It was music to the ears of free agents, and their agents.
With typical Steinbrennerian certitude, new New York Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner indicated his team is ready to open its wallet in the offseason, especially if the current downturn is not corrected and the team misses the playoffs for the first time since 1995.
“We’re going to win it next year,” Steinbrenner said. “If we need to add a top veteran pitcher, we’ll do that. We’ll do whatever we need to do. Next year we’ll be extremely dangerous.”
CC Sabathia looks like the best starter in the free-agent market that includes Derek Lowe, Brad Penny and Ben Sheets next winter, and his price appears to keep shooting up as he pitches Milwaukee toward the playoffs.
Sabathia is 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA in eight starts with the Brewers, who obtained him July 7. He has 60 strikeouts in 64 innings and is holding opponents in the eight-man-lineup league to a .160 batting average
Then there is Adam Dunn, who seems perfect for Yankee Stadium.
Bobby Abreu’s contract is up after this year, Jason Giambi is owed a $22 million option the Yankees seem unlikely to pick up, and Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon will be in the last year of contracts in 2009.
With all that left-handed power leaving, it seems like a hole Dunn could plug.
At the same time, Steinbrenner is not giving up on a team that was seven games out of the wild card with 40 to play entering Saturday in part due to injuries to Chien-Ming Wang, Jorge Posada, Matsui, Damon, Alex Rodriguez and Phil Hughes.
“There’s only so much you can do. They’re not supermen,” Steinbrenner said.
Only St. Louis and Texas have put more players on the disabled list than the Yankees’ 18 this season.
BYRD FLYING HIGH
Paul Byrd beat Boston in Game 4 of the 2007 ALCS to get Cleveland within one game of the World Series before the Red Sox spoiled his season. So joining the Red Sox last week must not have been easy?
“I had to work through some forgiveness issues there … and it took about five minutes,” he joked, “because I couldn’t wait to get over here, put on this jersey, and have a chance to make the playoffs.”
Byrd, 7-10, had won his last four starts with a 1.24 ERA at the time of the trade. His Boston debut was pushed back a day because of Friday’s rainout.
Named in the Mitchell Report for using HGH, Byrd was asked to adhere to baseball’s wishes and keep a low profile.
“I felt as if I was in the witness protection program. I was told not to say anything. It was a grueling time,” Byrd said.
From the Red Sox perspective, one good thing about being behind Tampa Bay in the standings is that it can claim waivers on any player available, effectively blocking the Rays from acquiring a third baseman to replace Evan Longoria.
LEE BUCKING HISTORY
Cleveland’s Cliff Lee leads the AL with 17 victories and a 2.43 ERA and seems a Cy Young lock with six weeks to play.
If he wins the award, he will be bucking history. Only five of the winners came from teams with a losing record, and only one — Roger Clemens — won while pitching for a last-place team. Clemens was 21-7 with a 2.05 ERA for Toronto in 1997, when the Jays finished 76-86, last place only because the division was so difficult.
Cleveland was a half game ahead of Kansas City in a bid to stay out of the AL Central cellar before Saturday.
Jeff Pentland worked with Barry Bonds at Arizona State University and is credited with helping Sammy Sosa develop with the Cubs, and now he has a new pupil — Andruw Jones.
The Dodgers, who seemingly could not hire Pentland fast enough after he was let go by Seattle last month, will have him work with Jones during a rehab assignment at Las Vegas. Jones was put on the disabled list last week with an irritated patellar tendon in his left knee, but the real sore is his offense — a .161 batting average and 14 RBIs.
CARLOS BEING CARLOS
Carlos Quentin set minor league records for being hit by a pitch, and it has not stopped during his MVP-type season this year with the White Sox. Quentin, hitting .287 with 33 homers and 87 RBIs, has been hit by 20 pitches, tops in the majors. He recently was hit five times in seven games.
TELL YOUR STATISTICS TO SHUT UP
San Diego has hit 37 home runs since the All-Star break, second most in the NL, but it still has not helped. The Padres are 10-17 since the break, and of the eight home runs they hit on a recent trip to New York, seven were with the bases empty.
The Republican National convention in St. Paul will force Minnesota into an elongated 14-game road trip starting Wednesday, with stops in Los Angeles, Seattle, Oakland and Toronto. That begins a stretch when they have 24 of 30 on the road, where they are 26-31.
“If you want to know the truth, I think it’s a good test for our team. If you stay in the hunt and you battle it out and we win, I think that tells us what kind of team we are If we get down and we don’t come back, we’re not champions — and we’re not men.”
Philadelphia manager, after his team was swept by the Dodgers to fall into second place in the NL East.
Tampa Bay hosts the Angels for three games, takes a travel day, then plays three more at the White Sox.