Tabloid gossip is as New York as handball, hip hop and the screwface stare. Today, the rumor mill is in full effect, and it is as dizzying as watching Chinese Chess in Chinatown. Here is the lowdown according to New York's finest...
The Curt Schilling talk is still hot, although the two teams are predictably miles apart. The Diamondbacks want both Nick Johnson and Alfonso Soriano in exchange for their $12 million ace headache and second baseman Junior Spivey. Kevin Kernan thinks the Yankees would be making a major mistake letting Nick Johnson go for Schilling, while John Harper thinks it is a sacrifice worth making. One thing is for sure, there are those in the Yankee organization (led by Stick Michael) who do not want to lose Johnson, but George Steinbrenner is not one of them:
"Stick hasn't changed his opinion of Nick," one Yankee insider said yesterday. "He still thinks the kid can win a batting title in the next few years. But George is frustrated because he keeps hearing he doesn't have the kind of prospects in the (farm) system to make a deal like this.
"He's 70-something years old and he doesn't want to hear about the future. If Nick is his ticket, he'll use him."
That is a point worth noting. George has always constructed his team to win now, but at his age, why should he think about the future if he won't be around to enjoy it? We are talking about a world-class, instant-gratification egotist after all.
But the Yankee brass isn't alone in their appreciation of Johnson. According to Kernan:
"You know who Nick Johnson is?" one GM told me yesterday in the lost-in-time lobby of the Arizona Biltmore. "He's the kind of player the Yankees of 1996 used to build around. He's a Paul O'Neill type. The type who will work you deep into the count and drive the pitcher crazy."
It is unlikely that any trade will be made soon. Hopefully for the Yankees, Cashman and Stick Michael can keep their raging bull of an owner from doing anything rash.
Meanwhile, Cashman met with Bartolo Colon's agent, and also huddled with Expos GM Omar Minaya regarding Javier Vasquez. Roberto Alomar's agent has approached Cashman about his clients' desire to play for the Yankees, and the Bombers are also interested in Vlad Guerrero too. (With the White Sox willing to move Magglio Ordonez, right field has some interesting options.)
MEL TO RETURN
The New York Post is reporting that Mel Stottlemyre will in fact return as pitching coach next season. Joe Torre said that he hasn't spoken with Stot since the end of the season but expects to hear from him in the next week. Looks like he'll have his old friend back by his side. You think Andy Pettitte will notice?
HAVEN'T GOT TIME FOR THE PAIN
Derek Jeter apparently played through the ALCS and World Series in serious pain. Jeter strained ligaments in his left thumb in Game One of the ALCS against the Red Sox. Last night, at a fund-raiser, Joe Torre told reporters:
"After the first game against Boston I got a phone call the next morning and we weren't sure he was going to play anymore," Torre said last night at his Safe At Home Foundation dinner in Battery Park.
"It's one of those things you test yourself as a manager and say, 'Well, it's out of our control now.' But this kid was something. He got some pain shots the first couple of days and he said, 'I can't feel my thumb, I can't take these shots anymore.' "
Jeter, who was in attendence too, played coy:
"Mr. T blew a secret, huh?"
There are no plans for Jeter to have surgery this winter.