Tax Day is always a nightmare as American taxpayers complete their annual gymnastics routine of somersaulting over regulations, squeezing through loopholes and then trying to stick clean landings on their financial mats. But as painful as mailing those checks to the U.S. Treasury can be, we can only imagine what it must be like to gaze at the balance sheets of team owners who must file Form 1040 LFAS – Lousy Free Agent Signings.
You have to figure Arte Moreno will soon have a new appreciation for depreciation. That 10-year contract for Albert Pujols will cost the Angels owner $254 million over 10 years. And with Pujols earning only $12 million and $16 million in the first two years, the deal is backloaded so much that Moreno will be writing Pujols a check for more than $30 million in the year the deal expires just shy of the slugger's 42nd birthday. Can Moreno write this off as a gambling loss? Greece and Fannie Mae might wind up looking good by comparison.
If we itemized all the ways Adam Dunn torpedoed the White Sox last year while pulling down $12 million to hit .159 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs, we might crash the IRS computers. After Lamar Odom's brief but disastrous stint in Dallas ended with the 6-foot-10 forward averaging 6.6 points and shooting 35.2 percent, the Mavericks are only too grateful that he can now file as a nonresident. John Lackey's 6.41 ERA and 1.62 WHIP proved such a capital loss that many Red Sox fans are glad he's out for the season after Tommy John surgery. Maybe the Red Sox can deduct the cost of all that clubhouse beer and chicken as a business expense.
Some other expensive acquisitions are continuing to collect huge paychecks for very little production. Barry Zito, after signing the richest free-agent contract as a pitcher in 2007, was left off the playoff roster entirely during the Giants' 2010 run to the World Series. Greg Oden was finally cut loose by the Portland Trail Blazers after spending five seasons to play a total of 82 games (and keep in mind Portland selected him over Kevin Durant). And Wade Redden is playing for the New York Rangers all right … in the minors. Yep, he's making over $6 million a season playing in Hartford in the AHL.
It's true that, in sports and in life, you have to spend money to make money. No one knows this more than sports franchise owners. And we're betting that their accountants would agree with this list of the top 10 players owners wish they could write off.
10. Lamar Odom, Dallas Mavericks -- Mavericks on the hook for $8.9 million
9. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs -- Has a six-year, $62.7 million contract
8. John Lackey, Boston Red Sox -- Has a 26-23 record, and a 5.26 ERA with Boston
7. Scott Gomez, Montreal Canadiens -- Scored 11 points in 38 games this season
6. Vernon Wells, Los Angeles Angels -- Batted .218 last season
5. Greg Oden, Portland Trail Blazers -- Played 82 games in five seasons
4. Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants -- Left off Giants' 2010 playoff roster
3. Rashard Lewis, Washington Wizards -- Earned roughly $22 million for low production this season
2. Wade Redden, New York Rangers -- see the details
1. Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox -- see the details
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