Will Yankee dollars put Sabathia in a New York state of mind?
The Yankees will presumably be the highest bidder for free agent CC Sabathia
Rockies outfielder Matt Holiday is another star who interests the Yankees
Ken Macha is rumored to be the favorite to land the Brewers managerial job
PHILADELPHIA -- Jimmy Rollins, a friend of superstar free-agent pitcher CC Sabathia dating back to their upbringing outside Oakland, Calif., and one of the best prognosticators in the game considering his lofty and correct predictions for his own Phillies, didn't hesitate when I asked him where he thought Sabathia would wind up.
"New York, American League,'' Rollins, an Alameda, Calif. product, said. "They've got enough money, and they need him.''
It's becoming the prevailing opinion around baseball that the Vallejo product Sabathia will become a Yankee, though it's too early to tell for sure whether that belief originates from wishful thinking on the part of Sabathia's handlers, the union or fellow players. Sabathia's agent, Scott Parker, didn't return a call, but the general consensus is that Sabathia's people would naturally prefer that their client maximize his take, which would very likely mean he'd go to the Yankees, who will presumably be the high bidder. And as one baseball person remarked, "I've never seen guys leave money on the table.''
Still, a couple others think that Sabathia won't let the difference of a few dollars -- even possibly $20 million or more -- keep him away from his native California, especially with the Angels and Dodgers seen as likely bidders. If there's one guy who could turn down the loot, some see that person as Sabathia. But folks with that stance appear to be dwindling now.
Some estimates suggest that Sabathia could receive $160 million as a Yankee but maybe $120 million or so if he insisted on going home (or close to home). The small-market Brewers are planning to make a run, as well, but they still have to be seen as a long shot since they can offer neither the most money nor the chance to go home -- though Sabathia did say he loved being a Brewer.
As is typical, the choice may come to the usual: love or money. In that skirmish the loot usually wins out.
Holliday shopping for Yankees
The Yankees have been tied to just about every major free agent and available star this winter. But one top player who has yet to be linked to the Yankees but definitely intrigues them is Matt Holliday.
Rockies management likes Holliday a lot, too, but has determined that it will try to trade him and, in fact, expects to trade him. Colorado is willing to go five years for Holliday but believes he's interested in a deal for closer to eight years or perhaps even longer.
Yankees people have heard good things about Holliday. However, their one concern is his home-road splits, which show he has been more successful at Coors Field than on the road. This year the difference was minimal, as Holliday hit .332 with 15 home runs at home, .308 with 10 home runs on the road. But his lifetime numbers reflect a significant variation. He's a .357 career hitter at Coors Field, with 84 home runs. On the road he is a .280 hitter with 44 home runs.
Gillick: Mets celebrations instill animosity
Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, in an interview with SI.com, expanded on his belief that the Phillies were aided by the animosity other NL East teams felt for the Mets . "I think sometimes it's good to be celebratory, but sometimes it reaches the point where they're taunting the other the team,'' Gillick said. "Everyone should have the opportunity to celebrate. But there's a fine line, and sometimes they tend to go over the line and taunt the other team.''
Rollins agreed with Gillick's original assessment in the New York Daily News that the Phillies benefit in their division battle with the Mets by the hatred other NL East teams have for the Mets.
"Yes,'' Rollins said succinctly in answer to a question about whether the others in the NL East -- the Marlins, Braves and Nationals -- detest the Mets.
"It could be a number of things,'' Rollins said with a sly smile when asked why that was. "I have an assignment for you. In spring training next year go to each clubhouse and you'll get a number of answers.''
The Mets have had a longstanding rivalry with the Braves that's been one-sided in Atlanta's favor until recently, some Nationals people have had occasional disagreements with the Mets (they didn't take too kindly to being ripped by pitcher Nelson Figueroa as being unprofessional for the cheering and chanting episode, and Lastings Milledge has expressed hard feelings about the way the Mets gave up on him), and some Marlins stated a deep desire to beat the Mets in the final weekend of the season.
While Gillick's theory for why the Mets have engendered this ill will is their exuberant mid-game celebrations, we may have to wait until spring training for further theories.
Scouts-over-stats stance works for Gillick
Gillick, who's deserving of a place in the Hall of Fame, wins everywhere he goes. He won two titles in Toronto. He's the last GM to win under Orioles owner Peter Angelos. And he won 116 games one year in Seattle.
Gillick's success in Philly is another point in favor of scouts over stats in the debate about the value of the two strategies. Gillick puts a lot of faith in his scouts, employs a stable of experienced scouts and relies on their eyes rather than a bunch of numbers anyone can read.
Gillick said he hasn't even thought about the Hall of Fame and was just concerned about the World Series. "Let's get one more here,'' he said before Game 5. He also said he didn't see himself working for anyone as a consultant. "I don't think so,'' he said.
Cashman was warned about Mariners honcho
Brian Cashman is still a Yankee in part because of Gillick's stories about working for the current Mariners regime. Gillick told Cashman for years what it was like to answer to Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln, and Cashman is said to have never seriously considered going there in part because of those stories.
The Mariners' hiring of Jack Zduriencik as GM is an inspired call, though. It's somewhat surprising to see someone who's 57 get his first GM job, but it may reflect some new hesitancy on the part of some to go for another young Ivy League stat man. Zduriencik is the longtime scout responsible for fortifying the Brewers' reservoir of young talent, an impressive enough stash that no one else really had a chance to land Sabathia at mid-year.
Macha may be the man for Brewers
The World Series scuttlebutt is that Ken Macha is the favorite to land the Brewers managerial gig, followed by Willie Randolph. Everyone here at the Series seems to know that Bob Brenly had a bad interview in Milwaukee, which may knock him out of the running. If Macha is hired he may need to repair things with catcher Jason Kendall, a prominent member of the A's when Macha was fired there amidst rumors that he wasn't getting along with his boss or the players.