You know the trend of signing budding young stars to long-term deals has become contagious when the penurious Florida Marlins join in.
When word spread last week that the Marlins were going to give shortstop Hanley Ramirez a six-year, $70 million deal, there was general astonishment. And it wasn't that Ramirez was unworthy of the big payday, which was officially announced Saturday.
But this is the same club that sent third baseman Miguel Cabrera and left-hander Dontrelle Willis to Detroit during the winter rather than pay them big bucks. Florida has a $22 million payroll, lowest among the 30 major-league clubs.
Now, Ramirez is getting the largest average annual value of any player with less than three years of service time in the majors. It's also by far the biggest contract in club history, surpassing the four-year, $52 million deal given Carlos Delgado in 2005.
With the Marlins stuck in cavernous Dolphin Stadium at least through 2010 and a lawsuit delaying construction of a new ballpark at the Orange Bowl site, the news of Ramirez's blockbuster deal was somewhat stunning.
"Hanley is a franchise player," said Los Angeles Dodgers coach Manny Mota, whose son Andy is one of Ramirez's agents. "He has outrageous potential. A kid like Hanley stays hungry. He is never satisfied."
The Marlins never have paid a yearly salary of more than $7.4 million, which Cabrera earned last year before being dealt. And it remains to be seen if they'll try to lock up other players who will be arbitration-eligible after the season, such as Dan Uggla, Josh Willingham, Mike Jacobs and Jeremy Hermida. ...
The drought ends
Eight months after recording his 303rd career victory, Tom Glavine finally notched No. 304.
Atlanta's prodigal son took a one-hit shutout and eight-run lead into the sixth inning Wednesday in Philadelphia and evened his record at 1-1 when the Braves' bullpen withstood a late charge for an 8-6 triumph.
Since a Sept. 8 victory with the New York Mets last season, Glavine had gone 0-3 in 10 starts.
"Yeah, how 'bout that? Five years and two months later, finally won another game," cracked Glavine.
The 42-year-old Glavine, who returned to the Braves after five seasons with the Mets, could have snapped his personal skid sooner with better run support in his previous six starts.
"Glad to see Tommy get his first," manager Bobby Cox said. "He deserved it again."
A win-win deal
In the classic baseball film "Bull Durham," Annie Savoy (played by Susan Sarandon) memorably said, "Bad trades are part of baseball now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas ... ?"
While bad trades are a favorite topic among fans, less attention is paid to the trades that work out well for both teams. A good example of that was a deal this past offseason that saw the Reds trade outfielder Josh Hamilton to the Rangers for pitcher Edinson Volquez.
Going into the weekend, Hamilton led the major leagues with 49 runs batted in and was tied for second in the American League with 10 home runs. On the other side of the deal, Volquez has been a real surprise. He has a 6-1 record, leads the National League with a 1.12 ERA and is third with 57 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings.
Volquez is scheduled to face Cliff Lee and the Indians this afternoon.
TRIPLE-A AFFILIATE EDITION
TEAM .... Last week
1. Arizona Diamondbacks....1
Tucson Sidewinders (13-29)
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim....4
Salt Lake Bees (31-9)
3. Chicago Cubs....2
Iowa Cubs (20-20)
4. Tampa Bay Rays....
Durham Bulls (20-22)
5. Boston Red Sox....3
Pawtucket Red Sox (25-18)
6. Baltimore Orioles....10
Norfolk Tides (14-28)
7. Oakland Athletics....6
Sacramento Rivercats (24-17)
8. St. Louis Cardinals....8
Memphis Redbirds (21-22)
9. Cleveland Indians....
Buffalo Bisons (20-23)
10. Florida Marlins....7
Albuquerque Isotopes (20-19)
Dropped out: Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers
DON'T GIVE UP YET
Managers often bench slumping players for a day or two to give them a mental break. Doing so with these guys might have the same effect on their fantasy owners.
J.J. HARDY. As poorly as Khalil Greene started last season, Hardy was the exact opposite. He had 15 homers and 46 RBIs after the first two months. He's certainly not as bad as he's been this season. The same could be said for the Milwaukee Brewers offense in general. Expect both to heat up soon.
KENJI JOHJIMA. The promotion of prospect Jeff Clement could have been a wake-up call for Johjima, but he has continued to snooze. Still, his plate discipline has been solid and his hit rate abnormally low. Plus, there aren't a whole lot of good catchers on the waiver wire to take his place.