Tebow traded to the Big Apple


Tebow traded to the Big Apple

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Tebowmania's headed to New York, and the drama has already started for Jets fans. It began the moment the Jets pulled off the deal for the Broncos quarterback. Or thought they did. Eight hours and one huge snag later, the trade was on again. But not before the Jets added to the franchise's already lengthy list of embarrassing moments. Sure, Tebowmania is coming to New York, but it certainly wasn't a smooth deal. And it didn't come without some controversy -- something this Jets season could be filled with the moment Mark Sanchez struggles and restless fans call for Tebow to replace him. "Mark Sanchez is, has been and will be our starting quarterback," general manager Mike Tannenbaum said on conference call late Wednesday night. But the Jets have opened themselves -- and Sanchez -- to added pressure by bringing in Tebow. New York recently signed Sanchez to a three-year contract extension after falling out of the hunt for Peyton Manning, a vote of confidence for a quarterback whose pride took a serious shot at the end of last season as the Jets finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs. Some players questioned his leadership abilities, but Sanchez recently vowed to be the guy the franchise can lean on. Turns out, Rex Ryan's Jets now have two of those guys, including one in Tebow who might automatically be the biggest star in New York right now. Not Sanchez. Not Derek Jeter. Not even Jeremy Lin. "I'm just excited for him and to see what he does," Lin said in Philadelphia, where the Knicks beat the 76ers. "We'll see what happens next year." Just a few weeks after "Linsanity" swept New York and the rest of the NBA, "Timsanity" now will take over New York after the Jets acquired the polarizing quarterback and a seventh-round draft pick from the Denver Broncos for fourth- and sixth-round picks. Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath, who led the Jets to their only Super Bowl title in 1969, was among many who were unhappy about the deal. "I'm just sorry that I can't agree with this situation. I think it's just a publicity stunt. I can't go with it. I think it's wrong," Namath told 1050 ESPN Radio on Wednesday. "I don't think they know what they're doing over there." The trade was completed hours after the sides initially agreed to a deal, which was hung up when the Jets balked at repaying Denver more than 5 million for a salary advance due Tebow. The two sides agreed to split that cost, and Tannenbaum said the team was "comfortable with the compensation." He said there was a disagreement about how to handle the salary advance after Denver received the papers. "We knew what the contract was," he said. "We had read it. ... We felt it was one way; they felt it was another. Based on that, they were well within their rights to assess their different possibilities of what to do and their alternatives. And they did so throughout the day." So the Jets waited and waited -- and looked as if they had botched the big deal. Despite ultimately pulling off the trade, it's just another bizarre moment for the Jets, conjuring memories of Bill Belichick's hiring as coach and his resignation one day later. "I'm thankful they stuck with me through this whole crazy process," Tebow said, repeating several times that he was "excited" to be a member of the Jets. But the deal also raised questions about the Jets' commitment to Sanchez, who received a 40.5 million contract extension, with 20.5 million guaranteed, earlier this month. During a call late Wednesday night, Tannenbaum repeatedly referred to Sanchez as "our guy" and the team's unquestioned starting quarterback. "We obviously know that Tim has a magnetic following," Tannenbaum said. "We understand the popularity of the backup quarterback, and this one is more unique than others." Tebow said he had a "great conversation" on Wednesday with Sanchez, adding that they've been friends for several years. He said he's not here to take Sanchez's job, but to help him as a unique addition to the offense, someone who could run Tony Sparano's wildcat package -- and anything else they ask him to do. "My goal is to push (Sanchez) to get better, and to push myself to get better every day," Tebow said. "But I think we'll have a great working relationship. We'll have a great relationship off the field, and we've had that the last few years. He's such a classy guy and handles himself so well, and I'll be very honored to call him my teammate." Defensive end Mike DeVito is excited about the intangible qualities Tebow will offer. "You've got a tough player on the field, a leader in the locker room and a guy who shares the faith that I share," DeVito said. "So, I'm very grateful to have him on our team, and I feel it's going to really benefit us as a whole." But, like Namath, not everyone's a fan. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his confidence in Sanchez and the offense as structured before the deal was finalized. "Y bring Tebow in when we need to bring in more Weapons for (at)Mark--Sanchez," Cromartie tweeted. "Let's build the team around him. We already signed to 3 year ext." The Jets signed Drew Stanton last week to be their No. 2 quarterback, ahead of Greg McElroy, the team's seventh-round draft pick last year. Tannenbaum said Tuesday that he was confident in the trio, but on Wednesday acknowledged that the team would assess that situation and that Tebow was Sanchez's clear backup. Regardless, the Jets sure got the headlines and were the talk of sports radio -- even on a day when the New Orleans Saints received unprecedented punishment from the NFL for a bounty system that rocked the football world. Head coach Sean Payton was suspended without pay for next season, and former defensive coordinator Greg Williams, now with St. Louis, was banned indefinitely. But even all that couldn't overshadow another embarrassing episode for a franchise that has had to explain away several missteps in recent years. The Jets are hoping Tebow can help change all that. He led the Broncos to the playoffs last season -- along the way beating Sanchez and the Jets, who missed the postseason. But Denver executive John Elway believed Manning gave the team a better chance at winning a championship now. For the Jets, Tebow adds a unique dimension to the offense. "It is very clear: They want me to come in and compete and get better, and get better as a quarterback and to help the team any way possible," Tebow said. "Whatever that role is, I will do my best." Tebow also provides a solid presence in a locker room that was rife with infighting last season -- particularly between Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes. He also brings with him a flock of fervent fans for reasons that have to do as much with his faith as his football skills. A devout Christian, he's been a role model since his days at Florida, when he led the Gators to two national titles and captured the Heisman Trophy. Denver started shopping Tebow after signing Manning, and the Jets were considered a long shot as late as Tuesday night. But New York went hard after Tebow. As part of Tebow's 11.25 million, five-year contract he signed as a rookie in 2010, he had a 6.277 million advance due 29 days after the start of the 2011 league year. That money was paid to him in August after the NFL lockout ended. The trade stalled over the payment the Jets would owe the Broncos from that advance. That allowed Jacksonville to get back into the hunt, and it came down to the Jaguars and Jets. "I think we have a duty to consider all avenues of improving the Jaguars on and off the field, especially given the unique circumstances involving the player," Jaguars owner Shahid Khan said in a statement. "I am very satisfied with the outcome." Tebow said, contrary to some reports, he didn't have final say in where he was going. "Ultimately, I really didn't have any because the Broncos had all that power," Tebow said, adding that Denver was "gracious" in the way it handled the process. "I was just kind of watching and waiting -- kind of like everybody else. "It was an interesting day."

What can the Cubs expect from the Cleveland Indians in the World Series?

What can the Cubs expect from the Cleveland Indians in the World Series?

CSNChicago.com’s Dan Hayes and JJ Stankevitz saw plenty of the Cleveland Indians while covering the White Sox in 2016, and set their sights on what kind of a challenge the Tribe will provide the Cubs in the World Series.


The American League’s second-best offense has slowed down considerably in the postseason as its .635 OPS ranks seventh among 10 playoff teams in 2016. But the Indians have received enough clutch hitting from part-timer Coco Crisp and their star in the making, shortstop Francisco Lindor, to make the most of their stellar pitching in the playoffs.

In the regular season, the Indians finished second in the American League in runs scored (777) in part because of an aggressive approach on the base paths and even though the team’s best player, Michael Brantley, was limited to 43 plate appearances because of injury. The Indians ranked second in the majors in extra bases taken with 186, two ahead of the Cubs, according to baseball-reference.com. The team also finished second in the majors with an extra bases taken percentage of 45 and led the AL with 134 stolen bases in 165 tries (81 percent).

The offense is centered around designated hitter Carlos Santana, who blasted a career best 34 home runs and posted an .865 OPS. First baseman Mike Napoli and second baseman Jason Kipnis also established career highs in homers with 34 and 23, respectively. Kipnis finished with 68 extra-base hits, including 41 doubles.

Third baseman Jose Ramirez picked up much of the slack for a team that also was without projected outfielder Abraham Almonte for half the season because of a suspension for PEDs. Ramirez had 46 doubles among his 60 extra-base hits and produced an .825 OPS in an outstanding all-around campaign that could garner him a few MVP votes. Rookie Tyler Naquin also filled a big void in the outfield with 14 homers and 43 RBIs in 365 plate appearances.

So far, Indians manager Terry Francona has divided up the plate appearances among his outfielders in October. Only right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall has received consistent playing time as the Indians have platooned Crisp, Naquin, Rajai Davis, who stole 43 bases this season, and Brandon Guyer.

-- Dan Hayes


Andrew Miller may be having the best postseason a relief pitcher has ever had. The big-ticket trade deadline acquisition threw 11 2/3 innings in the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox and ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays, striking out 21 while allowing only five singles and two walks (that’s good for a laughable .132/.171/.184 opponent slash line). Manager Terry Francona hasn’t been shy about using Miller early in games, too — he inserted the 6-foot-7 lefty in the fifth inning of Cleveland’s ALDS Game 1 win over the Red Sox, and half of his six playoff appearances this year began in the sixth inning or earlier. Miller’s ability to throw multiple innings will put pressure on the Cubs to score early and often against the Indians’ rotation.

Francona’s willingness to use Miller early has been critical toward helping maximize the success of a starting rotation without two of its three best arms in the postseason. Carlos Carrasco (fractured gone in right hand) won’t pitch in the World Series, though Francona hinted that fellow right-handed All-Star Danny Salazar (strained flexor muscle in right forearm) could return to start in the World Series. Right-hander Trevor Bauer, who sliced his right pinky open while repairing his drone and only managed to record two outs before his finger gushed blood in Game 3 of the ALCS, will start Game 2 or 3.

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With or without Salazar and/or Bauer, though, Cleveland’s rotation has been effective. Corey Kluber is the unquestioned ace of the staff and allowed only two runs over 18 1/3 innings in three postseason starts, which stands as a continuation of his strong regular season numbers (18-9, 215 IP, 3.14 ERA, 3.26 FIP). Josh Tomlin has had a short rope, only throwing 10 2/3 innings in his two starts, but allowed three runs in that span with 10 strikeouts and three walks. Rookie left-hander Ryan Merrett threw 4 2/3 shutout innings in a clinching Game 5 win over the Blue Jays last week, too, showing no signs of “shaking in his boots” in his first postseason start.

The rest of Cleveland’s bullpen -- which tied for the second-best ERA in the American League (3.45) in the regular season -- has found success in addition to Miller in the playoffs. Hard-throwing closer Cody Allen has looked unflappable in five save opportunities, allowing five hits and three walks with 12 strikeouts. Right-handers Dan Otero (3.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) and Bryan Shaw (5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR) have been go-to options if Miller can’t bridge the gap between the starting pitcher and Allen, too.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Cleveland has found pitching success in the playoffs, even with so many injuries, given their 3.86 staff ERA ranked 7th in baseball.

-- JJ Stankevitz


Nobody has been as outstanding of a defensive team as the Cubs in 2016. But, the Indians are still near the top of the second tier team and have proven a remarkably improved squad over the past two seasons. Much of their improvement stems from the stellar play provided by Lindor, who ranked second in the majors in Ultimate Zone Rating (20.8) among shortstops and fourth in Defensive Runs Saved with 17, according to fangraphs.com. Combined with Kipnis, who ranked sixth in UZR (7.3) among second baseman, the Indians have a strong double play combo. Ramirez also proved to be a steady defender at third base after taking over as the full-timer following the release of Juan Uribe.

Though the club has missed the presence of starting catcher Yan Gomes, it has handled his absence extremely well. Not only does replacement Roberto Perez rate among the game’s best pitch framers, he also threw out 13 of 26 runners who attempted to steal a base with him behind the dish.

-- Dan Hayes


Francona won two World Series trophies with the Boston Red Sox, including the one in 2004 that ended that franchise’s 87-year title drought. He’s led Cleveland to two postseason berths since taking over in 2013, and the Tribe haven’t had a losing record in his four years at the helm.

The 57-year-old has been lauded for his aggressive use of Miller in the playoffs, deploying the lights-out lefty as a study bridge between a starting rotation beset by injuries and dominant closer Allen.

First baseman/catcher/designated hitter Santana is hardly a prototypical leadoff man, but he’s hit first in six of Cleveland’s eight games in the postseason after leading off 85 games in the regular season. And that’s the batting order position he’s been most effective from --- In the regular season, Santana hit .260/.385/.502 with more walks (67) than strikeouts (60) as a leadoff man. Francona’s willingness to eschew stolen bases and speed on the base paths has put early pressure on starting pitchers by having Santana on base so frequently.

Said Cubs starter Jon Lester, who pitched for Francona in the Red Sox 2007 championship run: “I know that manager on their side’s going to be prepared, I know their coaching staff’s going to be ready.”

-- JJ Stankevitz

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

As Cubs players and generations of fans celebrated Christmas in October, Jon Lester had to be The Grinch for a moment. Sure, the Cubs would party from Saturday night into Sunday morning, probably get “a little bit” drunk and enjoy the franchise’s first National League pennant in 71 years. But the reality of the Cleveland Indians would set in once the Cubs got rid of this hangover.

“We ain’t done anything yet,” Lester said during the Wrigley Field celebration after the Cubs eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Nobody likes second place.”

There are enough Boston Red Sox connections in this World Series that Lester already knows what to expect, starting with Indians manager Terry Francona, who became a father figure as he dealt with a cancer scare as a rookie.

There are ex-teammates from those championship teams in 2007 (Coco Crisp) and 2013 (Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller) at Fenway Park. There is the accumulated experience from throwing 119 postseason innings (2.50 ERA) and becoming one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation.

“I don’t want to sound like a smart-ass, but we got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “I know that manager on their side’s going to be prepared. I know their coaching staff’s going to be ready. I know their players are going to be ready, just based on one player alone, and that’s Mike Napoli. I know what he brings to the table. He helped transform our 2013 team.

“Come Tuesday, we got to put the gloves back on. We got to get ready to fight and grind and do what we’ve done well all year. We got four more games to win.”

After limiting the Dodgers to two runs in 13 innings, and being named the NL Championship Series’ co-MVP along with Javier Baez, Lester should be a worthy Game 1 starter opposite Corey Kluber, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

This is why Lester took a leap of faith with Cubs bosses/ex-Red Sox executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and chairman Tom Ricketts’ family and what had been a last-place team in 2014.

Two seasons into the $155 million contract that signaled the Cubs would be serious about contending – and not just in the Baseball America/Baseball Prospectus prospect rankings – the franchise has won 200 games and four playoff rounds and remained in position to dominate for years to come.

“Theo and Jed and the front office and Tom and all these guys had a belief,” Lester said. “I believed in that belief. The talent here speaks for itself. I didn’t do anything – I came here because I wanted to win in Chicago. I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this and get to this point.

“(But) we’re four hard wins away from doing what we set out to do in spring training.”

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As bright as the future looks on the North Side, Lester will be 33 next season and his left arm has already accounted for more than 2,000 innings during his decorated career. John Lackey turned 38 on Sunday. Jake Arrieta only has one more season before becoming a free agent.

The Cubs built their franchise around young hitters, with the idea that they can figure out the pitching later with free agents, change-of-scenery trades and bounce-back guys. Easier said than done. They have a true No. 1 starter now in Lester, who as a free agent watched a recruiting video that imagined what it would be like when the Cubs win the World Series.

“This isn’t it,” Lester said. “It’s been a tough playoffs for us to this point and it’s only going to get tougher. We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to show up Tuesday in Cleveland ready to play. We’ll see what happens.”