Quick hits: Yanks clinch AL East

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– The Yankees clinched their first American League East crown since 2006
with a 4-2 win over the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon. The Bombers
reached the 100-win mark for the first time since 2004 with the
three-game sweep of their archrivals. With Sunday’s win, the Yankees
have assured themselves of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.




– Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Mets front office shouldn’t take the Pollyanna approach
with promising showings by Jeff Francoeur, Luis Castillo, Angel Pagan,
Dan Murphy and Josh Thole. He argues that the Mets would be better
served to go after Rod Barajas/Bengie Molina/Miguel Olivo at catcher:
Nick Johnson/Russell Branyan/Adam LaRoche at first base: and Bobby
Abreu/Mark DeRosa/Jermaine Dye in left field. The acquisitions would
likely keep them near the estimated $15 million budget Omar Minaya will
have to work with during the offseason.




– Kevin Fagan of the San Francisco Chronicle penned a fantastic piece on Giants’ prospect Angel Villalona.
The 19-year-old first base prodigy is being held without bail in his
native Dominican Republic for the shooting death of a 25-year-old
convenience store worker. Some, including the co-owner of the disco bar
where the shooting took place, believe that Villalona is being singled
out because of his notoriety in the community. The trial, scheduled to
begin in two months, could result in a prison sentence of 20 years.




– According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, some ‘baseball people’ believe the White Sox may have interest in Carlos Zambrano,
possibly in exchange for the recently-acquired Jake Peavy. It’s a
curious suggestion, since Peavy has looked great over his first two
starts with the White Sox, allowing three runs over 12 innings. But it
might be worth it, just to see Zambrano and Ozzie Guillen in the same
locker room.




– And finally, who is that masked man? (Pssst…it’s Omir Santos)

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.