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Jody Gerut on Adrian Gonzalez

Jody Gerut and the Brewers are in San Diego for a four-game set, and Tom Krasovic asked the ex-Padre the $25 million question: What should the Padres do with Adrian Gonzalez?

    A Stanford graduate who runs his own investment fund, Gerut is more business savvy than most ballplayers. He's both broad-minded and dispassionate when discussing baseball economics. In his nomadic career, he's played in small markets (Pittsburgh and Milwaukee), a medium market (Cleveland) and a big market (Chicago).

    Gerut isn't telling Padres execs what to do. But if Gonzalez were traded, Gerut would be a bit disappointed.

    "At some point, ownership has to lead the revenue," he said. "It doesn't always occur where your players first start to win and then you start to build around it. Sometimes the ownership has to lead that first. There's ancillary stuff that I probably know nothing about. I know sometimes that if you build it, fans will come. It doesn't always have to work out the other way. You don't always have to get guys at absolute steals in order to keep them."

Gerut's got a point about ownership leading the revenue ... but there's a limit, right?

I don't know if Gonzalez is better than Ryan Howard -- he's a better defender (by a lot), a worse baserunner (by a lot) -- but he's just as good as Howard and he's two years younger. I've been counseling against the notion that Howard's new contract sets the market for power-hitting first baseman, because it's so out of bounds that essentially it can't set the market ... But still, if Howard's getting $25 million per season, doesn't Gonzalez have to expect at least $20 million?

The Padres this season have a $38 million payroll. Even if they push that to $60 million in 2012 -- a massive jump in these frightening times -- would it really make sense for them to spend fully one-third of their payroll on one player?

Maybe. It depends on where the other $40 million went. But it's hard to make that math work for long. I don't know. Maybe the Padres have been hoarding cash these last few years, just waiting for the right time to compete financially with the Dodgers and the rest of them. I just don't get the impression that that's actually happening. The Padres' market is bigger than the Cardinals' market, and the Rockies' market. But for whatever reasons they seem resigned to spend half the money those other clubs do.