Archive for March 1st, 2007

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

Reggie Forecasts Monster Year for A-Rod

Yankees Rumors & News

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)The New York Post’s George King takes a look at the relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson today, recounting the interaction between the two at the batting cages at Legends Field yesterday. A-Rod on Mr. October:

“Reggie speaks a language about hitting that I can relate to and exudes such confidence and passion for the game that it motivates you.”

Mr. October on A-Rod:

“If I told people he was going to hit .340 with 60 homers and 150 RBIs there isn’t a person alive that would say I was crazy because that’s how good he is. You can’t say that about [David] Ortiz or about Manny [Ramirez]. Maybe you can say that about [Albert] Pujols, but maybe not. The only thing about [A-Rod] is he has to get his mind right.”

Gotham’s Sandmen Change It Up

Mets Rumors & NewsYankees Rumors & News

In today’s Newsday, David Lennon reports on the new split-fingered changeup that Mets closer Billy Wagner is looking to add to his arsenal, and which Wagner threw yesterday for the first time in a game situation. The pitch is designed to exhibit “dead-fish” action, as Wagner describes it, and hopefully will aid the pitcher in inducing more frequent ground ball outs, saving the flame-thrower’s arm in the process.

Across the state, over in Tampa, another New York closer is having similar notions. Newsday’s Jim Baumbach tells us that Mariano Rivera has likewise added a changeup to his repertoire, and perhaps a little sinker as well. Mo does not seem as eager as Wagner to start incorporating the pitch in game action. Time will tell whether the pitches prove significant for either pitcher this season.

Maine Man

Mets Rumors & News

In the wake of yesterday’s loss to the Tigers, much of the focus today is understandably on the disappointing performance of Oliver Perez. However in his optimistic column on the Mets’ young staff, John Harper sneaks in the following note on pitcher John Maine:

Sitting among Mets executives and scouts behind the plate during their two intrasquad games on Monday and Tuesday, you couldn’t help notice the exchange of knowing glances and the occasional gasps of disbelief, once when John Maine struck out Carlos Delgado with a high fastball that seemed to explode in the strike zone.

Maine, in fact, has looked so good in camp that one Mets person, who didn’t want to be identified, insisted, “He could be better than (Mike) Pelfrey and (Philip) Humber. He’s got that live fastball, and his changeup has come a long way. He’s coming fast.”

Don’t Panic, Mets Fans

Mets Rumors & News

Privately, Mets officials have suggested that Oliver Perez could emerge as the ace of the team’s pitching staff this season. Publicly, fans and critics alike have scoffed. On Wednesday afternoon, score one for the skeptics. Perez sent a pitch sailing to the backstop during warmups, striking a Sports Illustrated photographer square in the calf. While his control improved from there, the results did not. In allowing 4 runs on 5 hits through two innings of work, Perez more closely resembled the 3-13 pitcher from a year ago that the Pittsburgh Pirates essentially surrendered for nothing despite watching the then-23-year-old pitcher go 12-10 with 2.98 ERA in 2004.

However, the Mets are not panicking and neither should fans. The Daily News’ John Harper tells us why not:

Perez had the most walks per nine innings of any pitcher who tossed 200 innings the past two seasons (5.76), contributing to a 6.22 ERA in ’05 and ’06. So Perez throwing 27 of 38 pitches for strikes yesterday was …

Smyth Thrilled to Join Isles

Islanders Rumors & News

(AP Photo/John Ulan, CP)


El Duque Returns

Mets Rumors & News

Over at his blog, Surfing the Mets, Daily News reporter Adam Rubin reports that Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez threw off a mound this morning for the first time since being diagnosed with an arthritic neck and receiving a cortisone injection last week.

Over at the New York Times blog “Bats,” Ben Shpigel tells us that Duque threw about 40 pitches, followed by 10 minutes of long toss, but did not address the assembled crowd of reporters.

Mess Gets Edmonton Tribute

Rangers Rumors & News

(AP PHOTO/CP, John Ulan)It was a strange day for the Edmonton Oilers franchise, as they traded away one local hero while paying tribute to another. Ironically, the trade of assistant captain Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders is arguably the biggest trade for the Oilers since they dealt Mark Messier to the Rangers in 1991.

Last night, Messier was honored by the team with which he won five Stanley Cups. The man they called Moose watched as his #11 jersey was raised to the rafters before taking a final lap around the ice with the Stanley Cup lofted over his head.

The Oilers chose last night for the ceremony specifically so that Wayne Gretzky – now head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes – could take part in the tribute. “Tonight would not have been the same without Wayne being here,” said Messier, who was born and raised in the Edmonton area.

The Rangers retired Messier’s #11 at the Garden last season.

Rangers: After the Deadline

Rangers Rumors & News

Some news and notes from the Rangers in the wake of yesterday’s trade deadline, courtesy of Steve Zipay in Newsday.

Even with a struggling offense, the Rangers simply weren’t in the hunt to rent free agents such as Bill Guerin, Keith Tkachuk and Ryan Smyth as yesterday’s trade deadline approached.

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)”The prices were so ridiculous,” assistant general manager Don Maloney said after the front office refused to part with prized prospects for veterans. “The deals we made, [swapping Aaron Ward for Bruins defenseman Paul Mara and Pascal Dupuis for Atlanta prospect Alex Bourret], hopefully made us a little younger, a little better, especially long-term. It was a good day for us.”…

Mara, 27, who is expected to play against the Penguins, was held up by flight delays and arrived at the beginning of the third period. “I was shocked at first [when hearing about the trade],” said Mara, who was born in Ridgewood, N.J., but grew up in Boston watching the Rangers on TV. ” Brian Leetch was one of …

Knicks Must Turn to Plan B

Knicks Rumors & News

In his article for the Bergen Record, Steve Adamek offers up a picture of the Knicks’ probably “Plan B” now that starting shooting guard Jamal Crawford will miss the rest of the regular season.

With Jamal Crawford out, Isiah Thomas has several lineup and rotation options for the final 24 games of the Knicks’ playoff push:

• Move Quentin Richardson to shooting guard. He started the season there and Crawford came off the bench, so this is the most likely move. Which means …

• Jared Jeffries starts at small forward.

• Nate Robinson and Mardy Collins get regular minutes.

• Renaldo Balkman has replaced some of David Lee’s energy lately, even playing as the shooting guard, and now he’s a likely backup there and at small forward.

• Larry Brown started Lee 13 games at small forward last season, and although he’s limited there, versus certain players it’s doable.

Jets Could Cut Ramsey, Von Oelhoffen

Jets Rumors & News

According to Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News, the Jets are set to cut ties with backup quarterback Patrick Ramsey. Ramsey was acquired from the Redskins last offseason in exchange for a 6th round draft pick. At the time, it was thought that Ramsey would push Chad Pennington for the starting job in training camp, however the competition was never close, and Pennington went on to win the NFL’s comeback-player-of-the-year honor. Ramsey meanwhile never seemed comfortable in offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s fast-paced, no-huddle offense, and attempted only one pass during the entire regular season. He is due to receive a $1.4 million roster bonus by Saturday, which is why the team will likely release or trade the QB by Friday.

Cimini also reports that the Jets could release veteran defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen, whom was overpaid and unproductive at age 36 after joining the Jets from the Steelers last season.

Meanwhile, second-year quarterback Kellen Clemens seems set to takeover as the #2 quarterback, though the team …

Giants’ Feely Will Test Free Agency

Giants Rumors & News

Via the New York Post:

The start of NFL free agency comes Friday and Jay Feely is sure of one thing: He’s headed to the open market.

“I’m definitely headed to free agency,” the Giants kicker told The Post yesterday from his Michigan home. “There’s no doubt in my mind. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to be a Giant.”

Feely the past two years performed well for the Giants and he strongly wants to return. He just doesn’t know if it will make financial sense for him to do so. Attempts last season at putting together a contract extension never resulted in a new deal, and the offer the Giants have on the table is far below what Feely considers market rate.

Three veteran kickers – the Rams’ Jeff Wilkins, Buffalo’s Rian Lindell and Ryan Longwell of the Vikings- essentially have the same contract: five years, $10 million with a signing bonus (or guaranteed money) totaling about $3 million. If the Giants presented Feely with those numbers, he’d sign today.

Thus far, Feely said, …

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