TODAY'S PAPER
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Broken Clouds 54° Good Evening
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Johnny Damon, Brian Cashman, Jose Reyes, Rod Barajas, Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Verducci Effect

Greetings from Tampa! It was a long night at the airport, and then, as we landed, some poor toddler cried, "Mommy! Mommy!" for a good 15 minutes straight as we landed. It was just brutal.

So then I started thinking, "What would be the All-Crybaby Team?"

Manager: Earl Weaver

Catcher: Johnny Bench

But then I decided, "That's a stupd idea. It's the first day of spring training! This is no time to reflect!"

So, because I need to get going to Steinbrenner Field, just a quick look around...

--Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman report that the White Sox are still involved in the Johnny Damon sweepstakes, and that they might have even intensified their efforts to sign Damon. Crazy. It seemed for certain late last week that Damon would wind up in Detroit, but with Scott Boras, it's never over until the news conference.

On one hand, the Tigers train in Lakeland, very close to Damon's Orlando home. On the other hand, I reported back in December that Damon was intrigued by the idea of playing for the Cubs, and while the White Sox ain't the Cubs, there is something to be said for playing ball even in the South Side of Chicago.

Of course, given the (deserved) hits that Damon and Boras have taken this winter concerning their negotiations with the Yankees, the safe bet is for the higher bidder to prevail.

--Brian Cashman spoke with NoMaas in an entertaining interview; he addresses his questioner's criticisms about not signing Reed Johnson or re-signing Eric Hinske this offseason. What I respect about Cashman is, you can disagree with him, but you almost always understand his reasoning.

Even last winter, when he executed the major spending spree, he nodded about my questions concerning the huge risks involved and conceded, "We were desperate."

--CC Sabathia says the Core Four will keep the Yankees on their toes, Erik Boland reports. I am indeed interested in this issue of complacency, and might even write about it today. Please don't tell the competition.

--Good piece by David Lennon on Jose Reyes. To reiterate: I don't understand why Reyes doesn't get more benefit of the doubt. The guy was a relative iron man for four straight seasons, 2005 through 2008.

--Rosenthal reports that the Mets are engaged in negotiations to sign Rod Barajas, but Heyman now reports it's a minor-league deal, which is more consistent with the Mets' actions of late.

Should the Mets offer Barajas a big-league deal at, say, $1 million plus incentives? I say yes. Barajas was a 1.0 rWAR player last year, and 1.5 in 2008, and merited or not, he does carry that "winning, clutch player" reputation with him.

--Bad sign for the Red Sox: Daisuke Matsuzka already is experiencing back problems. Scroll down for the info from WEEI's Alex Speier, who does an excellent job covering the team. It's "not serious" for now, but of course, you never know with back issues. Here's what Theo Epstein had to say about it.

But the Braves have to win the "Worst Pitching Development of the News Cycle" honors, as Jair Jurrjens has a sore shoulder. Why do I suspect the Braves are going to regret trading Javier Vazquez very shortly?

--Speier's WEEI teammate Rob Bradford has an interview with Mike Lowell, who says, hilariously, "I think a monkey could understand (his) situation."

--Finally, Tom Verducci put out what has become a highly anticipated, annual list: The young pitchers who were overused in the previous season, and therefore could be susceptible to injury or decline.

Verducci doesn't profess for this to be the end-all of the discussion, and we think, for instance, that Mike Pelfrey's poor 2009 could be attributed somewhat to the absence of Reyes at shortstop.

But still: It is common sense that you don't want to ramp up young pitchers too quickly from one season to the next. We talked about it here, specifically about Pelfrey, back in 2008. That the Mets scoffed at it, at the time, doesn't reflect well upon them. Nor would it upon any club that didn't monitor this stuff closely.

--All right, we've got Joe Girardi at noon, and I'll be sure to check in after that. Expect at least two posts a day while I'm down here in Flahdah, as Cliff Clavin called it.

 

 

 

 

 

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