The List: MLB Payroll paring
By Jeff Merron
Page 2 staff

Earlier this month, NFL teams had to pare payroll to get in line with the salary cap. Lots of high-priced players got the axe. Page 2 is left wondering, what if MLB had a similar June cutdown day? Who needs to go -- sans ceremony?

Albert Belle
For $8.6 mil., Page 2 says, drop him like a bat.
1.Albert Belle (Orioles)
Savings: About $8.6 million.
Belle's already received more than $4 million for sitting at home this year, and, fortunately for the O's, this is the final year on his 5-year, $65-million deal. Time to make a clean break. The Orioles can almost smell first place, and they could spend that money to stay in the race ... until August or so.

2. Ken Griffey Jr. (Reds)
Savings: About $75 million.
According to our crack research staff, the Reds will owe Junior about $70-80 million from now until 2024 (his contract runs out in 2009, but he's got $57.5 mill in deferred salary coming after that). That's the hometown rate?

Bye-bye, Junior.

3. Mo Vaughn (Mets)
Savings: $40 million
About the smartest thing the Mets could do these days is save money for the future ... there are lots of rebuilding years ahead. First to go was Mets GM Steve Phillips. Big Mo should be the next to go. No use waiting until October.

4. Jason Isringhausen (Cardinals)
Savings: About $18 million
The skinny: Flaky. Decent closer. Arm problems. Isringhausen's in the second year of a four-year, $27 million contract. We're not sure how it's structured, but he's getting $7.25 million this year. Even if he reaches his 2002 total of 65 IP, he'll be making more than $100,000 an inning, which may make him the highest-priced pitcher in baseball.

Drew Henson
Take him to Texans, place on doorstep, ring bell.
5. Drew Henson (Yankees)
Savings: $13.5 million
Last year, Henson hit .240 with some power for Columbus, but he struck out 151 times and made 35 errors. Any progress this season? Nope. As of Sunday, he was hitting .230 and had a sub-.300 OBP. Henson insists baseball's his game. But the Texans are waiting. Time for George to tell Drew football's his game.

6. Mike Piazza (Mets)
Savings: $40 million
We like Mike. We'd love it if he entered the HOF wearing a Mets cap. But really -- is the most home runs by a catcher record that important? Time to let him go to that DH place, where he could really help a ballclub.

7. Greg Vaughn (Rays, Rockies)
Savings: Devil Rays: About $6 million. Rockies: Unknown.
The Rays cut the big guy loose in March, but they still owe him on his 2003 contract. Vaughn, who'd been in a four-year slump at the major league level, has been having a fine year for Triple-A Colorado Springs. But he got called up ealier this month by the Rockies. "This guy's got experience," said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. "He's another guy who has credentials."

Those credentials batted .163 last season.

8. Damion Easley (Tigers, Rays)
Savings: Tigers: About $12 million. Devil Rays: $7,000?
Easley set a record on March 28, when he became the most expensive player in MLB history to be released -- he still had $14.3 million on his Tigers contract. The Devil Rays picked him up for a trial run and ... well, they did the June cutdown thing last week. Easley was hitting .187.

In doing our research, we skipped on over to Easley's player page, and found out that he's making $7,000. Is that a typo? Even if it isn't, it's good money saved by the Rays. Give it to Rocco.

9. Andy Ashby (Dodgers)
Savings: About $5.5 million.
Are the Dodgers trying to justify his outsized salary by moving him into the starting rotation in place of the injured Darren Dreifort (who, incidentally, is also a candidate for this list)? What other reason could there be to promote a pitcher who's 1-4 with a 5.82 ERA?

Time to stop throwing good money after bad.

10. Robb Nen (Giants)
Savings: About $6 million this year. $15 million total.
We have just two words for you: shoulder surgery.



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