Will Schilling be lured by the mystique and aura of Yankee pinstripes?
Posted: Tuesday November 11, 2003 1:20PM; Updated: Thursday November 13, 2003 11:11AM
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, having made quick strikes for Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui in the past three offseasons, has put Diamondbacks right-hander Curt Schilling atop his wish list this year, and it could take a three-way deal -- and a pile of cash, of course -- to make it happen. The Yankees are considering a trade for Schilling that would send first baseman Nick Johnson to Arizona, who would then flip Johnson and pitcher John Patterson to Milwaukee for first baseman Richie Sexson, according to one source familiar with the talks.
Schilling has one season remaining on his contract with the D'backs. The contract includes a full no-trade clause, which is why Schilling considers himself "a free agent with a contract." His worst-case scenario would be to remain in Arizona for another year, which is a scenario he has said he would enjoy, considering he lives there.
To drop his no-trade clause, Schilling, who turns 37 this week, would likely insist on a two- or three-year contract extension from the Yankees -- essentially treating this winter as a pre-emptive strike at the free-agent rights he would have next winter after playing out his contract in Arizona. Schilling is intrigued by the ideas of pitching for an annual contender; replacing Roger Clemens, one of his role models, in the New York rotation; and securing what will likely be the last major contract of his career.
The Phillies, however, are likely to compete with the Yankees for Schilling, though it would mean giving up one of their prized pitching prospects, left-hander Cole Hamels or righty Gavin Floyd. Schilling would consider a return to Philadelphia -- again, with any deal contingent on working out some sort of contract extension -- because he still maintains a home in the area. The Red Sox also are investigating Schilling's availability, though they don't hold the same appeal for him as the Phillies and Yankees do.
The Diamondbacks' talks with Milwaukee about Sexson have heated up recently, though the Brewers prefer Johnson over Arizona first baseman Lyle Overbay, who was part of the original package. Sexson, a potential free agent after next season, almost certainly will be traded in the coming weeks. In addition to dealing for Schilling, Steinbrenner wants to re-sign Andy Pettitte and sign free-agent right fielder Vladimir Guerrero, three moves that would send his payroll soaring toward $200 million. A rotation of Schilling (who earns $12 million next year), Mussina, Pettitte, Jose Contreras and Jon Lieber would cost Steinbrenner about $53 million next year, up from the $42 million he spent on his 2003 starters.
The most bizarre result of the Rookie of the Year balloting was not that two voters took it upon themselves to re-write the eligibility rules and leave Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui completely off the AL ticket. It was that seven voters totally ignored Arizona pitcher Brandon Webb in the NL race. It's easy to argue that Webb had a better season than the winner, Dontrelle Willis (but not a more flashy start or a more photogenic delivery). Just consider this side-by-side comparison (right).
Webb topped Willis in all those categories. Voters obviously preferred Willis' style and his won-lost record, where his 14-6 mark looked much slicker than Webb's 10-9 record. Won-lost records, however, should only be part of the equation.
Each pitcher averaged 4.6 runs per start of support. But what hurt Webb was how those runs were apportioned. He pitched 12 games in which his team scored zero, one or two runs. He was 1-7 with four no-decisions in those games. Indeed, Webb's first seven losses occurred by these soccer scores: 5-2, 3-1, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-2 and 3-1.
Willis pitched in seven games with two or fewer runs. He was 3-3 with one no-decision in those contests.
The latest twist in the Alex Rodriguez sweepstakes is that Boston is trying to convince Texas to take Manny Ramirez in a swap of contracts with a combined $283 million remaining on them. Texas GM John Hart likes Ramirez, whom he knows from their days with the Indians, but owner Tom Hicks has to decide if it's worth saving about $75 million over the next seven years (the length remaining on A-Rod's contract) to take on Ramirez and to abandon his plan to build a winner around Rodriguez. Ramirez will welcome a trade to any team to escape Boston, but so far has given no indication that he would agree to restructure his deal.
Knee procedure for Giambi
Yankees DH Jason Giambi -- back from Hawaii where brother Jeremy was married last weekend -- will see Dr. Lewis Yocum this week about his troublesome left knee. Yocum is expected to perform an arthroscopic procedure to determine if more extensive surgery is needed. Giambi had to wait these almost three weeks since the World Series ended to allow the swelling in his knee to subside. He clearly was a diminished hitter in September and October because of the knee. Giambi was unable to drive off his back leg because of the injury.
The book on Griffey
Did Ken Griffey Jr. make a mistake by forcing a trade from Seattle to Cincinnati after the 1999 season? According to Out of Left Field ($22.95, Sasquatch Books), a book by Art Thiel about the rise of baseball in Seattle, Griffey admitted to friend and former teammate Jay Buhner that he "overreacted" when he said he wanted out.
The book claims Buhner and Griffey had long phone conversations after the trade. It quotes Buhner as saying, "I think he wanted to play as strong a hand as he could and -- screw it, I'm just going to say it -- it backfired on him. I really think so. He got to a point where he said, 'Oh, s---.' He called me and said, 'I f----- up. I overreacted.' I asked him, 'What's wrong with asking for forgiveness?'"
Buhner said Griffey responded with a profanity.
Buhner added, "I think everyone knows he made a mistake. If he could have just stepped back and said, 'I tried to play hardball and it didn't work. This is where I want to be . . . greatest place in the world . . . love these fans . . . I started here, want to end here . . . sorry for all the miscommunication.'"
Griffey's agent, Brian Goldberg, said Thiel used only a portion of what Griffey told Buhner. Said Goldberg, "Junior told me, 'The way I said it to Jay was something to the effect of, 'Boy, if I had known a lot of things, I could have done something different, but I don't know for sure because staying would have meant moving my family back to Seattle, and they would not have been happy about that.'''
Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci covers baseball for the magazine and is a regular contributor to SI.com.