Back in 2005, Darren Oliver's career was on life support. Oliver did not pitch in 2005 after being released by the Colorado Rockies, and was unable to put together a productive big league season since 1999. His statistics from 2000-2004 were ugly. Very ugly. There was no reason why a GM should have been compelled to give Oliver an opportunity in 2006 with the hopes that he suddenly became a productive major league pitcher.
But for some reason, Mets GM Omar Minaya decided to bring Oliver into spring training on a minor league contract in the hopes that Oliver could revive his declining career and help the Mets in the bullpen. And what do you know, not only did Oliver make the team in 2006, but he put up some pretty darn good numbers (4-1, 3.44 ERA) as the Mets long relief pitcher. Oliver made Omar Minaya look like a genius for bringing his aboard on just a minor league contract.
So no as the new season draws upon us, I thought I would take a look at some veteran players, who took minor league contracts like Oliver, in the hopes of reviving and extending their careers. Like Oliver, all of these players made their respective 25 man roster out of spring training, which at least gives them the opportunity to show the baseball world what they can do.
Darren Oliver Roster Criteria:
1. Veteran player with vast major league experience
2. Signed to minor league contract this offseason
3. Made 25 man roster entering 2009 season
*THE 2009 "Darren Oliver" Roster*
C- Michael Barrett
1b- Kevin Millar
2b- Miguel Cairo
3b- Rich Aurilia
ss- Juan Uribe
OF- Chris Duffy
OF- Andruw Jones
OF- Craig Monroe
Bench- Omar Vizquel
Bench- Nick Green
Bench- Tony Graffanino
SP- Kris Benson
RP- Kiko Calero
RP- Juan Rincon
RP- Julian Tavarez
RP- Jason Jennings
RP- Eddie Guardado
(Note: Need more starting pitchers!)
So how many games could I win with this bunch? I'd say 68...as long as Andruw Jones doesn't completely bomb out.
Food for thought: which guy on this roster will actually become the next Darren Oliver and have a productive 2009 season in the majors? My guess is Kiko Calero.