NASHVILLE -- Three of your baseball Globies -- Nick Cafardo, Amalie Benjamin and myself -- have been doing laps around the massive interior of the Opryland Hotel, where baseball types are shoulder to shoulder with busloads of tourists here to admire the Christmas decorations. That includes this woman on stilts whose face is painted green and whose limbs are enshrouded in leafy stuff, performing gymnastic moves that might get her arrested in some precincts. But I digress.
You're waiting for news on Johan Santana, and while we've spoken with any number of baseball people who think the Sox should make the deal, even if it involves Jacoby Ellsbury, there is very little of a substantive nature that has come out thus far. We ran into Terry Francona, dressed in sweats, who was off to see a friend ... he pleaded ignorance when asked if anything was going on. Pitching coach John Farrell also passed by, but said he had yet to be brought up to speed.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman, meanwhile, had yet to arrive. GM Theo Epstein and his aides have been holed up in the Sox suite, holding meetings and making phone calls, and there remains a school of thought that the Sox’ primary interest is driving up the price for the Yankees. One Sox type told me a little while ago that there may be more rumor than substance to what has been reported to date, which is par for the course at these things, though we are persuaded by our sources that Ellsbury and Jon Lester have been offered in different packages.
The White Sox, meanwhile, are anxious for a resolution of the Santana business because they'd like to engage the Sox in talks for Coco Crisp. Boston doesn't trade Coco, of course, if Ellsbury goes to the Twins in a deal for Santana.
Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner was remarkably blunt and public in comments expressing the team's desire to get Santana, and in setting a deadline of today; Steinbrenner may have crossed the line into tampering with some of his comments. Trust me, Sox brass are far more careful about even breathing Santana's name.
Lots of e-mail, meanwhile, about the Sox possibly giving up Ellsbury in the deal. Typical was this e-mail from Kathy, that came under the subject heading, "Aaargh, Not Jaocoby.''
I'm not sure Theo understands how the nation feels about Jacoby. The goal for fans is not just to win the Series, it's also to enjoy the 162 games in the regular season. Jacoby was exciting to watch, beyond the help he gave us in winning. As my (37yr old) nephew said at 6:45 this morning when he called me from Maryland to agonize over this, "Theo might as well tell us that Papi's available for a trade now." The affection fans have developed for this young man is not going to be assuaged by a great left-hander who is going to raise ticket prices.
I'm astonished that Theo would seriously consider giving a pitcher a 6 yr. 150 million offer, as pitchers' health is such a crap shoot - see M. Clement.
I do know the Nation was in a tizzy about Mike Lowell, but even though I wanted him re-signed it was clear there were youngsters coming up soon who could do the job. If Jacoby goes I'm going to be seriously in grief for the first time since these owners have taken over.''
We'll try to keep you posted.