Cliff Lee and Why the Yankees Offseason Has Been a Disaster
So wait. What just happened?
In the span of two weeks, the New York Yankees, my Yankees, the team that can buy any player it wants, just saw two All-Stars go to their biggest rival. Then, on Monday, we saw Cliff Lee, the guy we have been courting like a Shakespearian character for two years, settle for less money with the Philadelphia Phillies.
I am still confused, still wandering aimlessly around my house. How did this happen?
Gonzalez & Crawford
It was obvious that the Yanks were not going to get Crawford, no matter how many steak dinners they gave him. Gonzalez was more of a surprise, not because we had wanted him, but in the manner the Red Sox got him.
It is a brilliant trade, I have to admit. Gonzo (Which I am assuming is his nickname. What person with the last name Gonzalez hasn’t been nicknamed Gonzo?) is a real solid fielder, whose opposite field power will probably have him leading the American League in doubles for years to come. Fenway is probably the perfect ballpark for Gonzo’s game—a guy who consistently can hit the ball to left field on any pitch.
With the addition of Gonzalez, the middle of the Red Sox's lineup is now feared, where last season it was decimated by countless injuries. Crawford also gives them speed, which other than the random Jacoby Ellsbury sighting, the team has not had since 1983.
Both of these additions make the Red Sox much more deadly to the Yankees, who are getting older and older and older (and older). Is it possible that we only see a small window for this Yankee team while the Red Sox run rampant in the American League for the next ten years?
Let’s look at the Yankees lineup, and project how much longer they have:
1B: Mark Teixeira- Has a big window, but his early-season struggles are pushed back later and later each year.
2B: Robinson Cano- Will probably be considered one of the five best players in baseball in a few years. At least that is what Tim McCarver is telling me.
SS: Derek Jeter- Tick. Tick. Tick.
3B: Alex Rodriguez- With the hips of a 75-year-old man with osteoporosis (and lack of PED usage), A-Rod is becoming more and more brittle.
LF: Brett Gardner- I feel like teams will realize next season that he refuses to swing at the first two pitches, no matter where they are. If Gardner stays the same, he could be in a supreme decline.
CF: Curtis Granderson- Streaky (adj)
RF: Nick Swisher- The man.
C: Jesus Montero- The future. Likely trade bait (I’ll get to that later).
On paper, this is obviously a contending team. But after five years, I am not sure. The Red Sox are definitely the team that is primed for the future, and the additions of Gonzo and Crawford solidify this.
My thoughts on Cliff Lee are kind of jumbled up, so I will present my feeling on him in a kind of stream-of-consciousness train of writing.
It became pretty clear after a while that Lee was not coming to New York, I recognize that. But this is a guy the Yankees have been trying to pick up for the past two years, and we had been assured by Brian Cashman and the rest of the Yankee “brain” trust that we were going to get Lee, no matter what. That probably should have been my first signal that we were not going to get him.
There is seriously no one else we can have other than Cashman? We have the highest payroll in baseball, and this is the guy we choose to spend that money? Give me a break.
I kind of had this sinking feeling that we were not going to get Lee after the story broke that some jackass Yankee fans had spat on his wife. As I have said many times since that moment, these morons should never be allowed to set foot inside Yankee Stadium again, and have YES removed from their cable package.
Could they have been Philadelphia or Texas spies, sent in to New York to sabotage the Yankees chances at getting Lee? Put that on my conspiracy theory list!
Part of me also feels kind of relieved that we did not get Lee. That could just be my denial talking, but he did pretty poorly in the World Series (0-2, ERA over 6), and he was not really that dominant last season (12-9, 3.18 ERA). I am not sure that he would be the proper to guy to give an absurd amount of money to.
One final thing about Lee: To all those mathematically-challenged, who think that Lee is a “great person” for not caving in to the Yankees big contract and going to where he really wants to be, Lee is still getting more annually ($24 million per year) than he would have in New York ($23 million per year). So chew on that one, Pythagoras.
This lack of picking up a big-name starting pitcher can only lead to one move by the Yankees. That is, of course, to trade all of their high profile prospects away to get that big-name guy. Here are the two guys who are likely at the top of the list.
He is probably the guy I want to avoid. He puts up solid numbers for an awful team that gives him zero run support, which is nice. But I do not want him playing in New York. This is a guy with a known social-anxiety disorder, which is probably not the best thing to have if you are playing in the biggest media market in the entire known world.
I give him a lot of credit for bouncing back from this condition, and he is obviously a huge role model in the social-anxiety community. But he should not be playing in New York, and I am pretty sure that he knows that too.
Career stats against the Yankees: 2-3, 5.27 ERA
Not exactly eye-opening numbers.
Career against the Red Sox: 1-4, 2.88 ERA
He seems to be a victim of bad run support, if anything. But can he really see himself in a late September game in Fenway with the division on the line? How would he handle being booed? I should not have to worry about these things, especially if we are going to give up prospects like Jesus Montero for him.
Probably the dream pitcher to get, if you are the Yankees. Cashman should be willing to part ways with guys like Montero in order to get the best pitcher in baseball, but he probably won’t.
This could be the type of situation, that mirrors the A-Rod trade (Yankees need to fill in a void, so they go out and trade for the best player in baseball at his position). Hernandez went 3-0 with a 0.35 ERA against the Yankees last year, by the way. Unfortunately, there is a growing theory (brought to us by SI’s Jon Heyman), that Hernandez has the Yankees on his no-trade list.
This is obviously a mistake by Felix. He wouldn’t want to play in New York? The overbearing fans, trigger-happy upper-management, the incompetent manager—who wouldn’t want to play here?
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