Good Evening
Good Evening

Mariano Rivera, A.J. Burnett, Raul Ibanez, Jon Niese and Manny Ramirez

New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera fields a grounder

New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera fields a grounder during practice at spring training. (Feb. 20, 2012) Credit: AP

Sorry for saying I'd check back in yesterday and then never checking back in. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said in "Commando," "I lied."

Let's tackle the past 24 hours Spadafore style.

News: Mariano Rivera says he has made a decision about his future beyond 2012, but he won't reveal it.

Views: I wasn't at Steinbrenner Field yesterday, and I spoke with some writers present who said that Rivera was more cagey than his words sound on the page. But even those writers agreed that Rivera wouldn't have said the things he did unless he was going to retire following this season. People in his inner circle agree that this will be it for the 42-year-old.

I've always been skeptical of Rivera's retirement talk. After all, it was in 1999 that Rivera, then 29, said he would pitch through 2003 and step down to become an evnagelical minister or preacher.

This time, though, it has a different ring, to me and others. So if this really is it? Then the Yankees at least have a couple of obvious successor options in David Robertson and Rafael Soriano. The pressure of following the legend Rivera will be greater than the pressure of actually closing games for a contender.

News: A.J. Burnett arrived at Pirates camp and discussed his Yankees tenure.

Views: This is where I was yesterday, Bradenton. Burnett said some interesting things, notably that he thought the Yankees "tinkered" with him too much the last two years and that the game got less fun for him last year. 

There's probably a grain of truth to the "tinkering" thing in that the Yankees pay many people to help them maximize their investments. But the Yankees shouldn't be reevaluating what they do based on Burnett's post-job interview. They should instead make an effort to avoid future Burnett-like deals, as I wrote.

For what it's worth, Burnett - who seemed thrilled with his new setting - shook the hands of all the New York media on site yesterday, and we thanked him for being a stand-up guy. For all of the drama that went down in his three years, Burnett took the ball every fifth day and always stood at his locker afterwards and answered the tough questions. In the baseball world, that counts for something.

News: The Yankees have agreed to terms with Raul Ibanez on a one-year, $1.1-million contract.

Views: This seemed to be inevitable for a while now, as Ibanez has many champions in the organization and his agents Sam and Seth Levinson work well with the Yankees. Could this deal implode? Sure it could. But it's for $1.1 million. If he's terrible, you release  him.

Ibanez is notoriously streaky as a hitter, so it'll be interesting to see how that plays out if he's playing only three of five games or so.

I don't get the Yankees' fascination with Eric Chavez, who also is expected back. Yes, Chavez is a great guy and a good clubhouse presence, but he gave the Yankees just one good month last year (April) before getting injured for nearly three months, and he did very little upon his return. And last year represented his best season since 2007!

News: The A's signed Manny Ramirez to a minor-league contract. 

Views: Of course there's going to be much chatter about this one, because of who Manny is and how he left the game last year. But when you take the buzz out of it, the truth is that all minor league deals are created equal.

It's by nature low-risk, and even if the A's decide to keep Manny and then let him serve his 50-game suspension (for failing an illegal PED test), they can release him at any time because he's making such little money.

My guess is this doesn't work out, that Ramirez doesn't contribute anything of significance to the A's or any team this year. But I know there's no harm in trying.

News: Jonathon Niese reported to Mets camp sporting a nose job.

Views: As David Lennon writes, Niese thinks the surgery will help his endurance. If the Mets are to be even respectable, they need Niese to live up to his potential and pitch like his predictive numbers (FIP, xFIP) indicate is possible.

OK, today I really will try to check back in. Seriously.

New York Sports