Great Move!

In a time of economic struggle and fiscal irresponsibility, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss some of the greatest financial mistakes in sports. I started doing some research, and found that ESPN’s Page 2 had already done similar articles on the worst contracts in MLB, NBA and NFL. So instead of re-doing what Page 2 had already done, I compiled info from their articles and some other sources and present to you a couple of the worst contracts in Cleveland sports history.

LeCharles Bentley (Browns, 2006)
Six years, $36 million, $12.5 million guaranteed
It was supposed to be a successful homecoming when Bentley, a Cleveland native, signed on to join the Browns’ offensive line. He was coming off his second Pro Bowl in four seasons with the Saints. But he ruptured a patellar tendon on his first play of training camp, which led to a series of staph infections that he said almost led to the amputation of his leg. The team paid him $16 million, and he played zero games. Say that out loud. $16 million. Zero games played.

Larry Hughes (Cavaliers, 2005)
Five years, $70 million
Hughes enjoyed a career year with the Wizards in his contract season of 2004-05 scoring 22.0 ppg. The Cavs had cap space to burn after being stood up by Carlos Boozer the previous offseason. Hughes never approached his 2004-05 numbers and has averaged just 12 ppg during the past four seasons. He also did not enjoy staying healthy or making 5 foot jump shots in playoff games.

Wayne Garland (Indians, 1977)
10 years, $2.3 million
Call this one an ode to the early days of free agency. Garland was part of baseball’s first free-agent class following the 1976 season. With Baltimore, he had gone 20-7 with a 2.68 ERA in his first season as a starter (rules were different then, and Garland became a free agent even though he’d spent only three years in the majors). For some reason, the Indians figured a 10-year contract was the way to go, even though Garland struck out only 113 batters in 232 innings. (And you wonder why Cleveland went from 1955 through 1994 without a playoff appearance) The money doesn’t match the megadeals of today, but considering Garland did see his salary increase from $19,000 to an average of $230,000 per season, it was still a hefty risk. Garland pitched 282 innings in ’77 and completed 21 games, but then shoulder problems set in. He won only 15 games over the final nine years of the contract. On the plus side, dude’s got a great mustache game.

And my favorite of all time………

Juan Gonzalez (Indians, 2005)
1 year, $600,000
When you think about it, 1 year $600,000 for a two-time league MVP doesn’t sound all that bad. Unfortunately, Juan Gone played in one game, hit a weak ground ball and pulled his hamstring running to first base in what turned out to be his last game as a big leaguer. So for 1 year and $600,000, Juan Gone played in 1 game and went 0-1 in 1 AB. To fully understand how awesome this deal was, remember that during this same 2005 season Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee, Coco Crisp, Grady Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta all earned under $400,000 for the year. Ouch.
Who did I miss? I know there’s some other great ones out there.

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