– According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, there is a “belief” that that Cardinals want to keep an 1B Albert Pujols extension to 7-years or less. The two sides have kept their cards close, and Heyman acknowledges that with a couple of caveats in his introduction. Heyman heard that Pujols wants a contract similar to Yankees’ 3B Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year/$275M deal, but that the Cardinals are hoping to keep the total worth under $200M. In any event, Pujols’ people want a deal done by spring training or they will begin planning for 2012 free agency.
– A source told Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York that the Yankees are growing less optimistic about LHP Andy Pettitte returning. The veteran is still deciding whether to retire or pitch for a 16th major league season. The source told ESPN NY, “Last week I thought the chances were 60-40. Now I think they’re 50-50 at best. Another week has gone by with no contact as far as I know.”
– According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, the Mets and RHP Chris Young have agreed to a contract, pending a physical. If everything goes as planned, the Mets will have a rotation of Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, R.A. Dickey, Chris Capuano and Young to open the season. The Mets hope it will be enough to compete until LHP Johan Santana returns around the All-Star break.
– The Blue Jays have signed RHP Jon Rauch to a 1-year/$3.5M contract with a $3.75M option for 2013. He’ll make $3.5M in 2011, while the option includes a $250K buyout. Rauch drew little interest this winter despite posting a strong 3.12 ERA and 46/14 K/BB ratio for the Twins in 2010 and converting 21 of 25 save chances. He should do well for the Blue Jays in a setup role and might get a chance to close if RHP Octavio Dotel falters. The Jays also avoided arbitration with RHP Casey Janssen on a 1-year/$1.095M deal.
– The Rockies have signed RHP Matt Lindstrom to a 2-year/$6.4M contract extension with a $4M club option for 2013. The deal buys out the final two years of Lindstrom’s arbitration-eligibility at $2.8M this season and $3.6M in 2012. The 30-year-old posted a bad 4.39 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in 2010 for the Astros, but the Rockies liked him enough to trade two minor leagues for him this winter and will use him as a setup man for the next two years at least.
– Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has heard that it could take until Wednesday before the Twins reach agreement with RHP Carl Pavano on what’s expected to be a 2-year deal. Their current focus is on arbitration-eligible players, so they’ll get around to working out the details with Pavano later in the week.
– The Rockies have signed 1B Jason Giambi to a minor league contract. The 40-year-old’s best days are behind him, but he’s still serviceable as a pinch-hit bat against righties.
– Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that the Nationals have acquired LHP Tom Gorzelanny from the Cubs for three prospects, pending a Tuesday physical. The Mets looked into trading for him last month. It’s not yet known what Washington gave up, but it’s likely at least one mid-range prospect. Gorzelanny, 28, posted a 4.09 ERA and racked up 119 strikeouts in 136 1/3 innings last season and is a solid addition as a mid-rotation starter.
– Joey Styles just announced on Twitter that this year’s Royal Rumble will be the biggest Rumble in WWE history. Styles wrote on @JoeyStyles:
“This year, there will be 40 participants in the Royal Rumble Match instead of 30. It will be the biggest Royal Rumble Match in history!”
WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross posted the following on Twitter @JRsBBQ regarding the news:
“If having 40 men in the Royal Rumble match helps sell ppvs, then its a really good idea. 40 sounds good to me. Makes the main event bigger.”
“Watch what I say, the 40 man royal rumble match will be over analyzed by many. Gives 10 more paydays & adds ‘biggest ever’ mkt’ing hook”.
It appears Ross’ idea of selling more PPVs is exactly what WWE is going for by adding 10 more men to the match. With 40 men involved in the Rumble, expect the interval between each man entering the match to be reduced from 2 minutes to 60-90 seconds.
– Those spoken to within WWE aren’t aware if there is any particular incident or reason that Ted DiBiase isn’t receiving a stronger push on TV, but a few believe that Maryse is struggling to work as an effective valet. One source indicated that the former glamour model appears much more concerned with drawing attention to herself and getting herself over rather than enhancing DiBiase’s matches and overall presentation.
– One WWE source doubted reports of the entire list for this year’s WWE Hall of Fame class being set in stone. Although discussions have begun, the source does not believe there is much locked in—besides Shawn Michaels. The insider strongly feels, however, that reports of Arn Anderson and Ron Simmons being enshrined this year are correct.
– To update the news of former WWE RAW GM Mike Adamle being arrested last week and charged with DUI, TribLocal.com is reporting that Adamle’s lawyer Dean Dickie says they will be fighting the arrest. Although Adamle failed a field sobriety test and showed “erratic behaviour” prior to the arrest, Dickie argues that Adamle’s BAC was only 0.04, which is below the legal limit in the state of Illinois. Adamle has publicly disclosed that he takes medication to treat epilepsy (a brain disorder that results in seizures). A doctor quoted in the TribLocal article stated that several common epilepsy medications could impair a person’s motor skills or driving ability, so that defence could be used by Adamle’s lawyers when he’s in court on February 14 in Skokie, Illinois to defend himself against the charges.
– It was reported earlier that CM Punk got into an altercation with a fan at Sunday’s WWE super show event from Shreveport, Louisiana. A few fans who were at the show have sent in recaps of what went down and there are new details to report. Following his match, CM Punk got in the faces of several fans at ringside, including a few young children. Punk told one of the kids, said to be around 10 years old, to slap him. The fan slapped Punk, who told the fan to slap him again. The fan complied, when Punk allegedly grabbed the child by the shirt and told him to do it again. The child began to cry and his parents began yelling at CM Punk. Punk was heard yelling that the child scratched his eye during the provoked attack.
– To help promote next Sunday’s Raw live event at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, Valley24.com conducted an interview with WWE star Ted DiBiase, Jr. The highlights:
When asked how often he is on the road: “I think the correct answer is a minimum of 257 days a year and I believe it’s actually really more than that. It’s most of the time.”
About the possibility of his brother, WWE developmental wrestler Brett DiBiase, joining NXT at some point: “That’s actually out of my control. It very well could happen. If you see him there, you’ll see him on RAW or Smackdown but we’ll definitely see him soon, eventually, I would predict. He’s a talented and he’s dying to get up here. He’s ready.”
In regards to WWE’s attitude towards injuries suffered by wrestlers: “WWE does an excellent job especially in the area of head injuries, as far as concussions. I know I was actually slapped in the face one night and it knocked me out. I had a mild concussion and they would not let me wrestle for three weeks to a month. I did other things in the show, but they wouldn’t let me perform in the ring. That’s the thing, as a company, we take very serious now. We go through a lot of steps, a lot of tests and stuff and we have our doctors who are certified to handle us and make the call. We’re taken care of.”
– The Blues have signed F Kyle Wellwood to a 1-year deal. They’ll have to wait for him to clear waivers before he can join the team. Last time, the Predators picked up F Marek Svatos before he cleared, so the Blues are hoping there won’t be any deja vu.
– Coach John Harbaugh is optimistic that FS Ed Reed will return for a 10th NFL season in 2011. Coach John Harbaugh said, “He’s told me –- I don’t think he’d mind me saying this -– he wants to play football. Ed’s got a chance this offseason to be healthier than he’s ever been going into a season … I don’t want to speak for him. He’ll have to tell you all that, but I think Ed’s going to have a great year next year.” Reed considered about walking away after the 2009 season, but he’s not nearly as banged up this year. The 32-year-old, signed through 2012, is still playing at an All-Pro level.
– Impending free agent QB Chad Pennington (shoulder) has decided to attempt a comeback from a fourth shoulder operation this offseason. “I’m going to make a run at it, and the reason I am is that I still have that fire inside. I have to go out and see if my shoulder can respond. If it doesn’t respond, I can live with that.” Pennington worked with new Dolphins’ OC Brian Daboll as a Jets QB in 2007-08, and he spoke glowingly of the hire for Miami. Pennington had already made up his mind to give his career one last shot before the Daboll news. He’s expected to meet with Dr. James Andrews in early February for a checkup.
– According to the Denver Post, former Falcons and Seahawks coach Jim Mora will likely take over as the Broncos’ new DC. Mora was in town to interview Monday. Mora’s background is in the 4-3 scheme, so the Broncos are in for yet another significant shift on defense. Should Mora land in Denver, Dick Jauron would seem to be the favourite in Philadelphia.
– As expected, the Raiders have promoted OC Hue Jackson to head coach. Jackson becomes Al Davis’ seventh coach in the last decade. He was handpicked by Davis to run Tom Cable’s offense last offseason, improving the unit from 31st to 10th in yards and 31st to 6th in points. Jackson has been credited with helping to develop NFL stars as disparate as WR Chad Ochocinco, WR Roddy White, and QB Joe Flacco. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, former Chiefs’ assistant Al Saunders will be hired as OC. QB Jason Campbell will return as the starter, as Saunders has worked with him in the past.
– The Gaston Gazette’s Steve Reed reports Chargers’ TEs coach Rob Chudzinski has accepted the Panthers’ offer to take over as OC. Chudzinski joins DC Sean McDermott and special teams coach Brian Murphy in rounding out Ron Rivera’s coaching staff. Chud made it big with the Browns in ’07 when the offense skyrocketed to 8th in the NFL, while QB Derek Anderson turned in the only good season of his career. He’s helped generate the Chargers’ impressive offensive gameplans the past two years. Chudzinski has shown a golden touch with tight ends, coaching Antonio Gates, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow and Bubba Franks. Coach Ron Rivera has already made it clear that finding a stud tight end will be a priority this offseason.
– ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports the Dolphins will hire Browns’ OC Brian Daboll for the same position in Miami. Daboll comes from the Bill Belichick tree as a defensive assistant and wide receivers coach from 2000-06. He followed Eric Mangini to New York, where he worked with QB Brett Favre before moving onto Cleveland in 2009. His offense finished 31st in the league in points and 29th in yards this season, though the team was very undertalented and he made great progress with QB Colt McCoy’s development.
– The Broncos confirmed Monday that Mike McCoy will stay on as OC and Eric Studesville will return as running backs coach under new head man John Fox. Offensive line coach Dave Magazu and receivers coach Tyke Tolbert have also been imported from Fox’s staff in Carolina. Magazu has been a zone-blocking magician, so RB Knowshon Moreno will be transitioning back to the same scheme used early in his rookie season.
– The Browns will reportedly meet with former Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt about an assistant coaching job this week. The Cleveland Plain Dealer clarifies that the position in question is the defensive coordinator vacancy. Wannstedt and Eagles secondary coach Dick Jauron will both be in town to interview for the position. Considering Pat Shurmur’s lack of head coaching experience, it’s likely no coincidence that the top two candidates for defensive boss have each had two head coaching stints of their own. The Bills have also spoken with Wannstedt.