There have been a lot of bad contracts handed out in Major League Baseball history.
While people point the finger at recent ridiculous deals – cough Jason Schmidt cough – the truth is that owners have been throwing stupid money at suspect players since, well, since they started having stupid money to throw at suspect players.
But if you were making up a team of the worst contracts in Major League history by position, who would fill out your roster?
Here’s our lineup… The Thieving Bastards!
Catcher: Todd Hundley
Team: Chicago Cubs
Contract: 4 years / $23M
Our man in “A Whale’s Vagina” Herija Green blew up my Inbox with requests for Hundley to hold down the job behind the plate. After ignoring his initial emails, he provided factual evidence that Hundley in fact possesses the pedigree require to make this team. All he did for the Cubbies was average .199 with 14 HR and 33 RBI a season while platooning with Joe Girardi.
Backup: Jason Kendall – maybe it’s just us, but we’re not sold on this guy being worth $10M+ a season…
First Base: Mo Vaughn
Team: Anaheim Angels
Contract: 6 years / $88M
The fact that Mo Vaughn fell down the dugout steps during his first game as an Angel, subsequently spraining his ankle and forcing him to miss a couple weeks straight away just about sums up this contract. He was productive at the start of the deal – in both 1999 and 2000 – but he missed all of 2001 due to injury and was a shell of his former MVP self by the time he hit the Big Apple. When the Mets let him go in 2003, he was hitting .190 and making $17M.
Backup: Richie Sexson, Seattle Mariners – Year One and Year Two were okay, but hitting .206 last season and .218 so far this year aren’t really 4 year / $50M numbers. Extra credit for his full name being Richmond Lockwood Sexson.
Second Base: Luis Castillo
Team: New York Mets
Contract: 4 years / $26M
There is no questioning that Castillo is still a solid, everyday second baseman. The question is whether that will still be the case four years from now when his contact expires and he’s 36 years old. We, like many Mets fans, have our doubts.
Backup: We couldn’t think of one… can you?
Third Base: Bobby Bonilla – Team Captain
Team: New York Mets
Contract: $1.19M/year from 2011 to 2035
No, you’re not reading that wrong. When Bonilla was released by the Mets, he was due $5.9M. Instead, the Mets agreed to pay him the above sum for the above length of time. You can’t make this kind of stuff up.
Backup: Vinny Castilla, every year he played away from Colorado…
Shortstop: Cristian Guzman
Team: Washington Nationals
Contract: 4 years / $16.8M
The number itself isn’t that bad – $4.2 per season – but then you look at the results. Guzman signed the deal before the 2005 season and promptly went out and had the worst season of his career, batting .219. He missed all of the 2006 season. After a promising start in 2007, you guessed it, injured and done for the year. This season, he’s playing fairly well, but not well enough to justify the money he’s stolen from the Nats.
Backup: Julio Lugo, Boston Red Sox – when an announcer develops a catch phrase involving your name to describe a bad night at the plate (Lugo for 4) you know you’re in trouble.
Left Field: Albert “Don’t Call Me Joey” Belle
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Contract: 5 years / $65M
Oh, don’t worry Baltimore fans, we know he absolutely clobbered the ball in ’99 and 2000, combining to mash 60 home runs and drive in 220 runs. We also know that those first two years of his contract were the last two years of his career, as a chronic hip condition ended things early, giving him time to terrorize trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Despite his two years of success, getting $13M to sit at home is robbery, no matter how you look at it.
Backup: Juan Pierre, Los Angeles Dodgers – you have to hit a lot of singles and steal a lot of bases to justify 5 years and $44M.
Center Field: Gary Matthews Jr
Team: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Contract: 5 years / $50M
Meet the best paid fourth outfielder in baseball! Truth is, he’s probably only the fourth outfielder because Arte Moreno is paying him so much damn money… Matthews is a lesson in parlaying one really good year (.313, 19, 79) into a monster contract that no one thought was a good idea. And that was before the HGH scandal. And the Torii Hunter signing. Seriously – this might be the best of the bunch!
Backup: Andruw Jones, Los Angeles Dodgers – .165 / 2 / 7 and on the DL. Apparently that is the going rate of production for $18M/year.
Right Field: Jeffrey Hammonds
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Contract: 3 years / $21M
Remember Jeffrey Hammonds? If you’re a Brewers fan you do and not for his performance in the field. Hammonds was Gary Matthews Jr. before Gary Matthews Jr. He parlayed his 2000 campaign in Colorado (.335/20/106) into this deal in Milwaukee, which saw him go for .248/14/75 over the course of the entire deal.
Backup: Bobby Higginson, Detroit Tigers – The star of three of the worst teams in MLB history (1996, 2002, 2003), Higginson signed an extension with the Tigers following a breakout 2000 season. Each year after that, his production went down as the money went up. Classic thief material.
Designated Hitter: Juan Gonzalez
Team: Texas Rangers
Contract: 2 years / $24M
Over the course of this contract, he managed only 152 games. Ironically, Gonzalez passed on an opportunity to be the biggest thief on this list, having turned down an 8 year / $120M overture from the Detroit Tigers to re-sign in Texas. Maybe he wasn’t such a thief after all? Or maybe he was just an idiot. We’re not sure.
Starter #1: Barry Zito
Team: San Francisco Giants
Contract: 7 years / $126M
I’m pretty sure we don’t have to get into this one…
Starter #2: Carl Pavano
Team: New York Yankees
Contract: 4 years / $39.95M
His nickname is “American Idle.” Enough said.
Starter #3: Mike Hampton
Team: Colorado Rockies (and Florida Marlins and Atlanta Braves)
Contract: 8 years / $121M
Since 2004, he has made 12 starts. Over that time, he has been paid upwards of $50M. We’re all in the wrong business.
Starter #4: Russ Ortiz
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Contract: 4 years / $33M
How does 5-16 with a 6.99 ERA grab ya?
Starter #5: Denny Neagle
Team: Colorado Rockies
Contract: 5 years / $51.5M
Going 19-23 with a 5.57 ERA over the first three seasons was bad enough. Then he missed all of 2004. Then he was caught with his zipper down and a $40 hooker. Not only was he a thief, but he was apparently a cheap bastard too!
Closer: Eric Gagne
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Contract: 1 year / $10M
Big deal that it’s only one year. The deal was signed before The Mitchell Report came out and we all know how that went for Gagne. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he pulled himself from the closers role earlier in the season because even he admitted he didn’t deserve it. Notice he didn’t offer to return any money though.
Reliever: Darren Dreifort
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Contract: 5 years / $55M
And what did the Dodgers receive for all that cash from the 2nd Overall pick in 1993? Nine wins.
Reliever: Jeff Weaver
Team: Seattle Mariners
Contract: 1 year / $8-9M
Just another reason why Bill Bavasi was fired earlier in the week.
Reliever: Carlos Silva
Team: Seattle Mariners
Contract: 4 years / $48M
Silva currently sits at 3-8 with a 5.79 ERA. He has a shrine to Bill Bavasi in his house.
We’re leaving the final two spots in the ‘pen open to you. Give us your picks in the comments section and let us know who we missed everywhere else…