'Tex' takes Yanks' 8-year deal
The New York Yankees swooped in Tuesday and hooked prized free agent Mark Teixeira, reaching agreement with the first baseman on an eight-year contract worth $180 million, three sources involved in the negotiations told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.
The agreement, which is subject to a physical, includes a signing bonus of about $5 million and a complete no-trade provision, The Associated Press reported.
The Yankees had made an offer to Teixeira weeks ago, but then withdrew it; their intention all along was to make an offer, which they did formally on Tuesday, if it fell within parameters acceptable to the organization. The contract will pay Teixeira, who made it clear he wanted to make a decision on where to play next season and beyond by Christmas, an average of $22.5 million per season.
The Yankees had $88.5 million coming off the books (included in that total -- $23.4 million on Jason Giambi, $16 million on Bobby Abreu, and $11 million to both Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano), and even with the Teixeira contract, they expect their payroll to fall below $200 million. New York has committed $423.5 million in salary in the last month, with $161 million going to left-handed pitcher CC Sabathia ($23 million per over seven years) and $82.5 million to right-hander A.J. Burnett ($18.5 million per over five) last week alone.
Fantasy: Givens and limits
To say that Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter are locks for 100-plus runs, and A-Rod and Mark Teixeira 100-plus RBIs, is an understatement, Tristan Cockcroft writes. Blog
The deal also virtually eliminates any chance that free-agent outfielder Manny Ramirez has a landing place with the Yankees. New York does have money left to add another starting pitcher, most likely veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte at $10 million if he agrees to terms soon.
Teixeira's salary gives the Yankees, who are preparing to move into their $1.3 billion new ballpark in April, the four highest-paid players in Major League Baseball: himself, Sabathia, third baseman Alex Rodriguez (10 years, $275 million) and shortstop Derek Jeter (10 years, $189 million).
Teixeira's agreement also comes just one day after the Yankees received a $26.9 million luxury tax bill for 2008, when their streak of 13 consecutive playoff appearances ended. But with the revenue from their new stadium, where tickets are priced at up to $2,500 per game, their appetite for free agents wasn't diminished.
Just 28, Teixeira is the type of hitter the Yankees hope will revive an offense that dropped from a major league-leading 968 runs in 2007 to 789 last season. The switch-hitter batted a combined .308 with 33 homers and 121 RBIs for the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels, who acquired him July 29. He is also a two-time Gold Glove winner.
Likely Yankee lineup
What the Yankees' lineup could look like when they open the season on April 6 in Baltimore:
LF Johnny Damon
SS Derek Jeter
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
DH Hideki Matsui
RF Xavier Nady
C Jorge Posada
2B Robinson Cano
CF Melky Cabrera
Bench? -- Nick Swisher
The Yankees landed Teixeira at a time it was believed the Boston Red Sox or the Washington Nationals were the likeliest to be his future employer. The Red Sox's offer was believed to be in the range of $170 million, and the Nationals reached out with an offer perhaps greater than that of Boston.
Red Sox executives met with Teixeira and agent Scott Boras last week and were told they were being outbid. Teixeira, who is from Maryland, also had discussed signing with the Baltimore Orioles.
"We would have loved to have had the player, who appealed to us because of the special circumstances of where he's from and where we are. We diverted from our plan to try to get him," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. "But at the end of the day, it was just too much to pay for one player. It would handicap our ability to go forward."
The Nationals also held talks. General manager Jim Bowden said his team's owners "demonstrated their commitment to win, when they stepped up in negotiations ... at the highest level."
"We are disappointed we weren't able to sign him," Bowden wrote in an e-mail to the AP on Tuesday, "and will now turn our attention to several other opportunities to improve our major league club this offseason."
The Angels made an eight-year offer during the winter meetings but withdrew it last weekend.
Teixeira will replace a void in the Yankees lineup created by the departures of Giambi and Abreu, who became free agents. It also creates a logjam for New York, which acquired first baseman Nick Swisher last month in a trade with the Chicago White Sox.
Although Swisher also can play the outfield, the Yankees have a multitude of options there, including Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner and Xavier Nady. Matsui currently is likely to be the designated hitter much of the time.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Yanks welcome CC, A.J. to New York
Prized free-agent acquisitions meet media at Yankee Stadium
NEW YORK -- Inside the construction site that Yankee Stadium has become, they gathered Thursday for one last hurrah, a look ahead to the future in a building so well-known for its past.
The white message board and its familiar black font still stared down at the Major Deegan Expressway, relaying just the words a passing fan would want to see: "Let's play two -- CC and A.J."
Side by side, it was a 2-for-1 deal -- a pair of talented arms, with just four letters needed to identify them. As the Yankees introduced CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett in a dual ceremony, the organization spoke optimistically about an upcoming return to dominance.
Representing the organization's top offseason priorities, the Yankees trotted out the top pitching prizes of this year's free-agent market in what may be the final news conference at the classic facility.
"I think it adds an urgency to get back to where this organization is supposed to be," Sabathia said. "I wouldn't say it's pressure. I would just say that people will play with a sense of urgency in the new stadium, getting back to that. It's definitely exciting."
They shed their jackets for pinstriped jerseys at the downstairs Stadium Club -- Burnett's a snug No. 34, Sabathia's a very baggy No. 52 -- across 161st Street from where both pitchers will ply their trade next season.
"People are excited, that much is obvious," Yankees co-chairman Hal Steinbrenner said. "People are excited about this new stadium. Going out and getting these two great guys is going to be exciting, too."
Such was the vision. General manager Brian Cashman had been plotting the image of Sabathia in a Yankees uniform since last winter, when the club shunned a chance to trade for Johan Santana. Cashman vowed to have patience then, and push aggressively now.
"The one thing that I think today represents is just another example of that we're going to keep swinging for the fences," Cashman said. "We're going to keep trying. We're going to keep finding people and the right circumstances for a group that can make it happen."
With an 18-win season for Toronto, Burnett soon shot to the top of New York's list as well, boosting a club aimed to upgrade after missing the postseason in the old ballpark's farewell season.
"This is a dream come true," Burnett said. "I'm looking forward to it; it's going to be a fun ride. I want to pitch in the postseason, and I'm here to win. I think both of us are dedicated to winning, or else we wouldn't be here."
Both hurlers agreed to wear pinstripes last week, with Sabathia agreeing to terms on a seven-year, $161 million deal and Burnett accepting a five-year, $82.5 million pact. The pitchers were in New York to complete physicals and finalize paperwork this week.
"We got the two gentlemen we really wanted," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I'm proud to say they're Yankees."
The concept of family, specifically as it relates to the Yankees, was a prominent piece of the introduction. Girardi lent his 6-year-old daughter, Serena, to the process, presenting wives Amber Sabathia and Karen Burnett with bouquets of red roses in a photo opportunity.
"We're all family now," A.J. Burnett said.
It was a bond that the Yankees had hoped to affirm for some time. The club left no doubt of its intentions with Sabathia, leaping to offer him a six-year commitment on Nov. 14, the first day it could do so.
But the California-born left-hander waited, holding a short list of three clubs close to his vest. The Yankees easily bested the Brewers' five-year, $100 million proposal, a deal that New York financially blew away.
Yet Sabathia said he held off on accepting the pact until he knew for sure that California would not enter the fray -- the Angels were his remaining club and never really seriously materialized, aiming to retain first baseman Mark Teixeira.
With the Yankees' needs in focus and negotiations stalled for weeks, Cashman took the initiative. Using Reggie Jackson as a pitchman during their first get-together at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Cashman was later invited to the hurler's home in Vallejo, Calif., approximately 30 miles outside of San Francisco.
There, Cashman met with Sabathia's wife and his young family to "educate." That included discussing entertainment options, educational opportunities and the leafy suburbs from which to commute.
The sales pitch clicked. With another year and $21 million placed on the table, Sabathia not only agreed to wear pinstripes, but he will also move his permanent residence to the New York area.
"It was kind of a stressful deal," Sabathia said. "I was just trying to make sure I made the right decision. Being here now and coming here and seeing the way people are, I definitely made the right choice."
With their top target in the fold, the Yankees then moved quickly to secure Burnett, who was weighing an offer to join the Braves. But Sabathia's signing put the market in motion, and Burnett liked the idea of being No. 2 behind an ace, the way he was with Roy Halladay in Toronto.
"This is a dream come true. I'm looking forward to it; it's going to be a fun ride. I want to pitch in the postseason, and I'm here to win. I think both of us are dedicated to winning, or else we wouldn't be here."
-- A.J. Burnett
"I wish he would have signed about a month earlier, to be honest with you," Burnett said.
New York agreed to commit a fifth contractual year to the right-hander, and that was enough to land Burnett. Geographical proximity played a large role: Burnett's wife dislikes flying. New York is only a three-hour ride away from the couple's home in Maryland, and now New York will become an in-season weekend home.
The Yankees held Burnett in high regard, especially this season, when he went 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts against them. Just as importantly, Burnett is 5-0 lifetime against the Red Sox; in 10 big league seasons, Burnett is 87-76 with a 3.81 ERA.
"You've got to keep your perspective," Cashman said. "It's great and I'm happy. But at the same time, we haven't won any games. It's nice print, but everybody's got to come together to form a team and go up against some stiff competition."
On adjusting to life in New York and dealing with the increased media scrutiny, neither pitcher felt they would have trouble making the transition.
"I've talked to guys like [Derek] Jeter, guys who have been here," Sabathia said. "I'll answer questions whether there's 100 reporters at my locker or five. I'm not afraid of telling you how I feel, whether I pitched good or bad."
"I think I'll fit right in," Burnett said. "I grew up in this game. You don't point fingers, you take the blame like a man and be accountable."
Following the introductory news conference, there was a photo opportunity across 161st Street, where Sabathia and Burnett will catch some of their first glimpses at the Yankees' new home -- rising quickly in anticipation of its first game action in April 2009.
After that, both players said they'd be on their way to complete house-shopping in the New York area, weather permitting. Though snow may be in the immediate forecast, Spring Training is just eight weeks away.
"Enjoy them now," Girardi told the wives, "because I get them pretty soon."
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
nice excerpt by tony kornheiser about catfish hunter
click title above to go to alex belth's baseball banter blog
Underneath the folksy, good-ol’-boy exterior, with all his talk about bird dogs, killin’ them hogs and farmin’ them soybeans, Jim Hunter is an intelligent, thoughtful, honest and astonishingly secure man, the kind of man who’ll wear raggedy overalls to town becacuse he’s a farmer and that’s what a farmer wears even if he has millions in the bank. He has a touch of Senator Sam Ervin in him, the ability to draw a perfect picture of a horse without having to label it “Secretariat.” “Cat doesn’t demand respect,” said Fred Stanley, his teammate, “he just gets it.”
July 3, 1978