Yankees in market for impact bat
Richie Sexson and his .218 batting average are on the way to the Bronx as a part-time player. But the New York Yankees are also canvassing the majors for an everyday player now that Hideki Matsui is all but assured of missing the rest of the year.
Matsui's injured left knee is showing little sign of improvement, and the Yankees appear resigned to a lost season for the outfielder whose other knee was surgically corrected last winter. That puts the Yankees in the market for an impact bat -- though not the oddly unwanted free agent Barry Bonds.
There is zero evidence now that the Yankees would even consider the baggage of Bonds, who's sitting at home in Beverly Hills, Calif., and said to be quite upset at the incredible lack of interest in his services. But that doesn't mean the Yankees have ruled out making a splash.
They'd love to consider Rockies slugger Matt Holliday or either of two Pirates outfielders, Jason Bay or Xavier Nady, if the asking price comes down. But Holliday, a franchise-type player, would require a package of young players and prospects; just the sort the Yankees have come to value. And Pirates people have told competing executives they'd have to be "absolutely overwhelmed'' to deal Bay or Nady (don't rule out that possibility from someone else; the Diamondbacks have prospects to deal and the Cardinals are now said to be willing to consider a deal for top outfield prospect Colby Rasmus).
If the Yankees like Reds slugger Adam Dunn slightly more than Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, they understand his all-or-nothing nature. One advantage to Dunn is that, as a rental player with obvious flaws, the asking price has to be lower.
Sexson, a failure in Seattle, did hit .344 vs. left-handed pitching, so the low-cost, low-risk signing makes sense at about $190,000 (the pro-rated portion of the big-league minimum). Seattle's on the hook for rest, bringing their Sexson tab to $13.8 million for the year. Sexson is expected to join the Yankees by Saturday after a roster spot is cleared.
The new need for an outfielder only complicates the dealings of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who's been scouring the pitching market for weeks. Cashman stayed true to his emphasis on prospects when he turned down the Indians' proposal for CC Sabathia (the Yankees weren't all that interested in Rich Harden, who went to the Cubs) but is still said to be in search of a starter. Cashman got excited the other day when he overheard someone say "Holliday'' might be available, as he heard it as "Halladay.'' (Roy Halladay is not available). A competing executive suggested the prospect-loving Yankees seem to be concentrating on a No. 3 or 4 starter -- though that may be mostly because that's just about all that's left on the market.
Manny being antsy
Manny Ramirez appears overly anxious about Boston's $20 million club option for 2009. While he won't say it, he wants the Red Sox do one of three things:
But Ramirez probably also understands the far more likely outcome is for the Red Sox to simply pick up that $20 million option for '09, and wait another year to decide what to do about '10. Boston is holding all the cards, and there's no reason for the team not play the obvious one. Ramirez's good friend Alex Rodriguez, who took advantage of an opt-out clause while he was still 32 to cash in for an extra $305 million, chided his fellow Miami resident for accepting two consecutive club options.
Ramirez has been acting up lately, and the club gave him a hall pass when he reportedly pushed the traveling secretary Jack McCormick, 62, to the ground, after hearing that his entire ticket request might not be filled. Considering the team's soft treatment, Ramirez shouldn't have said anything like what he said to the Boston Herald. "I want no more [expletive] where they tell you one thing and behind your back they do another thing.''
Well-respected Red Sox owner John Henry expressed some unhappiness with that remark in an e-mail to that paper but otherwise praised Ramirez for his enormous contributions to the team. Henry was obligated to respond to Ramirez's unfounded accusation. But for the most part, Red Sox people are simply ignoring Ramirez's characteristic silliness. No amount of acting up is likely to get them to change their mind about wanting him back on a one-year deal for $20 million.
All-Star rules change coming?
There's discussion among MLB bigwigs after the near-All-Star debacle about a new rule whereby pitchers who start the Sunday before the All-Star Game would be eligible to make the team but wouldn't pitch. They'd be replaced on the active All-Star roster by more rested pitchers.
The Rays weren't expecting to see Scott Kazmir pitch, the Diamondbacks weren't expecting to see Brandon Webb pitch, and the Phillies weren't expecting see Brad Lidge warm up several times (five to six, by some estimates) before finally entering the game.
The management of some of those teams whose pitchers were used more extensively than expected were said to be annoyed. Asked about it, Rays GM Andrew Friedman wrote in an e-mail, "It certainly wasn't ideal, but we were fortunate it was only one inning ... we will probably push Kazmir back at least one day.''