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Friday, December 12, 2008

Loose Ball Evades Entire NBA

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—A Devin Harris three-point attempt that caromed wildly off the back of the rim during the third quarter of Wednesday night's New York Knicks–New Jersey Nets game has created a disruption involving the entire NBA, with all 450 of the league's players attempting to scoop up the loose ball and gain possession for their respective teams.

NBA officials say the ball initially bounced near the Izod Center sideline, where Nets guard Bobby Simmons jumped, turned, and saved the ball, but inbounded it at a severe enough angle that it struck Knicks forward Al Harrington's shoe. The ball was then sent high into the air, ricocheting in turn up the arena's aisles, into the concession area, out the front entrance, through the parking lot, and on to I-495 East towards Manhattan, leaving multiple flailing players in its wake.

Eyewitnesses said that Nets and Knicks players continued to give chase along the highway and were eventually joined over the next three hours by the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers, with players only breaking off their pursuit for a few minutes when Knicks guard Nate Robinson was struck and killed by an oncoming car.

"That's the kind of tenacity I like to see on the court, down the Lincoln Tunnel, and up Broadway," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters as a live feed of the bouncing ball revealed that it had entered Philadelphia, where Sixer Andre Iguodala and Cleveland's LeBron James were chasing it around the Liberty Bell. "A willingness to sacrifice one's body by diving into the stands or the Hudson is what separates good teams from great teams."

When no players from the Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, or Utah Jazz were able to gain possession, the ball continued to bounce along I-95, eventually rolling off at a Washington, D.C. exit. Members of the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons then entered the scramble and proceeded to bat the ball through the White House; around the Lincoln Memorial; up, down, and back up the steps of the Washington Monument; into the Holocaust Museum's railcar exhibit; off the Key Bridge; and into the Potomac River, where a combination of tides and splashing from floundering players carried it into the Atlantic Ocean.

Although Toronto's Chris Bosh attempted to call time-out before the ball entered the river, referee Dick Bavetta—who had been chasing the ball through the entirety of its journey in order to monitor any loose ball fouls—said Bosh did not have possession and therefore could not call for a stoppage in play.

"You gotta be kidding me," said Bosh, who needed the rebound to complete a triple-double. "If he would have called that foul on [Pacer's forward Danny] Granger in Delaware this wouldn't even be an issue. No way that trip wasn't intentional."

Starters from the Miami Heat and Charlotte Bobcats spent the next several hours swimming after the ball approximately 90 miles off the coast of Florida, where it ultimately came into the possession of the Cuban military, who would only relinquish the ball to an NBA official. The resulting stoppage in play forced Bavetta to perform a jump ball between Miami's Dwyane Wade, Charlotte's Emeka Okafor, New Orleans' Chris Paul, Orlando's Dwight Howard, and Boston's Kevin Garnett.

Garnett, who had been enjoying the Celtics' Wednesday off, left dinner with his wife and entered the pack of chasing players after observing the loose ball rolling past the restaurant window.

"You got to want it," said Garnett, who tipped the jump ball to Yao Ming, who tipped it to Greg Oden, who tipped it to Pau Gasol, who tipped it onto the back of flatbed truck that was on a container ship headed back to the United States. "Where can I rent a cigarette boat around here?"

The container ship, however, was discovered to be captained by Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who told reporters that he was ready to go on a fast break when the ball was suddenly knocked out of his hands by "Cuban refugees," who turned out to be disguised members of the San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings.

The ball was batted around the deck for the entirety of the 600-mile trip to Galveston, TX, where the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, Milwaukee Bucks, and Houston Rockets, alerted by breaking news reports, waited at dockside for the ship's arrival. A large melee ensued, and the ball was tipped nearly 70,000,000 times, working its way to Los Angeles, up towards Big Sur, all through Alcatraz, back down the Pacific Coast Highway, and finally into Oklahoma.

Though multiple shouts of "Same team!" were heard echoing throughout the more than 1 million square miles of the Great Plains, not one member of the 2-20 Oklahoma City Thunder realized that no other basketball organization was around to wrest the ball away from them. The Thunder lost its chance to gain possession when the ball bounced off Kevin Durant's knee into Colorado and over the Rocky Mountains, where Carmello Anthony mishandled it and accidentally tipped it to Shaquille O'Neal. O'Neal, not knowing what was going on, threw the ball into the Grand Canyon, which is where the ball currently sits.

"We're not going into the Grand Canyon," a statement from the National Basketball Players Association read in part. "At this moment all 450 of us can see the ball, but there is a snake near it, and we think it might be poisonous. We will go after the loose ball when the snake leaves."

As of press time, Vince Carter has made absolutely no attempt to get the ball back for the Nets.

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Melo ties NBA record with 33 in one quarter

Anthony's outing breaks record set by David Thompson in 1978
Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, front, is congratulated as he leaves the court during Denver's 116-105 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday. Anthony finished with 45 points.

DENVER - Carmelo Anthony had an easier time matching the NBA record for points in a quarter than he did trying to figure it out.

Anthony matched George Gervin’s NBA record with 33 points in the third and finished with a season-high 45 points in the Denver Nuggets’ 116-105 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

“I’ve never been a part of a quarter like that before,” Anthony said. “I just felt that good. I can’t explain it. My 3-ball was going in, driving to the basket, getting fouled. Just the complete game tonight.”

Gervin scored 33 points for San Antonio in the second quarter against New Orleans on April 9, 1978. Anthony broke the franchise record of 32 set by David Thompson against Detroit, also on April 9, 1978.

“I’ve never been a part of a quarter like that before,” Anthony said. “I just felt that good. I can’t explain it. My 3-ball was going in, driving to the basket, getting fouled. Just the complete game tonight.”

Chauncey Billups added 24 points in Denver’s eighth straight win over Minnesota. After the game, he was still in awe of Anthony’s performance.

“I’ve played against some great ones and played with some great ones,” said Billups, whose team trailed by 16 in the first half. “That’s the best I’ve ever seen in a 12-minute span. He was awesome. He got us back in the game, got us a nice lead. Single-handedly put us on his back tonight and did what a lot of great players do.”

Anthony has struggled with his shot, in part because of a sore right elbow. He said he banged it twice in the first half, but the pain didn’t bother him in the third.

“I was fighting through the pain. It was all good, though,” he said. “Once my 3-ball was going, I knew I’d be in pretty good shape.”

Al Jefferson had 26 points and 12 rebounds, and Randy Foye also scored 26 points for Minnesota, which has lost seven straight games and two in a row since Kevin McHale took over as head coach on Monday.

Anthony, who had nine points at halftime, took over the game in the third quarter, scoring 26 straight points for the Nuggets at one point. His steal and dunk sparked the Nuggets’ rally from a 12-point halftime deficit, and he pumped his fist after hitting a 3-pointer that tied it at 60.

“He got rolling. He put a show on in that third quarter,” McHale said.

Anthony, who also had a team-high 11 rebounds, wasn’t done. His putback layup gave Denver its first lead since midway through the first quarter, and he followed that with a 3-pointer and a fast-break dunk to make it 68-62 with 4:35 left in the third.

“He was taking a lot of his shots from the outside, and those are the ones we wanted him to take,” Minnesota forward Ryan Gomes said. “But tonight was a night where they were all going in.”

He hit two 3-pointers to extend Denver’s lead to 82-76, and he finished the quarter with a driving layup with 1.8 seconds left to give the Nuggets an 84-78 lead.

“Pretty incredible explosion,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “We needed it, too. It was a game we needed someone to step forward, and it was a pretty good show.”

Minnesota didn’t go away quietly. Foye and Jefferson made back-to-back baskets to cut Denver’s lead to 94-92 with 6:47 left, but J.R. Smith’s three-point play and a layup by Anthony made it 101-92. Billups and Anthony Carter hit consecutive 3-pointers to push the lead to 10 with 3:38 left. Minnesota got no closer then eight the rest of the way.

Anthony scored only three points in the fourth quarter but left to a standing ovation with 52.7 seconds left in the game and Denver ahead by 11.

Anthony’s career high is 49 set against Washington last February. He said Billups was urging him to go for 50 points in the fourth.

“Chauncey kept saying, ’Go get it! Go get it!”’ Anthony said. “I’ve been looking for a game like this.”

Notes: Denver’s Kenyon Martin missed his second straight game and third overall because of a sprained left wrist. Renaldo Balkman started in his place. ... Denver’s eight-game winning streak against Minnesota is its longest current streak against any NBA team. ... The Nuggets assigned G Sonny Weems and C Cheikh Samb to the Colorado 14ers of the NBDL.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Wizards get two guards in trade

By Marc Stein

The Washington Wizards, Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Hornets have agreed to a three-team trade that will bring two new guards to the Gilbert Arenas-less Wizards.

The Wizards will receive New Orleans' Mike James and Memphis' Javaris Crittenton in the exchange, with the Hornets acquiring Washington's Antonio Daniels and the Grizzlies coming away with a future first-round pick. New Orleans also received a conditional second-round pick from Memphis.

Arenas has yet to play for the Wizards since signing a new $111 million contract in the offseason after undergoing surgery on his left knee. A firm timetable for Arenas' comeback has not been established, but he has yet to be cleared to participate in contact drills, making a return by Jan. 1 -- as Arenas initially hoped -- seem unlikely.

"This trade strengthens and energizes our backcourt by giving us a veteran guard in Mike James who can help us immediately with his stability and scoring ability and a young guard in Javaris Crittenton who can help us now and in the future with his athleticism," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld.

The pick is a conditional first-rounder that Memphis had sent to Washington in the trade to acquire Spanish guard Juan Carlos Navarro in the 2007 offseason. Navarro returned to club power FC Barcelona in his native country this season.

"Now we possess all our future first-round picks and have complete flexibility, if needed, for future deals," Memphis general manager Chris Wallace said

The Wizards released guard Dee Brown to make roster room for their new players.

The Grizzlies had been expected to part with at least one point guard this season after stockpiling several. Crittenton, taken 19th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2007 draft, arrived in Memphis in February as part of the Pau Gasol deal.

James had fallen out of favor in New Orleans under coach Byron Scott and hadn't played in nine of the Hornets' past 10 games. Daniels, who has been a fixture on Washington's playoff teams over the past three seasons, is averaging 5.1 points, 3.6 assists and 22.4 minutes in 13 games.

Daniels "has always been a steady, proven guard in this league," Scott said. "He has won at the highest level and is a clutch player. He also gives us a different look in the backcourt with his size."

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How will the dominoes fall after CC?

McNamee: Clemens broke trust

Roger Clemens will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013. Brian McNamee, the trainer whom Clemens is suing for defamation as a result of allegations he made in the Mitchell report, says there's no chance the right-hander will be enshrined.

You know, it takes a lifetime to build trust. All it takes is one monumental moment to break that trust and you're done. And that's what happened.

-- Brian McNamee on Roger Clemens

"He's done. He's not going to the Hall of Fame," McNamee said in a video interview with Web site "There's no chance. Too much damage. Too much trust was broken. Between the people that gave him his career, the people that wrote about his career, and the people that supported his career."

Clemens won 354 games, seven Cy Young Awards and two World Series rings in a 24-year career. But McNamee's allegations that Clemens used steroids and human growth hormone may have irreparably damaged Clemens' chance to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"You know, it takes a lifetime to build trust. All it takes is one monumental moment to break that trust and you're done. And that's what happened," McNamee said in the interview. "It not only happened, but it happened at monumental lengths. So he's not deserving of the Hall of Fame."

FBI agents investigating Roger Clemens pored through medical records from his former teams earlier this year, looking for evidence that he perjured himself in February when he told Congress he had never used steroids or human growth hormone, several sources told ESPN's T.J. Quinn.

Agents met with club officials and attorneys from the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays in late spring, reviewing medical documents the teams had and interviewing some medical and training personnel.

"We've voluntarily complied in response to congressional requests. We would have provided them to the government," Rusty Hardin, Clemens' lawyer, said Tuesday, according to The Canadian Press. "We are delighted for any legitimate investigators to peruse Roger's medical records."

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Because they're the Yankees

StarkBy Jayson Stark

LAS VEGAS -- The Yankees never sleep.

That's official now. They wrapped up CC Sabathia in the middle of the night. And here's the scary part for the rest of their sport: They're not done. Far from it. Even as they were wrapping up the loose issues still dangling in the Sabathia negotiations, they were already working on cornering the rest of the big-time starting-pitching market. Derek Lowe. A.J. Burnett. Ben Sheets. Andy Pettitte.
Derek Lowe

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire

Derek Lowe, 35, went 14-11 with a 3.24 ERA in 35 starts for the Dodgers last season. He held opponents to a .246 average.

The Yankees are in hard on every one of them. They started out this winter determined to sign three major free-agent starting pitchers. And being the insatiable beasts they are, they obviously aren't bothered by the possibility they could wind up signing Sabathia and Lowe and Burnett. The price tag on all three could average $55 million, maybe more. And if you're thinking, "Hmmm, that's a lot of moolah," well, yessiree, you're right. In fact, it's more than the Nationals, Pirates, A's, Rays and Marlins paid their whole teams this year. But hey, these are the Yankees. So suffice it to say they're not a prime candidate for the next round of federal bailouts. "How could they afford all three of those guys?" asked one GM on Wednesday morning, as he tried to digest the CC news and his morning beverage in one indigestion-inducing gulp. And the correct answer is the usual answer: They're the Yankees. They have 88 million bucks or so coming off their payroll. They have a spectacular (and, in a related development, lucrative) new ballpark set to open in four months. Their TV network seems to be selling an ad or two.
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So whatever economic pressures are tugging at the rest of the industry, this is one team that clearly has been granted economic immunity by the proper authorities -- not to mention the baseball gods. Officials from other teams have been shaking their heads over that terrifying development all week. But now it's time for those other teams to kick-start into action before the Yankees swallow up all their prime free-agent targets. One source said reports that the Yankees are close to signing Lowe to a four-year deal are "incorrect." The Red Sox are also focused heavily on Lowe, and they're not going to just sit around the slot parlors all day and let their big pitching target waltz into New York. So add one more chapter to the never-ending Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
Ben Sheets

Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire

The oft-injured Ben Sheets, who struggled down the stretch last season due to elbow soreness, has a career mark of 86-83 with a 3.73 ERA.

Agent Scott Boras has been seeking a four-year, $72 million deal for Lowe, who turns 36 next June. But his offers aren't believed to be quite in that range from either team. Nevertheless, with both clubs now apparently focusing their starting-pitcher shopping heavily on Lowe, it looks as if he'll be able to afford that new iPhone after all. On the Burnett front, the Braves had appeared to be the leaders in the winter-meetings clubhouse a couple of days ago, with a reported four-year, $60 million offer with a vesting option for a fifth year. But the Yankees have been "very aggressive" in their efforts to top that offer, according to one source familiar with those negotiations. And they appear ready to guarantee a fifth year if Burnett's side tells them that's what it would take to close the deal. Their total offer could reach $80 million for five years. Realistically, the Yankees don't expect to sign both Lowe and Burnett. But if they can reel in Sabathia and Lowe, plus either Sheets or Pettitte, they could haul out a rotation of Sabathia, Lowe, Joba Chamberlain, Chien-Ming Wang and that free agent to be named later -- with Phil Hughes biding his time in Scranton. In other words, Sidney Ponson won't be working in the Bronx anymore. And the over/under on Kei Igawa starts next season is somewhere in the neighborhood of zero. That's not a pleasant thought for the rest of the American League. But if the rest of the AL didn't see this coming, it's just because they weren't paying attention. This is always going to be how life in the old Junior Circuit works. These are people who never relax, never settle for anything less than the biggest trophies, never even sleep. After all, how can they? They're the Yankees. Jayson Stark is a senior writer for His book, "The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History," was published by Triumph Books and is available in bookstores.

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5 Former Yankees Who Weren’t Built For The Big Apple


Note to CC: Sometimes Yankee pinstripes feel like prison bars.

If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. If you can’t, you’re just a c-suckin’ sonovabitch. Star pitcher CC Sabathia, who just signed with the Yankees for seven years and $161 million, will soon find out if he can deal with the stress of hurling in the Big Apple. A fat, fun-loving California dude, he wanted to sign with a National League team in the Golden State, where life and baseball are sunny, but he took the Evil Empire’s money and now he’ll have to contend with cold weather, frigid fans, high expectations, over-involved owners and media that gets up in that ass more than a prison sugar daddy.

We’ll have to wait and see if Bronx Bummers boo the smile off his face, but in the meantime, check out six players who signed with the Yanks for big money as free agents and found out they were definitely not built for New York…


The outfielder, who signed a five-year, $25-million contract after the 1991 season, was a decent hitter for the Yankees but interfering owner George Steinbrenner and fans attacked him publicly for not producing more. When he was traded, Tartabull said, “I feel like I’ve been released from jail.” He also said the team was going to be a “disaster” in 1996. He was right, if disaster means World Series champions.

The pitcher played for the Yankees from 1985-86 and was booed for not living up to his high salary. Oh, and also ’cause he broke manager Billy Martin’s arm in a fight. Whitson hated the Yankees and their fans so much that, after leaving, he refused to sign baseball cards or pictures of him in which he wore pinstripes. Well, on the occasions he didn’t sign “Blow me.”


In 1997, the Yankees signed the chunky Japanese pitcher (nicknamed Hideki “I rob you” by sharp fans) to a four-year, $12.8 million contract. He won back-to-back World Series rings with the team in 1998 and 1999 but was a non-factor in the postseason. When his inconsistent production wasn’t the issue, his weight was. After the big fella lazily failed to cover first base on a ground ball in spring training, Steinbrenner called him a “fat pussy toad.” The owner, realizing he’d gone too far, later apologized publicly to any fat pussy toads he may have offended by comparing them to Irabu.


After signing a four-year, $39.5 million contract with the Yankees after the 2004 season, Pavano bombed in the Bronx because he proved injury-prone and everyone from fans to teammates questioned his work ethic and desire to get back out on the field. While many suspect he may have been faking injuries by the end because he hated everyone, we think he was suffering from a very real broken heart. Aww.


The superhuman first baseman signed with the Yanks for seven years and $120 million in 2001 and slugged like only a steroid user can. Then in 2004 it came out that he’d been taking human growth hormone. The Giambino issued a vague apology for having done something wrong, then got off the juice and shrunk back to mere human size. Weighing testicular cancer and the World Series he never won them, warm and caring Yankees fans say, “Hey, alls we’re sayin’ is New Yawk has a lotta friggin’ great nut doctors…”

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Why Chicago Cubs Are Not "Part" Of Tribune Bankruptcy

By:Darren Rovell

A little before 2 pm ET, The Tribune Company issued a statement that they have filed for bankruptcy. With the statement, came this weird note:

"The Chicago Cubs franchise, including Wrigley Field, is not included in the Chapter 11 filing. Efforts to monitize the Cubs and its related assets will continue."

Huh? How does a company file for bankruptcy and voluntarily take off some of its assets or subsidiaries? I certainly didn't think that was playing by the rules. Well, apparently I was wrong.

I spoke with Paul Rubin, a partner at Herrick Feinstein who is part of the bankruptcy group and has dealt with and consults with professional sports teams.

Rubin told me that a parent corporation can file for bankruptcy without the subsidiary filing. The point of doing this is to make it easier to sell the Cubs without all the rules associated with the bankruptcy court, including timely filings of financial information. Another bankruptcy lawyer friend of mine told me that it would also allow the Cubs employees, and anyone associated with dealing with the Cubs, to better operate on a "business as usual" basis.

This all does not mean, however, that the Cubs sale will be free from everything that goes on with the bankruptcy because the creditors will still get the proceeds from the sale of the team. And who knows what's going to happen with free agents? You think the court isn't going to get involved if the Cubs sign a big free agent like Jake Peavy or Bobby Abreu in the offseason?

Questions? Comments?

© 2008 CNBC, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Report: Yanks set to ink Sabathia

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CC Sabathia
The Yankees have bolstered their chances of returning to the playoffs by adding ace lefty CC Sabathia to their rotation.

LAS VEGAS -- Superstar free-agent pitcher CC Sabathia is about to sign with the Yankees, has confirmed. The deal being finalized now is expected to pay Sabathia about $161 million over seven years. There is a player opt-out clause after three years.

The two sides are on the verge of an agreement after three days of face-to-face talks between the Yankees and Sabathia. There's still a few things to talk through, but there are no major hurdles.

But the Yankees are not stopping with Sabathia. They also are now working hard to try to sign two more top free-agent pitchers, Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett, to round out a revamped rotation. Ben Sheets appears to be the next one on their pecking order if either Lowe or Burnett should sign elsewhere.

How far can the Yankees go? Sources tell that Mark Teixeira is all but out of their picture now (the Angels, Red Sox and Nationals are leading there), as he's going to get even more money than Sabathia, but that the Yankees will still get in the bidding for mercurial superstar slugger Manny Ramirez. Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner and others in the organization would love to add ex-Boston star Ramirez if they can.

Sabathia apparently became convinced after extensive meetings with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman that he and his family of five could live in New York. Cashman flew to the Bay Area to meet with Sabathia Tuesday and finalize the deal, which makes Sabathia the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history.

The Yankees more than a month ago made an initial market-setting $140-million, six-year offer to Sabathia, and no other team stepped forward to challenge that figure. The Brewers, Angels and Red Sox are all believed to have made offers but none in the range of $140 million, much less $161 million.

The Giants also were starting to consider whether to step into the fray. But no team was willing to come close to matching the Yankees' money. The final total will eclipse the $137.5 million deal the Mets gave Johan Santana last winter by close to $25 million, but Santana has a very reachable vesting option for a seventh year, so the total payout will be virtually identical, assuming Santana's contract vests.

Sabathia was said be a friend to have become "very frustrated'' in recent days that no worthy offers were coming in to fulfill his California dream. Sabathia, from Vallejo in Northern California, had said all along that he preferred to go home to California to pitch and live. But in the end, who really leaves $60 million on the table?

Sabathia expressed some concerns in the first two talks here with Cashman about coming to New York after starring for six seasons in Cleveland and Milwaukee and dreaming of California. Sabathia's clear preference was to play in the National league, as well, and is said to prefer the idea of spending spring in Arizona. So the Yankees clearly had some hurdles to scale to land Sabathia. That it is why they were intent on standing out monetarily, and they did that.

Likewise, the Yankees are intent not to spend a second straight season out of the playoffs, and used their largesse to enhance their team. It didn't hurt that they are moving into a new ballpark and had $88 million in contracts coming off the books. While they aren't insulated from the economic crash in the country, they are somewhat less affected than the other 29 teams.

The Yankees' new rotation is starting to take shape as they are also in serious negotiations with free agent pitchers Lowe and Burnett. The Phillies and others were in the bidding for Lowe, as well, but the Yankees and Lowe were discussing a contract for four years that was believed to be worth about $66 million late Tuesday and there appears to be a decent chance he'll wind up in New York.

The Yankees are also talking to Burnett about a deal that could reach five years. However, there's keen competition for him, believed to be most prominently from the Braves. The Yankees are intent on signing three starters, so if they miss out on either Lowe or Burnett, they will likely target Ben Sheets as the final rotation piece.

Even if they continue to add starting pitching, longtime Yankee Andy Pettitte could still be brought back because even if the team were to have six starters, it would give them the option of moving Joba Chamberlain back to the bullpen, where he thrived before being moved to the rotation last June.

Burnett is talking to the Braves, as well, and there has been a feeling Atlanta is the favorite to lock him up. The Yankees are in the fight, though, and could still wind up with their top three pitching choices.

The New York Post first mentioned Sabathia was set to sign on its Web site Wednesday morning.

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