Here's a trivia question guaranteed to win you a few coins. That is, if you know anybody willing to answer a trivia question about the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Who is the second-highest-paid player by the Pirates this season?
The answer: Jason Kendall.
With the Pirates chipping in $5 million of Kendall's $12.8 million salary, only Jack Wilson will receive larger paychecks from the Pirates.
Needless to say, this has to make Kendall the captain of Page 2's Most Overpaid Team for 2007: two teams are contributing to his largesse. His contribution? One home run over the past two seasons.
After scouring the player salaries compiled by USA Today, we are left with one burning thought: The average major leaguer may earn 75 times the average teacher's salary, but that isn't as sad as the fact that more Americans know who Sanjaya is than who is running for president. Clearly, teachers aren't earning their salaries.
Kind of like these players:
C -- Jason Kendall, Oakland A's: $12.8 million
There is no truth to the rumor that Billy Beane has a calendar in his office marked with a big red "X" for the day Kendall becomes a free agent. Beane inherited Kendall's $60 million deal when he acquired him from the Pirates. The deal wasn't so bad when former Pirates GM Cam Bonifay signed it after a 2000 season when Kendall hit .320/.412/.470, but now he's regressed into a .295/.367/.342 player (with a rally-killing 46 GIDPs the past two seasons).
C -- Michael Barrett, Cubs, $4.5 million
(Players with 6+ years of experience)
1B -- Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies: $16.6 million
Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd had an offseason after the 2000 season that he probably doesn't include on his monster.com résumé. He signed Mike Hampton for $121 million, Denny Neagle for $51 million and then Helton to an 11-year, $141.5 million extension. Helton isn't a bad player, but back problems have led to his decline from 49 home runs in 2001 to 15 last season. And even worse for the Rockies: He's signed through 2011, when he turns 38 years old, will be making $19.1 million and probably will be hitting from a wheelchair.
2B -- Craig Biggio, Houston Astros: $5.15 million
Biggio is one of the top six second basemen of all time (Joe Morgan, Eddie Collins, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Alomar, Rogers Hornsby). Now he's one of the six best second basemen in the NL Central. He doesn't get on base enough anymore, his range has slipped, he hit just .178 on the road last season and only Jeff Kent makes more among second basemen.
3B -- Adrian Beltre, Seattle Mariners: $12.9 million
A superlative fielder who plays hard, Beltre hasn't come close to matching his 2004 career year, instead hitting .255 and .268 in his two seasons with Seattle. Mariners fans can at least hold out hope he matches his second-half numbers from '06 for an entire season (.285, 18 HRs in 68 games). Of course, Mariners fans can also hope that Bill Bavasi grows a second brain. (Wait, let's rephrase that: Mariners fan can also hope that Bill Bavasi gets fired and is replaced by a redwood tree.)
SS -- Cristian Guzman, Washington Nationals: $4.2 million
Forty-two cents would be too much to pay for this dreg of a player.
OF -- Garret Anderson, Los Angeles Angels: $11.6 million
Anderson has gone from overrated to underrated and now back to overrated. Kind of like how historians view Ronald Reagan or ex-boyfriends view Lindsay Lohan. Anderson simply consumes too many outs to be considered an elite player and his durability is also a question mark (hasn't played more than 142 games since 2003).
OF -- Mark Kotsay, Oakland A's: $8 million
Sometimes a decent deal turns into a bad one. When Kotsay signed a three-year, $29 million extension in July of '05, he was coming off a .314/.370/.459 season with solid D in center. But his numbers have deteriorated since and now he's out for three months following back surgery.
OF -- J.D. Drew, Boston Red Sox: $14 million
Allow me to second guess myself: Don't be surprised if Drew wins the AL MVP Award in 2007. Then again, don't be surprised if he pulls a hammy making a peanut butter sandwich and misses the next three months.
DH -- Jason Giambi, New York Yankees: $23.4 million
Readers, meet your highest-paid major leaguer for 2007! He can't run, he can't field, he hasn't hit .300 since 2002 and you can pencil him in to miss at least 20 games. (OK, he's still a plus offensive player with his power and walks, but shouldn't the highest-paid player be able to beat Oprah Winfrey in a foot race from home to first?)
SP -- Bartolo Colon, Los Angeles Angels: $16 million
Readers, meet your highest-paid pitcher for 2007! (Along with the Yankees' Andy Pettitte.) Even when Colon was good and healthy, he wasn't that good (including his undeserving Cy Young Award in 2005). Now that he's battling a bum shoulder and started the season on the DL and probably weighs as much as all the Molina brothers combined after an In-N-Out Burger run, something tells us he won't justify this payout.
1. Jason Giambi, Yankees, $23.43 million
(From USA Today; includes prorated signing bonus, but not deferred payments or incentives)
SP -- Jaret Wright, Baltimore Orioles: $7 million
He had one good year with the Braves in 2004, was pretty good in the playoffs way back in 1997 -- and, um, otherwise has pretty much been a disaster. Is this the kind of guy you want to risk $7 million on?
SP -- Mike Hampton, Atlanta Braves: $14.5 million
Congratulations, Mike, for making the All-Overpaid Team for the seventh consecutive season! Oh, and GM Dan O'Dowd just received a two-year extension from the Rockies.
SP -- Eric Milton, Cincinnati Reds: $10.33 million
When Milton first came up with the Twins, I thought he had a chance to be another Tom Glavine. And, well ... now he's making Glavine-type money anyway. His career ERA is 5.01 and he's never had an ERA below 4.00 (other than a 17-inning campaign in 2003). At the least, the Reds can placate themselves by knowing that Milton drives up the salaries of opposing players by serving up so many home runs (112 the past three seasons).
SP -- Carl Pavano, New York Yankees: $10 million
Pavano parlayed the one good season into a fat $39.95 million deal. But at least the Yankees didn't have to pay that extra $50,000.
RP -- Danys Baez, Baltimore Orioles: $5.67 million
One of the 10 highest-paid relievers despite the word "mediocre" tattooed on his forehead. Of course, "closer" is also tattooed on his ass, so the Orioles decided to overpay him.
Special Meritorious Award: The Seattle Mariners
For having a $106 million payroll -- seventh highest in baseball -- for which Mariners fans can enjoy a starting rotation that features Jarrod Washburn ($9.85 million), Jeff Weaver ($8.3 million), Miguel Batista ($6 million) and Horacio Ramirez ($2.65 million).
Special Small-Market Meritorious Award: Kansas City Royals
The Royals are paying Mike Sweeney (.258 average in 2006), Odalis Perez (6.20 ERA), Gil Meche (4.48 ERA), Jason LaRue (.194), Octavio Dotel (10.80 ERA) and Reggie Sanders (.246) a combined $41.5 million. That's more than the entire payroll of the Devil Rays, Marlins, Nationals or Pirates.