Wow, that NFC Title game was something else, huh? Congrats to the Arizona Cardinals on finally clinching the first Super Bowl berth in franchise history.
The Ravens last played in the AFC Title Game way back in 2001, when they were on their way to winning the first World Title the city of Baltimore has seen since the Colts won Super Bowl V way back in 1971. The boys from Steeltown are playing in their third AFC Title game in the last five years, but in the end that doesn’t really mean much of anything.
This should be a great, an old school smashmouth kind of game. It looks like Mother Nature won’t interfere much after dumping snow on the Three Rivers area all night. Enjoy the game.
Last night, CC Sabathia walked home with the Warren Spahn Award for the second straight year. The prize is given out by the Oklahoma Sports Museum to the best lefty pitcher in the game, and it’s no stretch to award it to Sabathia.
By itself, the award is hardly newsworthy but how the AP covered the presentation and Sabathia’s acceptance is. The AP sent Jeff Latzke of their Oklahoma City bureau to the event, and here is how he covered it. On the surface, that seems fine and dandy, but take a look at these seemingly innocuous two paragraphs:
“To have that bullpen and have just the support of that team, that team is unbelievable,” Sabathia said. “To add me and A.J and put Tex in that lineup, I think it’s going to be an unbelievable team. Hopefully we have a special year.”
That’s right; Jeff Latzke just put Joba Chamberlain back in the bullpen. At no point did Sabathia actually say that he’s looking forward to Mo and Joba closing out games. He simply said that he’s looking forward to the support of the Yanks’ bullpen.
Meanwhile, if we compare Latzke’s reporting to that of Yankees.com beat writer Bryan Hoch, a different tale emerges. Writes Hoch:
Before Saturday night’s ceremony, Sabathia said in a press session that he is looking forward to having Mariano Rivera close out games for him.
“To have that bullpen and have just the support of that team, that team is unbelievable,” Sabathia said. “To add me and A.J. and put Tex in that lineup, I think it’s going to be an unbelievable team. Hopefully we have a special year.”
Now, I wasn’t at the press session, but do I trust the guy who covers the Yanks all season or some AP writer based out of Oklahoma City? The choice is clear to me.
This isn’t, of course, a new rant. We’ve had problems with the AP’s creating news where there isn’t any before. We’ve seen them misquote Yankee officials and, as they do here, put words into the mouths of players. It doesn’t help their credibility, however, to talk about Joba’s role in the bullpen because, simply put, he doesn’t have one. AP or not, Joba is starting this year. He may reach an innings cap, but baring a disaster, he will spend the season in the rotation. The Yankees are better off for it.
The Cardinals, long the laughing stock of the NFL, are playing the biggest game in franchise history today, and perhaps the biggest sports event the state of Arizona has seen involving an Arizona team since … well … a warm November night back in 2001. Donovan McNabb and the Iggles aren’t new to this NFC Championship game thing, as this will be their fifth trip to the game in the last nine years.
Does Kurt Warner have another shot at something special left in that right arm? Can McNabb continue to persevere through all the crap he has to deal with? Should be an exciting game, chat away about it here.
Via MLBTR, St. Louis GM John Mozeliak called the Yanks asking about the availability of second basemen Robinson Cano. The Yanks’ response: it’ll take Carlos Beltran pwner Adam Wainwright. And that was that. Good to see the Yanks still have faith in Robbie and believe he will return to elite 2B status. · (60) ·
Long term that is. Jennings broke down the Yanks’ lineup situation, looking ahead to how things shake out two, three, even more years in the future. We all know A-Rod and Tex will be around (seemingly) forever, but just about all of the other positions will be up for grabs in the next couple of years. One thing I found interesting was seeing how many of baseball’s best young players are signed to long term deals that conveniently expire right as the Yanks will need someone to fill that position (coughEvanLongoriacough). Check it out. · (54) ·
In a meandering column on the potential landing spots for Manny Ramirez, Bill Madden revisits the Yankees as once and former potential destination for the slugger. On page two of the column, he writes that the Yanks were “ready to go at least two years and an option for Manny” had they not signed in Mark Teixeira. As we all know, Teixeira landed in New York, and in my opinion, the Yanks were better off for it. · (25) ·
Pete Caldera checks in with an update on Andy Pettitte and notes that the lefty’s future is very much in his own hands. He writes:
Is there any room for Andy Pettitte to re-up with the Yankees? Apparently. But a person with knowledge of the situation said that it’s up to Pettitte to initiate the discussion. If so, there might be a willingness on the Yankees part to take the offer from $10.5 million to $12 million.
It’s a little curious why incentives haven’t been floated as a way to get closer to a midway point between the Yanks’ offer and Pettitte’s $16 million salary last season, but that might only happen during a negotiation — and, by all indications, there hasn’t been much of a dialogue since Mr. Cashman went to Houston last month.
This clearly throws a little bit of a twist into the debate over who rejected whom. We’ve heard both that Pettitte had rejected the Yankees and that the Yankees were the ones who pulled their initial offer after Mark Teixeira signed. Caldera’s latest lends credence to the tale that Pettitte turned down the Yanks’ $10 million offer.
Either way, that part of this saga is just water under the bridge. It seems as though the Yankees are willing to up their offer to Pettitte as long as he comes back to them. They even seem willing to pay far more than the market would dictate for Pettitte’s services as well.
Considering the state of things, I’d say that it would behoove both sides to get this deal done. I’m going to stick with my prediction of a one-year, $12-$13 million deal. That’s where these negotiations are heading.
Over at MLBTR, Alex Walsh has a Reds-related Bobby Abreu update. He writes:
The Reds won’t sign a veteran outfielder to a multi-year contract. If the Reds do sign such an outfielder, like Bobby Abreu, the deal will be for one-year. With the economy the way it is, such a deal may become increasingly more favorable to a player like Abreu.
So let met toss out some idle thought. What if Bobby Abreu ends up settling for a one-year deal? Should the Yankees get involved?
There’s no doubt that Bobby Abreu is still a very good hitter, if a terrible fielder, but I’d believe, without analyzing the situation, that one year of Abreu would be better than one year of Nady or Swisher. if the Yanks sign Abreu to a one-year deal, they could easily move Nady while maintaining Swisher, who is under contract for a few more years.
Of course, there are some limitations here. With Swisher and Nady, the Yanks have the luxury of seeing what they have. They can go with one and trade the other. It gives them roster flexibility. As soon as they commit to Abreu, he would be the starting right fielder and whichever of Nady or Swisher remains with the Yanks would be either be relegated to the bench or left field with Damon in center. The outfield defense would suffer, but the bench could be stronger.
In the end, it’s just a though. Feel free to debate this or anything else tonight in your open thread. Just play nice.
Pete Caldera at NorthJersey.com checked in with Kevin Long yesterday. The Yanks’ hitting coach didn’t kick back during the off-season. He spent a week working with A-Rod, helped Robbie Cano fix his swing during the Caribbean Winter League, visited Jorge during the catcher’s rehab and touched base with Johnny Damon too. He is also hard at work leaning the stylings of Mark Teixeira. It’s all part of the job, and most comforting to Yankee fans is Long’s assessment of Cano. Long feels that Cano is more focused and primed for a huge season in 2009. · (41) ·
Much like Bobby Abreu, Orlando Hudson is finding that it’s tough out there for players on the wrong side of 30 looking for a big day. Ken Rosenthal checks in on the Hudson market and finds nothing doing:
Hudson, coming off surgery on his left wrist, has resumed all baseball-related activities. He continues to seek a contract of three or more years, executives say, but ultimately could settle for a shorter term with the right team — say, the Mets or Yankees.
Both of those clubs currently are set at second, the Mets with Luis Castillo, the Yankees with Robinson Cano. A trade of either appears unlikely, but Hudson could land with another team — most likely, the Nationals — if his market in New York fails to develop.
Trading Cano and signing Hudson would work for the Yankees financially — Cano is owed $25 million over the next three seasons, and the Yankees could pay Hudson a similar figure. But the Yankees, confident that Cano will rebound from an off year, only would trade him if they received a significant return.
I’ve never been keen on the Yanks’ getting Hudson, and I’m not quite sure why so many people were willing to write off Cano’s season. In a sense, Cano’s bad season was due to luck more than anything else. His line drive and BABIP numbers suggest that he should have had a better season, and I’d much rather take the 26-year-old over Hudson.
Of course, again, if the right trade came up that happened to involve Cano, I would hope that Brian Cashman think long and hard about it, knowing that Orlando Hudson is out there. Hudson’s availability, however, does not mean the Yanks should shop Cano, and if they head into the season with Robbie at second, the Yanks should be a-OK.