When baseball experiments go terribly wrong

Mike Ehrmann

Hey, it's nearly July! And while you can't blame some clubs for trying some ... well, some odd things this spring, we've now reached the point where it's probably time to pull the plug on some experiments that just haven't worked. Because things are just as likely to get worse as better ...

Delmon Young: Every-day right fielder
Really, how could this not work?

Oh. Right. Because Young can't hit right-handed pitching, and is a terrible outfielder. But aside from that, how could this not work?

Except that's enough. Young's numbers in right field this season are absolutely brutal, and he's got a .281 on-base percentage against right-handed pitching (and somehow he's fared even worse against left-handed pitching). Young recently opened three straight games on the bench ... but he's started each of the Phillies' last four games, so it looks like Charlie Manuel's sticking with him for a while yet. Sometimes the world just doesn't make a lot of sense.

Rockies bring back Jeff Francis
It was a nice story. In Jeff Francis's first four seasons with the Rockies, the first-round draft pick went 47-34 with an (adjusted) ERA right around league average. Look! The Colorado Rockies developed a young pitcher! Except then came some hard times: 4-10 and 4-6 campaigns with a season on the Disabled List in between. Francis spent a season with the Royals, continued to struggle, but came home to the Rockies last year.

Alas, it just hasn't worked. In 35 starts in this latest stint, Francis is just 8-12 with a 5.89 ERA.

With Roy Oswalt aboard the rotation, somebody's gotta go. And with Jon Garland released last week, Francis became the No. 1 candidate.

Breaking News! The Jeff Francis Experiment is over.

Yuniesky Betancourt: First Baseman
Really, Milwaukee Brewers? With all the guys kicking around in Triple-A who can hit some, but spend their time afield hoping nobody hits the ball at them, Yuniesky Betancourt is the best you could do?

Betancourt's also played a fair amount of third base. But just last week he started at first base, and went 0 for 5 in an extra-innings loss to the Reds. So recently perennial contenders, the Brewers are now sitting in last place with the 12th-worst record in the league. Betancourt's not the club's only problem. But he might be their most obvious.

Tigers bring back Jose Valverde
Hey, why not?

Oh. Right. Because maybe there was a reason why 29 other teams passed on Valverde, who finally signed a minor-league deal with the Tigers. With Jim Leyland's bullpen in disarray, Valverde returned to the majors in late April, and was nearly perfect in his first five outings. A month into his latest gig with the club, Valverde sported a 0.75 ERA and had converted six of seven save opportunities.

Then, reality. Or a particularly brutal form of reality. In his last eight outings, covering 7⅓ innings, Valverde's given up 11 runs, including seven home runs. He lost his job as closer in there somewhere, too. And considering his 5.59 ERA, he might be another bad outing or two away from losing his job completely.

Vernon Wells: Every-day player for THE NEW YORK YANKEES
Okay, so maybe this wasn't the original plan. If not for Curtis Granderson's prolonged absences from the lineup, Wells probably wouldn't have played nearly as often. But didn't Wells make a convincing argument in both 2011 and '12 that he should serve as a fifth or sixth outfielder, rather than third or fourth? Is Wells and his .266 on-base percentage really the best THE NEW YORK YANKEES can do?

Miami Marlins Baseball
Worst record in the majors (by a lot). Worst attendance in the majors (by a lot). Worst public relations in the majors (by a lot). Worst almost everything that matters (by a lot). Enough already.

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