Happy Tuesday, everyone.
Get excited, folks. It's not quite Spring Training yet, but it's getting pretty damn close. Pitchers and catchers are set to report for several clubs in less than two weeks, which means time is running out for those still looking to make additions this winter.
Here are Monday's top stories:
The Big Three
1. After months of going back and forth between FOX and Time Warner, the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally getting that shiny new TV deal they've been hedging their bets on. The exact financial details are still murky, but it's thought to be a 25-year, $7 billion deal that includes the launch of a Dodgers-only network -- tentatively titled SportsNet LA -- in 2014. Lord knows I'm terrible at understanding anything related to finance/economics, but something seems off about these massive new TV deals for MLB clubs. The one question I keep coming back to is: why now? Why didn't television companies make these kinds of deals a decade ago? What makes the market so different today that a 25-year contract can be viewed as a safe bet? Anything? I'll have a more in-depth look at this in the coming weeks.
2. The Tampa Bay Rays signed second baseman Kelly Johnson to a one-year deal yesterday. The 30-year-old didn't have the greatest of times in his two years with Toronto, but perhaps he can turn things around a bit with a change of scenery. What's Johnson's addition does, more than anything, is free up room for Ben Zobrist to move around the field a bit more freely. With Johnson manning second, Zobrist can move to left or right field and Desmond Jennings to center, pushing Sam Fuld into more of a fourth outfielder role rather than being the club's starting center fielder.
3. Breathe easy, Yankees fans, Derek Jeter has made his triumphant return to the baseball diamond. The Captain "resumed baseball activities" yesterday for the first time since fracturing his ankle while going after a ground ball in Game 1 of the ALCS. Jeter is expected to be fully recovered from his ankle surgery and ready to go by the time Opening Day rolls around in early April. The 38-year-old has one guaranteed year left on his contract with the Bombers, but also has the rare player option for the 2014 season.
The Not-So-Big Three
1. The Philadelphia Phillies signed veteran infielder Yuniesky Betancourt to a minor-league deal yesterday because ??????????. Yuni is quoted as saying the Phillies have the "best infield in baseball." I'd have to agree, the groundskeeper does seem to do a pretty nice job.
2. Another one of the Chads signed with an NL East club yesterday. This time it was Mr. Durbin with the Phillies in the billiard room. With Chads Qualls and Durbin gone, the only free-agent righty reliever named Chad now remaining is Chad Gaudin. Your move, Atlanta.
3. Carl Pavano's ruptured spleen was a much more serious injury than first believed. While any stomach organ bursting is never a small thing, Pavano apparently spent two weeks in the hospital and ending up having his spleen removed. Ouch. Our well wishes go out to Pavano for a speedy recovery.
- Adolf Hilter's yacht toilet has been residing in an auto shop in New Jersey for 20 years. Can't make this stuff up.
- Egypt is being threatened with "state collapse" by the military following four days of violent protests that have taken the lives of at least 50 people. Reading between the lines, this essentially means that the country is on the verge of another coup d'etat, and this one -- sadly -- is likely to be much more violent than the last. Revolutions are never short, never simple, always costly.
- The US Senate has finally approved a $50 billion relief bill to send aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Way to be on the ball, guys. Only three months behind this time.