Posted: Friday December 15, 2006 3:27PM; Updated: Saturday December 16, 2006 12:50PM
Pitchers stealing money?
Position players stealing money?
Try as I do to not let the salaries that are being paid to baseball players these days get to me, I simply can't help it. I know it's not particularly rational on my part. I know that Major League Baseball is raking in money like never before. I understand supply and demand. Why shouldn't the workers stick it to the rich bosses? It's the American way.
But, man, who among us doesn't go a little white around the gills at $55 million for Gil Meche, or $40 million for Ted Lilly? How about $50 million for Gary Matthews Jr., or $44 million for Juan Pierre? It'd be one thing if these guys were actually good. But, any way you look at it, these are middling major league players, at best.
Total All-Star appearances by those four guys: Two.
Future Hall of Famers in there: You know.
That, I guess, is what bugs me about baseball and player salaries these days, two subjects that go hand in grubby fist, especially at this time of the year. It's not the $136 million to Alfonso Soriano, a prince of a guy, or even the $100 million to Carlos Lee. I'm not that bothered about the $103 million the Red Sox will pay for Daisuke Matsuzaka. I've even moved past the $252 million for Alex Rodriguez.
It's that players who are barely major leaguers are pulling down salaries that are simply way out of whack, and they keep doing it, year after year. Millions of dollars, a year, are going to players who are among the worst in their profession. That's hard to swallow. Even if there is so much money going around that owners don't know what to do with it all.
Thanks to the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia and the always helpful Baseball Reference.com, I came up with a couple of lists to illustrate this point.
Take a look at the 10 active players with the worst career OPS (minimum 5,000 plate appearances) and a rough estimate on how much money they've made in their careers, in millions of dollars. So far.
Brace yourself. Again, that is how much the worst have made.
Granted, that list is not entirely fair. Some of these players are much better than their peers defensively. Vizquel has 11 Gold Gloves, for crying out loud. You have to pay for defense, too.
Still, at best, these guys are largely one-dimensional players.
I don't want to leave out the pitchers, either. Take a gander at the 10 worst ERAs among active players who have pitched in at least 250 games. And those career salaries.
You can quibble over whether ERA is an accurate measure of a pitcher's worth, too. But you get the picture.
You don't have to be a particularly effective baseball player to ensure that your great-great-grandchildren will make it through college without going into debt. You just have to hang around for awhile.
I don't know why that still bugs me, knowing what I do about how much money is in the game. It's been that way for decades, I know. And better the players get it than the owners, I guess.