Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lee Shuns Yankees for Ex

I suppose its an old story. Guy falls in love with team, team dumps him for flashier player, guy can't get over team and comes crawling back.

At least that's how the story reads to me. The Phillies and their "genius" GM Ruben Amaro decided to trade Cliff Lee during the offseason after he pitched them to the NL pennant and won the only two games Philadelphia would win in the 2009 World Series.

The move was stupid and Amaro admitted as much when he made the deal to acquire Roy Oswalt from the Astros in July. Luckily for him Lee and his family held no ill will toward the Phillies for bouncing them to the Pacific Northwest. Lee inked a very lucrative deal with Philadelphia (Don't let anyone tell you he took less money, if you maxed out the value of both the Yanks and Phillies offers, the Yanks only come out ahead by about half a million) and will become part of the most touted rotation this side of the Braves circa 1996-2000.

One last thing about Philadelphia, don't let anyone tell you the Phillies are a World Series lock. Sure their rotation has now reached a historic level, their once vaunted hitting has regressed quite a bit. Raul Ibanez has begun showing his age dramatically, the loss of Jason Werth leaves them depending on rookie Dominic Brown and platoon player Ben Francisco to replace elite level production and defense and their middle infield is rapidly aging. Oh and Ryan Howard still strikes out a ton.

But Ii digress to the Yankees who will feel the hurt from this rejection in the short term. The Yankees will need help for the rotation next year and they will be in a world of trouble if they can't convince Andy Pettitte to come back for one final season. Even if you are being generous, there are only two solid pitchers for New York in CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. A.J. Burnett is a huge question mark and beyond that is the great unknown.

Brian Cashman probably has some kind of back-up plan that he was hoping to avoid should Lee go elsewhere, but clearly it wont replace what Lee would have brought to New York next season.

The Yankees wont deal for Zack Greinke or Felix Hernandez or Josh Johnson. In the case of Greinke it would deplete the farm system too much right now for Cashman to justify the move. Hernandez and Johnson are just pipe dreams Yankee fans will spout over the next few months.

As a Yankee fan though I can take away some kind of a silver lining. The Yankees struck out on Cliff Lee twice. The first time they were able to hold on to Jesus Montero which will be a huge plus when it comes to rejuvenating the Yankee lineup with a youthful bat. This second strike out will save them millions of dollars. If the Yankees had signed Lee their payroll would have sky rocketed and if you believe the Yankees have some semblance of a budget, it would have severely impaired their ability to field a competent team. In 2014 the Yankees would have had close to $100 committed to just four players and that doesn't count arbitration eligible players either.

The long and short of it is the Yankees will suffer next season. They may still make the playoffs and compete, but Cashman will have to pay in prospects at some point this offseason or before July 31st to get that other front-line pitcher the Yankees desperately need. Three or four years from now though, the Yankees may be happy that this one got away... I doubt it though.


Dennis said...

Amaro certainly botched this whole thing last winter, but to be fair to him, he was certain Cliff Lee was going to take the most money, and he knew he couldn't outbid the Yankees.

Oh, and one other thing. The Giants still beat Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay twice each in the playoffs. And San Francisco is not quite ready to cede the "Best rotation in the league" title either.

Joey said...

The Rangers must really regret not taking Jesus Montero when they had the chance. Now all they get are 2 draft picks.

Peter said...

Exactly Dennis. The Giants are still the champs, and really, the Phillly lineup is remarkably better than what San Fran will put on the field. It's better for sure, but these ain't your '07 Phillies. They lack depth in the lineup and they struggle to keep their best position players healthy.

Joe, they did get Justin Smoak who is not one you should sleep on. he struggled during his rookie season, but he definitely has potential. They are probably better off. They simple can't afford a contract like that even with their new found cash.

Dennis said...

It is the Mariners who have Smoak now.

Peter said...

Dennis your absolutely right Smoak went to the Mariners along with a rapist and the Rangers will now receive the Phillies 1st rd pick plus a supplemental 1st rd pick.