New York Yankees Add Marcus Thames

February 9, 2010

With the New York Yankees’ lineup and roster pretty much set, they didn’t have many holes left to fill. If they did need something, it would be a right-handed hitter off the bench.

GM Brian Cashman, not leaving any stone unturned this offseason, found his potential right-handed hitter off the bench yesterday.

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees have signed OF Marcus Thames to a minor league contract. If Thames makes the team, the deal would be worth $900,000.

Thames was signed by the Yankees

Thames, 32, hit .252 with 13 home runs and a .777 OPS in 87 games for the Detroit Tigers in 2009. The year before with the Tigers, Thames hit 25 home runs in 103 games.

What attracted the Yankees to Thames is Thames’ ability to hit left-handed pitching. For his career, Thames has a .516 slugging percentage against lefties.

With the recently signed Randy Winn and Brett Gardner still on the roster, I don’t expect Thames to get much playing time in left field in 2010. It’s not like Thames is Carl Crawford out there anyway. He has a -16.7 UZR in left for his career.

This will be Thames’ second tour of duty with the Yankees. He was drafted by the Yankees in the 30th round of the 1996 draft and had a cup of coffee with the big club in 2002. He hit .231 with one home run in 13 AB’s.

For his career, Thames is a .243 hitter with 101 home runs and a .306 OBP in eight seasons with the Yankees and Tigers.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Major League Baseball And The College Game

February 8, 2010

First, I hope everyone enjoyed the Super Bowl yesterday. It was quite a game. I wrote on Saturday that I thought the New Orleans Saints would cover, but I didn’t think they would win.

I am really happy the Indianapolis Colts didn’t win. It would have angered me to see a coach like Jim Caldwell win a Super Bowl. Is there a more useless coach in the NFL than him?

He is exactly what George Seifert was with the San Francisco 49ers. He just stands there, does nothing and wins with someone else’s talent. That act won’t act much longer.

Now that the football season is officially over, it’s baseball season again. And now that we all can focus on baseball full-time, I wanted to talk about an article I came across the other day.

I was reading Buster Olney’s article on Saturday (which every baseball fan should be reading) and the beginning of his article focused on how Major League Baseball can help the college game.

Here are some of the suggestions Olney got in regards to how MLB can help college baseball:

1. As Major League Baseball restructures the draft in the next labor negotiations, it could help the colleges by moving their draft signing deadline up to July, somewhere in the middle of the month, so there can be an adjustment period for schools that lose kids to MLB teams. Under the current deadline, in mid-August, colleges are left in a really difficult position regarding maximizing their use of scholarships when kids who would be on scholarship suddenly sign with the pro ranks. As it stands, college coaches don’t have a clear idea about their needs or available money until after the signing deadline.

Moving up the deadline might also be more attractive to MLB teams, because this would mean the drafted players would be signed and playing in short-season leagues by the middle of the summer.

2. There would be support in the college ranks for some sort of baseball combine where players go and get the meetings with teams and physicals out of the way instead of having area scouts track the players all winter and spring. As it stands, says one insider, “there are tons of meetings for these kids — they become redundant and it is a distraction during the most crucial time [before the college regionals and College World Series], right before draft. They could have the combine in January before we start school.”

3. Move the draft so it comes after the College World Series. As it stands, the draft falls right in the middle of the college baseball playoff season, which has an impact on the teams.

These are all really good suggestions and suggestions that I agree with. I think that MLB could be doing even more. Here are a couple of more suggestions I have for improving college baseball.

4. MLB and the NCAA needs to work better with ESPN and the MLB Network and start televising college baseball games on TV. Let’s face it, the only time you hear about college baseball is during the College World Series or the Draft.

However, you can hear about college football or basketball 12 months a year if you want to. That’s because ESPN covers these sports on a yearly basis.

How great would it be if ESPN or the MLB Network starting showing the College Baseball game of the week on a Tuesday night during the summer. If baseball wants to put some juice into their draft, then people need to know who their favorite team is drafting.

Stephen Strasburg was the most hyped prospect maybe of all-time and nobody ever saw him pitch on TV. That needs to change. Putting college baseball on TV would really help the sport tremendously.

5. Turn college baseball from a regional sport to a national sport. The way college baseball is setup now, it’s a regional sport. If you look at the College World Series over the last 20 years, it’s teams predominately from the southeast, southwest, and west.

I think the NCAA should bring back the northeast and midwest bracket like they had in the 1980’s. Back in the 80’s, schools like the University of Maine, St. Johns, and James Madison made the College World Series. Now, those schools don’t have a chance.

If you give those schools a chance to compete at the highest level, it will attract more kids from the northeast to baseball. The reality is a coach from let’s say Penn State, can’t walk into a kids home in Pennsylvania and say “You will have a chance to play for a National Championship.”

If college baseball gave everyone a chance, it would help the sport.

This is a pretty interesting topic and I think we can all agree that baseball needs to do a better job of integrating itself with the college game. Hopefully these suggestions are a start.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham of Twitter @ theghostofmlg

The Five Best Free Agent Pitchers Left On The Market

February 7, 2010

While everyone is getting ready for the big game, I am writing about baseball. Such is the life I have chosen.

Yesterday, I wrote about the five best hitters left on the free agent market, so today I will focus on the five best pitchers who have yet to find a home for the 2010 season.

Here are the top-five free agent pitchers left on the market:

1. Kiko Calero, Relief Pitcher. At 35-years-old you would think that Calero has been around for forever, but he hasn’t. Kalero has only been in the majors for seven years and perhaps his 2009 season was his best.

In 60 innings pitched with the Florida Marlins, Calero had a 1.95 ERA, 69 strike outs, and only allowed 36 hits in those 60 innings. Those are some impressive numbers.

What was just as impressive was that Calero was equally effective against righties and lefties. He held lefties to a .187 batting average and righties to a .176 average.

Calero would be a valuable addition to any bullpen. The Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays were rumored to be interested earlier in the offseason.

2. Jarrod Washburn, Starting Pitcher. Washburn was off to a fast start in 2009 and then he was traded to the Detroit Tigers at the trading deadline and things fell apart.

Washburn may be forced into retirement

Washburn suffered a knee injury down the stretch and stumbled to a 1-3 record with a 7.33 ERA with the Tigers. His last start was Sept. 15 against the Kansas City Royals and lasted an impressive one inning and gave up four runs.

Washburn is 35 now and is now even considering retirement if he can’t get an offer from either the Minnesota Twins or Seattle Mariners.

3. Joe Beimel, Relief Pitcher. Beimel is the youngest of any pitcher on this list (32), but his value is not really strong. He is coming off a year where he had a 3.58 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP with the Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies, which is not bad at all.

However, there is one is problem with Beimel–he doesn’t do anything particularly well.

He doesn’t strike anyone out and as a left-handed pitcher, he isn’t that effective against left-handed batters. Lefties actually had a higher OPS (.781) against Beimel than righties did (.741) in 2009.

A lefty who can’t get left-handed batters out is like a pass rusher, who can’t sack the quarter back. Beimel is like the Vernon Gholston of baseball.

4. Chan Ho Park, Relief Pitcher. It seems like Park has been around forever. It was a really long, long, long time ago that Park was an up-and-coming pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Park is 36 now and is coming off a year where he had a 4.43 ERA in 83.1 innings with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was actually used as an old-fashioned swing man last year. He was used in relief and made seven starts.

Park is much better suited to be a reliever at this stage in his career. Park had a 2.52 ERA last year in relief and pitched rather well for the Phillies out of the bullpen in the playoffs. He had a three ERA in nine innings during last year’s World Series run.

I wouldn’t trust him in a big spot to save my life, but he should find a home pretty soon.

5. Braden Looper, Starting Pitcher. Looper went 14-7 with the Milwaukee Brewers last season, but don’t be fooled by those 14 wins and his 194.2 innings pitched. Looper was pretty bad last year.

Looper was not impressive with the Brewers in 09'

Looper led the National League in runs allowed (113), home runs allowed (39), and finished fourth in hits allowed (216). He also had an ERA of 5.52. It was like he was going for the anti-triple crown of pitching.

I think Looper will have a hard time getting a major league contract and will most likely sign a minor league deal with incentives.

That’s all for today. Enjoy the Super Bowl everyone!!!

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Mariners Bring Back Erik Bedard

February 7, 2010

Erik Bedard is one of the great teases in baseball. He is a left-handed pitcher with a ton of talent. There are very lefties in the game that have the stuff that Bedard has.

The problem is, he is always hurt. Not only is he seemingly always hurt, but some–including myself–have questioned his mental makeup. I believe he is one of the pitchers that would rather win in a small market than win in a big market.

Bedard has been a tease in Seattle

Bedard was involved in one of the most lopsided trades in recent years when he was sent from the Baltimore Orioles to the Seattle Mariners for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Kameron Mickolio, and Chris Tillman. This trade has set the Orioles up for years to come, while Bedard has been a disaster in Seattle.

In two seasons, Bedard only made 30 starts and has gotten hurt every year. This is why Bedard is a tease. When he has been on the mound in a Mariners’ uniform he has pretty good for them.

In those 30 starts, Bedard had a 3.25 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and averaged 9.8 K’s/9. Not bad at all.

Bedard’s 2009 season ended at the end of July because of a shoulder injury. Bedard eventually needed shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.

The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Bedard. He was entering his free agent year and at 30-years-old, Bedard could have been inline for one more big pay-day.

Bedard didn’t get the big payday because his injury will sideline him until at least May. However, he will be returning to the place that I didn’t think he would return to.

According to Marc Brassard of Le Droit, Bedard has re-signed with the Mariners. The deal is for one-year and 1.5 million plus incentives with an $8 million mutual option for 2011.

If Bedard reaches all his incentives in 2010, he could earn around $8.5 million.

I am really surprised Bedard is returning to the Mariners in 2010. After his two injury plagued seasons, I didn’t think the Mariners would bring him back.

Then I got to thinking, the Mariners need all of the pitching help they can get. The Mariners actually needed Bedard.

Yes, I know Seattle has a lethal one-two punch at the top of their rotation in Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez, but what do they have after that? Ian Snell? Ryan Rowland-Smith? Doug Fister?

None of those guys strike fear in anyone. If the Mariners go into a three game series with those three pitching, they would be underdogs in all three games against most teams in the American League.

Now you can tell me that the Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series with really only two starters and you would be correct. Outside of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the Diamondbacks had nothing that year.

However, there is one big difference between what the Mariners have and what the Diamondbacks had in 2001–offense. Whether it was legit or not, Luis Gonzalez did hit 57 home runs that year and finished third in the MVP voting.

They also had Reggie Sanders who hit 33 home runs that year and Matt Williams, when healthy, was still capable of hitting the long ball. Mark Grace also hit .298 with .386 OBP.

Those players were able to bail their bad pitchers out because they could score more runs than their opponents. I don’t see that with this Mariners’ lineup.

If and that is a big if, Bedard can come back around mid-season, he would give the Mariners the third pitcher they need and a big lift as the season goes on.

Bedard will be entering his eighth season in the major league and has a career record of 51-41 with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP with the Orioles and Mariners.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

The Five Best Free Agent Hitters Left On The Market

February 6, 2010

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than two weeks. Can you believe it!!! It seems like yesterday the World Series was being played.

Despite the fact that spring training starts in less than two weeks, there are still a lot of quality major league hitters who still have not found a home. Due to the economy, teams are trying to wait out players as much as possible (unless you are the Houston Astros, who gave $15 million to Brandon Lyon).

Everyone is looking for a bargain these days.

Here are the five best free agent hitters remaining on the market.

Hitters

1. Johnny Damon, OF. Damon hit .282 with 24 home runs, 36 doubles, 12 stolen bases, and .365 OBP in 143 games for the New York Yankees last year. Damon priced himself out of New York and now his options are limited.

Damon is a terrible defensive outfielder and his power numbers were just a product of playing in a ballpark perfectly suited to his swing. His agent Scott Boras is trying to get the Detroit Tigers to bite on Damon, but I see the Atlanta Braves as a darkhorse for his services.

2. Felipe Lopez, 2B. It’s pretty remarkable that a guy who is only 29-years-old and is coming off a season where he hit .310 with 9 home runs, a .383 OBP, and played outstanding defense (7.8 UZR) can’t find a job. That is the dilemma that Lopez is facing right now.

Lopez should find a home soon

You don’t hear too many teams in on his services, but this guy is too good not to have a starting job in the major leagues. The St. Louis Cardinals might be a landing spot for him, if they don’t feel comfortable with David Freese at third.

3. Hank Blalock, 1B/DH. Blalock hit .234 with 25 home runs and a .277 OBP in 123 games in 2009 for the Texas Rangers. The 123 games were the most Blalock played in since 2006.

Blalock can hit a home run, but other than that, he doesn’t do anything else particularly well. He doesn’t get on base, he is injury prone, he is not a good defensive player, and he faded in the second half last season.

He did hit 19 of his 25 home runs off of right-handed pitching, so maybe a team can use him like Mike Scioscia did 2003 All Star Game. That being a left-handed power hitter off the bench.

4. Russell Branyan, 1B/DH. Coming off of a career year, Branyan thought he would finally get paid. So far this has not been the case.

Branyan could end up with the Marlins

Branyan hit 31 home runs last year in just 116 games, but teams have been mostly scared off by Branyan’s back. A 34-year-old with a bad back and no track record prior to 2009 is not attractive to most teams.

I thought he would end up back with the Seattle Mariners at some point, but now it looks like the Florida Marlins might be interested in him.

5. Jermaine Dye, OF. Dye has finished in the top-15 in American League MVP voting two out of the last four years, but his market has been really quiet this winter.

Dye hit .250 last year with 27 home runs and a .340 OBP. Which isn’t the worst hitting line in the world. However, there are a couple of things working against Dye this offseason.

He is 36-years-old, he can’t field a lick anymore, and he is coming off a second half where he hit .179 with just seven home runs. His options are limited, so he might end up on a team as a fourth outfielder or DH-type player.

Tomorrow, I will cover the five best remaining pitchers on the free agent market.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Blue Jays Sign Kevin Gregg

February 6, 2010

I love when teams make pointless signings. When I say pointless, I mean a signing that really doesn’t fill a need for the short or long-term.

For instance, the Washington Nationals signing Adam Kennedy in my opinion was pointless. Another pointless signing was the one that the Toronto Blue Jays just made.

Gregg was a pointless signing by the Jays

According to multiple reports, the Blue Jays have signed RHP Kevin Gregg to a one-year, $2.75 million contract. The Blue Jays will have ten days after the 2010 World Series to choose between three options:

  • Allow Gregg to become a free agent
  • Pick up a $4.5MM option for 2011
  • Pick up an $8.75MM option for 2011-12

Have the Blue Jays ever watched Gregg pitch? More importantly, have they ever watched him pitch in August when his teams need him the most? Gregg handles pressure like the San Jose Sharks do in the postseason.

During the month of August the last two years, Gregg has an ERA of 8.44. He is also coming off a year where he gave up 13 home runs in 68.2 innings. Not the most ringing endorsement.

Not only is Gregg not a quality pitcher in my opinion, I have no idea where he fits in on the Blue Jays. Toronto already has Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Jeremy Accardo, Jesse Carlson, Josh Roenicke, and Shawn Camp in their bullpen.

The Blue Jays didn’t need another reliever and they didn’t need a reliever who makes $2.75 million.

If indeed Gregg was signed to be their closer, I don’t see how he is better than Downs or Frasor, who are Toronto’s already existing options. If Gregg is closing games in Toronto, then I feel worse for Blue Jay fans than I already do.

The Blue Jays are in rebuilding mode and will most likely finish last in the American League East. There was no point to signing a pitcher like Gregg.

Now on to another sport.

The big game is one day away and everyone has been asking me for my Super Bowl prediction. My initial thought when the New Orleans Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings, was that the Indianapolis Colts would crush the Saints.

I still think the Colts will win, but I don’t think it will be a blow out anymore. Dwight Freeney’s injury really changes things for me.

Colts win 27-23.

And if you want some awesome recipes for Super Bowl Sunday, be sure to check out GourmetDude.com. Pete has some great recipes for chicken wings, meatballs, cookies, and more.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Nationals Lose Out On Orlando Hudson, So Turn To Adam Kennedy

February 5, 2010

Adam Kennedy’s future was mostly dependent on Orlando Hudson. Hudson was the premier second baseman left on the market and teams weren’t going to move on Kennedy until Hudson was signed. Kennedy essentially became the fallback option.

Now that Hudson has found a home with the Minnesota Twins, the Washington Nationals have found their fallback option. According to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, the Nationals have signed Kennedy to a one-year, $1.25 million deal. The deal also includes a $2 million club option for 2011.

Kennedy was a fallback option for the Nats

Poor Adam Kennedy. If Hudson had signed with the Nationals or Cleveland Indians, he could be in Minnesota with a chance to play in the playoffs in 2010. Now he is going to Washington and to probably a last place team next season. It’s like being rejected by your dream job and settling for a job that pays 25 percent less and has no long-term growth.

However, the reality is Kennedy is even lucky to have a major league job in 2010.

Kennedy was released by the St. Louis Cardinals in the winter of 2009, then signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, and then was traded to the Oakland A’s for Joe Dillion. Kennedy had an up-and-down year for the A’s in 2009.

He got off to a rip roaring start, hitting .390 in May, but then dipped to .218 in June, got back on track in July hitting .296, stumbled again in August hitting .224, and then ended the season on a tear hitting .349 in September. Kennedy ended the season hitting .289 with 11 home runs and a .758 OPS in 128 games.

I don’t expect Kennedy to come anywhere close to his 2009 numbers in 2010. Especially his power numbers. As a matter of fact, I don’t even know why the Nationals signed Kennedy in the first place.

Why are the Nationals signing a 34-year-old second baseman? I don’t mind when a team signs a veteran for one year as long as it doesn’t prevent a young player from getting a shot. With this signing, the Nationals are preventing a young player from getting a shot.

With Kennedy in the fold, Cristian Guzman with his surgically repaired shoulder and poor UZR will remain at short and Ian Desmond is out of a starting job. Desmond hit .280 with four home runs in 82 AB’s last year. I know it’s not a great sample size, but what can Kennedy do that Desmond can’t?

Bill James predicted a .282 season from Desmond with 13 home runs and a .770 OPS. Now he will be sitting on the bench while some veteran who has no long-term future with the club gets his AB’s.

I appreciate the fact the Nationals are trying to put a competitive product on the field. In this economy, a team has to do whatever it can to sell tickets, but they are going about it the wrong way. They should try to win with guys like Desmond, not have him sit on the bench or go down to the minors.

The Nationals would have been better off investing this money in their bullpen. Kennedy was a poor investment by the Nationals.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Twins Continue To Improve, Sign Orlando Hudson

February 5, 2010

Going into the offseason, everyone knew the Minnesota Twins needed an upgrade at three of the four infield positions. The Twins were set with Justin Morneau at first, but needed to improve at second, short, and third in order to get to the next level.

Back in November, the Twins stole JJ Hardy from the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez to upgrade their shortstop position and yesterday they upgraded at second base.

Hudson is an upgrade at second for the Twins

According to Joe Christensen of the Minnesota Star Tribune, the Twins have signed second baseman Orlando Hudson to a one-year, $5 million contract. The deal has no incentives and no option for 2011.

Hudson is a clear upgrade over last year’s starting second baseman Nick Punto. Here are their stats from last year:

Hudson: .283/.357/.417 with nine home runs in 146 games.

Punto: .228/.337/.284 with one home runs in 125 games.

Punto is a nice little player, who does a lot of things right. He is a guy that every team should have on their ball club. But he shouldn’t be starting for a team that has World Series aspirations.

Hudson will certainly lengthen the Twins’ lineup. Here is a possible Minnesota lineup against right-handed pitching:

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Orlando Hudson, 2B

3. Joe Mauer, C

4. Justin Morneau, 1B

5. Jason Kubel, LF

6. Michael Cuddyer, RF

7. Jim Thome, DH

8. JJ Hardy, SS

9. Brendan Harris, 3B

That is one stacked lineup. These are no longer your father’s punch-and-Judy Twins’ lineup. This lineup can flat-out rake.

Of course against lefties, the Twins can go with Delmon Young in left and put Kubel back at DH. That’s still a pretty good lineup.

With the additions of Hudson, Hardy, Thome, and with their above average rotation and solid bullpen, I believe the Twins are the clear favorites in the American League Central.

Their closest competition in the Central will come from the Chicago White Sox. But with a suspect lineup and very mediocre defense, I am not sure the White Sox have what it takes to overtake the Twins in the division.

Now that the Twins have added Hardy and Hudson, don’t look for them to sign a third baseman as well. I think the Twins are done spending this offseason.

They will most likely go with Harris at third in 2010. Punto and Matt Tolbert could see some time at third as well.

Hudson will be entering his eighth year in the major leagues and has a career .282 average with 77 home runs, 50 stolen bases, 50 triples, and a .778 OPS with the Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Let the Adrian Gonzalez To The Red Sox Rumors Start…Again

February 4, 2010

Yesterday was a pretty sad day for a special group of people. Around 4:00 PM est yesterday, it was announced that Monster Worldwide purchased Hotjobs, a place I had called home for four plus years, from Yahoo!

As I wrote on my Facebook page, I had the privilege to work with some truly great people and few companies can say they had the talent that walked through those doors all those years. It was a great place to work.

I compare Monster buying Hotjobs to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) buying World Championship Wrestling (WCW) back in 2001. WWE was the established brand like Monster and WCW was an upstart trying to take over the top spot like Hotjobs.

Sure, there were times where WCW and Hotjobs claimed the top spot, but you always felt that no matter what happened WWE and Monster were still No.1. Like WCW (AOL/Time Warner), Hotjobs was purchased by a large media company and that media company treated Hotjobs–just as AOL/Time Warner treated WCW– as an afterthought.

In the end, both WCW and Hotjobs were sold for a fraction of what they were actually worth to the top players in their industries just so the poorly run media companies can get rid of them. A very sad day.

The reason I bring this up during this post is A. because it just happened and B. it reminds me of what is going in San Diego.

When former Boston Red Sox Assistant GM Jed Hoyer took the GM with the San Diego Padres, many assumed that at some point Hoyer would get together with his old team and strike a deal that involved star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

With the Red Sox going in a different direction this offseason, many of the Gonzalez to Boston rumors died down. Now, thanks to a couple of interesting quotes, I am guessing those Gonzalez to Boston rumors are going to heat up again during the season or next winter.

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Padres CEO Jeff Moorad had this to say about the future of Gonzalez:

“I think the fairest description of our point of view is that we continue to be committed to doing what’s best for the long-term interest of the organization,” Padres CEO Jeff Moorad said yesterday. “As a result, no player is untouchable. And while we’re mindful of players’ individual popularity, we won’t put one player ahead of the long-term interests of the club.

“I’m confident that (General Manager) Jed (Hoyer) and John Boggs will have a discussion at some point about Adrian and his future. While I’d be thrilled to have him part of the organization for the long term, the early signals indicate his cost will be greater than our ability to pay.”

I appreciate Moorad’s honestly and candor, but where is his bedside manor? About 12 days before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, he is telling his fans they most likely won’t re-sign their star player when he becomes a free agent in two years.

Way to excite your fan base or what’s left of it Jeff.

If you are a Padres fan (all 20 of you), it has to be beyond frustrating to continue to support this team. This team plays in the 28th largest market in the America, the nicest city in America, and has a new ballpark (PETCO opened in 2004) that should create additional revenue streams.

On the surface, there is no reason for the Padres not to have a payroll hovering around the $80-$90 million mark. But thanks to almost always shaky ownership, the Padres have been in cost-cutting mode for as long as I can remember.

It seems like for every step forward this organization takes, it takes two steps back.

Just look at a team like the Milwaukee Brewers. They play in the smallest market in baseball, but have a great owner, who does his best to make sure the Brewers put a winning product on the field.

I don’t think there is a person on the planet would rather call Milwaukee home than San Diego, but the Brewers are constantly making moves and attracting players to the home of George Webb Restaurants.

The biggest difference between the Brewers and Padres is ownership. Now Moorad might turn out to be a good owner in the future. He has only been the Padres owner for a little more than a year, but at some point he is going to have to make a commitment to the players and the fans.

A commitment that Yahoo! and AOL/Time Warner never made.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Verlander Signs Extension With Detroit Tigers

February 4, 2010

Its been a pretty good winter for two out of the three finalists for the American League Cy Young award in 2009. Felix Hernandez, who finished second in the voting signed a five-year, $78 million extension with the Seattle Mariners earlier this offseason and now the third place finisher got rewarded as well.

According to FOXSports.com, the Detroit Tigers have signed staff ace Justin Verlander to a five-year, $80 million contract. The deal cancels out Verlander’s remaining two years of arbitration plus three free agent years.

Verlander became a rich man on Wed.

Verlander will be 27 in two weeks, so the Tigers should have Verlander throughout his prime years. The Tigers have handed out some pretty awful long-term contracts recently (Magglio Ordonez, Nate Robertson, etc…), but this deal should be very much worth it for Detroit.

Since being taken with the second overall pick in the 2004 draft, Verlander has been everything the Tigers hoped he would be. In his four full years in the majors, Verlander has been a flat-out stud for three of those years.

Take out his 2008 season when he went 11-17 with a 4.84 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP and Verlander has gone 54-24 with a 3.58 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. That is pretty awesome.

Like Hernandez, Verlander’s extension comes on the heals of a career year in 2009. Verlander led the American League in starts, innings, batters faced, strikeouts, and wins last season. He also led all pitchers in pitches thrown with 3,937, which might be a little concerning for 2010, but I don’t think it will have any long-term effects going forward.

What I find interesting about this deal is that Verlander got $2 million dollars more than what Hernandez got. You know that was a power play move by his agents over at SFX. They had to get more for Verlander than what Hernandez’s agent for him.

Oh and by the way, the guy who beat out Hernandez and Verlander for the CY Young award in 2009, Zack Greinke? Don’t feel bad for him. He didn’t miss the boat on signing a contract.

Greinke signed a four-year, $38 million contract extension last January.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg