In light of the Nationals deciding that Cristian Guzman would not be their starting shortstop (after losing out to the great Ian Desmond), I thought it be worth a look around the majors at the most expensive bench players. Thanks to injuries, poor play, or both, these guys will be starting year doing what many us do best, sitting on the bench:
Mike Lowell, Red Sox, $12 million: It's hard not to feel bad for Lowell. It was only two years ago that he was one of the Red Sox top players and an integral part of their 2007 World Series winning team. But with Adrian Beltre on board, the Red Sox unable to trade him, and Lowell struck by a variety of injuries, there are very few options for Lowell...other than the bench or the DL.
Cristian Guzman, Nationals, $8 million: Like Lowell, Guzman has been hampered by injuries this spring and has been the casualty of the improved play of Ian Desmond. Guzman has been on the decline defensively for years now and his inability to get on-base further diminishes his value.
Gary Matthews Jr., Mets, $11 million: The Angels opted to pick up all but $2 million of Matthews' salary just to get him off their roster. It looks doubtful that Matthews will beat out Angel Pagan to be the Mets' starting center fielder, so look for Matthews to play the role of expensive fourth outfielder until Carlos Beltran gets back.
Eric Chavez, A's, $11 million: I'm thrilled to see Chavez off the DL, but the odds of him being able to contribute as a first baseman are rather slim. Chavez has not been fully healthy since 2006 and expecting Chavez to be anything more than a bench player is a far fetched in my eyes.
Eric Byrnes, Mariners, $11 million: Sure the Mariners are only on the hook for the minimum with Byrnes, but it says something when the low budget Diamondbacks were willing to cut their losses with Byrnes by paying him to play elsewhere.
Chris Snyder, Diamondbacks, $4.75 million: The combination of Miguel Montero's emergence and Snyder's injury plagued 2009 season have Snyder on the outside looking in this season on the Diamondbacks' depth chart. I'd expect the Diamondbacks to continue to search for a landing spot for Snyder throughout the season, but then again, Snyder is a nice asset to hash away.
The total for those six players is $57.75 million dollars. To put that in perspective, that total is more than the Pirates, Marlins, and Padres individual payrolls.
Does this article actually mean anything constructive? Not really. The point is this, as much as we like to think that GMs are getting smarter and wiser with their spending, teams are still paying the price for bad contracts past.