By Kieran Darcy
Page 2

The American League's All-Star starting third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, has a salary of more than $25 million this season. The National League's starter at third base, David Wright, is making less than $400,000. Who's the better buy?

MLB Best/Worst Buys
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Well, that's easy. But is Wright the best buy in baseball? Is A-Rod the worst? Those questions aren't nearly as simple.

After poring over every MLB roster, I've come up with 10 best/worst buy candidates in five salary categories. These were tough decisions -- there were many more players on my lists for each category. But these 50 players stood out the most.

So take a look. And vote on the best, or worst, buy in each category. Help Page 2 crown the best and worst buys in Major League Baseball.

WORTH EVERY MILLION, AND MORE (Salary more than $10 million this season)
PLAYER SALARY STATS
Lance Berkman $14,500,000 .317, 24 HR, 79 RBI
The take: Not quite as high-profile, but his numbers are awfully similar to the player below him.
Albert Pujols $14,000,000 .316, 29 HR, 76 RBI
The take: Could have challenged Bonds' single-season home run record if he hadn't gotten hurt.
Vladimir Guerrero $13,500,000 .299, 18 HR, 62 RBI
The take: And who dares to run on his right arm?
Andruw Jones $13,500,000 .271, 20 HR, 75 RBI
The take: He also slugged 51 homers last season.
Curt Schilling $13,000,000 10-3, 3.60 ERA
The take: Who would you rather have on the mound in the postseason?
Roy Halladay $12,750,000 12-2, 2.92 ERA
The take: Could very well be headed for Cy Young Award No. 2.
Ichiro Suzuki $12,530,000 .343, 6 HR, 31 RBI
The take: Already 129 hits, headed for another monster total.
Scott Rolen $12,456,336 .331, 14 HR, 57 RBI
The take: Don't forget he's also won six Gold Gloves.
Miguel Tejada $11,811,546 .315, 17 HR, 62 RBI
The take: Might he be moved before the trading deadline?
Mariano Rivera $10,500,000 4-4, 1.76 ERA, 19 saves
The take: The best big-game closer ever is a bargain at this price.

MORE GREAT DEALS ($1M-$10M)
PLAYER SALARY STATS
Johan Santana $8,750,000 9-5, 2.95 ERA
The take: Hard to believe he might not be the best pitcher on his own team anymore.
David Ortiz $6,500,000 .278, 31 HR, 87 RBI
The take: Uh, that's a pretty good full season for most players.
Vernon Wells $4,470,000 .311, 21 HR, 66 RBI
The take: Plus he's won two consecutive Gold Gloves in center field.
B.J. Ryan $4,000,000 1-0, 0.84 ERA, 24 saves
The take: Seems like Toronto suits him, eh?
Ramon Hernandez $4,000,000 .273, 15 HR, 61 RBI
The take: He's thrown out 28 baserunners as well, which leads the majors.
Joe Nathan $3,750,000 5-0, 1.75 ERA, 15 saves
The take: Eighty-seven saves the past two seasons too.
Travis Hafner $2,700,000 .322, 25 HR, 74 RBI
The take: Pronk deserves a significant pay bump.
Carl Crawford $2,625,000 .319, 13 HR, 46 RBI
The take: His 32 base swipes put him third in the big leagues.
Brandon Webb $2,500,000 9-3, 2.65 ERA
The take: Pretty good price to pay for a No. 1 starter, huh?
Jason Bay $1,000,000 .284, 21 HR, 66 RBI
The take: The best $1 million man in the game.

BARGAIN BASEMENT (Under $1M)
PLAYER SALARY STATS
Chase Utley $500,000 .312, 16 HR, 53 RBI
The take: You take those numbers from your second baseman at practically any price.
Miguel Cabrera $472,000 .334, 15 HR, 61 RBI
The take: Only 23 years old, but feels like he's been around forever, right?
Jose Reyes $401,500 .300, 8 HR, 41 RBI
The take: Good at short, and leads the majors with 39 steals.
Joe Mauer $400,000 .378, 7 HR, 45 RBI
The take: A catcher leading the majors in batting average? Good deal.
Justin Morneau $385,000 .300, 23 HR, 73 RBI
The take: Young slugger having a fantastic season.
David Wright $374,000 .316, 20 HR, 74 RBI
The take: Only 23 years old, and a legit MVP candidate.
Scott Kazmir $371,700 10-6, 3.27 ERA
The take: Another bargain for the Mets ... oh, wait. Whoops.
Ryan Howard $355,000 .278, 28 HR, 71 RBI
The take: And this year's Home Run Derby champ.
Jonathan Papelbon $335,400 2-1, 0.59 ERA, 26 saves
The take: It'll be tough to convert him back into a starter with those numbers.
Francisco Liriano $327,000 10-1, 1.83 ERA
The take: It took too long, but at least he was finally added to the All-Star team.

BIG RISK, SMALL REWARD ($1M-$10M)
PLAYER SALARY STATS
Matt Clement $9,825,000 5-5, 6.61 ERA
The take: Great first half last season, has really struggled since.
Odalis Perez $8,750,000 4-3, 6.67 ERA
The take: Plus, only seven wins in each of the past two seasons.
Darin Erstad $8,750,000 .220, 0 HR, 5 RBI
The take: Yes he's hurt, but even when healthy he's not worth that much.
Carl Pavano $8,000,000 None
The take: Pavano's only stat this year? One bruised behind.
Dmitri Young $8,000,000 .169, 0 HR, 4 RBI
The take: Not to mention his domestic violence arrest and stint in rehab.
Russ Ortiz $7,875,000 0-6, 7.88 ERA
The take: Already dumped by one team this season.
Jarrod Washburn $7,450,000 4-9, 4.58 ERA
The take: 18-6 in 2002, but his pitching since doesn't justify this salary.
Steve Finley $7,000,000 .248, 5 HR, 34 RBI
The take: He's 41 years old ... it's not going to get much better.
Jeromy Burnitz $6,000,000 .228, 12 HR, 37 RBI
The take: Not exactly the smartest signing by the Pirates.
Kyle Farnsworth $5,416,667 2-4, 4.31 ERA
The take: Yanks were clearly desperate giving him this much money with his track record.

WORST BUYS OF ALL (More than $10 million)
PLAYER SALARY STATS
Alex Rodriguez $25,680,727 .282, 19 HR, 65 RBI
The take: Justifies the highest salary in the game with his clutch play, right?
Barry Bonds $20,000,000 .249, 12 HR, 39 RBI
The take: Steroids or no steroids, he's very mortal now.
Jeff Bagwell $19,369,019 None
The take: Won't play this season ... talk about money down the drain.
Andy Pettitte $16,428,416 7-9, 5.28 ERA
The take: A tad overpaid even if he didn't have such a bad first half.
Randy Johnson $15,661,427 10-7, 5.13 ERA
The take: The Big Unit is no longer a big-time pitcher.
Chan Ho Park $15,333,679 6-4, 4.29 ERA
The take: Was he ever really a big-time pitcher?
Mike Hampton $14,475,185 None
The take: Out for the year, Tommy John surgery.
Kerry Wood $12,000,000 1-2, 4.12 ERA
The take: Gone for the year now too -- will he ever really make it back?
Adrian Beltre $12,900,000 .254, 7 HR, 35 RBI
The take: Year 2 in Seattle ain't goin' much better.
Eric Gagne $10,000,000 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 save
The take: Elbow problems, now back surgery. Can it get any worse?

Kieran Darcy is an editor at ESPN.com and a contributor to ESPN The Magazine. You can e-mail him at kieran.d.darcy@espn3.com.




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BEST/WORST BUYS