He arrived in Baltimore with sagging statistics and high expectations, another member of a growing list of disappointing Andy MacPhail free agent signings. Garrett Atkins, released on Sunday in order to make room for fellow low-achieving Oriole Koji Uehara, will walk away with $5 million dollars from a team for which he accomplished very little.
We’ll always remember that one home run. In 140 at bats, Atkins hit only one dinger, posting a pitiful .214 batting average. Often looking confused and completely powerless, Atkins had recently been relegated to the bench as the Orioles looked to improve their offensive punch. In the last 28 days, Atkins had made only 18 plate appearances.
Unless the once-formidable righty completely reinvents himself, his career is likely over. He spent most of 2009 and 2010 embarrassing himself at the plate and inciting the ire of irate fans, first in Colorado, then here in Baltimore. He will walk away $16.5 million richer than he was before his MLB career.
The true mystery, however, is not how Atkins lost his ability to play baseball. His numbers had been declining for three consecutive seasons prior to his signing this offseason.
The true mystery is why the Orioles would sign a 30 year-old with very little glove and decreasing stats to make the transition from the cushy confines of Colorado to the unforgiving stage of the AL East.
Garrett Atkins may be gone, but the people who signed him to a one-year deal with a buyout for 2011 are still here, and they should be packing their bags and splitting a cab to the airport along with Atkins.