– Dodgers’ LHP Clayton Kershaw was named the National League Cy Young Award winner Thursday. Kershaw, 23, is the youngest Cy Young winner since Dwight Gooden won the award as a 20-year-old in 1985. Kershaw was the clear favourite after leading the NL this season with a 2.28 ERA, 248 strikeouts and 21 wins. The southpaw took home 27 of 32 first-place votes while Phillies’ RHP Roy Halladay received four and D’Backs’ RHP Ian Kennedy got one. Halladay finished second in the balloting and LHP Cliff Lee placed third.
– RHP Tim Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that he has yet to have “substantive talks” about a contract of any length with the Giants. Jon Heyman of SI.com reported earlier this week that the Giants will try to lock up Lincecum this winter, but Thurman said he has yet to have significant talks about a multi-year deal or even a 1-year contract. Thurman, however, notes that those “the kind of discussions you normally have before the winter meetings.” Lincecum just finished the final year of a 2-year/$23M contract, but remains under team control through 2013.
– According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, LHP C.J. Wilson will visit the Angels on Monday. GM Jerry Dipoto held a lengthy meeting Wilson’s agent, Bob Garber, at the GMs’ meetings Monday in Milwaukee. It’s believed that Wilson is looking for a 6-year/$120M contract.
– Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com was told by a source that the Red Sox haven’t ruled out interviewing Bobby Valentine for manager. While Valentine wasn’t originally considered, things may have changed now that Dale Sveum is expected to take the Cubs’ job, and Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner are said to favour a candidate with managerial experience in the big leagues. GM Ben Cherington is traveling to the Dominican Republic this weekend, in part to see Cuban OF Yoenis Cespedes, but is expected to resume the search early next week. Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont, and Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo remain in the mix for the job.
– MLB commissioner Bud Selig announced Thursday that Jim Crane’s purchase of the Astros was approved by owners. Crane originally agreed to buy the team from Drayton McLane for $680M, but he is expected to get a $70M discount to move the franchise to the American League. Selig confirmed Thursday that the Astros will move to the AL West in 2013, which will result in 15 teams in each league and interleague play on a daily basis. Interestingly, Selig also said that the addition of two Wild Card teams to the current playoff format could still happen as soon as 2012.
– According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs are “finishing details” to make Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum their next manager. The Cubs reportedly offered Sveum the gig on Wednesday night. They won’t finalize a deal before the end of the day Thursday, but Rogers expects a news conference to take place Friday.
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Tigers have signed C Gerald Laird to a 1-year contract, pending a physical. Laird, 32, earned a $1M base salary with the Cardinals last season while batting .232/.302/.358 with one home run, 12 RBI and a .660 OPS over 108 plate appearances.
– Cubs’ president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington have agreed to postpone compensation talks until after December’s Rule 5 Draft. It’s expected that the Red Sox will eventually get a couple of minor leaguers in return.
– The latest plan for The Rock’s match with John Cena at WrestleMania 28 is that the match will not be for the WWE Championship. WWE creative has gone back and forth as to whether the WWE title will be on the line, but the general feeling is that the match doesn’t need a title defense to seem important and the company can get more mileage out of promoting a separate WWE title match on the card. WWE is already spending big money to promote the dream match. We’ve reported already that WWE bought a big billboard in New York City’s Times Square. WWE has purchased another billboard on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, which is a pricey location.
– WWE officials are talking with SyFy about doing more live Tuesday SmackDown specials in early 2012 to build WrestleMania 28. Due to the ratings success of WWE’s previous live Tuesday SmackDown specials, WWE has been toying with the idea of moving SmackDown to Tuesdays permanently.
– The WWE website has a storyline-driven article up looking at Zack Ryder’s failed petition to get a United States title shot at Survivor Series. John “Funkhouser” Laurinaitis explains why John Morrison was awarded the title shot instead of Zack Ryder, which Ryder has dubbed, the #NewYorkScrewjob:
“I think I’m being very generous because John Morrison was on a losing streak which he seemed to have broken with a victory over Dolph Ziggler in a match last week. I’m all about giving talent opportunities and I feel that John Morrison has earned an opportunity to compete for the United States Championship.”
“As far as Zack Ryder’s twitter petition goes, no General Manager in WWE history is more about social media than I am. However, I feel he is going to have to gain many more than 15,000 signatures before I consider giving him an opportunity to compete for the United States Championship. Again, I’m all about giving talent opportunities … when I feel they have earned them.”
– Bruins’ D Zdeno Chara will not face criminal charges stemming from his violent hit into the stanchion on Canadiens’ F Max Pacioretty last season. Quebec’s director of criminal prosecutions says it does not believe a court would find Chara guilty of a crime, so the case has been closed. Chara’s behavior on the ice didn’t go far beyond what might be reasonably expected during a game, so this was the expected outcome for the incident. Chara has been solid with 13 points and a plus-10 rating in 16 games this season.
– Oilers’ D Cam Barker (ankle) will require surgery and could be sidelined until March.
– Flyers’ D Erik Gustafsson (wrist) underwent surgery today and will miss 6 weeks. He had missed the Flyers’ last three games with the ailment before getting a procedure done.
– TNA Knockouts Champion Gail Kim recently spoke with The UK Sun about her recent jump from WWE back to TNA, turning heel and more. Here are some highlights of what Gail Kim said about:
Returning to TNA: “It was easy because I had such a great experience the first time. The way the woman’s division is portrayed here – this is what I love to do. Be in the ring, and show what I can do in that ring. The division over here is so strong, and the girls are so talented. There is a great group of women here and I just wanted to be part of it and contribute.”
Her recent heel turn: “My first half of my career I was a heel. I then stayed a babyface for a long time, five or six years, and you always want to be refreshing, to have a change. I wanted to explore that. Vince Russo talked to me about it, and I said I was on the same wavelength.”
TNA’s Knockouts vs. WWE’s Divas: “The way the woman’s division is portrayed here – this is what I love to do. Be in the ring, and show what I can do in that ring. The division over here is so strong, and the girls are so talented. There is a great group of women here and I just wanted to be part of it and contribute.”
– TNA star Jesse Neal is reportedly leaving the company after this weekend’s TNA live events. Neal tweeted:
“Some things you just have to question but… then I again I don’t give a f—. It’s time for a new me and a change.”
“If you want to book me I am free after this weekend, let me know. And trust me, you’ll get your moneys worth.”