CC Sabathia says Yankees, not Red Sox, are the team to beat

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Asked yesterday what the Red Sox adding Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to their lineup does to the AL East picture, CC Sabathia predictably responded that the Yankees remain the team to beat in 2011.

You want me to say the Red Sox are the favorites? I mean … I think the Yankees. If you look in our clubhouse and look at our lineup and the things we can do, it’s hard not to like our chances.

Sabathia’s quote is pretty innocuous and anything but surprising, yet it somehow made back-page headlines in the New York Daily News (and its own post here, which I suppose makes me a co-conspirator). He even went on to say that the Red Sox “made some good moves” and “any time you can add a guy like Carl, and Adrian, that makes your lineup that much better” while adding that the Yankees are “just getting started” with their offseason additions (read: Lee, Cliff).

Also of note: Tampa Bay actually won the AL East this year. And in 2008.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.

Report: Phillies making Maikel Franco available in trade discussions

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies are making third baseman Maikel Franco “more than available” in trade discussions.

Franco, 24, is having an abysmal season after showing promise in 2015 and ’16. Through 289 plate appearances, he’s hitting .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. His hitting has tanked and his already below-average defense hasn’t shown any improvement.

It’s a bit surprising that the Phillies would be so eager to move Franco with his value about as low as it can go. Franco is also under control of the rebuilding Phillies through the 2021 season, so the team doesn’t have to rush into moving him. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.

Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have an immediate replacement for Franco at third base. Andres Blanco would likely get everyday starts at the hot corner in the short-term, but as far as prospects go, there are no third baseman banging down the door. If the Phillies were to trade Franco, it would likely have to be in return for a young, talented third baseman who will be under team control for several more years.