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Will Sheffield Be the Last Big Contract Dombrowski Eats?

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ESPN.com's Rob Neyer wonders if releasing Gary Sheffield and eating his $14 million salary for this season is but the first penalty the Detroit Tigers will have to suffer for Dave Dombrowski's recent financial irresponsibility with long-term contracts.

[...] the release of Sheffield -- while probably a good move for this club right now -- does remind us of another pattern that's definitely Dombrowski's: forking over large amounts of cash to players who don't "deserve" it. When the Tigers traded for Sheffield, he was coming off a season in which he'd played only 39 games and not been all that good when he did play. He already was under contract for the following season but had a no-trade clause he waived only after the Tigers offered a two-year extension that would pay him $28 million over 2008 and '09.

For their $28 million, the Tigers got one season and 114 games of below-average hitting.

And the pattern? The Tigers have committed $29 million to Dontrelle Willis -- after a subpar season with the Marlins -- and so far, they've gotten 24 innings and a 9.38 ERA for their money.

Who could be the next player dragging a fat, backloaded contract that the Tigers might have to face such a decision with? Nate Robertson? Carlos Guillen? Magglio Ordonez? What about Jeremy Bonderman? Or even Miguel Cabrera?

Could we be looking at a similar type of roster move at this time next year? Or even during this season? Baseball's economic status and the market for available talent could be a determining factor, of course.

Thanks, by the way, to Neyer for an extremely generous link and quote in the aforementioned blog post. He's been berry, berry good to BYB this week. (I should also thank the Tigers, who have made this a very interesting last three days.)