Sandy Alomar Jr., C: It's still hard to believe Sandy, an injury-prone backstop who collected 400 or more at-bats in a season just four times, has outlasted his Hall of Fame-bound brother, Roberto, by three seasons. Alomar's at-bats have fallen in each of the last five seasons—from 283 in 2002 to a mere 22 last season with the Mets—and he'll turn 42 in June, so he's nothing more than a once-a-week performer for a club with a durable starter. Don't be surprised if he gets a call once injuries start to strike.
Barry Bonds, OF: Seven MVPs, 762 homers, 2,558 walks. Sixty-five hits shy of 3,000. What's there not to like? Oh yeah. His uniquely singular nature, the feds indicting him for obstruction and perjury and the $1,000,000,000 question: How did his head grow three sizes in middle age? Well, if you want a patient, sullen slugger who could get called to trial at midseason, Bonds is your man!
Tony Clark, 1B: Appeared to be at the end of the line when he hit just three homers in 275 at-bats with the Red Sox in 2002, but he's been a valuable—and productive—bit player and clubhouse presence with the Mets, Yankees and Diamondbacks since 2003. He delivered a jaw-dropping 54 extra-base hits in just 349 at-bats with the Diamondbacks in 2005. His mix of power and intangibles makes him a smart last-second addition for contenders and pretenders alike. Reportedly deep into negotiations with the Padres.
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B: Hasn't collected 400 at-bats in a season since 2003 thanks to the part-time role he loathed with the Twins and Sox in 2004 and injuries that have wrecked each of his last three seasons. At 33, he's getting to the point where his defense is overrated, and he's not quite the clubhouse presence he fancies himself, but he could certainly help a team as a stop-gap solution once injuries strike.
Mike Piazza, C: His famously weak throwing arm got even more mangled in a collision at third base last year with Mike Lowell, but Piazza has always been happiest—and therefore most productive—behind the plate. Though he posted career-low power and strikeout-to-walk numbers last season at 38, he could still be an asset if part of a catching committee as he was two years ago with the Padres. Reportedly wanted to sign with the Marlins, who turned him down because he presumably wanted more than $4.50 an hour to sign. With no nibbles, expect Piazza—a proud sort and the giddy father of a one-year-old—to quietly enter retirement.
Shannon Stewart, OF: Enjoyed a nice comeback season last year after a foot injury threatened his career in 2007. So why has he gone deeper into this winter without a job than he did last year? He leveled off after an impressive three-season run from 1998 through 2000 in which he hit 44 homers and swiped 108 bases, but even at 34 he can be a solid cost-effective regular in left field.
Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752. To subscribe to Diehard or diehardmagazine.com, please CLICK HERE.
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