Let’s get right to it:
- The Post’s George King details Jays’ GM J.P. Ricciardi concerns over the marriage of Burnett and the Yanks:
“The big question is how he handles New York,” the Blue Jays’ GM said of the Little Rock native. “No one knows for sure. That’s the big test; how he handles that.”
“The first two years here (2006-07), he was a little nicked up,” Ricciardi said. “I think he was more scared than hurt. When he was healthy and right he was fine.”
“I saw a big change this past season compared to the first year,” Ricciardi said. “The first year he was trying to justify the contract (five years for $55 million). Last year it was like, ‘I have nothing to lose; it was either (Toronto) or opt out.’ He let it go.”
- BP.com’s John Perrotto has some concerns for Sabathia in a Yankee uni:
While he is one of the best pitchers in the game, there certainly are reasons to think that he may not be cut out to pitch in New York. Sabathia has usually been awful during the postseason on baseball’s biggest stage, posting a 7.92 ERA in five starts and 25 innings. That’s not a significant sample size, but Sabathia has admitted to putting too much pressure on himself in October. His lone quality start came as a 21-year-old rookie with the Indians in the 2001 American League Division Series, when he allowed two runs in six innings to beat the 116-win Mariners. Sabathia had quality starts in 15 of his 17 outings for the Brewers last season after being acquired from the Indians in a July trade, but gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings in losing to the Phillies in Game Two of the NLDS.
(Indians manager Eric) Wedge insists that Sabathia will be fine pitching in New York. “I think he’s going to be more than fine,” Wedge said. “Nobody puts more pressure on CC than CC. I know some people scoff at that because New York is different, but because of everything CC has been through, and because of the adjustments he’s made—mentally, physically, fundamentally, and just the leadership ability he has, the strength he has as a human being, just what he takes care of both on and off the field—he’s going to be fine. He has perspective. He has a tremendous belief system in himself and the process. …”
- Kevin Kernan of the Post insists that the Yanks must go after Teixeira:
The Yankees have their opening. Face it, they are not going to commit nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to two pitchers and not try to upgrade their offense. Remember, this is a team that had trouble scoring runs last year….
Adding Teixeira would help in so many ways. His on-base percentage was .410. Alex Rodriguez led the Yankees with a .392 mark. Teixeira hit 33 home runs. His presence in the lineup would make A-Rod that much more valuable. This is no different than having David Ortiz and Ramirez. Ortiz has not been the same without Manny.
[My take: While I agree that Tex would do wonders for the Yanks lineup, I wouldn’t say “Ortiz has not been the same without Manny”. First of all, its a small sample size alert. Youkilis and Pedroia replaced Manny in the clean-up spot, and they obviously didn’t stink up the joint. Jason Bay hit .293/.370/.527 with 9 HR and 37 RBIs after coming over to Boston. After Manny was traded, Ortiz hit .262/.381/.519 with 9 HRs and 42 RBIs in 49 games, despite a cranky wrist.]
- Angels drop out of the Tex sweepstakes! MLB.com reports that the Angels have withdrawn their offer to Mark Teixeira:
This leaves the Red Sox, Nationals and Orioles as teams known to have submitted proposals, believed to range from $160 million to $184 million according to various reports. The level of interest by the Yankees has not yet been firmly established, but it could heighten quickly if they see Boston as the front-runner for the 28-year-old switch-hitter, as most insiders do.
As recently as Thursday night, when the Red Sox seemed on the verge of withdrawing from the bidding after a meeting with Teixeira and agent Scott Boras, the Angels were thinking they might be very much in the game.
But something clearly happened in the past few days to convince them that those persistent rumors were true about Teixeira preferring an East Coast lifestyle. According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Angels decided they didn’t want to be used to drive up the bidding if Teixeira wasn’t serious about returning to Anaheim.
- Why is Melky Cabrera still a Yankee? Peter Gammons at ESPN has some news:
Cashman backed off the Mike Cameron deal because Melky Cabrera has improved his plate discipline in winter ball, and there are voices in the organization who still believe Brett Gardner is going to be a useful major league player. No one will argue his energy and intensity, but watch him take batting practice, and you’ll find out he’s a lot stronger than he looks. Granted, he has to take it into games, but there is something on which to place hope.
- Mark Feinsand at the News writes of Manny’s expectations of an offer from the Bombers:
According to a source, Ramirez has told friends that he is confident the Yankees will offer him a contract of at least three years, one year longer than most team officials have said they would want to go.
Ramirez has no plans to get serious about any offers until after Mark Teixeira – a fellow Scott Boras client – makes a decision regarding his own future. Ramirez has already turned down a two-year, $45 million offer from the Dodgers and has told friends he is seeking a four-year deal in the $100 million range.
[My take: Manny is just stoking the fire …. wishful thinking … hoping to get teams bidding against each other …. in other words, its Scott Boras with dreadlocks.]
- ESPN’s Buster Olney writes of the suddenly decreasing dollar value in offers to free agents, and offers Derek Lowe’s status as an example:
When the offseason began, the agent for Derek Lowe was asking teams for five years and $90 million, baseball executives say. Now that asking price is down by almost a third, and some general managers speculate that if the Yankees retain Andy Pettitte on a one-year deal, Lowe’s price will inevitably drop — and significantly.
The Yankees have been patiently waiting for Pettitte to make his decision, and as one official notes, one possible reason they have allowed him to take his time — rather than give him a deadline — is because the longer they wait, the more likely it is Lowe will be offered to them at a much more acceptable wage than what he was asking for at the outset of the offseason.
- Pettitte’s return to Yankees “inevitable”, as per MLB.com.
- At LoHud, Pete Abraham has some encouraging notes from the Winter Leagues.
- Over at Yahoo!Sports, Richard Justice writes of Jason Giambi most likely returning to the A’s for 2009.
- The News’ Wayne Coffey has a long piece on former Yankee SS Andre Robertson, whose career was cut short by a serious car crash in 1983.
- Happy 55th birthday to Tom Underwood. Underwood went 13-9 with a 3.66 ERA for Dick Howser’s 103-win club of 1980.
- Matty Alou hits the big 7-0. A career .307 hitter, he joined one of his brothers (Felipe) on the Yankee roster in 1973, hitting .296/.338/.356.
- On this date in 1999, the Expos obtain P Hideki Irabu from the Yankees in exchange for P Jake Westbrook and two players to be named.
[My take: I wonder if Canadian customs agents held up the transportation of the rare “Fat Toad” across the border.]