Learning from Lee

CC Sabathia can be a free agent after this season, but at this early juncture, we'd say there's a decent chance Sabathia and the Yankees will agree on a contract extension that would convince Sabathia not to use his opt-out.

And if that occurs, then Texas' C.J. Wilson might very well be the top available lefthanded starter on the market. Wilson turns 31 in November; the other really good lefty, the White Sox's Mark Buehrle, just turned 32.

Wilson enjoyed a few months as Cliff Lee's teammate last year, so the reliever-turned-starter enjoyed a firsthand clinic on how to handle the exciting yet stressful phenomenon of a walk year.

"Yeah, he didn't talk about it. That's what I learned," Wilson said, only half-kidding.

"He and I have completely different approaches, pitching mind-sets," Wilson continued, referring to Lee. "He's got a lot more experience, so he was much more relaxed each time, whereas I put much more pressure on myself to do better and to improve and stuff. But that's just the way I am.

"I'm just pretty much approaching it like I did last year. I'm not going to be looking at my stats too often, because that doesn't really help."

I jokingly told Wilson that T.R. Sullivan, the veteran Rangers beat writer for MLB.com, wanted me to ask Wilson whether he'd be willing to sign with the Yankees this coming winter.

"T.R. knows that I want to pitch for FC Barcelona next year," Wilson said, referring to the famous soccer team.

 

Bonds resolution

Technically, the just-completed Barry Bonds trial was not a Major League Baseball matter. The outcome couldn't have impacted any of Bonds' accomplishments -- Bud Selig would never even try to slap an asterisk on Bonds' home-run records -- no matter how the jury decided.

Yet Bonds' legal problems, still unresolved thanks to the hung juries on the three perjury counts, do have a connection to MLB.

The Players Association has reserved the right to file a grievance against MLB concerning Bonds' free agency of 2007-08 and the possibility that owners colluded to keep Bonds out of the game. Bonds, 43 at the time, was coming off a 2007 campaign in which he hit 28 homers, passing Hank Aaron on the all-time list, and tallied a superb .480 on-base percentage and .565 slugging percentage.

Just looking at his statistics, he should have found work. Yet clubs had to be wary of both the U.S. government's investigation and Bonds' well-earned reputation as a bad teammate.

The MLBPA doesn't file such grievances frivolously and nothing will come down until the Bonds matter is completely closed. Right now, we still have the appeal of Bonds' conviction (for obstruction of justice) and the three still-lingering perjury charges.

Ultimately, we might be left with this question: Which offends you more? A player going above the law to get a competitive advantage on the field, or a group of employers working together to suppress an individual's earning potential? Neither, remember, has been proven yet.

 

Call Calero?

With the Mets' bullpen pitching horribly so far, here's a suggested name from the past: Kiko Calero. The 36-year-old had a great year with the Marlins in 2009 (a 1.95 ERA in 67 appearances, totaling 60 innings, with 69 strikeouts and 30 walks) before right shoulder problems made him persona non grata on the free-agent market. Calero pitched horribly (a 10.59 ERA in 10 appearances) for the Mets' Triple-A Buffalo affiliate last year, drawing his release, before pitching better (a 3.00 ERA in 15 games) for the Dodgers' Triple-A Albuquerque club.

"Kiko is a no-risk, high-reward, high-return guy for any organization," Calero's representative Burton Rocks said. "He's in fantastic shape, his slider is great, he's a proven middle- and late-inning relief pitcher and the knowledge he brings to a younger bullpen can steady any ship."

 

Pop quiz

Name the former major-league manager who appears as himself in a 2010 episode of "Castle."

 

Three impending free agents off to good starts

Prince Fielder, Brewers. He'll do just fine next winter, thanks.

Jose Reyes, Mets. He's looking like his old, athletic self.

Edwin Jackson, White Sox. It's a thin crop of starting pitchers, so he could make some good money.

Three impending free agents off to bad starts

Albert Pujols, Cardinals. If he doesn't start hitting better, it'll be a shock.

Vladimir Guerrero, Orioles. Given how bad his second half of last year was, keep an eye on him.

Omar Infante, Marlins. His chance at an everyday gig isn't going so great.

 

Slide of the week: Josh Hamilton's headfirst slide Tuesday broke a bone in his right arm, putting him out of action for six to eight weeks.

Worst bullpen of the week: The White Sox. They lost two games to Oakland because of blown ninth-inning leads. Manager Ozzie Guillen's patience is running thin.

Quote of the week: "It's time to start making pitches; it's time to start getting a big two-out hit . . . We're one pitch away from being 9-2. And we're not." Mets manager Terry Collins, after the Mets dropped to 4-7 with a loss to Colorado.

 

Pop quiz answer

Joe Torre. Thanks to Bob Buscavage of Moriches for the suggestion.