UPDATE: Yankees invite C.J. Wilson to New York

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The competition for the top starting pitcher of this year’s free agent class is beginning to intensify.

After the Angels wined and dined C.J. Wilson’s agent Bob Garber last night in Milwaukee, Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger reports that the Yankees have invited the free-agent left-hander to New York to meet with “team decision-makers.”

The invitation was made when Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met with Garber this afternoon. While Garber also represents free agent right-hander Roy Oswalt, he said this particular meeting was mostly focused on Wilson.

“I told him where we were at, they understood, and want us to come out,” Garber said at the general managers’ meetings. “I think it’s a good fit. We have a lot of teams we have to narrow down. I think the Yankees are a team that we’ve narrowed down as a team we want to spend a little time with.”

“At this point, there’s still six or seven teams we’re in serious talks with,” Garber said, counting the Yankees among them. “(Cashman) knew (Wilson) was the Cliff Lee of this year and didn’t want to come out short. I just liked his aggressiveness.”

Garber told Carig that the meeting in New York, which will take place on an unspecified date, will be attended by Cashman, Yankees director of pro personnel Billy Eppler and Hal Steinbrenner.

While Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times wrote yesterday that Wilson is likely to command a six-year deal in the $100 million range, Carig has him around five years and $90 million. It’s still very early, but having the Yankees involved in the conversation will surely up the ante for all interested teams.

UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Wilson and his agent have requested a visit to the Yankees before next month’s winter meetings. The Bombers are said to be considering the request.

UPDATE: WEEI denies it will change Red Sox broadcasts to a talk show format

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UPDATE: WEEI is pushing back on this report, denying that it is true. Finn’s source for the story was the agency posting job listings which said that, yes, WEEI was looking to do the talk show format. WEEI is now saying that the agency was merely speculating and that it will still be a traditional broadcast.

Both WEEI and Finn say they will have full reports soon, so I guess we’ll see.

9:47 AM: WEEI carries Boston Red Sox games on the radio in the northeast. For the past three seasons, Tim Neverett and Joe Castiglione have been the broadcast team. Following what was reportedly a difficult relationship with the station, Neverett has allowed his contract with WEEI to end, however, meaning that the station needs to do something else with their broadcast.

It seems that they’re going to do something radical. Chad Finn of the Boston Globe:

There were industry rumors about possible changes all season long. One, which multiple sources have said was a genuine consideration, had WEEI dropping the concept of a conventional radio baseball broadcast to make the call of the game sound more like a talk show.

That was yesterday. Just now, Finn confirmed it:

I have no idea how that will work in practice but I can’t imagine this turning out well. At all.

Hiring talk show hots to call games — adding opinion and humor and stuff while still doing a more or less straightforward broadcast — would probably be fine. It might even be fun. But this is not saying that’s what is happening. It says it’s changing it to a talk show “format.” I have no idea how that would work. A few well-done exceptions aside, there is nothing more annoying than sports talk radio. It tends to be constant, empty chatter about controversies real or imagined and overheated either way. It usually puts the host in the center of everything, forcing listeners — often willingly — to adopt his point of view. It’s almost always boorish narcissism masquerading as “analysis.”

But even if it was the former idea — talk show hosts doing a conventional broadcast — it’d still be hard to pull off given how bad so many talk show hosts are. There are a couple of sports talk hosts I like personally and I think do a good job, most are pretty bad, including the ones WEEI has historically preferred.

Which is to stay that this is bound to be awful. And that’s if they even remember to pay attention to the game. Imagine them taking a few calls while the Red Sox mount a rally, get sidetracked arguing over whether some player is “overrated” or whatever and listeners get completely lost.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Red Sox fans who listen to the games on the radio.