the game he loved. Giambi showed his mettle. He admitted his mistakes, apologized, and worked his way back for a few respectable years to finish his Yankees contract.

Point proven, it's time for Giambi to move on. Unable to play first base with any dexterity, and unable to land a contract as a full-time DH in the AL, where teams are looking for more versatility, he is hanging on with the Rockies as a pinch-hitter, a latter-day Rusty Staub who, by the way, hates being cited for his pinch-hitting records but wants to be remembered as an outstanding full-time player. Giambi, as of May 6, was 2-for-23, an .095 average, in that role. Of course, he walked eight times, so even now his on-base percentage is a decent .375.

But is this the way for a one-time MVP to keep playing? Trot up to the plate to hit for the pitcher, draw a walk, then trot off for a pinch-runner?

damore@tribune.com

Launch Astros' Lee

Phil Rogers

Chicago Tribune

Carlos Lee is 33 going on 53. He moves a base at a time around the field — a style he began to perfect before he turned 25 — and apparently never checks the standings. If he's bothered that his teams are frequently in last place or near the bottom, it does not show.

He lives to hit home runs, and has smashed 308 of them in his 12-year career. It's worth noting that the White Sox won the 2005 World Series largely because they decided he was earning more than he's worth, and shrewdly turned his $8 million salary into Scott Podsednik, Luis Vizcaino and another player or two, arguably A.J. Pierzynski and Jermaine Dye.

Lee, the third-highest-paid player in the NL at $19 million this season, recently told the Houston Chronicle he might retire after 2012, when his contract is up. Given that it's probably too late for him to start caring about the game he plays, could he quit earlier?

progers@tribune.com

Nothing for 'Kid' to prove

Dan Connolly

Baltimore Sun

Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. may have more left in the tank than some other aging stars, but the fall is greater considering his previous standing.

It's an easy argument to make — especially given the circus that is Barry Bonds — that Griffey was the best of his generation, combining power, speed, grace and a boyish love for the game. If he weren't the best, Griffey certainly was the most fun to watch at his peak.

Now, seeing his battered body try to stretch a single is downright painful, for him and his fans. A 10-time Gold Glove winner, he has been relegated to a part-time designated hitter role. That's akin to Brett Favre returning to the Vikings to hold for field goals.

Griffey, 40, is a first-ballot Hall of Famer with nothing left to prove. In our mind's eye, he'll always be the cap-backwards, sprinting, game-loving "Kid."

dconnolly@tribune.com

Move on, Vizquel, Hoffman

Kevin Baxter

Los Angeles Times

You know how you always hear players say they aren't going to retire until someone pulls the uniform off them? Well perhaps it's time someone obliged Omar Vizquel.

An 11-time Gold Glove winner who was once among the most magical fielders of all time Vizquel, at 43, is just a shadow of his former self. And the White Sox are his third team in as many seasons, which should have given him a hint. And if that didn't, maybe the .115 batting average he took into the weekend will.

Someone might want to ask Trevor Hoffman to change back into street clothes too. The all-time saves leader Hoffman, 42, was an All-Star last season. But he entered the weekend having blown as many save chances, four, as he has converted. And his 11.70 ERA is among the highest in the majors.

Hoffman is a cinch for the Hall of Fame while Vizquel's candidacy will certainly get a ton of support as well. They should both retire gracefully so we can remember how great they were and not how long they hung on past their primes.

kbaxter@tribune.com

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