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Baseball Notes

Given the choice, few seem willing to buck the trend

By Nick Cafardo
September 12, 2010

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We’ve asked players many times over the years: How much is enough?

Do Derek Jeter, Adrian Beltre, and Paul Konerko really have to break the bank to stay in places where they love to play? Or does enjoying where you play allow you to take just a little less?

Players will tell you that enjoying where you play is the most important thing — and then their agents get involved, and it becomes one of the important things.

The Players Association is always hovering, too, because no player union, no matter what the sport, wants top players to take less money than what they’re worth.

Players basically have hit the lottery. They’ve made huge salaries, year in and year out.

Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis could have gone into free agency rather than take a long-term deal from the Red Sox for less, but both of them love the team, the city, the atmosphere, and the medical care, so why give up all that to make a few extra bucks somewhere else?

Using Baseball-Reference.com numbers, we found that three current players have earned more than $200 million in their careers, and 20 have earned more than $100 million.

It was no surprise that Alex Rodriguez topped the list at a staggering $264,416,252. Jeter is second at $205,430,000, and Manny Ramirez third at $204,807,769 (though some is deferred).

After the $200 Million Club comes Chipper Jones with $141,552,133, Jim Thome with $138,461,667, Todd Helton at $131,315,000, Jason Giambi at $130,808,996, Mariano Rivera at $129,530,125, Andy Pettitte at $125,332,416, and Mike Hampton at $124,550,270.

Nos. 11 through 20 are Magglio Ordonez ($123,470,746), Pudge Rodriguez ($119,573,932), Vladimir Guerrero ($117,930,000), Carlos Beltran ($115,627,346), Ichiro Suzuki ($111,131,483), Bobby Abreu ($106,379,666), Johnny Damon ($105,189,000), Jorge Posada ($104,358,500), Andruw Jones ($103,433,410), and Scott Rolen ($102,418,639).

Most of these players have played a long time, have “earned’’ their money, and are nearing the end of their careers. But not all of them.

A-Rod has another $175 million or so in salary to come through 2017, plus bonuses for home runs.

Jeter, who entered last night’s game hitting a career-low .260, is approaching free agent status, but the Yankees are likely to “take care of him’’ with another massive contract.

Albert Pujols, who is slightly under $90 million right now, also will get a massive contract, either from the Cardinals or another team when he becomes eligible for free agency after next season.

Younger stars such as Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, and Joe Mauer will all get past $100 million, and maybe even $200 million (though Mauer did take less to stay in Minnesota). Pitchers Johan Santana and Roy Halladay will be over $100 million soon.

The cumulative money is amazing.

Torii Hunter has earned more than $98 million. Lance Berkman is over $94 million, Carlos Lee and Javier Vazquez over $92 million. Jim Edmonds has earned $86 million-plus.

Here’s one: Edgar Renteria, the veteran shortstop who couldn’t make it in Boston, has pocketed more than $82 million. Alfonso Soriano has made nearly $85 million and Cubs teammate Aramis Ramirez has earned more than $87 million.

Beltre, who will be seeking a multiyear deal for big money in free agency this offseason, has already made $87,140,000. We’ll soon find out whether he will be one and done in Boston and greed gets in the way of a sound baseball decision. It’s obvious the Red Sox fit is perfect for Beltre, so don’t you at some point take less money to stay somewhere where you really like to play?

That could be the case with Konerko, who has earned almost $90 million and loves playing in Chicago, where he is the White Sox captain. We’ll see if it’s the case with Beltre.

Mike Lowell, whose career is likely to end with this season, will have earned almost $77 million in his career. Tim Wakefield, because he has been around so long, has chipped away at the money tree as well. He has already earned about $54 million and has at least another year to go.

Jamie Moyer, who seemingly has played forever, has gotten his career earnings up to $83 million.

Other Red Sox: J.D. Drew ($94 million), Jason Varitek ($65 million), David Ortiz ($71.4 million), Mike Cameron ($68.6 million), Josh Beckett ($52.2 million), and John Lackey ($46.3 million). Beckett and Lackey have another $68 million coming their way.

PRESSING THE ISSUE

Mariners’ Lincoln off base with attack

Don’t know Seattle Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln, but what a leader.

He sent an e-mail to employees Aug. 27 essentially blaming the media for the shortcomings of his organization. The very person he dissed the most, Seattle Times beat writer Geoff Baker (without mentioning him, of course), is the one who got a copy of the e-mail from one of Lincoln’s employees who didn’t seem to buy what Lincoln (above) was selling.

Jack Zduriencik is a very likable general manager and is respected because he came up through the ranks and paid his dues. He has had a bad season, though, one that included the trading of Cliff Lee to Texas. The deal would have been fine except that one player he acquired in return, pitcher Josh Lueke, faced charges in a rape case in 2009 and pleaded no contest to a lesser felony charge of false imprisonment with violence.

It seemed pretty clear that due diligence was not done on the player, leaving the Mariners in a pretty embarrassing situation.

Baker did a terrific job reporting on the story, which didn’t cast Mariners management in a good light, especially after it came out that former pitching coach Rick Adair, who was fired in the Don Wakamatsu purge, had informed the Mariners of Lueke’s past.

Even before the damaging story appeared, Lincoln sent his e-mail, with the subject line, “Media Attacks.’’

“If it seems to you like the local media is going out of its way to trash the Mariners, well, you’re right, they are!’’ he wrote. “And you can expect this to continue as the season winds down. We’re getting hit like never before — or at least like never before in recent memory!

“Indeed if you read between the lines, you get the clear impression that at least one beat reporter would love nothing better than to step right in and run the Mariners (Don’t worry that’s not going to happen!).’’

Lincoln tried to emphasize his point on the media by quoting Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has yet to win a championship and lost in his bid to buy the Rangers.

Cuban said, “What I have learned in 11 years in the sports business is that the dumbest guys in the room are always the media guys. Some do a decent job of reporting, most just spew opinions. And those opinions change more often than they brush their teeth.

“Listening to the media only increases your odds of failing at whatever you are doing. So I ignore them.’’

Lincoln went on to tell his staff to ignore the media and that “you have every right to be proud of this organization and for what it stands for.’’

Yes, be proud, Mariners employees. The “dumbest guys in the room’’ found out the kid you traded for was charged with rape and pleaded no contest to a felony.

GRIP IT AND RIP IT

Baylor has star pupil in precocious Gonzalez

Don Baylor has managed and coached a lot of very good hitters, and he has one right now who makes him smile: Carlos Gonzalez.

The Rockies’ Triple Crown candidate is only 24 and putting it all together as a hitter, with, as Baylor says, “room to grow.’’

Baylor, Colorado’s hitting coach, would like to see Gonzalez more disciplined on pitches out of the strike zone, but he knows that is the flaw of a young, aggressive hitter who will improve over time.

Baylor changed Gonzalez’s grip last spring, and it has made a difference in the young outfielder.

“He was holding the bat deep in his hand, and I told him, ‘You’re going to struggle hitting that way,’ ’’ said Baylor.

Asked about Gonzalez having an advantage by playing at Coors Field, Baylor said, “You always hear about splits, but most players have better home splits than road splits.

“This kid is just a good hitter and he’s a good all-around player.’’

Entering yesterday’s games, Gonzalez was leading the National League with a .335 average and tied for the lead with 100 RBIs despite batting leadoff in 44 games.

He was hitting .381 with 25 homers and 66 RBIs at Coors, .288 with 7 homers and 34 RBIs on the road. What Baylor really likes is that Gonzalez, a lefthanded batter, was hitting .313 with 13 homers and 35 RBIs against lefties.

“That’s so impressive for a kid who’s 24 years old,’’ Baylor said.

Baylor said Gonzalez is a favorite among teammates and hasn’t let success go to his head.

“He doesn’t talk about Triple Crown,’’ said Baylor. “He’s dropped a few homers behind [Albert] Pujols now, but what means the most to him is winning the batting title because his idol was Andres Galarraga, who is also from Venezuela, and he’d like to be in that company with his idol.’’

Galarraga won a batting title with the Rockies in 1993.

“But Triple Crown is tough,’’ said Baylor. “There’s a reason nobody has done it since Yaz in 1967.’’

Etc.

Apropos of nothing
1. Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol had 118 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings entering last night, but he keeps telling everyone, “The only thing that’s important is getting three outs in the ninth inning.’’ Sure; 2. If the Padres choke, do they deal Adrian Gonzalez to Boston in the offseason?; 3. I would have bet the house on Ty Wigginton getting traded. Never happened; 4. I think the Red Sox will sign Scott Downs in the offseason; 5. According to a major league source, the Red Sox contribute $90 million to revenue sharing so the Pirates, Marlins, and Royals can get rich. If I’m John Henry, I’m raging mad.

Updates on nine
1. Tim Wakefield, RHP, Red Sox — Always thought Wakefield would be good for another year or two in the National League, where he could fool those hitters. Approached with the idea, an NL scout said, “Absolutely correct. He could do that. But how are his legs? I can see Wakefield joining a team the second half or for a month or two, but in the NL, you have to hit and run the bases. Can he do that at 44?’’ Wakefield is frustrated with his role, which should continue into next season, but he made it clear this past week that winning 193 games with the Sox — more than Cy Young and Roger Clemens — is more important to him than winning 200 for his career.

2. Paul Konerko, 1B, White Sox — He would be a nice fit with the Red Sox, but don’t count on it. Though born in Rhode Island, Konerko loves living in Arizona and enjoys playing in Chicago. Konerko, 34, negotiated his last contract mostly with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Reinsdorf step in and keep the team captain around for another two or three years. Konerko also could morph into a DH.

3. Victor Martinez, C, Red Sox — Add the Marlins to the growing list of teams that would love to have him. The Marlins aren’t crazy about V-Mart’s defense but would love his presence as a professional hitter in a lineup with Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla. It appears that Martinez’s price will increase as free agency approaches. The Sox knew their two-year offer wouldn’t get it done, but now it has become a jumping-off point for more serious negotiations when the season ends.

4. Kevin Towers, former Padres general manager — According to a major league source, Towers had had only one conversation with Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall as of Friday concerning a possible GM job with Arizona. There appears to be common ground, but the largest issue will be how much the D-Backs would pay Towers while already paying Josh Byrnes for the next six years. Former Sox scout Jerry DiPoto did a nice job with trade-deadline deals and has to be considered a favorite to remain in the GM role.

5. Hiroki Kuroda, RHP, Dodgers — There has been talk about Kuroda returning to Japan to pitch, but it has been denied on all fronts. Last season, catcher Kenji Johjima returned to Japan after a couple of tough seasons in Seattle. While he gave up about $16 million in salary with Seattle, he signed a three-year, $12 million deal and is home and happy. Wouldn’t be shocking to see more Japanese players do likewise. Hideki Okajima might be a candidate.

6. Brandon Moss, OF, Pirates — The former Sox outfielder is a nice story of perseverance. When he went to the Pirates in the Manny Ramirez deal in 2008, he hit .222 the rest of the season and followed with a .236 season, with 7 homers and 41 RBIs in 133 games. Banished to the minors this year after he was taken off the 40-man roster and outrighted, Moss, 26, had a good year at Indianapolis (.266, 22 homers, 96 RBIs) and is with the Pirates as a September call-up. Moss said his resurgence is due to an open stance that he used to have in Double A with the Red Sox before they changed him to a closed stance.

7. Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay — The Rays seem to have an endless flow of talent. How about this lefty, who led all of minor league baseball with 208 strikeouts in 144 2/3 innings? A veteran scout described him this way: “Think Jon Lester.’’ Moore played for the Port Charlotte Stone Crabs, the Rays’ high Single A team.

8. Matt LaPorta, 1B, Indians — You have to wonder whether he will be that impact player Cleveland thought he was when it acquired him in the CC Sabathia deal. Entering the weekend LaPorta, a former Red Sox draft pick, was hitting .120 with a .213 slugging percentage since Aug. 10, .199 since the All-Star break, and only .214 vs. righthanded starting pitching. He is really strong, but also strong-headed in that he tries to pull everything. He turns 26 in January.

9. Omar Infante, INF, Braves — If you consider Jose Bautista one of the best emergence stories of 2010, how about Infante? He could derail Carlos Gonzalez’s chances at the batting title if he averages four plate appearances per game the rest of the way. Infante entered yesterday’s game at .340. It’s amusing that Chipper Jones is holding back credit to Gonzalez for his home-road splits, yet Infante is hitting .373 at home and .317 on the road.

Short hops
From the Bill Chuck files: “Alex Rodriguez drove home 100 runs with his first 116 hits. The record is held by Carlos Pena, who last year for the Rays had 100 RBIs with 107 hits. By the way, Pena has 193 hits in his last 894 at-bats (.216).’’ Also, “Who is the last active player to go to the postseason with the Pirates? Wakefield, who was 2-0 against the Braves in the 1992 NLCS.’’ . . . Offer a happy belated birthday to Jacoby Ellsbury (27), Ellis Burks (46), and Jeff Newman (62), who celebrated yesterday, and cheers tomorrow to Daisuke Matsuzaka (30), Wade Miller (34), Steve Curry (45), Rick Wise (65), and Bob Heffner (72).

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.

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