Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Grinch Who Stole Cliff Lee . . .

That was not the wind from a Northeaster, that was a sigh of relief from the folks in Red Sox Nation on the reports that are surfacing on the surprising news that Cliff Lee has decided to sign with the Phils.

Frankly, I didn't even know the Phils were in the mix.

Philly sends the message that their days of competing for the big prize are not over.

The Yanks, no doubt have a little egg on their face.

The Rangers are left wondering if they're magical season is a one and done situation.

Holiday surprise - this will ensure MLB's Hot Stove will continue to get ratings for a few more weeks!!


Crash said...

The Yankee brass has a little more than egg on their collective faces. They totally botched this negotiation from the start. If The Boss was still in charge this would have never ever happened. 1. Hal should have hopped on the jet and had multiple face-to-face meetings with Lee and his agent and sold NY and the Yankees to him. 2. Their offer while most likely a stretch of reasonableness going to a guaranteed 7th year, was pretty much even with the offer from Texas. If George was around the offer would have blown all others way out of the water. 3. Randy Levine, Hal & Hank Steinbrenner, and Brian Cashman all made some form of negative comments in the media during the Jeter negotiations. I can't help but think Cliff Lee was sitting back and thinking, if they say that about their captain what will they say about me. 4. Lastly Cashman was very passive this entire time. He was not agressive and let Braunecker dictate the pace of the negotiations. Cashman waited and waited to make an offer. He didn't do that with CC. He should have been out there on day 1 face-to-face and said here's our offer and this offer should have been something HUGE that no one would even come close to.

Factors outside of the Yankees control...The Washington Nationals new found riches. If the Nationals didn't overbid for Werth, he's more than likely back in a Phillies uniform, which would have dried up the money used in the Lee deal.

New ownership in Texas refused to be bullied by Yankee dollars and didin't blink an eye when it came time to make an offer that should have landed Lee.

What to do now...I guess the Yankees could try and coax Pettitte out of thoughts of retirement and give Nova the #5 spot. Of course their is the trade route as well...Greinke, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster are names I've heard this morning.

But if I'm Cashman I call Jack Zduriencik and offer him Scranton Wilkes-Barre for Felix Hernandez. I know they just signed him to an extension, but he will be getting big boy money in 2012 ($18.5MM), 2013 ($19.5MM) and 2014 ($20MM). I can't see the Mariners paying that kind of salary. Another extreme long shot would Kershaw or Billingsley from LAD. Both names have popped up in trade rumors before. Dodgers are looking for some OF help. Could be worth a phone call.

old professor said...

Crash, you are over reacting to the Lee signing by the Phillies. Apparently, Lee "fell in love with the city and the team and was hurt when he was traded".

He liked Philadelphia and was willing to take less to go back there. The Jeter issues had nothing to do with Lee not signing with the Yankees. Money doesn't necesarily float everyones boat. $120 million is still a lot of money to be comfortable with. Also realize Lee was 12-9 last year that is one less loss than AJ Burnett.

old professor said...

Yankees have come to an agreement with Russel Martin to be their catcher. It would be hard to imagine if he agreed to anything less than what he was asking from the Dodgers (guaranteed $5 million).

While I am disappointed with the Lee situation, I believe the Yankees can actually improve beyond what Lee could have provided. Remember Lee pitches every fifth day so he can influence an outcome once every five days. And in a number of those instances, he would fail. The Yankees can now add several different pieces to help the team: As I indicated before Kerry Wood would be nice, they have signed Russell Martin. They can also go after someone to fill in the back of their rotation. Let's be real: They have CC as the #1, with his contract AJ is not going anywhere, and Hughes should be able to build on his work from last year.

It would also be interesting if they decided to bring back Wang. Who for some reason is not listed as a free agent, but did elect to become one.

Crash said...

The Rangers have contacted Wang. If the Yankees stay in house and are able to get Pettitte back it may not be a bad option. That's essentially what they had last year and made the ALCS.

They could also go hard at Kerry Wood now too, sure up the back end of the bullpen.

Crash said...

Brian Cashman is saying "Plan B is patience". Last time he used that line the Yankees missed the playoffs. That's when they wanted Hughes, Joba, and Kennedy in the rotation and they ended up destroying Joba.

Hey Cashman I don't want patience, I want a starting rotation.

Crash said...

Yankees just signed Mark Prior, not exactly Cliff Lee but maybe better upside IF healthy.

old professor said...

Interesting move signing Prior. He was the Yankees number 1 pick a number of years ago, opted not to sign, went to college and was eventually drafted by the Cubs. He did pitch a few innings in the independent league and with Texas' Triple AAA affiliate in the fall. He appears to have a shot at making the roster not as a starter but in the bullpen.

While the Yankees have signed Martin, he has not passed a physical yet. Too many people are looking at this signing as a sign the Yankees are going to trade Montero. I don't think they will let Montero go. There is too much upside to the kid at this point and to be blunt there isn't any pitching talent available that would warrant letting him go.

Crash said...

Martin completed the physical yesterday. Buster says the deal is $4MM base salary. Some people are saying the Yankees are the verge of "something big", but I can't find any details. DOn't know if this is factual or just their guts saying they lost out on Lee so they have to have something in the works.

old professor said...

Don't get to wrapped up in the "something big" hype - It is the usual media trying to build or push the team toward something since they missed out on Lee. Don't believe anything until the Yankees announce.

And as for the Lee deal, as I said before, not signing him can be viewed as a plus - no aging pitcher at the end of the contract and more $$ freed up to make more moves. In addition, as for Lee being this unbeatable pitcher - He was 12-9 last year, and 14-10 the year before these are pretty mediocre numbers for someone looking to score a big contract. Only once in his career did he win 20+ and that was three years ago. That was followed up with a 14 win season. As for winning in the post season - San Francisco burst that bubble.

Philadelphia's rotation looks great on paper, but the bullpen is a joke. Unless the big four go nine innings everytime out don't look for a runaway in the NL East. (Also Hamels is the AJ Burnett of Philadelphia).

Crash said...

I'm still enraged by the lack of results so far this offseason and watching the Red Sox get stronger, while letting the top free agents slip through their fingers is unacceptable.

Just dwelling on the Lee thing some more...Brian Cashman could have dealt for Lee at the trade deadline, got him acclimated to NY, and probably signed him to extension prior to him hitting the open market (which he was actually willing to do when he was with Philly the first time). The deal fell apart because Cashman would not include Nunez in the deal. Nunez could be the next Jeter or Cano, or he could be the next Bobby Meacham. To let that deal fall apart because of Nunez is completely unacceptable.

And now there's talk that CC will leave when his opt out clause comes up at the end of this year.

OK...I'm officially in panic mode.

old professor said...

Crash, I do not believe they Mariners were ever going to trade Lee to the Yankees. They were using the Yankees as leverage against the Rangers to get Justin Smoak. Once the Rangers realized the Yankee deal was moving forward, they included Smoak in the deal and Lee went to Texas.

While the Yankee mentality is "win it now", in the long run it hurts the team to give up all of the top prospects. Think about the great run the Yankees had from 1996-2001 - the core of that team was built around Yankee prospects: Jeter, Pettitte, Posada, and Williams. There were some pieces brought in throught trades, but the team built around home grown talent.

The Yankees have some very young arms on the farm (Manny Banos to name one) that will pan out. MAybe the Yankees need to take a page from the Red Sox of last year - they didn't panic with all of the injuries they brought young talent up and stayed in the race until very late in September.

Yankees should allow the youth to fill in the holes. Speaking of which, the Yankees gave up Mark Malancon to get Berkman. Berkman is now gone (didn't help that much) and Melancon pitched in 20 games for the Astros going 2-0. Threw 17.1 innings and struckout 19 while walking 8. They could use his arm this year, but he isn't there anymore!!

You also need to look at a lot of the free agents the Yankees have brought in that have crapped the sheets: Giambi, Igwa, Pavano, Wynn, etc... Free agency is not always the answer.

old professor said...

Here is something to calculate: The Yankees were going to give Lee 23-25 million per year. They have given Russell Martin 4 million leaving somewhere between 19 to 21 million of what was calculated as Lee money. Sign Kerry Wood and Raphel Soriano for approximately 10-11 million each. That wraps up the Lee money. You have made the bullpen stronger and gotten better a catching (three for the price of one). The team still has money that they were targeting for Pettitte (in all likelihood 11-12 million) they can sign him or bring a couple of back end of the rotation guys in for combined for the same amount.

Stop thinking about what could have been and look at the fact the team has more flexibility without Lee than that would have had if they had signed him.

Crash said...

Why would you sign setup guys at $10MM each, that's closer money. People were gripping over the Benoit signing at $5MM. That being said...Yankees have contacted Soriano's agent.

Carlos Zambranno is already being mentioned as a trade target. He obviously has head issues, but also worked it out last year and has a history with Rothchild. This could be a decent match if he can pitch like the second half last year because the Cubs want to dump him and his salary and most likely wouldn't be asking for anything in return. Another name coming up is Fausto Carmona. He returned to form late last year too. Yankees will not be in on Brandan Webb, Yankees may be on King Felix's no trade list, but are inquiring as to his availability. Hate to restate the obvious but King Felix is who I go for. My offer would include Joba, Montero or Romine, Nova, and Nunez, and that's my opening offer. I do not include Hughes. I will Keep Nova if they want to take AJ.

old professor said...

Here is my rationale for the money I mentioned: Wood was scheduled to make $11 million. He is looking for that type of money to be a closer. Soriano was a closer last year and led the league in saves
(45). Soriano can be used as a setup or closer (when Mo needs to take a breather or God help us if he has a slight injury). In addition, by signing Soriano you have your closer after Mo.

Wood can also close for the team. Having both those guys on the team would shorten a game to six innings (which is probably all Nova will be able to give at this point).

I do not think it wise to trade Montero. The kid is special and has a great offensive upside. If you trade him, then you get someone special in return. I do not see the Mariners entertaining anyones offer for King Felix. As for Zambrano that's just what the Yankees need another head case.

Look you already have an ace with CC, you have Hughes and Burnett (who no matter how bad he looked still won ten games - two less than Lee). A number four or five starter will fill the bill. If Pettitte comes back that allows the team to relax go with Nova or the 19 year old stud that pitched real well in fall ball. (Hey they still have Kei Igwa under contract for this upcoming year).

Everyone still wants to panic over not getting Lee. The Yankees are returning most of their players from last years team. Okay Boston has gotten better offensively, Tampa is a shell of what it was. Toronto has traded Marcum, lost Overby, Downs, Gregg, Accardo and ??? So who are they going to challenge. Yankees will be in the playoffs next year if not as the division winner then as the wildcard.

Crash said...

I would argue that the Red Sox are the same as they were a year ago offensively, maybe a little better, but not vastly improved as The Nation wants everyone to believe. They get better defensively with Ellsbury back in CF and Crawford in LF. Yuk was a gold glove caliber 1B and that's what they get with A-Gon, they lose a little at 3B by letting go of Beltre and moving Yuk there.

My initial gut instinct here is Sox get the East by a game or 2 and the Yankees get the Wild Card. But this obviously before the Yankees rotation and bullpen are settled.

Crash said...

Just saw that Yankees expect final answer from Pettitte "within days" per Jon Heyman.

old professor said...

It would be nice if Pettitte stayed one more year (could leave with his catcher Posada), but if not the Yankees will have to make some decisions about who gets the number 4 and 5 slots in the rotation.

It also looks like the Yankees are not going to bother going after Kerry Wood. He has moved his family back to Chicago and is working out a deal with the Cubs (believed to be a two year deal). He also received a two year offer from the White Sox. Apparently he wants his kids to go to school in Chicago (okay so maybe he is lacking a little in common sense - Chicago schools are not rated among the best).

Still would like to see him back in pinstripes.

Crash said...

Yeah last year Wood proved that he can still be very effective when healthy. He was dominant with the Yankees. If the Yankees can land Soriano that would be ideal. They may have to pay him closer money for multiple years though.

The Big Z to NY rumors are picking up steam...not totally sold on the idea of this yet.

old professor said...

Interesting article by Steve Goldman he mentioned Carmona as someone the Yankees appear to have interest in, but qualified it by saying:" why would you want a fastball/sinkerball pitcher when you have a shortstop with the mobility of a fire hydrant"? Good question.

Yankees may have found their left handed reliever. Having lost out on Scott Downs and Randy Choate (not sure who signed Choate) they are on the verge of signing Pedro Feliciano (34 years old who spent the last five years with the Muts). Didn't this guy get his fame from recording a spanish christmas carole?? On the positive side he apparently will come cheap since he will be a lefty specialist.

Big article over Collin Coheard making comments about AJ being distracted last year becuase he was going through a nasty divorce and his wife was being vindictive. AJ's agent (also Lee's agent) came out and said the story was not true and they are contemplating taking legal action. ESPN has no comment!!

On a sad note Bob Feller passed away. One of the top pitchers for Cleveland in the 50's. Loved the sport but in his later years said too many controversial things about players from Latin America that were used to attack him. Great pitcher.

Crash said...

Choate signed with the Marlins. Collin Cowherd is always controversial. It makes sense, if AJ was having personal difficulties with the marriage it manifests itself on the field. Don't think that is a stretch or anything that can have a company sued over.

Red Sox agree to terms with Bobby Jenks. And as of now that gives the Red Sox a higher payroll than the Yankees.

One last night on the Phillies/Cliff Lee thing...(I promise)...everyone is already handing them the World Series trophy. Correct me if I'm wrong but their pitching was actually pretty decent in the playoffs this year, it was their hitting that fell asleep. Adding Cliff Lee isn't going to help that. Can't wait for the Yankees to beat the Phillies in the Series again this year.

Crash said...

Yankees will not pay closer money to Rafael Soriano to setup Mo. Deals for King Felix or Zambrano are "unlikely". They have requested the medical records on Freddy Garcia. Yankees are persistent I'll give 'em that...they've only been after Garcia for about a decade now.

The Pettitte watch is now set to "likely to return".

old professor said...

Kerry Wood going back to the Cubs for $1.4 million are you kidding. I wonder if the Yankees ever kicked the tires on offering a deal. However, Wood indicated to the media that he needs to make decisions based on what is in the best interest of his family. He has sold his Arizona property and moved permanently to Chicago.

Union has to be doing double takes: players taking less money and making family decisions. First Lee now Wood.

Yankees seem to be slow in adapting to the new landscape: Boston brings in Gonzalez and Crawford now Jenks. Chicago gets Wood, White Sox move quickly on a number of fronts. Tigers get stronger and deeper - Yankees sign Jeter and Mo.

Crash said...

Yankees sign Pedro Feliciano 2 year $8MM.

Yankees will be looking at a RHP reliever, starter, and OF that can bat from the right side.

Crash said...

Nationals signed Chien-Ming Wang to a 1 year deal and seem to be the favorites to land Brandon Webb.

This one baffles me...Webb is a former Cy Young winner. Yes he has missed 2 seasons due to shoulder injuries, and shoulders are hit or miss in regards to recovery, but all signs say he's healthy and throwing well. Why would the Yankees not be interested in him, but willing to a risk with Prior who hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2006?!?! Same could be said for Wang. All indications are that he's throwing like before. How would the Yankees not want to bring him back?

old professor said...

Couldn't agree with you more regarding Webb and Wang. Yankees seem to be a day late in investigating the possibilities out there. Instead the look to a 34 year old left hander who apparently wore out his welcome with the Muts. I am not sure what is going on with the decision makers but it really is baffling.

old professor said...

Looking for infield and bench strength, the Yankees are looking into a possible trade with Houston for Keppinger. He was the starting second baseman last year for the Stros and can play all of the infield positions. He is also thirty years old.

Here is a question if you want some bench strength and someone who can play several positions, why trade for an individual when Jerry Hairston is available??

He was valuable enough for the Yankees to trade for him two years ago. He is a free agent and won't cost the Yankees a draft choice. I don't get it.

MId said...

I was wondering where Wang was going to go - still was holding hope he'd land in Pinstripes.

Webb should be signed.

Kerry Wood back to the Cubs

Yanks having an unimpressive off season . ..

hate to bring it up yet again - should have never gotten rid of Austin Jackson, Phil Coke or Ian Kennedy.

Roster would be way way stronger with them on it.

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