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Monthly Archives: December 2007

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Done…but no Details

It’s official. The Yankees announced this morning that they have signed Alex Rodriguez to a ten year contract. No specifics are available at this time. Word of the deal was first heard hours after the Barry Bonds fiasco went down, and now this, just hours before the release of the Mitchell Report. Man, the Yanks do move in mysterious ways sometimes. Then again, perhaps they anticipate having to deal with some unpleasentness later and want to have something encouraging to lean on.

It’s now snowing in earnest in New York City. The leaks are starting to leak…Bombs to be dropped shortly.


Pete Abe has audio from Alex Rodiguez.

Another Update:

I have seen a list of the names from the Mitchell report from three different people (it’s the same one that is listed in the comments section below). It could be complete baloney. We shall shortly see. But it’s close to the one that Will Leitch just posted at Deadspin.

Again, an Update:

Over at SI.com, Jon Heyman reports that Clemens, Pettitte, Mike Stanton, Chuck Knoblauch, Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts are named in the Mitchell Report. Also, heard from a reliable source that Albert Pujols is not in the report.

Snow Job?

But first…

There is a possibility that Andy Pettitte could pitch for the Yankees in 2009. According to Anthony McCarron in the Daily News:

“That was another reason why it was an extremely, extremely tough decision for me to make,” Pettitte said on a conference call yesterday, his one-year, $16 million deal with the Yankees finalized. “I realize the new park is coming in. I felt like if I made a decision to play this year, it could draw me back for another year.

“It’s definitely in the back of my head. I can say if we get through this year physically fine and my wife and kids thought it would be fine and if the Yankees wanted me back, I can’t say I’d rule it out that I wouldn’t come back and play one more year in the new park.”

Moreover, as Pete Abraham reported on his blog yesterday, Pettitte weighed in on the Johan Santana hub-bub:

“There’s been a lot of speculation that we need a true power arm, an ace,” Pettitte said. “I disagree with that. I think Wang is an absolute stud and he is an ace. I understand he struggled in the postseason this year. That’s going to happen. I’ve struggled like he has and the next year pitched extremely well in the postseason. I’m so high on Wang.

“If you add one of those guys (Santana or Haren), great. They have great arms and are unbelievable pitchers. But to say we need it, that’s hard for me to say. I think we have the talent to contend. Obviously, Boston is extremely tough, they’ve shown themselves to be the team to beat. They’re champs and there are other teams, too. But I think we’ve got the talent to win another championship.”

Elsewhere, with the Giants annoucning an Aaron Rowand deal yesterday, it doesn’t look as if Godziller Matsui is going anywhere…at least, yet.

What’s the Haps?

Like it or not, today will go down as a memorable one in with the Mitchell Report set to be released. Mitchell will give a press conference at 2 p.m. Bud Selig will have one a few hours later, and Don Fehr will hold his own even later still. Some people feel that this mess will rank with the Black Sox scandal. Others, including many sportswriters, are exhausted with the topic, and don’t particularly care. I don’t think this is as catastrophic as a strike, in terms of the public support of the game. I don’t think it will keep heads from going to the ballpark next year, do you?

But I wonder how many fans are waiting on pins and needles for 2 pm? And are people interested simply because it’s December and there isn’t much else to going on? I know that the press can’t contain themselves–it’s been remarkable that there have been no names leaked to this point. I have to admit I’m eager to hear who is named, but it’s in the same guilty-pleasure way that I’d be eager to look at an accident or a clip of Brittany Spears drunk coming out of a club on You Tube. In office buildings across the country, people will gather to hear the news, just like they did with the OJ verdict years ago.

It’s not to say that I’ll feel satisfied that justice was done when the names are released. There will be lots of questions to be answered about how the report was conducted, if it’s legit, or if it is just a dog-and-pony show.

With the first snow storm of the year due to begin later this morning in New York, one thing is for sure: There will certainly be plenty of hot air to keep us all warm for the next couple of days.

Yankee Panky #35: What’s Next?

Christmas is approaching, and the Yankees have yet to buy fans their big offseason present. Because they haven’t cannonballed into the deep end and splashed everyone at the pool party, media types are circling like starving wolverines, bandying theories about why the Yankees will or won’t be successful in 2008.

The Detroit Tigers were the news, with their acquisition of Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Thanks to Steve Phillips and fellow Ithaca College alum Karl Ravech, I know the AL pennant will return to Motown in ‘08. Do the Tigers have a great lineup and a solid top three starting rotation? Sure. Does any of that guarantee even a wild-card? Ask the Pittsburgh Steelers how their guarantee worked out last week.

The Tigers included a top-flight prospect in Andrew Miller to get Cabrera and Willis. They were willing to mortgage some of their future to get two bona fide All-Stars. The Yankees weren’t willing to do the same, and they’re left Sans-tana. Depending on what you read and who you believe, the Yankees’ firm stance of conservatism is the correct approach. Newsday’s Wally Matthews goes so far as to say it’s making them likeable. Do Yankee fans want the team to be likeable outside the bounds of New York and Boston?  

Maybe the key to that is Joba Chamberlain, ESPN Magazine’s newest cover boy and the winner of ESPN.com’s fan poll of the young star will have the greatest impact on the 2008 sporting landscape. With triple-digit power on his fast ball and a slider that dances like a wiffleball in a 20 mile-per-hour gust, it’s not a stretch. Maybe people just like his name. Look at all the fun we had with it in this space when he burst onto the scene in August.

I still maintain the young Cornhusker could make a bigger impact by remaining a devastating set-up man for Rivera and eventually inheriting that role. But the LaTroy Hawkins signing all but assures the Joba Plan involves pitching every fourth day. That is, unless Brian Cashman does a 180 on his public support of Kyle Farnsworth and deals the reliever. This is the same man who was 100 percent positive Bubba Crosby was the Yankees’ 2006 starting center fielder, until he signed Johnny Damon for that job six weeks before spring training.

* * *

Elsewhere, the Winter Meetings coverage was bland. I’ll admit, I lost interest myself when the Yankees announced they were withdrawing their entry in the Santana Sweepstakes.

The lefty’s situation is reminiscent of Alex Rodriguez’s four years ago, between the posturing, the interested teams involved, and the hype surrounding his next destination. Would anyone else be shocked if the Yankees, after months of lying in the weeds, landed him in a blockbuster deal right before Spring Training, as they did with A-Rod?

Until that happens, the faux deadlines of Hank Steinbrenner and “doors are still open for Santana” stories will dominate coverage. And since it wouldn’t be a Yankees offseason without trade rumors, stories like the ones that surfaced regarding Hideki Matsui will continue. It’s the cycle of the Yankees Hot Stove, which right now, is on low heat.

Next week … Mitchell Report fallout, and a friendly game of Where In the World Is Johan Santana?

And the Winner is…Doh!

George King has a story today about Hideki Matsui. Still no clear word on whether the Yanks will trade him or if he’ll waive his no-trade clause. Murray Chass has a piece on Bobby Meacham, a player who is memorable for all the wrong reasons for Yankee fans.

Not much else going on in the world of the Yankees at this moment, so allow me to digress. I just finished a story for Variety on how genre movies have fared in the Best Picture department over the years (not well). Here’s something to chew on–what are the best movies that were nominated for Best Picture but did not win? Here’s my list of the Top Twenty. Oh, and I’m a sucker, I didn’t have stones to make a Top Ten…Also, you can choose a movie even if you think it wasn’t the best movie of that particular year. For instance, I have “Chinatown” on my list even though I wouldn’t have given it the top prize over “The Godfather II.”

The Front Page
Grand Illusion
The Thin Man
The Maltese Falcon
Citizen Kane
Great Expectations
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Sunset Blvd
12 Angry Men
Bonnie and Clyde
The Last Picture Show
Dog Day Afternoon
Taxi Driver
The Right Stuff
Dangerous Liasons

Honorable Mention: Raging Bull, The Philadelphia Story, E.T., Hope and Glory, Breaking Away, Prizzi’s Honor, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

And hey, while we are at it, how about the Top Ten Worst Movies to Win Best Picture? (There are so many, I know…)

The Greatest Show on Earth
Mrs. Miniver
The Sound of Music
Chariots of Fire
Ordinary People
Million Dollar Baby
Dances with Wolves
Forrest Gump

Whatta ya got?

I Put a Spell on You

I could hear the groans across the tri-state and beyond when I read this.

Sunday Tidbits

The New York Post says that Carl Pavano will accept an assingment to the minors, and that Dan Haren is on the Yankees’ radar. In the News, Anthony McCarron, has the latest on Godzilla Matsui. Oh, and Steve Lombardi has the scoop on the latest Yankee gear.

By the way, it was no surprise that Marvin Miller was not elected to the Hall of Fame last week. But it was pathetic. And it’s been nice to read all of the support Miller has received ever since the snub was announced.

Observations From Cooperstown–A Mixed Bag

The lifeless winter meetings came to an end, the Veterans Committee weighed in, and the city of Cincinnati lost an icon. Here’s a view on those three topics from cold and snowy Cooperstown.

Now that the pursuits of Johan Santana and Dan Haren seem to have concluded, it’s time for the Yankees to concentrate their efforts on other postseason goals. (By the way, the winter meetings have become such a dud that baseball needs to bring back a trading deadline for the final day of the meetings; that way, someone will feel compelled to make a deal.) Principally, the Yankees need to fortify their bullpen, bolster their right-handed hitting, and possibly consider acquiring an innings-eating veteran for the back of the rotation.

Toward that first goal, I love the Yankees’ acquisition of Jonathan "Don’t Call Me Jessica" Albaladejo from the Nationals. In picking up Albaladejo for Tyler Clippard, who needs another pitch to succeed at the major league level, Brian Cashman pulled off a veritable steal. Albaladejo pitched lights out for the Nats during the final month of the season, overpowering hitters with a mid-90s fastball and surprisingly good control. There’s only one question about Albaladejo—his weight. Listed at 250 pounds (and he might weigh closer to 260), he needs to keep himself from enrolling in the Wilbur Wood Reform School for Eating. In the short term, Albaladejo could become the new Charlie Kerfeld. Let’s just hope he can avoid the boxes of Jell-0 and the arm problems that short-circuited Kerfeld’s career.

While they have a full cache of eligible right-handed relievers, the Yankees are badly lacking in bullpen southpaws. Ron Villone won’t be re-signed, Sean Henn is not the answer, and Kei Igawa looks like a long man at best. The Yankees have approached the Pirates about Damaso Marte (their first choice) or John Grabow (the backup plan). I could see the Yankees giving up a B-level prospect for the soon-to-be-33-year-old Marte, who struck out 51 batters in 45 innings last season. Last season, there was talk of the Yankees sending Kevin Thompson to the Pirates for Marte, but Thompson is now on the Pirates’ roster as a backup outfielder. So how about Chase Wright or Jeff Marquez for the veteran lefty?

In terms of right-handed hitting, I’ve heard very little talk about the Yankees pursuing another veteran bat. That would be a mistake, given how feeble the Yankees looked against quality left-handers last year. Even with Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada back in the fold, the Yankees could use a strong right-handed platoon player. Shelley Duncan might be the answer, but he struggled toward the tail end of 2007. Then there’s Mark Loretta, but he’s only valuable in terms of on-base percentage, with no power whatsoever. How about Kevin Millar, who hit 17 home runs and drew 76 walks? If he’s willing to accept a role as a platoon first baseman-DH and emergency outfielder, he might be a suitable alternative.

Finally, there’s the issue of starting pitching. With Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy in the projected rotation, the Yankees can’t expect any of the young right-handers to log 200 innings. If you subtract one of the "Big Three" and replace him with Mike Mussina, you’re basically dealing with a six-inning pitcher. Here’s where a durable veteran could come in handy. On the free agent front, there’s Jon "Big Daddy" Lieber, who happens to be a close friend of Joe Girardi. And on the trade block, there’s talk of the Giants’ Noah Lowry (along with Jonathan Sanchez) coming over as part of a deal for Hideki Matsui. Though not a workhorse, Lowry has averaged 173 innings over the last three seasons. He’s also a left-hander, always a nice commodity at Yankee Stadium…

The Hall of Fame is taking a major public relations hit in the aftermath of Monday’s news that the Veterans Committee had elected Bowie Kuhn but somehow had bypassed Marvin Miller yet again. Like him or not (and I haven’t always cared for Miller’s arrogant personality), Miller registered a huge impact on baseball’s financial landscape throughout the 1970s and early eighties. Without Miller, arbitration and free agency would not have come into play as quickly as they did, and perhaps not at all. Today’s game is financially healthy, probably better than ever—and Miller deserves some indirect credit for that, too. Hall of Famer? How can you have a Hall of Fame without a pioneer of Miller’s stature? There’s no question that Miller should be chosen. But with only two former players on the committee (Monte Irvin and Harmon Killebrew), Miller’s fate was sealed before a formal vote even took place.

As for Kuhn, I have to confess that I liked him on a personal level. Having talked to him informally on several occasions and having interviewed him as part of a live program at the Hall of Fame, Kuhn struck me as personable, thoughtful, and well intended. It’s also an exaggeration to call him the worst Hall of Fame selection of all-time, not when you have players like Rick Ferrell and Ray Schalk and executives like Morgan Bulkeley and Tom Yawkey occupying places in Cooperstown. (Perhaps the election of Kuhn at the same time that Miller was rejected serves to underscore the situation, making the anti-Kuhn lobby that much more incensed.) Still, Kuhn suffered too many losses at the hands of Miller and mishandled too many other situations, such as his effort to censor Jim Bouton’s Ball Four and his failure to attend Hank Aaron’s record-breaking home run. In light of those shortcomings, I would not have voted for Kuhn.

In contrast, the other four selections by the two separate Veterans Committees were on the money. Barney Dreyfuss oversaw a number of successful Pirates teams in the early 1900s while also playing a large role in implementing the first World Series. Walter O’Malley, though still reviled in the borough of Brooklyn, was arguably the game’s most influential owner from the late 1950s through the late 1970s. Managers Billy Southworth and Dick Williams were both criminally underrated, Williams because of his prickly personality and Southworth because most of his success came during the World War II era. Each man won four pennants and two World Championships; given their overall winning percentages, those are Hall of Fame markers.

So with four out of five correct, along with two bad omissions in Miller and Doug Harvey, the Veterans Committee did some passable work, certainly an improvement over the blank ballots of recent years. The Hall of Fame now needs to balance the composition of the Veterans Committee, which is too heavily slanted toward management and against the union. Ultimately, the committee charged with the directive of electing executives should feature a balance between retired players, former or current executives, and members of the media. Four apiece from each category would be ideal. That way, Miller would have a fighting chance…

I met Joe Nuxhall, who died last month at the age of 79, just one time. It happened several years ago in spring training, which I used to attend as part of my duties at the Hall of Fame. On a sunny March morning, I sat down to interview Nuxhall and Marty Brennaman at the Reds’ spring site in Sarasota. Both men could not have been nicer, absolute gentlemen, both on and off camera. I talked with Brennaman about his love of the defunct ABA (American Basketball Association) and with Nuxhall about baseball in general. Based on our short conversation, I learned at least a little bit why Nuxhall was so beloved in Cincinnati.

Nationally, Nuxhall was best known for being the youngest major leaguer of the 20th century, pitching in a game in 1944 at the age of 15. Yet, there was much more to his story. We tend to forget that after Nuxhall struggled so badly in his wartime debut, he returned to high school and then continued a long baseball apprenticeship in the minor leagues before making it back to the Reds, seven years after his debut, in 1951. Nuxhall would last 16 seasons in the major leagues, establishing himself as a very good left-handed pitcher in the mid-1950s. A two-time All-Star, Nuxhall led the National League in shutouts in 1955. Except for brief stints with the Kansas City A’s and Los Angeles Angels, Nuxhall remained with Cincinnati through the 1966 season, when he retired with 135 wins and over 1,300 strikeouts. The following spring, he returned to the Reds as a broadcaster, continuing what would become a 63-year association with the franchise.

Given such longevity, along with his easy-going personality and generous nature, it’s not hard to see why Nuxhall became one of the city’s most cherished icons.


Bruce Markusen writes "Cooperstown Confidential" for MLB.com. He can be reached via e-mail at bmark@telenet.net.

Fo Fizzle Santizzle

So it doesn’t look like the Yankees are going to trade for Johan Santana after all. According to reports, the Red Sox are in “serious” talks with the Twins. It sure would be uncomfortable for us Yankee fans if Santana goes to Boston. I still think the Yanks should make a deal if they can, but it’s hard to complain too much if they don’t, because I’m also interested in seeing how Hughes pans out.

I have to say that I love the Marlins-Tigers deal at least for aethetic reasons. The Tigers home uniforms are easily top five in the game, and arguably, the coolest uniforms, period. I think it’s nifty that Cabrera, the best right-handed hitter not named Pujols, Ramirez, or Rodriguez, will be playing for a good team with a great uniform. And how about the D-Train in Motown? Dontrelle with that royal “D” on his chest? That should be fun. And they are playing for Jim Leyland? What’s not to like if you are a Tigers fan? Of course, the deal makes the American League that much tougher than it already is. Jeez, think about it–Granderson, Polanco, Magglio, Cabrera, Sheff, and Guillen. That’s ill.

Yanks Trade Pitching Prospect, Add Lefty, Santana.

What? No! Not that. Sorry.

Lefty = Andy Pettitte.

Santana = Nationals’ righty reliever Jonathan Santana Albaladejo.

Pitching Prospect = Tyler Clippard, who went to D.C. for Albaladejo.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, for all I know there could be some other news by the time you’re reading this but as of 2:30am EST, when I’m writing it, the big news is that the Yankees have added the first piece to their bullpen by trading faded pitching prospect Clippard to the Nationals for Albaladejo.

It’s a solid trade. The Yankees have a full rotation worth of pitching prospects who both ranked ahead of Clippard and had passed or were about to pass him on the organizational ladder, including Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, Allan Horne, and Jeffrey Marquez, not to mention 27-year-old Chien-Ming Wang, who’s a back-to-back 19-game winner. With Horne and Marquez due to start the 2008 season in Triple-A and the other three ticketed for the major league rotation, there’s simply no room for a B-grade starting pitching prospect such as Clippard in the upper levels of the organization.

That wasn’t the case a year ago, as Clippard was considered the runner-up to Phil Hughes in the Yankees’ pitching-prospect hierarchy. He fell behind in part because of the outstanding performances of Chamberlain, Kennedy, Horne, and Marquez, but also because of his own failings in 2007. Called up amid the flurry of debuting rookie starters the Yanks were forced to employ in the first half of the year, Clippard struggled in five of his six major league starts, and returned the minors without the pinpoint control that had fueled his prospect status to begin with. Clippard was actually bounced all the way down to Double-A and posted a 5.40 ERA there. Though he’s still just 22, that took a considerable amount of shine off his status.

Further reducing Clippard’s value to the team was the fact that his lack of a dominant out-pitch (he survives on a 90-mph fastball, some slop, and that ability to deceive hitters and locate his pitches) makes him a poor candidate for conversion to high-leverage relief. Thus, the Yankees flipped him for someone already excelling in that role, Nationals reliever Jonathan Albaladejo, who shot from Double-A to the majors last year, posting a 1.41 ERA in 38 1/3 innings between Triple-A Columbus and the majors.

A tall, 25-year-old, Puerto Rican righty, Albaladejo was drafted by the Pirates in 2001 and began his professional career as a starting pitcher in the Pittsburgh organization. He was converted to relief in 2005, finally cracked Double-A in 2006 (a season in which the presence of 3 games at Rookie league suggest an injury rehab, though I’ve been unable to find evidence of the actual injury), then signed with the Nationals as a six-year minor league free agent and promptly pitched his way not only to the majors, but to the New York Yankees.

Albaladejo throws in the mid-90s and appears to have tremendous control, having walked just 1.73 men per nine innings in his minor league career and just two men in his 14 1/3 major league frames. His strike out rate isn’t quite as impressive, but in combination with the walks it yields a 4.27 K/BB over more than 500 minor league innings, which is remarkable. Albaladejo has also allowed less than a hit an inning in his pro career and doesn’t seem to have much of an issue with home runs either (though he was somewhat protected by RFK Stadium last year).


Yankee Panky #34: The Winter Schmoozings

Representatives from all 30 teams are gathering in Nashville for this year’s Winter Meetings, and with a weak free agent class, there’s sure to be plenty of trade discussion.


Previewing storylines is always fun as the meetings get under way. The Yankees’ pursuit of Johan Santana will not only dominate the local coverage, it will be the hot-button issue from the mouths of Karl Ravech, Peter Gammons, Buster Olney, Tim Kurkjian, Ken Rosenthal, Jayson Stark and anyone else who claims to be an expert. The difficulty, as always, will be separating truth from rumor, as access to numerous sources provides an exponential increase for baseball gossip mongers.


I saw this first-hand when I covered the 2003 Meetings in New Orleans, a year when no Yankee representatives attended the extravaganza. (Had I had advance knowledge of this, I wouldn’t have gone. On the day I arrived, there was still talk that at least Brian Cashman would come, but he never did. It was like a journalistic version of “Waiting for Godot.”) The day before the meetings started, Andy Pettitte held his Houston Astros press conference and immediately rumors swirled regarding Roger Clemens’ fate. He came to New Orleans for an event, and reporters fled the Marriott to chase him down and initiate an impromptu press conference, but didn’t make his move until long after the meetings concluded.


How do the meetings work?


Reporters from thousands of outlets set up camp in the large conference/ballrooms at the designated hotel location. Team reps hole themselves up in their rooms and arrange meetings, phone calls, etc., away from the snoops. Reporters, if/when they stay in the conference room, are working the phones trying to get angles into what’s happening on the floors above. A lot of events happen on the fly. Cash might say to a reporter that he’s willing to talk to reporters at 3 p.m. He’ll tell one reporter and it’ll filter down to everyone else, and there will be an informal gathering at the designated time to briefly discuss what did or didn’t happen in his Johan Santana talks with the Twins.


The bulk of the action occurs in the lobby. That’s where you can scope the area and if you’re quick, catch a quick one-on-one interview and perhaps scrounge up some information that no one else has, and get it posted first. Many team reps will try to hide themselves within the throng of reporters, interns and prospective job applicants to discuss team business amid the chaos.


A fair amount of reporters interview each other, too. In some cases, writers from other markets are the “sources familiar with the situation.”   


One of the coolest and most educational elements of the Meetings is the manager conferences. Reporters get to speak with all 30 managers on an individual basis at times designated by MLB. Without having access to a Yankee rep, interviews with Bobby Cox and Jim Tracy enabled me to craft stories on Gary Sheffield, Kevin Brown and Paul Quantrill, who were entering their first seasons in New York.


The Meetings are also a key spot for college grads looking for jobs in baseball. Many will have interviews already set up before arriving, but those who don’t hang in the lobby and work the room.


More than anything, the Winter Meetings are a social gathering mixed with a business element. Four years ago, two major free agent signings were announced — Miguel Tejada to the Orioles and Keith Foulke to the Red Sox – the Yankees issued a press release finalizing the Kevin Brown acquisition for Jeff Weaver, Brandon Weeden and Yhency Brazoban, and it was an opportunity for new managers like Lee Mazzilli to introduce themselves to the writers in a different setting. Those announcements seemed to be a break in the three-day schmoozefest.


Perhaps this week, the Yankees will engineer a blockbuster trade that will make the schmoozing worthwhile.


What’s Left?

According to the Houston Chronicle, Andy Pettitte will return to the Yankees next year:

Andy Pettitte, who contemplated retirement this winter, has told his good friends, a few former Astros teammates and some current Yankees teammates that he will return to the Bronx for the 2008 season.

Through people close to Pettitte, the Chronicle has learned that the veteran lefthander has told family members and teammates that he has decided to return to the Yankees in 2008.

…That wait is over, and the Yankees have been informed of the decision by Pettitte’s agent, Randy Hendricks.

When reached by telephone this morning, Hendricks, who was in route to Nashville for the start of baseball’s winter meetings today, confirmed that he has advised the Yankees that Pettitte will play for them in 2008.

Whoa. If this is true, it’s a very good thing. As for Johan Santana, it’s been a busy weekend of rumors. First, the Yankees officially included Phil Hughes in an offer, then the Red Sox countered. Now, Hank Steinbrenner wants to get something done quickly (re: today), otherwise, the Yankees are prepared to move on.

“This is not a bluff; it’s just reality,” the senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner said in a telephone interview Sunday night. “It’s a fact. The Yankees will not be used to jack up the price on people — whether by agents or other teams — ever again. That’s over.”

…”I don’t want to continue this dog-and-pony show, playing us against the Red Sox,” Steinbrenner said. “I’m not going to participate in that. This is our best offer. Minnesota knows it’s our best offer. Everybody knows it is.

“We need to get this done. If we don’t, I certainly won’t be upset about keeping Hughes and Cabrera. I definitely won’t. I don’t think Minnesota wants to be stuck negotiating with just one team.”
(Kepner, N.Y. Times)

First day of the Winter Meetings. Be sure and hit up Pete Abe’s blog for all the latest.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver