Tag:CC Sabathia
Posted on: May 25, 2011 10:23 am
Edited on: May 25, 2011 10:52 am
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Pepper: Mets on verge of accepting ownership bid

By Evan Brunell

SO THE TIME HAS COME FOR A NEW OWNER: OK, so technically a new Mets minority owner, but the move could have lasting implications.

Sources say that former commodities trader Ray Bartoszek and investor Anthony Lanza have been chosen as the preferred bidders for the available stake in the Mets' franchise. The new owners will have a say in the team's finances and path forward, as incumbent owner Fred Wilpon has promised. And if Wilpon is forced to sell the team -- a distinct possibility -- it's likely that Bartoszek and Lanza will emerge as the new owners.

It's unclear how much stake the new owners will receive, but the cost is expected to be around $200 million for up to a 49 percent stake and a deal is extremely close. First, though, negotiations on whether the minority group can purchase a small stake in SportsNet New York has to be ironed out, but could be the necessary final piece for the deal as 49 percent may not be justifiable enough for $200 million given the Mets' debt problems.

Bartoszek previously headed up oil trading for the world's biggest commodity trader, Glencore International, while Lanza is an owner of Carriage House Partners, a private equity firm. (New York Post)

100 PERCENT
: Unsurprisingly, Carlos Beltran disagrees with Fred Wilpon's comments that he's 65-to-70 percent. "I'm 100 percent," Beltran said. And he's playing like it. (Newsday)

FIGGINS SLOWLY IMPROVING
: Chone Figgins has been a shell of his former self since arriving in Seattle, but skipper Eric Wedge thinks things are getting better. "I feel like he's been a little bit more aggressive,'' Wedge said. "I feel like he's starting to make better contact. More firm." It's still way too early to think about Figgins finally delivering on his contract, but any step forward is positive. (Seattle Times)

STREAK SNAPPED
: CC Sabathia hurled a complete game victory Tuesday, coming away with the win. It was his first complete game win since May 8, 2009... and also the first Yankees complete-game winner since. That's the longest streak in AL history for a stretch in-between complete-game wins at 341 games. (New York Daily News)

NEW CLOSER
: Until Andrew Bailey returns, Grant Balfour will be the new closer in Oakland, replacing Brian Fuentes after the flap Fuentes created with his comments Tuesday. Too bad no one let Balfour know. (MLB.com)

ODDITY: Here's something interesting: Curtis Granderson has smacked 16 home runs and four triples, an impressive feat so far. But it's been all or nothing, as his four doubles pop out, a rare occurrence. After all, if you hit for power, you'll have your fair share of doubles. Granderson's doubles account for just one-sixth of his extra base hits, and only two other players in history have more extra-base hits than him with a similar 1/6 ratio of doubles: Mark McGwire in 2001 and Wes Covington in 1957. (Baseball Reference)

ONE MORE: Orioles starter Brian Matusz agrees that he needs one more rehab start, so will pitch for Triple-A on Friday. But after that, he's expected to push to return to the staff for a June 1 start, which will mark his season debut. (MASN Sports)

NEW DODGER: Top prospect Rubby De La Rosa received the call to the majors, surprising the Double-A starting pitcher, who will pitch in relief. While the Dodgers contend his future is in the rotation, de la Rosa was needed to shore up a bullpen besieged by injuries and ineffectiveness. De la Rosa has the talent to emerge as closer in L.A., and the team is still in the postseason hunt, so the promotion does make some sense. (Los Angeles Times)

YER OUTTA HERE! Ned Yost isn't going to get tossed from a game anytime soon -- unless he feels one of his players are being disrespected --  but that will change in coming years. "This is the time, with a young club, that you set the tone," Yost said. "I don't want these guys complaining and moaning. An umpire's call is an umpire's call and it doesn't get changed. It's doesn't do anybody any good to whine or cry about it. So, if I'm yelling, moaning and screaming on every call, naturally they're going to follow my lead. So it's important to me, right now, to accept the umpire's calls. ... But disrespect a player one time and I'm gone." Also in the link: Stories about how the Royals are trying to help those affected by the devastating Joplin, Mo. tornado. (MLB.com)

BRING IT IN: Is it time for the Padres to bring in the fences at Petco Park? Petco has become the anti-Coors Field, and even Coors is no longer an offensive haven thanks to the effects of the humidor. There appears to be a growing groundswell to fix Petco, and it would be as simple as moving the fences in. No one advocates making Petco a hitter's park, but moving the fences in would only even the playing field just a bit -- and that's all one needs. (Rob Neyer)

FIRST WIN: Alfredo Simon nailed his first win of the season thanks to an Adam Jones walk-off home run. A relieved Simon was thrilled after the game as it was his first win since last season. He has been dealing with a murder charge in his native country since the winter and still isn't out of the woods yet. (MASN Sports)

NEW GRIP: Dustin Moseley has been a nice piece of the Padres so far this year, but the righty can't sit on his laurels when there's more to be done. He tweaked his changeup, which earned positive results after Monday's game. (MLB.com)

PATROLLING THE OUTFIELD: Josh Hamilton believes he could start playing the outfield immediately but will be held back until this weekend, where he is expected to return to left field. Once he has several games under his belt, it's possible he could start seeing some time in center. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

BACK TO ACTION: Johan Santana finally stepped back on a mound for the first time since last season and threw 25 pitches. Santana is progressing nicely in his return from surgery and could rejoin the Mets in July. If he pitches strong down the stretch, he could be dealt after the year. (ESPN New York)

A NEW LOU: Lou is back in Chicago, and we're talking Montanez. The former Cubs first-round pick 11 years ago took a detour in Baltimore for four years, but wound up back with the Cubs this season in Triple-A. He finally reached the majors with his original club when tapped yesterday to replace Marlon Byrd on the roster. Montanez made the most of it, notching a RBI double in his first Cubs at-bat. (Chicago Sun-Times)

ON HIS WAY BACK: John Lackey pitched in a bullpen session Tuesday and came through with flying colors, setting him up for a rehab game on May 31 and a return to the Red Sox for June 5's start against the Athletics. (Boston Globe)

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Posted on: May 23, 2011 5:34 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 6:02 pm
 

Sabathia likely to use opt-out; seek more years

Sabathia

By Evan Brunell


The opt-out clause in CC Sabathia's contract will kick in after the season, giving Sabathia a chance to hit the free-agent market and potentially leave New York.

Don't bet on Sabathia actually leaving New York, as he's made his home in the city and is the "heart of this team," as one Yankee put it to SI.com's Jon Heyman. Exercising that opt-out clause, though?

That's "100 percent" happening, a competing AL executive said.

"It was negotiated into the deal,'' another AL executive added. 'It would make no sense not to take advantage of it.''

At the crux of this issue is Sabatha's remaining contract after 2011, which is a four-year, $92 million commitment. Meanwhile, Cliff Lee, two years older than Sabathia, had a seven-year, $148 million offer on the table from the Yankees in the offseason. Why wouldn't Sabathia want to lock into that type of payday? There's no sense in him waiting another four years -- especially if he wants to stay in New York -- because the volatility of pitchers demand that you lock in guaranteed money when you can.

Sabathia, for his part, has constantly deferred questions about his clause, even going so far as to give the impression that he wouldn't use the opt-out clause. Let's be clear for a moment: Sabathia will opt out. There's no reason for him not to, unless he suffers some type of devastating injury between now and the day he files for free agency. He will be at zero risk for losing money and will have the Yankees in a tough bind, who already have significant concerns about their rotation and an unimpressive free agent market for starting pitchers. Japanese sensation Yu Darvish is expected to come stateside, while Texas lefty C.J. Wilson will also be available. Um, that's about it.

Sabathia recently said he hoped that the Yankees would give him two or three extra years, the most obvious indication yet that Sabathia will seek a new contract for at least six or seven years' length.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 19, 2011 10:23 am
Edited on: May 19, 2011 6:24 pm
 

Pepper: Duel in Fenway


By Matt Snyder

BASEBALL TODAY: There's no more tasty matchup than Josh Beckett and Justin Verlander squaring off in Fenway Park as the Tigers take on the red hot Red Sox. Also, how will CC Sabathia, Jair Jurrjens and Madison Bumgarner fare? I discuss all of these items in CBSSports.com's Baseball Today. See above.

MOST MARKETABLE: Three baseball players check in as members of the top 50 most marketable athletes in the world. Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt is at the top with LeBron James second. The MLB guys are Albert Pujols (25), Joe Mauer (31) and Brian Wilson (34). (SportsMedia.com) Great, so now everyone is going to grow out a beard like that?

MORE ON PHILLIPS' VISIT: Remember the story about Brandon Phillips going to watch a 14-and-under All-Star game being played by one of his Twitter followers? Well, the Dayton Daily News has the full story. Not only did Phillips show up, but he stayed for six innings. Here's what the parents of the young Twitter follower, named Connor, had to say about Phillips: "[He was] bombarded by people. He must have signed a hundred autographs. Connor kind of wanted to invite him into the dugout to give him some relief, but it seemed like Brandon was enjoying himself. And whenever Connor got up to hit, he’d always stop and watch him." Connor ended up gathering two singles and a double in front of Phillips, as his team won 12-4. As for Phillips' comments? “I had a good time. The parents were really into the game. Everybody had a lot of fun, and it reminded me again of why I play and why I do what I do on the field ... and off. It’s about love. I just love the game.”

ACKLEY KID: Michael Pineda's done a decent job (understatement alert) in his rookie campaign, so what about the Mariners promoting their top hitting prospect, Dustin Ackley? Once Stephen Strasburg was off the board, you may have quit paying attention, but Ackley was the second overall pick in that draft. Ackley plays second base and is swinging a good bat in Triple-A -- .280 average with six home runs, 21 RBI, 27 runs, nine doubles, six stolen bases and an .844 OPS in 40 games. Thus, it's rather obvious why Mariners fans would be pining for the 23 year old. The always-thoughtful Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times discusses why Ackley hasn't gotten the call yet and when he might get it (hint: sometime in June).

NEW RIVALRY: A good discussion with the writers on StLtoday.com: Has the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry been surpassed by the Cardinals-Reds? I'll weigh in as our resident Cubs fan. I think there's a difference between historic fan rivalries and present on-field rivalries. I don't think the rivalry between Cubs and Cardinals fans would ever be surpassed by that of the Reds vs. Cardinals in terms of historic stature, but in 2011 as a stand-alone season, it's Reds-Cardinals and it's not even close. This is because those are the two best teams in the division and they seem to genuinely dislike each other. To use another midwest example, Indiana and Purdue are always top rivals in basketball, but with Indiana down the past few years, Purdue had much bigger games on the slate.

MORE ON THE CARDS-REDS: Meanwhile, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan calls remarks made by Reds announcer Marty Brennaman "classless." (StLtoday.com)

THE UNKNOWN: The first round of the MLB draft is June 6, and the Pirates are narrowing down the field for their first selection. It's interesting to say that because for the first time since 2008, it's not a foregone conclusion who the top pick is going to be. Both Strasburg and Bryce Harper were the obvious No. 1 picks in the past two drafts. On the flip-side, the Pirates are considering around five different players. Reportedly, the three favorites are UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and Virginia pitcher Danny Hultzen. (MLB.com)

POSTING CHANGE: NPB (that's Japan's professional league to those unaware) may change it's posting system for players looking to sign with Major League Baseball. The most famous posting issue is when the Red Sox ponied up just over $50 million just for the rights to exclusively negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka. By the time the Red Sox signed him to a contract, they'd paid over $100 million. There are lots of other cases, obviously, that's just the most notorious. Anyway, the proposed change would be to award negotiating rights to the top three bidders. This would probably help the players make more money and be more fair to the bidding MLB teams. (NPB Tracker)

DEROSA DOWN: Giants third baseman Mark DeRosa is out "for a long time" after re-injuring his surgically repaired wrist. This may speed up a move of Aubrey Huff across the diamond with Brandon Belt taking over at first base -- at least until Pablo Sandoval is ready to come back. (SFgate.com) While we're here, I'm going to stand up for DeRosa as a man to the Giants fans (it's a minority, so let's not paint the entire fan base with one brush) celebrating his injury just because he's underperformed on the field. DeRosa is a great guy and great teammate. It takes a special kind of (bad) person to wish chronic injuries on someone else, especially when those bad wishes are upon a good person. Oh, while we're here ...

WHY THOLE QUIT TWITTER: Mets catcher Josh Thole joined Twitter to interact with fans, and instead had to close his account because he was tired of everyone taking shots at him -- including one loser who said he didn't care if Thole died. (NYDailyNews.com) It's amazing how "tough" people get under the cloak of anonymity. Actually, amazing is the wrong word. It's pathetic. There are few places where I'll ever break out the sanctimony, but this is one of them. If you use the Internet to tell people you want them dead because of how they play baseball -- or anything comparable such as political views, religious views, favorite musicians or taste in TV shows -- you are dregs of society and seriously need to get a life.

RECOVERED RINGS: Kyle Kendrick had his 2008 World Series championship ring stolen from his home on March 30, but it has been recovered by police in an unrelated investigation. There were several other items recovered by police, including Kendrick's 2009 NLCS ring. (CSNPhilly.com)

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Posted on: May 14, 2011 10:30 am
 

On Deck: Beckett, Sabathia poised for showdown

Beckett

By Evan Brunell


BEST MATCHUP: For the second straight day, Red Sox-Yankees highlight the proceedings. It's not East Coast bias, honest. It's the fact that Josh Beckett and CC Sabathia are going up against each other, and it's real hard to ignore their numbers on the season. This is shaping up to be a fantastic pitcher's duel as Beckett has roared back from a forgettable 2010 season to post a 1.99 ERA so far. Yep, his ERA is under 2.00, which places him third in the AL. He'll be opposed by Sabathia, who has been excellent as well with a 2.89 ERA for the Bombers. While the Red Sox can't reach .500 with the victory, they can strike panic in the heart of the Bronx by pulling to one win behind the club even if they'll remain two games back. That's because the Red Sox have played two more games on the year. Red Sox at Yankees, 7:10 p.m. ET

CUETO'S BACK
: Another game repeat from Friday's On Deck, but this one is a game the Cardinals have been wanting for a while. There's no love lost for Cueto in the Cardinals clubhouse. It's Cueto's first time on the mound since ending backup catcher Jason LaRue's career after a series of kicks to the head (yes, this really happened) during a brawl last August where Cueto felt himself cornered and lashed out -- it's also just Cueto's second start of the year after beginning the year on the DL and shining in his debut. "I don't think our guys have anything more than going out there trying to beat him," Cardinals acting manager Joe Pettini told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "What happened last year, I think, still leaves a mark. I think they remember and think about it." A motivated StL team will send Kyle McClellan to the hill, who is undefeated in his conversion to the rotation with a 5-0, 3.30 mark. He'll find it tough to keep other thoughts from creeping into his mind; he's bailing to St. Louis right after the game as his wife is expected to give birth to his first child, a daughter, on Sunday. St. Louis at Cincinnati, 4:10 p.m. ET

DIVISION AT STAKE
: The Angels have lost two straight; the Rangers have won two in a row including taking out the Angels on Friday night 4-1. Texas can leapfrog Los Angeles into first place with a victory but will have a hard road. The pitching matchup says it all, with Derek Holland (3-1, 5.18 ERA) going up against Dan Haren (4-2, 1.87 ERA). Haren boasts the best K/BB ratio in the majors, non-Phillies division, which is how we'll have to describe most accomplishments for the next few years. Anyways, he's got an even 7.00 rate with 56 whiffs and eight walks in 57 2/3 innings. Yeah, good luck, Texas. Angels at Rangers, 4:10 p.m. ET

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Posted on: April 28, 2011 5:34 pm
 

On Deck: Royal slide

Royals
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Fading -- The Royals enter tonight's game 12-12, losers of their last five and eight of their last 10. Kansas City's 10-4 start proved a nice little "oh, look who's in first?" story that we seem to get every April, but the team is beginning to resemble the 100-loss team that most expected heading into the season. Enjoy your .500 Royals while you still can. Royals at Indians, 7:05 p.m ET

Matchup of the night -- Chicago's Edwin Jackson (2-2, 4.88 ERA) has no-hit stuff and a no-hitter to prove it. CC Sabathia (1-1, 2.73) just has the stuff. White Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET

Hot in the cold -- It may have snowed last night during the Twins-Rays game, but Ben Zobrist isn't struggling with the cold. Zobrist had eight RBI on two doubles and a homer as part of his 4-for-6 performance in Game 1 of the doubleheader. The record for most RBI in a doubleheader is 13, held by St. Louis' Mark Whiten (who had 12 in one of the games) in 1993 and San Diego's Nate Colbert in 1972. The AL record is 11, held by Cleveland Earl Averill (1930), Boston's Jim Tabor (1939) and Baltimore's Boog Powell (1966). Rays at Twins, Game 2. 8:05 p.m. ET

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Posted on: April 17, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:10 pm
 

Pepper: Dangerous game for fans, too

Jose Salazar

By C. Trent Rosecrans


When I went to Class A game the other day, I sat in the front row just to film from that angle and I was shocked at just how close I was sitting -- and how little the fans around me were paying attention.

Of course, it's worse at the minor-league level and in spring training where the stadiums are smaller, but it's still dangerous at the big-league level. Last night in Los Angeles, a fan at the Dodgers game was hit by a foul ball from Matt Holliday and carried off on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. [Associated Press ]

This spring, of course, Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar was struck in the face by a foul ball and lost an eye.

On Friday, Salazar returned to manage the Lynchburg Hillcats.

This weekend, it was a feel-good story to see Salazar back in uniform, but it was so close to being different. [Lynchburg News Advance ]

STRANGE BALK -- Take a minute to watch this -- last night Justin Verlander tried to pick off Daric Barton at first, but caught a cleat in the dirt, so instead of making a bad throw to first, he threw home and hit David DeJesus. Home plate umpire John Hirschbeck ruled it a balk, awarding Barton second base. DeJesus later walked. Verlander said afterward, even he laughed at how it looked. [MLB.com ]

BRADEN LEAVES EARLY -- A's starter Dallas Braden left Saturday's game with shoulder stiffness after five innings. There's no update yet, but it could be bad news for the A's. [San Francisco Chronicle ]

AFRICAN-AMERICAN PARTICIPATION DECLINES
-- As teams honored Jackie Robinson this weekend, the Mets' Willie Harris finds the lack of African-Americans in the game "sad." Only 9.1 percent of major leaguers on opening day 2010 were African-American, while 20 percent were in 1995. Harris said he doesn't think MLB markets its top African-American stars, such as Torii Hunter, Carl Crawford and CC Sabathia, well enough. [New York Daily News

Rockies STARTER FALLS - - For the first time this season, a Rockies starter picked up a loss in the game. Jason Hamel was the first Rockies starter to earn an L, falling 8-3 to the Cubs and ending the Rockies' seven-game winning streak. [Associated Press ]

AND THERE'S THAT
--The other day White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he has the league's best bullpen, despite his relievers blowing six saves and converting just one. On Saturday, he said he knows he has a good defensive team, despite its 15 errors this season, 13 in the last 10 games. [Chicago Tribune ]
 
SPEAKING OF -- The A's lead the majors with 17 errors, including one more on Saturday. First baseman Daric Barton -- widely viewed as one of the best defensive first basemen in the game -- is tied for the team-lead with three errors. Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff has three, as well. [MLB.com ]

EARNING HIS KEEP -- Could this be the year Alfonso Soriano lives up to his promise and salary? Soriano leads the Cubs with five home runs and 12 RBI. [Chicago Tribune ]

NO LEFTY -- The Dodgers don't have a left-handed reliever in their bullpen after Hong-Chih Kuo was place don the disabled list and replaced on the roster by right-hander Ramon Troncoso. [Los Angeles Times ]

ROYAL PEN -- One of the reasons the Royals are leading in the American League Central is their bullpen, well, almost all of their bullpen. In a reversal of expectations, only closer Joakim Soria, one of the best closers in baseball the last couple of years, has struggled. Manager Ned Yost said his closer is just "human" and should be fine. Still, the likes of Tim Collins, Jeremy Jeffress and Aaron Crow have impressed. [Kansas City Star ]

NEW PITCH -- Giants closer Brian Wilson is playing coy about a new pitch in his arsenal. Wilson, who will talk about most subjects, isn't discussing a new pitch he's throwing to right-handed batters. It may be a two-seam fastball, a cutter or even a screwball. [San Jose Mercury News ]

ATTENDANCE WOES -- This month six teams have set records for their lowest attendance since their current park opened -- the Braves, Indians, Mariners, Cardinals, Yankees and Twins. Overall attendance is down just two percent this year, which is less than I expected. [USA Today ]

HOW LOW CAN IT GO? -- Seattle is being hit particularly hard at the turnstiles. [Seattle Times ]

UBIQUITOUS OBLUQUE -- I missed this earlier this week, but heard Tim McCarver bring it up during yesterday's Mets-Braves games -- Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times wrote a great article about the oblique injury, noting 14 players had gone on the DL this year with an oblique injury. Also, before MRI technology improved to its current point, the injury had been called rib cage or abdominal injuries, the diagnosis is just better nowadays.

BIG DRAFT -- What if you had to pick from Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Justin Upton, Ricky Romero, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Mike Pelfrey, Wade Townsend, Chris Volstad, John Mayberry Jr., Jacoby Ellsbury, Colby Rasmus or Clay Buchholz? The 2005 draft offered those choices. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ]

WRIGLEY GRIDIRON -- The Cubs and Northwestern want to continue playing football games at Wrigley Field, despite the challenges they faced this season. In the end, money wins. [Chicago Tribune ]

TUCSON HOME -- Padres owner Jeff Moorad said Tucson will be the Triple-A home for the Padres for at least another year and could be an option if the team isn't able to get funding for a park in Escondido, Calif. [Arizona Daily Star ]

A DIFFERENT MANNY -- Manny Ramirez changed when he went to Boston. [Akron Beacon-Journal ]

HOT DOGGIN' -- A look at the best and craziest hot dogs at ballparks this season. I'm thinking about getting that Meat Lovers Dog at Great American Ball Park later today. I'll take pictures. In the name of "journalism" of course. I'm also curious about the Bahn Mi Dog at Nationals Stadium and [SeriousEats.com ]

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Posted on: April 1, 2011 6:25 pm
 

Expect Sabathia to opt out of contract

By Evan Brunell

SabathiaLost in the sterling opening day start CC Sabathia cobbled together for the Yankees was that it could potentially be the lefty's last season in New York.

Now, no one expects that to happen, but it technically could given Sabathia possesses an opt-out clause negotiated into his seven-year, $161 million deal signed with New York prior to the 2009 season. At the time, it was a very real thought that Sabathia could opt out and head to the West Coast where it was felt his heart was all along. However, since donning pinstripes, Sabathia has taken to New York and has been very clear that he wants to stay.

Despite that, however, Sabathia is expected to opt out, as SI.com's Jon Heyman reports.

"He's definitely opting out,'' a rival GM said. 

And there's no reason not to, as Sabathia would certainly do better than four years and $92 million on the open market, which is what he is set to earn if he stays under the current contract parameters. Given Sabathia is 30 years old, he should command at least five years, if not six. Cliff Lee, for example, had a seven-year deal on the table from the Yankees, and Lee is 32.

If the Yankees struck with a pre-emptive contract extension -- say, two years at $25 million per, Sabathia would almost certainly sign on the dotted line. However, New York has no real reason to do so when it's not even certain Sabathia will opt out. Plus, the Yankees have a policy of not discussing extensions prior to the player hitting free agency.

There really isn't much sense in not opting out of the contract. Sabathia will absolutely get the money he wants, and he plays for the right team that is the best bet to give him that money regardless. Unless Sabathia gets irrevocably injured this season -- requiring Tommy John surgery for example -- expect Sabathia to opt out and return shortly after on a new contract.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 30, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:49 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/30: Opening day matchups

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3UP

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw vs. Tim Lincecum -- Opening day at Dodger Stadium, against the Giants and with the Giants coming off a World Series title, this game has enough going for it to start with, add in two of the best young pitchers in the game and it's an embarrassment of riches. (Thursday, 8 p.m. EST at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles)

CC Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander -- There'll be no shortage of heat at Yankee Stadium tomorrow. Sabathia is starting his third straight opening day for the Yankees, while Verlander's strong spring give hope to avoiding another rough April. Not only do you have two of the best pitchers in the game going head-to-head, they're both facing formidable lineups. (Thursday, 1:05 p.m. EST at Yankee Stadium, New York)

Felix Hernandez vs. Trevor Cahill -- Hernandez won his first Cy Young Award last season, while Cahill is at the top of what is probably the American League's best rotation. We all know Hernandez's resume, but Cahill had an impressive 2010 as well, going 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA. (Friday, 10:05 p.m. EST at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif.)

3DOWN

Ryan Dempster vs. Kevin Correia -- Correia goes from being another guy in a very good rotation in San Diego a year ago to the top of the Pirates' rotation. Dempster has started two opening days before, both in Florida, but is hardly a marquee name for one of the game's marquee franchises. (Friday, 2:20 p.m. EST at Wrigley Field in Chicago)

Derek Lowe vs. Livan Hernandez -- Lowe's starting his third straight opening day for the Braves and Hernandez is making his fourth overall opening day start for the Nationals/Expos, but first since 2006. Both have had good careers, but there's little sizzle to this matchup.  (Thursday, 1:05 p.m. EST at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.)

Tim Stauffer vs. Chris Carpenter -- With all due respect to the 2005 Cy Young Award winner, this game is as much about who isn't pitching as who will toe the rubber. The expectation was that it would be Mat Latos against Adam Wainwright, this just doesn't have the same juice. (Thursday, 4:15 p.m. EST at Busch Stadium, St. Louis)

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com