Position battles are always a fun thing on which to keep an eye during spring training, and some have real drama to them. Most of the time, though, if you wonder who will start at a given position for your favorite team come Opening Day, there is a more prudent way than streaming Cactus League games online or obsessively poring over stats.
Instead, ask yourself: Who's making more money?
Here are five position battles that really aren't battles, because the money involved tells the intelligent viewer who will win.
1. Marco Scutaro vs. Jed Lowrie: Scutaro will literally make ten times Lowrie's salary in 2011. He'll start the season at shortstop.
2. Carlos Silva vs. Andrew Cashner and Co.: Silva will make $7,25 million from the Cubs this year, or roughly double the combined salaries of his competitors for the job. The Cubs will not waste that much money on a long reliever incapable of appearing more than twice a week. Silva will get hurt fast, but until then, he will be a starter for this team.
3. Ryan Doumit vs. Garrett Jones: These two are battling for the right-field job in Pittsburgh, even though really, it's half a job: Matt Diaz will platoon with the winner. Most people think Jones will win this one, but the Pirates will want to showcase Doumit for a possible trade so he will get every chance to play in the early going.
4. Xavier Nady vs. Gerardo Parra: Nady will get the bulk of the playing time in left field for the Diamondbacks, though Parra is much younger, more athletic and demonstrably more worthy of developing at this stage.
Nady is a new acquisition, though, and therefore a good faith gesture to a frustrated fan base. His $1.75 million for 2011 weighs heavier because of that dual purpose, especially because Parra makes the league minimum and played for the disappointing teams of 2009 and 2010.
5. Fernando Rodney vs. Kevin Jepsen: Should Francisco Rodney be used as the best relief pitcher the Angels have in 2011? Of course not. Kevin Jepsen is a much better all-around pitcher. But Jepsen is still a league-minimum guy, while Rodney will make nearly $6 million this season. You do the math.