Too often, those who deride the contract to which the Philadelphia Phillies signed Ryan Howard in 2010 receive rebuke from Phillies fans, who charge that those reporters have it in for Howard or hate him for some reason.
We don't. It's not hatred; it's an objective reaction to gross mismanagement.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has done a pretty poor job for the last three or four years, and that's why (despite continuing to collect star talent like it's going out of style) the team has taken a measurable step backward every season since winning the 2008 World Series—they lost the Series in 2009, lost the NLCS in 2010 and lost the NLDS in 2011.
Amaro continues to shell out huge dollars to players with only good long-term prognoses, and it will begin to hurt the team even more actively in coming years. With the decision to sign Jonathan Papelbon to a contract grossly incommensurate with both the market for elite relievers and the objective value of those players, Amaro has dug an even deeper hole for his team. He's all but put himself out of the running for Cole Hamels' services beyond 2012.
Of course, it isn't only Amaro who has made major mistakes in free agency (and on extensions for arbitration-eligible players). The whole league has gotten in on that act of late. Here are the 40 most overpaid players in baseball for 2012, based on salary due and projected production.