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Yankees might look toward White Sox for starting pitchers

Sun., Feb. 6, 2011, midnight

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman rarely yields to public pressure, but he seldom has been backed into a corner as badly as it now seems after he failed to land Cliff Lee or persuade Andy Pettitte to return.

The Yankees were 10th in the American League with a 4.35 ERA from their starters a year ago, finishing ahead of only Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore and Kansas City, and that included 286 innings from Pettitte and Javier Vazquez, who left as a free agent.

No good-bet veterans have been added, so imagine the horror if CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes or A.J. Burnett stumbles in spring training. It’s hard to imagine Cashman won’t be trading for a starter between now and Opening Day, with scouts weighing the likes of Fausto Carmona, Joe Blanton and Scott Kazmir.

The Chicago White Sox might want to remind Yankees types that they may have a surplus, assuming Chris Sale is ready for the rotation (175 innings tops, for his own health) and Jake Peavy can return for a solid second half, if not five solid months.

While Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has created a sense of urgency to win, the Sox could think long term without badly hurting their 2011 chances.

Edwin Jackson certainly would buy time for the Yankees, and other than perhaps Carmona, seems like a higher-ceiling guy than others available. Gavin Floyd could deliver an up-and-down 200 innings. John Danks could wind up working as a No. 2 man behind Sabathia in the playoffs.

It would take a huge offer to get Danks, whom the White Sox may be able to control for only two more seasons, but the Yankees’ supply of strong catching and pitching prospects – along with intriguing short-term fits like Joba Chamberlain and Sergio Mitre – make these teams a fit worth watching.

The Chicago Cubs’ Matt Garza deal would be the framework for a Danks trade, which could be expanded to upgrade the speed and athleticism of the White Sox outfield. For Danks, Carlos Quentin (or Juan Pierre, if the Yankees preferred a veteran table-setter) and Mark Teahen, the Sox could seek a couple of top-tier prospects such as catcher Jesus Montero and pitcher Dellin Betances, either Curtis Granderson or Brett Gardner, Chamberlain, Mitre and one or two lesser prospects.

The guys who make the deal pay off for the Sox are Sale, Peavy, Montero and Betances.

Interested spectator

When the Green Bay Packers went to San Diego to play the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII, Bud Selig was there. Baseball’s commissioner loves to kid Milwaukee reporters about their perceived infatuation with the NFL, but he long has been on the Packers’ board, currently listed as a director emeriti on the team’s masthead.

Selig was waffling about whether to attend today’s game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, saying he thought he would stay home and enjoy “the best seat in the house.” But wherever he sits, Selig is delighted that tables have turned in the American sporting landscape.

The NFL remains America’s most popular sport – it had to hurt Selig that the Pro Bowl drew higher ratings than Game 3 of the Giants-Rangers World Series – but baseball is now the sport that has both labor peace and superior parity.

If the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Packers today, they will join the New England Patriots in having won three championships since 2000. No MLB team has won more than twice in this span even though baseball is the one sport that doesn’t have a salary cap. For all their spending, the Yankees and Boston Red Sox have won only two championships apiece.

MLB also has caught up to the NFL in total revenue, making major gains in licensing. International growth – Asia especially – contributed to MLB taking in $2.75 billion from the sale of jerseys, caps, etc., in 2010, a tick ahead of the NFL’s estimated income of $2.7 billion.

Lawyers needed

The Seattle Mariners hope to get a better idea about Milton Bradley’s situation after a hearing scheduled for Tuesday. In the last year of his contract – finally – Bradley was charged with a felony for threatening a woman in Los Angeles last month.

It’s hard to believe, but the Mariners actually went into 2010 counting on Bradley and Casey Kotchman as their 3-4 hitters. No wonder Felix Hernandez got only 13 victories out of a Cy Young Award performance.

The Mariners continue to hold left field open for Bradley but wouldn’t mind voiding his contract to let Michael Saunders, Jody Gerut, Ryan Langerhans and the powerful Greg Halman compete for that position.

Baltimore Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon, who had 17 saves last season, is a more dubious proposition than Bradley because of homicide charges in the Dominican Republic. He has been charged with shooting his cousin on New Year’s Day and remains jailed without bail.

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