Forty-four really bad contracts

March, 3, 2009
Tim Dierkes lists the 44 worst contracts currently in play. But before we get into the ugliness, let's hear a big hip-hip-hooray for the Rays, the Phillies, the Marlins, the Braves, the Pirates and the Padres; none of those teams are currently saddled with an albatross contract. But the Phillies deserve perhaps just a small hip-hip-hooray, because they do have Raul Ibanez' $31 million deal (we'll see about that one) and they're still on the hook for some of Adam Eaton's $24.5 million (we've already seen).

Now, the ugliness:

There are 24 teams on the list. Of those, 12 appear just once.

Eight clubs appear twice -- the Blue Jays, Brewers, Cubs, Indians, Nationals and Reds.

Three clubs appear three times:

• The Mariners have $97 million committed to Carlos Silva, Miguel Batista and Kenji Johjima;

• the Dodgers are out there with $127 million committed to Jason Schmidt, Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones (Jones has been released, of course, with the Dodgers paying him off);

• the Yankees are spending $104 million on Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui, plus they've tossed another $46 million at Kei Igawa (including his posting fee); and that's not even mentioning Alex Rodriguez's $275 million, which a fair number of pundits now consider a terribly awful idea.

Next in our hierarchy of horribles comes the San Francisco Giants. You know about Barry Zito's seven-year, $126 million contract; two years in, he's 21-30 with a 4.83 ERA … and with little apparent reason for optimism about the next five years. Dierkes also throws in Aaron Rowand's $60 million, Edgar Renteria's $18.5 million -- "Signed before the bottom fell out of the market" -- and Dave Roberts' $18 million.

And finally we've got the Detroit Tigers, with five lousy contracts among the 44 worst. Among the five deals that Dierkes lists, only two seem to me to be truly astounding: the $28 million extension granted to Gary Sheffield for his Age 39 and 40 seasons, and the three-year, $29 million contract gifted to Dontrelle Willis just months after he had finished a pretty lousy season in the National League.

Dave Dombrowski got a great deal of credit for the Tigers' 95 wins and American League pennant in 2006. But the Tigers dropped to 88 wins in 2007 and cratered to last place in 2008, and today they're saddled with five awful contracts. If Dombrowski gets credit for the club's amazing 2006, doesn't he also deserve the blame for what happened last year?

Is there a lesson here? Yeah, there is. Forecasting the future is hard enough, but the further out you try to forecast, the worse you're likely to fare. Especially with the moundsmen.


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