This team has been assembled based on their 2006 salaries and performance
only. Players like Armando Benitez and Rafael Furcal might seem like good
fits, but their contracts are back-loaded.
Catcher: Mike Matheny, San Francisco Giants
2006 Salary: $2.5 Million
There really aren't any horrendous catcher contracts in the NL West.
This is surprising, since teams will often throw lots of money at
thirty-something catchers who can't help but slow down due to all the wear and
tear catching puts on their bodies. The closest example we see of this in
the NL West is with Mike Matheny, who turns 36 in September. He's still a
solid defensive player, but a shadow of his former spectacular self. His
hitting had been even worse than normal before he suffered a season-ending
concussion at the end of May. Doctors concluded that the concussion was
brought about through continuous wear at catcher rather than solely his latest
foul tip off of his chin. I wish Mike a successful recovery and comeback
next year, and I hope that a couple of million dollars eases the pain a bit.
First Base: Ryan Klesko, San Diego Padres
2006 Salary: $10 Million
This slot was going to go to Todd Helton before I remembered that Ryan Klesko
existed. The last we'd heard from him, he was complaining that it was too
hard to hit homers in PetCo park. He's finding that it's even tougher to
hit homers while on the DL. He was supposed to be back sometime in June,
but it's just as well that he hasn't, given the stellar play of young 1B Adrian Gonzalez. I suppose the Padres could use him in left field some if he
comes back, but he's a huge defensive liability out there.
Second Base: Jeff Kent, Los Angeles Dodgers
2006 Salary: $9 Million
Don't get me wrong, Kent is a fine offensive player. But for $9
million, you'd like to see him with more than 11 homers and 67 hits in
mid-August. He is questionable defensively to say the least, and really
isn't a good fit on a team with groundball specialist Derek Lowe (who is making
the same figure). Oddly, the Dodgers signed him to an $11.5 million 1-year
extension before the start of the year even though they are committed to Lowe
Shortstop: Kaz Matsui, Colorado Rockies
2006 Salary: $8 Million
I realize that the Mets are paying most of his salary, but this guy's making
$8 million this year to play in Triple-A. Enough said.
Third Base: Vinny Castilla, Free Agent 2006 Salary: $3.2 Million 2006 OPS:
I'm not sure why General Managers continue to sign Castilla for big bucks to
play in places besides Coors Field. Give Kevin Towers of the Padres credit
for admitting his mistake and cutting his losses. Castilla's a great
clubhouse guy, but $3.2 million might get Garth Brooks to entertain in the San
Diego clubhouse for 81 games. Plus, it doesn't appear that the Padres have
exactly slipped into a funk without him.
Left Field: Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants
2006 Salary: $18 Million
2006 OPS: .950
Bonds has played in nearly 80% of his team's games, and often gets replaced
in later innings. That's good for him, but bad for $18 million. The
interesting thing about Barry's contract is that the Giants had an out clause
due to Bonds failure to make 500 plate appearances last season. If Game
of Shadows had come out a bit earlier, you wonder whether Nick Sabean would
have thought that the distraction to his ballclub would be worth Bonds' numbers.
Center Field: Steve Finley, San Francisco Giants
2006 Salary: $7 Million
2006 OPS: .716
Talk about someone whose career fell off of a cliff. I doubt very much
that the hoopla surrounding Finley's quest for the 300-300 club generated enough
fan interest to offset the fact that the Giants aren't getting much production
out of their investment. On the plus side, they had swapped him for the
similarly expensive Edgardo Alfonso, who might have fallen off the very same
cliff, and would doubtless be as useless for the Giants right now. They
ought to put up a warning sign by that cliff.
Right Field: Shawn Green, Arizona Diamondbacks
2006 Salary: $8 Million
2006 OPS: .779
Brian Giles and JD Drew have similar salary-to-production ratios this season
as Green does, but when you factor in home ballparks, Green is the clear
"winner" here. It also counts against Green that his contract is taking
away possible playing time for Carlos Quentin and Scott Hairston. The
Dodgers aren't having problems getting Andre Ethier into their lineup.
Most of the Padres' advanced prospects are older guys who have been labeled,
fairly or not, as Quadruple-A hitters.
Starting Pitcher: Chan Ho Park, San Diego Padres
2006 Salary: $15 Million
2006 ERA: 4.66
It seems like a very long time ago that the Texas Rangers signed Chan Ho Park
to a $65 million contract. Chan Ho has proven that he can still pitch in certain
stadiums (his ERA is a full point lower at home this year), but for that kind of
money you ought to be able to pitch in quicksand if you're asked to.
Relief Pitcher: Eric Gagne, Los Angeles Dodgers
2006 Salary: $10
You just never know with closers. They can have two straight seasons of
utter dominance and then suddenly fall apart. Or they can develop all sorts of
physical problems despite pitching less than half as many innings as top
starters. Unfortunately for Gagne and the Dodgers, he falls into that
latter category. And he fell into it just after signing a huge contract.
Gagne has a $12 million option for 2007... you can safely bet that such an
option won't see any exercise.
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