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South Side stove (Cont.)

Posted: Friday July 14, 2006 9:53AM; Updated: Saturday July 15, 2006 6:23PM
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The Yankees see Bobby Abreu as a possible replacement for Gary Sheffield in right field.
The Yankees see Bobby Abreu as a possible replacement for Gary Sheffield in right field.
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• The coming Philly conflagration auction (a.k.a. fire sale) is also likely to include Bobby Abreu, and the Yankees definitely are interested. So far Yankees GM Brian Cashman has resisted any temptation to surrender 20-year-old pitching sensation Philip Hughes. But there still could be more talk, depending on Philadelphia's desperation to deal. Abreu is an on-base machine and could become the successor to Gary Sheffield, who would DH upon his return from a wrist injury.

The Phillies were hoping to get a young pitching stud for Abreu but may have to settle for a collection of mid-range Yankees prospects while also getting out of the contract that guarantees Abreu another $23 million through next year. He'd seek incentives to waive his blanket no-trade clause, and one possible costly remedy for the acquiring team would be to exercise his $16 million option for '08.

• The Yankees will have Phillies GM Pat Gillick on speed dial before the month is over. Another possibility is ex-Yankee Jon Lieber, although he's struggling enough lately to make Yankees people wonder whether he's sound.

• Quickie prediction: Sidney Ponson isn't this year's Shawn Chacon. Rather, he's Tim Redding with behavioral issues.

• The Reds and Nats got the ball rolling with a shocking eight-player trade that netted Washington outfielder Austin Kearns and shortstop Felipe Lopez and Cincinnati two relievers and three guys few people know much about. Before anyone judges this trade harshly for Cincinnati, we should know that one of the relievers is Bill Bray, "a very good-looking prospect'' in the words of one GM. Also, we all must recall that new Reds GM Wayne Krivsky's early trades have tended to look better with time.

Word is the Reds were down on Lopez's defense. And when one scout called it "less than good,'' he sounded like he was being charitable.

• The Angels managed to get not only top prospect Terry Evans for Jeff Weaver but also a seven-figure payout from St. Louis to cover a quarter of the $4 million remaining on Weaver's '06 salary.

• While A's stud starter Rich Harden is said to be "feeling good,'' he is seeing noted surgeon Lewis Yocum on Friday. The diagnosis was a "strained'' elbow ligament. Red flags were raised when Harden was unable to throw following six weeks of rest, but his latest exam is described only as a way to "double check'' before he tries to throw off a mound again. A's GM Billy Beane insists that "Surgery has never been an option. We wouldn't know what to operate on.''

• Does anyone else remember that Jermaine Dye, who could be this year's AL MVP, was pinch-hit for in Game 5 of the 2003 Division Series by Adam Melhuse?

Jeff Kent just returned from the disabled list. But whether he's playing or not, word is he's showing considerable power. He has the ear of owner Frank McCourt's wife, Jamie.

• Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano has missed two weeks because of a hamstring injury and said at the All-Star Game that he "still feels a little tight.'' You could see the frustration on his face. Perhaps optimistically, Cano estimated he'd return next week.

• I'm starting to believe that steroid investigator George Mitchell really is operating independently from commissioner Bud Selig. A day after Selig trashed Jose Canseco to writers in Pittsburgh for absurdly claiming that MLB was in cahoots with Rafael Palmeiro to discredit Canseco, word came that Selig's man Mitchell called in Canseco to tell him what he knows.

• Among Barry Bonds' many mistakes: He didn't choose his friends wisely.