Tag:NL Central
Posted on: February 3, 2012 7:53 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 10:13 am
 

Baseball's worst contracts, Part III: Pitchers



By Matt Snyder


As we conclude the short series on overpaid players, we'll take a look at the man on the hill: The pitcher.

The interesting thing I found about pitchers is that not too many "long-term" contracts stood out like a sore thumb as being bad in terms of what is left on the current deal. A lot of the honorable mention types are for just one year, maybe two. This, I believe, illustrates the caution the overwhelming majority of teams exercise when coughing up long-term deals for pitchers.

That doesn't mean there are no guys on the list, however. We have a couple really good fits.

As a reminder, we're only talking about the contracts from now until the conclusion of the deal. Any money already banked doesn't count in this exercise.

Right-handed starters

Worst: John Lackey
Remaining contract: 3 years, $47.85 million

Ignore that Lackey is injured now and will miss all of the 2012 season. In fact, that actually helps the Red Sox here if last season was any indication. Lackey was brutal in '11, putting together a 6.41 ERA, 1.62 WHIP while leading the majors in earned runs and wild pitches. He allowed a whopping 203 hits in his 160 innings pitched and posted a negative WAR (Wins Above Replacement player). And when he's healthy again, he'll be 34.

Honorable Mention

A.J. Burnett, Yankees: He helped the Yankees win the World Series title in 2009, but was he really integral? He was bad in the ALCS and was terrible in one of his World Series starts after leading the league in walks and wild pitches during the regular season. Since then, Burnett is 21-26 with a 5.20 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. He's now the Yankees' fifth starter and will make $33 million for the next two seasons.

"Fausto Carmona," Indians: He may miss the season after being caught for identity fraud (his name is actually Roberto Hernandez Heredia). He's due $7 million this season.

Jake Peavy, White Sox: It's hard to not appreciate the way Peavy is an absolute bulldog on the hill, but he was 7-7 with a 4.92 ERA last season as he battled back from a severe injury and he's set to make $17 million in 2012.

Jake Westbrook, Cardinals: Twelve starts in 2010 got Westbrook a two-year deal with the Cardinals. He's going to make $8.5 million this season after a pretty bad 2011 campaign.

Carlos Zambrano, Cubs/Marlins: He'll make $19 million this year, but the Cubs are paying most of it so Big Z can pitch for the Marlins.

Derek Lowe, Braves/Indians: He'll make $15 million this year, but the Braves are paying most of it so Lowe can pitch for the Indians.

Left-handed starters

Worst: Barry Zito
Remaining contract: 2 years, $39 million

Perhaps the worst news is there's actually a club option for 2014. Now, obviously the Giants won't pick that up, barring Zito becoming Tim Lincecum overnight, but there's a $7 million buyout if they don't pick up the option. So Zito will cost the Giants $47 million more, at the very least, before they can wash their hands of him. This actually has to be one of the worst contracts of all time. Zito is 43-61 with a 4.55 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and zero postseason innings pitched in his five seasons with the Giants.

Honorable Mention

Johan Santana, Mets: He was earning his deal pre-injury, so this one isn't really anyone's fault. Santana is due $49.5 million for the next two seasons, though, so that is rough.

Relievers

Worst: Rafael Soriano
Remaining contract: 2 years, $25 million

Soriano wasn't even the Yankees' best setup man last season (David Robertson was way better). Soriano was a stud in Tampa Bay in '10, so it's possible he's a great closer for the Yankees in 2013, if Mariano Rivera retires. But even when Soriano had a good second half last season, his numbers weren't awesome. And, again, we're talking about a non-closer making eight figures per season.

Honorable Mention

Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies: It will be interesting to see how Papelbon performs throughout this contract. He could very well earn his $50 million over the course of the next four years, but I'm wondering what the Phillies' front office thought when they saw that the Reds signed 2011 Philly closer Ryan Madson to a one-year, $8.5 million deal. I also wonder how this deal will feel if the Phillies can't find a way to lock up Cole Hamels long-term (he's a free agent next offseason). So this one has less to do with Papelbon and more to do with what the deal might end up costing the Phillies, because $50 million is an awful lot to give to a closer.

Brandon Lyon, Astros: Lyon will make $5.5 million this season. His 2011 season was cut short due to an injury, but he had an 11.48 ERA with as many blown saves as actual saves (four).



Part I: Infielders and catchers
Part II: Outfielders and designated hitters

Source for all figures was Cot's Baseball Contracts

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 2, 2012 7:43 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 7:55 am
 

Baseball's worst contracts, Part II: OF/DH



By Matt Snyder


As we continue our look at the most cumbersome contracts in baseball, today we'll look at outfielders and designated hitters. We covered the infield and catchers Wednesday and will look at pitchers Friday. As a reminder, we're looking at what is left on the contract, not what the player has been paid through the duration of the deal.

Left Field

Worst: Vernon Wells, Angels
Remaining contract: 3 years, $74 million

Man, this was a tough call because it's a crowded field (see below), but we'll go with Wells because the average annual value remaining on the contract is insane. He hit .218/.248/.412 last season and had a negative WAR, meaning a replacement-level player was better than a guy making over $25 million for the season. At age 33, he could certainly bounce back, but it's hard to see him all of a sudden becoming worth as much money as he's making.

Honorable Mention

Carl Crawford, Red Sox: There are six years and $128 million left on the deal, and I feel like many will argue that Crawford's remaining contract is worse than Wells'. I'm willing to give the 30-year-old Crawford a mulligan for his catastrophic first season in Boston. Next year at this time we'll know a lot more.

Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: Amazingly, he still has three years and $57 million left. Wow.

Jason Bay, Mets: In two seasons for the Mets, Bay has hit .251/.337/.386 (what an ugly slugging percentage for a supposed power hitter) with just 18 homers in 218 games. He still has two years and $36.25 million left, too, in addition to a $3 million buyout should the Mets not pick up his option year.

Center Field

Worst: Alex Rios, White Sox
Remaining Contract: 3 years, $38.5 million

While his teammate got much of the blame last year in terms of the White Sox's shortfall -- and you'll see him below -- Rios was pretty awful himself. He hit .227/.265/.348, which was good for a 65 OPS-plus (if you don't know what that is, trust me, it's embarrassingly bad). He actually posted a negative 1.5 WAR, meaning -- according to the stat -- that he single-handedly cost the White Sox a win and a half just by being in the lineup when he was. And now, thanks to that contract, he's untradeable.

Honorable Mention

Actually, I've got nothing here. Once one-time center fielders' contracts get too big they are usually shoved to the corners. The big-money guys here (Matt Kemp, Curtis Granderson, etc.) are fairly compensated.

Right Field

Worst: Jayson Werth, Nationals
Remaining contract: 6 years, $116 million

Very easy choice. I fully expect a bounce-back season from Werth this year, as several things didn't go his way last season. That being said, the Nationals are paying Werth like he's a superstar all the way until the season in which he turns 38. He wasn't even a superstar his last year in Philadelphia, when he was 31.

Honorable Mention

Nick Markakis, Orioles: There's a reason you only hear about other teams asking for Adam Jones in a trade and not Markakis. The latter is due $43.05 million over the next three seasons while he hit .284 with 15 homers and 73 RBI last season. You need more offense than that from a corner outfielder in order to pay him almost $15 million a year.

Designated Hitter

Worst: Adam Dunn, White Sox.
Remaining contract: 3 years, $44 million

Another easy one. Like Werth, I also expect Dunn to bounce back, but there's no way he can be good enough to earn his full contract over the next three years, especially considering how bad he was last season. He was historically awful with the bat -- there's really no need to rehash the gruesome details at this point -- and that's all he does. And if he does field, his value actually decreases because he's such a butcher with the glove.

Honorable Mention

Travis Hafner, Indians: Nitpicky here, but Pronk will make $13 million this season. He's only averaged 91 games per year the past four seasons. No one else really warrants mention, because Big Papi, for example, is still worth the big bucks.

On the Other Hand ...

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: Thanks to an early Longoria-type extension, Upton is set to make $46.109 million over the next four seasons. He made just under $4.5 million last season, when he finished fourth in a crowded NL MVP field. Since Upton is only 24, the D-Backs will have to pony up again -- and probably in huge fashion -- to lock him up through his prime, but for now this is a very team-friendly contract.

Special Cases

Bobby Bonilla, Mets: This is both hilarious and sad at the same time. When the Mets bought out Bonilla's $5.9 million contract in 2000, they agreed to repay him with interest starting 11 years later. Beginning July 1, 2011, the Mets are paying Bonilla an annual salary of roughly $1.2 million until 2035. Or around $35 million in all. In 2012, the Mets will pay Bonilla more than the following regulars/rotation members: Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee.

Manny Ramirez, Dodgers: We'll ignore that the Red Sox are paying Manny B. Manny $2 million per year until he's 54 because he helped bring them two World Series titles. But the Dodgers are paying Ramirez $8.33 million in 2012 and 2013. Assuming Clayton Kershaw gets more in arbitration, that means Manny will be the Dodgers' sixth highest-paid player this season. Of course, Frank McCourt is still going to make a billion dollar profit, so ...


Part I: Infielders and catchers
Part III: Pitchers, coming Friday

Source for all figures was Cot's Baseball Contracts

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: February 1, 2012 6:34 pm
 

Nyjer Morgan skates with (San Jose) Sharks

Nyjer Morgan

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Apparently Plushdamentals work on ice, as well.

Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan practiced with the NHL's San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. And, by accounts, he was pretty impressive.

"I'd give him a B-plus to be honest with you," Sharks center Joe Thornton told the San Jose Mercury News. "I was surprised with how good he was."

A Bay Area native, Morgan grew up playing hockey in addition to baseball. Here's some video footage of a 19-year-old Morgan, who was the first African-American to play in the Western Hockey League:



According to the newspaper, Morgan took four penalty shots, making his last (with a little help by goalie Thomas Greiss). But he also had fun, talked trash and "brought energy" to the practice.

"Even though I'm a grown man, I'm still a kid at heart," Morgan told the newspaper.

Morgan rubs many people the wrong way, but he does seem to have a fun on the field -- and the ice. He's also, obviously, an amazing athlete. His hockey background also seems to translate onto the diamond.

Hat-tip: Getting Blanked at TheScore.com

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 4:34 pm
 

Matt Garza's 2008 AL championship ring stolen

Matt GarzaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

We've all seen how garish World Series rings are, but did you know the runners-up get pretty impressive rings themselves?

Former Ray and current Cubs pitcher Matt Garza reported his 2008 American League championship ring stolen from his Fresno, Calif., home and it's listed as worth $30,000, according tot he Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

According to the Fresno Bee, the burglary happened between the afternoon of Jan. 26 and the morning of Jan. 31.

It seems the Rays are popular victims of crimes. Last spring the house rented by Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria, David Price and Reid Brignac reported $56,000 worth of property stolen, including Longoria's AK-47 rifle. Police arrested three suspects in that robbery in August.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.


Category: MLB
Posted on: February 1, 2012 1:48 pm
 

Juan Cruz signs minor-league deal with Pirates

By Matt Snyder

The Pirates have signed free agent relief pitcher Juan Cruz to a minor-league contract with a spring training invite, the club announced Wednesday afternoon.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Cruz, 33, will now join his seventh team in 12 big-league seasons, should he make the team. He spent last season with the Rays, where he had the good fortune of going 5-0 -- which, as a reliever doesn't really mean much -- with a 3.88 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 46 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings. He's been inconsistent season to season in his career, as Cruz was very effective in 2004 and 2008 while being awful in 2005 and 2009, with several other seasons falling in between.

Should Cruz make the roster, he won't be ticketed for a late-inning role. The Pirates have Joel Hanrahan locked in as the closer with Evan Meek and Jason Grilli setting up.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 5:53 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 6:03 pm
 

Livan Hernandez signs with Astros

By Matt Snyder

Free agent pitcher Livan Hernandez has signed with the Astros, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has confirmed. The news was first reported by Fox Sports.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

The Astros seemed to have their starting five set in Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, J.A. Happ and Jordan Lyles, but perhaps they'll make a trade or get the 21-year-old Lyles some more seasoning in Triple-A. I say this because signing Hernandez for anything other than the purpose of being a back-end-of-the-rotation innings eater wouldn't make much sense. The one thing he still does well is log innings.

Hernandez, 36, was 8-13 with a 4.47 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 175 1/3 innings last season for the Nationals. He would have surely hit 200 innings had the Nats not pulled him from the rotation in early September to make room for Stephen Strasburg.

In 2010, Hernandez was 10-12 with a 3.66 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 211 2/3 innings. He's logged 3,121 2/3 regular-season innings in his 16-season big-league career.

In addition to the Hernandez and the other five pitchers mentioned above, the Astros also have Henry Sosa, Kyle Weiland, Zach Duke and highly-touted prospect Jarred Cosart in the mix.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 1:38 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 3:36 pm
 

Yankees hire Jim Hendry as special assistant

By Matt Snyder

Jim Hendry was the Cubs' general manager from 2002 until last August. He was notified he would be fired last July, but stayed on until late August to aid in the transition. He wasn't unemployed for long, however, because the Yankees have hired Hendry as a special assistant to general manager Brian Cashman, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned. The news was first reported by ESPN Chicago.

Hendry, 56, led the Cubs to three NL Central championships (2003, 2007, 2008), but the latter two teams were swept in the NLDS and Hendry left the cupboard pretty bare for the new Cubs administration, headed up by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.

Hendry started working for the Cubs in 1995 and there aren't many people in the business who dislike him as a person. He's also known to have a very strong work ethic.

It's possible this job will be a stepping stone for Hendry getting another shot at GM, as Kevin Towers was fired from being the Padres' GM post in 2009 and took a similar position with Cashman and the Yankees. Towers was then hired as the Diamondbacks' GM, his current job.

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Posted on: January 30, 2012 8:33 pm
 

Owner: Astros not changing name

By Matt Snyder

Last week, word circulated that new Astros owner Jim Crane and his front office were kicking around the idea of changing the team name from Astros to something else. Evidently, the fans have spoken, because it's not happening.

Via MLB.com blog network:
“You asked for change and we added several fan friendly initiatives last week and we hope you like them,” Crane said. “We will continue to listen, and to look for additional ways to improve on and off the field.

“One thing that we are not going to change is the name. We received strong feedback and consensus among season ticket holders and many fans, and we will not change the name Astros. The Houston Astros are here to stay.”
One area where Crane wasn't left a choice -- despite significant outcry from fans -- is the move to the AL West. That's still happening before the start of the 2013 season. Crane had to sign off on the move in order to become the new owner, but that still hasn't sat well with fans, as Crane obviously has an uphill battle when it comes to winning them over.

Perhaps keeping the same name will get a few fans on his side.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com