From the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman :
In a move that bears more than a passing resemblance to his Thanksgiving dinner wooing session of Pedro Martinez, Mets general manager Omar Minaya is poised to make his second – and even bigger – impact signing of this offseason by going after Carlos Beltran, the top prize of this entire free agent market and a name that many had already fitted for pinstripes next year.
According to a National League source familiar with the Mets’ thinking this entire offseason, the Mets are going to begin a pursuit of Beltran next week with the same intensity and style that they devoted to winning over Martinez. The Martinez pursuit culminated successfully two weeks ago when the right-hander inked a four-year, $53 million deal.
Here in Boston, that deal made a splash with ripples to be felt until the Red Sox can demonstrate that they can replace the results from the three-time Cy Young winner. In the Bronx, losing out on Martinez never turned into a big deal, since no one besides Steinbrenner ever considered hiring the hurler to be a top priority.
Beltran is another story.
Beltran will turn 28 in April, meaning his best years may very well be ahead of him. And the center fielder has already turned in a body of work that makes any red-blooded owner, general manager or casual fan drool. He is without a doubt the golden child of this free agent crop, and that is why his agent, Scott Boras, has made his boldest request yet for any of his current free agents: 10 years for $200 million, or $20 million a season.
The Astros are believed to have made the one and only bid so far, six years and $96 million, or $16 million a season. Tigers owner Mike Ilitch is itching to wire cash into Beltran’s bank account. But even though one Boras client, Pudge Rodriguez, signed in Motown last year, it is hard to imagine Beltran doing the same. All during this hot stove season, the Yankees were supposed to be biding their time before making an offer that would top the Astros and any other pretenders to the throne of major league cash dispensers.
Lately, the Yankees have been playing a cat-and-mouse game with the Diamondbacks over a trade for Randy Johnson, arguably the one player the Yankees need most. Beltran is a close second for many reasons, none greater than the reality that Steinbrenner has always enjoyed collecting the biggest prizes he sees, $25 million luxury tax bills be damned.
So far this winter, the Yankees have added the likes of Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright and Tony Womack, hardly back-page types.
Meanwhile, the Mets have been plotting the Beltran move, which should not come as the biggest surprise. Having already held trade discussions with the Cubs about Sammy Sosa and the Red Sox about Manny Ramirez this offseason, landing a marquee outfielder is high on the Mets’ to-do list. Snagging Beltran would be the ultimate accomplishment of Minaya’s already busy and productive offseason.
Emboldened by his success with Martinez, Minaya is going to employ the same face-to-face strategy with Beltran in order to pitch the perks of playing for New York’s other team.
If you can think of even ONE perk associated with playing for the Mets, please let us know. Besides the obvious ones, of course (getting to borrow Piazza’s Savatage CD’s, use of the parking space previously reserved for Donald Manes, shoeshines and backrubs from Joe McEwing, etc.)
D-Backs get the disgruntled, revenge-vowing Vazquez, two additional warm bodies and loot, Yankees get Johnson and inch ever close to the $300 million payroll.
From ESPN.com :
Peter Gammons reported earlier Thursday that the on-again, off-again trade would be completed once the teams agree on the amount of money and the minor leaguers to be included in the deal. Gammons also reported that in addition to Vazquez, the deal would include catching prospect Dioneer Navarro, at least one other prospect and about $8 million going to the Diamondbacks in exchange for the 41-year-old lefty.
According to Gammons’ sources, Arizona will not immediately deal Vazquez to another team, but will continue to talk to interested teams, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit and Texas.
David Newton in The State.com, interviewing recently reinstated Indiana Pacer Jermaine O’Neal.
O™Neal said if the courts choose to reinstate his suspension he will accept that just as he did the original penalty. But he contends that all the suspensions, including Artest™s seasonlong ban, were excessive.
He said those who witnessed the incident on television saw only 20 percent of what happened. He resents that many in the media have placed the blame on players more than fans.
œThey made sure they just showed us hitting people, O™Neal said. œThere™ s a reason why we were running around. There™s 15 of us, and there™s thousands of them.
œI saw a lot of people say the NBA is too hip-hoppish. What is too hip-hoppish? What does our preference of music have to do with who we are? I™m pretty sure a lot of hockey players and baseball players listen to rock ™n™ roll and heavy metal. Does that determine who they are?
O™Neal pointed out that a Texas Rangers player threw a chair into the stands this past baseball season and broke a woman™s nose.
œIt wasn™t talked about for seven weeks, he said. œThe (NBA) is 85 percent black. All of a sudden we™re under scrutiny for who we are.”
After the strangling of PJ Carlesimo, who would’ve bet on Latrell Sprewell becoming a fan favorite in NYC? The NY Daily News’ Frank Isola fantasizes about current Public Enemy No. 1, suspended Pacers F Ron Artest, ending up in a Knicks uniform.
Latrell Sprewell was rescued from NBA purgatory five years ago by the Knicks, who were willing to take a chance on a talented player with a troubled past. The risk was well worth the reward as Sprewell helped the Knicks reach one NBA Finals and two conference finals.
Next summer, the Knicks may try to take the same gamble on Ron Artest, who currently is serving a season-long suspension for his part in a brawl last month in Detroit. Sprewell sees plenty of similarities between himself and Artest and feels that New York would be an ideal place for Artest to get a second chance.
“With Ron, he would probably do well wherever he goes,” Sprewell said. “But he’d definitely fit in well here. He played here, he’s from this area and I’m sure New Yorkers would love him.
“Feeling wanted helped me. It gives you a sense that you’re welcomed. You don’t feel like everyone is against you. That was important.”
The Knicks essentially stole Sprewell from Golden State, acquiring him for John Starks, Chris Mills and Terry Cummings. Prying Artest from the Pacers will not be easy if for no other reason than president Larry Bird would probably be reluctant to trade Artest to a conference rival whose boss, Isiah Thomas, is Bird’s longtime bitter enemy.
Thomas and assistant coaches Mark Aguirre and George Glymph coached Artest in Indiana and the consensus among league officials is that Thomas will make a play for Artest.
“I don’t know why you’d get rid of him,” Sprewell said. “I don’t see Indiana trading him. I wouldn’t be looking to move him because of that incident.”
Despite his diminished skills, 2B Roberto Alomar —- a probable Hall Of Famer assuming you can erase his Mets tenure from your memory — continues to find someone willing to employ him. Albiet at a fraction of the salary he once earned.
The NY Post’s Joel Sherman is reporting that when and if the Randy Johnson/Javier Vazquez deal is completed, the Diamondbacks might attempt to trade Vazquez to Baltimore in exchange for some combination of pitchers Erik Bedard, Jorge Julio and outfielders Jay Gibbons and Luis Matos. Given Baltimore’s desperation for frontline pitching, the way they were rebuffed by all of the big name free agent hurlers and the unlikelihood that Arizona want any part of Vazquez’ contract, this seems plausible.
No further word on whether or not Sidney Ponson’s drunken escapades with and without a Jet Ski will give the Orioles just cause to void his contract, but you can bet they’ve considered it.
There’s been no small amount of bitching & moaning from this corner that the ’04/05 Knicks are going nowhere with the erratic Stephon Marbury running the show. But on Wednesday night, against one of the Western Conference’s powerhouses and the reigning MVP, Marbury showed that when he’s at the top of his game, the Knicks resemble something far greater than a middling club. And on that note, New York moved to 3 games above .500 for the first time in 4 1/2 years.
If Kurt Thomas hadn’t harrassed KG into a 7 for 17 night, it’s doubtful the Knicks would’ve held off the Timberwolves.
No doubt mindful of the need to continue providing for his family, there were no incidents involving Father Of The Year Latrell Sprewell and Knicks owner James Dolan.
From John Markoff in Thursday’s New York Times :
The average Internet user in the United States spends three hours a day online, with much of that time devoted to work and more than half of it to communications, according to a survey conducted by a group of political scientists.
The survey found that use of the Internet has displaced television watching and a range of other activities. Internet users watch television for one hour and 42 minutes a day, compared with the national average of two hours, said Norman H. Nie, director of the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society, a research group that has been exploring the social consequences of the Internet.
“People don’t understand that time is hydraulic,” he said, meaning that time spent on the Internet is time taken away from other activities.
A 2000 study by the researchers that reported increasing physical isolation among Internet users created a controversy and drew angry complaints from some users who insisted that time they spent online did not detract from their social relationships.
However, the researchers said they had now gathered further evidence showing that in addition to its impact on television viewing, Internet use has lowered the amount of time people spend socializing with friends and even sleeping.
According to the study, an hour of time spent using the Internet reduces face-to-face contact with friends, co-workers and family by 23.5 minutes, lowers the amount of time spent watching television by 10 minutes and shortens sleep by 8.5 minutes.
The remaining period spent using the Internet reduces time spent helping Scott Weiland violate his parole by 18 minutes a day.
Rod Kanehl, one of the original 1962 New York Mets, passed away two weeks ago at the age of 70. Kanehl, who played at every position other than pitcher and catcher during his 3 years with the Mets, had previously spent 8 years in the Yankees system.
On the same day we rejoice in Snapple’s dissing of Staten Island, let us praise the good people of Long Island. Without Long Island, we’d have no Amy Fisher, Nihilistics, Misguided, Lee Ranaldo, Phantom Tollbooth, Howard Stern, pine-cone H.S. football sodomy, Joel Rifkin, the hottest moments of Julius Erving’s career, teenage turkey tossers, reasons to chant “Beat Your Wife, Potvin”, Bill Pulsipher in a Long Island Ducks uniform, or perhaps best of all, hot dog vendors doubling as prostitutes.
On the site of the former Raynor’s Fried Chicken, no less.
Veteran stage and screen actor, Tony award winner and ‘Law And Order” fixture Jerry Orbach has succumbed to prostate cancer at the age of 69.
Orbach’s 12 year run as alcoholic Det. Lenny Briscoe on Dick Wolf’s formulaic “L&O” provided a transcendent moment or two in a dismal broadcast TV landscape.