In the world of sports it's not uncommon for athletes to command ridiculous salaries. Some are worth every penny; some are not. Here's a look at the 10 athletes in 2012 who are cashing giant checks that their talent can't quite match.
1. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees
2012 salary: $29 million
A-Rod has been A-Fraud of late, with a pinstripe Ponzi scheme Bernie Madoff would be ashamed of. Rodriguez cashed in $29 million in 2012 and will fold over another $114 million over the next five seasons of his contract. If the least popular three-time MVP and 14-time All-Star in history struggled to hit .272 with 18 HR and 57 RBI in his age 36 season, imagine what ages 37-to-41 will look like at the plate. The Bronx Bombers are hoping A-Rod’s playoff performance — when he hit .120 (3-for-25) with two walks and one run scored over seven games — isn’t foreshadowing their future, when the Yanks are bleeding red and lucky No. 13 is inking black.
2. Vernon Wells, OF, Los Angeles Angels
2012 salary: $21 million
How Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos was able to dump Wells’ ridiculous contract on the Halos is still a mystery. The Angels paid $21 million for a fourth outfielder who hit .230 with 11 HR and 29 RBI in 77 games last season. And they’ve got another two years and $42 million left on the deal.
3. Carl Crawford, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2012 salary: $19.5 million
The Boston Red Sox paid the majority of Crawford’s $19.5-million 2012 salary before shipping the oft-injured outfielder across the country to wear Dodger blue. Crawford has five years and $102.5 million remaining. But entering his age 31 season, there is still hope for the four-time All-Star, four-time stolen base king and one-time Gold Glover.
4. Carlos Zambrano, RHP, Miami Marlins
2012 salary: $18 million
Big Z was such a cancer that the Chicago Cubs paid $15.5 million of Zambrano’s $18 million salary in 2012 just to ship him to Miami for Chris Volstad. The 275-pound heavy hothead went on to post a 7–10 record with a 4.49 ERA and 1.50 WHIP for the Marlins. Expectations were so low, however, that those numbers were actually better than most expected from the man who spars with Gatorade coolers.
5. Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams
2012 salary: $15.6 million
The former Heisman Trophy winner has better timing on draft day than he does on game day. Bradford was the last No. 1 overall pick before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement — which limited bloated rookie salaries — went into effect. As a result, the Rams quarterback is the fourth-highest paid player in the NFL this season, despite completing just 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,797 yards, eight TDs and seven INTs for an 82.4 passer rating through eight games.
6. Carlos Boozer, PF, Chicago Bulls
2012 salary: $15 million
Offshore drilling in Alaska should start with Boozer’s bank account. The German born and Juneau raised big man is a classic case of “looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane.” Boozer was originally signed to take some of the heat off Derrick Rose and push the Bulls over the top as a title contender. Instead, he has averaged just 12.9 points on miserable 42.9 percent shooting in 22 playoff games over the past two seasons.
7. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
2012 salary: $13.9 million
Vick signed a six-year, $100-million redemption contract that still has $47.5 million scheduled from 2013-15. After making a cool $20 million in 2011, the lefty is taking a pay cut this season. But he’s also having arguably his worst healthy NFL season, accounting for 11 total touchdowns and 14 total turnovers while leading the flightless Eagles to a 3–5 start to the season.
8. Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets
2012 salary: $11.75 million
The “Sanchize” restructured his deal before the start of the 2012 season. The Jets have $11.75 million invested in Sanchez this season, from an $8 million signing bonus and $3.25 million base salary. But when the fans are calling for Tim Tebow to start over Sanchez, the money doesn’t add up. Pete Carroll didn’t think Sanchez was ready to leave USC for the NFL back in the day. Sanchez’s financial advisors disagree.
9. Chris Bosh, PF, Miami Heat
2012 salary: $17.545 million
The third wheel of Miami’s two and a half men traveling circus, Bosh will make exactly the same amount of money as LeBron James and even more than Dwyane Wade during the 2012 season. Shaquille O’Neal called Bosh the “RuPaul of big men” and the “Big Three” franchise player contract Bosh signed with the Heat is definitely a drag.
10. Floyd Mayweather, Boxer
2012 salary: $45 million
“Money” Mayweather is the highest paid athlete in all of sports, raking in $45 million for his Cinco de Mayo bout with Miguel Cotto this year. But pound-for-pound, “Pretty Boy” isn’t nearly as valuable as many of his lesser-paid peers. Sure, he carries a 43–0 record along with the WBC welterweight and WBA (Super) light middleweight title belts. But Mayweather won’t fight Manny Pacquiao, which is helping MMA put boxing in a submission hold once and for all.