In Honor of Ed Reed: The Worst Free-Agent Signings in Houston Sports History

Jim_Clancy.jpg
Remember the Jim Clancy era?
So Ed Reed's gone. It seems like just yesterday that Bob McNair was flying Reed around the country on McNair's private jet. But now, unwanted by the Texans, Reed finds himself playing for the Jets. Don't cry for Reed, though, because while he barely played for the Texans, he collected nearly six million dollars from the Texans, and he now finds himself on the roster of a team that amazingly is in the playoff hunt.

Reed was a pretty damn big free agent bust, but hard as it might be to believe, Reed's hardly the biggest free agent bust in Houston sports history. So I decided I'd provide some of my suggestions for biggest flops. The list is far from exhaustive, so feel free to leave a few names of your own.

JIM CLANCY

Clancy was a semi-decent mid-rotation starter for the Toronto Blue Jays during the 1980s. He compiled a 128-140 record over 12 years, with a decent AL ERA of 4.10. He also had the luck of becoming a free agent following the 1988 season, the luck arising from the fact that the Astros had decided not to re-sign Nolan Ryan. Needing a new member for the starting rotation, the team signed Clancy to a three-year $3.4 million contract.

Clancy's first Astros start was against the San Diego Padres. He pitched 8.1 innings, gave up only two runs, six hits, and struck out eight as the Astros got the 6-2 win. That was the highlight of Clancy's Astros career, as he finished the 1989 season with a 7-14 record and 5.08 ERA. The 1990 season was even worse, as he went 2-8 with a 6.51 ERA. He split 1991 between the Astros and the minors, between the rotation and the bullpen, before being dealt late in the season to the Atlanta Braves where he actually got to pitch in the World Series.

SCOTTIE PIPPEN

Pippen technically wasn't a free agent acquisition. The Rockets instead acquired him in a 1999 trade with the Chicago Bulls, who had signed the free agent Pippen to a five-year, $67 million contract, then flipped him to the Rockets for the immortal Roy Rogers and a second-round draft pick. The sign-and-trade allowed the two teams and Pippen to play around with salary cap loopholes. But that's about all that Pippen played around with that season since he was just never able to mesh with Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley.

Pippen and Barkley clashed, with Pippen going off on Barkley at the time he was traded. Pippen averaged just 14.5 points a game for the Rockets while shooting only 43 percent from the field and dishing out 5.9 assists a game. And his tenure was further marked by a DUI arrest that ended up doing more for the career of attorney Rusty Hardin than it did for Pippen.

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8 comments
Puller58
Puller58

Swindell had a funny moment despite his professed displeasure at being pulled, he was having a rough inning once, and looked into the dugout for help.  Terry Collins helpfully yelled, "Throw the ball!"

Steven Borrego
Steven Borrego

What about the Texans first ever pick? He never played a down. SMH.

rdorr1
rdorr1

How about when the Astros signed Pudge Rodriguez?

andrew.ferraro
andrew.ferraro

Have to agree that Lin is still TBD ... he's looking pretty good so far this year. BUT ... I think you have to put Matsui ahead of Swindell .... Both horrible, yes ... but the former Rockies second baseman did far less. 

Nate
Nate

Carlos Lee has to make this list.  And not as an honorable mention...

rdorr1
rdorr1

You're wrong about Lin.

mollusk
mollusk

@Nate Agreed.  Two things that ought to move El Cabròn up the list:  The drag his contract had on payroll for anybody else, and the drag his attitude holding down left field (literally) had on the rest of the team.


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