‘No-star team’ fea­tures mon­e­tary black holes

The Washington Post Sunday - - BASEBALL - BY BARRY SVRLUGA barry.svrluga@wash­post.com

Catcher: Car­los Ruiz, Phillies

Ruiz, part of the crum­bling old guard in Philadelphia, de­serves this spot be­cause his .637 on base-per­cent­age en­ter­ing Satur­day is fifth worst among catch­ers with at least 180 plate ap­pear­ances. Ruiz will haul in $8.5 mil­lion this sea­son — and the Phillies are on the hook for $8.5 mil­lion more in 2016. First base: Mike Napoli, Red Sox

A sym­bol of how far Bos­ton has fallen since its im­prob­a­ble 2013 World Se­ries ti­tle, Napoli is mak­ing $16 mil­lion to hit .194 with a .357 slug­ging per­cent­age and .654 OPS — the worst num­bers of any first base­man with enough plate ap­pear­ances to qual­ify for the bat­ting ti­tle. Sec­ond base: Omar In­fante, Roy­als

This guy was lead­ing the al­ls­tar vot­ing a month ago? In­fante is in the sec­ond year of a fouryear, $30.25 mil­lion deal, and his .539 OPS is the low­est of any player in the game with enough plate ap­pear­ances to qual­ify for the bat­ting ti­tle. Third base: Adrian Bel­tre, Rangers

In a sea­son in which he’s pulling in $16 mil­lion, he’s hit­ting .251 with a .284 on-base per­cent­age and .387 slug­ging per­cent­age— good for his low­est OPS since he was a rookie in

1998. And the Rangers owe him $18 mil­lion next year. Short­stop: Ian Desmond, Na­tion­als

Desmond’s .598 OPS is the sec­ond worst among short­stops, and he has 20 er­rors, the most in the Na­tional League. This from a guy who is mak­ing $11 mil­lion in his fi­nal sea­son be­fore free agency. Out­field: Michael Bourn, In­di­ans; Melky Cabr­era, White Sox; An­gel Pa­gan, Giants

Bourn is slug­ging a woe­ful .274, and he isn’t off­set­ting that lack of tal­ent with game-chang­ing speed; he has just seven stolen bases in 11 at­tempts — and he’s mak­ing $13.5 mil­lion this year with $14 mil­lion more due in 2016.

Cabr­era has just four homer sand 34 RBI and is slug­ging just .343 in the first year of a three-year, $42mil­lion con­tract.

Pa­gan, an es­sen­tial part of San Fran­cisco’s last two World Se­ries teams, is hit­ting well be­low his ca­reer av­er­ages this year, when he’s mak­ing $10.25 mil­lion — with $11.25 mil­lion more owed in 2016.

This is a time of the sea­son in which we celebrate the best in the sport, and the All-Star Game on Tues­day night in Cincinnati could pro­vide a Bryce Harper home run or a lung­ing catch from Lorenzo Cain or a 100-mph, game-end­ing strike­out from Aroldis Chap­man. ¶ But the re­al­ity is that for ev­ery break­out sea­son or block in a Hall of Fame ré­sumé, there’s some­one who’s head­ing into the all-star break in a slump, un­able to shake the early-sea­son dol­drums. So meet our “no-star team.” ¶ What we’ve tried to do is not only high­light — or­maybe it’s low­light — the play­ers who en­dured the worst half-sea­sons in the game but fac­tor in what their team is pay­ing for that (non-)per­for­mance. Are these the worst play­ers at each po­si­tion? Maybe not. Are they the worst deals? In­deed. These are MLB’s big­gest mon­e­tary black holes. ¶ It might be ad­vis­able to shield your eyes and peer at this through the cracks in your fin­gers. Some of these num­bers are just down­right ugly. Start­ing pitch­ers: Rick Por­cello, Red Sox; CC Sa­bathia, Yan­kees; Matt Garza, Brew­ers

Ac­quired in an off­sea­son trade with Detroit, Por­cello was sup­posed to an­chor Bos­ton’s ro­ta­tion in this, his fi­nal year be­fore free agency in which he’s mak­ing $12.5 mil­lion. The Red Sox were so sure of that prospect that they signed him to a four-year, $82.5 mil­lion deal be­fore he threw a reg­u­lar sea­son pitch for them — and which doesn’t be­gin un­til next year. The re­turn: a 5.90 ERA.

Sa­bathia, of course, is a rea­son the Yan­kees won the 2009 World Se­ries. But that was a long time ago, and now it’s un­cer­tain where he fits in a ro­ta­tion that is strug­gling as a whole. He is em­i­nently hit­table, al­low­ing a .300 av­er­age and .829 OPS against him and has a 5.47 ERA to go along with 1.415 walks and hits al­lowed per in­ning. The cost: $23 mil­lion this year and $25 mil­lion more in 2016.

Why aren’t there more Brew­ers on this list? Maybe be­cause they don’t nor­mally pay big bucks. But Garza is in the sec­ond sea­son of a four-year, $50 mil­lion deal and is al­low­ing base run­ners at an alarm­ing rate; his 1.55 WHIP is the sec­ond worst among qual­i­fy­ing starters. That goes along with a 5.55 ERA and a minis­cule 2.06 strike­out-to-walk ra­tio that isn’t char­ac­ter­is­tic of a front-of-the-ro­ta­tion starter. Re­liev­ers: Fer­nando Rod­ney, Mariners; Jonathan Brox­ton, Brew­ers

Rod­ney en­tered the sea­son very much as Seat­tle did: poised for a break­out and con­tention for a di­vi­sion crown. Last year, as the Mariners were alive un­til the last day, he saved a league-high 48 games and had a 2.85 ERA. Now, though, he’s in step with the dis­ap­point­ing Mariners — four blown saves in 20 op­por­tu­ni­ties, a 5.40 ERA and an as­tro­nom­i­cal 1.543 WHIP. All this is in the sec­ond year of a two-year, $14 mil­lion deal.

Brox­ton was ac­quired by Mil­wau­kee in the mid­dle of the 2014 sea­son, when he had a 1.86 ERA with Cincinnati. The Brew­ers now own a con­tract that will pay Brox­ton $9 mil­lion this year and will cost $2 mil­lion to buy out for 2016. The per­for­mance for that pay: a .310 av­er­age against to go along with a 6.75 ERA and 1.531 WHIP.

ORLIN WAG­NER/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Red Sox signed right-han­der Rick Por­cello to a four-year, $82.5 mil­lion deal be­fore the sea­son, but he is 5-9 with a 5.90 ERA for Bos­ton at the all-star break.

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