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Call it the high-payroll blues

The Phillies are in last place in the National League East. Can they recover? Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies have one of the top five payrolls in baseball, yet they sit in the basement of the National League East. Teams that are struggling and have high payrolls are the focus of Wednesday's Triple Play.

Let us know what you want our experts to discuss by tweeting @ESPN_MLB with suggestions. You also can use the #espntripleplay hashtag.


1. The Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies and Angels have the top five payrolls in baseball, yet three of them are currently in last place. Does this mean anything?

Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes), ESPN Boston
Yes. It means that despite what the polls indicate, the one percenters may not decide the fall elections after all -- or the World Series, for that matter. It also means there are five general managers who will have an awful lot of 'splaining to do if this holds, which, to their immense relief, it probably won't.

Katie Sharp, ESPN Stats & Info
In the long run, probably not, since I can almost guarantee that those four teams will not be in last place at the end of September. But it does reinforce the idea that money can't buy wins, something most GMs should understand by now. Last year, six of the top 10 teams ranked by wins were not in the top 10 of the payroll ranks.

Evan Brunell (@evanbrunell), Fire Brand of the AL
Money is always going to put you ahead of the pack when it comes to contending for the simple reason that with more money comes the ability to acquire better players. But it's not a salve for other woes such as injuries, poor planning, bad luck or stiff competition. Those are factors all impacting the play of these teams to date. Couple that with the improved brainpower in teams that face more challenges in putting a good product on the field and increased understanding of what it takes to win these days, and it's no surprise that money seems to be overrated these days.


2. Rank those five teams based on wins at the end of the season.

Edes: I'll go: Yankees, Tigers, Red Sox, Phillies, Angels

Sharp: Yankees, Tigers, Red Sox, Phillies, Angels. The Yankees and Tigers have too many talented hitters and just-good-enough pitching to not win at least 90 games this season. The Red Sox and Phillies are both walking M.A.S.H. units and are further saddled with inconsistent rotations (Red Sox) and lineups (Phillies). Out west, the offensive limitations of the Angels many predicted have been badly exposed during these first two months.

Brunell: Boy, that's difficult to do. They're all going to end up bunched up around each other. Let's go with: Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Angels.


3. Among the players on those five teams, which is the contract you think the front office most regrets?

Edes: The 10-year, $275 million contract the Yankees gave Alex Rodriguez remains the gold standard for the "What were they thinking?" club. He still has five more years and $143 million left after this season; only the Kardashians are making more for less.

Sharp: Alex Rodriguez. Since his 2007 MVP season, A-Rod's OPS and slugging percentage have declined each season, and at the age of 36, he isn't getting any younger. He will be a Yankee until 2017, and over the next five seasons, they will pay him at least $114 million. That's roughly $23 million per year to a guy that doesn't crack the top 75 (out of 200 players) in slugging percentage since the start of 2011.

Brunell: The Red Sox have to be kicking themselves over the Carl Crawford contract. While the reasoning behind the deal was sound, it hasn't played out that way on the field. Crawford can't even stay on the field to at least try to recoup his value. Most of the benefit from the Crawford deal was going to come in the first two seasons, when he was still in his prime. Now, though, the first two years are wasted, and who knows whether Crawford's game will ever bounce back.