Mets look to address outfield, offense after busy week

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 14:00

The Mets used the Winter Meetings and the days that followed to revamp the pitching staff and shore up the outfield. The club’s projected payroll will be around $350 million and with luxury tax penalties it will go above $400 million.

But the Mets aren’t done yet. They can’t stop now considering the lack of outfield depth, and there is still an argument to be made for adding another home run hitter to the lineup.

Getting Brandon Nimmo back solved the center field problem but the Mets still only have three outfielders under contract for next season. Jeff McNeil could be considered the fourth but he’s primarily an infielder. This doesn’t leave any room for error or injuries.

The club had hoped Jake Mangum would compete for that fifth outfield spot in spring training after he was passed on in the Rule 5 Draft last week, but shortly after the completion of the draft, he was sent to the Miami Marlins as the player to be named later in the Jeff Brigham-Elieser Hernandez trade.

The Mets could kill two birds with one stone by bringing in a power-hitting outfielder. However, it’s far more likely they will bring in a defensive outfielder and address the power internally with top prospect Francisco Alvarez.

Following the end of the season, general manager Billy Eppler sort of demurred on the question of whether or not the Mets needed more power in the lineup. It’s clear he views on-base percentage as a priority and noted the club’s strong on-base numbers in 2022. The Mets had the second-highest on-base percentage in the league last season (.332), right behind the 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers, and the sixth-highest OPS (.744).

But the lineup only hit 117 home runs, tied for 15th with the Baltimore Orioles. Statistics have shown that the teams that hit the most home runs tend to do the best in the postseason.

When asked about the lack of home runs during Winter Meetings, Eppler still continued to stress offensive balance.

“If the overall production is there, that’s what matters at the end of the day,” Eppler said last week in San Diego. “You can place some arguments on, should you try to hit the three-pointer? I prefer ways where you can beat teams, whether you beat them through contact, maybe you beat them through some speed and baserunning element, or you can beat them through power. I kind of like to serve all of those if possible and really create balance because you never know who you’re going to face on a particular day and the venues that you’re going to play in can change.

“Sometimes those certain characteristics can be enhanced in certain venues or they can get mitigated in certain venues. I think balance is kind of the way I like to travel the most.”

Whether it be balance or power, the Mets do have some options.

They could sign free agent slugger J.D. Martinez. Having not played in the outfield at all in 2022, the 35-year-old Martinez is primarily a DH at this point in his career, but could still spell someone like Mark Canha in left field on occasion. This would be similar to the way the Yankees use Giancarlo Stanton.

If the club wants to go younger, they could see what Michael Conforto has left in the tank. Conforto did not play last season, going unsigned last winter and suffering a right shoulder injury during offseason training in January. The Mets’ first pick in the 2014 MLB Draft underwent his second shoulder surgery last year, this time on his throwing shoulder. Conforto previously had his left shoulder operated on in 2017 after dislocating it during an at-bat late in the season.

The current DH tandem is Daniel Vogelbach and Darin Ruf. The former has good numbers against righties but not against lefties and the latter was acquired to hit lefties but posted dismal numbers after being traded to the Mets. The club could look to unload Ruf in search of outfield help and use Alvarez as the primary DH against left-handed pitching.

But for what it’s worth, Martinez, a right-handed hitter, has a career average of .306 against left-handers and a .957 OPS with 87 home runs. It might not be a bad idea to sign him to a one-year contract while Alvarez continues to develop.

There is also the possibility of trading catcher James McCann and possibly even right-handed starter Carlos Carrasco in the search for outfield help. David Peterson and Tylor Megill could compete for the No. 5 starter spot in spring training. But Eppler values starting pitching depth, knowing injuries will take their toll throughout the season, so trading McCann makes more sense.

The one argument for keeping McCann could be that he has familiarity working with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, having played with both of them on the Detroit Tigers. Bringing Alvarez up slowly on the catching side is preferable in order to prevent overloading their most important young prospect at the big league level.

But if trading McCann and eating some of the $24 million left on his contract is what it takes, then the Mets might be apt to do it.

There are several ways the Mets could address the last two items on their to-do list this winter. It’s been a busy winter already and it’s only going to get busier.


Categories: Local News

Mets and Yankees are taking very different approaches to team building

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:56

Pop quiz: what do Justin Verlander, Jose Quintana, Brooks Raley and David Robertson all have in common?

In addition to all being pitchers that recently joined the Mets, they are all at least 33 years old and made their major league debuts over ten years ago. Raley came over in a trade, but none of the three free agents (Verlander, Quintana and Robertson) signed on for more than two years, with Robertson taking a one-year deal.

When it comes to adding talent outside the organization, the Steve Cohen-funded front office has shown an extreme devotion to short-term arrangements with proven players who will help them win now, not necessarily four or five years down the road. It’s a well-designed plan to keep fans happy in the here and now, get them to come to the ballpark and make them believe a parade is legitimately possible. It’s also a much better way for a front office to appease championship-hungry fans than promising that the money they’re saving — plus the great unknown of the farm system — will create some alchemy in the future.

The Mets understand this, and money be damned, are hellbent on winning the 2023 title. The Yankees, meanwhile, have been preaching patience for several years now.

It’s an interesting juxtaposition of strategies, as they both resulted in at least 99 wins and a playoff appearance last season despite their disparate natures. Last offseason, the Mets wooed veteran free agents Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar and Adam Ottavino (all well into their thirties) with the intention of building a strong team today and worrying about tomorrow tomorrow. Their American League cousin in the Bronx, meanwhile, did not give a single major league contract to a free agent that hadn’t already played for them.

The same is true to this point of the current offseason. Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo are back with the Yankees, as is Tommy Kahnle after a brief fling with the Dodgers, but nothing has been done in the way of new faces. The Mets already got three off the open market before Christmas, and while they lost 34-year-old franchise icon Jacob deGrom, they were not afraid of a long-term deal for Brandon Nimmo, marking a noteworthy departure from their usual tactic of bringing in older players on short deals.

The version of that this offseason would have been letting Nimmo walk and inking someone like Kevin Kiermaier, Adam Duvall or A.J. Pollock to take his spot. Instead, the Nimmo agreement demonstrates that the Mets are now willing to do whatever it takes — old or young, spartan or spendy — to make their team better.

That is a welcome sight in a league whose teams have stratified into two camps: the trying and the not trying. As the old adage goes, scared money don’t make none, and even if the 2023 Mets peter out in the early rounds again, at least they aren’t scared to unapologetically try.

It’s possible that the Yankees have scared themselves with some of their past free agency decisions. Jacoby Ellsbury received $153 million for seven years but only played in actual games during the first four of those years. He never had an OPS over .750 in any of his failed seasons as a Yankee. Aroldis Chapman’s three-year, $48 million extension prior to the 2020 season ended up going to a reliever with a 1.30 WHIP who quite literally quit his job before the contract was up. Each passing day is also another for Brian Cashman and his cronies to regret committing to Aaron Hicks for seven years and $70 million.

To be clear, none of those are indictments on the players, who signed deals that they thought reflected their deserved value. What it has turned out to be, though, is a series of abject disasters for the Yankees, perhaps catalyzing this current era of financial inhibition. The main thing that the Big Apple’s teams have in common, though (the Mets with their expensive old folks’ home and the Yankees mostly augmenting their roster with bargain bin pickups and trade deadline acquisitions) is that neither have resulted in a World Series.

This year will bring another chance to evaluate their schemes, and of course, neither team is done adding. But the Yankees of the 2020s have shown no indication that they’ll do so via splashy free-agent hitters. In fact, since the turn of the decade, the most money they’ve given to a free agent position player from outside the organization is $2 million for Matt Carpenter. Rizzo, Judge, Brett Gardner and DJ LeMahieu were all paid handsomely to come back, but the Yankees have turned a blind eye to every other bat, which famously now includes two loaded classes of available shortstops.

To their credit, the Yankees have not shied away from pitching. Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber both made at least $11 million per year from their Yankee contracts, with Cole making well over three times that. If they want to give that kind of cheddar to a game-changing starter again, it’s Carlos Rodon or bust. Secondary and tertiary options abound — Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Bassitt, Noah Syndergaard and Sean Manaea are all still out there — but no one moves the needle quite like Rodon, the best left-handed pitcher of the last two years.

The Yankees have much more question marks than the Mets do right now, though. A compliance to their recent team-building plans would mean the Yankees stand pat on the remaining free-agent hitters and anger their fans even further. The Mets could still satisfy their love of aging but productive batters by getting someone like J.D. Martinez or Michael Brantley (both 35) to be their everyday designated hitter.

Whatever happens, we know how these organizations like to operate now. Cohen is going to use his money to try as hard as legally possible to put a World Series ring on his finger. Cashman and the Yankees seem content to try mostly the same team as last year with a few minor changes on the fringes, hoping not to go overboard until their supposed prospect saviors arrive.

The culture clash makes for great offseason fodder and debates about who is smarter than who, but right now, unequivocally, the Mets are doing things in a way that makes the Yankees look second class.


Categories: Local News

Kristie Ackert: 3 areas the Yankees still need to address after bringing back Aaron Judge

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:56

Aaron Judge was the Yankees’ priority this winter, but he cannot be the Bombers’ only big move. While no one can say that Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner did not invest after giving Judge a $360 million deal that runs nine years on Wednesday, it’s still not going to be enough to get the Bombers back to where they want to be.

By re-signing the 30-year-old slugger, the Yankees are essentially back where they left off in the early hours of Oct. 25. That cold night in the Bronx, Judge and the Yankees stood in their dugout watching as the Astros celebrated on the field in Yankee Stadium. For the third time in six years, Houston had stopped the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. This time, they had embarrassingly swept them.

So now more than ever, after taking on their third $300-plus million contract with Judge’s deal to go along with Giancarlo Stanton’s and Gerrit Cole’s, the Yankees have to go all in. Judge is 30, Cole is 32 and Stanton is 33. The window for these investments is open now for a few more years, the Yankees need to get past the Astros and make these investments pay off now by spending further this winter.

Here’s where they need to make moves:


The Yankees have Aaron Hicks coming back for the fifth year of his seven-year, $70 million deal, but it’s become obvious the oft-injured outfielder has played his way out of favor in the Bronx. He has been replaced as the everyday starting center fielder by Harrison Bader and seems like a fourth outfielder at best right now.

The Yankees had a good fit in Andrew Benintendi, a high-contact lefty bat, before he got hurt last season. Benintendi, who they acquired in a trade with the Royals, would be a good free-agent signing. The Yankees had interest in Pirates’ All-Star Bryan Reynolds long before he publicly requested a trade this week.  A quality switch-hitter with 27 homers last season and a strong defender with three years of control will cost a lot, but it would allow the Yankees to manage their payroll. A Michael Brantley would be another possibility or maybe a dark horse in a lefty-power hitting Michael Conforto.


The Yankees have their ace in Cole and All-Star lefty Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Frankie Montas slotted behind him heading into 2023. Jameson Taillon will be a big loss and instead of trying to get by with Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt, the Bombers need another proven starter. They have been pursuing Carlos Rodon, a 29-year-old lefty who had pitched to a 2.88 ERA last season.

Former Mets Chris Bassitt and Nathan Eovaldi are other options available on the free-agent market. The Yankees had shown interest in Marlins righty Pablo López in the past and Miami has made it clear they are open to trading anyone except National League Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara.


The Yankees have navigated the last few offseasons with their future left-side of the infield on their mind. Anthony Volpe should make his big league debut at shortstop in 2023 and the Yankees need to figure out where Oswald Peraza, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson and Oswaldo Cabrera fit. Donaldson aged quickly last season and Kiner-Falefa proved he wasn’t a fit at shortstop, but the Bombers have both back next season.

It’s time for them to commit to the younger players or use them to solidify the rotation, get a left fielder or bolster the bullpen.

The Yankees invested in their future with Judge, whose $360 million contract is the largest free agent contract in history, and Judge joins Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander (both $43.3 million per year) as the only players in the sport with a $40 million average annual salary. Across town, Mets’ billionaire owner Steve Cohen has gone all-in on the future in Queens and it will be interesting to see if the Yankees are as invested in 2023.

* * *

On a personal note, 2023 will be a year of change. This is my last column for the Daily News. After 25 years, working my way up from covering high school sports to the last four years on the Yankees’ beat, I am leaving The News and New York City. It’s always been interesting and I am so grateful for those who gave me a chance to witness so much history and for those of you who read my takes on it.


Categories: Local News

Trial pushed back a day in case against Alaska lawmaker

Seattle Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:53

The trial in a case alleging that an Alaska lawmaker’s ties to the far-right Oath Keepers group disqualifies him from holding office is set to begin Tuesday after technical and logistical issues prompted a delay.
Categories: Local News

Magic ‘heading in the right direction’ after picking up 3 consecutive wins

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:45

The Orlando Magic followed up their worst stretch of the season with their best.

Their 111-99 win over the Toronto Raptors at Amway Center gave them their third consecutive victory, a season-best win streak and the first time the Magic have won three consecutive games since Feb. 17-21, 2021.

The Magic (8-20) lost nine consecutive games before beating the Los Angeles Clippers 116-111 in overtime Wednesday and picking up wins over the Raptors Friday and Sunday.

“You put three games in a row of it — we’re heading in the right direction,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “We’re asking our guys to defend at a high level, which they did. Asking them to share the basketball and move the basketball, which they did. They’re trusting each other and communicating with each other. Staying poised down the stretch, which they’ve done. We’re moving in the right direction and we’ve got to continue to that.”

The defense has stepped up.

Their defensive rating — points allowed per 100 possessions — of 107.3 over their last four games (3-1) during the homestand is the league’s fifth-best mark during this stretch, significantly better than the 119.1 defensive rating (27th) they had during the slide.

They’re doing better with protecting the rim despite being without starting big man Wendell Carter Jr., who’s missed 13 of the last 14 games because of strained right foot plantar fascia.

The Magic have switched less and played more traditional defensive pick-and-roll coverages during Carter’s absence. The results have turned around for the better after not being good at first.

They’re allowing 21.5 shots inside the restricted area (8th) and 13.3 shots inside the non-restricted area paint (8th) over the last four games during the homestand, which will wrap up the five-game homestand vs. Atlanta on Wednesday.

Opponents aren’t knocking down their floaters and midrange shots like they were during the slide.

“Making sure we protect the paint every time — we’ve done a really good job of that these last couple of games,” said Franz Wagner. “We’re figuring stuff out, especially the last couple of games. People are continuing to adjust to how we play and throw different stuff at us. We’re going to keep working.”

Greater trust has been shown.

“We like to apply ball pressure, we call it heat,” Mo Bamba said. “It’s the NBA. Guys are good, guys are really talented. You’re going to get blown by. We try to keep it no-middle, but it happens. Just knowing my teammate, knowing [Bol] Bol’s going to do his job and step over, get that block or get that charge or even step up and make them pass the ball, it’s a small example of do your job and others will fill in behind you.”

The Magic have also shown more poise during tight stretches, evident by their plus-15.8 net ratings in clutch situations — when the scoring margin is within 5 points with five or fewer minutes remaining in a game.

“It shows we’ve listened these last couple of days,” Franz Wagner said. “And we’re trying to do what the coaches are saying. Obviously, it’s not going to be perfect every time but we’re doing our best. We’ve still got so many things to improve. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

The Magic have made it through this stretch without multiple key players, including five players who are considered their best defenders.

In addition to Carter, Gary Harris (strained right hamstring), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness) and Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) sat Sunday.

Harris has sat six straight games after missing the first 15 following offseason left knee surgery. Okeke has missed 10 games while Suggs has been sidelined half the season, including the last nine games.

“We’re still waiting on JI, he’s looking good every day,” Bamba said. “Chuma’s getting back on the court. Gary’s getting back on the court. Wendell’s getting close. When we get our whole group back, we’ll look scary. It’s tough to really assess where we are as a team because, quite frankly, we haven’t had our whole team. When we get guys back and build that camaraderie, that chemistry with each other, it only gets better.”

This article first appeared on Email Khobi Price at or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.


Categories: Local News

Janet Jackson spotlights 2 fan favorites in return to Bay Area

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:40

Janet Jackson is heading back on the roll.

And, yes, the five-time Grammy Award winner will be making a stop in the Bay Area.

Jackson performs June 16 at Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View.

Tickets go on sale to the general public at 11 a.m. Dec. 16, There is also a presale for Citi cardmembers that begins at 11 a.m. Dec. 13 and runs to 10 p.m. Dec. 15. Visit for information.

The Shoreline show is part of Jackson’s ninth concert tour, dubbed Together Again, a 33-city trek that kicks off in Hollywood, Florida on April 14 and warps up in Seattle on June 21.

“The Together Again tour will offer everyone the long-awaited chance to reunite with Ms. Jackson in celebration of her 50th anniversary in entertainment and spotlight the milestones for two of Jackson’s most critically acclaimed albums – 25 years of ‘The Velvet Rope,’ and 30 years of ‘janet,’  featuring her biggest chart-topping hits, plus new music,” according to a news release.

Ludacris will be featured as the special guest on all dates.

Here are the tour dates:

Fri Apr 14 – Hollywood, FL – Hard Rock Live Arena

Wed Apr 19 – Orlando, FL – Amway Center

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Fri Apr 21 – Savannah, GA – Enmarket Arena

Sat Apr 22 – Birmingham, AL – Legacy Arena

Tue Apr 25 – Columbia, SC – Colonial Life Arena

Thu Apr 27 – Atlanta, GA – State Farm Arena

Sat Apr 29 – Memphis, TN – FedEx Forum

Sun Apr 30 – St Louis, MO – Enterprise Center

Tue May 02 – Kansas City, MO – T-Mobile Center

Thu May 04 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena

Sat May 06 – Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live

Tue May 09 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden

Fri May 12 – Charlotte, NC – PNC Music Pavilion

Sat May 13 – Baltimore, MD – CFG Bank Arena

Sun May 14 – Virginia Beach, VA – Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater

Fri May 19 – Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Center

Sat May 20 – Atlantic City, NJ – Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena

Tue May 23 – Toronto, ON – Budweiser Stage

Wed May 24 – Detroit, MI – Little Caesars Arena

Fri May 26 – Noblesville, IN – Ruoff Music Center

Sat May 27 – Tinley Park, IL – Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre Chicago

Sun May 28 – Milwaukee, WI – American Family Insurance Amphitheater

Tue May 30 – St Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center

Fri Jun 02 – Dallas, TX – Dos Equis Pavilion

Sat Jun 03 – Houston, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

Sun Jun 04 – Austin, TX – Moody Center

Wed Jun 07 – Phoenix, AZ – Ak-Chin Pavilion

Fri Jun 09 – Irvine, CA – FivePoint Amphitheatre

Sat Jun 10 – Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Bowl*

Sun Jun 11 – San Diego, CA – North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre

Fri Jun 16 – Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre

Tue Jun 20 – Portland, OR – Moda Center

Wed Jun 21 – Seattle, WA – Climate Pledge Arena

Categories: Local News

Major fusion energy breakthrough to be announced by scientists

Seattle Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:32

Scientists at a nuclear weapons facility have made a potentially significant advance in fusion research that could lead to a source of bountiful energy, according to a government official.
Categories: Local News

China maps out plans to put astronauts on the moon and on Mars

Seattle Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:31

Chinese officials at a desert rocket base described plans for their new space station and for reusable rockets, as well as travel beyond near-Earth orbit.
Categories: Local News

Wildly-popular Dumpling Time has finally opened its Tri-Valley restaurant

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:27

Dumpling Time, the San Francisco-based Chinese dim sum specialist with California flair, has opened its long-awaited first restaurant east of the Caldecott Tunnel.

Owners Kash Feng and Jackson Yu of the Omakase Restaurant Group now count San Ramon among their six Dumpling Time restaurant locations, which also include Berkeley and San Jose.

The newest Dumpling Time — the first in the Tri-Valley and in Contra Costa County — opened on Dec. 10 at 6000 Bollinger Canyon Road, Suite 1505, inside Bishop Ranch City Center. Opening hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 10 a.m. Saturday-Sunday. Check out the menu at

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Executive dumpling chef Leo Leong is presiding over a menu of handmade dim sum, including crispy seafood, pork or chicken gyoza; pan-seared chicken or pork bao; shrimp har gow; and Xi’an dumplings made from co-owner Kash Feng’s family recipe. Vegetarian options include crispy sesame tofu squares, vegetable spring rolls and wood ear mushroom salad. Look for craft cocktails with an emphasis on gin, vodka and sake and an impressive tea program.

The restaurant features an outdoor patio and a total of 132 seats, including a dozen bar seats. Be sure to check out the glass-walled dumpling room outlined in brass where you can watch dumplings being made by Leong and team. Details:

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Categories: Local News

Poland’s only cosmonaut, who circled Earth in 1978, has died

Seattle Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:22

Family members of Poland's only cosmonaut, who circled Earth in a Soviet spaceship in 1978, say he has died.
Categories: Local News

Scenes at a Wedgwood tree stand

Seattle Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:15

Categories: Local News

Georgia official gets subpoena from Trump investigation

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:05

By Kate Brumback | Associated Press

ATLANTA — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has received a subpoena related to special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation of former President Donald Trump, who focused strongly on the state as he sought to overturn his 2020 election loss.

Smith was appointed last month to oversee not only the Justice Department’s Mar-a-Lago investigation but also aspects of Trump’s scramble to stay in power — including his effort in Georgia — and the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In a Jan. 2 phone call, Trump had suggested that Raffensperger “find” the votes needed to give him a win in Georgia.

The subpoena, which is dated Friday and was received by Raffensperger’s office Monday, follows others served last week in several states and counties. Like those other locations, Georgia was a target of Trump and his allies as they sought to overturn his loss in the 2020 election.

The special counsel is seeking “any and all communications in any form” between June 1, 2020, and Jan. 20, 2021, “to, from or involving” Trump, his campaign, lawyers and aides, including former campaign officials such as Bill Stepien and Justin Clark and lawyers John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn, L. Lin Wood, Sidney Powell and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to the subpoena, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Efforts by Trump and his associates to reverse his loss in Georgia are currently the subject of a separate investigation led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in Atlanta. A special grand jury seated to aid that investigation has heard from dozens of witnesses, including a number of high-profile Trump allies, over the past six months and is expected to wrap up its work soon.

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Among other things, Willis is investigating the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Raffensperger.

It was not immediately clear whether any counties in Georgia had also received subpoenas from the special counsel.

In the weeks following the 2020 election, Trump focused in part on Fulton County, which includes most of the city of Atlanta, making unsupported allegations of election fraud. But the county had not received a subpoena by Monday morning, a spokesperson said.

Categories: Local News

Vote now: Bay Area News Group boys athlete of the week

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:00

Editor’s note: We prohibit the use of bots and any other artificial methods of voting. Suspicious activity could lead to the disqualification of candidates and a permanent suspension of the Athlete of the Week poll.

Welcome to the Bay Area News Group (Mercury News & East Bay Times) boys Athlete of the Week poll.

For the entire academic year, we will provide a list of candidates who stood out over the previous week and allow you, the reader, to vote for the winner.

This week, we consider performances from Dec. 5-10.

Polls close at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Vote as many times as you’d like until then without using bots or any other artificial methods of voting.

Votes by email are not counted.

Scroll to the bottom for the poll.

Winners are announced each Friday online and, starting Sept. 30, in the print edition of the Mercury News and East Bay Times sports sections.

Candidates for future Athlete of the Week polls can be nominated at

We accept nominations until 11 a.m. each Monday.

We also review stats submitted to MaxPreps by coaches/team statisticians.

On to the nominees:

Geo Alber, Alhambra basketball: In wins over San Marin and Miramonte and a loss to Carlmont, the junior averaged 16.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. He had 21 points in a 65-54 victory over San Marin and 16 in a 55-39 victory over Miramonte. Alhambra entered this week with a 5-2 record.

Gabriel Garcia Ponce, Berkeley soccer: The senior scored both goals in his team’s 2-0 victory over Mt. Eden. He also scored in a 3-2 loss to Monte Vista. In the previous week, he scored in a 3-0 win over Amador Valley. Berkeley entered this week 4-1 on the season.

Emerson Jones, Salesian basketball: The 6-6 senior was named Most Outstanding Player at the Gridley Invitational after leading the Pride to the title with a 68-53 victory over Campolindo on Saturday night. Jones had eight points and seven rebounds against Campo, 15 points and six rebounds against Clovis North and five points and five rebounds against Oakland Tech. Salesian improved to 4-1.

Tyler Jones, Archbishop Mitty basketball: The 6-foot-2 junior point guard was named the MVP at the Father Barry Tournament at Jesuit-Carmichael, averaging 18 points, five rebounds and three assists to lead the Monarchs to the championship. Mitty beat Jesuit 74-65 to win the title and improve to 5-0.

Mateo Porta, Saratoga soccer: The senior had himself a day in a 5-1 victory over Hillsdale, scoring two goals and handing out three assists. A week earlier, in a 2-1 win over Aptos, Prota assisted on both goals. Saratoga began this week with a 3-1 record.

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Eli Roth, Acalanes soccer: The senior helped Acalanes improve to 4-0, scoring a goal and assisting on two others in a 4-0 victory over Newark Memorial. A week earlier, he scored twice in a 4-0 win over Foothill and before that he had two goals and an assist in a 3-0 victory over Granada.

Nadav Sternheim, Palo Alto soccer: In a 4-1 win over Leland, the senior had a goal and three assists. Four days later, in a 5-1 victory over Sequoia, he scored another goal and added an assist. Palo Alto finished the week 3-0 on the season.

Lucas Vogel, Menlo School basketball: The senior was named to the all-tournament team at the Los Gatos Wildcat Shootout as Menlo won two of its three games. Vogel averaged 19 points in wins over Branham and Santa Teresa and a two-point loss to Christopher.

Sam Wagner, Lincoln-San Jose basketball: The 6-foot-3 senior averaged 16.8 points for the week as Lincoln won all four of its games. He had 26 points in a 58-48 win over Willow Glen, 18 in a 51-38 victory over Gilroy and 16 in a 56-52 win over Aptos. Lincoln ended the week with a 6-2 record on the season.

Money Williams, Oakland basketball: The senior scored 17 points to lead his team past Grant-Portland, Ore., 56-43 and 14 points in a 62-40 win over another Portland school, Parkrose, as the Wildcats ran their record to 5-1.

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Categories: Local News

A Timeline of China’s Advancements in Spaceflight

N.Y. Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 12:48
Key moments from China’s efforts to explore space.
Categories: Local News

Oakland A’s trade Sean Murphy to Braves, per reports

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 12:46

The A’s are trading catcher Sean Murphy to the Atlanta Braves, according to multiple reports, as part of their ongoing teardown project.

The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, who said it is a three-way trade with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Murphy, 28, was the American League’s Gold Glove catcher in 2021 and a finalist again last season while being among the A’s most reliable hitters in a historically bad 2022 lineup. Murphy slashed .250/.332/.426 with 18 home runs and 66 RB last season in 148 games, leading the team in batting average and OPS. Murphy hit 17 home runs with 59 home runs in 2021.

He’ll go from a team expected to again have one of MLB’s worst records to a team trying to contend for a World Series two years after winning the title in 2021. Murphy will also rejoin former Oakland teammate Matt Olson in Atlanta after Olson was traded to the Braves last spring and signed an eight-year, $168 million extension shortly after the deal.

Manny Piña, a 35-year-old journeyman catcher most recently with the Brewers, is reportedly part of the return for the A’s. The Brewers are expected to receive catcher William Contreras, 24, from Atlanta.

Murphy was deemed expendable in part because of his team-friendly contract status: He’s scheduled to earn $725,000 this season and is not eligible for salary arbitration until the offseason. The A’s also have significant catching depth – Shae Langeliers made his big league debut last season and figures to at least share time with Piña behind the plate this season. Recent first-round draft picks Tyler Soderstrom and Daniel Susac are also in the system, and the team is high on Kyle McCann.

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Many expected a deal involving Murphy to be completed during the Winter Meetings as the A’s continued to shed their most valuable assets to acquire prospects for their latest rebuild.

With the 28-year-old Murphy gone, the A’s most appealing trade candidates probably are outfielder Ramón Laureano and pitcher Paul Blackburn.

The A’s acquired Langeliers, outfielder Cristian Pache and right-handers Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes from the Braves last March for Olson.

Murphy was the A’s third-round pick in 2015 and spent parts of four seasons in the majors. He was the starter the past three, providing solid defense and power from the position.

Check back for more on this developing story.

Categories: Local News

Congress Weighs Plan for Commission to Investigate Covid Response

N.Y. Times - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 12:44
The 9/11 Commission prompted a national reckoning over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. A bipartisan bill would create an independent panel to investigate the pandemic response, but the measure is in limbo.
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Ravens coach John Harbaugh offers ‘no pronouncements’ on availability of QBs Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley vs. Browns

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 12:43

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he had “no pronouncements” to offer on injured quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley a day after his team defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 16-14, with third-stringer Anthony Brown finishing the game.

Jackson missed Sunday’s contest because of the knee injury he suffered the previous week against the Denver Broncos. His backup, Huntley, went into concussion protocol after taking a hard shot in the third quarter. It’s not clear if either will be available for the Ravens’ divisional showdown Saturday against the Cleveland Browns.

“They’re deep in the protocol right now,” Harbaugh said of Huntley. “I really don’t have any updates that I would be allowed to share, so there’s really no pronouncements on that or Lamar in terms of who’s going to be ready or not ready at this point in time. Until you know, you can’t say anything.”

After the victory in Pittsburgh, Harbaugh said Huntley seemed to be doing well and might have time to clear the protocol before the Ravens face the Browns. The game could be significant to the AFC North race, with the Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals both at 9-4.

Asked specifically about Jackson, who started the first 12 games, Harbaugh said: “I just don’t know. You make some kind of a statement, and it turns out to be, you just don’t have enough information to make it yet. That’s how these injuries work.”

He added that the Ravens would consider having three quarterbacks active against the Browns — Brown and Brett Hundley are behind Jackson and Huntley on the depth chart — to protect against further injuries.

Harbaugh also said Kevin Zeitler was a “game-time decision” against the Steelers but the right guard “just didn’t feel good enough” to play because of a knee injury that forced him to miss two practices last week.

“It’s not a major injury; it’s just a flare-up in his knee,” Harbaugh said. “It was just sore, and he tried the best he could to get to the game.”


Categories: Local News

Jets QB Mike White in position to play against Lions Sunday

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 12:38

Mike White took a beating in the Jets’ 20-12 loss to the Bills Sunday.

Despite the punishment Buffalo inflicted upon White, the quarterback could start Gang Green’s next game.

After he was knocked out twice due to injury and was dealing with a rib ailment following a hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano, White went to the hospital in an ambulance after the game for a CT scan to make sure he was cleared to get on a plane. White was able to fly back to New Jersey with the rest of the Jets players and is considered day-to-day as the team is preparing as if he will play against the Lions Sunday.

“I’m not going to get into details,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said about White’s injury. “What they saw was good enough for him to get back on the plane and he passed all that stuff.

“Just talking to him, he feels good. We are just trying to let this play out as he is still fresh off the game, so we will see how things play out today, tomorrow and Wednesday.

“We are preparing as if we have him.”

White first left the game against the Bills for one snap after defensive lineman Ed Oliver hit him. Then late in the third quarter, Bills linebacker Matt Milano nearly broke White in half as he stayed down for a few minutes before walking to the sideline and eventually back to the locker room to be checked out by doctors.

White returned to the game in the fourth quarter, trying to spark a Jets offense that looked lifeless with backup Joe Flacco under center. He did lead the Jets down to score a late 26-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein, but the Bills held on for the eight-point victory.

“That’s football,” White said about the hits he took. “That’s the part you don’t miss because it hurts, but it’s part of it that you do miss because you do want to prove to your guys that I want to hang in there and take the hits necessary to move the ball down the field that you want to lay it out there for them.

“I feel good. I don’t feel like I’m 100 bucks because I just played a football game, but I feel good. I picked my kids up out of the cribs this morning, played with them for a little bit. They tackled me and I felt fine.”

In his three starts since Saleh benched Zach Wilson, White has improved the Jets offense significantly. He has thrown for 952 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and completed 62% of his passes. In his seven starts before he was benched three weeks ago, Wilson threw for 1,279 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions.

Regardless of White’s play, the Jets have lost two consecutive games to the Vikings and now the Bills. The team has also lost four of their last six games to fall out of the AFC’s third and final wild-card spot.

Right now, the Jets are in eighth place in the conference as they have the exact same record [7-6] as the Chargers, who are in seventh. But Los Angeles has a better conference record [5-5], which is the tiebreaker.

The Jets have four games left this season all against teams who all have playoff aspirations. Sunday, Gang Green will host the Lions, one of the NFL’s hottest teams, as they’ve won five of their last six games.

Then on a short week on Dec. 22, the Jaguars will travel to MetLife Stadium to play the Jets. The Green and White will end the regular season on the road against the Seahawks and the Dolphins.

Following the game against the Bills, Saleh said, “we’re going to see these guys again,” as he believes the Jets will make the playoffs despite the recent funk. White echoes Saleh’s sentiments and is confident the Jets can make the postseason.

“Our goal is to see them again because that means we would be in the playoffs,” White said. “It’s December football, especially from here on out, every game is essentially a playoff game for us.”

“We have to treat it as such with urgent and professionalism going in, knowing this time of the year you can get banged up. Reps might not be there as much as they were at the beginning of the season, as you have to take advantage of what you do get.

“I know we have some young guys on the team and they’re still getting their taste of what an NFL season is like this time of the year. It is attacking those with the right mindset and urgency and that’s how you have to attack these last four games.”

Williams also day-to-day, Davis in concussion protocol

White wasn’t the only Jets player who suffered an injury against the Bills. The team also lost defensive tackle Quinnen Williams in the first half after he injured his calf and fell down to the ground without being contacted by a player.

Williams sacked Bills quarterback Josh Allen twice in the first half before leaving the game. Saleh said Williams is 50-50 to play against the Lions. In 13 games, Williams has already had the best season of his career as he has 11 sacks along with 47 tackles and 12 tackles for loss.

Jets wide receiver Corey Davis will be in concussion protocol following a brutal hit on his only catch of the game as he came down and his head hit the turf. Saleh said Davis was feeling “really good” on Monday and they’re hopeful the Jets have him available against the Lions.

Davis missed three games earlier this year because of a knee injury he suffered against the Broncos on Oct. 23. He has 26 receptions for 460 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games.

Cornerback Brandin Echols (quadriceps strain) and linebacker Marcell Harris (ankle) will not play against the Lions. Harris may be out for the season.


Categories: Local News

Opinion: County should preserve Coyote Valley climate overlay

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 12:30

Allowing the expansion of industrial-scale greenhouses and mushroom farms will harm soil, water and habitat connectivity in Coyote Valley.

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara Valley Board of Supervisors will consider waiving the Coyote Valley Climate Resilience Overlay that  imposes a development area cap of one acre per parcel and two acres per parcel where there is an onsite agricultural operation. This overlay currently allows smaller operations to prosper while limiting industrial-scale greenhouse operations and mushroom farms from expanding. Approximately 120 acres in Coyote Valley have already been developed with greenhouse and mushroom farm operations.

Santa Clara County Supervisors should not allow this expanse to increase.

Industrial-scale greenhouses are rarely environmentally benign. These operations are usually built on concrete or gravel pads and are covered with plastic. Large scale greenhouses often use copious amounts of fertilizers, fungicides and other chemicals. To modulate plant growth patterns, some large greenhouse operations are lit at night, adding light pollution to the injury to the environment.

Mushroom farms add the potential of polluting our waterways. Monterey Mushrooms Inc., the largest industry in Coyote Valley, has a history of environmental violations. This includes a 2001 Cleanup and Abatement Order for  unauthorized discharges of process-related wastewater to drainage channels and to a percolation pond. In 2018, Monterey Mushrooms was sued by the Santa Clara County District Attorney for intentionally dumping toxic wastewater from its holding ponds into Fisher Creek. In addition, contaminated storm water from compost processing areas was allowed to flow into waterways. District Attorney Jeff Rosen said at the time, “There has to be major accountability for years and years of preventable pollution.”  The county had sought $67 million in reparations, but the eventual settlement, in 2020, was for only $2.4 million. Aquatic life in Fisher Creek and downstream may never fully recover.

When allowed to flow into our watersheds, effluents from greenhouses and mushroom production can degrade water quality with nutrients, pathogens and other pollutants. Excess nutrients can lead to conditions that suffocate fish or cause toxic algal blooms. If released to groundwater, nutrients can also harm drinking water supplies. As rainfall patterns become erratic, the likelihood of polluted runoff entering waterways is increasing, as evidently happened in February 2017, when Monterey Mushrooms Inc. pumped 400,000 gallons of polluted water from a pond to Fisher Creek. The discharge contained ammonia more than five times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s water quality criterion intended to protect aquatic life.

The potential for environmental harm by industrial farming effluents — whether released intentionally, by accident or due to extreme storm events — is substantial.

Already, Coyote Valley is fragmented by industrial agricultural operations. A denser mosaic of industrial greenhouses and mushroom farms is not what supporters of protecting Coyote Valley envisioned for the valley’s agricultural and natural landscapes. The expansion of these operations onto fertile land will contribute to the fragmentation of habitat and loss of important soil resources. This type of development is inconsistent with planning for climate change, conservation of land and water resources, the dark sky in the valley and the effort to reduce plastic waste.

The Board of Supervisors should support earth and climate friendly farming in Coyote Valley and deny expansion of new greenhouses and mushroom farms. The board should decline to exempt any new industrial-scale greenhouse or mushroom farm development from the Coyote Valley Climate Resilience combining the district’s development area limitation of two acres.

Shani Kleinhaus is the environmental advocate for the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society. 

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Categories: Local News

Single family residence sells for $2.2 million in Fremont

San Jose Mercury - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 12:30
42681 Lerwick Street - Google Street View42681 Lerwick Street – Google Street View

A spacious house built in 1964 located in the 42600 block of Lerwick Street in Fremont has new owners. The 2,036-square-foot property was sold on Nov. 2, 2022. The $2,200,000 purchase price works out to $1,081 per square foot. The property features four bedrooms, two baths, a garage, and two parking spaces. It sits on a 10,710-square-foot lot, which also has a pool.

Additional houses have recently been sold nearby:

  • A 1,924-square-foot home on the 800 block of Olive Avenue in Fremont sold in September 2022 for $1,850,000, a price per square foot of $962. The home has 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
  • In August 2022, a 1,195-square-foot home on Gallegos Avenue in Fremont sold for $1,550,000, a price per square foot of $1,297. The home has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
  • On Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont, in August 2022, a 1,866-square-foot home was sold for $2,440,000, a price per square foot of $1,308.


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