Astros could live to regret Lee's $100M contract

Most of the big free agents have been signed. We've arrived at our knee-jerk conclusions regarding which players got more than they deserved. Not many seem to have gotten less, while at least a few must have received essentially the "right" contracts. After all, the market's always right, right?

We know better. All this got us to thinking, though … what do these players have to do next, on the field, to justify their whopping contracts? We've chosen 10 recent signees and tried to answer that question.

For starters, let's assume that the market has, recently at least, operated somewhat rationally. For example, there were eight corner outfielders and first baseman who earned between $13 million and $15 million in 2006. Given the general rate of salary inflation -- averaging roughly 10 percent per season -- and the obvious particular inflation this winter, we might reasonably say that corner players (not including third basemen) scheduled to earn between $15 million and $17 million in 2007 should produce at roughly the same rate as those $13 million-$15 million earners in 2006.