Baseball notes

Something will have to give

Decision time looms for buyers and sellers

R. SEXSON On the way out? R. SEXSON On the way out?
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / June 22, 2008

Some teams (Mariners, Mets, Blue Jays) have already made their major decisions, while others are still formulating plans. A glimpse at a few game plans you might see implemented:

Phillies: A team official said they are beating the bushes for one more starting pitcher. They'll be in on just about anybody who becomes available, perhaps a No. 2 or No. 3 type. They would also be in on a No. 1 such as C.C. Sabathia if the Indians are serious about peddling him or Erik Bedard if the Mariners rip things apart. They are also taking a good look at A.J. Burnett, who has an opt-out, as well as Bronson Arroyo and Derek Lowe. The official said the Phillies see this year as a prime opportunity to make it to the World Series.

Braves: A team official said they are very close to coming to a conclusion about how to approach the remainder of the season: hang in there despite a multitude of pitching injuries or try to acquire a starter and win a division nobody is running away with. Part of the decision revolves around whether first baseman Mark Teixeira should be shopped or re-signed.

Mariners: Two biggies have already been made. The general manager (Bill Bavasi) and the manager (John McLaren) have been fired, so what's left? A decision on whether to release Richie Sexson is surely about to be made. The 6-foot-7-inch first baseman hasn't been able to sustain any consistency and take advantage of his off-the-charts power. They'll make hitters such as Raul Ibanez and Jose Vidro available, while Bedard and Carlos Silva also can be had.

Blue Jays: Tough season for J.P. Ricciardi's club, when it should have been a playoff run. They fired manager John Gibbons and replaced him with Cito Gaston, which does not sound like a Ricciardi move - therefore you wonder about Ricciardi's future. Do they stick it out and hope to get back in the race with their pitching, or do they sell off Burnett, David Eckstein, Matt Stairs, and perhaps even Scott Rolen? Alex Rios has taken a step back after signing a big contract, and Vernon Wells is grossly overpaid.

Reds: They are heading for last place if they don't watch out, so you wonder whether Walt Jocketty really wants to stick it out as GM or if he's keeping the seat warm for yet another leader. Major decisions are looming, with impending free agent Adam Dunn at the forefront. He could be a bat for a team in contention. Ken Griffey is now talking as if he'd like to stay in Cincinnati, which probably isn't a great thing for the Reds. They have an attractive chip in Arroyo they could deal if they feel Homer Bailey will be ready by next year.

Indians: First and foremost, Sabathia is an impending free agent, and while there have been reports that he's already being shopped, he'll be tough to deal. Can the Indians accept less than the kind of package the Mets gave up for Johan Santana? The Red Sox, Dodgers, Phillies, Cubs, and Yankees (they probably wouldn't do it) are the most likely teams to be involved. But don't forget the teams interested in Santana were whittled to a precious few in the end. You have to be able to sign Sabathia to a Santana-type deal and be willing to fork over the package of top prospects. Does anyone do that anymore? The Indians could also sell off Paul Byrd.

Dodgers: This team, Ned Colletti specifically, must dip down and come up with a rabbit to make them a viable playoff contender. So they will likely be players for Sabathia, Bedard, and others as long as they're within striking distance. The Diamondbacks' recent tumble has made a Dodger comeback possible for the time being, but they need to get to .500 before they start thinking playoffs. They have chips they could deal for Sabathia in Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, etc.

Yankees: Brian Cashman will attempt to patch up Chien-Ming Wang's loss with Sidney Ponson for the time being. If that doesn't work, he'll move on to something more serious. If he wants a front-line pitcher, he's going to have to part with Melky Cabrera, and all indications are that he doesn't want to do that.

Cubs: With Carlos Zambrano ailing, and the team in need of an outfielder, GM Jim Hendry might be in the trading mood. He has scouts all over the place, beating the bushes. He'd love to get his hands on Coco Crisp and would dangle Milton lefty Rich Hill in a package, but the Sox are not motivated buyers, having survived the David Ortiz injury very nicely.

Pirates: There are scouts out there looking for righthanded power. The Pirates have one much in demand in left fielder Jason Bay.

A Yankee with ingenuity

A few questions for Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte:

Some of the scouts I've talked to say you're throwing the ball as well as you ever have.

AP: (Laugh). "I felt good the last two starts. A few starts ago, they were ready to run me out of here. I've been feeling good. I haven't gotten on the kind of roll that I'd like to be on for feeling as good as I have. But, yeah, it's been good. Hopefully, I can continue that through the All-Star break.

What's been going so well?

AP: "I think I've been able to use all of my pitches and they're all working. I was having problems earlier in that my balls were cutting. They were supposed to go away from righties but they were just cutting over the middle of the plate. I've kind of figured that out. When you're throwing the ball well like this and you've figured it out, you just expect more wins, and maybe now I'll get them."

Have you had a late-career resurgence here, to the point where you might play a few more years?

AP: "I don't know what I'm going to do, This thing now - knock on wood - since I signed here last year, I haven't had any problem with my elbow the whole season and this season I've had no pain. First time in a long, long time that I haven't had elbow problems. I had them so long that I'll kind of put it in the back of my mind that it's going to start hurting again. I had the surgery and they fixed me. I think I can stick around for a while if I wanted to, but I just don't know. My oldest is 14 and I'd like to be able to go out and see some of his stuff. Go out to games and things like that."

How much has having Jorge Posada return from his injury helped your team?

AP: "It helps our pitching staff, for sure, but it helps our offense because he's such a great hitter. He's a great leader and he's one of the guys that makes this team go."

Has your life settled down after the Mitchell Report?

AP: "Everything's fine. It's just all about my family and pitching and team and the things it should be all about. It's great to be able to come to the ballpark and concentrate on pitching."

Sands of time take Carbo back to 1975

There was a listing on eBay last week for the bat supposedly used by Bernie Carbo to hit his dramatic home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, but Carbo doesn't think it was the actual one.

The Louisville Slugger "Juan Beniquez model" depicted in photos did have Carbo's signature and indicated the date of the event. But Carbo said his bat was an Adirondack that he had completely sanded down before the memorable at-bat.

"I'd have to look at the bat, but I know if I had the bat, I would never sell it," said Carbo, who these days devotes his time to the Diamond Club Ministry, teaching baseball to kids and spreading the word of Jesus Christ. "The bat disappeared the day after I hit the home run and I've never seen it again.

"I don't remember signing anything like that. If I had the bat, I would have given it to the Hall of Fame or the Ted Williams Museum."

Carbo, 60, said he was sitting on the bench with the bat in his hand during Game 6. He said he was bored, so he took some sandpaper and kept sanding and sanding.

"I sanded everything off the bat, including the emblem," he said. "I remember Rick Wise coming over to me and saying, 'You can't use that bat, it's illegal.' So I took a magic marker and I retraced the emblem.

"So I used the bat when I came up to hit. After I hit the home run, I remember going back to the dugout thinking, 'Geez, I hope they didn't get a close look at the bat because they might have thought it was illegal and taken away the home run.' "

Carbo, who lives in Mobile, Ala., but is touring New England with his ministry for a couple of weeks, remembers using the bat again when he struck out in his next at-bat, to end the 10th inning. But he claims that was the last he saw of it.


Touching the bases
Apropos of nothing: 1. Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Red Sox senior adviser Jeremy Kapstein were seen together in Cashman's box at Yankee Stadium for several hours Thursday; 2. The Padres can't hit; 3. One of the classiest people to put on a Sox uniform, Rick Aguilera, was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame yesterday; 4. All of the players traded for Doug Mirabelli: Justin Duchscherer, Mark Loretta, Cla Meredith, and Josh Bard; 5. Don't look now, but White Sox third baseman Joe Crede is challenging Julio Lugo's 14 errors with 12 of his own.

In better condition than his bats
Johnny Damon says his hot start is attributable to "being healthy again. I haven't felt this good since I was a kid." When told that many people thought he was done, he said, "I thought I was, too. Now I think I have a lot left." Damon, by the way, has been breaking bats at an alarming rate. He estimates he has broken 40 since the start of the season.

Frank talk on Francona
Bobby Abreu, on playing under Terry Francona in Philadelphia: "I was young then, but it was good. He taught me a lot of good things. I made one mistake: I got lazy. It was my fault. He got into me and taught me a lesson. He told me I had to be responsible. Since then, I have never forgotten that. That was a good thing that I learned from him. He taught me how to play the game right." You can see why Francona wanted Abreu at the time the Yankees traded for him. He leads the majors with a .429 average with two outs and runners in scoring position.

Poll position
Twenty Hall of Fame voters were asked whether they would vote for Curt Schilling, and they split, 10-10. Among the no voters were J.G. Taylor Spink Award winners Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News, Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News, and Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This indicates the type of debate that's ahead if Schilling has pitched his last game. Those voting against him emphasize his relatively low victory total (216) while those in favor cite his stellar postseason record (11-2). It would also be interesting to see how Schilling fares against a couple of others on the 2013 ballot: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Tigers 2, Rangers 0
A couple of surprising things about the Tigers, both of which involve fleecing the Rangers: 1. Marcus Thames, cut by the Rangers in '03, homered in five straight games last week and at least for now has earned himself the left field job. Jim Leyland has used eight left fielders: Thames, Brent Clevlen, Carlos Guillen, Ryan Raburn, Gary Sheffield, Clete Thomas, Matt Joyce, and the waived Jacque Jones; 2. Armando Galarraga, who was designated for assignment by the pitching-starved Rangers right before spring training, has been Detroit's top starter with seven wins.

Breakdown lane
The old red flag with Cubs righty Carlos Zambrano appeared even before he felt pain in his right shoulder last week and wound up on the disabled list. He threw more than 120 pitches 35 times under Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella from 2003-07. The Cubs had been more careful this season, but he threw 130 in eight innings against the Dodgers May 28. Through that outing, Zambrano was 7-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 12 starts. After that, he was 1-2, 5.69 in four starts.

From start to finish
It's easy to see why the Angels are one of the top teams. According to Stats Inc., their starters have been working deep into games and have earned the win in all but seven of the team's 45 victories. The Angels' rotation averages a major league-high 6.37 innings per start. Francisco Rodriguez, who leads the majors with 29 saves, has closed out 64.4 percent of those 45 wins. Baltimore's George Sherrill has saved 25 of the Orioles' 38 wins, an even higher percentage at 65.7. Since 1969, only Bryan Harvey of the 1993 Marlins has saved a higher percentage of his team's victories; he recorded 45 saves that season, 70.3 percent of Florida's 64 wins.

Short hops
From newstalgist Bill Chuck: "The apple falls far from the tree": Prince Fielder, all 270 pounds of him, now has two inside-the-park homers and 10 stolen bases in his career. His dad, Cecil, had 319 career homers, all out of the park, and two career stolen bases . . . . . . You know what Junior Griffey, Tom Seaver, Sparky Anderson, Bill James, and Babe Ruth all have in common? The first name of George . . . Happy 30th birthday, Willie Harris.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at

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