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Down The Line

July 12, 2009|Bill Shaikin

Home sweet home, far from home

It was one of the stories most often told last summer: CC Sabathia was checking out real estate in Southern California, looking for the spot to build his dream home.

Never happened.

Sabathia said he isn't quite sure where the story started. But, after the New York Yankees lured him with $161 million, the Northern California native who was supposed to be wary of New York said he plans to live there year-round.

Sabathia, who starts today at Angel Stadium, got an offer from the Angels last winter, and a telephone call from Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.

"I was weighing all my offers," Sabathia said. "I didn't know where I was going to end up."

The Dodgers did not follow up with an offer. At the time, the Angels deflected reports here and elsewhere about their pursuit of Sabathia, saying only that Mark Teixeira remained their top priority.

On Friday, General Manager Tony Reagins confirmed the Angels made one offer to Sabathia. Reagins would not confirm the value, but he indicated it was worth significantly less than the rumored $140 million.

That means the Angels' take-it-or-leave-it offers would have required Teixeira to leave $20 million -- and Sabathia perhaps more than $40 million -- on the table.

"The offers we put on the table were fair, or at least we viewed them as fair," Reagins said. "They ended up going elsewhere for more lucrative offers, to New York."

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Hey, shoppers, look who's hitting

Andruw Jones is the proud owner of the best home run ratio in the American League.

Jones hit three home runs for the Dodgers last year. He hit three in one game for the Texas Rangers last week, against the Angels. He was averaging one home run per 11.9 at-bats through Friday; the only players with 150 at-bats and a better ratio are Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals and Raul Ibanez of the Philadelphia Phillies.

"All those years I was playing, that wasn't a fluke," Jones said.

Jones could hit 25 home runs for the 11th time in 12 years, last season's Dodgers debacle excepted.

The Rangers have used Jones primarily against left-handers, but he will play against all comers now that platoon partner Hank Blalock has been moved to first base to replace the demoted Chris Davis, who struck out 114 times in 258 at-bats.

Agent Scott Boras deserves credit for brokering the deal that got Jones out of a toxic situation in L.A., and for steering him to Texas, and to highly regarded hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.

If Jones hits well in the second half, he could land another nice contract. Of the players eligible for free agency next fall, these are the only ones with more home runs: Blalock, Jason Bay, Russell Branyan and Johnny Damon.

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Green eggs and ham

Teams seldom take batting practice Sunday, so spectators showing up early often find the field empty. The San Diego Padres announced last week they would serve fans breakfast on the field before Sunday games, a creative touch in a wretched season.

The Padres fell 20 games out of first place Friday, when they were no-hit by San Francisco's Jonathan Sanchez.

The San Diego Union-Tribune described the breakfast promotion thusly: "Get egg on your face, in other words, before the players do."

-- Bill Shaikin

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