Heyman: The Padres are unlikely to pursue Derrek Lee

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Craig told us earlier this week that the Padres, Orioles and Nationals were bidding against each other for the remaining free-agent first baseman, the most prominent of which are Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche. It sounds like the pieces are starting to fall into place.

Jon Heyman of SI.com writes that now that Lee will be too expensive for the Padres now that they have signed Orlando Hudson to a two-year, $11.5 million contract and close are close to completing a deal for Jason Bartlett, who is arbitration-eligible this winter. By the way, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com hears that Lee appears to be the Nationals’ top target, so assuming the Padres are truly out of the mix here, the O’s should be able to work something out with LaRoche.

Heyman reports that the Padres are considering second-tier options like Troy Glaus, Jorge Cantu and Brad Hawpe, which sounds about right. The team needs a simple stopgap option until either Kyle Blanks returns from Tommy John surgery or the newly-acquired Anthony Rizzo is ready for the big leagues, perhaps late in 2011.

The Red Sox AL East championship banner fell off a truck and is being held hostage

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The Red Sox haven’t won the AL East just yet. They will. For them not to, they’ll have to lose the rest of their games while the Yankees win the rest of theirs. It’s just a matter of time.

Knowing this, the club can plan some things in advance. The can begin postseason ticket sales, for example. They can decide what sort of festivities they will undertake for the first game of the ALDS that is guaranteed to begin at Fenway Park. They also, of course, can raise a banner for the division championship.

There’s only one problem with that: the banner, already printed up, fell off the dang truck that was delivering it and is being held hostage by a guy named Louie Iacuzzi from Malden. From the Boston Globe:

Iacuzzi said Wednesday by phone that he and his buddies spotted an object wrapped up on McGrath Highway in Somerville Monday morning. So he pulled over and crossed multiple lanes of busy traffic to retrieve it. Inside was a massive banner that read “ ‘2018 American League East Champions’; it’s the banner,” Iacuzzi said.

One can presume that Iacuzzi is a big Sox fan so he’s willing to do the right thing without hesitation, right? Well . . . kinda:

“We want to return it, we’re trying to do the right thing, but I’m not just going to hand it to them, know what I mean?” Iacuzzi said.

Asked if he wanted cash from the Red Sox, he said, “Yes, financial [compensation], maybe some tickets, we want something. We don’t know what we want. We want to return it, 100 percent, but we would like to get something.”

Iacuzzi didn’t have a specific asking price in mind as of Wednesday morning.

“We want to find out what the thing’s worth,” he said. “We don’t know.”

You have to click through to the Globe story to check out Iacuzzi and his friends. You also have to hear what his dad told him to do with the banner. Frankly, his dad sounds like my dad, and I’m not entirely sure that’s a compliment to anyone involved.

What’ll the Red Sox clinch first? The AL East or the return of their property? And will the movie version of this be more like “The Town,” “Celtic Pride” or “The Friends of Eddie Coyle?”

UPDATE: Oh man, there’s video: