MLB's feel-good stories (cont.)
Maybe CC's initials should be CD (California Dreamin')
The latest scuttlebutt heard on Sunday is that Sabathia does not want to go to the Yankees, who are nonetheless expected to make the biggest bid for the free-agent star.
A person close to Sabathia said a few days ago that the pitcher does indeed prefer to play in California "if all things are equal'' but also insisted that Sabathia has become "more open-minded'' about playing in one of the other 17 states, provinces or districts that have major league baseball. That person said that as recently as two years ago he couldn't have envisioned Sabathia choosing anywhere outside California but now could see it.
It was written in this space last week that the Angels are expected to make a big play for Sabathia, though it's presumed everywhere that the best monetary offer will come from the Bronx. As for the word that's gone around (including here) that Sabathia was going to acquire a home in Orange County, Calif., Sabathia recently has told folks that while he and his wife recently viewed homes in Southern California, they haven't made a purchase yet.
Brew Crew blues
The Brewers are in real trouble, and they apparently know it. Ryan Braun, a perceptive young man, called Game One of Sunday's double-header in Philly a "must win.'' And of course Milwaukee lost, making it three straight defeats there en route to four, once the nightcap was also dropped.
The Brewers have a lot going against them beyond their losing streak, including the memory of last year's collapse, an iffy bullpen and an uptight manager, Ned Yost, who at least has enough sense not to have been ejected from any games this September (unlike last September). Even with all his many current worries, Yost ought to be spending some time buffing up his resume.
The Brewers did get one break, when the commissioner's office moved the Astros-Cubs games hurricaned out in Houston to Milwaukee, where the Cubs have a home-field edge at Miller Park (at least they even seem to have one there when they're playing the Brewers). The Cubs did win Houston's first 'home'' game in Milwaukee on Sunday night, and not in ordinary fashion either, as Zambrano, who was returning from shoulder trouble, pitched the Cubs' first no-hitter in 36 years. But even if the surging Astros don't catch the Brewers, the Brew Crew still will have to deal with the Phillies, who proved how tough they are again this weekend after showing it last September.
This is what it's come to for Milwaukee and its fans: having to cheer a Cub on to throw a no-hitter in their own home park.
Around the Majors
Only a few months ago, Floyd was sure that he was going to retire. Now he wants to return as a Ray. "I'm going to play,'' Floyd said. "I don't think you can break this unit up.''
Former No. 1 overall pick David Price might prove to be the greatest postseason pickup of any September callup since Francisco Rodriguez in 2002. Price looked superb in three innings against the Yankees and will be used in relief come the postseason.
It turns out that Randy Winn, now on the NL leaderboard for batting average, would have been good pickup for someone.
Even though the Marlins aren't going to make it, top baseball execs Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill are to be congratulated for once again using the organization's considerable scouting and smarts to overcome baseball's tightest budget (the payroll is an absurd $22 million) and fielding a competitive team. No-cost pickups like Jorge Cantu helped. With Cantu the Marlins actually had the first infield ever with four players hitting 25 home runs or more. Manny Ramirez would have helped, too, but Marlins ownership tried to squeeze the Red Sox for a couple million extra (not Beinfest's fault at all). With 18 arbitration-eligible players, he'll need even more magic next year.
I admire Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin's efforts. But changing your closer at this point, as he did by tabbing Chad Qualls to replace Brandon Lyon, seems a tad tardy.
Along the same lines: Joe Girardi pulled Robinson Cano for failing to hustle on Sunday. That's about three months too late, in my book.
Carl Pavano left Sunday's game pointing to his hip, was escorted back to the dugout by the assistant trainer, then told people afterward that there was nothing really wrong with him, that it was just a cramp in his hip. A cramp in his hip? With Pavano, any injury is possible.
Anyway, isn't it time for Phil Hughes and any other pseudo prospects that the Yanks can muster to step in for Pavano and the troubled Sidney Ponson, who incidentally was no trouble as a Yankee (other than his terrible pitching)?
One scout on the Yankees' problems: "Overlooked is how awful their outfield defense was.''
Derek Jeter is amazing. He tied Lou Gehrig for most hits at this Yankee Stadium with 1,269, removing the suspense about whether he'll break the record by hitting .818 there in the first three games of the last homestand (9 for 11).