Powered by Time magazine’s Best Websites of 2008 (cause you know … we don’t spend enough time surfing the web …), here’s the news:
- MLB.com reports that A.J. Burnett credits Roy Halladay for helping him develop a more efficient training/throwing program:
… one that permits him to conserve energy over the long haul by cutting down on the amount of mandatory work between starts.
“Roy pounded it in my head that I don’t have to throw 98 [mph] every day, that I don’t have to go full tilt to win ballgames and be successful,” Burnett said.
“I always just showed off what I had when I felt good, and it got me in trouble. Now I know when to throw and not to throw. Some days I might not touch a ball; it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong. You just don’t need to do it all the time.”…
Burnett said that he has learned how to budget his body so it is ready to go at all times, instead of displaying the youthful exhibitionism of ripping off throws just because his arm felt good.
“We’re hopeful that that’s the guy who has emerged and grown, and learned to harness his ability,” Cashman said. “He’s a bona fide front-line starter when he’s healthy. I know there’s risk attached to it, based on the past history. We’re hopeful that luck will be on our side.”
(My take: $82.5 million of hope and luck. Whatever happened to investing in “sure things”? Then again … the “sure thing” aisle was pretty barren at the “Free Agent Supermarket” this year. Derek Lowe? Steady … dependable … but he’s priced himself a bit too high perhaps (rumored to be asking $66M over four years) … and how many groundballs could we stand to see dribbling past Cano and Jeter. Randy Wolf? Talk about barely above league average! A career WHIP of 1.347 and an ERA+ of 101.)
- Mark Teixeira may still yet be a Bostonian, write Peter Gammons and Buster Olney over at ESPN.com.
Red Sox executives flew to Texas on Thursday believing they were close enough in negotiations to complete a deal with Mark Teixeira. But after they arrived, they were informed that their offer to Teixeira — something in the range of $165 million to $170 million — was short by upwards of $20 million.
With that, the Red Sox stepped away from the negotiating table.
Executives involved in the Teixeira negotiations, however, noted that Red Sox owner John Henry, based on the statement he issued to The Associated Press late Thursday night, did not unequivocally end talks about the first baseman. And executives from other interested teams fully expect the Red Sox to re-engage Scott Boras, the agent for Teixeira.
“It’s a poker game,” said a high-ranking official for one of the teams involved in the talks. “Unless Teixeira is ready to make a deal now, he’ll be talking to Boston again.”
- Over at BP.com, Joe Sheehan likes Mark Teixeira as a complete player, and as a Yankee:
Teixeira is the first-base equivalent of Carlos Beltran, a complete player who hits and fields, is available with a number of years left at his peak, and can be expected to decline gradually when the time comes. The trades that split Teixeira’s last two seasons may have cost him two Gold Glove Awards, and having that hardware would help reinforce that Teixeira is a two-way player worth a win or two per year on defense alone.
It’s that defensive value that has had me writing that Teixeira should be the Yankees‘ top priority this season. With his bat and glove, he would be the perfect replacement for Jason Giambi; few teams have suffered such poor defense at first base. Moreover, Teixeira’s anticipated $22-24 million salary would effectively replace Giambi, giving the team an upgrade at minimal added payroll.
(My take: I don’t think its mere coincidence that Sheehan invokes Beltran’s name here, as the Yankees could have (should have?) solved their CF problems a few years ago by signing the five-tool All Star, and instead comparatively overpaid for Johnny Damon. Well, here’s a chance to make partial amends.)
- Brian Cashman says he’s still interested in wanting Andy Pettitte back, while Hal Steinbrenner admires Manny Ramirez (MLB.com):
“Andy’s a free agent, and the one thing I’ve been consistent in saying is that we’d like to have Andy back,” Cashman said. “I know he’d like to come back. That’s set up for maybe a positive end result. It doesn’t guarantee it.”
“I know he’d like to be here, and I know we’d like to have him here,” Cashman said. “Sometimes things take longer. It doesn’t mean they’re going to happen. He’s been a tremendous Yankee and I’ve got all the respect in the world for him.”
… Hal Steinbrenner would not rule out the possibility of adding Manny Ramirez to the club’s lineup before Spring Training begins.
“We just have to see about the amount we want to spend,” Steinbrenner said. “No doubt he’s a great, great ballplayer. He’s one of the most dangerous offensive players in the game.”
- Does ‘CC’ stand for ‘cha-ching!”?: ESPN.com reports that the AP has found out that Sabathia will make $9.5 million dollars before even throwing a regular season pitch:
His $161 million, seven-year contract includes a $9 million signing bonus … By the time the Yankees open at Baltimore on April 6, he already will have received $6 million of that bonus plus $3.5 million of next year’s salary.
• The signing bonus is payable in three equal installments by Dec. 31 and by March 1 and July 31 next year.
• He will get a $14 million salary in 2009 and $23 million in each of the final six seasons of the deal …
• While most players are paid semimonthly during the six months of the regular season, Sabathia’s salary will be paid in semimonthly installments over all 12 months of the year. That means he will have received six payments of $583,333 before the opener.
Even Sabathia admitted this week that “with the economy being the way it is … the huge amount of money, it was, you know, pretty crazy.”
“But that’s our game, I guess,” he said.
(My take: Is there a tax lawyer amongst our Banterers? Is he better off getting paid in all 12 months, rather than the normal 6? Oh, and in terms of crazy money, Greg Maddux, arguably the best pitcher of this generation (and he hit the Majors only 22 years ago), made roughly $7 million less in his entire career than Sabathia will within his new contract. If I read somewhere that Sabathia gets MVP or Cy Young bonuses, I may barf.)
- You don’t have to worry about Sabathia and/or Burnett coming up lame in next year’s WBC, cause neither of them are going, as per Tyler Kepner of the Times. In a separate article, Kepner gives us details on what will happen to those uniform tops the guys tried on at the press conference.
- Derek Jeter’s speech to the fans after the final out at the last game at the Stadium was voted the “Moment of the Year” by the fans in the “This Year in Baseball Awards” (MLB.com).
- Toyota and Audi have stepped into the Yankees’ auto sponsorship void left by the departure of General Motors, notes BizofBaseball.com.
- MLB.com notes that George Steinbrenner has a nice remembrance of the late Bobby Murcer as part of the Sporting News’ 2008 year-end issue:
“When I think about Bobby, his image comes up with the other great ones, the giants of baseball,” Steinbrenner wrote in the issue, which hits newsstands Friday. “I’ve had lots of wonderful players over the years. I’d say Bobby Murcer was right up there in the top tier. He was definitely one of my superstars.”
“Some players don’t react well to the pressure of being a Yankee,” Steinbrenner wrote. “The intense media coverage, the enormous reaction from the stands, on the streets, even in restaurants. Bobby never let it get to him.”
(My take: damn that lump in my throat again …)
- Dock Ellis, a 17-game winner on the Yanks’ 1976 AL pennant-winning team, died Friday from a liver ailment. He was 63. Here is a famous quote supposedly attributed to him:
“Every time we make trouble, ol’ George flies out here from another part of the country and gets in our way. Maybe we should make a lot of trouble, so he’ll keep flying out here. Sooner or later, his plane’s gonna crash.”
(Note: That quote was supposedly from Spring Training in 1978, but Ellis had been traded very early during the 1977 season (he appeared in but three games), so its possible that the quote was from ’77, and along with a protracted contract negotiation, precipitated his hasty departure.)
- ESPN reports on the sad turn of events in Ellis’s life:
Ellis suffered from cirrhosis of the liver and was placed on a list to receive a liver transplant in May. The Los Angeles Times wrote that Ellis had no health insurance, but received help paying his medical bills from friends in baseball.
Bill Scaringe, an agent who represented Ellis after he retired, said Ellis worked for years in the California department of corrections helping inmates transition from prison back to the community. He also ran a drug counseling center in Los Angeles.
(My take: The juxtaposition of reading about Scott Boras trying to get a client a $185 million contract against reading of a 1970s-era player with no health insurance saddens me to no end. What are the owners doing to take care of these former players from bygone eras (before pension plans)? What are today’s players doing? That’s where the work of the BAT (Baseball Assistance Team) comes in. Do you happen to know the last Chairman of the BAT …. it was Bobby Murcer.)
- Happy 59th birthday to the one and only Oscar Gamble. Besides his won’t-stay-under-the-helmet afro, Yankee fans should remember that he was a two-tour Bomber. The first time he was traded (to the ChiSox just prior to the ’77 season), the Yanks got a certain Russell Earl (Bucky) Dent in return. The second time he was traded from the Yanks (August ’82), they netted a former Met pin-up boy, Lee Mazzilli.
- On this date in 1921, the Yankees take the Red Sox to the cleaners again, coming away with P Bullet Joe Bush, SS Everett Scott, and P Sad Sam Jones in exchange for SS Roger Peckinpaugh (who goes on to Washington), pitchers Jack Quinn, Rip Collins, and Bill Piercy, and $50,000.
- On this date in 2007, pitcher Tommy Byrne passed away at the age of 87. Byrne was a member of two Yankee World Championship teams (’49 and ’56). His ’49 season was memorable in that he went 15-7 with a 3.72 ERA, despite walking 179 in 196 innings. He only allowed 125 hits in those innings (5.74 per 9 innings), but surprisingly, was not a “power” pitcher (he K’ed only 129 that year).
I’ll be back on Monday …. have a great weekend!