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Every year I try to make up a team of players whose salaries are equal or less than Alex Rodriguez’s, hence the “Cheap Team.” But let’s throw a little bit of money around. I do not mean insult to any of the players listed here - they are all very capable baseball players, but some of them just haven’t been living up to their paychecks. Here is the most expensive team that has not performed to standards for this season. (Note: I am cutting a bit of slack for the injured.)

Catcher Charles Johnson (Colorado Rockies; $9,000,000) – The Colorado Rockies, using methods that are too horrid to speak of, managed to find a way for the Dodgers to take Charles Johnson off their hands. For this GM Dan O’Dowd deserves the “Executive of the Year” award, as finding any who wants Johnson would be difficult. The Rockies dumped Mike Hampton on the Marlins, but had to take back this erstwhile backstop, which probably wasn’t that bad of a move. The catcher didn’t waive his no-trade clause, which left him in Colorado, much to the chagrin of O’Dowd. In his tenure with the Rox this year, Johnson has hit .254 with 11 bombs in 81 games. The two years before this one weren’t much better at all. Major sighs of relief from: Todd Hundley ($7 million, Los Angeles Dodgers).

First Baseman Carlos Delgado, (Toronto Blue Jays; $19,700,000) – Carlos Delgado has been on the shelf for quite a while, but he gets no slack from me. On the nearly 60 percent done season, Mr. Skinny has hit .221 with an OBP of .322. Those numbers are quite bad for those of you who didn’t know. And the paycheck is quite high for him this season, and he wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to alleviate the pressure on the Toronto Blue Jays brass and owners. He won a very close competition Delgado did. Major sighs of relief from: Jason Giambi ($12,428,571, New York Yankees), Mo Vaughn ($17,166,667, New York Mets), Shawn Green ($16,666,667, Los Angeles Dodgers), Richie Sexson ($8,725,000, Arizona Diamondbacks), Darin Erstad ($7,750,000, Anaheim Angels).

Second Baseman Bret Boone (Seattle Mariners; $8,000,000) – In 2001, Bret Boone clubbed thirty-seven homers and drove in 114. The Mariners rewarded the defensively good-handed Boone with a contract a four-year deal. Boy, did that blow up in their face. Boone is hitting right along with his career norms with a .251 (.268) batting average and .314 (.327) on base percentage. These numbers don’t quite merit the eight million Boone is pulling down this year. Major sighs of relief from: Fernando Vina ($3 million, Detroit Tigers) and Adam Kennedy ($2,500,000, Anaheim Angels).

Shortstop Orlando Cabrera (Boston Red Sox; $6,000,000) – The Boston Red Sox traded for Orlando and he hasn’t stopped thanking them for allowing him to escape the black hole that is Montreal. On the season Cabrera is hitting .241 with a sub .300 OBP. The Red Sox are seriously hoping that playing for a new contract, a change of scenery, and getting out of Montreal will seriously help this guy. Major sighs of relief from: Derek Jeter ($18,600,000), Nomar Garciaparra (Chicago Cubs, $11,500,000), Rich Aurilia (San Diego Padres, $3,150,000).

Third Baseman Chipper Jones (Atlanta Braves; $15,333,333) – I’m slightly short on players at this position, so I went after the new guy – Chipper. Originally out in left field, the Braves moved Chipper back into the infield, more exactly, to third base. Good thing I didn’t write this article in about three weeks, as Chipper would be further up the charts, but for now anyone hitting .238 with only 14 homers earns the spot. Well, that is if they are getting paid over 15 million. But trust me, sooner or later Chipper will be off this team. Major sighs of relief from: Troy Glaus ($10,450,000, Anaheim Angels).

Left Fielder Ryan Klesko (San Diego Padres; $6,000,000) – Ryan Klesko has been bothered by assorted injuries and the new Petco Park, but on the season he has hit only 4 home runs. This kind of production from a starting left fielder is not at all what you would expect for 6 million. Klesko’s slugging percentage is also at a career low at .406. The slugger, though, seems to be turning things around and those numbers will probably improve. Major sighs of relief from: Shannon Stewart ($5,500,000, Minnesota Twins), Carl Everett ($3 million, Chicago White Sox), Geoff Jenkins ($8,737,500, Milwaukee Brewers), Rusty Greer ($7,400,000, Texas Rangers).

Center Fielder Bernie Williams (New York Yankees; $12,357,143) – Bernie has played a great career with the New York Yankees, but with his bad shoulders and aging body, he couldn’t defeat time forever. On the year he has twelve homers but only a .247 batting average. When Ruben Sierra and Kenny Lofton figure prominently into your playing time that speaks. Major sighs of relief from: Preston Wilson ($9,000,000, Colorado Rockies), Ken Griffey Jr. ($9,142,608, Cincinnati Reds).

Right Fielder Sammy Sosa (Chicago Cubs; $16,875,000) – Yes, I know he was chosen to the National League All Star team, but he wasn’t really qualified to go. Slammin’ Sammy has gotten back on track quite a bit, but not close to what his money calls for. He has 24 homers on the season, but with a .269 batting average. That’s being really nit-picky, but the highest paid guy at the position has to take the fall. I think it’s just a matter of time until Sosa regains his batting average in the near .300 area. Major sighs of relief from: Magglio Ordonez ($14,000,000, Chicago White Sox), (soon to change) Larry Walker ($12,666,667, St. Louis Cardinals), Bobby Higginson ($8,850,000, Detroit Tigers), Juan Gonzalez ($4,000,000, Kansas City Royals)

Starting Pitcher Bartolo Colon (Anaheim Angels; $11,000,000) – The Angels needed a big fireballing ace to be a stopper on their team. Well, what better way than to throw money at a guy coming off a 242 inning, 3.87 ERA year? Well…things don’t work out for the best always, as Colon has a 5.39 ERA over 130.1 IP, albeit with a winning record. Major sighs of relief from Andy Ashby ($8,500,000, San Diego Padres).

Starting Pitcher Denny Neagle (Colorado Rockies; $9,000,000) – The Rockies haven’t had pitcher Denny Neagle throw for them yet this year, and that’s not really a bad thing. In 2002, Neagle pitched 164.1 innings with a 5.26 ERA and in 2001 he threw 170.2 innings with a 5.38 ERA. In seven starts in 2003, Neagle pitched an average of five innings in each and gave up runs at a clip of 7.90 per nine. Denny, please come back to Atlanta so we can hear your train imitation and get the good old times back. Major sighs of relief from: Rick Reed ($8,000,000 Pittsburgh Pirates).

Starting Pitcher Aaron Sele (Anaheim Angels; $8,666,667) – The Angels were looking for a stopper (I’ve heard this somewhere…) and signed Aaron Sele along with trading for Kevin Appier. Appier now plays for the Royals after being given the heave-ho, but Sele remains. Last year in 25 starts, Sele was 7-11 with a 5.77 ERA. Well, at least he improved this year to the tune of a 4.60 ERA in 19 games, 15 of which were starts. Major sighs of relief from: Kevin Millwood ($11,000,000, Philadelphia Phillies).

Starting Pitcher Mike Hampton (Atlanta Braves; $12,975,288) – The Colorado Rockies, seeking some veteran leadership on the mound went after pitcher Mike Hampton. What wasn’t there to like? 217.2 IP, 3.14 ERA, and 15 wins to boot. Oh, that 1.35 WHIP, which doesn’t bode well for going to Coors. And low and behold, it didn’t. Mike’s mechanics were so screwed up that pitching guru Leo Mazzone has not been able to get Hampton back to his normal form. Oh, well, here’s hoping! Major sighs of relief from: Mike Mussina ($16,000,000, New York Yankees).

Starting Pitcher Jose Contreras (Chicago White Sox; $9,000,000) – Boss Steinbrenner sure loved this guy. Six foot four, power arm, wicked splitter, and enough poise to perform well for the Cuban National team. Must be quite different pitching for Castro and for the Boss. Contreras’ ERA with the pinstriped team was 5.64 with a 1.41 WHIP. By the way, in case you couldn’t figure out the obvious, those are bad numbers. The Yanks managed to dump him on the Chicago White Sox, so there’s a plus! Major sighs of relief from: Matt Morris ($12,500,000, St. Louis Cardinals), Chan Ho Park ($13,879,164, Texas Rangers).

Closer Billy Koch (Florida Marlins; $6,375,000) – Billy Koch was once Billy Beane’s guy in Oakland. Well, he was Billy Beane’s guy again in tricking Kenny Williams into giving up Keith Foulke. Now Foulke has moved out of the closer’s spot and far into the middle of the game. His ERA is up around 4.50 and his WHIP is around 1.60. Major sighs of relief from: Matt Mantei ($7,000,000, Arizona Diamondbacks), Robb Nen ($9,150,000, San Francisco Giants).


(Author’s Note: Special thanks to espn.com for their information on salaries and bigleaguers.com for their information on the stats. Also, check out my blog at http://www.livejournal.com/users/danielpaulling for semi-regular updated information.)