That’s the question posed (ok, not in those exact words) by the New York Times’ Ben Shpigel who notes the customarily bold Omar Minaya (above) has failed to obtain Daisuke Matzusaka, Kei Igawa, Jeff Suppan, Barry Zito or Freddy Garcia this winter.
With unattractive options remaining on the free-agent market, Minaya will have to take another look at the Mets™ minor league prospects and decide if he is willing to part with any of them for what he termed œan impact pitcher.
That label does not appear to apply to pitchers like the Oakland Athletics™ Danny Haren or the White Sox™s Jon Garland or Javier VÃ¡zquez, pitchers who have interested the Mets. All are good, solid pitchers and would fit nicely into the front section of their rotation.
But if the Mets consider dealing Lastings Milledge or, less likely, Mike Pelfrey or Philip Humber, Minaya seemed to suggest that they would want someone with a more established pedigree.
œHow many impact guys are out there? Minaya said during a conference call yesterday. œThey don™t just become available. To make trades, we could do things. But who are the impact guys? Those impact guys come around once in a while. But that being said, we™ve always been aggressive and proactive in pursuing those guys.
œWe have a lot of quality prospects. Scouts use the term ˜high ceiling.™ If you have those kinds of premium prospects, those kinds of impact pitchers become available in trades.
I’ll submit that Minaya might very well have an impact pitcher already in his possession. But there’s no sign of any inclination to give Aaron Heilman another try at starting, not with the losses of Chad Bradford and Robert Hernandez (nor Duaner Sanchez’ status still questionable).
In the eyes of Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, Minaya’s inability to sign Zito (“a pitcher who would have cost them only money”) means the Mets have “officially taken a step back.”
Minaya, who should’ve won The Sporting News’ Executive of the Year award for 2006, deserves plenty of leeway, given what he has done in his first two years. But it’s fair to look at the Mets’ current pitching staff, scan the trade and free-agent markets, and wonder how they’re going to work their way back into the playoffs.
With Jeff Suppan off the board, Mets fans should feel better if the club can sign Jeff Weaver, who like Zito gives you innings and is represented by Scott Boras. Weaver is no Zito, however. As for trade options, to get a Brad Penny, Jon Garland or Dan Haren, the Mets would have to take away from the very stash of young pitchers to which they now point as an asset. And it’s not certain the price will drop.
Yes, the Mets won 97 games and made the NLCS last season, even though Pedro Martinez missed so much time. But it can’t be stressed enough how fluky 2006 was for the Mets. When you take a double-digit division lead by June, you can kick back, experiment and not sweat Martinez’s absences. There almost certainly won’t be such a cruise to October this next time around.
In which case you need people to get important outs for six months, not three. Tom Glavine, who turns 41 in March, now becomes the bona fide ace again. He hasn’t faced such expectations since the Art Howe days. Orlando Hernandez’s 162 1/3 innings pitched marked his highest total since 2000. Bank on a regression.
Though Davidoff’s points are well taken, let’s not lose sight of the enormity of what Brian Sabean has done. The Giants GM has elected to proffer the richest pact ever given to a pitcher to a lefty that’s won 20 games or more exactly once in his 7 year big league career. He’s committed $126 million over 7 years to a pitcher with an ERA of more than 4 runs a game over the last 3 seasons. I don’t think anyone will argue that Barry Zito is a quality pitcher that warranted a more lucrative deal than Gil Meche or Ted Lilly. But if Zito can command a contract of this size and length, what’s Carlos Zambrano going to be worth on the open market? Johan Santana? Dontrelle Willis?
The New York Sun’s John Hollinger hears Pat Riley’s cries for help and surmises, “it’s hard to fathom Kurt Hinrich as a danger to other players’ safety ” well, unless his barber is involved.”
Watch out Mardy Collins, there’s a new goon in town. He comes from the mean streets of Sioux City, Iowa, and doesn’t weigh 200 pounds soaking wet. But if you believe Pat Riley, this menace to society is going to claim another victim soon if he isn’t stopped.
“Hinrich pulled his hand. He does it all the time,” Riley told reporters afterward.”That’s what he does. Anytime Dwyane comes off screens, they will always grab his shirt or grab his hands. It’s a tactic down below the body ” the official can’t see it. He had Dwyane’s hand, and [when Wade] tried to pull it out of there, I think something happened.”
The footage of Wade’s injury has been replayed far and wide, and it is an innocuous-looking play. There was some hand fighting byWade and Hinrich away from the ball, and then Wade’s pulling up and grabbing his wrist at the top of the key. This kind of hand-to-hand combat goes on away from the ball all the time in the NBA game, particularly between wing players trying to get into position to receive passes.
Hearty congratulations are in order for the D-League’s Austin Toros, who earned their first win of the season with Thursday’s 96-85 decision over Sioux Falls. The Toros (1-12) were led by 24 points from former Georgia Tech G B.J. Elder, while Brock Gillespie — recovering from a miserable shooting performance Tuesday against L.A., sank 3 of his 5 three-point attempts. This victory puts Dennis Johnson’s side a mere 8 1/2 games behind Fort Worth in the race for the NBDL’s Eastern Division crown.
Crap protection for K-State’s Josh Freeman, 200+ yards on the ground for Rutgers’ duo of Ray Rice (above) and Brian Leonard (the vast majority to the ever-dependable Rice), and you’ve got an almost unwatchable, lopsided game that few persons in the New Brunswick area can see, thanks to the NFL Network’s clearance issues.
There’s no shortage of empty seats at Reliant this evening — perhaps the locals thought it was Mario Williams Appreciation Night.
How easily has Cal been moving the ball up and down the field against Texas A&M tonight? Peyton Manning is preparing his post game notes to he can call out the Aggies’ defense.
I know this is totally off-topic, but I saw the score of A&M’s hoops victory over Grambling State flash past on the ticker a few times today and had to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. Even George Karl thinks something is unseemly about this.
The Memphis Commerical Appeal’s Ronald Tillery reports that Mike Fratello has been dusted in Memphis, the Grizzlies’ 6-24 record rendering the club little more than a lottery contender for the rest of the season.
Not to say the Grizzlies haven’t been painful to watch this season, but if Michael Heisley wants to blame someone for the franchise’s on-court woes, he might want to fire the guy that allowed Pau Gasol to play in the World Championships.
Over at the Lil’ Blogging Conglomerate that could, one of Marcel Mutoni’s loyal readers saw fit to lambaste Poison Pete Vescey for his attacks on Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith (“they played the sport and understand it. You don’t.”) Vescey proves even worse at answering reader mail than me.
“Judging by your response it only confirms what level of IQ Barkley and Smith appeal to; I have no doubt you learn plenty from them. Just as I have no doubt you’re part of Stephen A-Hole’s studio audience”
Y’know, I had the recent misfortune of staying at the Hotel Pennsylvania (yikes) and I have to take issue with Vescey on this one. Stephen A. Smith doesn’t really have a studio audience. As Will Leitch confirmed ages ago, they’re practically dragging tourists by their earlobes into “Quite Frankly” tapings. The Washington Times sales department Moonie recruiters could learn a thing or two from Smith’s staff.
AOL Sports’ Jason Whitlock — in no way shape or form trying to draw greater attention to himself — seriously advocates that when and if the Cowboys part ways with Terrell Owens, the rest of the league should banish the wide receiver.
I know NFL owners must avoid the appearance of collusion, but why can™t commissioner Roger Goodell quietly suggest to owners that the league would be better off with T.O. involuntarily retired?
If I™m an NFL player, I™d want Owens out of the league. He is single-handedly damaging the image of the modern-day professional football player. Owens draws so much attention from ESPN that he has come to symbolize today™s pro athlete.
If the NFL is truly serious about controlling its players and preventing its players from dragging the perception of the league to NBA levels, running Owens out of the league would send a strong message to the T.O. imitators. Fifteen-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for taunting are fine, but T.O. sitting at home, shopping for lip gloss online and gossiping with his publicist Lil Kim would be superior.
From Owens to Larry Johnson to Chad Johnson, there are a growing number of players who are going out of their way to make controversial statements or draw attention to themselves. In order to appear young, hip and open-minded, members of the media, particularly at ESPN, are going out of their way to talk about how cute, entertaining and “refreshing” the behavior is.
I’m sure Jason knows exactly what he’s talking about when characterizing ESPN’s coverage of T.O., and his remarks are in no way related to his own contentious departure from the Worldwide Leader. Sadly, I’ve only been able to bear witness to the commentary of hip, open-minded youth culture icons like Sean Salisbury and Mike Ditka, and the words “cute” and “refreshing” don’t seem to figure in their judgements of Owens’ behavior. Perhaps my satellite dish is picking up signals from another ESPN?
The win this week was great and I could actually say that’s what I wanted for Christmas. Yes, now we have solidly beat the Cowboys with my son and without him. But I can hear you asking, mama McNabb what are you really thinking? Well here it is, the real deal. It’s kind of bitter sweet for me as my son, the quarterback sits out on injured reserved watching the game during his rehab. I polled my family too and they feel the same. We want our team to win and even go to the Superbowl and win it in Miami especially if they continue to play as they have. But oh oh, if they win the Superbowl without my son, what would be the real outcome with the fans? Will they crucify him? Maybe, then the trade talks would begin. Off season madness, worse than last year’s fiasco. But guess what, I guess I’ll have to take the beating if it comes. I would have to hope that scenario of the madness would not happen or be that bad. Well let’s wait and see. Bitter sweet.
“His happiness level is fine,” Petrie said before the Kings faced Philadelphia on Wednesday night at Arco Arena. “He has a very large performance bank account. A lot of people have forgotten what it was like around here before he got here.
“I guess you could sum (the trade talk) up this way. It’s a lot of noise, mostly white noise, like when a hen oodles — wow, lays an egg — and it makes a sound like it made a meteor.”
Asked about Artest’s locker room impact and any potential influence on teammates, Petrie said: “He has some esoteric qualities. A lot of people do.”
As for whether Artest has approached management with a desire to be traded, Petrie would only say, “That’s a hypothetical question that you’re going to have to save.”
Fog is the official reason Steve Francis gave after missing practice on Tuesday, or so he would have you believe. Want to know the actual reason? Francis got an electronic Deal or No Deal setup for Christmas and was busy pushing buttons in the locker room prior to the Detroit game. œI™ve been playing this thing for two days straight, he said. And now we know.
Barry Zito, the longtime A’s ace and member of “the Big Three,” will be introduced as the newest member of the San Francisco Giants at a press conference, possibly as soon as today, the Chronicle has learned.
“This is a Bay Bridge free agency,” said one person with knowledge of the negotiations. “I think Barry Zito will be the face of the Giants franchise for a long time.”
Zito will recieve $126 million for seven years, the largest contract ever for a pitcher.
There’s a club option for an eighth season that will vest automatically if Zito pitches 200 innings in the final year of the deal, or 400 in the final two years or 600 in the final three years. After that option vests, it becomes a player option and Zito can accept or decline it.
Not since “Network”‘s Howard Beale encouraged his viewers to turn off their televisions has any media figure so bravely dared his audience to fuck off. Substituting for Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio this morning, John Kincaid was in full-fledged tirade mode, opining that those concerned with “the integrity of baseball statistics….must have something missing in their lives.”
“Maybe you should get a hobby,” sneered the host. “Or a girlfriend.”
Whether or not the likes of Rob Neyer, Keith Law or Peter Gammons will take Kincaid’s advice remains to be seen. But there is something truly fantastic about a media company that makes crazy money on fantasy games, a stats-heavy website, enourages all sorts of analysis on their television programs, etc., employing some schmuck to get on the radio and disparage their clientele.
(Gammo : hobby, check. girfriend : wife might not approve)
The tastiest part is that if indeed, the scourge that is “taking America down the drain” (in Kincaid’s words) were eliminated tomorrow — the obsessive interest in the competitive pursuits of others —- the radio host in question would undoubtedly have all sorts of interesting things to fall back on.
Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster Joe Garagiola Sr. had front-row seats for the 1976 presidential election. The Paradise Valley resident and his wife stayed that night in the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House and watched election coverage on television with President Gerald Ford and his family.
Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter had gained a slight lead, and the president decided to go to bed when it appeared no quick winner would emerge.
Garagiola, a former St. Louis Cardinals catcher and œToday Show panelist, shared the story Wednesday, a day after Ford™s death at his California home. Garagiola, now 80, said watching the election unfold with Ford was like living inside a page of history.
œHe said, ˜Let™s go to bed, and let™s have a good night™s sleep and see what happens in the morning,™ Garagiola recalled. œBut I don™t think he slept very well. I know I didn™t.
Garagiola had always stayed on the political sidelines, but he grew to admire Ford and decided to campaign for him when he ran for his own term. He traveled with the president on Air Force One and hosted speaking engagements that were designed to resemble talk shows.
Garagiola, whose father was an immigrant, found himself attending meetings and functions with Ford and political heavy hitters such as Dick Cheney, Bob Dole and Henry Kissinger. They were all on a first-name basis with each other.
œI was like a kid in the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory, Garagiola said.
I had a pretty late night, so forgive me if I am haunted by the image of Cheney, Dole and Kissinger as Oompa Loompas.
The Rangers have been told that Barry Zito is signing elsewhere.
One source said that the Rangers expect Zito to sign with the San Francisco Giants. The Rangers offered Zito a six-year, $84 million contract. They also added a vesting option for $15 million for a seventh year with a $4 million buyout. The option would have kicked in if Zito pitched 200 innings in the sixth year of the contract. But apparently it wasn’t enough to lure Zito to Texas.
If Sullivan’s source is correct, the NY Post’s Joel Sherman comes off looking rather prophetic, having described the Giants as the “front-runner” for Zito’s services earlier today.
The Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice mentions the possibility of Paul Wilson signing with the Astro, and while I’m not usually given to Generation K nostalgia, perhaps the Mets will extend a spring training invite to Bill Pulispher. He’s a cheaper lefty than Barry Zito and he already knows his way to the ballpark.
Beyond that, I’m stunned by the possibility the most glittering prize left on the free agent market might end up with someone besides the two New York clubs. I knew it was bad idea for Omar to stress Flushing’s strong Caucasian-American community ties —- as Carlos Delgado could’ve told us, that kind of thing just smacks of pandering.
Starting the last game of the season this Sunday in place of the injured Matt Leinart has convinced the graying Kurt Warner (above, right) that “I feel like I have a lot of football left in me.” He says he’s committed to the contract he signed, and I’m sure the Cardinals will welcome his 10 fumbles in four starts.
This year might have been his last shot to be a regular starter, and he contemplated retiring at the end of the season.
But after much thought he’s decided to return in 2007, although he left himself some wiggle room.
“I’m going to come back and play,” he said. “I want to play. I feel like I have a lot of football left in me. That’s my plan as of right now, not that that can’t change when the off-season comes around and me and family sit down. But I signed a contract to be here with the Cardinals. That’s where I go into the off-season thinking.”
There’s been a Paolo Di Canio sighting, and fortunately for once, there’s no sieg heiling involved. Currently toiling for Serie C2′s Cisco Roma, Di Canio brings a bit of whimsy to the training ground. (link courtesy The Offside)
Sure, it would be more impressive if he pulled this off in an actual match, but I’m not sure we’d want to see the celebration afterwards.
(Channing Frye, draining a jumper at the end of the 2nd overtime and promptly forgetting there was another 5 minutes to play)
I’ll resist the temptation to go hyperbole crazy and tell you Ali/Frazier I and II had nothing on this game. But I don’t think it would be any exaggeration to say tonight’s slugfest at the Garden has been the most hotly contested Knicks game since, well….the last time they were relevant. Rip Hamilton (51 points) showed no ill-effects from last night’s tough game with the Nets, while on the other side of the ledger, Stephon Marbury scored a season-high 41 points before fouling out, and Eddy Curry delivered an eye-popping 33 (and these days, you no longer have to look twice to make sure that isn’t a typo).
How is it that David Lee — being shoved around by players with far more impressive resumes — pulls down so many crucial rebounds? How is that the infuriatingly erratic Jamal Crawford connects on so many long-range shots in such (Chris Russo voice here) big spots? Well, other than at the end of regulation. Save for the Philly debacle, if the Knicks could bottle the sort of tenacity they’ve shown since the The Brawl…Isiah could have it made into his own signature scent, the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for that special work colleague.
To flip the cynical switch for a moment, the Knicks came into tonight on 3 days’ rest, while the Pistons had to tangle with the Nets on Tuesday. But they all count, and I don’t know very many persons who’d have picked a shorthanded New York squad to go 4-1 after the fight with Denver.
Rip Hamilton had a chance to cut New York’s lead to 148-147 with 13 second remaining, but he was bumped by Renaldo Balkman when driving the lane. No foul was called, and Hamilton was hit with a technical moments later. Vince Carter knows exactly how you feel, Rip.
Despite having missed more than a quarter of the Chargers’ games due to suspension, OLB Shawne Merriman is a leading contender for juiced menace man of the year honors. None of this sits well with the saintly Jason Taylor (above), who demonstrated for the AP’s Steve Wine that he doesn’t need to wait for retirement or an ESPN commentary gig to become a self-righteous blowhard.
Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor says the candidacy of his likely chief rival for NFL defensive player of the year, Shawne Merriman, was tainted by a four-game steroid suspension in November.
“You really shouldn’t be able to fail a test like that and play in this league, to begin with,” Taylor said Wednesday. “To make the Pro Bowl and all the other awards, I think you’re walking a fine line of sending the wrong message.”
“A performance-enhancing drug is, obviously, what it is,” Taylor said. “You enhance your performance by doing that. You fail that test, I think it’s not right, it’s against the rules and ultimately I think it’s sending the wrong message to the youth in America and the people who look at this game not only as entertainment but also to learn lessons from it.”
“He’s always making plays,” Taylor said. “He’s one of the best young talents we have in this game right now as far as defensively, and he has had an unbelievable year. With that being said, there are certain rules and guidelines we have to abide by to play in this game.”
The father of Stuart Lubbock – the man found dead in comedian Michael Barrymore’s pool – yesterday welcomed the news that police were investigating a new clue.
Terry Lubbock, 61, thanked the Mirror for a “wonderful Christmas present” after our exclusive report that a “middleaged gay man” may have been there that night.
Butcher Stuart, 31, died after a drink and drug-fuelled party at Barrymore’s home in Roydon, Essex, in March 2001.
A postmortem found he had horrific anal injuries.
Of course, it would help if there was a more detailed description. I mean, there’s all sorts of middle-aged gay men who might be hanging around Michael Barrymore’s swimming pool. Perhaps, with a robe monogrammed “M.B.”?
The names and urine samples of about 100 Major League Baseball players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs three years ago can be used by government investigators in their probe of steroids in sports, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could bolster the government’s case against Barry Bonds if his name is among those who tested positive. The San Francisco Giants slugger has been the target of a perjury investigation since he testified before a grand jury that he didn’t knowingly ingest performance enhancing drugs.
The samples had been collected by the league in 2003 as part of a survey to gauge the prevalence of steroid use. Baseball players and owners agreed in their labor contract that the results would be confidential, and each player was assigned a code number to be matched with his name.
Quest Diagnostics of Teterboro, N.J., one of the largest drug-testing firms in the nation, analyzed more than 1,400 urine samples from players that season. Comprehensive Drug Testing, of Long Beach, coordinated the collection of specimens and compiled the data.
Though I have no inside knowledge of the identities of any of the players that tested positive, I shudder to think what the next batch of revelations might do to Manny Alexander’s Hall of Fame chances.
(an inspiring symbol of hope and resurrection the well compensated Reggie Bush)
Charles Star wonders “why does all of the coverage of the New Orleans Saints sound like reporting at the Special Olympics?”
I don™t want the pity party. I don™t want the bullshit story lines about the post-Katrina emotion and I don™t want every Saints fumble to be turned into a kidney punch for some poor blind woman in the 9th Ward who has nothing left but a beat up transistor and the voice of Hokie Gajan to get her through her bleak days.
I love this team. I was thrilled when we (yes, œwe, asshole) signed Drew Brees and even more thrilled when the Texans decided to whiff on the easiest draft choice ever. When I was asked at the beginning of the year, I said that if the schedule breaks right, the Saints could win 10 or 11 games. It sounded crazy at the time but I knew that it was true (I also said that 4-12 was possible and I™m not at all sure that was wrong either (see week 15)). Now that it has come true, now that the Saints are 10-5, I™d like to enjoy the success of my favorite football team. They are not a metaphor. They aren™t a metaphor this year; they are winning with good players. They weren™t a metaphor last year; they lost becuase their QB was functionally retarded.
It is really tiresome to have to listen to all the crap about destiny and rebuilding and, most of all, Hurricane Katrina. The devastation wrought by the hurricane is too serious to be reduced to cheap motivation for a football game and football doens™t have the necessary heft to bear the burden of Katrina.
I think Star makes an excellent point, and with the above in mind, perhaps Stuart Adamson’s estate can contribute mechanical royalties from the U2/Green Day cover of “The Saints Are Coming” to someone truly needy. Because I don’t think Aaron Brooks will be earning an NFL salary in the future.
The New York Daily News’ Gary Myers has the pleasure of chatting with an anonymous member of Big Blue while trashing the “desperation phase” of Tom Coughlin’s tenure.
Coughlin finally fired offensive coordinator John Hufnagel as his playcaller yesterday, but it’s much too late in the season for the move to have an impact. And instead of Coughlin handing the job to quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride, the other part of the tandem that has done such a wonderful job with Eli Manning, he should have taken control of the Titanic and called the plays himself Saturday night in Washington.
At this point, why trust anyone else when it’s your job on the line?
I asked one Giant in the days after Sunday’s debacle against the Saints how the players feel these days about Coughlin – did they want him back, and what has gone wrong?
“We are tiring of his act,” the Giant said. “He is pushing too hard. We’re still in full pads for part of practice, despite all the injuries we have and the fact that it’s the end of a long season. He is very ‘me’ oriented, always talks about doing things his way – his hard-ass, no-give approach – but we’re not winning or sustaining games, so the disconnect is widening and we are tuning him out.”
It’s a shame Jeff Feagles isn’t willing to step up and take credit for such an astute observation.
NY SportsDog claims “the latest rumour that appears to have traction is that Giants will go hard for both Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to replace Coughlin and Patriots V.P./player personnel Scott Pioli to replace outgoing GM Ernie Accorsi,” a curious assertion given that Steve Serby already recommended the Giants pursue Pioli (along with the Hooded Casanova’s former colleague, Charlie Weis). Given Bob Kraft’s history of losing coaches to the Swamp, I have a hard time imagining the Casanova and Pioli escaping Foxboro, contracts or not.
The AICF at its Central Council meeting at Chennai yesterday decided to ban Umakant, the second seed at the Air Marshal Subroto tournament, for being caught with a blue tooth device hidden in his cap.
AICF Treasurer and Delhi Chess Association President Bharat Singh Chauhan, who exhibited the cap and device at the meeting, said the decision was taken after a long deliberation on the pros and cons of the nature of the offence and the punishment, besides the complete record of the player, who climbed from ELO ratings 1989 to around 2480 in only the last six months.
“The matter was discussed at length at the meeting and it was decided that such acts were not welcome in chess,” Chauhan told PTI.
“The Council also checked Umakant’s complete record, including his games and even financial background and was surprised to learn that he had expensive mobile set despite being unemployed,” he said.
“It is only recently that he got a job with the Southern Railways in Chennai,” he said.