Five post-Thanksgiving questions to digest

November, 29, 2008
1. Which team can pay CC Sabathia more than $140 million?
We know the Yankees can, will and may keep moving up to make it impossible for Sabathia to go anywhere else.

We also know that Angels owner Arte Moreno can make it very difficult for anyone to say no; ask Torii Hunter after Moreno put the rush on him at the Del Taco across the street from the ballpark. Many had thought the Dodgers would be into Sabathia big-time, but as several baseball people have pointed out, their statements on Manny Ramirez indicate that the McCourts still are trying to bring the Dodgers' revenue streams into the 21st century. And with holes to fill at second, short, third, the starting rotation and in the bullpen, there are a lot of concerns to address.

Sabathia is not an egomaniac. He puts family first, winning second and everything else falls in behind. The union is not interested in family or winning, only getting top dollar, and for Sabathia to turn down top dollar from the Yankees may be very difficult.

2. The Braves, Cubs and seemingly everyone else claim they're not in on Jake Peavy. What's going on?
The Padres absolutely believe Cubs GM Jim Hendry can make this a three-way trade to get the Padres the pitching they need in addition to third-base prospect Josh Vitters. The Braves were not going to have to surrender any of their five best prospects, but have hesitated over Class A-level pitching. Peavy is a Cy Young winner, in case anyone's forgotten.

3. How can Scott Boras ask for more than two years for Manny Ramirez?
That's what Manny was looking for when he wanted out of his Boston contract, and while one might wonder about Ramirez losing interest, he is in better shape now than he was when he signed with the Red Sox. His work at Athletes' Performance Institute last winter was legendary (API was closed for the week between Christmas and New Year's and he got a key to get in and do his work), and right now he's at the API/Dr. James Andrews facility in Gulf Breeze, Fla. "The work Manny did for his core and his agility completely changed him," says former North Carolina coach Mike Roberts, who oversees much of the baseball-related operations for API. "It is amazing what he's done for his body."

One of Manny's best baseball friends says he believes he will stay focused, especially if he could get to a place like Anaheim. "Right now he's really obsessed with 600 homers [Ramirez has 527], and when he gets to 600, he may get obsessed with 700."

Nice little rivalry with Alex Rodriguez (553 homers) to see if they can make a run at Barry Bonds' 762.

4. Where is A.J. Burnett going?
Nowhere until Sabathia signs. Obviously.

5. Is Pudge Rodriguez done?
Who knows? Give him credit. He played for Caguas in the Puerto Rican Winter League in the past month, helping the team that he believes gave him his first start.

At this point, one doesn't have much clue about the second tier of free agents. Padres GM Kevin Towers went to Sunday's Chargers game with Brad Ausmus and hopes to bring him back to the Padres as a mentor to Nick Hundley.

The return of Mike Hampton to Houston may be a fit for the Astros; Jason Giambi may well be a good fit for the Rays.


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