December 8, 2005
Alfonso Soriano:
After years of trade rumors, he's finally shipped to the Nats to be their 2B/OF. (Wait: Did Theo Epstein have a say about this deal?)
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
ROCKET.  LANDING.

Now that Roger Clemens is apparently not heading back to Houston, where should he land?

(Not where will he land, because even Rocket doesn't know yet whether he wants to pitch next season, after the World Baseball Classic.)

There's the skip across the state to the Rangers. Keeps him in Texas. A lot more run support than Houston. And an owner perhaps willing to deliver the biggest draw in Texas this side of Reggie Bush on the Texans.

There's a return to the Red Sox. What a gloriously symmetrical way to end his career, pairing with Schilling to lead Boston back to the title and repairing his long-strained relationship with Red Sox Nation.

There's a return to the Yankees. Monstrous payroll? Aging stars? Financially in the red? Bah! Will the Boss be able to resist shelling out the cash for Clemens?

And then there's retirement. But considering he had a Cy-ish season in 2005, he's still near the top of his game. Why would he cut out now?

He's in an ideal position: He can be choosy with his next move. And here's what he should do:

Pitch in the World Baseball Classic. (The U.S. will need him to shut down the Dominican Republic lineup -- that is, if anyone can.)

Then wait. And wait.

Take the first half of the season off. Observe how the contenders develop. How the pressure among the various suitors increases.

He might find himself with a $12 million deal -- for half a season's worth of work. (Like a desperate suitor wouldn't give him whatever he wants.)

So kick back, Roger. Enjoy your time off. See you in July.

MLB Stove Wrap
Bleary-eyed yet?

Zito to Mets? Probably not. A's reportedly asking too much. Zito still has residual brand-name appeal (even if his skills are no longer Cy-worthy), and GM Billy Beane knows it.

Vazquez to Mets? Aha: Maybe. Kris Benson could be part of the deal. (How does Anna feel about PHX? At least the tanning is better than K.C.)

More Benson: But there are also rumors he could be headed to Texas. That would have to erode the Rangers' ability to pay Clemens, no?

Even more Mets: Kaz out? It didn't take long for Matsui to go from phenom to phailure. (Are the Dodgers in the mix? Don't they have a half dozen middle infielders already?)

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
A.J. Hawk: Best Ohio St. LB ever wins 2005 Lombardi Award
Rex Grossman: New No. 2 QB on Bears 2-deep. Controversy?
Dominican Rep.: Fans pick DR over U.S. to win World tourney
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Mario Lemieux: Hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat
Ben R'berger: May need thumb surgery, but will grit it out
Ray Lewis: Done for the season after surgery; wasted year
 
Renteria to Braves? Maybe he'll be more comfortable back in the National League, because the AL worked some mojo on him. Sox could get 3B stud prospect Andy Marte in return.

More Braves: C Estrada out. Traded to the D-Backs for two RPs. Seems like a low price to pay for an All-Star C. (Alas, if only his doubles (26) were HRs (4).)

Cubs getting Bradley? This one has been simmering for days, much like Milton's temper in the hot summer Wrigley sun. Enjoy, Chicago media!

Millwood wants Burnett money: Or so says his agent Scott Boras. Surprise, surprise. But no matter how low his ERA was last year, will anyone pay that for a pitcher two years older than Burnett?

Hoffman staying with Padres: Snubs the Indians, who promptly re-sign Bob Wickman and await the inevitable drop-off from last season's career-best 45 saves from a pitcher turning 37 in 2006.

Jays' hot streak continues: Land Lyle Overbay from the Brewers. Biggest implication? Milwaukee rookie Prince Fielder is the new Ryan Howard!

Red Sox get Loretta: As expected. Don't anticipate a Tony Graffanino Bobblehead Day at Fenway next year. (Bobble-Fielding? Maybe.)

Red Sox trade Mirabelli: If RSN was counting on another 16-win season from Wakefield, they can forget it. Wake's stats pitching to Varitek last season? 0-4 with an 8-plus ERA.

Royals get lefty Redman: Who knew the Pirates had so much left-handed-pitching depth they could afford to trade two lefties per day?

Yankees offer Bernie arbitration: In dating, this would be like sleeping with someone out of pity.

Is it over yet?

Spurs Thump Heat
So when is Shaq coming back again? Miami outscored 54-22 in the lane, including 28 and 16 from Tim Duncan. Reports are that Shaq could return as early as this weekend but more likely next week.

With the Heat treading barely over .500, it can't be too soon. Although the postseason is hardly in doubt, it's better to have him fully recovered for the playoffs than chronically tweaked until then.

Barnett Fired?
I've had a love-hate relationship with Gary Barnett.

And I have mixed feelings about the reports that he's out at Colorado, because it sends a signal that all of his program's off-field improprieties weren't enough to can him, but an ugly three-game losing streak to end the season is.

If he does get axed, let's not let the CU president off the hook for finally dumping Barnett; let's pressure him to admit it was the losing, not the scandal, that was the reasoning.

Another black eye for the school.

NASCAR's TV Deal
Eight years, $4.48 billion: Spread out over five TV networks, though I'd argue that the ESPN component is the most important. NASCAR has already tapped out its avid fan base; the question is whether ESPN can increase its appeal with the NFL-MLB-NBA-CFB-CBB fan who is just a casual fan of NASCAR.

Heisman Finalists
Bush, Leinart and Young: The Heisman folks didn't even bother to invite the handful of players vying for 4th and 5th place.

How will it play out? More than 80 percent of ESPN.com users favor Bush.

Who will I pick? Quickie regulars will recognize the name from my selection last year. (Hint: He'll be a back-to-back winner.)

Come back tomorrow for some blowout coverage!

Dan Kolb:
Braves had enough of his 5.93 ERA, 7 blown saves (in 18 chances) and inability to build on his 36-save 2004 in Milwaukee. So they sent him back.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
MLB Hot Stove
 
Best *Non-Heisman Finalists* College Rankings
AJ Hawk
Among best LBs of all time
 
LenDale White
21 TDs sharing time w/ Bush
 
Brady Quinn
Charlie Weis' new Brady
 
DeMeco Ryans
Led Bama to dream season
 
Laurence Maroney
If only he played at USC
 

Congress vs. the BCS: They question why the BCS doesn't have a playoff. Again: Our federal lawmakers don't have better things to do?

Kudos to the NBA players' union for filing a grievance over the league's ludicrous $10K fines over the length of players' shorts.

Catch the newest prep hoopster featured on ESPN: This year, it's 7-foot, Ohio State-bound Greg Oden. Worthy of the hype? (7:30, ESPN2)

The controversy is over! Mike McMahon will start at QB for the Eagles. I'm sure you're all relieved. Wasn't this team good less than a year ago?

Add Alabama to the list of college hoops' most overrated: 'Bama lost at home to unranked Notre Dame.

Duke walloped Penn in its last tune-up before being knocked off as the No. 1 team. (Oops, I mean the huge game vs. Texas on Saturday.)



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