Decision day looms for the teams with these valuable young stars
Brewers star Ryan Braun's $105 million, five-year
But a boatload of other 20-something stars actually do appear in line for big new deals, from superb starting pitchers such as Tim Lincecum, Josh Johnson and Jered Weaver to hitting standouts Joey Votto, Robinson Cano and Andre Ethier, to superb two-way players Ryan Zimmerman and Shin-soo Choo, to incredible all-around talents Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp.
These young stars and many more appear to be in line at least for reasonably quick attention by their current teams since they can all become free agents after either the 2012 or 2013 seasons. Here is a rundown of the best of the 20-somthings who can become free agents after either of those two seasons. (The young stars whose contracts expire after this season are in most cases too far out the door to consider for extension, while '14 or beyond is generally a bit too far into the future to think about, so I kept the list to the two walk years mentioned.)
• A war of words has broken out between Dodgers owner McCourt and MLB, as McCourt senses, surely correctly, that MLB wants him out. He claimed that his proposed TV deal with Fox has already been vetoed by MLB, while MLB COO Rob Manfred said nothing has been definitively told to him. Baseball doesn't appear to love the TV deal, believed to be worth as much as $3 billion, or especially the idea that McCourt would take a big up-front payment, presumably to pay off his wife Jamie in the unsettled divorce case. Meanwhile, Fox must love the deal; it seems anxious to keep McCourt around, so anxious that it gave McCourt a basically unsecured personal loan of $30 million to keep him afloat. A lowball deal with Fox could affect other major-market teams with TV deals upcoming, which must worry MLB.
• TV magnate Burt Sugarman is one name believed to be in the mix among potential buyers of the Dodgers. He is married to TV spokesman Mary Hart, and the pair are longtime Dodgers season ticket holders. Century City based- investment banker Jason Reese is another name in the mix. Another is billionaire Ron Burkle, who's teaming with former Dodgers great Steve Garvey, a good front man who does have a few stains on his resume, including paternity cases and bankruptcies.
• Bartolo Colon continues to turn back the clock. He hit 96 mph as late as the sixth inning on Wednesday in pitching eight innings of a 3-1 victory over the White Sox, who have been surprisingly soft-hitting so far.
• Ailing Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes told SI.com that he felt "tightness'' and "soreness" in his arm and he even used the word "shooting'' to talk about the feeling, but he stopped short of using the word pain. He said that the soreness starts earlier when he's pitching and lingers more now. The Yankees said he might have thoracic outlet syndrome, and he was referred to a thoracic surgeon.
• Rangers closer Neftali Feliz is expected back late next week. And Josh Hamilton is said to have a better outlook during this stay on the disabled list than in the past, and could be back closer to six weeks than eight.
• Jake Peavy, who says he only feels "OK,'' is scheduled to have two tuneups at Triple-A Charlotte before a possible start for the White Sox. Peavy, a former Cy Young winner, called the ordeal a "humbling experience'' and "a grind mentally.''
• The Yankees' Nick Swisher still has no home runs and is hitting .208. He's taking extra BP but said he believes that his main problem is that pitchers are throwing him "15 out of 20 breaking pitches'' and that it's incumbent upon him to prove that he can hit them.
• Can't blame Roy Oswalt for going home to attend to the needs of his family after a tornado ripped through his Mississippi hometown again, a year after another tornado ruined his home. Several months ago MLB replaced his NLCS MVP trophy that was destroyed last year.