With all of the long-term, big money deals being thrown around, the question that is always asked is: "How will this deal look in its final years?" This is ultimately the reason that the St. Louis Cardinals took a pass on re-signing Albert Pujols. They probably had no issues at all paying him $25 million for the next several years, when he would likely still be performing in his prime. But with a payroll hovering around $100 million, the Cardinals brass just couldn't stomach the thought of paying a quarter of their payroll to a guy ages 39-42, when there is no way that he could produce $25 million worth of value on the field.
That fear is the spirit of what The All "He's Making What?!?!" Team is all about. This is a team comprised of the players at each position who will be the most grossly overpaid in 2012 with relation to their expected performance. Feel free to submit your own nominees if you see someone not on this list. (All salary information found on Cot's Baseball Contracts)
Catcher-- Joe Mauer ($23 Million) I hate to put Joe on this list, because I really like him as a player, but $23 million for an oft-injured catcher who will likely play a lot of first base and designated hitter, and has only cracked 20 home runs once?
First Base--Ryan Howard ($20 million) Howard's numbers have dropped in nearly every major statistical category in recent years. He is being paid to put up big home run numbers, but hasn't topped 33 in the last two years.
Second Base--Brian Roberts ($10 Million) Roberts has only hit over .300 once in his career (2005), and the last two years he has averaged playing 49 games per season. He does steal a few bases, but has he has gotten older, his speed has decreased along with his stolen base totals. Oh, and his slash line last year looked like this: .221/.273/.331
Third Base--Alex Rodriguez ($29 Million) I thought about Chipper Jones ($13 million) here because of his injury-prone-ness, but look at how much A-Rod is making! There is no way that he will be worth $29 million in 2012. Unless he figures out a way to "enhance his performance" again...
Shortstop--Derek Jeter ($16 million) Yep, the Yankees round out the left side of the infield here. I know what you are thinking. "But he's Derek Jeter! And he's a bargain compared to Alex Rodriguez!" I suppose there is some inherent value to his icon status for the Yankees. But strip away all of that, and you know what I call a poor defensive shortstop who will hit around .300 and steal a few bases? Ryan Theriot.
Outfield #1--Vernon Wells ($21 million) This was long thought to be the worst, most un-tradable contract in baseball history. But then Blue Jays GM Alex Anthropolous traded it. And got Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera in retern. What?!?!
Outfield #2-- Alfonso Soriano ($18 million) Sure he'll still pop 20-25 home runs, but so will most left fielders. Soriano's average has hovered right around .250 the last several years, and he has managed to make playing left field look like rocket science.
Outfield #3--Jason Bay ($16 million) A lot of directions we could go here with this last outfield spot, like Carlos Lee ($18.5 million), Jason Werth ($13 million), Torii Hunter ($18 million). But Jason Bay has been genuinely worthless to the Mets. Bay, a poor defensive outfielder, was signed to add some mash to the Mets lineup, but since arriving in New York, he has averaged 9 home runs a year and a .388 slugging percentage.
Designated Hitter-- Adam Dunn ($14 million) There were high expectations for Dunn, a perennial 40 home run guy, when he came to the White Sox. Unfortunately, last year he hit 11 home runs with a .159 batting average. Yikes.
Lots of good choices for the starting rotation, but we have selected five pitchers who have mixed their unbearably high salaries with poor performance and questionable health (mental health, in the Big Z's case). Congratulations, guys!
Starting Pitcher #1--AJ Burnett ($16.5 million)
Starting Pitcher #2--Barry Zito ($19 million)
Starting Pitcher #3--Carlos Zambrano ($18 million)
Starting Pitcher #4--Jake Peavy ($17 million)
Starting Pitcher #5--Derek Lowe ($15 million)
For what it is worth, we have mercifully left off the list guys who will likely be earning big dollars to not pitch because of injury (Johan Santana-$24 million, John Lackey-$15.25 million).
Relief Pitcher--Rafael Soriano ($11 million) Soriano has been a decent closer in his career, and his $11 million seems to fit the (crazy) market for closers. Except he is not the Yankees closer. He is being paid $11 million to set up for Mariano Rivera. Pretty expensive bullpen arm, if you ask me.
So, if you were counting, there are three teams with multiple players on this list: The Yankees (4), The White Sox (2), and The Cubs (2)