Cards want Pujols long-term, L.A. sweetens deal for Manny, more (cont.)
While Dodgers owner Frank McCourt had been reluctant to raise the ante, he also knows Joe Torre and Larry Bowa are strongly in Manny's corner, as well as the Dodgers' other top baseball people (though those people haven't made it quite so obvious publicly). According to Dodgers sources, Bowa got an earful from his bosses for speaking aloud about how much the team needs Manny. But shouldn't that be obvious? Without Ramirez, they'd likely have Juan Pierre in left field. (The other possibility would be to use Blake DeWitt at third base and move Casey Blake to left field.)
Those Manny-less lineups are rather unappealing options for the Dodgers. So L.A. offered the option Ramirez sought.
It's definitely a decent step.
Union finally gets one thing right with steroids
It's nice union chief Donald Fehr says now that baseball has fixed its steroid problem. Does that mean that the union is finally admitting there was a problem?
The union's claim is that there wasn't time for them to destroy the 2003 list of failed test-takers because the feds demanded it on Nov. 19, only six days after MLB announced the steroid threshold had been reached with 104 failures. However, the union had October and the first half of November to do away with the list. The list was only kept around for six weeks after the season at the union's request.
Union people failed to do the right thing and destroy the list because they were foolishly spending all of October and the first part of November looking for false positives to try to get the number below the five-percent threshold. That was their big mistake, although they'll never admit they blew it.
Really, Fehr should be embarrassed to talk so authoritatively on the steroid subject now, when he could not have been more wrong about it originally. But one thing I do agree with him on is that that entire list should never be made public. Fan curiosity is no reason to ignore a collectively bargained agreement that the list would remain anonymous. It's unfortunate one name got out, but it would be 100 times more unfortunate for the other 103 names to get out, too.
Around the majors
The A's are willing to pay free-agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera about $3 million. But Cabrera is a guy with "big [stones]," according to a friend, which means he may still be willing to wait it out. Cabrera is an excellent player with the guts to hold out. Although, unlike Ramirez, he isn't a franchise player.
Jorge Posada said his surgically repaired shoulder is "about 80 percent" now, but he expects it to be 100 percent on Opening Day.
Collusion is going to be a near-to-impossible case to make in this economy. But one agent (not Ivan Rodriguez's agent but another) said incredulously, "You're going to tell me that Pudge Rodriguez isn't one of baseball's best 30 catchers? Or one of the best 60 catchers?" Rodriguez is hoping to use the WBC to earn a spot, perhaps with the Mets, Marlins or Astros.
The WBC could be a decent proving ground, but one club decision-maker said, "Numbers are inflated in the WBC," pointing out that not all the competition is as worthy as others.
Teixeira called Red Sox GM Theo Epstein to thank him for their interest after Teixeira signed with the Yankees for $180 million and rebuffed Boston's final offer, which is believed to have been $170 million. While some Bostonians have taken Teixeira's decision hard, Epstein, who saw Teixeira as exactly the right man to improve their offense for eight years to come, had only kind words for Teixeira and said he perfectly understood why he would take the higher offer, especially with family in New York and New York being much closer to his hometown of Severna Park, Md.
The Esmailyn Gonzalez fiasco should spell the end of Nationals GM Jim Bowden's tenure. Bowden pressed for the $1.4 million signing of Gonzalez, who was reported by SI.com's Melissa Segura to actually be Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, a 23-year-old so-so prospect, not a 19-year-old stud prospect. Whether or not Bowden is ever implicated in the scout-skimming scandal, it is clear he has overseen an unmitigated mess in Washington, with wasteful spending to rival the government's over the previous eight years.
Bernie Williams is in Yankees camp, preparing to play for Puerto Rico in the WBC and perhaps even launch a comeback at age 40.