The Los Angeles Dodgers have been in a state of financial distress for some time now. In fact, ever since current (and possibly soon-to-be former) owner Frank McCourt took over, we've seen one of baseball's proudest franchises be forced to take out loans from future television rights just to pay the bills.
Now, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the team is unable to pay it's payroll for the second half of the month of May.
After McCourt's $30 million loan from Fox was shot down, the owner found himself short on the funds needed to pay the bills this month.
While it's likely that baseball will step in and pay for McCourt (while seizing the team in the process), it does beg the question: who in Chavez Ravine actually deserves a paycheck?
After all, the team's offense and pitching have both hit major rough patches this season, and quite a few of them have yet to live up to their contracts this season. But, out of all the underperforming players, who is least deserving of that big check?
Here are five of the most likely candidates.
McCourt is the cause of all of this trouble. He's the one who used the team's coffers as his personal slush fund (or at least, that's what has been alleged). He's the one who needed loans on a potential television deal to buy the team and now needs those same loans to pay the bills.
Dodgers fans have taken to calling the owner "McBankrupt", thanks to his penny-pinching ways running the team, and frankly, it's hard to think of anyone who deserves a paycheck from the team less than he does. The team's payroll has slipped, their ability to make trades is virtually zilch, and frankly, the product on the field has been lackluster at best for the Dodgers since McCourt took over the team.
But, we can't put him at the top of a list reserved for players, so he gets an honorable mention.
No one really expected Thames to come in and set the world on fire as the Dodgers' left fielder, but they certainly expected more than this. In 22 games, Thames has posted a .176 batting average, and bopped just two home runs, while driving in a grand total of four runs. He's been a walking disaster area at the plate, and the fact is, Los Angeles didn't bring him in to be a stellar fielder (which he has yet to do, either).
In other words, despite his relatively low salary (all of $1 million this season), Thams certainly hasn't earned that payday yet.
Lilly was supposed to thrive in the pitcher friendly confines of Dodger Stadium, but so far, he's struggled to do anything more than give up hits. He's 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA, but that doesn't accurately show how bad Lilly has been at times this season. He's allowed opponents to hit .310 off of him, and has given up 4 or more runs in 3 of his six starts, despite going fewer than five innings in each of those same three.
Lilly has shown signs of life in his last three starts, but until he can get through the sixth inning on a regular basis, this crafty veteran certainly doesn't merit a check.
The Dodgers' hefty closer might not be this team's closer for much longer. The formerly fireballing right hander comes into today with an ERA sitting squarely at 5.68, a WHIP of 1.86, and a fastball that has seen it's velocity drop completely off the face of the Earth.
Maybe Broxton's pitching with an injury, or maybe something's wrong with his mechanics. But, the fact is that this former fireballer seems to be lacking in intensity, poise and velocity. Every inning, every outing every pitch has become an adventure for Broxton, and the fact is that's just not healthy for fans, players or manager Don Mattingly.
Things have gotten so bad that the team has taken a hard look at potential alternatives at closer, despite a bullpen that ranks among baseball's least intimidating (Blake Hawksworth? Really?).
Until Broxton sorts himself out, he definitely falls on the list of players who have yet to earn that payday.
We know Furcal can hit when he's in the lineup; he's shown us as much in his career. So, his .250 average isn't nearly as troubling as the fact that once again, the fragile shortstop has landed on the 15-day disabled list.
Furcal lasted all of seven games this time, before breaking his left thumb and putting himself out of action for six-to-eight weeks.
Seriously, is there a more snakebitten player in baseball not named Josh Hamilton than Furcal? He is literally incapable of staying healthy for more than 3 weeks of the season, yet the Dodgers have him on the books for $13 million a year.
It's hard to earn your paycheck when you're not even on the field to get it, so Furcal has hardly earned his this month.
Is there a player on the roster who has proven to be a more colossal disappointment than James Loney? Prior to this season, his power stats left plenty to be desired, but at least he hit at or near .300 on a regular basis to make up for it.
But, in 31 games this season, he's compounded his lack of power at the plate (one home run) with a .204 average, a .233 on-base percentage, and all of two extra-base hits on the season.
He's not hurt, he just can't figure out how to hit the ball. Loney was once a promising young first baseman with plenty of power potential, but at age 26, he's swiftly approaching the point of no return. It's pretty much now or never for the big first baseman, and so far, returns aren't good.
If there's one player who is less deserving of his paycheck than any other this season, it's Loney. Not only is he not hitting for power, he just can't get on base. Until that changes, his status atop this list remains the same.