Yankees unlikely to pursue Scherzer, Lester, Shields or Sandoval

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The Yankees have a reputation for going big in free agency. Last year they signed, like, a half billion worth of contracts. This year? Don’t count on it. At least don’t count on it if Bill Madden and Mark Feinsand of the Daily News are to be believed. The report that the team “has no plans to pursue” any of those big four targets, at least two or three of which many have suspected the Yankees will pursue.

Instead: they plan to go hard to sign Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley. The Yankees traded for those two during the season. Each performed admirably in pinstripes, filling much needed slots in the Bronx and improving significantly compared to where there were with their previous teams. Both also make sense for 2015 and beyond, with the Yankees needing both a starting pitcher and a third baseman. Of course, the Yankees probably need more than one starting pitcher. Lester, specifically, would seem to be a great fit for Yankee Stadium.

Also probably worth remembering: the Yankees have a long and rich history of saying they aren’t interested in this or that player or that they have no plans to exceed this or that figure in their budget, only to go ahead and drop serious cash anyway. So take all of this with a grain of salt.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?