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The team also is trying to re-sign left fielder Manny Ramirez and third baseman Casey Blake, and is expected to make an offer for Sabathia shortly.

Five years for A.J.? Not likely from Jays

Though Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi did not rule out offering a five-year deal to free-agent right-hander A.J. Burnett, another source with knowledge of the team's thinking says he "can't imagine" the Jays making such a proposal.

As for trading right-hander Roy Halladay, forget it — at least for now.

Halladay, 31, possesses a full no-trade clause, and he is signed for$14.25 million next season and $15.75 million in 2010.

The Jays would not even entertain trading Halladay until after they made a full effort to sign him to an extension — something that would happen quickly if they kept Burnett.

Pirates' McLouth: An interesting catch

Some viewed Pirates center fielder Nate McLouth as a dubious choice for a Gold Glove; McLouth's minus-40 rating according to the plus-minus ratings on Bill James Online was the worst of any player in baseball.

However, according to the final Gold Glove balloting, obtained by, McLouth received 41 votes from the National League managers and coaches — more than any player in the league. The Angels' Torii Hunter led the AL with 66 votes.

The closest races were AL pitcher, in which Mike Mussina edged Kenny Rogers, 24-22; and AL shortstop, in which Michael Young edged Orlando Cabrera, 29-26.

So, how did McLouth fare so miserably in one of the most advanced defensive metrics, yet garner such respect from the managers and coaches who voted? More than likely, they were impressed by McLouth's aggressive style and knack for making spectacular catches.

John Dewan, the creator of the plus-minus system and author of "The Fielding Bible," wrote in a recent blog entry that McLouth is above-average in his ability to prevent base-runners from advancing on hits and his ability to make plays "above and beyond the ordinary." But in covering ground, Dewan said, McLouth struggles "big time."

Mulder: Coming along

Free-agent left-hander Mark Mulder, rehabilitating from a pair of shoulder operations, is making significant progress in his recovery, according to his agent, Gregg Clifton.


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News » Giants, A's leading Furcal sweepstakes

Giants, A's leading Furcal sweepstakes

Giants, A's leading Furcal sweepstakes
The Rafael Furcal sweepstakes, accelerating at a rapid pace, appears to be shaping up as a Bay Area showdown between the A's and Giants.

"It's moving pretty fast," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told on Friday. "I don't know if we're going to be in it or not."

The Dodgers want to retain Furcal, who is a favorite of manager Joe Torre, but might be reluctant to meet the player's desire for a four-year contract.

A team's willingness to offer Furcal a fourth year likely will be the difference-maker in the negotiations, major-league sources say.

When the Dodgers signed Furcal prior to the 2006 season, they gave him three years and $39 million. He is 31 now, and coming off back surgery.

Both the A's and Giants were satisfied by what they saw in Furcal's medical records, sources say.

Both teams also might want to move sooner rather than later on Furcal, fearing that a delay could draw the Braves and Cubs into the negotiations.

The Braves would pursue Furcal only if they traded shortstop Yunel Escobar to the Padres in a package for right-hander Jake Peavy; those talks currently are dormant, but many in the industry expect them to revive.

The Cubs, too, are interested in Furcal, but after re-signing free-agent right-hander Ryan Dempster to a four-year, $52 million contract, they probably could not invest heavily in another player until after the team is sold. Bidders have until Dec. 1 to submit offers, Major League Baseball officials said this week.

The A's, lacking a long-term internal solution at shortstop, would use Furcal as their leadoff man in a revamped offense anchored by their newest trade acquisition, left fielder Matt Holliday.

The Giants' projected shortstop, Emmanuel Burris, 23, could move to second base if the team signed Furcal. The Giants also are negotiating with another free-agent shortstop, Edgar Renteria, according to — and competing with the rival Dodgers for perhaps the biggest free-agent prize, left-hander CC Sabathia.

If the Dodgers lost Furcal, they could turn their attention to Renteria or Orlando Cabrera, the latter of whom they discussed acquiring in a trade last summer.

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