Baseball Report

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Johnny Damon.

How large is the difference in payroll between the top and bottom teams in Major League Baseball?

Just look at the starting infield for the New York Yankees, which has a payroll of $85.2 million. Not even the bottom two clubs, San Diego ($37.8 million) and Pittsburgh ($34.9 million) can match that. And the Yankees infield makes more than the payroll of 16 teams, according to a report in USA Today, which conducts an annual salary and payroll survey.

The survey also found that salaries have dropped 17 percent overall, with the Pirates taking a huge cut of 28 percent. And the average player’s salary has fallen from $3.2 million to $2.7 million from 2009 to Opening Day of this season, with 14 clubs taking on lower payrolls.

The Yankees, who upped their payroll by two percent, once again have the largest payroll in the majors, listed at $206.3 million in a survey by the Associated Press, with an average player salary of $8.2 million. Boston, which increased its payroll by 33 percent this season, ranks second at $162.7 million.

Curtis Granderson.

In third is the Chicago Cubs with a payroll of $146.8 million, followed by Philadelphia ($141.9 million) and the New York Mets ($132.7 million). Detroit, the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels rank 6 – 8 with payrolls exceeding $100 million. Seattle and San Francisco round out the top 10.

Minnesota, with a franchise-record payroll of $97.6 million, is 11th, and that will increase next year when Joe Mauer’s eight-year, $184 million contract takes effect.

Florida, Texas, Oakland, San Diego and Pittsburgh sit at the bottom of the major leagues in payroll.

Let the rain fall down: A little rain at a Twins game? It had been so long since rain fell at a Minnesota home game that the fans didn’t seem to be bothered by it during the second game at the new open-air Target Field last week in Minneapolis. In fact, a few fans started chanting “Out-door base-ball.”

The last time rain fell on a Twins home contest was in 1981, the last year the team played at Metropolitan Stadium in suburban Bloomington. The next season, the Twins moved downtown into the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and played there through the 2009 season.

Minnesota opened its new stadium last week with a 5-2 win over Boston. The Twins Jason Kubel hit the ballpark’s first home run and Carl Pavano picked up the first win before 39,715 fans.

“I’ve been waiting a long time,” said Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who grew up in neighboring St. Paul. “It’s definitely a special place, and I’m glad it’s here.”

The Red Sox won the second game of the series 6-3 before 38,164 fans, and with rain drops falling occasionally from the third through eighth innnings. The temperature was 73 degrees at first pitch, which was rather balmy for this time of year in Minneapolis.

“It held up pretty good,” Twins center fielder Denard Span said. “We didn’t slip or anything.”

The Twins celebrated their first-ever series win at Target Field by beating the Red Sox 8-0 the next day, in sunshine.

The novelty of rain, cold and possibly even snow at the new ballpark will soon wear off, but for now, the Twins and their fans are digging their new digs.

StatsWatch: Johnny Damon and Curtis Granderson switched teams in the off-season, with former New York Yankee Damon signing as a free agent with the Detroit Tigers and Granderson getting traded to the Yankees from the Tigers. Here’s how the outfielders compared offensively through the first nine games of the season, with Granderson getting the early edge:

Johnny Damon, Tigers, .194 AVG, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 6 BB, 6 K, 0 SB.

Curtis Granderson, Yankees, .333 AVG., 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, 4 SB.

Diamond Notes: The Minnesota Twins won the first three series of the season for the first time since 1987, the year they won their first World Series…Houston started the season 0-8, coming to within one game of matching its worst start ever. The Astros snapped their eight-game losing streak last week with a win over St. Louis… Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson day on April 15 by having all players wear Robinson’s No. 42. It was the 63rd anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier. Robinson played his first major league game at Ebbets Field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962.

Copyright © 2010 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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