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MLB Los Angeles Angels

Top 5 Los Angeles Angels Busts Of The Past 20 Years

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Top 5 Angels Busts of the Past 20 Years

Top 5 Angels Busts of the Past 20 Years
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, so it might be a tad early to declare the Josh Hamilton Experiment a complete bust, but suffice it to say that he will have to demonstrate a complete turnaround by the end of this season to justify the faith — and the five-year, $125 million contract — that the Los Angeles Angels have bestowed in the slugger.

As Hamilton's struggles continue — his averaged has plunged to .210, the lowest on the Angels — fans can take some comfort in the fact that the Halos have managed to avoid such monstrous, speculative contracts in the past.

In recent years, Los Angeles' reticence over re-signing starting pitcher John Lackey proved to be money well-saved, as the Abilene, Texas native has been scarfing down beer and fried chicken in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse for the past three seasons after signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the team. After turning in one of the worst seasons in Red Sox history in 2011 (12-12, 6.41 ERA), Lackey was certainly not missed by the Halo rotation.

Similarly, the Halos were correct to pass on former third baseman Chone Figgins when he hit free agency after the 2009 season. Figgins, who had been a solid leadoff man for the Angels and stole 280 bases over eight seasons with the team, was sorely missed by the Angel faithful. His stint with the Seattle Mariners, however, was so dismal (.227 BA) that he played himself right out of the majors entirely. There's four years and $35 million the Angels are glad to have saved.

Nevertheless, I have seen the Angels front office make the occasional misstep in my lifetime (though in recent years, the occasions are becoming all too frequent). While it may be prudent to withhold judgement on Hamilton's career with the Angels, it is never too early to look back on past mistakes. With that, I bring you the Angels' top five busts of the past 20 years.

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Scott Kazmir

Scott Kazmir
Tim Heltman-USA TODAY Sports

The Halos traded for Kazmir with high hopes in 2009, believing him to be the missing piece their rotation needed to be a World Series contender. At first, Kazmir's acquisition appeared to be a brilliant move, as he maintained an excellent 1.73 ERA in six regular season starts for the Angels. Come playoff time, however, Kazmir tanked in a big way, blowing both of his starts in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, and followed up the next season with a dismal 9-15 record and a 5.94 ERA. Clearly, Kazmir did not live up to expectations despite his early promise.

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Gary Matthews Jr.

Gary Matthews Jr.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Not only did Matthews Jr. admit to using performance-enhancing drugs, the center fielder failed to produce in a big way for the Angels, hitting just .248 during his 2007-2009 stint in southern California. There's $48.5 million the Angels wish they could have back.

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Kent Bottenfield

Kent Bottenfield
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Best known as one of the two players (along with Adam Kennedy) traded to the Angels in exchange for Jim Edmonds in 2000, Bottenfield proved to be unable to adapt to American League pitching, going 7-8 with a 5.71 ERA in his one season with the team. What became of Jim Edmonds, you ask? Why, he went on to average a mere 35 home runs and 98 RBIs per season on .292 hitting over the next six years. But hey, any time you can trade away a guy who's a Golden Glove outfielder, reliable hitter, and perennial fan favorite for an overweight, unproven pitcher, you have to do it, right?

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Greg Gohr

Greg Gohr
Jake Roth

You may not have heard of Gohr, but I'll bet you've heard of Damion Easley. The California Angels traded Easley away in 1996 for Gohr. Easley went on to average 23 home runs, 79 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in his next three seasons with the Detroit Tigers, while Gohr pitched a horrendous half season (7.50 ERA) with the Angels and was never heard from again.

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Vernon Wells

Vernon Wells
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Vernon. Freaking. Wells. The less said about this abomination of a bust for the Angels, who forked over $51.7 million over barely more than two seasons to the long-since-over-the-hill outfielder (he hit .222 for Los Angeles) before the New York Yankees mercifully took him off their hands this season, the better. Mentioning Wells' name is likely to induce an aneurysm in any Halos fan who happens to be in the vicinity.