New York Yankees Wiretap
Yankees pitcher Aaron Small was rewarded Tuesday with a $1.2 million, one-year contract Tuesday after he went unbeaten following a midseason callup from the minor leagues.
Small went 10-0 with a 3.20 ERA in nine starts and six relief appearances during the regular season, joining Tom Zachary (12-0) of the 1929 Yankees, Howie Krist (10-0) of the 1941 St. Louis Cardinals and Dennis Lamp (11-0) of the 1985 Toronto Blue Jays as the only pitchers to finish a major league regular season unbeaten with 10 or more wins.
However, Small lost Game 3 of the AL playoffs against the Los Angeles Angels.
In addition to his base salary, Small could earn $80,000 in performance bonuses: $15,000 each for 15 and 20 starts, and $25,000 each for 25 and 30 starts. He had asked for $1.45 million in arbitration and had been offered $1,025,000.
Mike Piazza remains one of the marquee free agents still on the market, and yesterday, according to baseball sources, his agents contacted the Yankees about moving across town as a designated hitter and backup catcher.
The Yankees' response was that there was no room at the inn. According to sources, Piazza, who hit .251 with 19 homers and 62 RBI with the Mets last year, has minimal offers from the Padres, Phillies and Indians to play a reserve role, but none of them are anywhere near his believed asking price of $7 million-$8 million a year. It is the Yankees' feeling that Piazza could not offer as much in a DH capacity as what they expect to get out of Bernie Williams and they are satisfied with Kelly Stinnett as their backup catcher.
Shawn Chacon's agent is hopeful he and the Yankees can reach an agreement on a one-year contract before the sides meet in an arbitration hearing slated for Feb. 13. "I always like to think we'll settle," said Danny Horwits, Chacon's rep. "Arbitration is built into the process, but I'm an optimist."
Chacon was 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA after a July trade with Colorado. The Yankees submitted a figure of $3.1 million for arbitration while Chacon asked for $4.15 million. The two sides can agree on a deal right up to the hearing.
Carl Pavano was unhappy with the Yankees in 2005. His first season in New York, ended in midstream by a shoulder injury, wasn't the stuff for smiles.
"If somebody wasn't unhappy with the way the year went, what would you think of that person?" Pavano said recently from his home in Florida.
But Pavano is upbeat about his second season.
"Last year, things didn't work out the way either of us hoped they would," he said, "but I think the future is going to hold a more positive story. ... I can't wait."
Pavano, 30, a righthander from Southington, came to the Yankees with high expectations but was uncomfortable with the fanfare surrounding his free agency. Coming off a breakout season, he signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the team he and his family had cheered for generations.
But he went 4-6 with a 4.77 ERA in 17 starts before shutting it down June 27 with a shoulder injury that took almost two months to diagnose.
"We have high hopes for Carl," general manager Brian Cashman said. "We didn't see the real Carl Pavano. We saw a guy who was trying to get there, but he was hurt. He wasn't able to show us the real Carl Pavano. Everyone, every day, has to reaffirm their past in this game, try to get back to what they've done before."
Alex Rodriguez plans to play for the United States.
His allegiance torn between the Dominican Republic and United States, Rodriguez finally made up his mind Tuesday night and decided he will participate in the World Baseball Classic as a member of the U.S. team.
"In recent weeks, following dialogue with caring friends and players, both Dominican and American, I reached the conclusion that if I played in the Classic, I would play for the United States and honor my American citizenship," Rodriguez said in a statement on his Web site.
"I appreciate the support and understanding of my fellow Dominican players and friends who aided me in making this decision. The World Baseball Classic offers baseball and its fans an exciting new forum and I look forward, if selected, to representing the United States in what will be baseball's greatest international competition."
Yankees Jan 2006 Archive