The 2007 All “Paid By My Former Employer” Team

When a baseball team decides to release a player, one of two things can happen.  Either A – the team and the player will agree to a contract buyout, or B – the team will rid itself of the player but continue to pay him for the remainder of his contract.  Nowadays, though, baseball contracts have gotten so large that teams will try to find trades for these players to avoid both of these scenarios.
This way they can offer some money to the team taking the player on and save themselves from having to pay an unwanted player with very wanted money.  Due to the financial structures of certain teams, and the insane contracts some players receive (in 2008 Alex Rodriguez will make more than the entire Florida Marlins team), finding these trades can prove rather difficult.
The perfect example of this is the situation of aforementioned Alex Rodriguez.  After the 2000 season, A-Rod signed a 10-yr/252 mil deal with the Rangers.  After three seasons with Texas, A-Rod was traded to the New York Yankees.  He still had 7-yr/179 mil remaining on the deal, and in order to complete the trade, the Rangers had to pick up 67 mil out of that 179 mil remaining (an average of 9.5 mil per season over the remaining 7 seasons).
From 2004-2007, the four years after the trade that put Rodriguez on the Yankees, here are his numbers against the Rangers – the team still paying him significant money each year.

  • 2004: (8 mil from Texas) 6 g, 7-20, .350, 5 runs, 1 HR, 2 rbi
  • 2005: (12 mil from Texas) 10 g, 13-41, .317, 12 runs, 2 HR, 8 rbi
  • 2006: (10 mil from Texas) 10 g, 11-38, .289, 7 runs, 2 HR, 6 rbi
  • 2007: (7 mil from Texas) 9 g, 12-35, .343, 4 runs, 2 HR, 3 rbi
  • Totals: (37 mil from Texas) 35 g, 43-134, .321, 28 runs, 7 HR, 19 rbi

In those 35 games, the Yankees have won 25 of 35 games against the Rangers.  Essentially, for the last four years, the Rangers have paid A-Rod 37 million dollars to crush them.  Luckily for them, by A-Rod opting out of his Yankees contract (and signing another record-breaking deal), the Rangers do not have to pay the remaining 32 mil that they owed him.
Upon seeing his numbers against the team still paying him, I was so fascinated by the logic of it all that I decided to find more players in similar situations.  I decided to compile a team of players who were paid significant salaries (1 mil or higher) in 2007 by teams they were either released from, traded from, or simply had not been on in quite some time.
The team will not include A-Rod, as we already mentioned him, and it will not include everyone who fell into this category in 2007, as I only wanted to discuss the situations that merited discussion.  For instance, the Phillies paid Jim Thome 7 mil in 2007, but he does not belong here.  Thome did not play against the Phillies and they got more production out of Ryan Howard anyway. 
Paying Thome the 7 mil allowed them to have a better, cheaper, and younger player).  So, without any more delay, I present to you – The 2007 All “Paid By My Former Employer” Team.
CATCHER – JASON KENDALL
A former All-Star, Kendall signed a huge contract (6-yr/60 mil in 2002) to stay in Pittsburgh and saw any power productivity drop off the charts.  Prior to signing that contract, Kendall averaged 9.1 HR/season, as opposed to the 2.8 HR/season in the years afterwards.  When the Athletics dangled Arthur Rhodes and Mark Redman, the Pirates could not resist (who else could?), and sent Kendall to Camp Billy Beane.  Since his contract had been so large, the Pirates had to pay portions of it until it expired at the end of 2007.  Kendall had not been on the Pirates for almost three years and yet still made more money than half of the team.
This past season, the Pirates paid Kendall 5.5 mil to play for the Athletics.  Then, the Athletics traded him to the Cubs.  The A’s paid 4.5 mil more.  In 2007, Kendall made 5.5 mil from Pirates and 4.5 mil from the Athletics to post extremely average numbers in 80 games for the A’s (.226, 2 HR, 22 rbi).  The Cubs only paid him the remaining 1.5-3 mil (made 13 mil in 2007) and got a starting catcher who hit .270, with a .362 OBP in 57 games, en route to a division win.
To top it off, Kendall played the Pirates as a member of the Cubs, going 3-8 with 2 rbi in a Cubs series win against the team paying him 5.5 mil.
INFIELD – BILL MUELLER
An 11-year veteran, Mueller played third base for the Giants, Cubs, and Red Sox before joining the Dodgers in 2006.  Prior to that season he signed a 2-yr/9 mil deal.  The former batting champion played only 32 games for the Dodgers in 2006, hitting .252 with 3 HR and 15 rbi.  Due to injury problems Mueller was forced to retire.  The Dodgers decided to honor his contract and give him a Special Assistant to the GM position. 
In 2007, Mueller made 4.5 million dollars to do whatever it is a SATTGM does, making him one of the highest paid executives.
INFIELD – CARLOS DELGADO
After the 2004 season, Delgado became a free agent and signed with the Marlins.  He turned down a lucrative deal with the Mets because they apparently tried to rely too heavily on his Hispanic background.  One year later, Delgado was traded to the Mets, with money, for Mike Jacobs and two prospects.  The money that went along with Delgado involved 2 mil of his 2007 salary. 
That 2 mil made Delgado the 3rd highest paid Marlin in 2007, behind Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis..
Not only that, but Delgado’s Mets went 11-5 against his former employer in 2007, partly thanks to his 21 hits, .327 avg, 5 HR, and 18 rbi.  The 3rd highest paid Marlin in 2007 was a Mets player who helped beat the Marlins 11 times.  Interesting.
INFIELD – SHEA HILLENBRAND
Former All-Star Shea Hillenbrand has been shipped around since his departure from the Red Sox.  In 2007, he went from the Angels to the Padres to the Dodgers, and made 6.5 mil.
Starting with the Angels, Hillenbrand hit .254 with 3 HR and 22 rbi, in 53 games.  While on the Angels, he helped beat the Dodgers in interleague play, going 3-7 with 3 rbi in 2 games.  He was then bought out by the Angels and signed by the Padres.  During his time in San Diego, Hillenbrand got no action in 12 days, before being released.  The Dodgers picked him up and he played 20 games, hitting .243, with 1 HR and 9 rbi.
Against the Padres, he went 1-7 with a run, in 2 Dodger losses.  I guess the Padres knew all along that getting rid of Hillenbrand would help them beat the Dodgers! 
Hillenbrand was paid 6 mil to play one-third of the Angels’ season, posting below average numbers, and then 0.5 mil by the Padres and Dodgers to play 20 games and hit .243.  
OUTFIELD – SHAWN GREEN
After many successful seasons with the Blue Jays and Dodgers, Shawn Green signed a deal with the Diamondbacks.  They gave him a large contract and then shipped him to the Mets in August 2006.  They agreed to pay 5.8 mil of Green’s 2007 contract as he played a full season for the Mets.
In 130 games, Green hit .291 with 10 HR, 46 rbi, 30 2B and 62 runs.  Against the D-Backs, Green went 4-13 with 1 HR and 3 rbi in a 3-1 Mets series win (he was injured for the other series).  The D-Backs paid Green 5.8 million dollars to help beat them three times.
STARTING PITCHER – RUSS ORTIZ
Ortiz was once a hot commodity.  After a 2002 world series appearance with the Giants, he won 36 games in 2 seasons with the Braves.  Following that success, the D-Backs signed him to a 4-yr/33 mil deal, after the 2004 season.  In 2005, Ortiz went 5-11 with a 6.89 ERA, and in 2006 he went 0-5 with an 8.14 ERA in 6 starts before the D-Backs had enough.
With nearly 22 mil remaining on the contract, GM Josh Byrnes released Ortiz, agreeing to pay the remainder of his contract as long as he was no longer in uniform.
In 2007, the D-Backs paid Ortiz 7.1 mil, even though he did not play for them.  Meanwhile, Brandon Webb made only 4.5 mil.  Ortiz barely played in 2007, going 2-3 with a 5.51 ERA for the Giants.
But, as baseball irony would have it, one of his 2 wins came in a 7-inning, 2-run performance against the D-Backs  – his only quality start came in a game where he beat the team paying him over 7 million dollars.
STARTING PITCHER – JAVIER VAZQUEZ
After several good and under the radar seasons in Montreal, Vazquez was traded the Yankees before the 2004 season.  One year later, Vazquez and cash were sent to the D-Backs for Randy Johnson.
Why are all of these guys somehow tied to the D-Backs!?
In 2007, for the White Sox, Vazquez went 15-8 with a 3.74 ERA on a terrible team.  The Yankees paid 3 mil for him to do that.
As great as Randy Johnson once was, some diligence may have literally paid off for the Yankees in this instance.
RELIEF PITCHER – JORGE JULIO
Why anyone pays this guy is something I will never understand.  You’ll never guess where this tale starts though… the D-Backs of course.
In 2006, Julio went from the Orioles to the Mets to the D-Backs.  Before the 2007 season began, the D-Backs sent Julio to the Marlins.  In order to complete the trade, the D-Backs agreed to pay 1 mil of his 3.6 mil salary.  On the Marlins, Julio was typical Jorge Julio.  In 10 games, he went 9.1 innings, giving up 18 hits, 13 runs, and 11 walks, en route to a 12.54 ERA.
The Marlins sent him to the Rockies and he had a great year for them.  In 58 games, Julio went 52.2 innings, surrendering only 50 hits and striking out 50.  He even posted a 3.93 ERA in Colorado of all places.
In 3 games vs. the D-Backs, Julio went 3.1 innings, giving up 4 hits and striking out 5.  Against the Marlins, Julio helped the Rockies win 2 of 3, striking out 4 in 1.2 innings.  Essentially, the D-Backs paid Julio 1 mil to greatly help the team that eventually swept them out of the playoffs, even though Julio was not on the post-season roster.
CONCLUSION
There are more examples of players like this from 2007 and there will no-doubtedly be more in 2008.  I feel that information like this can be used, in part, to evaluate the moves of General Managers.  It was extremely interesting that the D-Backs were involved in 5 of the 8 cases mentioned.
I did not even realize that until getting to Jorge Julio while actually writing this article.
Overall, in 2007, the D-Backs paid a combined 13.9 million dollars to players no longer on their team, who actually contributed to some of their losses.
In the case of Russ Ortiz, he shut the D-Backs down for 7 innings, resulting in a loss.  In Julio’s case, he helped the Rockies beat the D-Backs in a game by pitching 1.1 scoreless innings of relief.  And, in Green’s case, he accounted for 5 of the 23 runs scored by the Mets in their 3-1 series win against the D-Backs.
Ultimately, the D-Backs made the playoffs, but a team that almost lost the division during the final five games of the season paid 13.9 mil to players who helped beat them 5 times. 
I’m not saying these players single-handedly beat the D-Backs but they were paid employees who certainly did not help them win.

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7 Responses to The 2007 All “Paid By My Former Employer” Team

  1. Mike Fast says:

    “In 2007, Mueller made 4.5 million dollars to do whatever it is a SATTGM does, making him one of the highest paid executives.”
    I laughed at that part. Good article, Eric!

  2. Haha, thanks Mike. There were some honorable mentions to the article too. Craig Wilson got 2 mil from the Braves to do nothing in 24 games and then be injured for the White Sox. Jaret Wright got 4 mil from the Yankees to stink for the Orioles, so I guess that was money well-spent. And, of course, Carl Pavano got about 9 mil to watch old Alyssa Milano shows.

  3. Pizza Cutter says:

    An interesting idea about rating GMs. I’ve toyed with the idea of such a system myself. This certainly would be one objective measure. How about percentage of payroll paid to players who are actually on your team?

  4. The only drawback to the percentage you mentioned is that some trades were actually beneficial, like the Thome trade. Paying him 7 mil this year actually helped the Phils because they were able to keep Ryan Howard at 1B. The system would have to include some more variables. Perhaps the percentage you mentioned plus a detailed analysis of how those players paid while not on the team came back to hurt the team, and an analysis of what they received in a trade. Something along those lines.

  5. dan says:

    Also, that system wouldn’t really take into account necessity. The Rangers traded Arod to free money to sign a bunch of players that they otherwise couldn’t afford. The move was made by the former GM (Tom Hicks? or is he the owner?), and was cleaned up by Jon Daniels.
    To find out who the worst GM is, just ask a shitfaced fan in the bleachers.

  6. Pizza Cutter says:

    It isn’t so much that the Rangers trading A-Rod (or any of the other trades mentioned) was a bad move. The bad move was signing him to such a stupid contract to begin with. That’s where the GM’s go bad.

  7. 10 years/252 million is insane considering all of the variables that went into it – no trade clause, bonuses, opting out clauses… because it then requires you to pay someone if you trade him… that is where the move was wrong. However, yes like you said, at the time it seemed like a no brainer to sign the best player in the game to that deal.
    And, no matter what, you can always trade overpaid guys to the Yankees.

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