Tag:New York Yankees
Posted on: April 11, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: April 11, 2011 11:49 pm
 

Love Letters: The Manny Being Juiced Edition

I beat Manny Ramirez like a piñata after the coward retired and disappeared before he could be slapped with a 100-game suspension for violating another performance-enhancing drug test. Now it's your turn. ...

FROM: Court
Re. In final stunning act, Manny is uncovered

Scott,

Thank you again for another slam dunk, take-no-prisoners column on another complete fraud of a baseball player and human being. I remember years ago writing to you about the demise of Barry Bonds' show Bonds on Bonds and getting a very kind and personal e-mail back. You have never been a moral relativist with this issue, or an apologizer for these guys, which I respect enormously.

Look, as fans of sports I take the Charles Barkley approach ... these men and women are human beings and bound to be riddled with faults and insecurities and I expect them to screw up in life every once in awhile. If my life were laid bare for all to see, it wouldn't be pretty. I suspect it wouldn't be pretty for anybody. But these guys are frauds, liars, cheats, ad infinitum.

There is a difference between a grown man who can say, "I screwed up, I'm human, I expect the outrage. But I will do my best to come back and make it right, and I might screw up again, and I'll take what's coming. And I'll treat human beings as equals, everyone."

And then there's Barry Bonds. And Manny Ramirez, and Roger Clemens, universally regarded asses. And that's that. I just wish these guys would all go away, away, away. We all know there will be a jury nullification on the Bonds trial, but I don't care. Just go away. You are a piece of human garbage and now that you've lost about 50 pounds, Barry, you don't look so tough anymore, do you? Again, you stand with dignity and class, Scott. Always enjoy your columns.

Thanks for the kudos, but take no prisoners? Your take on these guys makes me look like Mister Rogers. Nicely done.

FROM: Greg P.

So everything was right with Manny -- and baseball, I guess -- when my Indians were losing him, Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, Victor Martinez and more. So now it's time to be indignant? Yeah, but not for the reasons a big market shill like yourself believes.

Careful, there: If your Indians keep winning, I'm writing about them next.

FROM: Barry W.

All well and good, but the one question that keeps nagging at me is why no one has bothered to out the Red Sox teams Manny played for, including their two championship years. Also, I hear Curt Schilling blather on and on and point fingers at everyone around him ... except his own teammates. How about someone asking him, as he enters the room on his high horse yet again, how he missed guys shooting up around him in his own locker room? Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, and Manny ... it's starting to get crowded in here.

Schilling also was very vocal about how many players were using steroids until he was called to testify before Congress. Then he wilted like an overripe banana.

FROM: John D.

Please ... Manny Ramirez is like a Frankenstein monster that didn't know his boundaries. Several organizations -- Boston, too, Miller -- put his ability to hit a baseball above everything else, like acting a fool in several facets of the game that fell under the auspice of Manny being Manny. He probably just figured he could continue to get away with the stuff he did in the past if he could start hitting, again. Speaking of, if anybody doesn't think he was taking while playing for the Red Sox, I've got a bridge in Manhatten I'd like to sell them.

And I'll help you with the paperwork. I think it's clear he was juiced in Boston, and I didn't mean to insinuate otherwise.

FROM: David K.

So does this mean the Mitchell Report is just a piece of fiction? George Mitchell, an exec with the Red Sox, said no Sox were involved. I recall laughing heartily when I learned of the above and was quite astonished that the report was accepted as absolute truth by all on planet earth.

Doesn't mean Mitchell Report is fiction, just grossly incomplete. Though I'm not at all sure everyone on "planet earth" took it as gospel. I know some monkeys who didn't.

FROM: Jack S.

Typical reporter, kicking someone while he's down. I still don't think the performance enhancers can help you hit the ball or there would be a lot more guys hitting 50 home runs in the '80s and '90s. Manny is one of the best pure hitters to play the game -- performance-enhancers or not. Love the time he spent in Boston, thankfully we knew when to get off the roller-coaster. Should show a little respect for Him.

You mean, like Manny has respected the game? Like Manny respected the Rays ... before quitting on them? Like Manny respected the Dodgers ... before quitting on them? Like Manny respected the Red Sox ... before quitting on them? What game are you watching?

FROM: Michael S.

I just wish that one of these bums would have to pay back some of the millions of dollars they got signing contracts that were based on results that were tainted because of steroid use. I know that will never happen, but it should because it's fraud.

I'd pay to see it.

FROM: Stewart D.

Your column hit the Manny nail on the head. Agreed, good riddance.

Now if someone could just hit Manny on the head.

 

Posted on: March 6, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Prior commited to winning job in Yanks' pen

TAMPA -- The corner locker in a big-league clubhouse is the perfect location for a player who enjoys sitting back and observing.

In the Yankees' clubhouse, Mark Prior occupies one of the corner lockers. But he's done enough observing over the past several years, thank you very much.

Here to win a job in the club's bullpen, Prior knows there is every chance he may open the season in Triple-A. And that's OK by him, as long as his troubled right shoulder stays intact and allows him what probably is this one last chance to finish a career on his terms, and not those of his shoulder.

Adding a touch of nostalgia to the spring is that Prior is reunited with new Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild. The two worked together for five seasons in Chicago, nearly helping to push the Cubs into the World Series in 2003.

"So far, he's been good," Rothschild said. "Arm-wise, he's feeling good. ... We need to go in progression to build him up.

"The bullpen is where he's going to be, I think. It's what his arm can handle."

In two spring innings so far, Prior has allowed neither a hit nor a run. He's struck out three, and walked one.

"If he's right, he's going to win some games for the Yankees this year," one big-league scout who saw Prior pitch last summer said.

From his perch at the corner locker after another morning of work recently, Prior was pleased with the way things are going. His latest comeback started in earnest last summer pitching for an independent league team in Fullerton, Calif., where he showed enough that the Rangers signed him to a minor-league deal. He pitched one minor-league inning in a Triple-A game near season's end, and then one inning in a minor-league playoff game.

"I think it's there," he said. "Like everybody, there are things I need [work on]. I'm trying to find the release point on my breaking ball."

The good?

"I feel like the ball's coming out of my hand free," he said. "I'm not pushing it."

Since cranking it up in Fullerton last summer, Prior said he's throwing the ball "a lot better. I'm more efficient. I'm not on top of the ball."

Prior, still just 30, has not pitched in the majors since 2006. Rothschild believes his shoulder has never been the same since his '03 collision with infielder Marcus Giles. Then, in '05, he suffered a compression fracture in his elbow when he was drilled by a line drive comebacker by Colorado's Brad Hawpe.

"Not to get melodramatic, but after '05, I was just battling to get out there every fifth day in '06," said Prior, who made only nine starts that year. "Then, '07 was a nightmare [exploratory surgery by Dr. James Andrews revealed structural damage to the shoulder]."

He could have packed it in -- he's earned nearly $13 million during his career, according to baseballreference.com -- but, well, a pitcher pitches. Until, at least, he no longer can. And despite his checkered injury history, Prior still wasn't ready for a life of "what could have been?".

His time on the mound last summer confirmed that in his mind.

And where he once pitched in All-Star Games and NL Championship Series' (2003), now he gauges his progress differently.

"I saw that, steadily, things were getting better and better," he said. "When I faced St. Louis' farm system in the playoff game, St. Louis always has great hitters and I held my own. I was thinking, 'Hey, I can do this.'"

This spring, he's still thinking the same thing.

"I think that my starting days are definitely on the back burner," he said. "From what I know of my shoulder, and from what they know of my shoulder, this is my best situation to come back."

Sunblock Day? Surely, you jest. More great weather this spring. Keep the Banana Boat well-stocked.

Likes: Mark Prior as healthy as we've seen him in several years. I don't know if his shoulder is going to last, but it would be a nice chapter in his career if he can stay on the field and pitch out of the Yankees' bullpen. ... Our Ear on Baseball podcast featuring C. Trent Rosecrans with two members of The Baseball Project, Scott McCaughey (most famous for his work with REM) and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3). The Baseball Project has just released their second disc and will be touring, including a handful of Cactus League ballpark shows the latter half of March. Good stuff musically and good listening. You can get it here. ... Clarence Clemons, sax man for the E Street Band, playing on a new Lady Gaga song. What a combination they must have been on recording day. ... As far as fast food pizza goes, I'll take Papa John's.

Dislikes: That I left Tampa right before a special theatrical screening of Smokey and the Bandit at which Burt Reynolds was to appear. Now what a hoot that would have been. No word whether the Trans-Am was going to show.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"James Dean in that Mercury '49
"Junior Johnson runnin' through the woods of Caroline
"Even Burt Reynolds in that black Trans-Am
"All gonna meet down at the Cadillac Ranch"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Cadillac Ranch

Posted on: March 3, 2011 9:23 am
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

VIERA, Fla. -- Outtakes from hanging out with the Nationals and, among other things, talking Tommy John with Stephen Strasburg and wondering whether Nyjer Morgan will keep it together this summer. ...

-- One thing that heartened free agent Jayson Werth after he signed with the Nats: The club's pursuit of ace pitcher Zack Greinke before Milwaukee stepped in and acquired him from Kansas City.

"I don't feel like anybody feels we're done looking," Werth says. "I feel Riz [general manager Mike Rizzo] is still out there looking for the right pieces, like trying to get Greinke. He's an aggressive guy. This is starting to turn into a win-now situation."

-- Before there was Stephen Strasburg, there was Jordan Zimmermann. High draft pick, potential ace pitcher, Tommy John ligament transfer surgery. ...

Zimmermann, 24, is projected to start the season in Washington's rotation in what will be his first full summer back following the Tommy John procedure. Not only are the Nats thrilled that Zimmermann is about ready to pitch in, he's able to serve another purpose, too.

"It's nice to have somebody to talk to," Strasburg says. "Somebody to see if what you're feeling is the same way he felt as the process goes on."

But, Strasburg noted, "you talk to three different guys who have had the surgery, you get three different answers as to how fast you can come back.

"It's more a matter of how you're going, how your strength is."

-- A year ago, Strasburg was all the buzz. Now, it's the Nats' second consecutive No. 1 Pick of the Century, outfielder Bryce Harper. Difference is, Harper is only 18 and has as much a chance of seeing the majors this summer as Ted Williams does of managing another Washington team in D.C.

Still, he's in major-league camp because he's on the 40-man roster, and the Nationals sure have enjoyed having him so far.

"It's been great for him," general manager Mike Rizzo says. "He's going to learn a lot from this. He's a sponge. He's a student of the game. He's a baseball rat. He keeps his mouth shut and his ears open. We have some veteran leadership now, and it's a credit to Bryce that he's [soaking it up].

"It's much like with Strasburg last year. They've really embraced Bryce as one of their own."

Among others, Werth has made sure to deliver various tips and pointers to Harper.

"He's young," Werth says. "But he's a lot further along at that age than I was. He's a special talent."

-- Rizzo on Nyjer Morgan and his troubled second half of 2010: "I think those were isolated incidents, out-of-character incidents. He's a very positive person and he plays the game hard. Sure, at times last year he got himself into trouble. But in his career, now, I think the extracurricular stuff will be eliminated.

"He's a big piece for us. His defensive presence in center field, his defensive range, he's a pest at the top of the lineup and he's capable of stealing 50 bases a year."

Sunblock Day? About two hours of light rain in Florida here in the past two-and-a-half weeks. If you're coming, bring the sunblock. If you're already here, get some more.

Likes: Talking to Yogi Berra in the Yankees' dugout the other day at Steinbrenner Field. ... Talking to David Wells in the Yankees clubhouse. He's never dull. ... This beautifully done story on Mets media relations man Jay Hortwitz from Jeff Pearlman. ... Caught the last half of the PBS American Masters series on the musicians of the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles -- James Taylor, Carole King, the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and many others. Great documentary. Very well done. Sure hope I can catch up to the entire show in the near future. ... A new Lucinda Williams disc, Blessed. Haven't picked it up yet. Will soon. She's great.

Dislikes: The middle-aged man in the hotel workout room the other day who was using the exercise bike right next to me -- and riding barefoot. I get it, it's Florida, where bare feet and flip flops are perfectly acceptable. But come on. If you're going to work up a sweat in a workout room, have some respect for those around you. Disgusting. Thank goodness I was running on a treadmill and had no intention of using the bike.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Well in the town where I was raised
"The clock ticks and the cattle grazed
"Time passed with amazing grace
"Back where I come from
"You can lie on a river bank
"Paint your name on a water tank
"Or miscount all the beers you drank
"Back where I come from"

-- Mac MacAnally, Back Where I Come From

 

Posted on: February 16, 2011 12:11 am
Edited on: February 16, 2011 10:30 am
 

Cards, Pujols not expected to agree by Wednesday

JUPITER, Fla. -- With just hours remaining before Albert Pujols' self-imposed deadline to reach a contractual agreement with the Cardinals, sources with knowledge of the talks say there is zero momentum toward a deal and that Pujols is expected to report to camp on Thursday ready to focus on the season and then, likely, free agency.

At the conclusion of a wild day Tuesday on which St. Louis manager Tony La Russa ripped the Major League Players Assn. for pressuring Pujols to push for a record-setting contract and an apparently erroneous report surfaced on SI.com that said the Cardinals made an eight-year offer to their star first baseman, Pujols and the Cardinals were said to be no closer to a deal than they were at the beginning of the week ... or last week ... or the week before.

Despite pushing the deadline back 24 hours out of respect to Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial, who was in Washington D.C. on Tuesday to receive the presidential Medal of Freedom, the two sides continue to move in different universes.

Union boss Michael Wiener earlier in the day strongly denied to multiple news outlets that the players assn. had anything to do with the Pujols talks. This after La Russa said before the Cardinals pitchers and catchers worked out Tuesday that "I know what he's going through with the union and, to some extent, his representatives. His representatives are getting beat up by the union. 'Set the bar. Set the bar.' That's bull----."

Later came the report that the Cardinals had ponied up an eight-year offer to Pujols.

Late Tuesday night, however, a source familiar with the negotiations told CBSSports.com that no such offer had been made.

"That's completely inaccurate and false," the source said.

Failing some sort of last-ditch effort that suddenly kicks these talks into overdrive Wednesday morning, the Cardinals will enter 2011 with a major, major distraction on their hands by failing to lock up a franchise icon, and Pujols will sail into the summer charged with blocking out an uncertain future.

It is not the optimal condition for either side, to say the least. And there will be plenty of opinions as to who's at fault.

Pujols, for insisting on a deal that compares with or surpasses Alex Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million contract despite the fact that the Cardinals don't have Yankee money?

The Cardinals, for failing to move earlier to sign Pujols long-term and thus avoid the very kind of feeding frenzy that is taking place at their spring camp?

You can argue that Pujols, who has never made more than $14.545 million, has been one of baseball's biggest values over the past decade and that the Cardinals now owe him.

You can also argue that if Pujols indeed is seeking something like a 10-year, $300 million deal, then, despite his iconic status in St. Louis, it would be a financial disaster that could cripple the Cardinals from being competitive in future years.

Despite Wednesday's deadline, the Cardinals, of course, will retain exclusive rights to Pujols until the 2011-2012 free agency period begins five days after the conclusion of next fall's World Series.

Little is certain at this point on how this epic staredown will play out.

But at the moment, the overwhelming indications are that Wednesday's deadline will come and go, with a major gap remaining between the Cardinals and Pujols.

Posted on: February 14, 2011 7:37 pm
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Outtakes from a day with a Phillies' rotation that is moving into history's on-deck circle (maybe):

-- It bears repeating, because Cliff Lee mentioned it a couple of times Monday: He signed with the Phillies, he said, because "it was really about what team gave me the best chance to win world championships over the life of the contract."

He did not say he signed with Philly because it was best for his family. He did not say his wife loved it there. He did not say he signed to be close to Philly cheesesteak sandwich heaven (though he did allow, "I like Philly cheesesteaks. But that had nothing to do with me coming back to Philly.").

"I think Philadelphia fans should feel real proud about that," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said, referring not to the scrumptious sandwiches, but to Lee's feeling that Philadelphia can become Titletown. "I think things really started rolling as far as putting us back on the map, so to speak, when Jim Thome came here [in 2003].

"Ed [Wade, former Phillies GM] did a fantastic job bringing Jim here.. I think it legitimized what we were trying to do."

-- Lee's decision to bypass the Yankees and Texas reinforces what has been becoming fact these past few years: Philadelphia has become a destination for ace pitchers. Lee by choice, Roy Halladay waving no-trade powers to land with the Phillies and Roy Oswalt doing the same.

Which is very interesting, given that Citizens Bank Park has earned a unanimous reputation for being a hitter's haven.

"It's kind of a testament to the fans' support, and to winning, too," Amaro said. "It's a testament to the faith that our ownership group has in the front office to make these moves. It's a testament to all in our organization creating an atmosphere where Philadelphia has become a place where people like to go, from the guards who watch the cars in the players' lot to the people who take care of the wives' lounge, the medical staff.

"We make a concerted effort to build relationships here."

-- Manager Charlie Manuel opted to pass when asked which of his Murderers' Row rotation members would get the opening day start.

"We've got a chance to have a special club," Manuel said. "We've got a guy who threw two no-hitters and won a Cy Young [Roy Halladay] last year, and the other three guys standing there are tremendous pitchers.

"We're going to have a No. 1 starter going every day, so it doesn't really matter."

Of the Phillies' quintet, Cole Hamels is the only one never to have started on opening day. Halladay did it in Toronto and in Philadelphia last year, Lee's done it, Oswalt did it plenty in Houston and Joe Blanton did it in Oakland.

"The real good part of it is, it doesn't matter who you pick, it doesn't faze the other guys," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "I don't think any of them has a big enough ego to say 'I have to have the ball on opening day.'

"They all want the ball 33 to 35 times."

Sunblock Day? It was perfect. High right around 70 degrees.

Likes: Great line from Yankees' starter CC Sabathia, that he lost a bunch of weight over the winter because he "stopped eating Capt'n Crunch." I would have picked A.J. Burnett as the Captain Crunch eater of that group. ... Phillies pitching prospect Justin DeFratus, who pitched in the Arizona Fall League last year, taking it all in early Monday morning before the first workout for pitchers and catchers. "It's been crazy here so far," DeFratus said ... Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro wearing a baseball cap with the final scoreboard line score from Halladay's playoff no-hitter against Cincinnati stitched onto the front. ... Arcade Fire winning a Grammy for best album for The Suburbs. Excellent. Great performances, too. ... Winter's Bone.

Dislikes: Getting to the gate for your flight at 6 a.m. and hearing the attendant say, "Sorry, this flight is delayed until at least 10." ... Missed Bob Dylan on the Grammy's Sunday night because of a too-long travel day.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Kids wanna be so hard
"But in my dreams we're still screamin' and runnin' through the yard
"And all of the walls that they built in the '70s finally fall
"And all of the houses they build in the '70s finally fall
"Meant nothin' at all
"Meant nothin' at all
"It meant nothin'
"Sometimes I can't believe it
"I'm movin' past the feeling
"Sometimes I can't believe it
"I'm movin' past the feeling and into the night
"So can you understand?
"Why I want a daughter while I'm still young
"I wanna hold her hand
"And show her some beauty
"Before this damage is done"

-- Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

Posted on: December 15, 2010 1:11 pm
 

Love Letters: The Crazy Winter $$ edition

OK, here's the mail call from this week's monster Phillies/Cliff Lee deal -- followed by some reaction from the winter meetings and Adrian Gonzalez/Boston -- but I'm warning you New Yorkers:

I don't give a crap if Lee's annual salary in Philly will be more than it would have been with the Yankees. Plain and simple, he left nearly $30 million of guaranteed money on the table. There is no disputing that. So don't tell me that he really didn't sign with Philly for less money. Because he did. Period.

FROM: Jim
Re.: In the end, Lee chooses (Brotherly) love over money

Your sense of reality is as delusional as these baseball players. You make it seem like he is making such a big sacrifice. You have no idea what goes on in the real world, and articles like this are sickening to the middle class and upper-middle class people of this country. Gee Scott, Cliff made such a sacrifice. My heart bleeds for him. Write something with substance. Your article was ridiculous.

I have no idea what goes on with the middle-class people in the real world? Really? Let's see ... drove my daughter's car pool to school for the third day this week today. Driving car pool to schlep her and two of her friends to volleyball practice after school later today. Hauled the trash and recyclables out to the curb this morning for trash day. Helped nurse my wife following her hip replacement surgery for the past five weeks after returning home from covering the World Series (imagine, we don't have full-time, in-home staff). Signed off on my daughter inviting seven friends over Saturday for a Christmas cookie-making party. So what is all of this, the upper class? The poverty class? Sounds suspiciously like middle class to me.

FROM: Dave S.

It is heartwarming to see a pitcher follow his heart and go to a league that allows him to be a complete player rather than being pressured by the Players Union into taking the money from the highest bidder ... aka CC Sabathia.

Like at the end of the Grinch, when the old Grinch finally understands the meaning of Christmas.

FROM: Barry R.

I love your work. However, when will sports writers get this salary thing right? He is being paid more per year by the Phillies than the Yankees or Rangers offers. He gets to say that. If he works seven years, he'll make more than the Yanks and Rangers offers if he take a huge paycut in years six (which won't happen with the option) and seven. He's making more per year, and likely more overall than the other offers. He gets his cake and eats it too.

Thanks, and I love that you take the time to write. But Lee will turn 33 next season. He will be 38 when his first five years with the Phillies is up. Odds are overwhelming that he will not see year seven in this deal. And odds are whelming that year six might not ever appear given health issues.

FROM: Mike
Re.: Blockbuster deals make BoSox winners of winter meetings

The Red Sox right now look more blockbuster than Blockbuster. You are correct since Blockbuster is in bankruptcy.

Don't worry, no way a judge allows the Red Sox in bankruptcy court. Daisuke Matsuzaka works too slowly even for the courtroom. He'd slow the proceedings down so much, even a discussion of tax law would be a thrilling upgrade.

FROM: Tom B.

Like most media, you say Boston made out great. All they did was replace hitters of equal value. If I recall, they lost Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre. OPS for these hitters was about the same as Gonzalez and Crawford. So Boston stayed even so far. The biggest edge Boston has is that Pedroia, Youlkilis and Ellsbury will be back. They added a lot of payroll and gave away some excellent prospects for Gonzalez. Conventional wisdom has it that Gonzalez will struggle, lose .050 on OPS due to changing leagues. The ballpark will help both a bit. From the standpoint of improving from where they started the winter meetings I could agree, Boston did the most. But compared to the Yankees -- and I am not a fan of the Yankees -- I say they are the poorest run organization in baseball and have been for years. All they did was get back to where they were. Thanks for listening and keep your column going. I do like it.

Very well-reasoned points, sir, and as they say, that's why they play the actual games. Right now, we're grading paperwork, essentially. When the schedule starts in late March, maybe you'll be proven right. But I think you're under-valuing Adrian Gonzalez. He's going from one extreme to the other -- from Petco Park, which severely works against hitters, to Fenway, which works for them. And his style of hitting is so conducive to Fenway -- all those opposite field shots that will bang off of the Green Monster. We'll see. And as far as Boston being a poorly run organization -- the Sox do have two World Series titles since 2004, which is one more than the Yankees and two more than they've had for decades.

FROM: Grant MacDonald

I love your sense of humor and presentation of facts. Boston has indeed walked away the winter winner. I am sorry my Blue Jays can't compete since the early 90's. It's a shame to see the greed affect the game. For teams who can't compete, fan base will dwindle and the team may have to move on. This is just sad!

I know. In some of these cities, last one out, turn out the lights.

FROM: Steve H.

To the San Diego Padres:

Thank you so much for the early Christmas present. We have all gotten so much more competitive overnight [without any of us having to do anything!].

Sincerely,
The Dodgers, Giants, Rockies and D’backs.

Next thing you know, these four will be sending a joint Christmas card.

FROM: Chris O.

The Gonzalez to the Red Sox trade is another reason why MLB is losing its popularity in the past 20 years, and the ratings show it. EVERY time there was an NFL regular season game against an MLB playoff game, the NFL game got higher ratings. Even Two and Half Men and Modern Family beat out Games 4 and 5 of the World Series!

I have so many friends who don't care about baseball anymore simply because the Yanks and Sox hoard the free agents every offseason from the small-market teams. ... The NFL has a salary cap, salary floor, and parity has brought its best ratings in over 20 years because every team has a chance, and you never see a small market teams like Indy losing Peyton Manning to the NY Jets or Giants to Free Agency. If I were a Padres fan, I would not even care about the team anymore, because if you can't afford your best player, what is the point of rooting for them?

I am saying this as a Phillies fan, because they have become the Yanks/Sox of the NL and they just go out and get guys like Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt from small-market teams to improve their team. Hopefully things change, because MLB is slowly becoming a regional sport for fans.

It is very difficult to argue with your points, Chris. And your last sentence is ringing more and more true with each postseason rating dive.

FROM: Justin H.
Re.: The era's best GM, Gillick a master of the decades

Sure he built winners, but I think a lot of people overlook the fact that when he leaves a team, they collapse because the team got old and Pat Gillick had gutted the farm system to build the major league club by trading prospects and giving up draft picks for signing free agents.

This happened with the Blue Jays, it happened with the Mariners, and it will certainly happen to the Phillies as their veterans age and I think you saw the first signs of that last year. Think about the Jays first, who was drafted or acquired to replace Joe Carter or Roberto Alomar, David Cone or Jack Morris? Then look at the Mariners, who was there to replace Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Dan Wilson, Joey Cora, John Olerud, Jay Buhner, and Jamie Moyer? Now look at the Phillies, who is going to replace Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, and you could already see the effect of losing Brett Myers to some extent last year. You could say the Phillies are exactly like the Mariners were when they were winning but they are aging now and they don't have any youth sitting on that bench learning and they have traded away the farm to acquire players like Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, and now have lost Jayson Werth, which will hurt them more than anybody realizes at the moment. Utley is hurt all the time now and Ryan Howard appears to be losing some bat speed and is prone to slumps and high strikeout streaks.

I think Gillick was great at taking teams with deep farms systems and decent major league clubs and using that to his advantage. You'd have to ask those fan bases if the winning for 4 years was worth the future. I'm sure in the Blue Jays and Phillies cases it is but in the Mariners case they did not win a World Series and are now in such a deep hole the end isn't in sight so I'd say it wasn't worth it for them. I personally think Pete Gillick is highly overrated.

You've hit on the knock on Gillick, that teams swirl down the drain after he leaves. But it's sort of like the "It's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all" thing, isn't it? Gillick helped give four cities -- Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle and Philadelphia -- some of their most exciting baseball in decades. Wouldn't you take that, however you can get it, if you're in those cities? And the flip side of that argument is, if Gillick wasn't the GM, there is every chance those cities never would have won during that time anyway.

FROM: Dbarv
Re.: Yanks, cut drama and give Jeter fair offer for an icon

IMO, Jeter is worth about 8 bucks an hour.

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

 

Posted on: December 8, 2010 8:53 pm
 

Angels hold steady as Crawford favorites

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Whether it was a misdirection ploy by the Angels or an agent taking a liberty or two to help jack up the market, put those Cliff Lee/Angels rumors on the back burner.

The Angels, multiple sources said on Wednesday, are continuing to plunge into these winter meetings with speedy outfielder Carl Crawford as their clear No. 1 priority.

And just for good measure, attempting to make sure they fix a declining offense somehow, they met with the agent for third baseman Adrian Beltre on Wednesday.

Yes, they did reach out to Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, on Tuesday and are keeping in touch. But a source with knowledge of those talks called them "benign." No, he said, Crawford remains the top target.

Many in the industry -- as well as sources close to the outfielder -- are handicapping the Angels as the clear favorites to land Crawford, though Jayson Werth's seven-year, $126 million deal with Washington may slow things down until (if?) the Yankees, Red Sox or another big market team enters the bidding.

And here's where things get murky, much murkier than the Lee talks. With Crawford, it's much more of a moving parts-type of market.

The Yankees are expected to veer toward Crawford if they fail to sign Lee. Some industry sources believe they may take a run at both Lee and Crawford though, even for the Yankees, that seems awfully pricey. General manager Brian Cashman had dinner with Crawford and his representatives here on Tuesday night.

The Red Sox were believed to want either Werth or Crawford initially, but having acquired Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego and with parameters surely in place for a monster extension there, it's difficult to see the Red Sox signing up for two contracts of at least seven years in length in one winter.

The Tigers need a left-fielder, have money to spend and showed initial interest in Crawford but seem to have disappeared in these talks in recent days.

One wild-card who recently met with Crawford's representatives, according to sources, is the Rangers. While they're clearly focused on Lee, Crawford could represent a stunning backup plan if Lee signs with the Yankees. The Rangers also could be the Angels' worst nightmare: If they do lose Lee and go strong after the Houston native, that might be too tempting for Crawford to ignore.

People close to Crawford, a Houston native, say he loves the West Coast and would be happy in Anaheim.

Certainly, this is setting up with the Angels as the clubhouse favorites, so to speak.

But it's also clear that the road could curve ahead.

Posted on: December 8, 2010 12:28 am
 

The Yanks, Rangers, Nats, Angels and Cliff Lee

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Late into the night Tuesday, with the Angels having become the latest team to make a move toward the top starter on the free agent market, there were more Cliff Lee rumors than ornaments on the giant Christmas tree in the lobby of the Dolphin hotel here.

With no end game yet in sight -- executives with multiple teams believe that this thing will drag out beyond the winter meetings and into next week -- four clubs appear to be serious players for the left-hander at the moment (and by Wednesday, that number could be adjusted up or down):

Yankees: Still viewed as the favorites because they intend to put on the full-court press, they've got the deepest pockets and they generally get what they want. Various reports Tuesday insisted that the Yankees would not go beyond a six-year offer for Lee and other clubs might go seven years. But it's instructive to remember that, two winters ago, CC Sabathia clearly wanted to play on the West Coast ... until New York general manager Brian Cashman's stealth, overnight flight to visit Sabathia at his Bay Area home sealed the deal.

In New York, Lee would have a chance to win every year, be reunited with his friend and former Cleveland teammate Sabathia and make a boatload of money -- likely $20 million a year or more. Cashman was scheduled to meet with Darek Braunecker, Lee's agent, again late Tuesday night.

Rangers: Still badly want Lee and are making it their No. 1 goal. Still feel they have an inside track because they got a three-month head start on him when they acquired Lee last summer, the pairing worked well, the geography works (they're close to Lee's Arkansas home), Lee pitched in a World Series and the Rangers are set up to win for the next several years.

"I'd like to think that the longer the process goes, the less news you hear about it, the more encouraged I am," Rangers president Nolan Ryan told colleague Danny Knobler on Tuesday afternoon. "There's not any earthshaking news that has come out that concerns me. We don't have anything definitive by any means, but I think they have targeted one or two places, and I think they have a feel of where it's going."

The Rangers already have met twice with Braunecker.

Nationals: Still the darkhorse, though they have grabbed their share of attention with the wild seven-year, $126 million contract bestowed upon Jayson Werth. Lee wants to play with a winner, and while the Nationals' money will be just as authentic as anybody else's, their wins total may not be for a few years.

One industry source said Tuesday that he thinks Werth is one wild-card in the Nationals' pursuit of Lee: The two played together on the 2009 Phillies team that advanced to the World Series before losing to the Yankees, and the two were said to have developed a pretty good friendship.

Angels: The late entrant, the Angels were said to have made contact with Braunecker on Tuesday and indicated their intention to stay in touch. While an Angels official stopped short of confirming that late Tuesday night, he did say, "We talk with everybody."

If their pursuit of Lee is serious, the Angels are in the midst of a misdirection play because manager Mike Scioscia repeatedly told reporters during a briefing Tuesday that improving an impotent offense is the club's top priority. Within that, the Angels have visited with free agent outfielder Carl Crawford, long said to be the club's top target this winter.

A move toward Lee would be fascinating in that the Angels, who were toppled from their AL West throne by Texas last year, could spirit him away from their biggest division rival -- Texas -- and from one of their long-running October rivals -- the Yankees.

However, their history of bidding against the Yankees is an open wound: New York out-bid them on both Sabathia and Mark Teixeira in recent winters, leaving them scrambling toward their backup plans. And, Anaheim might start with an "A" like Arkansas, but it is thousands of miles from Cliff and Kristen Lee's beloved native state.

However, by bidding on Lee, the Angels could accomplish one of two things: They could either win him in a surprise bid and block Texas from getting him ... or they could at least drive the price up to hurt the Rangers and the Yankees.

Earlier Tuesday, Scioscia said, "We need to add offensive depth. It might not be one impact guy, but it definitely needs to be guys that have an idea of what to do in the batter's box."

But he also talked about Lee.

"A pitcher of Lee's caliber makes you better," Scioscia said. "There is no doubt about that. Whether he's a fit for us or not depends on more than just the talent aspect. Obviously, a free agent, it's complicated. He's obviously commanding a lot of attention.

"But he's certainly a guy that a number of teams would look at and know that they can make you substantially better in that area."

One other thing to remember: In their recent past, the Angels have always gone for pitching: They took a hard run at Sabathia when he was a free agent. They made a serious effort to acquire Jake Peavy from San Diego a couple of years ago. They were in on the Lee and Roy Halladay trade talks before each was shipped elsewhere in the past couple of seasons. And they signed Bartolo Colon as a free agent before the 2004 season.

Stay tuned.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com