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March 3, 2008
Jonathan Papelbon isn't dancing for joy about the Red Sox' contract proposals. (AP Photo)
THE MONEY GAME: The advent of salary arbitration more than 35 years ago put an end to one of baseball's rites of spring -- the holdout -- so the arrival of pitchers and catchers usually means the end of salary talk. But that ain't necessarily the case for the one group of players -- those with less than three years' service time -- who aren't yet eligible for arbitration and thus pretty much have to take whatever the club offers. Jonathan Papelbon is in that group and, as Sean McAdam reports today, he's not happy the Sox won't pay him $900,000, which is what the Phillies paid Ryan Howard when he was at a similar experience level. In fact, Papelbon says he'd prefer the team ''just renew me,'' potentially at a figure far less than what they're actually offering, rather than have to negotiate for less than what he wants. Sounds like Pap's ready to fight the Sox for what he thinks he deserves, and Howard, again, is the big gun in his arsenal: This year he won $10 million in an arbitration hearing (Philadephia Inquirer), and you know Papelbon will have that figure in mind when he gets to go before an arbitrator next year.
SPIN CITY: It may not be much comfort to him, but Papelbon can be happy that Hall of Famer Goose Gossage thinks he's now the best closer in the game. At least that's what he told the Worcester Telegram. When confronted by the Yankee media about his comments, Gossage gave it the old homina-homina and said, well, Mariano Rivera's still the best; I meant Papelbon would be the best in the future. (Newsday) Oh.
WE'RE WITH YA: Papelbon's not alone in his distress. Fellow third-year man Prince Fielder is also upset at his contract, and he, too, is chanting the "Ryan Howard" mantra as he warns the Brewers of salary fights to come. (Wisconsin State Journal) And Cole Hamels calls the Phillies' renewal of his contract at $500,000 a low blow. (Philadelphia Daily News)
DON'T BE RIDICULOUS: Rhode Island's Jim Salisbury, the Philadelphia Inquirer's national baseball writer, says Hamels has absolutely no reason to be upset.
THE NATION VS. THE EMPIRE: Speaking of fights, Hank Steinbrenner against the Red Sox is shaping up as a long-running doozy. ("Gentlemen, start your insults," states McAdam.) But the two baseball titans are probably more alike than different, and the Globe's Nick Cafardo quotes Steinbrenner as saying ''you never know . . . we might end up being partners in the future outside of baseball. We have a lot in common.'' Red Sox and Yankees? Partners? Heads may explode in two regions. But the New York Post's Kevin Kernan says not to worry, that the rivalry will remain the same.
NATIONAL PRIDE: The Boston Herald talked to some Red Sox fans, who responded predictably to Hank's initial comments.
DER-EK JEET-ER (CLAP, CLAP, CLAP/CLAP/CLAP): After declining John Henry's invitation to become a member of Red Sox Nation, Steinbrenner offered to make Henry honorary member of the Bleacher Creatures at Yankee Stadium. (New York Daily News)
THE START OF IT ALL: Here's a link to the original Play Magazine piece on Steinbrenner; his Red Sox comments are at the very end.
THE KIDS AREN'T ALL RIGHT: McAdam reports on the shaky weekend showings of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. Even so, Baseball Musing's David Pinto is optimistic about the Sox' starting pitching.
CHICAGO BOUND? The Chicago Sun-Times' Chris DeLuca says the Cubs and White Sox are still interested in Coco Crisp.
BACK TO BASEBALL: Andy Pettitte stepped away from his winter of discontent, at least momentarily, with a strong performance in his first spring-training appearance. (New York Daily News)
BACK TO . . . WELL, WHATEVER IT IS: The Daily News' Mike Lupica says it's time for Roger Clemens to fire Rusty Hardin and start trying to cut a deal with the feds.
HERE'S YOUR HAT, WHAT'S YOUR HURRY? Though they've been publicly supportive, the Houston Chronicle reports that, privately, the Astros wish Roger Clemens would go away while the controversy swirls about.
I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MYSELF: On his LoHud Yankees Blog, Peter Abraham is waiting -- in a peering-at-a-car-crash kind of way -- for John Sterling to come up with a home-run call for Jesus Montero.
REALITY TV: You'll have to click a few of the links to get a feel for what we're talking about, but the Tao of Steib has some thoughts on the CityStyle broadcast of Sunday's Blue Jays-Reds exhibition game. I saw a bit of the broadcast myself, via mlbtv.com, and admit to being completely befuddled until our old friend Tao explained it all . . . at least a little.
HERE AND THERE: Alfonso Soriano will be out three to five days because of an owie on his finger (Chicago Tribune) . . . Sidney Ponson is getting a look-see from the Cardinals (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) . . . The dustup between Lou Pineilla and Jason Marquis in the Cubs' camp appears to be over (Chicago Tribune) . . . Albert Pujols doesn't sound happy with the Cards' offseason moves (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) . . . Angels ace John Lackey has a cranky elbow and may not be ready for Opening Day (Orange County Register) . . . Francisco Liriano, on the other hand, is feeling better (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) . . . The Rays' Scott Kazmir is moving on to "Phase 2" of his recovery from a strained left elbow. (Tampa Tribune)
OLD FRIENDS: From the How Time Flies Department: Derek Lowe is the final year of his Dodger contract, but says impending free agency won't affect him the way it did in Boston in 2004. Lowe, incidentally, is scheduled to pitch against the Red Sox Thursday in the place he dubs "Fort Misery". (Riverside Press-Enterrpise) . . . ESPN's Tim Kurkjian reports that new Dodgers manager Joe Torre is a big Derek Lowe fan . . . The Royals' Mike Maroth will test his sore shoulder in a bullpen session today (Kansas City Star) . . . The Red Sox won the World Series when they took Nomar Garciaparra off shortstop. The Dodgers are thinking of putting him back. (Orange County Register)
-- ART MARTONE
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