The jinx of the highest-paid pitcher

Johan Santana has signed the richest contract for a pitcher — ever. He was traded from the Twins to the Mets earlier this week. He’ll make more for every strikeout this year than most people make in a season.

It’s not a scientific calculation, but let’s take a look at what happened to some of the recent pitchers to have — at least for a little while — the distinction of being the “highest paid pitcher in baseball” and how they did after signing for the big bucks.

Carlos Zambrano – Cubs. $18.3 million per year. Signed 2007.

How the pitcher did: He signed his extension in mid-August. Won 4 games and lost 5 the rest of the way.

How the team did: The Cubs won their division. In the playoffs against Arizona, Zambrano pitched well in the first game, the Cubs still lost, and were swept aside by Arizona.

Barry Zito – Giants $18 million per year. Signed 2007.

How the pitcher did Terribly. He went 11-13 last season with a 4.53 ERA.

How his team did: Finished dead last in its division at 71-91.

Mike Mussina – Yankees. 2005. $19 million per year

How the pitcher did: Won only 13 games in 2005 with an ERA above league average. Lost the deciding game in the divisional series to the Angels. 15-7 3.51 ERA in 2006. Injuries have made him ineffective. Won only 11 games last season and at 39, is considered on last legs.

How the team did: Yankees have made early exits in the playoffs the last three seasons with Mussina losing two games, winning one. Yankees lost 3 of 4 games in which Mussina pitched.

Roger Clemens – Astros. $18 million. 2005.

How the pitcher did: 13-8. Miniscule ERA. Asterisk for rumors of steroid use.

How the team did: Second in division. Clemens went 2-1 in league playoffs, didn’t win a game in the World Series, and the Astros have became a mediocre team in a mediocre division.

Bartolo Colon – Angels $16 million. 2005

How the pitcher did: Won Cy Young Award in first season, has won seven games total in two years since, blew out his arm and is considered washed up.

How the team did: – Lost a game in the division series, which the Angels won. Injured and did not play in the league champonship series, which the Angels lost.

Sorry, Mets fans.

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