– Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM reports that the Marlins are putting an “all-out press” on SS Jose Reyes and hope to have him signed prior to the Winter Meetings in Dallas. Jon Heyman of SI.com reported similar findings Friday, saying the Marlins were “pretty optimistic” on Reyes but were considering upping their bid in an effort to find a “quick resolution.” The Fish reportedly offered him a 6-year/$90M contract, but Heyman has said that it was actually significantly lower than that. The Tigers, Brewers and Giants are also in on Reyes, with the Mets also involved.
– Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM reports that the Red Sox continue to have a dialogue with agent Scott Boras regarding RHP Ryan Madson. Boras said shortly after the Phillies signed RHP Jonathan Papelbon that he had not yet spoken to the Red Sox about Madson, but obviously they’ve begun talking. Madson, 31, posted a 2.37 ERA and 62/16 K/BB ratio in 60 2/3 innings this year and is the top remaining closer on the market.
– Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin said that free agent 3B Aramis Ramirez has reciprocated their interest in him. ”He has expressed interest in us, too. That’s something I always like to hear.” A-Ram is thought to be seeking a 4-year deal. The Angels and Tigers have also expressed interest.
– Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that the “buzz in baseball circles is that it will take north of $50M” to sign Cuban OF Yoenis Cespedes, and in recent weeks “estimates have drifted considerably higher.” Initially there were questions about whether Cespedes would get more than the $30.25M that Reds’ LHP Aroldis Chapman got, but now it looks like it’ll be substantially more. Crasnick adds that two-thirds of the teams interested in signing Cespedes are projecting him to play center field, while the others are projecting him as a right fielder. The Yankees, Marlins, Cubs, Phillies, Pirates, Orioles, Blue Jays, Indians and Athletics are among the teams that have expressed interest in the 26-year-old.
– Phillies’ 1B Ryan Howard (left Achilles tendon) is no longer using crutches, instead wearing a walking boot. Howard also announced that he’s making a $1.2M donation from his charitable foundation to the Philadelphia School District. Howard added that he’s “progressing and coming along” but didn’t go into details about his rehab, saying “it’s all about the kids today.” The 31-year-old is not expected to be ready for the start of the 2012 season.
– Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that the Dodgers have signed LHP Chris Capuano to a 2-year/$10M contract. Capuano posted a 4.55 ERA and 1.35 WHIP while striking out 168 over 186 innings, making 31 starts despite a pair of Tommy John surgeries during his career. It’s risky given Capuano’s injury history and the fact that he had a 5.42 ERA away from pitcher-friendly Citi Field, but he could manage to fill the back end of the rotation.
– Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies turned down the Cubs’ offer of UTIL Blake DeWitt for 3B Ian Stewart. Renck adds that the Rockies “still think highly enough” of Stewart that they want more than DeWitt for him, with OF Tyler Colvin or a pitching prospect presenting more intrigue to them.
– Vikings’ QB Donovan McNabb passed through waivers unclaimed, making him a free agent beginning Monday. The Redskins signed McNabb to a “5-year/$78M extension” just over a year ago which infamously became the phoniest contract in pro sports. McNabb, now 34, is a shell of his former self and is generating no interest, even to teams in need of a quarterback. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen has reported that the Bears have no plans to sign McNabb as a free agent, and the Texans prefer QB Jake Delhomme. The Vikings replaced McNabb on Friday by claiming QB Sage Rosenfels off waivers from the Dolphins.
– The Bears signed WR Earl Bennett to a 4-year extension/$18M extension through 2014 with $9M guaranteed. The 24-year-old has appeared in just six games this season, catching 18 passes for 276 yards and one touchdown.
– The NFL has upheld Lions DT Ndamukong Suh’s two-game suspension for violating the league’s on-field conduct policy after an appeal attempt. Suh will sit out Sunday’s game against the Saints and next week’s home game versus the Vikings. The Lions should be pleased if they emerge from the two-game stretch 1-1. Heading into the New Orleans game, Detroit should be quite concerned with its pass defense. Suh won’t be rushing quarterbacks and drawing double teams, and CB Chris Houston (knee) and FS Louis Delmas (knee) both missed practice all week. Drew Brees could shred them in Week 13.
– Leafs’ GM Brian Burke spoke to the media regarding his public feud with Oilers’ GM Kevin Lowe. Lowe had signed Ducks’ F Dustin Penner to a 5-year/$21.25M contract after Penner earned the league minimum of $450K in the previous season. Burke, the Ducks’ GM at the time, said that Lowe was escalating young players’ contract, to which Lowe denied. Burke called Lowe “gutless,” and “an act of desperation for a general manager who is fighting to keep his job.” Lowe fired back, calling Burke a “moron,” a “media junkie” and that he “destroyed” the Canucks during his time there. In 2008, Gary Bettman eventually broke them up and forced them to end their public feud. Burke spoke about the Greatest Barn Fight That Never Happened:
[The feud] got to the point where Kevin challenged me to a fight on a radio interview. So I’m like, that’s not really how you challenge a guy to a fight. If you wanna challenge a guy to a fight, you pick a place and a time and you show up.
So I called Glen Sather and I say look, this guy went on the radio and challenged me to a fight. I’m gonna be at Lake Placid at the U.S. Junior camp. I gave him three dates. I told him I’d rent a barn. I picked the address and the time and I’d fight Kevin Lowe.
Q. And you’re serious?
Dead serious. It got to the point where Gary Bettman called me and said ‘I heard you guys were thinkin’ about having a fight. If you do, I’m going to suspend you both indefinitely.’ That’s how crazy it got between me and Kevin. He’s as stubborn as I am. There’s no doubt in my mind that if we bumped into each other right around then, we would’ve fought. No question. He’s not afraid of me. We would’ve fought, for sure.
Anyway, my wife overhears this. I think I’m in privacy in a backyard in California and my wife said, ‘You idiot. You’re going to fight this guy? You’re a general manager.’ So it never came to that.”
Burke’s late son Brendan, who died in a car accident in 2010, overheard his father calling Lowe “a no good bastard” during a phone call and tried to repair the relationship. When Oilers GM Steve Tambellini was one of the first to call with condolences for Burke, the Leafs GM said he wanted to mend fences with Lowe.
– Flames’ D Mark Giordano (leg) has a ruptured tendon and is out indefinitely. Giordano re-evaluated for another 3 weeks, so he’s out at least through the new year. He has four goals and eight points in 23 games this season.
– Leafs’ D Mike Komisarek (broken arm) underwent a scope and will miss 4-6 weeks, rather than the initial 6-8 week timeframe. Komisarek suffered the injury on November 17 against the Predators.
– Flames’ D Cory Sarich has reportedly asked the team for a trade. Sarich is averaging just 13:30 minutes per game this season while occasionally being a healthy scratch. Sarich, who is on the last season of his contract, comes with a $3.6M cap hit, so it may be difficult to move him. Sarich also has a full no-movement clause, so the Flames can’t place him on waivers or send him to the minors without Sarich’s consent.
– The Senators have acquired F Rob Klinkhammer from the Blackhawks for a conditional 2013 7th round draft pick. Klinkhammer, 25, has recorded two goals and four assists in 18 games with the AHL’s IceHogs.
– Former WWE superstar Batista posted this picture of himself on Twitter this week, and it pretty much speaks for itself. Batista, who dropped a ton of weight shortly after leaving WWE last year, is looking beastly as ever:
– Speaking to WWE Magazine, Steve Austin responds to Brock Lesnar telling ESPN.com during a recent interview promoting WWE ’12 that he was “downright scared” to face him on the June 10, 2002 Raw (Austin balked facing Lesnar, feeling the marquee bout lacked proper buildup. Ultimately, he declined to attend Raw, briefly leaving WWE). Austin responds,
“It wasn’t a Brock issue at all. It was a stupid business decision, and I flew off the handle. I was wound up pretty tight at the time. I thought they [WWE] were poking me with a stick, and I admittedly handled that in the worst possible way. It never had anything to do with Brock Lesnar—it was just a stupid business decision, and although I handled it wrong, there wasn’t anyone in that company who can tell me it was a smart move to me in that match with no build and blow a total marquee pay-per-view or rivalry that could have lasted God knows how long!
“I don’t have any problems with anything Brock said. He’s got his take on things. And anytime you can flap your gums and stir things up—well, I’m always about that.”
CM Punk’s rant on the June 27, 2011 edition of Raw emboldened a vocal audience looking to return to the edgier tone of “The Attitude Era.” That, coupled with The Rock’s return to the ring, has created a division between people longing for the days of yesteryear and supporters of the current product. Austin comments on what “attitude” means to him.
“It’s funny to me that “The Attitude Era” was named that way. Guys and gals in this business have always had attitude. But for some reason, I started cutting off-the-hook promos, and someone wanted to label it ‘The Attitude Era.’ It’s an interesting way to reference that time, but WWE has always had over-the-top, extreme attitudes. I don’t think the answer is creating something different, or bringing back the The Attitude Era. I think you need to let these cats fly. Kick them out of the nest to see if they can survive. The cream will rise to the top and the weak is going to fall by the wayside because this is a competitive environment. That’s the only way to bring any edge back into the product. It’s about letting guys fly, talking from their hearts, and their guts, and their brains. That’s what makes for exciting TV. It ain’t about ‘attitude.’ End of story.”
– WWE United States Champion Dolph Ziggler was interviewed by The Miami Herald this week. Here are some highlights of what he said about:
Being Taken Off The Main Roster Twice: “It’s a little scary, no matter how good you think you are or no matter how much you’re progressing. Anytime you’re taken off the full-time roster, and you have to kind of start over and work on your craft some more, when you’re off TV, it’s scary. I told myself if I got another chance, if, then I would be 100 percent ready to go. I went to two practices a day. I was watching my tapes. I didn’t want to come back and have them say, ‘Hey, let’s give this guy a shot. Oh, he’s OK.’ I wanted, ‘Wow, this guy could be the best ever,’ and that’s what I’m striving for.
“I was lucky enough to come back, and I’ve been lucky enough to prove a bunch of people wrong, and now I go out there and when I walk back to the locker room, and it’s tough [for those wrestling next on the show] to follow my match.”
Learning from Rey Mysterio: “When I was working by myself, I got a good chance to get in the ring with Rey Mysterio, when I was virtually an unknown. I got a good chance to get in there and learn from him and actually got a chance to steal the show, even if it was mostly Rey Mysterio and everyone knowing him. I said, ‘From here on out, I want that reaction every single time.’ So every time I went back out, I couldn’t wait to out-do myself, until one day I was the main star in the ring and someone’s trying to hang with me.”
His recent RAW match with CM Punk: “A lot of people enjoyed the match, and my family and friends liked it. Honestly, since last Monday, I haven’t been able to sleep that well, because I really wanted that match to be one of the best ever, and it wasn’t. So I have something to build toward, and hopefully we’ll get to do it on a big stage, and if we do, I know we will tear the house down. I know it.”
– The NBA has announced the schedule for the opening of their modified 66-game season, pending NBPA ratification. On Christmas Day, the Celtics visit the Magic at (12 pm ET, TNT), the Mavericks will visit the Heat (2:30 pm ET, ABC), the Bulls visit the Lakers (5 pm ET, ABC), the Thunder take on the Magic (8 pm ET, ESPN) and the Clippers take on the Warriors (10:30 pm ET, ESPN).
– Karen Jarrett has responded to Vickie Guerrero posting a fan’s tweet knocking the Knockouts VP as well as TNA Wrestling Thursday night, which read “@KarenJarrett = @ExcuseMeWWE #TNAAwful.” Jarrett posted the following on her Twitter account Friday afternoon, which was written by a fan: “@ExcuseMeWWE How is @karenjarrett copying you when she was on tv way before you ever was?” The remark was then retweeted by Madison Rayne. The Knockouts VP added, “Oh these twitter games…….” Jarrett, however, is wrong, as Guerrero debuted on WWE programming in 2005, two years before her TNA debut.
– As reported earlier, Sarita took a scary fall during a two out of three falls tag team match at Arena Mexico last week. Sarita, who appears as Dark Angel for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, slipped on the top rope while attempting to dive and fell flat on her face onto the floor. She was placed on a stretcher while the match continued and immediately hospitalized. The Canadian grappler thanked her fans for their well wishes the following day via Facebook and stated that while she remains sore, she is okay. She participated in CMLL’s annual bodybuilding competition the next day and won for the sixth consecutive year. She appeared at Monday’s Impact Wrestling taping in Orlando, Florida, but did not compete.