Link-O-Rama: Alvarez powers Team USA in World Cup

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* Pirates prospect and 2008 first-round pick Pedro Alvarez smacked three homers yesterday as the United States blew out Chinese Taipei in the World Cup. Team USA is now 6-1 in the tournament, including 4-0 in the second round.
* Believe it or not the smallest gap in any division right now belongs to the AL Central, where the Tigers and their four-game lead begin a three-game series with the second-place Twins tonight.
* In addition to the Royals finally signing Aaron Crow another prominent holdout came to an end yesterday, as No. 44 overall pick Tanner Scheppers agreed to terms with the Rangers. He reportedly gets more than $1 million.
* Based on this data, Jerod Morris is probably sitting in his parents’ basement somewhere, smiling.
* My favorite television writer, Alan Sepinwall, is trying to come up with “similarity scores” for actors and actresses like the ones Bill James invented for baseball players.
* If you’re not following me on Twitter yet, you missed out on my mom’s analysis of Justin Morneau’s season-ending back injury.

CC Sabathia wants to return to the Yankees in 2018

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CC Sabathia‘s contract is set to expire this offseason, but for the long-tenured left-hander, nowhere feels more like home than New York. “I want to see this through,” Sabathia told reporters after a devastating Game 7 loss in the ALCS. “This is where I want to play.” Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman spoke warmly of the veteran starter, but would make no public guarantees that he’d return to the team next spring.

Sabathia, 37, just topped off his 17th season in the big leagues and his eighth career postseason run. He went 14-5 in 27 starts and put up a 3.69 ERA, 3.0 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 148 2/3 innings, good for 1.9 fWAR. He looked solid in the playoffs, too, propelling the team to a much-needed win in Game 5 of the ALDS and returning in the Championship Series with six scoreless innings in Game 3. His season ended on a sour note during Game 7, however. He lasted just 3 1/3 innings against a dynamic Astros’ offense, allowing one run on five hits and three walks and failing to record a single strikeout for the first time in 23 career postseason appearances.

Heading into the 2017 offseason, Sabathia finally arrived at the end of his seven-year, $161 million deal with the Yankees. While he’s repeatedly expressed a desire to keep pitching, despite rumors that his career might be on the rocks following the diagnosis of a troublesome degenerative knee condition, the decision isn’t his alone to make. Brian Cashman will also be seeking an extension with the Yankees this winter, so it’s difficult to say which impending free agents the club will try to retain — and Sabathia’s name isn’t the only one on that list. If it were up to skipper Joe Girardi, who is awaiting a decision on his own future with the organization, the decision would be a no-brainer. From MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

CC will always be special to me because of what he stands for and the great player that he is, the great man that he is,” Girardi said. “The wonderful teammate that he is. How he pulls a team together. He’s as good as I’ve ever been around when it comes to a clubhouse guy, a guy that will take the ball when you’re on a losing streak or that you can count on, and knowing that it could be the possible last time.