BAD CONTRACTS: NL EDITION
Time for a look at some of the NL’s worst contracts. First though, I’d like to thank Rob Neyer of ESPN and River Ave. Blues for linking to my post on the AL’s worst contracts. Those 2 links brought in thousands of visitors. And once again, all of the contract info was found at Cot’s Baseball Contracts, a tremendous resource. Let’s get to the burdens…
Juan Pierre, Dodgers
I suppose this might be construed as burying the lead. But what you may not have known is that Pierre was named after the great Juan Marichal. We can debate which one is the better hitter. Jokes aside, Pierre isn’t a bad hitter; he just doesn’t hit for any power and he has no patience. His average is usually decent and he can steal bases. You just don’t have to pay $9 million a year to get that.
Pierre is the prime example of my favorite baseball game show: “Who Were They Bidding Against?” Look through the Dodger contracts–it also seems to be a favorite game of Colletti’s. After the 2006 season, Colletti gave Pierre a 5-year, $44 million deal. The funny thing is that they had Kenny Lofton on the roster in 2006 and probably could have re-signed him for about 1/10th of what he paid Pierre. Lofton probably would have better then. He probably would be better now.
Chris Carpenter, Cardinals
I have a feeling this selection might rub some people the wrong way, but I believe Carpenter’s contract should definitely be on this list. Nobody can deny his impact with the Cards. They won a World Series, he w0n a Cy Young and he was a legit ace for a few years. The problem is that when STL gave him the extension, Carpenter still had 2 years left on his contract. Knowing his history and knowing that he had thrown over 460 innings in the last 2 seasons, I wrote that it was a bad deal at the time. Unfortunately for Cardinals fans, I was right.
What he will provide in 2009 is anyone’s guess, and he’s pitched only 21 innings during the last 2 seasons. I understand that the extension could be viewed as a reward. Cardinals fans will likely call it that. The rest of the world will refer to it like this: bad business and an albatross preventing the Cards from obtaining other players.
Adam Eaton, Phillies
The good news is that the signing of Eaton did not substantially hurt the Phillies. They won the division in ’07 and then won it all last year. The only role Eaton played was moving out of the way. He wasn’t on either postseason roster and he was actually sent to the minors last year.
Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has said that Eaton will not be a candidate for the 5th starter this year, and Eaton expects a spring training release. “It would be kind of prudent not to trade for me,” Eaton said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist for another GM to maybe wait and take your shot at getting me for less than a trade would be.” If that release happens, the Phillies will have paid Eaton almost $500k per game pitched. And those games had average game scores of just over 40 and ERAs over 6.
Luis Castillo, Mets
The Mets traded for Castillo at the trade deadline in ’07. “He was going to be a guy that this winter we were probably going to look at as a free agent,” Omar Minaya said at the time. “Now we have a better opportunity to look at him.” Castillo was an aging middle-infielder with declining numbers. But interestingly enough, after that ‘look’ Minaya chose to offer him a 4-year, $25 million contract.
Castillo couldn’t stay healthy last year and morphed into a double-play machine. He struggled to slug over .300. and hit just .245. Oddly, Jerry Manuel recently stated in his first spring presser that he’d like to bat Castillo leadoff instead of Jose Reyes. So riddle me this: who will be the first out of New York, Manuel or Castillo?
Barry Zito, Giants
You have to wonder if going across the Bay was like a trip to the island of “Lost” for Zito. I’ve read that his ‘fastball’ has been repeatedly clocked in the low 80s. Whatever the case, Zito signed a deal that at the time was the biggest contract ever awarded to a pitcher. We all know the numbers: 7 years and $126 million.
The crazy thing? His numbers aren’t really all that different than when he was on the A’s. As Rob Neyer said at the time of the signing, “The only thing this deal does is make the Giants look ridiculous…based on the facts at hand, this looks to me like one of the dumber free-agent signings ever. Zito just isn’t very good.” And that was before he lost some of the zip off his fastball.
Now Zito is kind of like a glorified Jim Parque, if you’ll allow the vague White Sox reference. He takes the mound and gives you some innings, but he can’t or won’t throw the ball over the plate. And when he does it gets hit hard. Last year Zito regressed to 120 Ks and 102 BBs. He’s not fooling hitters anymore. Stack the lineup with righties and you’ll do well.
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
Soriano replaced Corey Patterson as my favorite whipping boy on the Cubs, but with good reason. You’ll have to pardon me for demanding dominant numbers from a guy that signs an 8-year, $136 million contract. Some things I’ve gathered by watching him everyday here in Chicago: he doesn’t run well anymore, he’s an awful baserunner and apparently he MUST bat leadoff. You can’t run on him (props for that), but he is a terrible fielder with limited range. He’s also looking old and injury prone. Why anyone throws him a strike is beyond me.
The bottom line though? You pay a guy money like that to be the star player that carries the team through postseason series. All he’s done is absolutely crap on himself in the playoffs. 3-28 with no homers and no RBI in 2 Cubs postseasons. Does anyone see that getting better?
[tags]Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs, Barry Zito, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets[/tags]