Stray Thoughts

Tom DubberkeCorrespondent IApril 9, 2010

I see that the Brewers just gave Yovani Gallardo a five-year $30.1 million deal, which sets a record for pitchers with between two and three years of major league experience.  I think this is a good move for Brute Crew.

Long term contracts are always a risk with pitchers.  However, Gallardo really is good, and if he can stay reasonably healthy, it will be a great deal for Milwaukee.

Knee problems caused Gallardo to miss almost the entire 2008 season.  While that’s certainly not good, it’s better than arm problems causing him the season.  It also prevented Gallardo, who’s still awfully young at age 24 this year, from being overworked at too tender an age.

Small market teams need to take advantage of timing to lock up their best young players with favorable long-term deals.  It already looks like the Brewers made the right move locking up Ryan Braun for eight years and $45 million, and the Gallardo deal is very much in that same vein.

By way of comparison, Prince Fielder will probably end up signing a five-year deal that pays him more than twice as much as the Braun contract when he becomes a free agent after 2011.  Also by way of comparison, the Brewers paid Randy Wolf $29.75 million, essentially the same as Gallardo, but for only three years.

Sure, Wolf was a free agent, but I don’t think there’s anyone in baseball that wouldn’t rather have Gallardo for the next five seasons for the same money as Wolf for three.  At the end of the day, the goal is to win ballgames, and Gallardo’s contract gives the Brewers a good chance to win some.

I don’t think Gallardo’s record contract will last long.  He’s signing right at the bottom of the salary cycle, and I’d be very surprised if his contract is still a record three years from today.

The A’s have very quietly jumped out to a 3-1 start, beating the Mariners three out of four in Oakland.  Yes, it’s only four games into the season, and the games were at home, but it’s still a better start than most people expected, particularly against the M’s, who were very active this off-season, leading to high hopes among many.

The A’s also grabbed 25 year old outfielder Jai Miller off the waiver wire, where he’d been placed by the Marlins.  A typical Oakland, Money Ball move.  Miller has great physical talents, and has shown remarkable progress in the last three seasons.  He was completely over-matched up through the A+ level, but at age 22 in 2007, his offensive production suddenly jumped in his first season at the AA level.

Miller had an .870 OPS in his second year at the AAA level in 2009.  Right now, Miller looks like a future back-up at the major league level.  However, his tremendous progress the last three seasons is intriguing, and he runs well, which is what you want in a late bloomer.

At the end of the day, he probably won’t amount to much.  The A’s have too many outfielders at the AAA and major league levels already, and looking at his career numbers, he appears to have a hard time staying healthy for a full season.  The A’s obviously like him because he cost nothing and he’s still got some upside.  It’s never a bad idea for small-market teams to pick up undervalued players with up-side.

One final note: Petaluma’s Jonny Gomes hit a walk-off homerun today to give the Reds a 2-1 victory over the Cardinals.  I, for one, am glad to see it.  I thought it was truly unfair that, after the season he had for the Reds in 2009, neither the Reds nor anyone else in baseball would give him a guaranteed contract in the $800,000 range.

Well, Gomes obviously made the Reds out of Spring Training, and after tonight’s big hit, he’s guaranteed to stick around for at least a little while longer.